You can download my Keynote slides as a PDF HERE
Anointed Class – 144K
I’ve wanted to do one of these for a long time and finally got the opportunity. There’s definitely room for me to improve and i’d love another opportunity do do this.
Below, in the comment sections, two participants will be discussing this question. I will leave it to both of them to set the specific parameters. Given my lack of time available to contribute to this site, i’m thankful for these two in bringing some activity here!
Here’s a recording of a presentation I did this morning at a men’s meeting. It was about an hour of presentation and about 30 minutes of Q&A at the end. I also included the handout below. I hope this is helpful to you!
Before we delve into Matthew 11:11, let’s briefly go over the Watchtower’s two-class theology. They teach that all Jehovah’s Witnesses will be eternally separated into two metaphysically distinct locations: heaven or earth. The anointed 144,000 of Revelation 7 will rule and reign with Christ in heaven while the remaining “great crowd” live on paradise earth. As it relates to those who lived before Christ, like Abraham or John the Baptist, they will be resurrected to live on paradise earth.
Matthew 11:11 is one of the primary texts by which Jehovah’s Witnesses exclude the Old Covenant Jews from a location in heaven:
Truly I say to you, among those born of a woman there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
The Watchtower interprets this verse as follows:
Jesus is here showing that John will not be in the heavenly Kingdom, since a lesser one there is greater than John. John prepared the way for Jesus but dies before Christ seals the covenant, or agreement, with his disciples, for them to be corulers with him in his Kingdom. That is why Jesus says that John will not be in the heavenly Kingdom. John will instead be an earthly subject of God’s Kingdom.
Much can be said about the basis for which the “anointed class” spends eternity in heaven. I’ve analyzed some of the Watchtower arguments HERE. But there’s one thing I need to make clear: I do not believe that any Christian will spend eternity in heaven as a metaphysically distinct location from earth. Space will not allow me to elaborate, but my debate with Fred Torres goes over these issues in a lot of detail in addition to my appearance on Chris Date’s Theopologetics podcast HERE and HERE.
With that said, i’ll provide a counter explanation of Matthew 11:11. John the Baptist is a transitional figure between two orders, as Matthew 11:13-14 point out, “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come.” From a human perspective, no one greater than John has ever been born (i.e. born of a woman). That is, no one in the Old Covenant has surpassed John in order of importance. However, the intended greatness is the incomparable greatness of the kingdom to this present age rather than one individual verses another. So the contrast then is not between individuals, but eras or ages.
Keep in mind another point: no one is of yet in the fullness of the kingdom. Christ has not yet returned (Acts 3:21) and the resurrection has not taken place. Jesus is saying that even the greatest person in the present age (which includes anyone from John to those alive today) will be lesser than “the least” in the age to come; that is, the age in which the kingdom has come in it’s fullness (Daniel 2:35).
This contrast is clearly expressed in Mark 10:30-31,
“He will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brother and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.“
Notice that Jesus doesn’t exclude anyone from the “age to come.” But what’s even more noteworthy is that individuals aren’t being contrasted. Instead, Jesus presents a condition by which someone in this age will be positionally different in this age verses the age to come. This works quite well as an interpretive means of understanding Matthew 11:11. That is, the “last” in this present age will be “first” in the age to come. But in no way does this mean that the “last” won’t be in the age to come, which is seemingly what the Watchtower is arguing.
But is John being excluded from the kingdom in the age to come? Certainly not. Notice that Jesus doesn’t make any distinction between a kingdom on earth and a kingdom in heaven. It is simply the “kingdom of heaven.” If the Watchtower is prepared to interpret “kingdom of heaven” as “kingdom in heaven”, then there will be some difficulty in explaining the following passage:
“I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:11)
Notice that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (surely, this would include John the Baptist) will be in the kingdom of heaven. While I have every reason to believe this will be a location on earth, it doesn’t fit with the Watchtower explanation that, “John will not be in the heavenly Kingdom.” For a full discussion of the Watchtower explanation on this verse, go HERE.
To summarize, Jesus is talking about this age (i.e. where John the Baptist is the greatest) and the age to come (i.e. where everyone will be greater than those in the previous age). The Watchtower explanation is wrong because it fails to contrast the ages.
Debate with a JW: “Is the Watchtower’s interpretation of the faithful slave found in Matthew 24 and Luke 12, as articulated in the July 15th, 2013 Watchtower, accurate?”
The debate is with Rotherham, who is a JW I regularly interact with here. The format is as follows with hyperlinks for each section:
(3) Submit 5 questions
- Rotherham’s First Question to Mike –>Mike’s Answer, Rotherham’s Rebuttal, Mike’s Rebuttal
- Mike’s First Question to Rotherham –> Rotherham’s Answer, Mike’s Rebuttal, Rotherham’s Rebuttal
- Rotherham’s Second Question to Mike –> Mike’s Answer, Rotherham’s Rebuttal, Mike’s Rebuttal
- Mike’s Second Question to Rotherham –> Rotherham’s Answer, Mike’s Rebuttal, Rotherham’s Rebuttal
- Rotherham’s Third Question to Mike –> Mike’s Answer, Rotherham’s Rebuttal, Mike’s Rebuttal
- Mike’s Third Question to Rotherham –> Rotherham’s Answer, Mike’s Rebuttal, Rotherham’s Rebuttal
- Rotherham’s Fourth Question to Mike –> Mike’s Answer, Rotherham’s Rebuttal, Mike’s Rebuttal
- Mike’s Fourth Question to Rotherham –> Rotherham’s Answer, Mike’s Rebuttal, Rotherham’s Rebuttal
- Rotherham’s Fifth Question to Mike –> Mike’s Answer, Rotherham’s Rebuttal, Mike’s Rebuttal
- Mike’s Fifth Question to Rotherham –> Rotherham’s Answer, Mike’s Rebuttal, Rotherham’s Rebuttal
This is an article that I published on CARM. The link is below:
A reader contacted me and asked:
On your website you state:
“Instead, the Scriptures are clear in teaching that Christ will physically come to the earth (Acts 1:9-11; 3:21, etc.), separate the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:32-33), and say to the sheep, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34). Matthew 25 does not speak of two classes of believers; it speaks of two classes of persons. These two classes consist of sheep and goats. All of the sheep are believers who will all inherit the kingdom. Therefore, there is only one class of believers who will rule with Christ on the earth (Revelation 5:10).”
I don’t necessarily disagree with you however I do have one question. If all the sheep are believers who will rule with Christ on earth, who will they rule over? It seems that there will only be Kings and no subjects.
Let me state from the outset that this is a question that even the Watchtower doesn’t know the answer to. But leaving that aside, I think there are several possible answers to this question.
First, there is no denying that there will be some form of kingship where ruling and reigning will take place (Revelation 1:6, 5:10, 20:6). What we then have to determine is what the nature of that rulership is. And without explicit Scriptural support, we cannot assume that the subjects of this rulership includes Christians.
“‘He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS;AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father;” (Revelation 2:26–27, cf: Ps. 2:6-7)
Regardless of your view on the millennium, it seems undeniable that there is some sort of rulership that takes place over non-Christians. The Watchtower takes this as referring to the anointed class sharing with Jesus the destruction of rebellious nations at Armageddon. Even if this were the only basis for rulership mentioned in Scripture, it would provide a sufficient basis to discredit the Watchtower’s insistence that rulership must take place over other Christians.
“For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17)
“so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:21)
“Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,” (Romans 6:11–12)
These texts clearly show that reigning doesn’t necessarily indicate that human subjects are involved. Yet, it shows explicit support of what rulership entails.
“Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?” (1 Corinthians 6:2–3)
“and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:29–30, cf: Lk. 13:28, Mt. 8:11)
Whether these passages are referring to the judgement of non-Christians and/or Jews, they don’t necessitate a rulership of Christians over other Christians.
God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)
Interestingly, this word used for “rule” (רָדָה radah) is also used in Psalm 110:2 of Christ: “YHWH will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, ‘Rule in the midst of Your enemies.” While space will not allow for a full semantic discussion of the various uses of רָדָה and how it might relate to the “ruling” and “reigning” in the Christian Scriptures, we can at least suggest that the rulership mentioned Genesis 1:28 doesn’t necessitate a ruling over other humans.
To summarize, we have listed several possibilities as to the nature of the kingship or rulership in which all Christians will have when Christ returns. These include:
- Authority over non-Christians
- Reigning over sin and death
- Judgement over non-Christians and/or Jews
- Ruling over the earth (land, sea, animals, etc.)
Yet, the Watchtower insists that this kingship must by necessity include Christians as subjects. To my knowledge, there is no Scriptural support for this position. It appears to be something that is assumed due to what they think it means to be a king. But it is important that we let Scripture determine the meaning of words rather than our assumptions.
If anyone is interested, my recent debate with Fred is now on one audio file. You can download it HERE
Click HERE to listen
From the THEOPOLOGETICS website:
Debate topic: “All Christians in the New Covenant will live forever in heaven with Christ.” Fred Torres is a Jehovah’s Witness and affirms. My friend Mike Felker of The Apologetic Front denies. Fred and Mike have been recording a modular debate; they each recorded and sent me their opening statements and rebuttals separately over a span of weeks, with live cross-examination. This episode contains part 3′s second rebuttals and closing statements. Listen to episode 91, “Heaven Lasts Forever,” for part 1′s opening statements and first rebuttals, and to episode 93, “New Earth,” for part 2′s cross-examination.
- The Replacements, We’ll Inherit the Earth, from the Don’t Tell a Soul [Expanded Edition] album, 2008