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The King of Pop & 'Passing Away'

MJ, JWs, & "generation"

by Firpo Carr

November 25, 2010

Though Michael Joseph Jackson ‘passed away,' apparently it wasn't in the Biblical sense. While a loving God is the final Judge, the expression "pass away" has a negative connotation. This can be seen by examining the New World Translation, a version Jehovah's Witnesses favor, and one that Michael loved.

In the Hebrew Scriptures: The Hebrew word for the English expression "pass away" is abar. "This verb occurs in all Semitic languages and at all periods of those languages," says An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words (1984) by W.E. Vines, "including biblical Hebrew and Aramaic."

It occurs about 550 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, and is mostly attached negatively (but in a few instances with cacophonous positive outcomes) in NWT instances:

King David prayed that God cause his error to "pass away." (1 Chr 21:8) "The [irrevocable] laws of Persia and Media" did not "pass away." (Es 1:19) The significance of the Jewish holiday Purim "should not pass away." (Es 9:27, 28) Disobedient ones "will pass away ["perish," NIV]."--Job 36:12; see also 34:20; Ps 37:35, 36.

The psalmist prayed, "Make my reproach pass away." (Ps 119:39) God's regulation "will not pass away." (Ps 148:6) "Valueless gods themselves will pass away [Hebrew, chalaph] completely." (Isa 2:18) Any opponent of God's people, irrespective of his perceived strength, "will pass away" and "be terrified." (Isa 31:9) A spiritually valuable item will not "pass away...for it is something holy to Jehovah."--Ez 48:14.

The rulership that God grants the resurrected Jesus "is an indefinitely lasting rulership that will not pass away, and his kingdom one that will not be brought to ruin." (Da 7:14) For God's repentant servants, he has caused their "error to pass away."--Zech 3:4.

The same negative or dissonant negative-positive sense is carried over into the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible known as the Septuagint (LXX). The LXX should not be confused with the Greek "New Testament" (GNT).

In the Christian Greek Scriptures: The Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word abar is parerchomai. In the Christian Greek Scriptures (or GNT) parerchomai means to "pass away" or "to perish" according to Vines quoted above.

So, when Jesus said "this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur" (Mt 24:34) he meant the generation of those who "beat themselves in lamentation" (Mt 24:30) won't "perish" or "pass away" into destruction before seeing all the signs of the end.

"Heaven and earth will ["perish," or] pass away [into destruction]," as it were, "but my words will by no means ["perish"] or pass away [unfulfilled]." (Mt 24:34, 35; Mk 13:30, 31; Lu 21:32, 33) Furthermore, Jesus always used the word "generation" disapprovingly--Mt 11:16-19; 12:38-45; 16:4; 17:17; 23:33-36.

Insofar as the compositional makeup of "this [doomed] generation" is concerned, the ultimate fate of said generation aids in its identification--it ‘passes away.' However, in sharp contradistinction--in the very same context Jesus reveals "this [anti-God] generation"--the "chosen ones," who are obviously in the Lord's favor, are spoken of as being "saved."--Mt 24:22, 24, 31.

Regarding these same "chosen ones," the apostle Paul contrasts the static essence of the "new" with the transient nature of the "old": "Consequently if anyone is in union with Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away."--2 Co 5:17.    

Jesus employed the expression "pass away" with a negative note of finality both prior to and after his lecture at Matthew 24. He said: "For truly I say to you that sooner would heaven and earth pass away than for one smallest letter or one particle of a letter to pass away from the Law."--Mt 5:18; Lu 16:17.

"My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me." (Mt 26:39) "Again, for the second time, he went off and prayed, saying: ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this to pass away except I drink it...'"--Mt 26:42; see also Mk 14:35.

In the Hebrew retroversion of the GNT abar, just as it appears in the Hebrew Scriptures, replaces parerchomai in the above Hebrew "New Testament" instances.  

Conclusion: Significantly, "New Testament" writers also used the expressions "pass away" and "generation" pessimistically. (Jas 1:9, 10; 2 Pe 3:10; Ac 2:40; 8:33; Php 2:15; He 3:10) Therefore, the term "pass away" has a note of unenviable inevitability throughout the Bible. Comfortingly, though, Michael's good works won't "pass away" unrewarded. (He 6:10) Peace and blessings to all. Amen.