Jehovah’s Witnesses think that they will never die, believing that the Bible promises they are to live forever in paradise on this earth.
“Jesus indicated that a similar day [to the Flood] is coming in our time. Those heeding the knowledge associated with this event will have the prospect of not only surviving but also living forever. In addition, the dead who are in Gods memory will be raised to life with the prospect of never having to die again. … All evidence shows that this day is very near, which means that you may never die at all.” Watchtower 2005 Apr 15 p.5
“So, then, why can we be so sure that you can live forever in paradise on earth? Why can we believe that everlasting life is not just a dream?” You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth p.7
The concept of never dying is what attracts many to become Jehovah’s Witnesses and is the main message preached. Though the majority of religions believe in everlasting life, they generally teach that mankind’s destiny is to die and go to heaven.
This article discusses:
- Does Paradise refer to heaven or earth?
- Where is the resurrection hope?
- Does the Bible indicate this planet will remain forever?
- Logistical reality
- Scientific reality
The Bible states that the earth will both remain forever and that it will be destroyed.
This section explains this apparent contradiction and shows that the Bible indicates this planet will not survive forever but promises a heavenly resurrection.
“Paradise earth” is a key phrase in Watchtower literature, appearing over 1,000 times on the Watchtower CD Library. However, the term never appears in the Bible. Neither is resurrection onto earth specifically discussed.
The word paradise is used only four times in the New World Translation of the Bible and each passage discussing a location refers to heaven. (Song of Solomon 4:13; Luke 23:39-43; 2 Corinthians 12:1-7; Revelation 2:5-7)
Revelation 2:7 “Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations: To him that conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”
The Watchtower identifies this as heaven;
“Eating in “the Paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7 mentions a “tree of life” in “the paradise of God” and that eating from it would be the privilege of the one “that conquers.” Since other promises given in this section of Revelation to such conquering ones clearly relate to their gaining a heavenly inheritance (Re 2:26-28; 3:12, 21), it seems evident that “the paradise of God” in this case is a heavenly one.” Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2 p.576 Paradise
2 Corinthians 12:2-4 “I know a man in union with Christ who, fourteen years ago-whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know; God knows-was caught away as such to the third heaven. 3 Yes, I know such a man-whether in the body or apart from the body, I do not know, God knows- 4 that he was caught away into paradise and heard unutterable words which it is not lawful for a man to speak.”
Luke 23:42-43 is the only occasion that the Watchtower claims the word paradise refers to the earth. The context indicates otherwise and it is generally accepted that this scripture refers to heaven.
“And he went on to say: “Jesus, remember me when you get into your kingdom.” And he said to him: “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.””
The Watchtower attempts to explain that Luke refers to an earthly paradise.
“To such ones who had the hope of being received into heaven, Christ promised: “To him that conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7; John 16:33; 1 John 5:4) This figurative “paradise of God” is in the invisible heavens. However, is it correct to assume that heaven is the only paradise set before all of Jesus’ followers? Since the sympathetic evildoer did not conquer the world by pursuing a course of faithfulness to God but was justly being put to death for his wicked deeds, what Paradise did Christ promise him. Indeed, the Bible does promise an earthly Paradise!” Watchtower 1983 Oct 15 p.4
The quoted article shows that the Revelation reference to paradise is heavenly and provides no evidence that Luke 23 refers to earth. The Watchtower reasoning given is simply that it supports their doctrine. As the paradise of God is in heaven and Jesus specifically states that the man on the cross will be “with him” it follows that this would be in heaven.
Jews and Muslims generally believe paradise to be heavenly. It is sometimes described as the abode of the righteous when they die until the end of this present world.
2 Enoch Chapter 8 – And those men took me thence, and led me up on to the third heaven, and placed me there; and I looked downwards, and saw the produce of these places, such as has never been known for goodness. And I saw all the sweet-flowering trees and beheld their fruits, which were sweet-smelling, and all the foods borne by them bubbling with fragrant exhalation. And in the midst of the trees that of life, in that place whereon the Lord rests, when he goes up into paradise; and this tree is of ineffable goodness and fragrance, and adorned more than every existing thing; and on all sides it is in form gold-looking and vermilion and fire-like and covers all, and it has produce from all fruits. Its root is in the garden at the earth’s end. And paradise is between corruptibility and incorruptibility. And two springs come out which send forth honey and milk, and their springs send forth oil and wine, and they separate into four parts, and go round with quiet course, and go down into the PARADISE OF EDEN, between corruptibility and incorruptibility.
Testament of Abraham Chapter 20 – “For Death deceived Abraham, and he took his right hand, and straightway his soul adhered to the hand of Death. And immediately the archangel Michael came with a multitude of angels and took up his precious soul in his hands in a divinely woven linen cloth, and they tended the body of the just Abraham with divine ointments and perfumes until the third day after his death, and buried him in the land of promise, the oak of Mamre, but the angels received his precious soul, and ascended into heaven, singing the hymn of “thrice holy” to the Lord the God of all, and they set it there to worship the God and Father. And after great praise and glory had been given to the Lord, and Abraham bowed down to worship, there came the undefiled voice of the God and Father saying thus, Take therefore my friend Abraham into Paradise, where are the tabernacles of my righteous ones, and the abodes of my saints Isaac and Jacob in his bosom, where there is no trouble, nor grief, nor sighing, but peace and rejoicing and life unending.”
Elijah De Vidas in a medieval text titled The Beginning of Wisdom states:
“And if he merits reward on the level of spirit, he will enjoy Paradise. If he merits reward on the level of super-soul, he will be privileged to ascend to the upper realm of Paradise.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught that everyone that died before Jesus will be resurrected on earth sometime in the future. Only 144,000 of Jesus followers are to go to heaven, where they serve as Kings with Jesus.
“[Jesus] spoke of the resurrection to life on earth, such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will receive.” Watchtower 1976 Jun 1 p.349
“… the number 144,000 is to be taken literally. It refers to those who will rule in heaven with Christ over a paradise earth, which will be filled with a large and undetermined number of happy people who worship Jehovah God.” Watchtower 2004 Sep 1 p.31
This is in direct conflict with the Bible, which states Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are in heaven.
Matthew 8:11 “But I tell YOU that many from eastern parts and western parts will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens.”
Matthew 5:11-12 “Happy are YOU when people reproach YOU and persecute YOU and lyingly say every sort of wicked thing against YOU for my sake. Rejoice and leap for joy, since YOUR reward is great in the heavens; for in that way they persecuted the prophets prior to YOU.
Luke 16:22 “Now in course of time the beggar died and he was carried off by the angels to the bosom [position] of Abraham.”
Hebrews 11:13-16 “In faith all these died, although they did not get the [fulfillment of the] promises, but they saw them afar off and welcomed them and publicly declared that they were strangers and temporary residents in the land. For those who say such things give evidence that they are earnestly seeking a place of their own. And yet, if they had indeed kept remembering that [place] from which they had gone forth, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they are reaching out for a better [place], that is, one belonging to heaven. Hence God is not ashamed of them, to be called upon as their God, for he has made a city ready for them.”
The Bible never promises an earthly resurrection. The Old Testament is vague about life after death, neither specifying a resurrection nor defining the afterlife.
Throughout the New Testament the resurrection is heavenly. The Bible promises there is but one hope for Christ’s followers.
Ephesians 4:4 “One body there is, and one spirit, even as YOU were called in the one hope to which YOU were called”
1 Corinthians 12:13 “For truly by one spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink one spirit.”
This “one hope” is consistently stated to be a resurrection as spiritual beings to heaven.
Matthew 6:20 “Rather, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.”
Matthew 19:21 “Jesus said to him: “If you want to be perfect, go sell your belongings and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, and come be my follower.”
John 14:2-4 “In the house of my Father there are many abodes. Otherwise, I would have told YOU, because I am going my way to prepare a place for YOU. 3 Also, if I go my way and prepare a place for YOU, I am coming again and will receive YOU home to myself, that where I am YOU also may be. 4 And where I am going YOU know the way.”
Luke 20:34-38 “Jesus said to them: “The children of this system of things marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who have been counted worthy of gaining that system of things and the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36 In fact, neither can they die anymore, for they are like the angels, and they are God’s children by being children of the resurrection. 37 But that the dead are raised up even Moses disclosed, in the account about the thornbush, when he calls Jehovah ‘the God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob.’ 38 He is a God, not of the dead, but of the living, for they are all living to him.””
Romans 6:3,5 “Or do YOU not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 5 For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall certainly also be [united with him in the likeness] of his resurrection.”
1 Corinthians 15:42-50 “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised up in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised up in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised up in power. 44 It is sown a physical body, it is raised up a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one. 45 It is even so written: “The first man Adam became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 Nevertheless, the first is, not that which is spiritual, but that which is physical, afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is out of the earth and made of dust; the second man is out of heaven. 48 As the one made of dust [is], so those made of dust [are] also; and as the heavenly one [is], so those who are heavenly [are] also. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the one made of dust, we shall bear also the image of the heavenly one. 50 However, this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom, neither does corruption inherit incorruption.”
2 Corinthians 5:6-8 “We are therefore always of good courage and know that, while we have our home in the body, we are absent from the Lord, 7 for we are walking by faith, not by sight. 8 But we are of good courage and are well pleased rather to become absent from the body and to make our home with the Lord.”
Under “Resurrection”, the Insight book p.787 is only able to list one Scriptural reference to indicate an earthly resurrection. The scripture is Luke 23:42, 43 “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise” and as already seen this most likely refers to heaven.
Neither the Bible nor Apostolic Fathers discussed “two hopes” Despite John 10:16 saying the other sheep will become part of “one flock”, the Watchtower Society claims its followers are divided into two classes, with one that will live on earth. They are then forced to explain away many simply stated, core New Testament concepts.
One of these is that Jesus is not mediator for the Great Crowd, as discussed at the Mediator.
Another concept at odds with Watchtower doctrine is being born again. To be a Christian means you are born again.
John 3:3 “In answer Jesus said to him: “Most truly I say to you, Unless anyone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
1 John 5:1-4 “Everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ has been born from God, and everyone who loves the one that caused to be born loves him who has been born from that one. 2 By this we gain the knowledge that we are loving the children of God, when we are loving God and doing his commandments. 3 For this is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome, 4 because everything that has been born from God conquers the world. And this is the conquest that has conquered the world, our faith.”
1 Peter 1:3-4″Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for according to his great mercy he gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance. It is reserved in the heavens for YOU.”
Because the Bible says that the hope for those “born again” is in heaven,
the Watchtower is forced to make the baseless assertion that a group of Christians will not be born again. To counter such scriptures the Watchtower Society uses circular reasoning.
For instance, the Awake! 1974 Aug 22 pp. 27-28 attempts to show that this scripture does not mean what it says, since there will be an earthly great crowd. It then switches the wording of the scripture to “His point was that no one could be born again unless he believed in Jesus Christ.” This is classic Eisegesis; using predetermined doctrine to dictate the meaning of the Bible.
Both the Old and New Testament state the earth will end.
Psalm 102:25-26 “Long ago you laid the foundations of the earth itself, And the heavens are the work of your hands. 26 They themselves will perish, but you yourself will keep standing; And just like a garment they will all of them wear out. Just like clothing you will replace them, and they will finish their turn.”
Isaiah 51:6 “Raise YOUR eyes to the heavens themselves, and look at the earth beneath. For the very heavens must be dispersed in fragments just like smoke, and like a garment the earth itself will wear out, and its inhabitants themselves will die like a mere gnat. But as for my salvation, it will prove to be even to time indefinite, and my own righteousness will not be shattered.”
Matthew 24:34-35 “Truly I say to YOU that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.”
Hebrews 1:10-12 “You at [the] beginning, O Lord, laid the foundations of the earth itself, and the heavens are [the] works of your hands. 11 They themselves will perish, but you yourself are to remain continually; and just like an outer garment they will all grow old, 12 and you will wrap them up just as a cloak, as an outer garment; and they will be changed, but you are the same, and your years will never run out.”
2 Corinthians 5:1 “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, should be dissolved, we are to have a building from God, a house not made with hands, everlasting in the heavens.”
God has plans for a new earth to replace this old one.
Isaiah 65:17-18 “For here I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart. 18 But exult, YOU people, and be joyful forever in what I am creating.”
2 Peter 3:10-13 “Yet Jehovah’s day will come as a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a hissing noise, but the elements being intensely hot will be dissolved, and earth and the works in it will be discovered. [BURNED UP] 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought YOU to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, 12 awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah, through which [the] heavens being on fire will be dissolved and [the] elements being intensely hot will melt! 13 But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.”
Revelation 21:1-2 “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea is no more. 2 I saw also the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God and prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”
The Watchtower dismisses all these scriptures as figurative.
Earth remains forever?
The Watchtower uses several lines of reasoning to support the idea that people will live forever on earth.
- Forever scriptures
- Jewish restoration prophecies
- Jesus Statements
None of these concepts prove the earth will continue forever.
God told Adam he will die in the day of eating from the tree of good and bad. The Watchtower says this implies that Adam wouldn’t die if he didn’t eat the fruit. This is a poor form of reasoning referred to as argument from silence.
“Not all of God’s living creation is eternal. We know that plants, even long-lived trees, eventually die. (1 Pet. 1:24) And there is no Biblical evidence that God purposed for individual animals to live forever. Yet it was different with humans. God held out to our first parents the prospect of never dying. By obedience they could have hoped to live eternally. (Gen. 2:17)” Watchtower 1974 Jun 15 p.376
A non statement should not be used to formulate doctrine. A conclusion cannot be drawn from something that God did not say. If Adam had been faithful, God may have had any number of plans for Adam, none of which are touched upon in Genesis. If all other aspects of earthly creation tend to decay and death it makes as much sense to conclude that human’s earthly existence is also temporary.
Similar reasoning is used when saying Isaiah 45:18 proves the earth remains forever:
“This is what Jehovah has said, the Creator of the heavens, He the true God, the Former of the earth and the Maker of it, He the One who firmly established it, who did not create it simply for nothing, who formed it even to be inhabited.”
It is an un-stated conclusion that the earth will last forever. All that can be drawn from this is that for a period of time God wanted the earth to be inhabited.
2. ‘Forever scriptures’
The main support for the Watchtower doctrine that mankind will live forever on earth are Old Testament scriptures that say the earth will reside to time indefinite or forever. These are not proof the earth will never perish for the following reasons;
- Forever can be used figuratively in the Bible
- The Bible says the earth will be destroyed
- All these references come from the poetic books
The Earth remains forever
The following scriptures that say that the earth will last to time indefinite or forever are all from just two Bible books, Psalms and Ecclesiastes, both devoted to poetry.
Psalm 37:29 “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, And they will reside forever upon it.”
Psalm 104:5 “He has founded the earth upon its established places; It will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever.”
Psalm 78:69 “And he began to build his sanctuary just like the heights, Like the earth that he has founded to time indefinite.”
Psalm 104:5 “He has founded the earth upon its established places; It will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever.”
Ecclesiastes 1:2-4 “The greatest vanity!” the congregator has said, “the greatest vanity! Everything is vanity!” 3 What profit does a man have in all his hard work at which he works hard under the sun? 4 A generation is going, and a generation is coming; but the earth is standing even to time indefinite.”
Understanding poetic license, these can not be taken as literal without additional support. Neither do these passages clearly refer to Jesus kingdom rule. The Watchtower shows that it is accepted that these passages refer to the Israelites and the Promised Land.
“Since Psalm 37:29 has been translated “The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever,” does it refer simply to Israel’s permanently occupying the Promised Land?” Watchtower 1986 Jan 1 p.31
The above rendering of Psalm 37:29 is from the King James Version. As is true of many other versions, it renders the Hebrew ‘e´rets as “land.” ‘E´rets can refer to a distinct region or to the territory of a nation, such as “the land of Shinar” or “the land of Egypt.”-Genesis 10:10, 11; 21:21; Psalm 78:12; Jeremiah 25:20. So Psalm 37:11, 29 might indicate that the Israelites could have been and should have been permanent occupants of the Promised Land. In accord with God’s covenant with Abraham, they could have remained in that territory that God gave them, with generation after generation enjoying his blessings there. However, it did not work out that way, for the Israelites became unfaithful to God.”
Forever and time indefinite can be figurative and come to an end.
2 Samuel 7:24 “You proceeded to establish your people Israel firmly for yourself as your people to time indefinite; and you yourself, O Jehovah, have become their God.”
1 Kings 1:31 “Then Bath-she´ba bowed low with her face to the earth and prostrated herself to the king and said: “Let my lord King David live to time indefinite!””
Likewise the false prophet is not literally tormented forever.
Revelation 20:10 “And the Devil who was misleading them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulphur, where both the wild beast and the false prophet [already were]; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
3. Jewish restoration prophecies
Isaiah and Ezekiel contain texts describing perfect living conditions. One such text regularly referred to is Isaiah 65.
Isaiah 65:17-25 “For here I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart. 18 But exult, YOU people, and be joyful forever in what I am creating. For here I am creating Jerusalem a cause for joyfulness and her people a cause for exultation. 19 And I will be joyful in Jerusalem and exult in my people; and no more will there be heard in her the sound of weeping or the sound of a plaintive cry.” 20 “No more will there come to be a suckling a few days old from that place, neither an old man that does not fulfill his days; for one will die as a mere boy, although a hundred years of age; and as for the sinner, although a hundred years of age he will have evil called down upon him. 21 And they will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat [their] fruitage. 22 They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full. 23 They will not toil for nothing, nor will they bring to birth for disturbance; because they are the offspring made up of the blessed ones of Jehovah, and their descendants with them. 24 And it will actually occur that before they call out I myself shall answer; while they are yet speaking, I myself shall hear. 25 “The wolf and the lamb themselves will feed as one, and the lion will eat straw just like the bull; and as for the serpent, his food will be dust. They will do no harm nor cause any ruin in all my holy mountain,” Jehovah has said.”
These texts are understood to be prophecies of the Jewish deliverance from Babylon, even by the Watchtower Society.
“The initial fulfillment of Isaiah 65:17-19 involved the ancient Jews who, as Isaiah accurately predicted, did return to their homeland, where they reestablished pure worship.” Watchtower 2000 Apr 15 p.10
“This prophecy was initially fulfilled in 537 B.C.E. when the Jewish remnant was restored to Jerusalem.” Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2 pp.381-382
Isaiah states that there will continue to be children and like trees these blessed Jews will fulfil their days, grow old and die, certainly not possible in the everlasting paradise the Watchtower promises. Jehovah’s promise that he would bless the righteous Israelites with a peaceful life and then death in old age was familiar to the Jews;
Deuteronomy 4:40 “”And you must keep his regulations and his commandments that I am commanding you today, that it may go well with you and your sons after you, and in order that you may lengthen your days on the soil that Jehovah your God is giving you, always.””
Job 36:11 “If they obey and serve, They will finish their days in what is good And their years in pleasantness.”
Despite the depiction of death in Isaiah 65 the Watchtower uses this text as proof that this earth is to be an everlasting paradise in which death is no more.
Can restoration prophecies be used to prove a paradise on this planet?
- There is no mention of a secondary application
- They discuss a new heavens and new earth
- They mention that people will die in this new earth
These contradictions make it necessary for the Watchtower to explain how they fit within their belief structure and so restoration prophecies can not be the basis for belief in eternal earthly paradise if not supported elsewhere.
As with a large portion of Bible prophecy, the Watchtower attempts to fit the fulfilment of the new earth around the second leader, Rutherford. Isaiah is said to have been fulfilled with the release of Rutherford from jail in 1919. The post Armageddon fulfilment is only an addition to this centricity around Watchtower Society application.
“Isaiah’s prophecy had a miniature fulfillment when Israel was brought back from captivity in Babylon, but the major fulfillment began to take place from 1919 C.E. with the release of spiritual Israel from captivity to Babylon the Great. Restoration to their “land,” their spiritual paradise, was then final and complete, for never again would they fall into bondage to any part of Satan’s world empire of false religion.” Watchtower 1983 Dec 1 p.31
However, this and other restoration prophecies include features that will also find a physical fulfillment in the Paradise earth.”
Likewise the Isaiah book shows that Isaiah 11 was fulfilled in Jewish times, with its secondary fulfilment in 1919. The concept that this refers to a future paradise is almost an afterthought.
“Picture an Israelite who has just learned of Cyrus’ decree that the Jews return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. Will he leave the security of Babylon to make the long trip home? During Israel’s 70-year absence, the deserted fields have become overgrown with weeds. Wolves, leopards, lions, and bears now freely prowl those fields. Cobras too make their home there. The returning Jews will have to depend on domestic animals for survival-flocks and herds will provide milk, wool, and meat, and oxen will pull the plow. Will these fall victim to predators? Will small children be bitten by snakes? What about the danger of being ambushed on the journey?”
Isaiah now paints a heartwarming picture of the conditions that God will bring about in the land. He says: “The wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb, and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together;
The knowledge of Jehovah will not change animals, but it will affect people. Neither on the way home nor in their restored land will the Israelites need to fear wild beasts or beastlike men.-Ezra 8:21, 22; Isaiah 35:8-10; 65:25.
This prophecy, however, has a larger fulfillment. In 1914, Jesus, the Messiah, was enthroned on heavenly Mount Zion. In 1919 the remaining ones of “the Israel of God” experienced release from Babylonish captivity and shared in the restoration of true worship. (Galatians 6:16) As a result, the way was opened for a modern-day fulfillment of Isaiah’s Paradise prophecy.
In that restored Paradise, will Isaiah’s prophecy have a further, perhaps more literal, fulfillment? It seems reasonable to think so.” Isaiah’s Prophecy – Light for all Mankind – I pp.163-164
Revelation 21:1-4 also discusses “a new heavens and a new earth” and is based in part on Isaiah 65. This passage follows on from the final destruction of Satan (Revelation 20:7), placing the establishment of the new earth after the 1,000 year reign of Christ. For this reason some Christians understand that there will be a new earth created once perfection has again been achieved at the end of Christ’s reign. Others are content to admit that God’s purpose and the final fulfilment is yet to be fully revealed.
4. Jesus’ Earth Quotes
It was only on one occasion that Jesus discusses the earth. He made two statements that are often used by Jehovah’s Witnesses as ‘proof’ that the righteous will live forever on earth. However, these scriptures do not state that the earth will last forever or that people will live on it.
The first statement from Jesus is at Matthew 5:5:
“Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.”
Most Witnesses are unaware of their own teaching on this scripture, as even the Watchtower does not say that this scripture applies to the Other Sheep. The Watchtower doctrine is that the meek referred to in this passage is Jesus and the earth is his inheritance.
“The anointed members of the Christian congregation are spoken of as having a heavenly inheritance, sharing Jesus’ inheritance as his “brothers.” (Eph 1:14; Col 1:12; 1Pe 1:4, 5) This includes the earth.-Mt 5:5.” Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 1 p.1201
“… saying that the ‘mild-tempered will inherit the earth.’ Yes, those mild-tempered ones who are to be with Christ in his heavenly kingdom will rule over this earth.” Watchtower 1974 Jun 15 pp.377-378
“When Jesus said, as recorded at Matthew 5:5, “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth,” of whom was he speaking?-H. S., U.S.A.
Jesus here applied the expression “mild-tempered” or “meek” to his disciples of that time who were in line for the heavenly kingdom. He was the chief meek one among them and their example. Hebrews 1:1, 2 and 2:5, 6 show that Jesus inherits the earth or takes over the possession of it. His disciples were made his joint heirs in the Kingdom and enter into this inheritance or possession of the earth with him. Hence Matthew 5:5 does not strictly apply to the “other sheep.”” Watchtower 1959 Aug 1 p.479
“Will that mark the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth”? No, at least not primarily. Those words, first uttered by the psalmist David, apply first of all to the pre-eminently meek One, Jesus Christ, to whom his Father, Jehovah God, said: “Ask of me, that I may give nations as your inheritance and the ends of the earth as your own possession.” Inheriting the earth is part of his reward for his meek and faithful course while a man.-Matt. 5:5, AS; Ps. 2:8.” Watchtower 1958 Mar 1 p.139
Sharing this inheritance with Jesus Christ will be his “bride,” those footstep followers of his, limited to 144,000, who will receive a heavenly reward. (Rev. 14:1, 3) Thus the apostle Paul tells them: “If, then, we are children, we are also heirs: heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ.” Jesus refers to these specially favored followers of his as a “little flock.” However, the principle enunciated at Matthew 5:5 applies also to Jesus’ other sheep who, as meek ones, will receive everlasting life on earth. How so? In that they will hold the earth in trust for Christ and his bride, permanent tenants, as it were.”
Following this statement Jesus went on to recite the Lord’s Prayer, stating at Matthew 6:10;
“Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.”
The Lord’s Prayer does not state that the earth is to last forever or be lived on. In fact this scripture contradicts Watchtower doctrine as it indicates God’s will was already done in heaven when Jesus made this statement.
Watchtower depictions show those in paradise living with their children in houses separated by many kilometres of parkland. Certainly, without death children will be unnecessary. However, an even more critical logistical question is, “If all the dead are to be resurrected onto earth, will they all fit?”
Watchtower reasoning claims there will be ample room, based on a figure that only 20 billion people lived prior to 1900.
The figure of 20 billion is highly dubious, with the real figure likely to be several times greater than this. To highlight how little effort has gone into using a correct figure note that the Watchtower has been using the same number for over 100 years now. In 1925, The Way to Paradise p.209 stated:
“It is very doubtful if there have ever been as many as 20,000,000,000 people born on this earth.”
In 1988, the Insight book was still using the same estimate of 20 billion people, despite 9 billion people having been born during the 1900’s.
“A very liberal estimate of the number of persons that have ever lived on earth is 20 billion (20,000,000,000).
The land surface of the earth at present is about 148,000,000 sq km (57,000,000 sq mi), or about 14,800,000,000 ha (36,500,000,000 acres). Even allowing half of that to be set aside for other uses, there would be more than a third of a hectare (almost 1 acre) for each person. As to earth’s potential food production, a third of a hectare will actually provide much more than enough food for one person, especially when, as God has demonstrated in the case of the nation of Israel, there is abundance of food as a result of God’s blessing.” Insight on the Scriptures Vol. 2 p.792
The figure used by the Watchtower Society is without basis and the Population Reference Bureau estimates that 105 billion people have been born over the last 2,000 thousand years alone.
The earth has 148,000,000 km² of land (although only approximately 31,000,000 km² is arable). With 6 billion people the average amount of land per person is 5 acres. With 100 billion people this would be reduced to less than 1/3 of an acre each. This is unsustainable by any ecological model. However the figure is even less, as the entire world can never be arable, as this would entail not only growing crops on the highest rocky mountains, but also clearing all forests. To understand the magnitude of these figures, in 2000 China had 135 people per square kilometer; with 100 billion people resurrected there would be over 715 people per square kilometer.
If 100 billion people were to be resurrected on to earth there would not be a paradise of sparsely populated tracts of land, filled with smiling children living in mansions.
Will the earth exist forever? Of course this is impossible. It is an undisputed scientific fact that the earth will end, agreeing with the Bible that “like a garment the earth itself will wear out”. Consider the following indications that the earth was not designed to last forever.
Just as wood turns to energy and disintegrates in a fire, over time the sun will be consumed of all matter. Once the hydrogen at its core has all converted into helium the sun will expand into a red giant and envelop the earth. As the helium runs out the sun will then contract into a white dwarf.
Additionally, the earth’s core temperature is cooling. The time will come when this leads to the magnetic fields ceasing and the earth loosing its atmosphere. This is what happened to Mars, and will lead to the earth no longer being able to support life. Even the moon was not designed to remain forever orbiting the earth. Currently the moon moves a further 3.82cm away from the earth each year. For the earth to remain forever, Jehovah would be required to rewrite the universal laws he instigated at creation.
The Fundamentalist answer to this is that ‘with God all things are possible’. If God says the earth will stay forever, he will make sure it does. God has the power to refuel the sun or reheat the earth’s core. Though this is possible, this sort of argument allows anyone to believe anything. This view also contradicts one of the apparent proofs for a God, the structured order in the universe. If the universe is mathematically perfect as Jehovah’s Witnesses state, God is going against his order of things to change the destiny of the sun. In fact, if with God all things really are possible, why did he create things in such a way that the sun is dying. Why not just create the universe in such a way as to last forever.
The Bible agrees with science when it states at Isaiah 51:6 that “like a garment the earth itself will wear out”. We are told God will create a new earth. The Bible does not clarify God’s plan for this new earth so speculation is pointless.
Nature itself indicates that earthly life is not to be immortal. All living animals and vegetation die. Well before the sin of Adam God had put into creation, both living and inanimate, the tendency to decay.
The Bible does not indicate humans will live forever on this earth. No Scripture says mankind will be resurrected onto earth, whereas the Bible regularly discusses a heavenly resurrection. Use of the word paradise generally refers to heaven and Revelation places the Great Crowd in heaven.
The doctrine that Jehovah’s Witnesses will never die but survive to live forever on paradise earth is core to present Watchtower teaching. For over a century Watchtower followers have thought they will not die. A number of generations of Witnesses that expected to live forever are now dead. While the majority of people learn to accept death as a certainty, children raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses do not prepare themselves for old age emotionally or financially. They wait as Watchtower promises go unfulfilled decade upon decade. Proverbs 13 shows that life should be built on wisdom and warns in verse 12;
“Expectation postponed is making the heart sick”