[From ws3/16 p. 13 for May 16-22]
“From him all the body is harmoniously joined
together and made to cooperate.”—Eph 4:16
The theme text refers to the body of Christ which is the congregation of spirit anointed brothers of our Lord. These cooperate out of love and truth. In fact, the preceding verse says: “But speaking the truth, let us by love grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ.” (Eph 4:15)
So truth is crucial. Love is crucial. By truth and love, we grow up in all things into the Christ.
This is the idea behind Paul’s words to the Ephesians. This article uses Paul’s words to promote Christian unity. It follows that the way to Christian unity is through love and truth and that unity in this instance must center round the Christ. So before we even get into the article, we should expect it to speak of love, of truth, and of unity with Christ.
We should not enter into this discussion thinking that unity requires truth and love, however. The Devil and his demons are united. Jesus uses logical reasoning that attests to this fact at Matthew 12:26. Yet that unity of purpose is not due to love nor truth.
Sliding from Truth to Falsehood
The introductory paragraphs clearly emphasize harmony and cooperation within the anointed body of Christ. Paragraph 2 concludes with questions on how we today can continue such harmony. Is the writer suggesting that modern-day Jehovah’s Witnesses make up the anointed Christians comprising the body of Christ? Apparently not, for the next paragraph slides in another idea:
“The figurative locusts that John saw well illustrate anointed Christians proclaiming Jehovah’s powerful judgment messages. They are joined now by millions of companions with an earthly hope.”—Par. 3
Let us assume for the sake of argument that the locusts do represent anointed Christians. Let us also assume, again, for the sake of argument, that the fulfillment of these words is occurring in our day as JWs believe. In that case, the eight to ten thousand anointed Jehovah’s Witnesses who partake every year make up the cloud of locusts which is tormenting those who do not “have the seal of God on their foreheads”, to the point that such ones want to die.[i] Okay, let’s accept that as well—for the sake of argument. Where, in all this vision, is another group represented; a group so large that it outnumbers the locusts by close to a thousand to one? How could such a vast group not be represented in John’s vision? Jesus would certainly not have overlooked them.
If we are to comply with Paul and speak in truth, then we need proof. Where is the proof that the locusts are joined by another group, by “millions of companions with an earthly hope”?
Without the proof, we can still be united. But if our foundation is not truth, on what is our unity resting?
A False Premise
Paragraph 4 claims, in so many words, that only Jehovah’s Witnesses have the commission to preach the “good news” to the world. (This presumes that the “good news” being preached is the true “good news” and not a perversion from men. See Galatians 1:8.) Paragraph 5 then says that “to share the message of the Kingdom good news with as many people as possible, we need to carry out our preaching in an organized manner.”
Please note that no Scriptural proof is provided for this assertion. it is taken as a given by Jehovah’s Witnesses, but is it really true?
This article would have us believe that if we are going to fulfill Matthew 24:14 and preach “the ‘good news’ worldwide before the end of this system”, we have to be organized. (par. 4) This requires that “we receive directions.” These directions come “through the congregations around the globe.” (par. 5)
We are then asked:
“Do you strive to follow the direction to share in special preaching campaigns?” (par. 5)
What special preaching campaigns? We will soon see that the distribution of invitations to special events is being referred to. This direction comes from the men of the Governing Body.
So to fulfill Matthew 24:14 and preach to “as many people as possible” we must be organized, which means we must follow the directions of the Governing Body, which means we must distribute invitations in special campaigns, so that we can fulfill the commission to preach the good news of the Kingdom.
It appears that the premise on which this Christian unity is based is not love for each other and the Christ, nor is it based on scripturally established truth. It is based on unquestioning obedience to the directions or commands of men.
Look in your Bible and read the account in Acts. Do you see that the key to the spread of the good news was due to organization? Was it due to direction from a central governing body of men? Is the word organization even to be found in the whole of Scripture? (You may wish to do a search on the word for yourself in the WT Library program.)
Making a Mockery of Christian Unity
“What a thrill it is to read in the Yearbook the combined results of our activity! Think, too, of how we are united as we distribute invitations to regional, special, and international conventions.” (par. 6)
Apparently, the prime example of Christian unity of which we can be thrilled is the work of handing out printed invitations to JW events and gatherings! Is this truly the culmination of the great work started by our Lord Jesus?
“The commemoration of Jesus’ death also unites us.” (par. 6)
What irony! There is perhaps no event in the JW calendar that divides us more than the commemoration of Christ’s death. The demarcation between chosen ones and those not making the cut is manifested publicly. This divide is not found in Scripture, but was introduced by Judge Rutherford in the mid-1930s and is unique to the theology of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is also completely false. (See Going Beyond What Is Written)
“….attendance is not restricted to baptized Witnesses.” (par. 6)
Why is attendance not restricted to believers? The first Evening Meal was a private and intensely intimate affair. There is nothing in Scripture to indicate a change from that standard. The Christians in the first century are shown as eating together, enjoying love feasts together. (Jude 12) Jesus intended us to commemorate his death because we are his brothers. He did not intend the event to become a tool for recruitment.
Applying Paul’s Words to the Ephesians
The remaining paragraphs give counsel on being united and cooperating with one another toward a common goal. Such unity and cooperation is laudable, but the key is the goal. If our unity is taking us down a bad path, then we are merely making it easier for one another to end up on the road to ruin. For this reason, Paul spoke of truth and love, before speaking of cooperation and unity. The fact is that truth and love will produce unity as an unavoidable, highly desirable, result. For how can we speak in truth and love one another and not end up united? So unity is not the thing to be sought. It is the thing that comes naturally when we seek for and find Christian love and the spirit of truth.
However, if a group or organization lacks truth, and if they do not have the love which is a fruit of God’s holy spirit, then they must seek unity by some other means. (Ga 5:22) Fear is often the motivator in such cases. Fear of exclusion. Fear of punishment. Fear of missing out. For that reason, Paul warned the Ephesians,
“So we should no longer be children, tossed about as by waves and carried here and there by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men, by means of cunning in deceptive schemes.” (Eph 4:14)
And the key to not being blown about by tricky teachings, to not being fooled by cunning deception? Paul says, the key is to speak the truth and love one another and obey, not men, but the Christ as our head.
“But speaking the truth, let us by love grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ.” (Eph 4:15)
He then says that our unity comes from him, from Jesus. It comes from following the direction he gives us through Holy Scripture and the spirit, not by obeying the direction of men as if it were from God.
“. . .From him all the body is harmoniously joined together and made to cooperate through every joint that gives what is needed. When each respective member functions properly, this contributes to the growth of the body as it builds itself up in love.” (Eph 4:16)
Therefore, let us not judge whether we are in the true religion based on the perception of a unified front, because even the demons are unified. Let us base our determination on love, for love is the one defining mark of true Christianity. (John 13:34-35)
[i] Only in the last few years has the number of partakers risen above the ten thousand mark, but the tone of the articles of late indicates that the Governing Body does not really accept that this rise represents a true calling of new ones to their fold.