Q: This week's Watchtower study (week of September 1-7, 2014), para 5 (page 8) says: "The Bible uses the word 'foundation' as a metaphor for various things, including literal Jerusalem as the capital of ancient Israel. (Ps. 87:1, 2)." 

       I thought Ps 87:1,2 was referring to Jerusalem above, or the kingdom, not literal Jerusalem. Is the Psalm referring to literal Jerusalem?


A:  The Watchtower article you are referring to, "Jehovah Knows Those Who Belong to Him", said the following:

    "Paul was sure that Jehovah could recognize hypocritical worship, and he was likewise convinced that Jehovah could identify those who are obedient to Him. Paul manifested his strong conviction by the wording he chose when writing under inspiration to Timothy. After referring to the spiritual harm that apostates were already inflicting upon some within the congregation, Paul wrote: 'Despite that, the solid foundation of God remains standing, having this seal, "Jehovah knows those who belong to him," and, "Let everyone calling on the name of Jehovah renounce unrighteousness."’” —2 Tim. 2:18,19.
    5 What is significant about Paul’s word choice in this scripture? This is the only mention in the Bible of “the solid foundation of God.” The Bible uses the word “foundation” as a metaphor for various things, including literal Jerusalem as the capital of ancient Israel. (Ps. 87:1,2) The role that Jesus plays in Jehovah’s purpose is also compared to a foundation. (1 Cor. 3:11; 1 Pet. 2:6) What did Paul have in mind when he wrote about “the solid foundation of God”?
6 Paul mentions “the solid foundation of God” in the same context in which he quotes Moses’ words about Korah and his supporters, recorded at Numbers 16:5. Paul was evidently referring to the events in Moses’ day in an effort to encourage Timothy and remind him of Jehovah’s ability to detect and counter- act rebellious acts. Jehovah’s purpose was not about to be thwarted by apostates in the congregation any more than it was by Korah centuries before. Paul did not explain in detail what “the solid foundation of God” represents. Yet, the wording used surely evoked in Timothy reassuring thoughts of trust and confidence in Jehovah’s ways."The Watchtower, July 15, 2014, page 8, par. 5. (Bold added)

At Psalms 87:1-3, the sons of Korah are singing the praises of Jerusalem, situated upon Mount Zion, which at that time was Jehovah's place of true worship: "His foundation is in the holy mountains. Jehovah is more in love with the gates of Zion than with all the tabernacles of Jacob. Glorious things are being spoken about you, O city of the true God." This is one of the many Scriptures that mention Jerusalem and Zion as the center for true worship, whether it is ancient Jerusalem or heavenly Jerusalem. It is the "foundation" of true worship because that is where Jehovah is said to reside. (Psalms 2:6; 9:11; 132:13-14; 135:21; Jer. 3:17; Rev. 21:2, 9-14; 22:3) That is what Paul meant when he said in 2 Timothy 2:19, "For all that, the solid foundation of God stays standing, having this seal: 'Jehovah knows those who belong to him.'"

Under the old covenant (Mosaic Law) Jehovah was worshiped at his temple in Jerusalem. But at Pentecost, with the outpouring of the holy spirit upon the 120 disciples, the new covenant became operative and God's temple of true worship came into existence. That is where Jehovah is now worshiped "with spirit and truth." This temple is not located at any geographical site, such as was the case of the temple in Jerusalem upon Mount Zion, as Jesus explained to the Samaritan woman; but, rather, under the new covenant God's temple consists of his true worshipers. That is what the Psalms and prophecies are mainly about. (John 4:21-24; 2 Cor. 6:15-18; Heb. 8:1-10) The foundation of this temple came into existence with the anointing of the 120 disciples, foremost among them the twelve apostles (Matthias having replaced Judas Iscariot).

Upon installing the first members of the foundation by holy spirit, God immediately began to built upon that foundation by adding 3,000 disciples to his temple when they were baptized. (Acts 1:15; 2:1-4, 37-41) Since then, the foundation and the temple built upon it has grown throughout the many centuries, as God kept enlarging the foundation as the need arose, to support the many disciples that were streaming to true worship, and who also themselves have become living stones within the temple as members of his household, built upon the foundation. (Micah 4:1-7)

Paul explains in his letter to the Gentile Ephesian congregation that they too were now members of God's temple, "fellow citizens of the holy ones and members of the household of God, and you have been built up upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, while Christ Jesus himself is the foundation cornerstone. In union with him the whole building, being harmoniously joined together, is growing into a holy temple for Jehovah. In union with him you, too, are being built up together into a place for God to inhabit by spirit." (Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 1 Peter 2:4-6)

God's temple will be completed when the foundation, made up of the full number of 144,000 has been sealed by God, prior to the great tribulation. (Matt. 28:20; Rev. 7:1-4, 9-10, 13-17; 14:1-4; 21:3-4)

False teachers, such as Hymenus and Philetus, against whom Paul warned Timothy, were a danger of undermining the faith of some believers by their false teachings; but they could not undermine the solid foundation of God's temple, nor the true worship rendered to God within his temple. It is as Paul notes, "For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth." (2 Tim. 2:16-19; 2 Cor. 13:8) 

This has meaning for us today, because we know that there is nothing that the "man of lawlessness" within God's temple can do to undermine the "solid foundation", where he has seated and elevated himself over God's people; because the true worship of Jehovah God remains forever. (2 Thess. 2:3-12) We have the assurance that "Jehovah knows those who belong to him", and he will protect his loyal servants at the time when he removes all the wicked ones from within his temple. At that time "the righteous one will shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." (Matt. 13:41-43; Mal. 3:16-18)