In the 1990s, Jehovah's Witnesses came to our front door several times when we lived in the main street in Steinsfurt. From many, often heated, discussions before on two continents since my conversion with 15 years I have learnt and am no longer prepared for disputes. Now I politely and kindly say that I believe in Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God and that I know that Jehovah's Witnesses reject this teaching and that therefore it is pointless to engage in endless discussions.
Once, two young Jehovah's Witnesses who rang our doorbell rejected my offer of literature in exchange for their offer, because they "did not accept anything from renegades. (It is a tract from a former Jehovah's Witness in California who came to his senses through the misprophecy of the return of Jesus in 1975).
The spokesman wanted to convince me immediately of 2 Peter 3 that God will only destroy the world systems and leave the natural form of the earth as it is today. He claimed that the Greek original text confirmed this statement. The "elements" are only principles of mankind that stand in rebellion against God. Only these would be "burned".
As a student of the Greek New Testament since 1974, I found this statement strange. I fetched my Greek edition and showed the men the passage in 2 Peter 3 if they could show me the word and make further remarks about it. They admitted that they could not read Greek. Then I suggested the meaning of stoixeia in this context as the unambiguous reference to the physical world. - That not only the earth (ge), but also the heavens (ouranoi) will melt with hot embers. The model for the end of the world is the Flood (verses 5-6), a geological, not a cultural event. The elements here are not the religious commandments of men, as the word is used in Colossians 2:8 - not elements of the cosmos as society, but elements of space-time (2 Peter 3:7-13). A new creation of a different kind is to be created (verse 13). Of course, as with the Flood, physical destruction also means the end of all human works.
To my astonishment, a Jehovah's Witness proved me right for the first time and to this day only in an interpretation of the Scriptures. "That makes sense," replied the spokesman. Thereupon I could explain more to the men. The newcomer, who stood by, was obviously uncomfortable, because this turnaround endangered the central end-time doctrine of the group. He energetically grabbed his colleague's sleeves and moved their rapid progress.
My sincere prayer then as now for these people is that they not only understand and accept the biblical teaching of the Last Days more correctly, but also accept him as their only Saviour, who loves them infinitely and died for them once and for all on the cross to pay off their sin and rose again for a new life with God for them.
Fred Foster, February 2013, Sinsheim