[From ws15/03 p. 19 for May 18-24]
“He gave five talents to one, two to another,
and one to still another.” – Mt 25:15
“Jesus gave the parable of the talents as part of the answer to his disciples’ question about “the sign of [his] presence and of the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matt. 24:3) Thus, the parable finds its fulfillment in our time and is part of the sign that Jesus is present and ruling as King.” – par. 2
Please take note: The parable of the Talents is fulfilled in our time and is part of the sign that the Messianic Kingdom began in 1914. We’ll come back to this shortly.
In paragraph 3, the article makes many assertions about the application of the parables of the Slave, the Virgins, the Talents, and the Sheep and Goats. Since the Governing Body does not feel the need to substantiate any of them with even a single Scriptural reference, we can discount them entirely.
From paragraphs 4 thru 8 we have an explanation of our current understanding of the parable of the talents.
“Put simply, the talents refer to the responsibility to preach and make disciples.” – par. 7
“In the first century, starting at Pentecost 33 C.E., Christ’s followers began doing business with the talents.” – par. 8
This directly contradicts the statement made in paragraph 2. If the parable began to apply in 33 C.E. onward, then it has its fulfillment, not just in our time, but throughout the Christian era. Additionally, since the Governing Body teaches us that Jesus began to reign in 1914, how could a first century fulfillment of this parable constitute part of the sign of his presence?
Actually, the whole idea that this is part of the sign of Christ’s presence and the conclusion of the system of things of Matthew 24:3 makes no sense. How can a metaphor constitute a physical sign of something impending?
Using the Bible
It never hurts to read the actual verses upon which a Watchtower explanation is based. Just before imparting this parable, Jesus warns his disciples:
“Keep on the watch, therefore, because you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Mt 25:13)
Then without breaking stride he adds in the very next verse,
“For it is just like a man about to travel abroad who summoned his slaves and entrusted his belongings to them.” (Mt 25:14)
In my opinion, the NWT does a good job of rendering the adverb conjunction combination (Greek: ὥσπερ γάρ [just as, for]) into English syntax as “For it is just like”, showing that the previous verse is related to the parable. The parable is clearly talking about Jesus’ return, not some invisible presence, and the disciples are warned that they cannot know when that return will be, so they must work diligently and keep on the watch. There is nothing here that constitutes a sign of anything.
Paragraph 9 makes bold assertions that only Jehovah’s Witnesses have been making disciples of Christ since 1919 and that, while the assignment was given to anointed Christians, the millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses who consider themselves as unanointed, “other sheep” Christians are fulfilling the parable as well though they do not get the reward for doubling their talents. Instead, in a curious blending of parables, the Sheep and the Goats parable is merged into the Talents parable so that the other sheep get rewarded with life on earth for working with their anointed brothers in multiplying the talents. (Incidentally, the reward given the sheep makes no mention of location.)
Here we are told that the evidence that this parable is being fulfilled in the last days (from 1914 onward, based on JW theology) is that Jehovah’s Witnesses “have carried out the greatest preaching and disciple-making work in history. Their collective effort has resulted in hundreds of thousands of new disciples being added to the ranks of Kingdom proclaimers each year, making the preaching and teaching work an outstanding feature of the sign of Jesus’ presence in Kingdom power.”
So it is the numerical growth of the Organization that constitutes this part of the sign. First, where does Jesus say that the numerical growth of the Christian congregation would be part of ‘the sign of his presence and the conclusion of the system of things?’ (Mt 24:3) If it were, then what of the other movement like ours that grew out of the teachings of William Miller?[i] The Seventh-day Adventist Church (formerly Millerites) has grown more rapidly than that of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They now number eighteen million. How could they achieve such growth in about the same timeframe as Jehovah’s Witnesses unless they too were engaged in a worldwide preaching work? They are the sixth-largest highly international religious body. They have a missionary presence in over 200 countries and territories. Their methods may differ but they didn’t get this growth without some form of worldwide preaching of the good news.
In short, if the Governing Body is going to boast that the Organization is fulfilling the parable of the talents then perhaps they should lay claim to being the slave that was given the two talents and acknowledge that the evidence proves the Adventists must be the five-talent slave.
Of course, any Jehovah’s Witness worth his salt will discount this suggestion as outrageous, pointing to the fact that the Adventists teach the false doctrine of the Trinity, making their preaching of the good news a vain effort. However, to be fair, any Adventist could do the same, pointing to the unscriptural teaching of an “other sheep” class of God’s “friends” with no heavenly hope as proof that the JW good news teaching is invalid. (Gal. 1:8)
From paragraphs 14 thru 16, the article offers a new understanding of the wicked and sluggish slave. It claims that there is no actual fulfillment of this part of the parable. Like the wicked slave of Matthew 24:45-57, this is just a warning. So the faithful and discreet slave is a real fulfillment and the two slaves that doubled their talents are a real fulfillment, but the other half of both parables has no fulfillment, but is just a warning. Okeydoke!
The Floating Doctrine
In this magazine, the Governing Body has introduced changed understandings for the parables of the Ten Virgins, the Talents, and the Minas. Formerly, these were all used to “prove” that the modern-day faithful and discreet slave (formerly, all anointed JWs, but now just the Governing Body) had been appointed in 1919. As Apollos pointed out in last week’s review, the foundation for the doctrine that Jesus tested and approved the appointment of a JW faithful and discreet slave in 1919 is gone.
Jesus spoke of building two houses – one built on rock, the other on sand. However, our doctrinal house is now built on nothing. All the teachings we formerly used to support the idea that Jesus had reason to appoint the faithful and discreet slave in 1919 have been altered to fit a fulfillment at the time of Christ’s future return. Therefore, the doctrine that the Governing Body was appointed in 1919 is a house whose foundation has been removed, but like some JW version of Wile E. Coyote, the house remains suspended in thin air. It is kept up only by the faith the rank and file place in the word of the men of the Governing Body. However, one day the collective body of Jehovah’s Witnesses will look down to find no Scriptural ground under their feet. As Jesus predicted of all who hear his words but fail to do them, the collapse of the Organization’s house will be very great. (Mt. 7:24-27)
[i] Much of the numerology that permeated Russell’s writings came from William Miller’s work via Nelson H. Barbour.