By John Carson
This is Part 2 of a teaching series entitled, “A Corresponding Ransom”. I will be dealing with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society’s (WT) translation and interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:5-6.
In Part 1, I talked about how the WT denies that
faith in Jesus Christ is sufficient for our salvation. Instead, they teach one must take specific steps, stipulated by the WT Organization, in order to be acceptable to God. Full obedience to a special class of anointed Jehavah’s Witnesses (JWs) is a
requirement to be saved. This is an important point to keep in mind when talking with JWs. They do not believe anyone can have full assurance of their salvation.
In this session called, “A Corresponding Ransom – What Is It For?”, I will be dealing with the differences between what the WT teaches and what the Bible teaches about the Ransom’s provision.
To watch a video presentation of this, click here.
Let’s take a look at 1 Timothy 2:5-6 from their NWT:
- For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave
himself a corresponding ransom for all.
notice I highlighted the words “ransom for all”. The NWT has a footnote that identifies “all” here as, “all sorts of people.” This is so the reader will disassociate the “all” in verse 6 from the “men”
in verse 5. I covered this in Part 1. But what this also does, is it misdirects the reader into thinking
the “all” here means all-inclusive, as in everyone on earth.
There are a number of ways people interpret “ransom for all” in 1 Timothy 2:6.
Let’s look at three of them:
1) The Ransom causes everyone to be saved.
2) The Ransom alone is the price that purchases all who are, and will be saved.
3) The Ransom gives everyone the opportunity to be
saved through obedience.
I would agree with JWs’ rejection of number 1, since this teaches universal salvation… that everyone is saved no matter
what. Number 2 is rejected by JWs, because they do not believe Christ’s death alone purchases anyone.
But what about number 3? Do JWs believe the Ransom gives
everyone the opportunity to be saved through obedience? Yes. And to add to this, they believe obedience to God is only recognized through the theocratic organization of the WT. The WT teaches:
- So let us continue to appreciate Jehovah’s wonderful theocratic organization and what it provides. In this way, we demonstrate our submission to Shiloh, who will reward all his obedient subjects with everlasting life.
(Watchtower Magazine, October 1, 2002)
So when we look at 1 Timothy 2:6 through the eyes of a JW, “ransom for
all” cannot have the meaning that Christ’s shed blood has the power in itself to save all who put their trust in Him. His death can have no power to save anyone, if everlasting life depends on obedience to a Governing Body. JWs do not believe a
person can belong to God until they become a baptized member of the WT Organization. They teach:
- We become Jehovah’s legal property when we dedicate our lives to him and get baptized. (Watchtower
Magazine, March 15, 2005, page 17)
[See our page: Wash Your Sins Away! Is baptism required for sins to be washed away as some teach?]
then did the Ransom do? According to the WT, it opened the way for people to get the opportunity to live on earth forever. The WT teaches:
Now nowhere does Scripture describe Jesus Christ’s
sacrifice as opening the way for salvation. It is the way. No one can belong to God through any sort of ritual performed by man. Baptism has no power to cleanse anyone. Only trusting in Christ’s shed
blood has the power to change a sinner’s heart. And that is why Jesus came. At the last supper, Jesus said,
- “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)
The old blood covenant, through the Levitical sacrificial system, covered sin, but could never change the hearts. But God promised through the new covenant, He will change people’s hearts to be acceptable to Him. God said,
- A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)
This was accomplished through the Ransom. The only way for you to be reconciled to God, is for God to make that change in you. You can try as hard as you want, but you
will never change your own heart. That is God’s work. The Bible says,
- The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it? (Jeremiah
The Ransom’s purchase price was paid so that those who are bought by Christ are given new hearts, and are seen by God as new creatures in Christ.
- Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the
ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)
The ministry of reconciliation is the message that declares you must become
reconciled to God by faith in Jesus’ death. That is the gospel message God has given those who have received new hearts to share with others. Notice God also said,
- And a new spirit will I
put within you. (Ezekiel 36:26)
In Romans 8:15 we read,
- For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear
again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" (Romans 8:15)
JWs have great fear
of not making it through Armageddon unless they are continually obedient to their organization’s Governing Body. Those who have been bought by Christ’s blood however, have received a new spirit, where they can cry out to God as their intimate Father
because God was pleased to adopt them.
Perhaps this illustration will help put this in perspective. Now no illustration can fully grasp the richness of what God has
done for us, but sometimes they can help us get our minds on the right track, and at other times get our thinking off the wrong track.
- Imagine that a rich man goes to a pet store where there are all sorts of dogs, and he tells the store owner he wants to buy some puppies,
and that he will pay her well for the puppies of his choice. After he is shown all the pure breeds she has, he notices a mixed breed feeding her tiny litter in a corner of a room. He immediately has love and compassion for them, and decides right on the spot
he wants to adopt those puppies along with their mother. He pays the store owner $100,000.00 for all.
How are we to understand this large payment “for all” in this story? That the man made a payment to give every dog in the store the opportunity to benefit from it based on their obedience?
Of course not! The man used the payment to adopt the litter of his choice out of his love for them.
Jesus loves and mediates on behalf of all those He purchased as His own possession. This is wonderful news! There is not one person that belongs to Jesus, who He fails to mediate on behalf of. Just as the puppies and their mother would have
absolutely no comprehension of the cost that was paid for their adoption, neither do we, who have been purchased by His precious blood. It is far too wonderful to comprehend!
Part 1: A Corresponding Ransom - Obedience to the Gospel
Part 3: A
Corresponding Ransom - A Serious Mismatch
JWs will quote only verse 6 of 1 Timothy 2 when talking about the Ransom, and do not include verse 5 with it. This is because they have been trained to believe that Jesus does not mediates on behalf of all believers.
Tell them you want to
read the full context with them. Ask them to read aloud verses 5 and 6 together...
“Doesn’t that sound like Jesus mediates on behalf of all He purchases? Isn’t that wonderful news?”
may try to explain the “all” in verse 6 are not to be identified as the “men” in verse 5. If they do...
Ask: “It sounds like you’re saying the people in verse 5 are a different group of people than those in verse 6. (They will agree) Could you
show me in the Bible where there are more than 1 saved group of people?”
They will show you different verses that describes “little
flock” and “other sheep”. One of them is John 10:16
- “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those too I must bring in, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” (NWT 2013)
They identify the other sheep as those who must be obedient to an anointed class. Get them to read aloud verse 9:
am the door; whoever enters through me will be saved” (NWT 2013)
Ask: “How many of those sheep does this verse say will be saved?” (Answer: whoever = every one of them).
Read to them from a good translation, verses 28-30
- “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and
no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.” (ESV)
Ask: “If no one is able to snatch any of His sheep from either Jesus’ hand, or the Father’s hand, doesn’t that sound like Jesus will never fail to mediate on their behalf?”