Greetings Brother Derrick. I hope you enjoyed the Easter holiday, mine was fabulous.
I was reading an answer by Sister T regarding whether or not Stephen was 'praying' to Jesus and His Father in Acts starting at 17:55. It seemed from her answer that Stephen was praying to Jesus because she spent a lot of time talking about the Trinity and how Jesus was not God Almighty. She gave the English definition from the Greek, but left out that pray was one of the definitions. I looked it up in Strongs dictionary, but could be mistaken. At any rate, the words she did supply as definitions are all are synonyms for pray. It's my understanding that asking someone to receive ones spirit and then later ask this person to forgive the people responsible for ones death would put them in a category of being God. Sister T never mentioned who Stephen was even addressing. It's my opinion that Stephen was praying, based on the context and actions of the verses. I seem to recall Jesus saying that if we ask anything in His name, He will do it.
Which brings me to my second question.
Sister T answered this question for me before and said that Stephen was having a vision."Stephen's vision,(Acts 7:55, 56) was a future time when Jesus was reigning as King which began in 1914. The vision that Stephen was allowed to see was during the time when Stephen would be resurrected to heavenly life, during the time of the end, Jesus' presence".
So I asked asked my jw co-workers if they thought Stephens vision was happening in real time or was it a vision regarding the future. They both seem to think it occurred as Stephen was dying, but didn't make the connection that the vision was related to a future time.
Sister T gave me this explanation, "Even if I believed you if you told them that I said the vision hadn't happened yet then no wonder they thought I wasn't a witness. Or maybe you just misunderstood when I said Stephen's vision, (Acts 7:55, 56) was a future time when Jesus was reigning as King which began in 1914. That obviously must have went right over your head".
She then went on to say what I had always thought about the jws and where their knowledge comes from."Again even if I believed you my answer is correct I got it from the pages of the Watchtower written by Jehovah's appointed men. The faithful and discreet slave".
Which leads me to my third question Sir.
I always thought that Jesus became King long before 1914. The jws teach that Jesus became Messiah after His baptism, but I don't put any faith in this. If Jesus wasn't going to be anointed King until 1914, why did Herod want to kill him?
Thank You. Kevin.
Good evening, Kevin. How are things going for you?
Yes, I did see and briefly read her response to the person who pointed out to her that Stephen was praying to Jesus, but I had to go back and re-read it, to remember all that was said. I was struck by how she begins her reply, basically by chastising the guy for believing in the Trinity, and trying to "prove" it from this verse. When actually, the verse as it is written, is pretty good evidence for it....at least that Jesus is Someone to Whom it is proper to address in prayer. But the questioner did not even mention the Trinity, initially....that is what I found odd.
Also, I saw where she told the guy that "But you must now believe the Bible not what someone has told you that makes no sense"
. But the impression I got, was that his original question actually came about, BECAUSE he believes in the Bible, and that he was asking her about the plain reading of a Scripture FROM the Bible, which conflicts with their theology. Then, she chastises him about an idea that "makes no sense"
, just before proceeding to give an answer that, well....makes no sense.
Her very next statement was...."It's not all right that these teachings are illogical, this is not all right with God, as he only accepts worship that is in TRUTH (John 4:24) and all of God's truths are logical and reasonable."
Did you catch that? The standards by which she thinks we should judge a teaching, is apparently whether SHE thinks its "logical", or not, rather than what the Bible comes right out and says. I would maintain that "its not alright with God, if we presume to contradict what HE says, based on our limited human logic".
That being said, it really isn't a question of something being "logical".....Its just WHO'S "logic" do we use, to make that determination? Hers? No, thank you....I've seen enough of her "logic", to know that it isn't logical. Mine? Some preacher's? Nope....I believe that true "logic", would tell us that God is a bit more intelligent than we are, and that we are in no position to be correcting Him, on the basis of whether we think it "makes sense". I can give you Biblical example after Biblical example, of a human thinking that God's ways do not "make sense". And guess what....God was always right in the end. And logical.
However, there is nothing "illogical" about believing that Acts 7:59 shows Jesus being prayed to, because that is pretty plain. In fact, it is ILLOGICAL to say otherwise. I would hate to be in a position where I thought I could argue with every passage of Scripture that I didn't agree with, because I don't think its "logical". I don't think it ever occurs to these few people, that most readers think their "logic" is a farce, and they make the most irrational and illogical arguments imaginable.
Like this comment...."The Bible is quite clear that Jesus is not Almighty God. BUT unless it is granted by the Father for you or anyone else to understand that, then you and anyone else will not see that. You must let go of falsehood and accept the truth about God from his Word the Bible before it's too late!"
That wasn't even the question that was asked. She was asked what she thought about Jesus being PRAYED TO, in Acts 7:59-60. Nothing else. The question that the guy sent to her, did not mention one word about Jesus being Almighty God....so why the lecture?
I'll tell you why....Because it didn't HAVE to be said, about Jesus being God. She herself knows the implications of that passage of Scripture. If Jesus is being prayed to, then either Stephen was praying to a Being (right before his death, no less) that he had NO business praying to, OR, Jesus is God. And since Stephen was a righteous and Godly man, and certainly would NOT have prayed inappropriately moments before his death, then Jesus being prayed to, presents a real problem for her theology.
So, the solution? Why, tell us how illogical it is, of course. Just forget about what it says. And exactly what a child believing in Santa Claus had to do with the question asked, is anybody's guess.
She wrote...."You must face the truth now and believe the Bible"
Yeah, I think that Timothy was "believing the Bible", when in his question, he was pointing out to her what it SAID. But of course, these people think the answer to nearly every question, is to jump all over someone about the Trinity....whether the person mentioned the Trinity, or not.
Fact is, she must not realize that even Oneness people (Modalists who deny the Trinity), would also agree that Jesus is God, and is being prayed to in this passage, so her tirade against the Trinity, was completely pointless.
But again, I think its because she realizes the implications of the verse she was asked about, even if those implications were not mentioned.
And you are correct that the word in the passage, DOES carry the idea of praying. In fact, here is one of the main definitions of </b>"epikaleo"</b>
"to call upon (like German anrufen), to invoke; middle, to call upon for oneself, in one's behalf: anyone as a helper"
I think what she said, was very interesting....
Ms. T...."The word prayer is inserted in this scripture by some Bible translators who were biased to the teaching of the Trinity. As the word "prayer" or "prays" is not even in this verse at all. The Greek word from Strong's is 1941 which literally means invoke . and is translated here as "epikaloumenon" (English: he was calling out or appealing)"
"This same word is also used when Paul said "I appeal to Caesar" (Acts 25:11). Are you to say that Paul was hear praying to Caesar? Why wasn't the word pray inserted here as well? It's obvious what the ones who translated that verse were trying to do."
But here is what she failed to mention....The very definition of the word "PRAY"
, IS to appeal to, or petition a deity.
PRAYER....."an address (as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought...the act or practice of praying to God or a god"
"The act of making a reverent petition to God, a god, or another object of worship"
This is precisely what Stephen was doing....Petitioning Jesus to "receive his spirit"
And something worth mentioning.....The passage says that Stephen was "CALLING ON GOD"
(the very DEFINITION of "prayer"), and shows him addressing this petition to God, as saying "LORD JESUS, receive my spirit"
. Why is addressing Jesus, referred to as "calling on God"??
"But, but, but"...."That doesn't make sense", and its not "logical"
, so let's just try to twist definitions and words around, to suit our own purpose.
I was surprised that she actually asked if Paul was "praying" to Caesar, when Paul clearly was not even addressing Caesar directly here, and Caesar was not there, and could not hear him. Furthermore, Caesar is not a heavenly being. In Stephen's case, however, Jesus COULD hear him, he was addressing Jesus DIRECTLY rather than simply telling someone else that he wanted to "appeal to Jesus", and Jesus was a heavenly Being. And since by very definition, that is what "prayer" is....directly addressing a deity or heavenly being....then Stephen is obviously addressing a prayer to Jesus. No question about it. And no amount of protesting or twisting words around, is going to change that.
She also wrote...."The definition of invoke is not pray but:
1a : to petition for help or support"
But to petition for help or support, a heavenly Being or deity, is actually what prayer is. And that is what Stephen did. And his prayer was addressed to Jesus. No getting around it.
She said...."Ponder on these things...... If Jesus is God and the Father is God and the Holy Ghost is God, why did Stephen see Jesus standing at God's right hand? Two completely separate beings are being mentioned here. Jesus is no longer a man on earth but in heaven now, so why the separation of the two in heaven if they are but ONE God? Stephen speaks of two beings, not ONE Trinity Godhead consisting of 3 distinct persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. If the Trinity is 3 distinct persons that make up ONE God, then why doesn't Stephen just see that ONE God?"
Unbelievable. I have never seen such a complete misunderstanding of the Trinity, since Rando's last post on the subject, that is.
Explain as I do not know what the Trinity belief is on this"
Yeah, I think that's obvious. What is also obvious, is that she doesn't even know what the Trinity teaching IS.
In short, there is no getting around that Stephen was petitioning a Heavenly Being, Jesus Christ, and that is the very definition of what praying is....appealing directly to a higher power for help, or for a request.
In conclusion, you asked...."I always thought that Jesus became King long before 1914. The jws teach that Jesus became Messiah after His baptism, but I don't put any faith in this. If Jesus wasn't going to be anointed King until 1914, why did Herod want to kill him?"
Yes, you are correct....the date of 1914 has NO support at all in the Scripture. Zero.
And this notion that Jesus was not the Messiah until after his baptism, is another false teaching, as well. Now, I think its funny that when we read Rando's many and fascinating posts about the Trinity, one lie keeps resurfacing time and time again, and that is his claim that "The Trinity denies that Jesus is the Christ"
Now, the facts.....Not only do we Trinitarians believe that Jesus is Christ, but we believe He has been Christ for 30 years LONGER than Rando thinks He has been "Christ". Yep, its true. We believe the Scriptures that show Jesus as "Christ" from His birth. There are NO Scriptures that teach He "became Christ" at His baptism.
Let's just let the Bible settle this issue once and for all.....
Luke 2:11- "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
Their own NWT renders it pretty much the same way....
"For today there was born to you in Davidís city a savior, who is Christ the Lord"
Now, I'm really not sure why it is so hard to understand the word "IS"
. That is a present tense word. It means "RIGHT NOW"
....Not, "will become in 30 years"
It simply amazes me, that a person can look at that verse, and say that Jesus was not "Christ" at His birth, and didn't become Christ until 30 years later, at His baptism.
But there's more, if we just keep reading on down in the same chapter....
Luke 2:25-26- "And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ."
Now, here we have an account of a man named Simeon, who had been given a very clear promise...."You will not die, until you have seen Christ"
If Jesus was not "Christ" yet, then Simeon would have had to have hung around until Jesus was baptized 30 years later, to have seen "Christ". If I tell my son that "I'm taking you to see the President before you leave for college"
, but instead, I take him to see a baby in a hospital that will ONE DAY BECOME President, then I haven't actually kept my promise. So, Simeon would have had to have been there at Jesus' baptism 30 years later, to have seen "Christ". But that isn't what happened, as we read on....
v. 28-32- "Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel."
Now, it is pretty evident that Simeon considered the promise that he would live to see Christ, as having been fulfilled by seeing Jesus just after His BIRTH. The reason we know this, is because Simeon then "prays" to God, asking to "depart in peace". In other words....die physically.
Again, Simeon was not told that he would live to see the One Who would eventually BECOME Christ, but that he would live to see the One Who IS Christ. And Simeon was satisfied, that this promise had been kept, when he say the baby Jesus.
This is just one more example of how the JW doctrine, intentionally or not, demotes Jesus Christ from the position that the Bible gives to Him.
I hope this answer has helped, and has covered what you were asking. Good to hear from you, Kevin, and take care.