by Epiphany Bible Students

No. 730

“For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” (Jas. 3:16)

The story of Joseph and his brothers (Gen. 37) is beautiful in its simplicity as well as deeply interesting and instructive from various viewpoints. One lesson is that it is unwise for a parent to show great preference for one child above another, thus cultivating among the children a spirit of envy.

Another lesson teaches that it is unwise to tell even our dreams to unsympathetic ears, as when Joseph told his dreams to his brothers. In one dream, he saw eleven shocks of wheat bow down to one shock, representing his. In the other dream, he saw the sun, the moon and the eleven stars all doing homage to him. Joseph was not to be blamed for having these dreams. Unlike the majority of dreams, they apparently came from the Lord. Joseph was not even to blame for artlessly telling the dreams to his brothers; evidently this was the very thing the Lord intended. The Lord foreknew the jealousy of Joseph’s brothers, and how envy would be cultivated in their minds. He gave the opportunity for this to happen, for He planned Joseph’s subsequent experiences. The envy of his brothers merely helped to accomplish them.

We may, however, learn the lesson that in general it is wise to keep to oneself truths not necessary for another to know if they might merely arouse opposition. Jesus encouraged this thought when He cautioned not to “cast ye your pearls before swine.” (Matt. 7:6) Deep truths connected with the Divine Plan and with Christian hopes are better told only to those for whom the Lord intended them, namely the meek, the humble.


The most important feature of this lesson is that Joseph is a type, or prophetic picture of Jesus, and more broadly the entire body of Christ. Jesus was the heavenly Father’s beloved Son; He was rejected by His brethren, betrayed for silver, and delivered for envy. (Matt. 27:18; Mark 15:10)

Joseph was kind to his brothers and was on an errand of mercy to them when in their envy they plotted his death. Later they sold him into slavery in Egypt. His brothers hated him without a cause – merely because he was good, because his father loved him, and because God in the dreams fore­shadowed his coming exaltation. Joseph’s brothers should have said, “Let us rejoice that we have so noble a brother, and rejoice if it be God’s will that he be very highly exalted. God’s promise made to our grand­fathers, Abraham and Isaac, and to our father Jacob, may thus be reaching a fulfilment. Let God’s blessings come in whatever way He sees best. We will rejoice with our brother, as we see that he is pleasing to God and to our father Jacob and we will seek to copy his character.” Instead, they were envious to the point of cruelty.

God’s providence continued with Joseph and blessed him as a slave, and through much tribu­lation finally brought him to the throne of Egypt – next in influence and power to Pharaoh himself. It was then that the famine of the land drove Joseph’s brothers to Egypt to buy grain which Joseph had wisely stockpiled. Thus was fulfilled his dream that his brothers would bow down, as illustrated in the eleven sheaves which bowed down before his.

Later when his father and the entire family came to Egypt to live in Goshen, they all paid homage to Joseph as the representative of Egypt’s government, thus fulfilling the second dream. But these experiences were obscure at the time. It appeared the Lord had less love for Joseph than for the rest of his family, until the time came for his exaltation to the throne. Then everything changed.

Joseph, like Jesus, was hated without a cause. We read the prophetic statement: “They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head.” (Psa. 69:4) Jesus quoted this statement and applied it to Himself, saying, “They hated me without a cause.” (John 15:25) The brethren of Jesus were the Jews who crucified Him, although no cause for death was found in Him.

We see it was for envy that they delivered Him up and called for His crucifixion, because His works were good and theirs were evil; because He taught the way of the Lord more perfectly than they; because He declared to them that the time would come when all would recognize Him as the Messiah – coming in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory – and all would bow to Him.

Just as disaster, treachery and shame prepared for Joseph the way to glory and honor on the throne of Egypt, so it was with Jesus. His trying experiences proved Him loyal to God and led onward to His exaltation to the right hand of Divine Majesty. St. Paul refers to this, saying of Jesus, “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2) Again he says, “Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9) The experiences of Joseph – all his humiliations – prepared the way for him to be succored and honored by Pharaoh. Again we read of Jesus: “Yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect [through suffering], he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” (Heb. 5:8-9)

The Scriptures assure us that in God’s great Plan, not only Jesus is to be exalted to the Throne as the world’s Messiah, but with Him is to be a company of brethren, sharers of the same glory, honor and immortality. And these brethren, in God’s great Purpose, are required to pass through similar experiences to those of their Elder Brother Jesus. Their experiences, therefore, are illustrated also in Joseph’s experiences. They are not equal with their Elder Brother. He is designated their Head, their Chief, the Captain of their salvation. We read that God “in bringing many sons unto glory” made “the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10), and all of the company of sons received under this great Captain must similarly be perfected through sufferings.

The Apostle John declares, “As he is, so are we in this world;” and again, “The world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” (1 John 4:17; 1 John 3:1) Joseph’s brothers were blind to the fact that their brother would be their savior from famine, as well as the savior of the Egyptians; the world likewise fails to realize that only through Messiah will any have eternal life.

Jesus forewarned His elect followers that they must also expect to be hated unjustly: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me . . . But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.” (John 15:18-25)

We give in full the same prophetic text from which our Lord quoted: “They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head . . . Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel. Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me . . . Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” (Psa. 69:4-9, 20-21)


Consider the facts: Jesus and His followers, according to Divine intention, have suffered shame and contempt. We perceive that in the case of Jesus and the early Church, the persecution came from their brethren according to the flesh – from the Jews. And since then, all through the Gospel Age, the persecutions of the Church, the brethren of Jesus, the Household of Faith, have also come from their brethren. These brethren are not Jews, but Christians. As the Jewish religionists in Jesus’ day persecuted their more righteous brethren, since then nominal Christians have been the chief persecutors of the Lord’s faithful followers. This persecution has come upon faithful souls of nearly every denomination and, sadly, from unfaithful souls of nearly every denomination. Presbyterians, Covenanters, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, Methodists and Baptists have all endured perse­cutions from blinded brethren, who in nearly every case professed that the persecuting was done for the glory of God. As the Lord through the Prophet expresses the matter, “Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.” (Isa. 66:5)

Already the world in general, including the Jews, realize a great mistake was made in persecuting Jesus unto death and to some extent similar transgressions against the faithful followers of Jesus have been recognized. And yet the same blindness, from the same envious disposition, leads to persecution even in our day. The majority admit that they have little distinct knowledge about God or the Bible. They pray for light singing, “Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom.” Yet if any light appears, if any voice of love or tenderness is heard, directing them toward the dawning of the New Day, clearly pointing out the riches of God’s grace and the lengths and breadths of His mercy, immediately their quest for light ceases, and their stones of ridicule and slander are hurled. And why? It is for fear there will be change, that someone will get further light, that the Divine promise will be fulfilled, and a new Dawn be ushered in.

But what is the philosophy of these facts of history? Why has God permitted, yes even ordained that Christ should suffer, and that all who would walk in His steps must share in His experiences of ignominy and shame and reproach – suffering with Him? The Father used the trying experiences to test the love and loyalty of His Son, and to demonstrate His obedience to angels and to men. Intending to confer upon Him very great glory and honor, the Father would have all to see, as He saw it, the worthiness of the Logos, subsequently Jesus.

In a symbolic picture, Heavenly hosts of angels acknowledge the propriety of the high exaltation of Jesus saying, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” (Rev. 5:12) If a demonstration of the worthiness of Jesus, the Logos, was necessary or proper, it seems much more necessary that an elect Church, being gathered from among a fallen race, should be proven loyal to God to the very last – even unto death.

There is a difference, however. In the case of the Master, it was a demonstration that He was perfect before He left the Heavenly glory, and perfect also when He became the Man Christ Jesus – “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” (Heb. 7:26) “In him is no sin.” (1 John 3:5) In the case of His followers, the imperfection of the flesh still remains; but they are judged, not according to the weaknesses of their flesh, of heredity, but according to the love and zeal of their hearts. And this loving zeal is witnessed to by their endeavor to walk faithfully in the footsteps of their Leader and Savior, overcoming to the best of their ability the weaknesses of their flesh, “that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Pet. 2:9)

(From Reprint 5214, with editing.)



The primary power of God’s people is the Truth, and their secondary power is God’s Arrange­ment for the proper use of that Truth. Thus, the counsel to “give attendance” to doctrine (1 Tim. 4:13) is sound advice for every time of the Age and we believe a clear and comprehensive under­standing of the doctrine of Justification will enable us to “continue in the faith” – never to stray away from the general Truth structure. (Col. 1:23)

There are two kinds of Justification taught in the Bible – Justification by Faith and Justification by Works. Since our present Bible is specifically designed for those who “live by faith,” it is only proper that Justification by Faith receive the preponderance of favor in the past, present and future – until Justification by Works gains the ascendancy in our Lord’s Mediatorial Kingdom.

Since the time that Christ “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10), Justification by Faith has had two com­ponents – Tentative Justification and Vitalized Justification. Herein much controversy has arisen among God’s people, some claiming there is no such thing as Tentative Justification and others claiming it not only operates now but will continue to operate even during the period of Justification by Works.

It is our opinion that those who deny completely a Tentative Justification for this Faith Age are thus forced to abandon large sections of that Truth which made them clean. (It forced JFR to discard completely Tabernacle Shadows of the Better Sacrifices.) It is difficult to determine just how they now interpret Jesus’ words: “I say to you, Till Heaven and earth pass away, one iota or one tip of a letter shall by no means pass from the Law, till all be accomplished. (Matt. 5:18, Diaglott) Jesus was clearly telling us that the entire Law arrange­ment – of which the Tabernacle with its ceremonies was the central feature – was typical, and that all those types must continue until the antitypes appeared to fulfill them to completion.

In a flimsy attempt to justify his rejection of Tentative Justification, JFR falsely claimed that Brother Russell rejected the teaching of Tentative Justification before he died; but this claim is directly disputed in the foreword of Vol. 6, Oct. 1, 1916. There Brother Russell set forth Tentative Justification and Vitalized Justification as separate and distinct. Many other citations leave no doubt about Brother Russell’s conviction about Tentative Justification. [1]

Many others have joined JFR in the denial of Tentative Justification; and, since this teaching is a fundamental part of the Old and New Testaments, we are justified in concluding that those who now deny it, must come under the classification of “Those who are perishing, because they admitted not the love of the Truth in order that they might be saved. And on this account God will send to them an Energy of Delusion.” (2 Thess. 2:10,11, Diaglott) In our Lord’s announcement of the sentence upon the “unprofitable servant” (the Great Company) of Matt. 25:30, Jesus stated that he would be cast into “outer darkness” – meaning he would be given over to error. (See also 1 Thess. 5:5-6 and the Berean Comments on 2 Thess. 2:11.)

Jesus told the Disciples: “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3); and the conclusion must automatically follow that those who reject “the word” which once made them clean would then become unclean – become afflicted with antitypical leprosy – “he shall be defiled; he is unclean.” (Lev. 13:46) And this uncleanness will remain with that Class until the full end of the Gospel Age – “unclean until the even.” (Lev. 14:46) Their cleansing will be accomplished in the “great tribulation” of Rev. 7:14, when they shall experience the “weeping and gnashing of teeth” of Matt. 25:30. Until this cleansing is accomplished, we may reasonably expect such unclean ones to cast out (refuse to fellowship) God’s fully faithful people who resist such rebellion (revolutionism). Keep in mind that it is always the Truth that produces the separation between the Fully Faithful and the Measurably Faithful. Thus, the “hail” (the hard convincing Truth) sweeps away “the refuge of lies” (Isa. 28:17) revealing those who have received the Truth in the love of it, and those who receive the punishment of “outer darkness:” error and revolutionism, leprous uncleanness. Thus, we should “think it not strange” as we see this separating influence operate to a completion – “until the even.”


While we have great respect for the teachings of Brother Russell, we believe every doctrine should also be clearly taught in the Bible, especially one as weighty as Tentative versus Vitalized Justification. We should be able to substantiate our position – and not by one text only, but by at least two or three witnesses. (Matt. 18:16) It is the failure to consider all that is written on various doctrines that has produced the great falling away since Apostolic times. Therefore, if we find our thoughts disputed by even a single text, we may be sure that one of three things is true: Either the text is spurious; we have a faulty translation; or we ourselves have the wrong interpretation. It is “impossible for God to lie” (Heb. 6:18); and, since the Bible is the inspired word of God, it likewise cannot lie – it cannot contradict itself.

Consider our first witness: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the [believing] wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the [believing] husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.” (1 Cor. 7:14) The word “holy” in the text is from the Greek word hagios, which means set apart, separate, holy. It is the same word that is translated “saints” more than sixty times. Clearly enough, a newborn infant could not possibly be a saint, but they receive a reckoned saintly standing because of their saintly parentage; and, since their parents are in the antitypical Tabernacle Court, their children would evidently have to be there with them until such time as those children reach an age of accountability and can determine for themselves whether or not they wish to retain their Faith Justification and continue in the saintly footsteps of their parents.

No one with the faintest understanding of Faith Justification would claim that the justification of infants is vitalized! Therefore, this indisputably proves a Tentative Justification. Note also that we are also clearly presented with two kinds of Tentative Justification: one acquired by mature, intelligent desire and cooperation, and the other by infants through no will or cooperation of their own. It is that justification described in Rom. 5:1-2: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access [we have been introduced – see Diaglott] by faith into this grace [favor] wherein we stand.” This Tentative Justification – standing – is our “introduction” to God, which gives us “peace with God.” We do not have the “peace of God” until we offer ourselves to do His will in accordance with Rom. 12:1; if accepted, this then gives to us “the peace of God, which passeth all [human] understanding.” (Phil. 4:7) Only after that do we actually possess a “living” (zeal‑inspiring) faith.

Our second witness is from Romans chapter 4: “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed [had faith in] God, and it was counted [reckoned] unto him for righteousness.” (Rom. 4:3) Here it is clearly stated that Abraham’s Faith Justification did not actually make him right; it merely accounted, or reckoned, him righteous. Thus, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” (Rom. 4:7) Their sins are no longer held against them because of their Faith Justification. Certainly no one who was ever in Present Truth would contend that Abraham and David had justification similar to the justification held by those of this Gospel Age who had come into the Body of Christ – vitalized through a real imputation of Christ’s merit.

Now note this: “How was it then reckoned [to Abraham]? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncir­cumcision. And he received the sign of circum­cision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.” (Rom. 4:10-11)

All schooled in Present Truth know that ancient circumcision was a type of the Gospel Age consecration, the physical circumcision typing the figurative circumcision of the heart when one offers his heart and will to God in consecration. St. Paul clearly states that Abraham’s righteousness was accounted, reckoned, to him before circumcision – that he might be the father of all who believe – all who experience a Faith Justification before they present themselves to God in consecration – before they experience the antitypical circumcision of the heart. St. Paul was truly a great logician, and his reasoning is so clear and direct in this fourth chapter, that it seems unbelievable that any who were once in Present Truth could cast it aside and then attempt to besmirch Brother Russell by saying he had also cast aside these compelling Scriptures.

St. Paul then says that this Faith Justification arranges our “access” (introduction) to God. (Rom. 5:1-2) It is merely an introduction, not an intimate relation­ship, but it will enable us to gain intimacy of soul with our Heavenly Father if we follow the appeal to “present your bodies a living sacrifice” in consecration. This we are now in a position to do as a result of our tentative, reckoned, Faith Justification: “Be ye transformed by the renewing [renovation] of your mind.” (Rom. 12:1-2)

As our third witness we offer what we consider the most compelling proof for Tentative Justification: the Atonement Day type of the wilderness Tabernacle. (Lev. 16) The pattern given to Moses in the mount was emphatic that all animals used in that service must be “without blemish” (Lev. 1:3), have no visible flaws of any kind. We ask, did those animals have their physical perfection as a result of their presentation to Aaron in sacrifice, or were they offered up that day because they were previously found to be perfect? The answer is clear: They were already “without blemish” when they were selected from among the children of Israel and brought into the Court, before they were tied at the door of the Tabernacle. Their being tied there represented the consecration and presentation of those who were about to enter the Holy “in newness of life” through an instantaneous vitalization of that reckoned perfection which was already theirs before consecration. It is this tentative faith justification, this reckoned perfec­tion that is our access or introduction to God. It is this that enables us to enter into the Holy – into Divine sanctum, into vitalized justification, a condition exclusive to this Gospel Faith Age and exclusive to those only who are begotten to “newness of life” through direct imputation of the merit of Jesus.

Every antitype is greater than its type. Thus, Jesus as the antitype of the Atonement Day bullock was infinitely greater than was the type, requiring only the one sacrifice of Himself to forever cleanse from sin all who come to the Father by Him. The members of His Body were also far greater than their Atonement Day type as represented in the Lord’s goat. Therefore, if the animals in the type were “without blemish” (typically perfect) before being presented at the door of the Tabernacle, must this not be much more true of their Gospel Age anti­types? God can make no allowance for sin, thus He could not enter into a “covenant by sacrifice” with fallen beings unless the sin barrier were first removed. Therefore He must first provide a way – an introduction – for fallen man to come to Him. This He accomplished by arranging for a tentative, reckoned perfection – a Tentative Justification by Faith.


No fallen human could arrange this intro­duction to God by his own skill or merit; it must come through an intercessor, through one who could give him a reckoned perfection. This He arranged through Jesus – “that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Rom. 3:26) The Tabernacle type gives clear confirmation of this by the linen curtain which surrounded the Tabernacle structure and its surrounding plot of ground. The Divine Presence was portrayed by the Shekinah Light shining forth from between the Cherubim in the Most Holy of the Tabernacle. None could reach that presence except through Jesus – by first coming through the Gate into the Court, and inside the linen curtain, there to be reckoned perfect, righteous (“the fine linen is the righteous­ness of saints”Rev. 19:8). Being provided proper introduction to God at the first veil, they progress in life’s pilgrimage through the Holy to the Most Holy, to “ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:17)

Abraham lived before the typical Tabernacle was erected at Sinai, but the same arrangement was reckoned to him, and to all with “the faith of Abraham” from Abel to John the Baptist. “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” (John 8:56) While none of the Ancients ever had more than a tentative, reckoned justification, that came to them through a reckoned standing inside that linen curtain, giving them a righteousness they could never attain of them­selves. “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” (Isa. 64:6)

Brother Johnson wrote of the Youthful Worthies: “From the standpoint of having ‘the faith of Abraham’ (Gal. 3:7,9) they are, of course, like him, of the Household of Faith . . . They are, however, somewhat different from the Tentatively Justified who do not now consecrate. The latter during the Epiphany cease altogether to be of the Household of Faith, having used the Grace of God in vain.” (E‑4, page 406)

After That Servant’s death, JFR denied the doctrine of Tentative Justification altogether because it stood in the way of his “new light.” Brother Johnson clearly refuted his “new light,” and established the doctrine of Tentative Justification in the Scriptures so unmistakably that no Epiphany enlightened brethren need be deceived. He stated that “those faithful consecrators from 1881 until Restitution sets in, for whom there are no crowns available, and hence no Spirit-begetting for Gospel Age purposes possible, will be the Millennial Associates of the Ancient Worthies in reward and service.” (E-4, page 342)

Advancing Truth does not set aside the Truth already established, as some deceivers seem to think; all advancing Truth must be based upon the Truth already established from the Word of God.

(Excerpts from No. 255 by John J. Hoefle, September, 1976, with editing)

[1] See these Reprints: 4525, p. 360; 4547 pp. 12-13; 4579 p. 93; 4655 p. 247; 4901, p. 394; 5023, p. 152; 5206-5208 pp. 92‑94; 5410-5411, p. 67; 5660-5661, pp. 103-104; 5774-5775, pp. 292-293; 5959, p. 281.