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Posts tagged ‘Book of Revelation’

Charles Taze Russell and what he started

We would like to present some older articles published by us on the website of Bijbelvorsers Webs, the Association of Bible Scholars or Researchers an Association for Bible-study, and Biblestudents on March 4, 2011 at 5:41 am:

Charles Taze Russell and what he started.

C. T.Russell was born in 1852 (the second of five children) in Allegheny,Pennsylvania in the US. He grew up in faith with his father, got to know the Presbyterian and the Congregational Church. He investigated the philosophies of the Far East – Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism but soon concluded that these philosophies were empty, and his quest for spiritual satisfaction and peace remained unfulfilled.

Christians worldwide were for the first time ever considering the prophetic chronology of the Bible, concluding that Christ was going to return on dates calculated anywhere from 1862 through 1881 (with greater focus on the year 1868). From 1868 to 1875 a lot of Christians all over the world had come in great expectation for the return of Christ, believing that the 6,000 years from the creation of Adam were complete, and the seventh and final millennium began. Lots of preachers,determined to find the truth, went around the world to proclaim the end times.

George Storrs (1796–1879) one of the leaders of the Second Advent movement and affiliated with William Miller and Joshua V. Himes. He began publication of his magazine The Bible Examiner in 1843 and continued it until 1879 with a few breaks - George Storrs (1796-1879) een van de leiders van de Tweede Advent beweging en aangesloten bij William Miller en Joshua V. Himes. Hij begon met de publicatie van zijn tijdschrift The Bible Examiner in 1843 en bleef het tot 1879 met een paar pauzes publiceren

George Storrs (1796–1879) one of the leaders of the Second Advent movement and affiliated with William Miller and Joshua V. Himes. He began publication of his magazine The Bible Examiner in 1843 and continued it until 1879 with a few breaks – George Storrs (1796-1879) een van de leiders van de Tweede Advent beweging en aangesloten bij William Miller en Joshua V. Himes. Hij begon met de publicatie van zijn tijdschrift The Bible Examiner in 1843 en bleef het tot 1879 met een paar pauzes publiceren

George Stetson (1814–1879) Millerite who also wrote for George Storrs’ magazine The Herald of Life and the Coming Kingdom, and for other magazines such as The World's Crisis - George Stetson (1814–1879) Millerite die ook schreef voor George Storrs’ magazine The Herald of Life en the Coming Kingdom, en voor andere bijbelstudenten tijdschriften zoals The World's Crisis

George Stetson (1814–1879) Millerite who also wrote for George Storrs’ magazine The Herald of Life and the Coming Kingdom, and for other magazines such as The World’s Crisis – George Stetson (1814–1879) Millerite die ook schreef voor George Storrs’ magazine The Herald of Life en the Coming Kingdom, en voor andere bijbelstudenten tijdschriften zoals The World’s Crisis

Soon C.T. Russell began also to see that he was living somewhere near the close of the Gospel age, “and near the time when the Lord had declared that the wise,watching ones of his children should come to a clear knowledge of his plan.” From the years 1870 through 1875 Charles, his father Joseph, his sister Margaret, along with several other interested friends and associates, and a few other truth-seekers in Pittsburgh and Allegheny formed a class for Bible study with the well studied Millerite pastors George Storrs, and George Stetson. These studies were purposely detailed and analytical with the goal of examining every ‘jot and tittle’ of Christian doctrine, creeds and traditions in order to determine their accuracy, or to see if they were nothing but “the traditions of men”. Slowly, and step by step, they were able to separate which doctrines were Bible-based from those that were error, or mere tradition. Such detailed studies and questions of faith were common to numerous Protestant groups in the United States at this time in American history.

Charles had a time of constant growth in grace and knowledge and love of God and his Word. During this time of his Bible study, the Russells were also influenced by Adventists such as Jonas Wendell, Nelson Barbour, the Christadelphians and the Lutheran minister Joseph Seiss. In the history of Bible Students we cannot escape to see several names coming up in different denominations of today. In the nineteenth century there was a big cross-pollination. Some of Russell’s beliefs can be traced back to the very beginning of the Second Advent movement started by William Miller.

William Miller (1782-1849), American clergyman, founded a movement which involved thousands in eagerly awaiting the Second Coming of Christ. - William Miller (1782-1849), Amerikaanse dominee, stichtte een beweging die duizenden reikhalzend deden uitkijken naar de wederkomst van Christus.

William Miller (1782-1849), American clergyman, founded a movement which involved thousands in eagerly awaiting the Second Coming of Christ. – William Miller (1782-1849), Amerikaanse dominee, stichtte een beweging die duizenden reikhalzend deden uitkijken naar de wederkomst van Christus.

Because of their intensive study of the Bible, the Russell family (Charles, Margaret, and Joseph) concluded that they had finally gained a new and clearer understanding of what a Christian is called to do in laying down their earthly life in sacrifice and service to God. All three renewed their consecration (vow of dedication) and decided to be re-baptized in 1874.

In 1876 Russell sold his father’s men’s clothing tailoring store named “The Old QuakerShop” located on Federal Street in downtown Pittsburgh and used this money to use it for preaching and publication purposes.

Russell was impressed with Nelson Barbour’s “invisible presence” views on Christ’s coming and he accepted much of his chronological views. Barbour and Russell soon became partners in publishing Herald of the Morning, Pastor Russell becoming an assistant editor of the Adventist magazine.

C.T.Russell became also the co-publisher of the book, Three Worlds and The Harvest of This World (Also called, Three Worlds: Or Plan of Redemption) (1877). A doctrinal dispute between Russell and Barbour over the atonement, and that the Rapture of the saints would occur in April 1878, resulted in Russell ending his partnership with Barbour and publishing his own magazine the Zion’s Watch Tower magazine, starting in 1879. When Russell left, he took many of Barbour’s readers with him, including J.H. Paton, the Herald magazine’s other assistant editor. He continued with Barbour’s chronology of 1874 being the date of Christ’s invisible return, 1799 as the start of the time of the end and 1914 as the “end of the Gentile Times”.

In 1908 the name of their magazine was changed to The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

Russell married Maria (pronounced ‘moriah’) Frances Ackley (1850-1938 ) on March 13,1879, after merely a few months’ acquaintance. The marriage was based on a mutually agreed celibate partnership established for preaching the gospel. In 1897 they separated following disagreements over the propriety of her role in the management of Zion’s Watch Tower magazine.

In 1881 “Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society” was founded with the purpose of disseminating tracts, papers, doctrinal treatises and Bibles, and was officially chartered in 1884.

Charles devoted nearly a tenth of his fortune in publishing and distributing his first major publication, entitled “Food for Thinking Christians” in 1881. In that same year he also wrote and distributed, “Tabernacle and its Teachings”, and “Tabernacle Shadows of the Better Sacrifices”. In “Food for Thinking Christians”, Russell’s zeal to throw light upon the creedal errors motivated him to tear into the error without first showing that the Bible was indeed true, and that there was truth to be found therein. This approach shivered many men well and did the rear.

Russell wanted to outline the entire Bible and God’s plan for humanity, completely free of the Roman creeds and “traditions of men” in a seven-volume set. The first volume was originally entitled “The Plan of the Ages”, later renamed “The Divine Plan of the Ages”.

The”Divine Plan of the Ages” took the opposite approach of “Food for Thinking Christians” and first showed the beauty and harmony of the Bible before attacking the creedal errors. This approach was accepted as a refreshing answer to people’s search for truth so evident from the end of the 19th century onward.

The remaining volumes of the series, originally named “Millennial Dawn” but renamed in 1904 to “Studies in the Scriptures”, are:

 

The Time is at Hand (1889)

Thy Kingdom Come (1891)

The Day of Vengeance/The Battle of Armageddon (1897)

The Atonement Between God and Men (1899)

The New Creation (1904)

 

The delayed publishing of the seventh volume eventually became a source of great anticipation and mystery among Bible Students. Following Russell’s death in 1916, a seventh volume entitled The Finished Mystery, was published in 1917 and advertised as his “posthumous work”. True to Russell’s plan, this seventh volume was a detailed interpretation of the book of Revelation, but had included interpretations of Ezekiel, and the Song of Solomon. Immediate controversy surrounded both its publishing, and contents. In a short time it was established that it was actually written and compiled by two of Russell’s former associates, Clayton J. Woodworth and George H. Fisher, and edited by Joseph Franklin Rutherford. [i]

By 1903, newspapers began printing sermons written by Pastor Russell. The success of this got perhaps in his head. Though a lot of criticism came up he became more in the picture and got more followers.

While on the one hand claiming no special “authority,” Russell clearly desired to be the “servant” in the estimation of the “household of faith.” The danger became that he started claiming to be the “mouthpiece” of God. While others before him paved the way in giving the “midnight cry,” such as Miller and Barbour, Russell believed he was finally chosen as the one in restoring true Biblical teaching. While saying everyone needed to decide for himself, etc., Russell clearly wanted everyone to”study” the Bible solely from his writings.

Frederick William Franz (1893–1992) member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses and served as president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, the legal entity used to direct the work of Jehovah's Witnesses. - Frederick William Franz (1893-1992) lid van het Regerend Lichaam van Jehovah's Getuigen en diende als president van het Wachttorengenootschap the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, de juridische entiteit gebruikt om het werk van Jehovah's Getuigen te leiden.

Frederick William Franz (1893–1992) member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses and served as president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, the legal entity used to direct the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. – Frederick William Franz (1893-1992) lid van het Regerend Lichaam van Jehovah’s Getuigen en diende als president van het Wachttorengenootschap the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, de juridische entiteit gebruikt om het werk van Jehovah’s Getuigen te leiden.

After Russell’s dead it became even worse. A leadership crisis arose surrounding the new president of the Society, Joseph Rutherford, resulting in a movement-wide schism. As many as three-quarters of the approximately 50,000 Bible Students who had been associating in 1917 had left by 1931, resulting in the formation of several groups that retained variations on the name Bible Students. The idea of the truthful slave was interpolated to the Watchtower Tract Society. Rutherford and Fred Franz (Frederick William Franz) their followers who maintained fellowship with the Watch Tower Society adopted the name Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1931. They accept that the Society is provided with the only truthful slave and is the only one which has received the light from God and can show the light and right way to enter the Kingdom of God. JW‘s believe the Bible Students are still stuck on the “old light” of “Pastor” Russell and thus haven’t kept up with the latest “light” or “present truth.” Thus JW’s are no longer “Russellites” or followers of Russell as detractors have called them and they used to proudly call themselves. [ii] Russell is no longer viewed by the Watchtower Society as the “faithful and wise servant” alone serving the “meat in due season” or proper explanation of the Scriptures as they taught until 1927. [iii] They have gone back to the original view that the “servant” is a class of people, the 144,000, of which Russell was only one. The truth is still being progressively revealed to the modern “remnant” of the 144,000 who are currently leading the corporation Russell founded according the Jehovah Witnesses. Russell is viewed by JW’s today as the founder of their movement who helped revive the truth and separated them from Babylon the Great, but who taught many things that are no longer the “truth’ as the “light has grown brighter” since his day. JW’s therefore do not and are not encouraged to read Russell’s material at all, except the brief quotations provided by the Society’s writers in their current publications.

The Society of the Watchtower stopped publishing Russell his Studies in the Scriptures in 1928. Many Bible Students believe for the most part that the Society has become apostate as it no longer believes in many of Russell’s teachings as exposed in his Studies. As Russell warned about those who would do such a thing, the Society has gone into spiritual darkness, according to those other Bible Students. JW’s are viewed by many Bible Students as part of the Whore of Babylon and tell JW’s to “get out of her my people.”

Although the JW testify to be bible the only real research workers of truth, we fortunately can determine that there are, though be it in comparison with the traditional religions, not so many, still several people who were faithful to study the Book of books wanting to examine the Holy Scriptures and to investigate how they can be most faithful to this Word of God.

Those who severed ties with the Society formed their own groups including the Pastoral Bible Institute in 1918 (publishing The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom), the Layman’s Home Missionary Movement in 1919, and the Dawn Bible Students Association in 1929.

Moreover the former not associated Bible researchers remain still active in their Bible study and the proclamation of the Word of God.

*

Notes:

[i] http://www.pastor-russell.com/misc/bio.html

[ii] Walter Martin and Norman Klan, Jehovahof the Watchtower (Minneapolis, MN.: Bethany House Publishers), 1953, 1974,p. 41; The Golden Age, March 17, 1920, pp. 409-414.

[iii] J. F. Rutherford, The Harp ofGod (Brooklyn, NY: Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society), 1921, pp. 237,239.

Dutch speaking readers at that time could find this text in Dutch on the Space of the Belgian bible Students but by the disappearance of Windows Live Spaces the article also disappeared

Nederlandstaligelezerskonden dit artikel in het Nederlands vinden op de Space van Bijbelstudenten uit België maar door het wegvallen van Windows Live Spaces hebben wij dat artikel verloren : Charles Taze Russell, een bal die veel aan het rollen bracht.

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Find also:

  1. Different approach in organisation of services #1
  2. Different approach in organisation of services #2
  3. Different approach in organisation of services #3
  4. Priority to form a loving brotherhood
  5. Commitment to Christian unity
  6. Parts of the body of Christ
  7. Dissolution of Bijbelvorsers (Bible scholars), Association for Bible study

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  • The Mustard Seed by The Church of Christ, Sangotedo (slideshare.net)
    In the Bible, the mustard seed is used by Jesus in the parable of the Mustard Seed as a model for the kingdom of God which initially starts small but grows to be the biggest of all garden plants…
  • Bible Verse of the Day – Colossians 3:16 (worldeventsandthebible.com)
    Let the Word of Christ dwell in your heart. Think about that for a moment. When Christ’s Word truly dwells in our heart it makes us a better person. It allows us to see the love Christ has for us and this enables and encourages us to share His Letter with the world. This my friends is our mission in this life. To follow after our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and share His most precious Word with those who will give an ear.
  • November 17, 2014 – agreement (cohdailyprayer2014.wordpress.com)
    The leader relies on the mutual agreement we all have with God. He or she does not create faith or supply spiritual motivation. Christians live together in love and truth by their mutual agreement as people who are gifted with the Spirit of God. Our agreement holds us together. Agreement is a description of an action, not just a name for a document. Our ongoing, mutual dialogue in Christ forms and shapes our mutual understanding and direction. That agreement is a key factor in how much difference we make.
  • Bride of Christ (zestwriter.wordpress.com)
    John saw her / Descending from heaven / Her latter glory / Called her New Jerusalem / Such a beautiful story / What a beautiful bride / The bride of Christ
  • No separation! Romans 8:38-39 (wordsnmotion.wordpress.com)
    For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Moving Through Time: Timeline of Religion (pcr.wpengine.com)
  • In 1845-1870 AD, E.G. White established the 7th Day Adventists, a Protestant Christian denomination that believes in observing Saturday as the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week. In addition, 7th Day Adventists believe in the imminent second coming of the Jesus Christ. This movement was influenced and grew out of the Millerite movement in the United States during the 19th century.
  • In 1848 AD, Kate and Margaret Fox founded Spiritualism, a belief system that postulates the belief in spirits of the dead who have an inclination in communicating with the living through a divination system known as mediumship.
  • In 1870 AD, Charles Taze Russel founded the Jehovah Witnesses, a Christian denomination distinct from mainstream Christianity. The Jehovah’s Witnesses base their beliefs on their own biblical interpretations and even transcribed their own version of the Holy Bible. They believe that Armageddon and the establishment of New Jerusalem is imminent.
  • In 1875 AD, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Henry Olcott founded the Theosophical Society, a research and publishing institute dedicated to sharing esoteric doctrine of many spiritual traditions around the world. H.P. Blavatsky’s extensive research led to the publishing of the “magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine,” a comprehensive synthesis of ancient knowledge. The Theosophical Society aimed to form a brotherhood that did not discriminate against race, creed, sex, caste, or color.
  • In 1879 AD, Mary Baker Eddy formed a cult sect known as Christian Science (PDF), a religious practice derived from revelations given to Mary Baker Eddy and from the Bible itself. Its core texts are the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, also known as the “Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures.” Christian Science asserts that humanity and the universe coincide together as a whole in their truest essence, whereas evil and fallacies are illusory aspects of the material plane.
  • Between 1889 to 1924 AD, Myrtle Fillmore founded the Unity School of Christianity, a religious group that believes that all people are created with sacred worth. The Unity School of Christianity shares a universal love for all people, regardless of race, sex, color, ethnicity, creed, gender, political ideology, or disability.
  • In 1902 AD, Rudolf Steiner founded the Anthroposophical Society, a religious organization that postulates that an individual can comprehend an objective spiritual world through direct experience and inner development.
  • In 1906 AD, the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World is one of the longest, and oldest Oneness Pentecostal organizations in operation today. It currently has a membership of one and a half million members in the United States alone. Pentecostal doctrine believes in the trinity; however, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God. In addition, Pentecostal attendees manifest the gifts of the spirit, especially the laying of hands and speaking in tongues.

Different approach in organisation of services #2

Time of the gentiles ending

After the Germans had invaded Belgium the faithful Bible students continued their preaching work. Even when they had to walk 99 kilometres from Liège to Charleroi along the railroad tracks, these humble coalminers were zealous to attend meetings.

The families Tilmant and Verdière continued to spread the Good News of the Kingdom.

Following Russell’s death, October 31st 1916, a seventh volume—entitled The Finished Mystery—was published in 1917 and advertised as his “posthumous work”. This seventh volume was a detailed interpretation of the book of Book of Revelation, but also included interpretations of Ezekiel and the Song of Solomon. An advertisement for the book in Zion’s Watch Tower called it “the true interpretation”, and had it promoted as being “of the Lord—prepared under his guidance.” Immediate controversy surrounded both its publication and content. It was soon established that it was largely written and compiled by two of Russell’s associates, Clayton J. Woodworth and George H. Fisher, and edited by Russell’s successor, Joseph Franklin Rutherford.

The position and air which Rutherford took was not appreciated by many. The Russellites accused him for betraying Russell. In Belgium as in other countries where the Present Truth was established, a few problems came to light, some people intended to divide.

In the course of events, for what concerns Jumet and the district of Charleroi, the Tilmant family and other people joined Rutherford who was elected president of the Watchtower Society. The strong personality of Rutherford like the one of Robert Roberts made people choosing for other lesser dictatorial figures. Several core doctrines of the Millennialist Restorationist Christian movement that emerged from the teachings and ministries of Dr. John Thomas and Charles Taze Russell, also known as Pastor Russell, got changed. Throughout the world thousands of members left congregations of Bible Students associated with the Watch Tower Society throughout the 1920s prompted in part by Rutherford’s failed predictions for the year 1925, increasing disillusionment with his on-going doctrinal and organizational changes, and his campaign for centralized control of the movement.

Followers in Belgium

Prolific writer and bible Student Paul Samuel Leo Johnson

Prolific writer and bible Student Paul Samuel Leo Johnson

The U.S.A. immigrant from Poland and a prominent Hebrew scholar, Paul Samuel Leo (formerly Levitsky) Johnson attracted many followers in Belgium and other places. In 1903 he had begun began fellowship with the Columbus Ecclesia of the Watch Tower Society and was appointed by Russell as a Pilgrim of the Bible Student movement in 1904. He eventually served as Russell’s personal secretary and in time became Russell’s most trusted friend and advisor. Though for him it became very difficult to cope with those Bible students who challenged the teachings of Pastor C.T. Russell on questions around his understanding of the new covenant and the ransom for all.

The illegal introduction of new by-laws for the Watch Tower Society gave the President Rutherford full control over the affairs of the Society. However, this was not Pastor Russell’s wish. In his last will and testament he had provided for a seven-man board of directors to succeed him. Four members of the Society’s Board of Directors, a majority of the Board, took strong exception to what they regarded as Rutherford’s high-handed behaviour and opposed him. Eventually tension between Rutherford and the directors grew and on July 17, 1917, Ruther­ford simply announced to the Bethel family in Brooklyn, New York, during meal time that he had replaced the four directors with his own appointees, using the legal jargon that the directors who had opposed him did not hold their positions legally under Pennsylvania law.
Ru­therford falsely claimed that the four directors and others with them were refusing to cooperate with the Society. Even today Jehovah’s Wit­nesses are told that the four directors who were expelled from the Watch Tower headquarters were wicked and self-serving.

Missionaries

Lots of serious Bible students like the Thomasites, Russellites and several associated members of the Bible Student Movement opposed the way Rutherford wanted to have the Bible Students moving. The four directors formed an institute to continue the work of Pastor Russell independent of the Society. Others would form corporations of their own. Some Bible Students followed the lead of their favourite elder or teacher. Still others, leery of organization and societies, stayed independent of all others.
Brother Paul Johnson gave his movement the name “Interior Missionary Laity Movement” (one of the unincorporated names used by Pastor Russell and the early IBSA).  From that group the Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Bible Students gave their ideas to some Belgians. Some joined Alexander F.L. Freitag, also known as Freytag, who at the end of 1917, still was responsible manager of the Watchtower edited in French in Switzerland. Freitag founded the group Angel of the Lord (inspired by a verse of the Apocalypse), Angel of Jehovah Bible and Tract Society, then Church of the Kingdom of God or the Philanthropic Assembly of the  “Friends of Man”. A small group was living in the area of Charleroi. Some of them have not followed the 3 movements and have formed an Association of Bible Students. The Young Men’s Mutual Bible Study Associations of brother Robert Ashcroft could attract others. The talks of Frank George Jannaway and his work to protect those who did not want to fight in the World War got probably also some attention, but the different groups were very small and as such came in the danger of oblivion.

Pearls not seen

In 1915 worldwide 50 million Tracts were distributed by the Bible Students.

Belgium got through a period that pearls were not seen.
“47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous” (Matthew 13:47-49 NIV)

During World War I there were two small groupsBible Researchers in the Netherlands, namely in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. In 1918 three trial issues of The Watchtower were issued, but there proved insufficient incentive to switch to regular edition.

20° century cries

Members of the Christadelphian Bible Mission (CBM)regularly came to the Low Countries (Holland, Belgium and North of France) or the Netherlands and some of them even found some base to stay in Holland where they started to from again some little groups of Bible Students.

Albert O. Hudson

Albert O. Hudson, founder of the Bible Fellowship Union

Bible Fellowship Union Web site in 2014 November The Bible Fellowship Union has published the ‘Bible Study Monthly’ and literature since 1945 continuing a magazine founded in 1924. Its objective is to promote Bible knowledge. - Bible Fellowship Union Web site in november 2014 - De Bijbel Fellowship Unie heeft  sinds 1945 de 'Bible Monthly' en andere literatuur gepubliceerd in voortzetting van een tijdschrift opgericht in 1924, met als doel de Bijbel kennis te bevorderen.

Bible Fellowship Union Web site in 2014 November The Bible Fellowship Union has published the ‘Bible Study Monthly’ and literature since 1945 continuing a magazine founded in 1924. Its objective is to promote Bible knowledge. – Bible Fellowship Union Web site in november 2014 – De Bijbel Fellowship Unie heeft sinds 1945 de ‘Bible Monthly’ en andere literatuur gepubliceerd in voortzetting van een tijdschrift opgericht in 1924, met als doel de Bijbel kennis te bevorderen.

Also from Great-Britain, where the Bible Fellowship Union was formed, they began publishing The Bible Students Monthly in 1924, later renamed The Bible Study Monthly so as not to be mistaken with the new Watch Tower which previously published a paper by that name. Albert O. Hudson became the general director and served in that capacity until his death at age 101 in 2000. Today it is run by an editorial committee.

But they too had to face a split, with William Crawford, an original member of the British Board of Directors, founding the Old Paths Publications and produced the monthly journal Old Paths. Countless booklets, books, and tracts were produced.

At the time of the split in 1917, the Forest Gate Church was the second largest Bible Student group in England. F. G. Guard, father-in-law of William Crawford, led the class in ­divorcing themselves from the Society. In 1939 they started publishing The Forest Gate Church Bible Monthly, along with booklets and tracts. This group disbanded in 1979.

Facing an other war

The Thomasites found too many where gone to far away from Dr. John Thomas his ideas. They and Australian Biblestudents who also found the Birmingham Christadelphians and CBM were not any more real followers of John Thomas got in contact with some Belgian Biblestudents who wanted to stay as close as possible to the Biblical Truth.

Freitag, former Branch manager of the Swiss Watch Tower Society since 1898, claimed he was the legitimate successor of Charles Taze Russell and sent to the Bible Students The Message of Laodicea (Le Message de Laodicée) and published two journals, the monthly The Monitor of the Reign of Justice (Le Moniteur du Règne de Justice) and the weekly Newspaper for All (Le Journal pour tous).

Freitag’s movement was later continued under the leadership of Édouard Rufener, then Marie Roulin, then Mr. Kohli and the main headquarters became based in Cartigny, Switzerland.

When Freitag died in 1947, one of his followers, Bernard Sayerce (1912–1963), a Roman Catholic schoolteacher, claimed he was his successor. Almost all of the 900 French and Belgian assemblies joined this new group which had a peak of 9,700 members between 1958 and 1962. In 1963, Lydie Sartre (1898–1972), who was named the “Dear Mom”, then Joseph Neyrand (1927–1981) in 1971, replaced Sayerce as leaders of the movement, named “Amis sans frontières” (Friends without borders) in 1984 which is still active today.

The Association of Bible Students and the Association of Bible Researchers (Associatie of Vereniging van Bijbelonderzoekers) got alls sorts of people, from all sorts of denominations, who wanted seriously to investigate what was written in the Holy Scriptures and how we had to interpret it.

Throughout the world many small independent bible student groups got to see how several who first followed Rutherford, also became dissatisfied of the way things where going. As the years went by, more and more of the brethren seeing a change of direction and attitude within the Society soon departed and thus the big exodus started. By 1930 the majority of the brethren who worked closely with Pastor Russell had left the Society — many had been forced out. By this time, all of Pastor Russell’s writings were discarded in favour of the writings of Ruther­ford, writings that contradicted each other. By 1929 over a hundred changes in doctrines had been made; the Society no longer resembled that which was established by Pastor Russell and his early associates. The Society had a new look and a new attitude. No longer was it simply a publishing house for the dissemination of Bible literature. Now it was “God’s Theocratic Organization.” To disagree with it was tantamount to treason against God himself.

Shortly after founding the “Goshen Fellowship” after he was disfellowshipped by N.H. Knorr in 1951 Jesse Hemery died. Jesse Hemery was appointed overseer of the Watch Tower Society’s British Isles branch office by Russell in 1901, holding that post until 1946. In Belgium this group became known under this name but from the 1960-70ies also under the name “Zion’s Herald” after their publication (which started in 1965), which was for years published under directorship of Frank Lewis Brown.

Pamphlets published by opposing sides during t...

Pamphlets published by opposing sides during the dispute over Rutherford’s leadership, 1917. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although many of the original 19° century Bible Students have died, their grandchildren and faithful followers of the first hour group still carry on. Though even today there may be disputes between certain groups claiming that they and not the other one is following the original teaching of Dr. Thomas or Pastor Russell. The Christadelphians became the lesser group in the Bible Student Movement, whilst the International Bible Student Association (IBSA) may find it very difficult to have people to come to see that they are the true followers of Charles Taze Russell and not the Jehovah Witnesses who claim unjustified that Russell would have founded their organisation.

The Watchtower and Tract Society from Brooklyn has gone so far as to state that Bible Students no longer exist, that they have died out and none remain or they say they are the only bible Students.

Hopefully we can convince you that this is not the case and that all over the world several students of the Bible or Bible Students can be found who have nothing to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The American Association of followers of Charles Taze Russell his teachings: the International Bible Students Association (IBSA), not to be confused with the English IBSA of the Jehovah's Witnesses - De Amerikaanse Vereniging van de volgelingen van Charles Taze Russell zijn leer: de International Bible Students Association (IBSA), niet te verwarren met het Engelse IBSA van de Jehovah's Getuigen

The American Association of followers of Charles Taze Russell his teachings: the International Bible Students Association (IBSA), not to be confused with the English IBSA of the Jehovah’s Witnesses – De Amerikaanse Vereniging van de volgelingen van Charles Taze Russell zijn leer: de International Bible Students Association (IBSA), niet te verwarren met het Engelse IBSA van de Jehovah’s Getuigen

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Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:1-6 – A Wilderness Baptist Prepares the Way

Matthew 3:1-6 – A Wilderness Baptist Prepares the Way

|| Mark 1:1-6; Luke 3:1-6, 12-14

The Jordan River

The Jordan River (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MT3:1 But in those days[1] John the Baptist[2] came from the Judean wilderness,[3] MT3:2 preaching, “Repent[4] for the Realm[5] of Heaven has drawn near.[6] MT3:3 For this is the One spoken of by Isaiah[7] the prophet, saying, ‘A voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make ready the Way of YHWH – make straight His roads.”’” [Isaiah 40:3] MT3:4 But this John dressed in camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist and hips. His food was locusts[8] and wild honey. MT3:5 Then Jerusalem and all the Judeans[9] and all the country along the Jordan came to John, MT3:6 and they publicly confessed their sins[10] and John baptized[11] them in the Jordan river.[12]


[1] Those days: Luke gives the precise timing by paralleling these activities with several contemporary rulers and priests (Luke 3:1ff). It was the year 29 AD.

[2] John the Baptist: The prophet from the desert is mentioned 150 times in the Christian Bible. The name “John” means “Yah Favors.” Jesus ranks him equal to any of the greatest people in the Bible (Matthew 11:11, 12). Jesus compares him to the prophet Elijah.

[3] Wilderness: BER: the Judean desert.

[4] Repent: Repentance is a key word in the Bible. It means to “change the mind” or “feel sorry” for sins. The word group occurs 70 times in the Bible with the first at Job 42:6 and most often in Luke, with Revelation second. John’s call to repentance was regarding sins against the Mosaic Law.

[5] Realm: The Greek is BASILEIA and is often translated “kingdom.” MOF: Reign of heaven. The word occurs 366 times, first at Genesis 10:10 and most often in Daniel and then Matthew. The word may mean the seat of government, that is the king, or source of the authority. It may also mean the realm, territory or domain of the King. Here John has in mind the future manifestation or appearance of the Messiah Jesus, the “king of Israel.” “Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew) or “kingdom of God” (Luke) is used most often by the Nazarene to mean the “realm of profession” or the Church (Compare the parables in Matthew 13).

[6] Near: Usually the word “near” means within hours or days. John has in mind the coming of Messiah as the future King of Israel.

[7] Isaiah: The quote is from Isaiah 40:3 and leans toward the LXX though paraphrases a bit.

[8] Locusts: A common food of Middle Eastern nomads. GDSP: dried locusts; BECK: grasshoppers. John is very austere if not ascetic.

[9] All the Judeans: John’s preaching has a wide impact among the Jews.

[10] Their sins: That is sins against the Mosaic Law. These are all Jews.

[11] Baptized: The word (BAPTIZONTO) means “immerse” or “submerge” (RHM) and always occurs where there is “a large body of water.” The word group occurs over 100 times. There are two water baptisms in the Christian Bible: that of John the Baptist for Jews (Acts 18:25; 19:3) and Christian baptism into Nazarene discipleship. “Baptism” is connected to salvation (1 Peter 3:21). There is a baptism into God’s spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13; John 3:3-5). There is a baptism into Christ’s leadership (1 Corinthians 10:2). There is a baptism into the life course as a disciple (Mark 10:38). There is a baptism into death (Luke 12:38; Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12). Baptism is a fundamental teaching (Hebrews 6:2). Jesus commanded his eleven apostles to go and baptize people of all nations (Matthew 28:18, 19).

  • December 8 (stmarkssa.wordpress.com)
    To the people of the Old Testament period, the word would mean to turn, to return. Their experience of being in exile in Babylon and returning to Jerusalem was a powerful cultural memory to them. When “repent” was translated from the Greek, another meaning emerged: “to go beyond the mind that we have.” So repentance is all about change, to go beyond where we are and open ourselves to transformation.
  • The Gospel of Matthew: The Messiah of Promise 3:1-12 (anchorlongbeach.wordpress.com)John the Baptist came at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, which Mark notes as the first words of his gospel. Luke, marks the time with his announcement (“15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,” which puts it around 26 A.D. making both John and Jesus around 30 (See Luke 3:23), but all four gospels discuss this event in Jesus’ life, because it is an important fulfillments of prophecy about the Messiah (See Matthew 11:9-10 cf. Malachi 3:1). The fact that John the Baptist came “preaching in the desert,” is significant, because the desert was a place that God had called His people out from to worship Him, and it was usually represented renewal.
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    Although the Greek word for “Repentance” is Metanoia, which carries the idea of a changed mind, theologian D.A. Carson writes; “What is meant is not merely intellectual change of mind or more grief, still less doing penance…but a radical transformation of the entire person, a fundamental turnaround involving mind and action and including overtones of grief, which results in ‘fruit in keeping with repentance.’”Now, John’s baptism, was preparing “the way” for those to come to Jesus, but as we see elsewhere, it was only after Christ was raised from the dead that repentance led to the transformation of the Holy Spirit (See Point #5 cf. Acts13: 24ff; 19:4-6).
  • Getting ready for Advent 2 (revdavidyonker.wordpress.com)
    We know that the person John is talking about is  Jesus, but Craddock notes, “the narrative asks us to exercise restraint and let the story unfold in its own time.” We’ll get to Jesus soon enough.  John simply says in verse 11, “he who is coming after me” and “I am not worthy to carry his sandals.”  If you’ve heard the story before we know who is to come.  But when it comes to the church, how many times to we assume that everyone knows the story.  We assume people know about God’s love made known in Jesus Christ; we assume they know the story of his birth.  We assume because we know.  But that isn’t the case.  We still have to prepare the way of the Lord.
  • In those days: John’s Baptism (friarmusings.wordpress.com)
    John’s Baptism.“to lead righteous lives, to practice justice toward their fellows and piety towards God, and so doing join in baptism”  John’s baptism was a symbolic act that people who had already done these things – or were committed to living as such – were forming a “faithful remnant” of the covenant.  In the gospel accounts all of John’s words (except the word against Antipas) are spoken to persons seeking this baptism. His words show that John was unreceptive to those whom he judged to have bad faith, while he was friendly to those who were truly repentant. To the former he repeated threats and warnings and perhaps added new ones, while to the latter he gave hope for further dramatic renewal of their lives as well as ethical guidance relevant to their particular vocations. The former group seems to have been made up of people whose commonality was lording power over the common people: the religious leadership, the wealthy, the tax collectors and soldiers.
  • Lectionary blogging: Why was Jesus baptized? (johnmeunier.wordpress.com)
    It seems only right that we ask questions about the meaning of baptism since John the Baptist himself asked such questions.
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    Wesley comes down on the side of interpreting Jesus’ baptism as a model for his followers. Jesus was baptized even though he had no sin and required no repentance, which were key aspects of John’s baptismal message. Jesus did this to set a model for us. For Wesley the baptism of Jesus is an example of the obligations that rest on us as Christians for no other reason than Jesus Christ commands us to observe them. If we reject the command, Wesley argues, we should not expect the Holy Spirit.
  • The writer of The Baptism of the Lord (newevangelizers.com) asks his readers to notice that as the Spirit descends upon Jesus, “the Father announces from heaven that this is His beloved Son.”But than straight ahead continues giving the impression that this Voice from the clouds did not tell the truth and gave “a majestic revelation of the Most Holy Trinity, one God in three persons. ” and as such going against all the sayings of Jehovah God and of Jesus himself later in his life when he spoke about his relationship with his heavenly Father.
  • We wonder where Sermo Dei: Baptism of Our Lord (daringlutheran.net) gets it from that the Son of God is incarnate. He does not allow people to question his saying, so this will leave a blank.
    He writes a.o.:
    “By Jesus’ time, prophets of the Lord are seldom seen and heard from – even less so today. The sky tends not to be rent open wide when someone wades in the water. Certainly disembodied voices don’t sound forth from heaven, nor do dove-like Spirits descend in plain sight.”
    Though he seem to recognise the Voice of God or the Logos being able to create or to destroy things he suddenly seem to mix the voice of the Creator with the person of which the Logos gave existence of.
  • Baptism of Christ – unworthy sinners made worthy by Jesus (revpaulhgreenland.wordpress.com)
    judgment is there for those who oppose God’s ways, but fundamentally, God wants to bring us back from sin into His ways. We have the image of the Old Testament prophet, whose job it was to preach judgment and punishment to warn the people of the consequences of their continued sin, but God wants most of all as Ezekiel says, for people to turn and live.
  • Baptism of Our Lord (ijboudreaux.com)
    Father in heaven, at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan you proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit.  Grant that all who are baptized into his name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, One God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.
  • A Title You Can’t Wash Off (jaredhillaryruark.wordpress.com)
    We could say a lot of things about baptism because there are billions of Christians and thousands of Christian traditions, so baptism can take on any number of meanings and people think about it in a lot of different ways.
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    John the Baptist, despite his name, doesn’t feel up to the task. He’s already baptized thousands in the River Jordan but when Jesus approaches he says Whoa, whoa. Nope. I’m not baptizing you, you should be baptizing me. The problem seems to be that baptism is for the forgiveness of sins and Jesus doesn’t have sins so why would he be baptized? So John says, no-no-no. You’re the holy one and it makes more sense if you baptize me.You can tell somethings out of place just from their names and titles. John is called the Baptist and they’ll call Jesus a lot of things–Messiah, Christ, Son of God. And you can tell just from the titles that John shouldn’t be baptizing Jesus. Cause you know there are all sorts of Baptists–American baptists and Southern baptists, independent baptists. Larry and Susan the Baptists down the street. But you don’t hear about Joe and Suzy Christ so much. Only Jesus get’s to be called Christ and Christ is quite the title. So John says “I need to be baptized by you.”
  • In those days: some notes (friarmusings.wordpress.com)
    Matthew 3:1 in those days: This is an OT expression that marks the beginning of the new period, not necessarily a precise indication of time (see Mt 13:1; 24:22, 29, 36; 26:29). Here it marks the time-shift from the infancy narrative to the adult Jesus’ appearance.  the desert of Judea: wilderness would perhaps be the better word for modern English. The area is the barren region west of the Dead Sea extending up the Jordan valley.
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    Matthew 3:2 Repent: the biblical idea of repentance involves a willingness to turn one’s life around in the sense of a complete re-orientation. the kingdom of heaven is at hand: “heaven” (literally, “the heavens”) is a substitute for the name “God” that was avoided by devout Jews of the time out of reverence. The expression “the kingdom of heaven” occurs only in the gospel of Matthew. It means the effective rule of God over his people. In its fullness it includes not only human obedience to God’s word, but the triumph of God over physical evils, supremely over death. In the expectation found in Jewish apocalyptic, the kingdom was to be ushered in by a judgment in which sinners would be condemned and perish, an expectation shared by the Baptist. This was modified in Christian understanding where the kingdom was seen as being established in stages, culminating with the parousia of Jesus.
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