In the article How can we prove when Jesus became King? by Tadua, published on 7th December 2017, evidence is offered in a contextual discussion of Scripture. The readers are invited to consider the Scriptures through a series of reflective questions and make up their mind. That article along with many others have challenged the theology put forward by the Governing Body (GB) of Jehovah’s Witnesses for the Messianic enthronement date of October, 1914. This article will focus on the GB theology of what happened to Jesus upon his return to heaven and the role he was given prior to Pentecost 33 CE.

What Kingdom was Jesus given?

In the reference work published by the Watchtower and Bible Tract Society (WTBTS) titled Insight on the Scriptures (abbreviated to it-1 or it-2, for the two volumes) we find the following answer to the subtitle’s question:

“The Kingdom of the Son of His Love.[1] Ten days after Jesus’ ascension to heaven, on Pentecost of 33 C.E., his disciples had evidence that he had been “exalted to the right hand of God” when Jesus poured out holy spirit upon them. (Ac 1:8, 9; 2:1-4, 29-33) The “new covenant” thus became operative toward them, and they became the nucleus of a new “holy nation,” spiritual Israel.—Heb 12:22-24; 1 Pe 2:9, 10; Ga 6:16.

Christ was now sitting at his Father’s right hand and was the Head over this congregation. (Eph 5:23; Heb 1:3; Php 2:9-11) The Scriptures show that from Pentecost 33 C.E. onward, a spiritual kingdom was set up over his disciples. When writing to first-century Christians at Colossae, the apostle Paul referred to Jesus Christ as already having a kingdom: “[God] delivered us from the authority of the darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of his love.”—Col 1:13; compare Ac 17:6, 7.

Christ’s kingdom from Pentecost of 33 C.E. onward has been a spiritual one ruling over spiritual Israel, Christians who have been begotten by God’s spirit to become the spiritual children of God. (Joh 3:3, 5, 6) When such spirit-begotten Christians receive their heavenly reward, they will no longer be earthly subjects of the spiritual kingdom of Christ, but they will be kings with Christ in heaven.—Re 5:9, 10.

The above is used by the Organization to explain the scripture in Colossians 1:13[2], which states He rescued us from the authority of the darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.” The letter to the Colossians is dated around 60-61 CE and is one of four letters sent by Paul while awaiting trial in Rome.

While Colossians 1:13 clearly shows that Jesus had a kingdom from the first century onward, the WTBTS teaches this to be a spiritual kingdom over the Christian congregation as shown below.

Jesus established a spiritual kingdom over the Christian congregation of his anointed brothers. (Col. 1:13) Still, Jesus would have to wait to take up full kingly power over the earth as the promised “offspring.”  (w14 1/15 p. 11 par. 17)

However, he did receive a “kingdom” with subjects that obeyed him. The apostle Paul identified that kingdom when he wrote: “[God] delivered us [spirit-anointed Christians] from the authority of the darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of his love.” (Colossians 1:13) This deliverance began at Pentecost 33 C.E. when holy spirit was poured out on Jesus’ faithful followers. (w02 10/1 p. 18 pars. 3, 4)

AT PENTECOST 33 C.E., Jesus Christ, the Head of the congregation, began actively ruling in the kingdom of his spirit-anointed slaves. How so? By means of the holy spirit, angels, and a visible governing body….At the end of “the appointed times of the nations,” Jehovah increased Christ’s kingly authority, extending it beyond the Christian congregation. (w90 3/15 p. 15 pars. 1, 2)

All of the above references from WTBTS publications clearly teach that upon Jesus’ return to heaven, he was given rulership over the Christian congregation in 33 C.E. They also teach that Jesus was enthroned as Messianic King in 1914.

Now let us reason on this body of writing and the thought that a spiritual kingdom was established in 33 CE in the light of the new “revelations” currently taught by the GB.

What is the scriptural basis for concluding that Colossian 1:13 refers to a kingdom over the Christian congregation? The answer is none!  There is no evidence for this conclusion. Please read the supporting scriptures that are cited in context and without imposing any other theological understanding.  They are taken from the it-2 section on this topic.

Ephesians 5:23 “because a husband is head of his wife just as the Christ is head of the congregation, he being a savior of this body.”

Hebrews 1:3 “He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact representation of his very being, and he sustains all things by the word of his power. And after he had made a purification for our sins…”

Philippians 2:9-11 ““For this very reason, God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name, 10 so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend—of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground— 11 and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.””

Nothing in the above verses makes an explicit statement about the kingdom given to Jesus in 33 CE being exclusively over the Christian congregation, nor is there any implied statement to that effect. The understanding is forced, because the GB have an a priori need to defend the teaching that the Messianic kingdom was established in 1914. If that teaching did not exist, the natural reading of scripture can be followed.

Interestingly, in Colossians 1:23 Paul states that “…the good news has been heard and preached in all creation under heaven…” A question arises as to how this might connect with Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:14?

A further point to address is found in the 15th January 2014 Watchtower article cited above. There the following statement is made:

“Jesus established a spiritual kingdom over the Christian congregation of his anointed brothers. (Col. 1:13) Still, Jesus would have to wait to take up full kingly power over the earth as the promised “offspring”. Jehovah told his Son: “Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.”—Ps. 110:1.””

Why does Jesus have to wait? Matthew 28:18 states “Jesus approached and spoke to them, saying: ‘All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.’” This verse does not state that he has to wait for authority to be given to him in stages. The statement is explicit that he has been given all authority.

In addition, 1 Timothy 6:13-16 states: “…I give you orders to observe the commandment in a spotless and irreprehensible way until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which the happy and only Potentate will show in its own appointed times. He is the King of those who rule as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords, the one alone having immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal might. Amen.” Here Jesus is spoken of having a kingship and lordship over all.

At this point we can see that there are a range of scriptures that make explicit statements on his authority and the positions he holds along with his being immortal in nature.

What Happened to Jesus’ Kingdom?

Now we can move onto the point of GB teaching that Jesus was the King of the Christian congregation. There is a fatal flaw in the theology due to “new light” in the Watchtower Study Edition of November 2016. There were two study articles, “Called Out of Darkness” and “They Broke Free From False Religion”.[3]

In these two articles a reinterpretation of the modern-day Babylonian exile is given. For many decades, it had been taught that there was a modern-day captivity for true Christians by the Babylonian religious system during the years of 1918 and 1919.[4] Please see below the publication Revelation—Its Grand Climax at Hand chapter 30 paragraphs 11-12.

11 As we previously noted, the proud city of Babylon experienced a disastrous fall from power in 539 B.C.E. Then the cry was heard: “She has fallen! Babylon has fallen!” The great seat of the world empire had fallen to the armies of Medo-Persia under Cyrus the Great. Although the city itself survived the conquest, her fall from power was real, and it resulted in the release of her Jewish captives. They returned to Jerusalem to re-establish pure worship there.—Isaiah 21:9; 2 Chronicles 36:22, 23; Jeremiah 51:7, 8.

12 In our time the cry that Babylon the Great has fallen has also been heard! Babylonish Christendom’s temporary success in 1918 was sharply reversed in 1919 when the remnant of anointed ones, the John class, was restored by a spiritual resurrection. Babylon the Great had fallen as far as having any captive hold on God’s people was concerned. Like locusts, Christ’s anointed brothers swarmed out of the abyss, ready for action. (Revelation 9:1-3; 11:11, 12) They were the modern “faithful and discreet slave,” and the Master appointed them over all his belongings on earth. (Matthew 24:45-47) Their being used in this way proved that Jehovah had utterly rejected Christendom despite her claim to be his representative on earth. Pure worship was re-established, and the way was open to complete the work of sealing the remnant of the 144,000—the remaining ones of the seed of the woman, the age-old enemy of Babylon the Great. All of this signaled a crushing defeat for that satanic religious organization.

The new understanding still acknowledges that there is an anti-typical Babylonian exile for the Christian congregation, but the change is that rather than lasting only 9 months, this captivity spanned 1800 years. This can be seen from the first of the two articles, “Called Out of Darkness”, which states:

IS THERE A MODERN-DAY PARALLEL?

Have Christians ever experienced anything comparable to the Babylonian captivity? For many years, this journal suggested that God’s modern-day servants entered into Babylonian captivity in 1918 and that they were released from Babylon in 1919. However, for the reasons that we shall outline in this article and in the one following, a reexamination of the subject was necessary.

Consider: Babylon the Great is the world empire of false religion. Thus, in order to be subject to Babylonian captivity in 1918, God’s people would have had to become enslaved to false religion in some way at that time. The facts show, however, that in the decades leading up to World War I, God’s anointed servants were actually breaking free from Babylon the Great, not becoming enslaved to it. While it is true that the anointed were persecuted during the first world war, the tribulation they experienced was caused mainly by the secular authorities, not by Babylon the Great. So it does not really seem that Jehovah’s people entered into captivity to Babylon the Great in 1918.

In paragraph 6, the point is made about a re-examination of the previous understanding.  Paragraph 7 says that God’s people have to be enslaved to false religion in some way. Paragraphs 8-11 outline a history of how Christianity turned apostate. In paragraph 9, historic individuals are named, like Emperor Constantine, Arius and Emperor Theodosius. Please note, however, that there are no references to the source of this information. The article only refers to historians who make claims for the change, but provides no additional details for the reader to research on his own. Curiously, the scriptures in Matthew 13:24-25, 37-39 are used to claim that the small Christian voice was drowned out.

Anyone who reads these verses in context will notice that nowhere in the “parable of the wheat and weeds” does it say that the wheat goes into Babylonian captivity.

From paragraphs 12-14, we are given information on how starting with the invention of the printing press in the mid-15th Century and the stand taken by a few, the Bible started to be translated and distributed in the common languages. It then jumps to the late 1800s where Charles Taze Russell and a few others begin a systematic study of the Bible to get to Bible truths.

Paragraph 15 gives a summation that states “thus far we have seen that true Christians came into Babylonian captivity soon after the death of the last of the apostles.” The rest deals with questions to be answered in the second article.

Much can be said about the points raised in this article. We will focus on the point of Jesus being King of the Christian congregation. The article makes a series of statements without any support from the Scriptures.

As already stated, the GB have created a rule to determine a type and antitype. No Bible verses [5] are given nor can be found to support claim that the Jewish Babylonian exile was a type and that the Christian congregation would face an antitypical captivity by Babylon the Great. The Jewish exile was due to the breaking of the Law covenant and the maledictions given in the Law was the outcome. No such statement is ever made for the Christian congregation.

The claim that Charles Taze Russell and his associates were restoring Bible truths is simplistic and goes against his own statement:

“Then how did Russell perceive the role that he and his associates played in publishing Scriptural truth? He explained: “Our work . . . has been to bring together these long scattered fragments of truth and present them to the Lord’s people—not as new, not as our own, but as the Lord’s. . . . We must disclaim any credit even for the finding and rearrangement of the jewels of truth.” He further stated: “The work in which the Lord has been pleased to use our humble talents has been less a work of origination than of reconstruction, adjustment, harmonization.”” (Emphasis in italic from original; bold added)[6]

Therefore, if it is not new, then these truths must have been in circulation already.  So, from where did they learn them? In addition, Russell carried out an incredible work of distributing Bible understandings in tracts, books, magazines, newspaper sermons and the first audiovisual teaching medium. How can they be in captivity if this message was proclaimed and distributed so extensively? Surely this was not a drowning out of the voice. It sounds like the captives were freely expressing themselves.

This revised understanding of the Babylonian captivity and the enthronement of Christ Jesus as the King of the Christian congregation is not tenable. Jesus was not corrupted by Satan in heaven or on earth. Even as a man Jesus could claim:

“I have said these things to you so that by means of me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage! I have conquered the world.”(John 16:33).

This was at the end of his final discourse on the day he died. Upon his return to heaven, he was given immortality and became the King of kings and Lord of lords. In addition, he was given all authority. The question is: How did Satan manage to corrupt and take into captivity Jesus’ Kingdom of the Christian congregation? How could Satan defeat the King of kings?

Jesus promised in Matthew 28:20: “…And look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” When did Jesus desert his subjects or not keep a promise?

All these twisted teachings are created to support the belief that the Messianic Kingdom was established in 1914. With these teachings, the GB make our glorious Lord Jesus look like he has failed, lost a kingdom for 1800 years, and exalts Satan as the more powerful one, at least for a time. How dishonouring of God and his King? Surely, this is not bending our knees and acknowledging that Jesus is Lord to the glory of the Father.

The question is: Do these teachings amount to blasphemy against Jesus Christ? Each one must draw their own conclusion.

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[1] it-2 pp. 169-170 Kingdom of God

[2] All scriptural references are from the New World Translation(NWT) of Holy Scriptures 2013 edition unless otherwise stated.

[3] Pages 21-25 and 26-30 respectively. Please read the articles and see how the cited or quoted scriptures do not support the assertions.

[4] The earliest reference to that could be found is in the Watchtower 1st August 1936 under an article titled “Obadiah” Part 4. Paragraphs 26 and 27 states:

26 Looking now to the fulfillment of the prophecy: The host of spiritual Israel was in captivity to Satan’s organization, that is, Babylon, prior to and in 1918. Up to that time they had even recognized the rulers of this world, the servants of Satan, as the “higher powers”. This they did ignorantly, but remained faithful and true to Jehovah. The promise is that these faithful ones shall possess the place wrongfully occupied by those who oppressed them. It is a picture of how God takes careful note of those who remain true and faithful to him and in due time delivers them and gives them a place of supremacy over their enemies and his enemies. These truths the Lord without doubt is now permitting his people to understand that they may receive comfort and with patience pursue their work which he has assigned to them.

27 “The captivity of Jerusalem,” as used by the prophet Obadiah, strongly implies that the fulfillment of this part of the prophecy begins sometime after 1918 and while the remnant are still on the earth and before their work on the earth is finished. “When the Lord turned again to the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.” (Ps. 126:1) When the remnant saw that they were free from the binding cords of Satan’s organization, free in Christ Jesus, and recognized God and Christ .Jesus as the “Higher Powers”, to whom they must at all times be obedient that was so refreshing it seemed like a dream, and many so said.

The article explores the type and anti-type teaching which is not accepted by the GB unless the bible explicitly states it. This can be found in the March15th 2015 Study Edition Watchtower.

[5] Some might refer to Revelation 18:4 as support for an antitype. This will be dealt with in a future article.

[6] See Jehovah’s Witnesses Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom Chapter 5 page 49 (1993)

Eleasar

JW for over 20 years. Recently resigned as an elder. Only God's word is truth and cannot use we are in the truth anymore. Eleasar means "God has helped" and I am full of gratitude.