A question for Jehovah’s Witnesses (others welcome) regarding the Watchtower interpretation of John 18:36…?

Question by Carlito: A question for Jehovah’s Witnesses (others welcome) regarding the Watchtower interpretation of John 18:36…?
PLEASE read carefully before responding 🙂

The Watchtower prohibits involvement in this world’s political system for it’s adherents.

It repeatedly employs the above verse to support it’s stance.

Is it not the case that in doing so, the Watchtower has

ignored the context & background to Jesus’ statement, as found in the gospels?

In John 19:12, the Jews say to Pilate, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” They basically accused Jesus of being an insurrectionist.

Luke 23:2 – “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.”

Mark 15:26 – And the inscription of THE CHARGE against him read, “The King of the Jews.”

John 19:21 – So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am the King of the Jews.'”

Was it not against this background

– that is, falsely accused under Roman law of sedition –

that Jesus statement, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, MY SERVANTS WOULD HAVE BEEN FIGHTING,”

was made?

Wasn’t Jesus statement a refutation of His accusers claim that He was looking to instigate a rebellion, rather than a prohibition of involvement in earthly politics?

Furthermore, please consider that two of Jehovah’s most renowned servants, Joseph and Daniel, were both involved at the highest level in the governments of Egypt and Babylon, respectively.

Your thoughts, please?

Thanks in advance for all polite and concise responses that address the scriptural references cited. All Bible quotes from ESV. Caps for emphasis.
Christ is the answer –

Good point about Esther.
Steinbeck11 –

Thanks for your time.

Are you completely ruling out the possibility that God could call someone into the political system for the execution of His purposes on earth today?

If so, which scripture categorically supports such a position? Background and context shows that it ISN’T John 18:36.

Thanks again. Caps for emphasis, btw.
everett –

Thanks for your time.

You wrote,

“Joseph and Daniel…were given certain duties within the governments where they were enslaved”

and

“They didn’t seek out a political position.”

The Bible teaches that both Joseph and Daniel’s entrance into the pagan political systems of the day were supernaturally facilitated BY GOD – Genesis 41:1-45, Daniel 2:1-49.

In other words, God called them into the political system and, particularly in Joseph’s case, used him PRIMARILY in regard to the administrative affairs of the land, for the good of PAGAN people (Genesis 41:46-56, esp. vv. 55, 57) as well as any Hebrews.

In fact, subsequent to Joseph’s political appointment, he did not prophesy in the Egyptian court again.

As a side note – on Daniel’s request, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were appointed “..over the affairs of the province of Babylon.” (2:49)

Cont…
Furthermore, everett –

The point of contention is not regarding the obvious imperfection of human political systems

but rather,

IN CONTEXT

whether or not Jesus’ statement in John 18:36 constitutes an explicit (or even implicit) prohibition of Christian entry into politics?

The answer is clearly NO.

Thanks again. All caps for emphasis.
Shell and Bambootiger –

Thanks for your time.

None of what you have written supports the WT position on John 18:36.

Steinbeck11 –

I hear what you are saying re we cannot legislate morality.

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that we cannot legislate the INTERNAL morality that comes to hearts that receive God’s salvation and kingdom.

I’m no “right-wing fundamentalist,” and I ultimately look to the return of Christ and the establishment BY HIM of His righteous kingdom here on earth.

However, a DEGREE of moral conduct in society CAN be legislated through the political process. Just imagine if abortion was criminalised?

Also, the God-ordained authorities (ultimately headed up by politicians), exist to restrain evil & execute justice (Romans 13:1-7, esp. v.4). Can you imagine how much worse society would be without a police force, imperfect as it is?

Yes, the gospel is paramount, but God is also concerned for societal justice NOW.

Thanks again.
Rolando CI –

Thanks for your time.

Your argumentum ad hominem does little to conceal the weakness of your response, sir.

Your statement,

“people like you…want to find a justification to go and kill your neighbour”

is deeply offensive.

You don’t know me. There is nothing in my question or my additional comments to indicate that I am a murderer, which is essentially what you are saying.

So, on what basis do you judge me? Are you GOD, that you possess supernatural insight into the workings of my heart?

Shame on you 🙁

It’s a typical Watchtower tactic to attack the questioner, when one is unable to provide a substantial Biblical basis to support a position held.

“Politics and wars go hand in hand” betrays your ignorance of the political system, sir.

It was through the political system that Christian William Wilberforce worked for the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. If he had been a JW, many would probably still be in chains today.
Rolando CI –

Thanks for your time.

Your argumentum ad hominem does little to conceal the weakness of your response, sir.

Your statement,

“people like you…want to find a justification to go and kill your neighbour”

is deeply offensive.

You don’t know me. There is nothing in my question or my additional comments to indicate that I am a murderer, which is essentially what you are saying.

So, on what basis do you judge me? Are you GOD, that you possess supernatural insight into the workings of my heart?

Shame on you 🙁

It’s a typical Watchtower tactic to attack the questioner, when one is unable to provide a substantial Biblical basis to support a position held.

“Politics and wars go hand in hand” betrays your ignorance of the political system, sir.

It was through the political system that Christian William Wilberforce worked for the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. If he had been a JW, many would probably still be in chains today.
Phantom avatar –

Thanks for your time.

You wrote,

– And your statement “God is also concerned for societal justice NOW” is incorrect. There is no scriptural basis for that kind of thinking –

With all due respect, I beg to differ. Romans 13:1-6 clearly shows that God IS concerned with “societal justice NOW.” It is an indisputable, SCRIPTURAL fact.

I’ll let God’s word speak for itself.

Re your further comment –

My example of William Wilberforce disproves Rolando’s generalization that “Politics and Wars go hand in hand.”

It proves that good CAN be achieved through the political system, by means of the right people.

Thanks again.
Whoopsie –

Thanks for your time.

I’m not here to engage in childish exchanges of insults. I’m a Christian and TRUE Christians consistently display the fruit of the Spirit in their conduct.

The verses from Romans are clear enough. I’m content to let the Bible speak to those who wish to listen.

Thanks again.
Jacquie –

Thanks for your time.

None of those references provide anything like proof that Jesus was prohibiting involvement in politics.

Furthermore, Romans 13:1-6 shows that the “authorities” have been instituted, not by Satan, but by God.

v.6 shows that we pay taxes to “GOD’S public servants,” (NWT, caps emphatic).

Who do we pay taxes to, Jacquie?

The Government?

Which is comprised of…?

Satan may well have a limited amount of power in this world inasmuch as he holds sway over the minds of most of the world’s population (see Ephesians 2:2, 1 John 5:19)

– hence, “the god of this age” –

but ALL authority

“in heaven and on earth”

has been given to Jesus Christ, from His resurrection onward (see Matthew 28:18)

For the outworking of Jehovah’s purposes, Satan is permitted a measure of influence upon the world’s population, but JESUS CHRIST ultimately rules this world.

With all due respect, you are quite mistaken.

Thanks.
PS – Jacquie,

re the three refs which you quoted from John, which all refer to Satan as the “ruler” of this world –

These were all spoken PRIOR to Jesus’ death & resurrection and His subsequent installment as this world’s ruler (see the use of ‘arche’ in Revelation 3:14 – “the RULER of God’s creation”).

Please note that in 12:31, Jesus said that

“now the ruler of this world WILL BE CAST OUT,”

which points toward Satan’s loss of authority over this world, following Jesus death & resurrection.

Thanks again.

Best answer:

Answer by Christ is the Answer you seek™.
Let’s not forget Esther, who by virtue of her marriage to the king, used all the political knowledge and wherewithall to effect political change (the policy vs. Jews).

What about Paul? He used his rights as a Roman citizen to prevent being unlawfully executed.

How about Nehemiah who worked for the king?

Add your own answer in the comments!

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13 thoughts on “A question for Jehovah’s Witnesses (others welcome) regarding the Watchtower interpretation of John 18:36…?

  1. Jesus taught christians to be in subjection to the governmental authorities unless it went against God’s Laws. HE never called himself the king of the Jews, he was God’s Son and through scriptures it was known that God’s Son would reign as King in God’s Kingdom, but this was not an earthly Kingdom, and first century christians understood this.

    Joseph and Daniel were both slaves, that were given certain duties within the governments where they were enslaved. And both were used by god to Prophesy for God. They didn’t seek out a political position.

  2. An interesting point is that Jesus was born King of the Jews, and when He came into Jerusalem, riding on the donkey as King, He was acclaimed as such. Mat 2:2 Lk 19:38 Jn 1:49 & 12:13. Of course, He was not out to instigate a rebellion against Rome! If so, His disciples would have fought. Yet Jesus undoubtedly was King of Israel. The point is, He only accepts willing subjects. He does not force people to bend their knee to Him as King, not until it comes time to fulfill the final part of Psalm 2, that is.

    The whole of the Old Testament is about political rule on earth via the anointed kings of Yahweh, and we even get a Jewish woman, Esther, being placed at an extremely high and influential level of Medo-Persian government in order to carry out God’s will on earth. In the New Testament, no Roman Centurion or soldier is told to resign their commission / position. We are told to remain in the station which we were in when God called us to faith. We are told to do all that we can to support governments and to pray for peace to spread the gospel. It may be true that very few Christians are actually called by God to play a role in politics, but history shows there were some outstanding individuals who glorified God that way. JWs won’t have any of that, of course!

    Nor do JWs acknowledge that to take a solid stance to refuse to vote, en masse, is a big political action! Yet when JWs were being persecuted and even killed in Malawi in the 1960s for refusing to buy the one and only political membership card, many of their Mexican brothers were bribing officials to register them as having signed the political Cartilla card! And HQ in America pretended not to know. All of that is exposed in Raymond Franz’s book, Crisis of Conscience.

  3. why do u say instigate rebellion? my lord simply answered the question truthfully,,simply stating he is not of this world,,but as u have investigated,,he came not for the world but to save the jews his farther chosen people from what is to come,,another thing to know,,well didn’t he become friends with pilate{herod}when at first he was his enemy at the first,,so it was the jews who killed their own king,,they who desired rule under {man}earthy power and desired the things of this system of things,,as you see what the jews are doing today they are not following their king whom they killed,,and as jesus spoke if it were for political rule his servants would have been fighting,,and for surety they{man} would have lost against god almighty heavenly camp….

  4. I think it’s more of a sin to do nothing when you see injustice being done. I once heard this quote: If you don’t speak out against something you know is wrong, you condone it.

  5. You asked about “a prohibition of involvement in earthly politics?” What world do you think that Jesus was referring to? If it was just the government of Rome then why did Satan offer Jesus all the Kingdoms of the world?

    (Matthew 4:8-9) “8 Again the Devil took him along to an unusually high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, 9 and he said to him: “All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me.””

    Would it have been a temptation if Jesus did not believe that Satan had authority over all the Kingdoms of the world of mankind? Jesus himself later referred to the devil as the ruler of this world:

    (John 12:31) “31 Now there is a judging of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.”

    (John 14:30) “30 I shall not speak much with YOU anymore, for the ruler of the world is coming. And he has no hold on me,”

    The apostles too had the same viewpoint:
    (1 John 5:19) “ 19 We know we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the [power of the] wicked one.”

    Jesus told his disciples to pray for a Kingdom that would rule over the earth from Heaven and accomplish God’s will for the earth in the model prayer. Even though such individuals as you mentioned such as Joseph, Ester, and Daniel had high positions in earthly governments they did not bring those governments into power, or keep them in power. In fact it was Daniel who told the King of Babylon that he would be overthrown on the night that his government fell to the Medes and Persians.

    So, as Christians, we are advocates and citizens of God’s government and we point people to God’s Kingdom as the solution to all of mankinds problems. Certainly we will not be opposed to Jehovah when it is his time to bring all human government to an end, and replace it with his own:

    (Daniel 2:44) “44 “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite;”

    (Revelation 19:11-18) “11 And I saw the heaven opened, and, look! a white horse. And the one seated upon it is called Faithful and True, and he judges and carries on war in righteousness. 12 His eyes are a fiery flame, and upon his head are many diadems. He has a name written that no one knows but he himself, 13 and he is arrayed with an outer garment sprinkled with blood, and the name he is called is The Word of God. 14 Also, the armies that were in heaven were following him on white horses, and they were clothed in white, clean, fine linen. 15 And out of his mouth there protrudes a sharp long sword, that he may strike the nations with it, and he will shepherd them with a rod of iron. He treads too the winepress of the anger of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 And upon his outer garment, even upon his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. 17 I saw also an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice and said to all the birds that fly in midheaven: “Come here, be gathered together to the great evening meal of God, 18 that YOU may eat the fleshy parts of kings and the fleshy parts of military commanders and the fleshy parts of strong men and the fleshy parts of horses and of those seated upon them, and the fleshy parts of all, of freemen as well as of slaves and of small ones and great.””

  6. If you want to become politically active and have a clear conscience in doing it with the scriptures as your basis, you’re going to be hard pressed to come up with where Jesus said to address the Roman senate or become part of it, etc.

    Daniel was a captive (remember this is the time called Babylonian Captivity) and a willing servant to God, our Father, where God had placed him not because he thought in anyway he could change the government system. Joseph was also a prisoner but God used his position to bless and establish the Nation of Israel during a time of great famine.

    If you are willing to share in the example of Daniel and Joseph, would you willingly become a slave, a prisoner to an pagan government and have every single thing taken from you to be used of God for a very specific reason and circumstance which are entirely out of your control and completely dependent on God???
    Or would you desire that you, and all those whom I call Agendizers, attempt to Legislate Morality and thereby nullify all the benefits and blessings of relying on Jesus rather than man?

    When you begin to *think* you can legislate morality through your involvement in politics you have missed the entire point.

    Only through Christ Jesus can man become a new creature and have the holiness (morality) that is Eternal.

    No man-made law can establish man’s morality and even God’s perfect Law given in the Word of God was a schoolmaster to direct us to Christ Jesus…it could not be fulfilled by anyone, except for Jesus who is Perfect!

    Galatians 3:24, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

    We can NOT through our human efforts (even our own understanding and “wisdom”) ever establish God’s perfect and righteous standards.

    1 Corinthians 2:5, “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

    It takes the Power of God to change the heart of each individual to be called by Him, chosen and given the Power to remain Faithful until the end!

  7. I’d love to answer your question, but it’s only by your answering it yourself at the end that I’m even sure what you were asking.

    Has the WT ignored the context and background?

    They’ve been all over the place with it, just like they have changed the answers (and/or the questions) many times on many subjects.

    Politics yes or no? Well, they say no, but then they come up with gradations and variables.

    A far more important example of this is their stance on blood transfusions (and the subset of organ transplants). It used to be blood was blood and the only substitutes for blood were clearly not made from any of its parts. Now there are exceptions for every “fraction” so that when you add the exceptions together, you get the whole.

    Has the Watchtower ignored the impact of its wishy-washy statements on the lives of human beings? A clear yes.

  8. Good question w/fair observations.
    your quote of Romans 13: 1-7 is a direct reflection of Exodus 18: 19-22 that describes why and how to set up God fearing men to rule or govern. Moses sat down to do his duties as judge, and His father in law, Jethro gave him counsel to set up leaders.

    To abdicate civil rule, to not serve, defend, and govern our land over what is complete mis interpretation of John 18:36, is an affront to Jehovah Gods intent for us to be servants, and ‘witnesses’. It is two-faced self righteousness that God will judge

    You and Steinbeck made a good point with Daniel and Joseph. (re-read) Had those two taken the Jehovah Witness stance, what do you think would have been the outcome? (yeah, think about that one )

    ,There are enough Jehovah Witnesses to turn the tide on ungodly, sinful laws if they would drop their Pharisee ego, and obey the example of Moses and Jethro.

    I would much rather see Jehovah Witnesses speak up for common decency, and defend what is important to God……..

    Maybe the problem stems from the simple fact, they don’t know or accept who Jesus is..
    Therefore, All the above is moot until they accept Christ for who He said He is.

    [edit] @Rolando…..where in my answers (or anybodys) do I (or others) promote your specific accusations? You said: “that people like you who belong to Christendom want to find a justification to go and kill your neighbor” & “…it runs in our blood?” Oh? Does it ever occur to you your cut n paste broad brush strokes of others are overly disingenuous? It is your presumptive accusations that blinds you to ‘truth’.

    Christians (in Christendom)….have “Samaritan blood” in them to do outreach to people in need. (or to use your words: love, justice, compassion and mercy)

    If you are not part of the solution, You Are Part of the Problem. How so? By your collective silence. It takes voice, votes, and participation to rid the land of things that offend Jehovah God. Non participation is abdication to evil.

    To have justice, you must participate….you (JW’s) refuse.
    I have yet to see a Jehovah Witness do anything to stop wide spread abortion, or protect the value of marriage in our land. I have yet to see JW’s provide homes or shelters for women escaping violent environments. No Jehovah Witnesses org. brings semi-truck loads of relief to the Apalachian poor (U.S.), or run shelters in big cities for the homeless….If they do I would like to know.
    How do you “justify” your non involvement before Jehovah? …by saying you dont participate in Babylon, etc? Is that what lets you sleep at night?

    Wouldnt it be better to be honest, than to make up twisted lies ?

    g’day

  9. It just amazes me that people like you who belong to Christendom want to find a justification to go and kill your neighbor. It seems to me like it runs in your blood to have that kind of tendency. I am just perplexed and blown away with your way of thinking. True Christians are supposed to think like Jesus. Were Jesus thoughts of killing others even if it was an enemy ? He always spoke of love, justice, compassion and mercy. He never spoke of hate, vengeance and killing another person. You quote from the Old Testament but you don’t show any passages or examples from the New Testament. Neither Jesus nor his Apostles participated in Politics and Wars neither did the First century Christians. John 13:35. Politics and Wars go hand in hand.

  10. You asked: “Wasn’t Jesus statement a refutation of His accusers claim that He was looking to instigate a rebellion, rather than a prohibition of involvement in earthly politics?”

    Answer: It was actually a little both. The Jewish religious leaders were trumping up all manner of false charges against Jesus, and the one charge where they claimed he was stirring up insurrection against the nation and stopping them from paying taxes to Ceasar was strikingly absurd considering the fact that the Jews DESPISED their being under Roman rule. They could care less about paying anything back to Caesar, they simply wanted Jesus dead, and a charge like that to Pontius Pilate was almost a threat. With the Jewish nation already resenting Roman rule (with the Romans aware of it), a Jewish uprising would not have ended well for Pilate, as he would have been executed. So on one hand he was rejecting the claims of the Jews, and on the other hand he was letting all know that his kingdom rule was NOT of an earthly source. It was the heavenly kingdom of which was the theme of his preaching while he was on earth. He had NO desire whatsoever to rule over mankind from some earthly kingdom. His promised kingdom was much greater than that.

    And your statement “God is also concerned for societal justice NOW” is incorrect.

    There is no scriptural basis for that kind of thinking. The overall theme of the Bible is God’s Kingdom and how in God’s due time, Jesus (as ruler of that kingdom) will enact all changes to the earth that is necessary for the bringing about of God’s original purpose. God has no interest in any attempts at mankind to promote “societal justice”, because as Jeremiah 10:23 states, it simply is NOT in man to rule himself apart from God.

    ** From May 1, 1996 WT “God and Caesar”, regarding the allowance of some of God’s people to occupy prominent positions of government:

    “In pre-Christian times, Jehovah permitted some of his servants to occupy prominent positions in State governments. For example, in the 18th century B.C.E., Joseph became prime minister of Egypt, second only to the reigning Pharaoh. (Genesis 41:39-43) Subsequent events made it evident that Jehovah maneuvered this so that Joseph could serve as an instrument in preserving the ‘seed of Abraham,’ his descendants, for the outworking of His purposes. Of course, it should be borne in mind that Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt, and he lived at a time when God’s servants had neither the Mosaic Law nor “the law of the Christ.”—Genesis 15:5-7; 50:19-21; Galatians 6:2

    After the fall of the Neo-Babylonian dynasty, Daniel was given a high-ranking governmental post under the new Medo-Persian regime that replaced it in Babylon. (Daniel 5:30, 31; 6:1-3) But he did not allow his high position to lead him into compromising his integrity. When a State law required that he worship King Darius rather than Jehovah, he refused. For this he was thrown to the lions, but Jehovah delivered him. (Daniel 6:4-24) Of course, this was in pre-Christian times. Once the Christian congregation was established, God’s servants came “under law toward Christ.” Many things that were permitted under the Jewish system were to be viewed differently, based on the way in which Jehovah was now dealing with his people.—1 Corinthians 9:21; Matthew 5:31, 32; 19:3-9.”

    ****
    Please spare us your immature and baseless responses such as “It’s a typical Watchtower tactic to attack the questioner, when one is unable to provide a substantial Biblical basis to support a position held.” – That’s not true. Don’t put the response of that individual as a hallmark of the Watchtower Society. Grow up…..now the shame is on YOU.

    And what’s more, his statement “Politics and wars go hand in hand” – is spot-on correct. Your attacking him for making an accurate statement shows your own ignorance if you’re denying what he’s said is true.

  11. (FYI) I am responding on behalf of another user, who told me he was just recently blocked by the asker simply for answering their question. A very immature move on the part of someone asking a question and seeking answers from people.

    Romans 13:1-6 has NO bearing on God caring about “societal justice NOW”. You can claim whatever you want to be “indisputable, scriptural fact”, but the fact that you call it that means it’s your OPINION, and a person’s opinion IS NOT fact. Any intelligent person knows that.

    Also – your example of William Wilberforce doesn’t disprove anything. You seem to be of the mind that no matter what you respond to someone else’s comments with, it wins the argument. That is not sound or logical thinking.

    (Waiting to see how long it takes for him to block me, since I’ve pointed out the game he’s playing.)

  12. Jesus statement was a refutation of his accusers claim that he was looking to instigate a rebellion, AND a prohibition of involvement in earthly politics.

    If we examine the following things in the Bible, then it becomes clear exactly WHY Jesus instructs his followers not to involve themselves in politics.

    1) Other scriptures prove who exactly is ruling the earthly system of things today – Satan
    John 12:31
    John 14:30
    John 16:11
    1 John 5:19
    2 Corinthians 4:3,4

    2) Because he himself didn’t (for the reason in (1))
    After witnessing Jesus’ ability to perform miracles, some wanted him to become involved in local politics. His response? “Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” John 6:15, (NIV)

    3) In Revelation, ‘Babylon the Great’ is described as being ‘a harlot’… why?
    Because ‘she’ “commits fornication with the kings of the earth.”
    From an in-depth study of the book of Revelation, we see clearly that ‘Babylon the Great’ is the world empire of false religion on the earth. Notice that ‘she’ (or it) commits fornication, that is an immoral relationship with the kings of the earth (earthly kingdoms or governments)
    THAT is why ‘she’ is described as a harlot…. and will ultimately be destroyed when God brings his wrath upon ‘her’
    In Revelation 18:4, God urges “his people” to “Get out of her”

    That is why we as Jehovah’s Witnesses avoid false politics & false religion (who get involved in politics)

  13. (Jeremiah 10:23) . . .. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step. . .

    (Ecclesiastes 8:9) . . .man has dominated man to his injury. . .

    (Daniel 2:44) “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite;

    Why be part of something that is going to be destroyed???

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