Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Preaching From House to House

Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught and will often teach others one of the reasons their religion is the true one is because of their 'house to house' preaching activity. Furthermore, they will state that it was a commandment from Jesus to do so.

It is an interesting discussion point, and it begs the question of whether preaching 'house to house' is a commandment from Jesus which leads to being a mark for a so-called true religion.

The literal phrase ‘house to house’ in the Watchtower Society’s published Bible, “The New World Translation” can be found three times in the Christian Greek section of the scriptures. The first two times we will discuss, support their doctrine concerning preaching ‘house to house’:

Acts 20:20 - "While I did not hold back from telling YOU any of the things that were profitable nor from teaching YOU publicly and from house to house."

Acts 5:42 - "And every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus."

In both of those scriptures, the words in the original Greek are “kata oikos” in which the Watchtower Society decided 'house to house' was the best interpretation to present. However, this phrase is better translated as ‘according to house’ as opposed to ‘house to house’. The Reference Bible of The New World Translation used by Jehovah’s Witnesses agrees with this, as the footnote of Acts 5:42 states:

[Literally] “according to house”.

Some other bible translations have also mistranslated the expression as 'house to house'. That is why it is key and vital to go back to the original Greek writings when there is conflict or doubt. A proper translation for 'house to house' would be the Greek phrase “oikia eis oikia”. To say the very least, the notion that 'kata oikos' refers to a literal 'house to house' ministry by the apostle Paul is disputable at best.

Interestingly, the phrase “oikia eis oikia” does appear in the original Greek manuscripts, but in another place. Here is also the third place we will look for the phrase ‘house to house’ in The New World Translation.

Luke 10:7 “So stay in that house, eating and drinking the things they provide, for the worker is worthy of his wages. Do not be transferring from house to house.”

This is Jesus speaking. While Paul's admonition in the Bible book of Acts is disputable to say the least, Jesus' command regarding the ministry is not to move from ‘house to house’. Other translations also show this to be Jesus’ command:

New International Version (NIV): "Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house."

American Standard Version (ASV): "And in that same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house."

New King James Version (NKJV): "And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house."

Young's Literal Translation (YLT): "And in that house remain, eating and drinking the things they have, for worthy [is] the workman of his hire; go not from house to house,"

English Standard Version (ESV): "And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house."

Additional scriptures that Jehovah’s Witnesses may fall back on (Such as Matthew 24:14 or Matthew 28:19, 20) concern preaching, but no-where are there any indication that it must be done 'house to house'.

Furthermore, when we look at other scriptures, it can provide valuable insight concerning what to be on the watch for during the “last days”. A scripture passage which many Jehovah’s Witnesses are familiar with and may at times focus on is from 2 Timothy 3: 1-5. Some may even be able to quote it verbatim.

Let’s though, take a look at the next verse. Let’s focus on 2 Timothy 3:6:

“For from these arise those men who slyly work their way into households and lead as their captives weak women loaded down with sins, led by various desires,”

The Bible is warning against people who "Slyly work their way into households". Could not this possibly be a warning about those who are coming to your home and trying to convince you that they have “the truth”? Young’s Literal Translation phrases it this way:

"[F]or of these there are those coming into the houses and leading captive the silly women, laden with sins, led away with desires manifold,"

The New International Version puts it ever so clearly:

“They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires,"

When pondering the above, do not forget that the Watchtower Society used Johannes Greber’s translation as justification for their actions when it came to the omitting or adding of words to the New World Translation for decades, this is despite the fact that they knew he was into occult practices.

Most importantly, research; while Jesus did make mention of preaching, the notion of it comprising of a ‘house to house’ activity (Which is the majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses preaching) is not present in the scriptures. When you read Luke chapter 10 in its entirety, Jesus provides directions to his disciples, breaking them into groups, they were to stay in the house which had received the message favorably and not go from ‘house to house’. Verse 7 of chapter 10 shows that succinctly, and first century Christians handled their ministry in that manner. They did not preach from ‘house to house’ in the manner Jehovah's Witnesses do today.

A huge factor as to why Jehovah’s Witnesses are preaching ‘house to house’ is because the Watchtower Society tells them that’s what they need to do. It is a part of the Watchtower Society’s teaching of one working towards or earning their salvation. Jesus never instructed such a thing and even the version of the Bible Jehovah’s Witnesses are instructed to primarily use, The New World Translation, bears witness to the fact…

Do not be transferring from house to house.