[Click here to view Part 1 of this series]
Our modern-day Governing Body takes as divine backing for its existence the teaching that the first century congregation was also ruled by a governing body comprised of the Apostles and older men in Jerusalem. Is this true? Was there an administrative governing body ruling over the whole of the first century congregation?
First, we have to establish what we mean by ‘governing body’. Essentially, it is a body that governs. It might be likened to a corporate board of directors. In this role, the Governing Body manages a multinational billion-dollar corporation with branch offices, land holdings, buildings and equipment all over the globe. It directly employs volunteer workers numbering in the thousands in a huge number of countries. These include branch staff, missionaries, traveling overseers and special pioneers, all of whom are supported financially to varying degrees.
No one will deny that the diverse, complex and extensive corporate entity we’ve just described needs someone at the helm to function productively. [We are not suggesting that such an entity is needed for the worldwide preaching work to be accomplished. After all, the stones could cry out. (Luke 19:40) Only that given such an entity, a governing body or board of directors is needed to manage it.] However, when we say that our modern governing body is based on the first century model, are we talking about a similar corporate entity existing in the first century?
Any student of history will find that very suggestion to be laughable. Multinational corporations are a fairly recent invention. There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that the Apostles and older men in Jerusalem managed a multinational corporate empire with land holdings, buildings, and financial assets held in multiple currencies. There was simply no infrastructure in the first century to manage such a thing. The only form of communication was correspondence, but there was no established Postal Service. Letters were transmitted only when someone happened to be going on a journey, and given the dangerous nature of travel in those days, one could never count on the letter arriving.
So what then do we mean by a first century governing body?
What we mean is an early counterpart to what we have ruling over us today. The modern Governing Body directly or through its representatives makes all the appointments, interprets scripture and provides us with all our official understandings and teachings, legislates law on topics not explicitly covered in Scripture, organizes and manages a judiciary to enforce this law, and proscribes fitting punishment for offenses. It also claims the right to absolute obedience in its self-proclaimed role as God’s appointed channel of communication.
Therefore, the ancient governing body would have filled these same roles. Otherwise, we would have no scriptural precedent for what governs us today.
Was there such a first century governing body?
Let’s start by breaking this down into the various roles the existing Governing Body has under its authority and then looking for ancient parallels. Essentially, we are reverse-engineering the process.
Today: It oversees the worldwide preaching work, appoints branch and traveling overseers, dispatches missionaries and special pioneers and provides for their financial needs. All these, in turn, report directly back to the Governing Body.
First Century: There is no record of branch offices in any of the countries reported on in the Greek Scriptures. However, there were missionaries. Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Mark, Luke are all noted examples of historic significance. Were these men dispatched by Jerusalem? Did Jerusalem support them financially from funds received from all the congregations of the ancient world? Did they report back to Jerusalem upon their return?
In 46 C.E., Paul and Barnabas were associated with the congregation in Antioch, which was not in Israel, but in Syria. They were sent by the generous brothers in Antioch on a mission of relief to Jerusalem in the time of the great famine during the reign of Claudius. (Acts 11:27-29) Having completed their mission, they took John Mark with them and returned to Antioch. At that point—likely within a year of their return from Jerusalem—the holy spirit directed the congregation of Antioch to commission Paul and Barnabas and send them out on what would become the first of three missionary tours. (Acts 13:2-5)
Since they had just been in Jerusalem, why didn’t the holy spirit direct the older men and Apostles there to dispatch them on this mission? If these men constituted God’s appointed channel of communication, would not Jehovah be undermining their appointed rule, but channelling his communication through the brothers in Antioch?
Upon completing their first missionary tour, where did these two outstanding missionaries return to make a report? To a Jerusalem-based governing body? Acts 14:26,27 shows that they returned to the congregation of Antioch and made a full report, spending ‘not a little time with the disciples’ there.
It should be noted that the congregation of Antioch sent these and others out on missionary tours. There is no record of the older men and apostles in Jerusalem dispatching men on missionary tours.
Did the first century congregation in Jerusalem act as a governing body in a sense of directing and managing the worldwide work of the day? We find that when Paul and those with him wanted to preach in the district of Asia, they were forbidden to do so, not by some governing body, but by the holy spirit. Further, when they later wanted to preach in Bithynia, the spirit of Jesus prevented them. Instead, they were directed by means of a vision to step over to Macedonia. (Acts 16:6-9)
Jesus made no use of a group of men in Jerusalem or elsewhere to direct the worldwide work in his day. He was perfectly capable of doing so himself. In fact, he still is.
Today: All congregations are controlled through traveling representatives and branch offices that report back to the Governing Body. Finances are controlled by the Governing Body and its representatives. Likewise the purchase of land for Kingdom halls as well as their design and construction is all controlled in this manner by the Governing Body through its representatives at the branch and in the Regional Building Committee. Every congregation in the world makes regular statistical reports to the Governing Body and all the elders serving in these congregation are not appointed by the congregations themselves, but by the Governing Body through its branch offices.
First Century: There is absolutely no parallel for any of the foregoing in the first century. Buildings and lands for meeting places are not mentioned. It appears that congregations met in the homes of local members. Reports were not made on a regular basis, but following the custom of the time, news was carried by travellers, so Christians journeying to one place or another made reports to the local congregation of the work going on wherever they had been. However, this was incidental and not part of some organized controlling administration.
Today: The Governing Body performs a legislative and judicial role. Where something isn’t clearly stated in Scripture, where it may have been a matter of conscience, new laws and regulations have been put in place; for example, the injunction against smoking, or viewing of pornography. It has determined how it may be appropriate for brothers to avoid military service. For example, it approved the practice of bribing officials in Mexico to get a Military Service Card. It has ruled what constitutes grounds for divorce. Bestiality and homosexuality only became grounds in December of 1972. (To be fair, that wasn’t the Governing Body since it didn’t come into existence until 1976.) Judicially, it has created many rules and procedures to enforce its legislative decrees. The three-man judicial committee, the appeal process, the closed sessions that bar even observers the accused has requested are all examples of the authority it claims to have received from God.
First Century: With one notable exception which we will address presently, the older men and apostles did not legislate anything in the ancient world. All new rules and laws were the product of individuals acting or writing under inspiration. In fact, it is the exception that proves the rule that Jehovah has always used individuals, not committees, to communicate with his people. Even at the local congregation level, divinely inspired direction came not from some centralized authority but from men and women who acted as prophets. (Acts 11:27; 13:1; 15:32; 21:9)
The exception that proves the rule
The sole basis for our teaching that there was a first century governing body centered in Jerusalem arises from a dispute over the issue of circumcision.
(Acts 15:1, 2) 15 And certain men came down from Ju·de′a and began to teach the brothers: “Unless YOU get circumcised according to the custom of Moses, YOU cannot be saved.” 2 But when there had occurred no little dissension and disputing by Paul and Bar′na·bas with them, they arranged for Paul and Bar′na·bas and some others of them to go up to the apostles and older men in Jerusalem regarding this dispute.
This occurred while Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch. Men from Judea arrived bringing a new teaching which caused quite a bit of contention. It had to be resolved. So they went to Jerusalem. Did they go there because that is where the governing body existed or did they go there because that was the source of the problem? As we shall see, the latter is the most likely reason for their journey.
(Acts 15:6) . . .And the apostles and the older men gathered together to see about this affair.
Considering that fifteen years earlier thousands of Jews were baptized at Pentecost, by this time, there must have been many congregations in the Holy City. Since all the older men were involved in this conflict resolution, that would make for a considerable number of older men present. This is not the small group of appointed men that is often depicted in our publications. In fact, the gathering is referred to as a multitude.
(Acts 15:12) At that the entire multitude became silent, and they began to listen to Bar′na·bas and Paul relate the many signs and portents that God did through them among the nations.
(Acts 15:30) Accordingly, when these men were let go, they went down to Antioch, and they gathered the multitude together and handed them the letter.
There is every indication that this assembly was called, not because all the older men of Jerusalem had been appointed by Jesus to rule over the worldwide first century congregation, but rather because they were the source of the problem. The problem would not go away until all the Christians in Jerusalem could agree on this issue.
(Acts 15:24, 25) . . .Since we have heard that some from among us have caused YOU trouble with speeches, trying to subvert YOUR souls, although we did not give them any instructions, 25 we have come to a unanimous accord and have favored choosing men to send to YOU together with our loved ones, Bar′na·bas and Paul,
A unanimous accord was arrived at and both men and written confirmation were being dispatched to put the matter to rest. It only makes sense that wherever Paul, Silas and Barnabas traveled after that, they would take along the letter, because these Judaizers were not done yet. Some years later, in a letter to the Galatians, Paul makes mention of them, wishing they would get themselves emasculated. Strong words, indicating that the patience of God had worn thin. (Gal. 5:11, 12)
Viewing the whole picture
Let’s assume for a moment that there was no governing body directing the worldwide work and serving as God’s sole channel of communication. What then? What would Paul and Barnabas have done? Would they have done anything different? Of course not. The dispute was caused by men from Jerusalem. The only way to resolve it would be to take the matter back to Jerusalem. If this is proof of a first century governing body, then there would have to be corroborative evidence in the rest of the Christian Scriptures. However, what we find is anything but.
There are many facts that support this view.
Paul had a special appointment as an apostle to the nations. He was appointed directly by Jesus Christ no less. Would he not have consulted the governing body if there were one? Instead he says,
(Galatians 1:18, 19) . . .Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to visit Ce′phas, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. 19 But I saw no one else of the apostles, only James the brother of the Lord.
How very odd that he should willfully avoid the governing body, unless no such entity existed.
Where did the name “Christians” come from? Was it a directive issued by some Jerusalem-based governing body? No! The name came by divine providence. Ah, but did it at least come through the Apostles and older men of Jerusalem as God’s appointed channel of communication? It did not; it came through the Antioch congregation. (Acts 11:22) In fact, if you wanted to make a case for a first century governing body, you’d have an easier time of it by focusing on the brothers in Antioch, since they appear to have had a greater influence on the worldwide preaching work of that day than did the older men of Jerusalem.
When John received his vision in which Jesus addressed the seven congregations, no mention is made of a governing body. Why would Jesus not follow channels and direct John to write to the governing body so that they could perform their role of oversight and take care of these congregational matters? Simply put, the bulk of evidence is that Jesus dealt with the congregations directly throughout the first century.
A lesson from ancient Israel
When Jehovah first took a nation to himself, he appointed a leader, gave him great power and authority to free his people and lead them to the promised land. But Moses did not enter that land. Instead he commissioned Joshua to lead his people in their war against the Canaanites. However, once that work had been accomplished and Joshua had died, an interesting thing happened.
(Judges 17:6) . . .In those days there was no king in Israel. As for everybody, what was right in his own eyes he was accustomed to do.
Simply put, there was no human ruler over the nation of Israel. The head of each household had the law code. They had a form of worship and of conduct that was laid out in writing by the hand of God. True, there were judges but their role was not to govern but to resolve disputes. They also served to lead the people in times of war and conflict. But there was no human King or governing body over Israel because Jehovah was their King.
Though the judges-era nation of Israel was far from perfect, Jehovah set it up under a pattern of government that he approved. It would make sense that even allowing for imperfection, whatever form of government Jehovah put in place would be as close as possible to that which he originally intended for perfect man. Jehovah could have set up a centralized government of some form. However, Joshua, who communicated with Jehovah directly, was not instructed to do any such thing following his death. No monarchy was to be put in place, nor a parliamentary democracy, or any other of the myriad forms of human government we’ve tried and seen fail. It is significant that there was no provision for a central committee—a governing body.
Given the limitations of any imperfect society coupled with the drawbacks inherent in the cultural environment—such as it was—back then, the Israelites had just about the best lifestyle possible. But humans, never content with a good thing, wanted to “improve” on it by setting up a human king, a centralized government. Of course, it was pretty much all downhill from there.
It follows that in the first century when Jehovah again took a nation unto himself, that he would follow the same pattern of divine government. The greater Moses freed his people from spiritual captivity. When Jesus left, he commissioned twelve apostles to continue the work. What followed as these died off was a worldwide Christian congregation over which Jesus ruled directly from heaven.
Those taking the lead in the congregations had written instructions progressively revealed to them by inspiration, as well as the direct word of God spoken through the local prophets. It was impractical for a centralized human authority to govern them, but what is more important is that any central authority would have inevitably lead to the corruption of the Christian congregation, just as the central authority of the Kings of Israel led to the corruption of the Jews.
It is a fact of history as well as a fulfillment of Bible prophecy that men within the Christian congregation rose up and began to lord it over their fellow Christians. In time, a governing body or ruling council was formed and began to dominate the flock. Men set themselves up as princes and claimed that salvation was only possible if they were given complete obedience. (Acts 20:29,30; 1 Tim. 4:1-5; Ps. 146:3)
The situation today
What about today? Does the fact that there was no first century governing body mean there should be none today? If they got along without a governing body, why can’t we? Is the situation so different today that the modern Christian congregation could not function without a group of men directing it? If so, how much authority should be invested in such a body of men?
We shall attempt to answer those questions in our next post.
A Surprising Revelation
You may be surprised to learn that much of the scriptural reasoning contained in this post parallels that found in a talk given by brother Frederick Franz to the fifty-ninth class of Gilead during their graduation on September 7, 1975. This was just before the formation of the modern-day governing body on January 1, 1976. If you wish to hear the discourse for yourself, it can be easily found on youtube.com.
Unfortunately, all of the sound reasoning from his discourse was simply ignored, never to be repeated in any of the publications.
The point that Jerusalem was the origin of the problem, but not the authority to settle it, is a very good one. What makes me ponder are the expressions “to whom we gave no such commandment” and “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden”, which seem to imply some kind of governance though. Paul used to discuss with Jesus directly (2 Kor. 12:8,9), and sometimes he got personal orders from him or the holy spirit. I wonder why it was necessary in this case to request for the counsel… Read more »
I believe it had to do with Jerusalem because that is where the problem originated. Since the people from Jerusalem were the one fomenting all the discontent, and since Paul realized that this would continue unless it was dealt with, he went to Jerusalem to have it out with them.
[…] [iii] Re: Paul’s alleged membership, see W67 6/1 p. 334 par. 18. For evidence as to whether or not there was a first century governing body see Identifying the Faithful Slave. […]
Last part of my statement should read, “there were no challenges or ojections to that comment”. Sorry, Meleti.
No problem. I fixed it.
Yes, anderestimme, a half an hour would be priceless. In my BH part on Acts, I mentioned how I have a great deal of respect for “divine providence”, as mentioned in Acts chapter 11. I stated “Christian” isn’t a part of what we call ourselves may be showing disrespect for what God’s will was. There were no challenges or objections to that comment.
[…] a previous post, we established that there is no scriptural evidence for the existence of a first century governing […]
We spend a half an hour on the Jeremiah book, (which contains mostly the opinions and commentary of imperferfect men), and ten minutes on the perfect Word of God.
Probably for the same reason: the BH is the only part where the speaker has no outline. Four minutes of unscripted speech is already flirting with danger; imagine a whole half hour!
I wouldn’t call it “propaganda”, as the brothers in my congregation try very hard to apply the information to the congregation. I think it may also be refreshing to allow brothers that have assignment No. 1 to read from different Bible translations; might be interesting to hear how the Phillips translation of Romans sounds. I gave a comment this week that John 10:16 could apply to the uniting of Jews and Gentiles into one flock. I didn’t hear any objection to my comment after the meeting and I hope it made some of the friends at least consider an alternative… Read more »
You are right Andronicus, the Bible highlights is the only place you can feel free to comment. Maybe they will extend it to 10 minutes of commenting so that we wont have to listen to 4 minutes of propaganda.
Thank Jehovah for “The Bible Highlights”! It’s the only opportunity for genuine, non-scripted freedom of speech we have. I love it because one can speak from the heart on a particular scripture without allowing someone else to make an interpretation for you.
If the FDS was appointed in 1919 it would mean that Brother Rutherford was it from 1919 until his death in 1942. All the publications during that period credit him as the source. I can imagine a dear anointed brother being resurrected to heaven, say in 1960, being welcomed into the heavenly courts by Jesus. He’s informed that he wasn’t part of the FDS class as he believed. He asks Jesus when that information is going to be conveyed to other anointed brothers on earth and Jesus answers, “Not until 2012”. Sounds a little weird, doesn’t it?
My dear brothers in Christ, thank You for this page – it´s so soothing being here. (and sorry again for my language 😉 May Jah bless You all
I think this stifles the free flow of God’s spirit on any brother with a good working knowledge of God’s Word. The outlines contain the thoughts and sentiments of an individual or individuals who have their own interpretation of what the theme is. This does not allow for a fresh understanding of scripture with the intent of motivating the brothers to action. I’ve seen Elders in the audience following a brother’s talk with the outline in their lap to make sure he doesn’t deviate from it. Is it any wonder you’ll see the friends nodding off during the Public Talk?
I have seen the same thing. I haven’t followed a talk outline in decades. I take the theme and some of the subject matter and develop my own talk. I’ve never had any complaints.
I agree with Paul’s inspired word found here from the Phillips Translation. “His “gifts to men” were varied. Some he made his messengers, some prophets, some preachers of the Gospel; to some he gave the power to guide and teach his people”. I used to have brothers ask me questions about certain Bible verses they didn’t understand but that hasn’t happened in years. They now go to the CD or Online Library for answers and never consider an alternative viewpoint no matter how Scriptural or reasonable it may be. This, I feel, has taken the authoritative voice away from the… Read more »
Sorry about the typing errors in the last comment. My keyboard was playing tricks on me.
No problem. I took the liberty of making the needed corrections.
Thanks. I don’t mean to sound negative in any way. It’s just that I feel more like a corporate Elder than a spiritual one.
Andronicus, your comment is interesting. I no longer attend meetings and I’ve gained a somewhat clearer viewpoint of the meetings and assemblies now that I’ve taken a step back and looked at the big picture. I can honestly say that I never really enjoyed the meetings or assemblies. I always did enjoy associating before and after the meetings and assemblies with the friends but the meetings themselves were something to be endured rather than enjoyed. If a meeting was cancelled for inclement weather I rejoiced. What is the reason for this? As you say the lack of real information that… Read more »
Thank you for the link on cults. It is a very sobering read if one looks at it honestly and with an open mind and more than a little bit of organizational introspection.
Hi Erick. Just thought I would let you know I am in a similar situation as you.I haven’t attended the meetings for about two years!.I find it very difficult to sit through a meeting without feeling that something is terrible wrong.I feel the direction that comes through the Societies publications are not making full use of Gods word. Although I will be attending the convention this month with my wife.I Hope I will find some signs of improvement. You Said “Uniformity is seen as a strength. I now know it is a weakness. Unity with diversity is so much more… Read more »
Just trying to work up an already prepared talk outline is a real challenge. Some are as stale as week old bread and do not address the needs of the freinds.
Hi smolderingwick1. I understand your problem, especially, dealing with what I have begun to call the “apostasy” of the GB. I too have ongoing problems with depression. The discovery that the WT has been systematically lying to us on so many levels, we who believed we had the “Truth,” is sometimes enough to tip the scales. I know they use that quote from Numbers 16:3 to quell any questioning of their authority. However, since Moses pictured Christ are they suggesting that by questioning them we are somehow questioning Christ or are we simply questioning a group of self appointed, power… Read more »
Hi emjeff, “Lying to us” may or may not be accurate, but since it is a matter of judgment, I prefer “deceiving us” as that doesn’t carry require assigning a negative motive. “Self-appointed” is fine as we are merely drawing a conclusion from available evidence “Power hungry” on the other hand requires us to assign motivation. It may very well be true, but then again, it may not. This doesn’t excuse their actions nor exonerate them from the consequences of the hurt they have inflicted by persisting in teaching falsehood. Are they “liking and carrying on a lie”? Judgment day… Read more »
The Legal departments within the Watchtower society have grown from humble beginning’s: That of “Defending and Legally establishing the good news”, to an authoritarian branch which controls any potential liability that may arise from any appointed within it’s ranks. i.e. from elders in the congregations that must first call for instructions on child abuse cases, to the governing body members themselves ensuring that what is said and done is without any private or public liability. It is bureaucracy gone mad. Theocracy has slowly been replaced by corporatocracy and biblical principles by legalities.
One recalls with excitement the talk of Fred Franz at Yankee Stadium in 1971, laying out the scriptural basis of a change in congregation structure, with a Theocratically appointed body of elders, with a rotating chairman, much like the first-century governing body, with James in Acts Chapter 15. But now we see clearly that the reason James was able to make “my decision” binding was because he was the source of the problem of Judizers going out from Jerusalem, in contradiction to the lead of holy spirit. Paul and others from Antioch of Syria, where holy spirit was directing the… Read more »
One can’t help but wonder how Paul would fare today? If a district overseer, or a branch committee member were to publicly reprove a member of the governing body would he be viewed as praiseworthy as was Paul?
Considering that the only letter that actually came out of Jerusalem (that we can read today) is the letter from James, and that it was critical of any calling themselves examples to the flock, one need only wonder why the “Commentary on the Book of James” never became required reading for elders. Oh well, perhaps this is why the beatings will continue until morale improves?
Because the “Commentary on the Letter of James” was written (all bar 3 pages written by Ray Franz) by Ed Dunlap, who was disfellowshipped from HQ shortly after for ‘apostasy’.
I might add, that book is like a breath of fresh air compared with other books published by the WT over the years,in my opinion. I wonder why?
Amen, It’s a superb scriptural commentary. Its odd that the society has never brought out a similar commentary, on say, Galatians for example. 😉
If most witnesses were to read what various Bible books actually say, without using the WTS filter, it could begin a new age in BIBLE understanding. Dreams are free.
How strange though that it still remains on the WT library (muffled but not gagged)
Hi smolderingwick. If you’re interested in reading something else Ed Dunlap wrote see w77 12/1 pp 712-16. It’s a discussion of Romans 14. It reads so differently from the dogmatic and narrow way WT articles discussing passages of scripture are usually written, He was also one of the writers of the Aid book . When he wrote these and the James book, he professed to be of the great crowd. Around 1979-80, he felt that he was of the anointed after spending decades at Bethel. He, among others ‘dared’ to have spiritual discussions on this and other subjects, without using… Read more »
My biggest fear is that depression will send me over the top. As I attempt to realign myself through Christ I am compelled to discredit the Governing Body’s current effort to seat themselves on the throne of Christ. So many times I’ve heard the talks that I would be as Korah who led the rebellion against Moses and who said: “That is enough of YOU, because the whole assembly are all of them holy and Jehovah is in their midst. Why, then, should YOU lift yourselves up above the congregation of Jehovah?” (Numbers 16:3) It was a good question. But… Read more »
smolderingwick1: I have actually been called Korah directly from the platform for daring to have an opinion. I have been told that I will be swallowed up if I don’t submit. I have been marked by the elders, and only freethinlkers in the congregation dare even speak to me for fear or being labelled disloyal. It sounds like you have had a similar experience. It is depressing. It is sad to see an organization I love being torn apart by these presumptuous individuals. I have seen so many good people leave in the past few years. It makes me sad… Read more »
I’ve heard this analogy myself more than once, and I completely agree with you on this. It is so easy to misapply a Bible account to suit one’s own purpose but as Jesus warned us, “let the reader (or listener) use discernment.” Korah wanted to replace Moses. Moses spoke with God, and Korah wanted to take his place between God and the congregation. Now Moses prefigures, not the Governing Body, but Jesus Christ, the greater Moses. Is anyone today trying to replace Jesus as the medium or channel between God and men? They say that a picture is worth a… Read more »
Also, when Moses spoke and acted rashly at Numbers 20:10-12
he was disciplined by Jehovah. This one presumptuous act meant that he couldn’t completely prefigure the perfect example of Christ and he was forbidden to lead the Israelites into the promised land. The GB are quick to point out the example of Korah, yet they blindly fail to see how they have repeatedly followed Moses actions at Meribah.
I have found myself in the same boat here. If you knew where I lived (very close to HQ), you’d understand why I can be at wit’s end sometimes. What saves me regarding these matters is John 6:60-69. Knowing Peter did not get an immediate straight answer gives me comfort. He had to wait, so I will too. It may be even through tears at times, but I keep busy in the ministry and personal study. Not meeting study; to discouraging. Plus, I think a lot about the prophets and how they were part of such a corrupt nation. But… Read more »
Thank you for sharing that Andrew. I haven’t yet been marked since I carefully couch my comments (not that you don’t so please don’t misunderstand). Everyone’s situation is different and since I once commanded a great deal of respect when I was an appointed elder in the same congregation in which I now reside, circumstances make it difficult for me to be judged too harshly by those presently ruling over me. Yes Meleti, I see it exactly so. Each day I pray to God that I do not leave this earth without becoming the man Jesus instructed Peter to become… Read more »
I’m probably not as careful as I should be. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think part of the reason you maintain a low profile with your thoughts is that you want to be able to continue to help the brothers and sisters. I find that admirable. As you say, everyone’s situation is different, and the way we handle our unique situation is between us and Jehovah. I knew something was up with the “faithful slave” interpretation in 2008 for two reasons. (1) The circuit overseer gave a talk in 2008 in which he listed out the names… Read more »
Andrew, I’m amazed at what you said. It occurred to me a few weeks back that, with the old “faithful slave” interpretation, anointed ones could call up and say “I want an appointment to meet with the GB”. The GB was, after all, their representatives, so they would have had every right to demand a hearing. This new understanding neatly gets them out of that little bind. But it was all theoretical until your post above.
It really was a bind. Particularly with the growing number of partakers, many of whom are still calling, according to my Bethel source. They insist that they cannot be removed from the slave class simply by a stroke of the pen. The new interpretation removes two huge looming problems: (1) Any new partakers can be told that they are not part of the faithful slave, so there is no reason to call. (2) The way is now clear for non-anointed brothers to be a part of the Governing Body. Has this happened yet? I don’t follow the membership of the… Read more »
I made a comment on May 6th regarding the talk by Fred Franz in Sept 1975 to the 59th Gilead class in Meleti’s post “Feeding many through the hands of a few”. I repeat now that Franz obviously knew there was no GB in the 1st century. Up to 1975 all the power was with the WT President and this was about to change with the reorganisation, placing all activities of the organisation under the oversight of the GB (effective Jan 1, 1976). Knorr and Franz were dead against this happening and so Franz gave this talk in this context.… Read more »
Does this now mean, according to their new understanding of themselves, that the FDS (aka GB) was actually appointed in 1976? And up to that point there was no FDS?
Could get ridiculous couldn’t it 🙂
Acts 15:19 records James saying that the final decision was his, “my decision”, Greek I am judging, not a governing body. This appears to be consistent with him having a prominent position in the Jerusalem congregations see Acts 12:17; 21:18; Gal 1:19; 2:9; 2:12. Acts 15:25 then refers to “we” and “unanimous accord” of the apostles, older men and the “whole congregation” in support of James decision. Peter was not directed to Cornelius or Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch by a governing body, so the scriptures are very clear as to how the evangelizing work was being directed. There is… Read more »
The idea that a hierarchical earthly organization (beyond the local congregational arrangement mentioned in scripture) is needed for the global preaching of the good news, necessarily implies that God’s invisible heavenly organization headed by Christ, is not capable of organizing things effectively without the help of human organizers. Who better to know “where the need is greater” than Jesus and the angels? I suppose Jesus and the angels just can’t be trusted to organize things on earth without the need of human organizers? Isn’t that the unwitting implication of the reasoning that a visible earthly organization is needed to accomplish… Read more »
Thank you for a soundly reasoned article. It has become an increasingly common understanding by many that the congregations in Jerusalem where the source of the problem and as such were in need of counsel. By expansion, if it were indeed based on the 1st century model, would the GB allow itself to be counseled? I think not! Even when there have been examples of changes in understanding that have been brought by discontent among groups of elders or well placed individuals any direct admission of error is missing. In the past I was often amused at some of the… Read more »