“You have carefully hidden these things from wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to young children.”
1. Why was Jesus “overjoyed in the holy spirit”? (See opening picture.)
TRY to imagine what it must have been like to see Jesus when he was “overjoyed in the holy spirit.” Perhaps he had a big smile on his face and his eyes were full of excitement. But why? He had just sent 70 of his disciples to preach the good news of God’s Kingdom. Because there were many powerful enemies of the good news, he was eager to find out how his disciples would handle their assignment. These enemies included the scribes and Pharisees, who were very educated and smart. They wanted people to view Jesus as simply a carpenter and to view his disciples as “uneducated and ordinary men.” (Acts 4:13; Mark 6:3) Even so, when the disciples returned from their assignment, they were filled with joy. They had preached despite opposition, even from demons! Why were they able to stay joyful and courageous?
God’s people have improved their teaching by making it simpler and clearer
2. (a) How were Jesus’ disciples like children? (b) What helped Jesus’ disciples to understand deep Bible truths?
2 Jesus said to Jehovah: “I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to young children. Yes, O Father, because this is the way you approved.” (Matthew 11:25, 26) Why did Jesus call his disciples young children? Because unlike the scribes and Pharisees, who were well-educated and who thought that they were wise, Jesus’ disciples were willing to be taught like children. They learned to be humble, not proud. (Matthew 18:1-4) Because they were humble, Jehovah used his holy spirit to help them understand deep Bible truths. But the proud Jewish religious leaders remained blinded by Satan and by their own pride.
3. What will we discuss in this article?
3 No wonder Jesus was so joyful! He was happy to see how Jehovah made known deep Bible truths to humble people regardless of their education. This way of teaching is approved by God, and God has not changed. How does he show that he still approves of this way of teaching? In this article, we will learn how Jehovah makes known deep Bible truths to humble people today.
EXPLAINING DEEP TRUTHS TO ALL
4. In what ways has the simplified edition of The Watchtower been a gift?
4 In recent years, God’s organization has highlighted the importance of teaching in a simpler and clearer way. Let us discuss three examples. First, there is the simplified edition of The Watchtower. * (See footnote.) It is a gift that has helped many, including those who have difficulties with reading or with language. Families find that because of the simplified edition, their children understand The Watchtower better. Many have written letters of appreciation. One sister said that she used to be afraid to comment at the Watchtower Study. But not anymore! After using the simplified edition, she wrote: “I now comment more than once, and the fear is gone! I thank Jehovah and you.”
5. What are some benefits of the revised edition of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures?
5 Second, there is the revised edition of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, released in English at the annual meeting on October 5, 2013. * (See footnote.) Many scriptures now use fewer words, yet their meaning has not changed and they are easier to understand. For example, Job 10:1 went from 27 words to 19, and Proverbs 8:6 went from 20 words to 13. Both verses are clearer in the new edition. One anointed brother who has been serving Jehovah faithfully for many years said, “I just read the book of Job in the new edition, and I feel as if I understand it for the first time!” Many have said something similar.
6. How do you feel about our clearer understanding of Matthew 24:45-47?
6 Third, think about some of the recent improvements in our understanding of certain scriptures. For example, a clearer understanding of “the faithful and discreet slave” was published in the July 15, 2013, Watchtower. (Matthew 24:45-47) That article explained that the faithful slave is the Governing Body. And the “domestics” are those of the anointed and of the “other sheep,” who are all fed by the faithful slave. (John 10:16) We enjoy learning about these truths and are happy to teach them to others! In what other ways has Jehovah shown that he approves of teaching that is simple and clear?
A SIMPLER EXPLANATION OF BIBLE ACCOUNTS
7, 8. What are some examples of Bible accounts that represented something greater in the future?
7 If you have been serving Jehovah for many years, you have likely noticed a change in the way our literature explains some Bible accounts. In the past, it was common to say that some accounts represented something greater in the future. The account itself was called the type. What the type represented was called the antitype. Are there good reasons for explaining Bible accounts in this way? Yes. For example, Jesus referred to “the sign of Jonah the prophet.” (Read Matthew 12:39, 40.) Jesus explained that the time that Jonah spent in the belly of the fish represented the time that Jesus would spend in the grave.
It strengthens our faith when we study Bible accounts and what they represent
8 There are other Bible accounts that represented something greater in the future. The apostle Paul described several of them. For example, Abraham’s relationship with Hagar and Sarah represented Jehovah’s relationship with the nation of Israel and the heavenly part of God’s organization. (Galatians 4:22-26) In a similar way, the tabernacle, the temple, Atonement Day, the high priest, and other elements of the Law were “a shadow of the good things to come.” (Hebrews 9:23-25; 10:1) It strengthens our faith when we study these Bible accounts and what they represent. But does that mean that every person, event, and object described in the Bible represents someone or something?
9. In the past, how was the Bible account of Naboth explained?
9 In the past, our literature often explained that each person, event, or object in some accounts represented someone or something. For example, wicked Queen Jezebel had Naboth executed so that her husband, Ahab, could take Naboth’s vineyard. (1 Kings 21:1-16) In 1932, The Watchtower explained that Ahab and Jezebel represented Satan and his organization, that Naboth represented Jesus, and that Naboth’s death represented Jesus’ execution. However, in 1961, the book “Let Your Name Be Sanctified” said that Naboth represented the anointed and Jezebel represented Christendom. Also, Naboth’s persecution by Jezebel represented the persecution of the anointed during the last days. For many years, these explanations have strengthened the faith of God’s people. So why are we explaining things differently now?
10. (a) In what way is the faithful slave more cautious when explaining certain Bible accounts? (b) What does our literature focus more on today?
10 Over the years, Jehovah has helped “the faithful and discreet slave” to become more discreet, or cautious. In what way? Now the faithful slave is careful to say that a Bible account represents something greater only when there is a clear Scriptural reason to do so. Some older explanations about types and antitypes were difficult to understand, to remember, and to apply. Most important, when too much focus was put on the possible greater meanings of Bible accounts, the moral or practical lessons were lost. So, today our literature focuses more on simple, practical lessons about faith, endurance, godly devotion, and other valuable qualities that we can learn from Bible accounts. *
11. (a) How do we now understand the account about Naboth, and how does his example help us? (b) In recent years, why has our literature rarely mentioned types and antitypes? (See “Questions From Readers” in this issue.)
11 Our understanding of the account of Naboth is clearer and simpler now. Naboth did not die because he represented Jesus or the anointed. Instead, he died because he was determined to stay faithful to God. He remained obedient to Jehovah’s Law despite severe persecution from a powerful ruler. (Numbers 36:7; 1 Kings 21:3) What a good example for all of God’s servants today who may have to endure similar persecution. (Read 2 Timothy 3:12.) All Christians can understand, remember, and apply that lesson and strengthen their faith.
12. (a) What should we not conclude about Bible accounts? (b) Why are we able to have clear explanations of even deep things? (See footnote.)
12 Should we conclude that Bible accounts have only practical lessons and no other meaning? No. But instead of explaining some Bible accounts as types and antitypes, our publications now focus more on how one Bible account relates to another. For example, Naboth’s integrity despite persecution and death does remind us of the integrity of Christ and the anointed. However, we are also reminded of the integrity of many of the “other sheep.” We can clearly see how Jehovah is teaching us in a simple way. *
A SIMPLER EXPLANATION OF JESUS’ ILLUSTRATIONS
13. What examples show that we now explain some of Jesus’ illustrations in a simpler, clearer way?
13 Jesus Christ was the greatest Teacher who ever lived. He loved to use illustrations, or examples, to teach. (Matthew 13:34) Illustrations are effective because they explain difficult ideas in a simple way that can make us think and can affect our heart. Over the years, our literature has explained Jesus’ illustrations in a simpler and clearer way. For example, The Watchtower of July 15, 2008, helps us to understand more clearly Jesus’ illustrations of the leaven, the mustard seed, and the dragnet. Now we can see that these illustrations refer to God’s Kingdom, which has helped many people to reject this wicked world and to become disciples of Christ.
Illustrations are effective because they explain difficult ideas in a simple way that can make us think and can affect our heart
14. (a) How did we explain the parable of the kind Samaritan? (b) How do we understand Jesus’ parable now?
14 How can we understand the more detailed stories, or parables, that Jesus told? Some of these stories are symbolic or prophetic. Others teach a practical lesson. But how can we know which stories are symbolic and which are not? Over the years, the answer has become clearer. For example, think about the way we used to explain Jesus’ parable of the kind Samaritan. (Luke 10:30-37) In 1924, The Watch Tower said that the Samaritan represented Jesus and that the road that ran downhill from Jerusalem to Jericho represented the worsening condition of humans since the rebellion in Eden. Also, the thieves on the road represented large corporations and greedy businessmen, and the priest and the Levite represented Christendom. But today, our literature uses that illustration to remind all Christians not to be prejudiced. We must help all those in need, especially by helping them to learn the truth about God. It brings us joy to see how Jehovah makes the truth clear.
15. What will we discuss in the next article?
15 In our next article, we will discuss Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins. (Matthew 25:1-13) How did Jesus want his followers in the last days to understand that powerful illustration? Does every person, object, or event in the illustration represent someone or something greater in the future? Or did he want us to learn practical lessons that would help us during the last days? Let us see.
^ par. 4 The simplified edition was first made available in the English language in July 2011. Since then, a simplified edition has been made available in a few other languages.
^ par. 5 The revised edition will be made available in other languages.
^ par. 10 For example, the book Imitate Their Faith discusses the lives of 14 different Bible characters. The book focuses on practical lessons, not on types or antitypes.
^ par. 12 God’s Word also contains things that may seem “hard to understand,” including some parts of Paul’s writings. However, all Bible writers were inspired by holy spirit. God’s spirit helps true Christians today to understand the Bible, including “even the deep things of God.”