Are The ‘Glorious Ones’ Imperfect Men?

Jude 8 mentions those “speaking abusively of glorious ones.” In verse 11, he compares such individuals to Korah, who rebelled against Moses in the wilderness. 

Today, some have made modern application of the Glorious Ones to congregation elders and other higher-up individuals within the Watchtower hierarchy. Any who have questioned or criticized the decisions of these imperfect men have been compared to Korah.  

However, is this application valid? What did Jude mean when he spoke of the Glorious Ones? Who specifically was he comparing to Korah?

Hebrews 13:17 did speak of obedience toward those taking the lead in the first century. However, was this obedience unconditional? Were their teachings and actions to be accepted without question? Were those taking the lead above criticism? Is criticism the same as “speaking abusively”?

Not even a hello?

The pain of losing friends and family is intense…as anyone who has ever been shunned can attest. For one’s loved ones to treat them as though dead, a non-person, not so much as a hello, has led some to suicide.

Jehovah’s Witnesses do as they are taught by their leadership. But they are not the only group that shuns former members: Scientology, Mormons, Moonies, and other high control groups also practice this as well.

The Watchtower Society teaches that shunning is what God commands through the Bible. Thus, the argument is framed that to be loyal to God one must shun those that the Organization directs you to shun.

However, does the Bible support such extreme practices? These two videos make an examination of the common prooftexts of 2 John 10 and 1 Corinthians 5:11 in the proper context.

The A-Word: a brief word study

The Watchtower mentions ‘apostates’ quite often, as do groups such as the Mormons, Scientology, and the Moonies—but how many times does the word apostate or apostasy actually appear in the New Testament? The results may be very surprising.

A common prooftext about ‘apostates’ is Proverbs 11:9, which says in the New World Translation: “By his mouth the apostate brings his neighbor to ruin, but by knowledge the righteous are rescued.”

Did you know only the NWT uses the word ‘apostate’ here? Why is this? Hopefully the above video will be enlightening.

The Dreaded A-Word

If there is one word that strikes needless fear into the heart of our dear loved ones who are Jehovah’s Witness, it is the word ‘apostate’.

Who are apostates? According to talks such as the one at the 2013 District Convention, “Beware of Human Apostates”, they rank one notch below Satan the Devil himself. They are mentally diseased antichrists intent on deceiving you and destroying your faith. However, such a thing could not be further from the truth.

Who are apostates? They are your neighbors.

According to the dictionary, an apostate is simply a person who leaves a religion, any religion. Many people, of all religions, do this. By definition, a person who leaves a religion to become a Jehovah’s Witness is an apostate. Therefore, there is nothing mysterious or sinister about apostates. They are not boogeymen plotting your doom…they are simply everyday people who had a change of heart.

Is the Bible Insufficient By Itself?

It is true that from time to time, we might need help to understand a Biblical passage and seek additional aid. At Acts 8:30, Phillip asked the Ethopian who was reading Isaiah if he understood what he was reading. In verse 31, the Ethopian gave his famous reply, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?”  But was this a lifelong arrangement? Did Phillip direct him to seek continual guidance from a ‘world headquarters’? Note that the Ethiopian, after baptism, went his own way. 

Jesus promised at John 16:13, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” Notice, Jesus said that Holy Spirit would be our lifelong guide to divine truths, not human teachers, not an organization. If you are inclined otherwise, let me ask you: Is Holy Spirit insufficient?

What about the Bible? 2 Timothy 3:16,17 says, All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Scripture alone, the product of Holy Spirit, is able to make a person ‘perfect’ or complete in their walk with God, a perfect guide in living the best way of life. With Holy Spirit and Holy Scripture, do we need human teachers as a permanent guide? Should we not be wary of any human individual or organization who says, “You cannot understand the Bible without my guidance”?

Do Not Be Righteous Overmuch!

Years ago, I happened upon a historical work, the History of England From The Accession of James II. Therein the author talked about the Purtians and I found his description eerily familiar. He was describing a religion, obsessed with purity and separateness from the world, that behaved exactly like the organization I was in.

The Purtians banned many holidays and anything they deemed pagan or immoral, which was pretty much everything. The list of shalt-nots, many which had no scriptural backing, seemed endless. By all accounts, the Purtians were judgmental, even in regard the most trivial of matters. Their attitude seemed more akin to the self-righteous Pharisees than the Good News found in the Gospels.

At Ecclesiastes 7:16, we find this sage advice: “Be not righteous overmuch, and do not make yourself overwise; why should you destroy yourself?”

In contrast, at Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The message of Christianity, the essence of the Good News, is about Grace (aka undeserved kindness), not rigid adherence to law and works. Ask yourself, “Am I feeling the promised rest and refreshment? Is my load easy and light?” If you honestly find that in contrast you feel weary and loaded down in measuring up to the standards of your religious environment, is that truly the Good News that Christ came to offer us?

Why Consider the Historical Record?

Those that teach 607 BC as the year of Jerusalem’s destruction often make it a case of the Bible versus the “secular” historical evidence. When confronted with the preponderance of evidence, often the refrain is, “Bible chronology says 607 BC and we accept the Bible over the secular evidence.”

However, it is not a case of God’s word versus the word of historians and scholars–that is a false choice argumentation. In reality, it is a case of a single interpretation of the Bible versus other interpretations that are in complete harmony with the historical evidence.

But why should we look at anything outside the Bible at all? Isn’t the Bible enough to determine chronology of Biblical events? As the above video explains, those who argue in this manner are overlooking one very crucial detail.

The Kings of Babylon: Nabonidus, the Last King of the Neo-Babylonian Dynasty

Nabonidus, father of Belshazzar, was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian dynasty, ascending the throne in 556 BC, and ruling 17 years. His mother, Addagoppe, was an important figure in his life, and upon her death, he commissioned a stele in her honor that corroborates the conventional chronology, both in regard to the Neo-Babylonian kings, but the lengths of their rule. In 539 BC, 70 years after Babylon overthrew Assyria, Babylon itself was overthrown by the Persian King, Cyrus the Great.

The Kings of Babylon: Amel-Marduk, Nergal-sharezer, Labashi-Marduk

Amel-Marduk (aka Evil-Merodach) was the son of Nebuchadnezzar and ruled for two regnal years from 562-560 BC. The Old Testament makes mention of him and by studying what the Bible passage says we can ascertain that:

  1. His father Nebuchadnezzar could not have ruled for more than 43 regnal years.
  2. There were no other kings or gaps between Nebuchadnezzar and Amel-Marduk. 

His successor Nergal-sharezer (aka Neriglissar) ruled for four regnal years, from 560-556 BC. The Bible briefly mentions him as well.

Nergal-sharezer’s son Labashi-Marduk was merely a boy when he became king in 556 BC and he ruled for a few months during his accession year. As his rule did not survive until the new Babylonian year began in the month of Nissan, he is accorded with no regnal years. For this reason, in some chronologies, mention of him is omitted altogether.

The Kings of Babylon: Nebuchadnezzar, Destroyer of Jerusalem

The son of Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar II, came to power in 605 BC and ruled until his death in 562 BC, a span that equates to 43 regnal years. During his reign, Judah became a vassal state of Babylon, and due to rebellions he had to intercede on more than one occasion, ending in the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC. During his reign, Judeans went into Exile into three waves: in 597 BC, in 587 BC, and finally in 582 BC.