[From ws11/16 p. 14 January 9-15]
“When you received God’s word…you accepted it…
just as it truthfully is, as the word of God.” (1Th 2:13)
The theme text for this study is an abridged version of what Paul actually wrote which is:
“Indeed, that is why we also thank God unceasingly, because when you received God’s word, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God, which is also at work in you believers.” (1Th 2:13)
You will notice that the unabridged version supplies important clarifying information. Paul is thankful for the attitude of the Thessalonians who recognized that the word Paul and his companions transmitted to them was not from Paul, but from God. They recognized that Paul was merely the carrier of those words, not the source. You may recall that Paul mentioned the attitude of the Thessalonians elsewhere.
“Now these [Beroeans] were more noble-minded than those in Thes·sa·lo·niʹca, for they accepted the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Ac 17:11)
It may be that the Thessalonians lacked the noble-minded attitude of their Beroean brothers because they did not examine what Paul was teaching them in the light of Scripture. Nevertheless, they did trust that Paul and his companions where not teaching them “the word of men” but “the word of God”. In this, their trust was well founded, but had they been more noble-minded, they would have added the conviction that comes to one who trusts but verifies. The trusting attitude of the Thessalonians would have made them vulnerable to unscrupulous individuals who pretended to be speaking God’s words, but were really just teaching their own ideas. They were fortunate that it was Paul they first learned from.
Is there a reason why these critical phrases were left out of the quotation for the theme text?
Remember How We Are Being Led
A better subtitle might be, “Remember Who is Leading Us.” But of course, that would point to Jesus Christ, and that isn’t the point the article is trying to make. In fact, loyalty to Jesus is never mentioned in the article. However, loyalty to Jehovah and loyalty to the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses are both referenced multiple times.
Jehovah leads and feeds those in the earthly part of his organization by means of “the faithful and discreet slave” under the direction of Christ, the “head of the congregation.” (Matt. 24:45-47; Eph. 5:23) Like the first century governing body, this slave accepts God’s inspired word, or message, and highly esteems it. (Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13.) – par. 7
This paragraph is rife with false assumptions.
- There is no “organization”, earthly or otherwise. The angels are not his heavenly organization, they are his heavenly family. The word “organization” is never used to refer to them, nor to Israel, nor to the Christian congregation. However, the word family is a valid reference term. (Eph 3:15)
- The faithful and discreet slave doesn’t get its food from Jehovah but from Christ.
- The faithful and discreet slave is spoken of as feeding the domestics, but never as leading.
- The identity of the faithful and discreet slave is not revealed in the Bible.
- There was no first century governing body.
Having created the illusion that there is an entity in existence today that is equivalent to the Apostle Paul who wrote part of the Bible, the writer of the article can now reveal the full text of 1 Thessalonians 2:13, confident in the knowledge that his audience will see it as applying to the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Next, we are asked: “What are some directives, or instructions, provided in the Bible for our benefit?” – par. 7
Paragraph 8 goes through these.
“The Bible directs us to attend meetings regularly. (Heb. 10:24, 25)” – par. 8
Actually, it directs us to associate regularly. It leaves the “how” up to us, as long as we use these occasions to “incite one another to love and fine works.”
Does that mean we must attend the formal meeting arrangement of Jehovah’s Witnesses, or any other religious organization for that matter? And if we choose to associate formally, are we still free to hold informal alternate meeting arrangements? For instance, if a group of Witnesses chose to attend the two weekly meetings organized by the Governing Body but then to have a third meeting in the home of a congregation member where any and all could come for Bible study, would they be allowed to do so? Or would the elders defy the counsel at Hebrews 10:24, 25 and prohibit the brothers and sisters from attending? That would certainly reveal their true heart intention.
“God’s Word tells us to give the Kingdom first place in our lives.” – par. 8
True, but what kingdom? The Kingdom Jehovah’s Witnesses erroneously claim was established in 1914?
“The Scriptures also emphasize our duty and privilege to preach from house to house, in public places, and informally.” – par. 8
Again, true, but what are we preaching? Are we preaching the true kingdom message or a perversion of it?
“God’s own Book directs Christian elders to keep his organization clean. (1 Cor. 5:1-5, 13; 1 Tim. 5:19-21) ” – par. 8
Not his organization, but Christ’s congregation, and the direction isn’t exclusive to elders. Matthew 18:15-18 as well as the cited Bible passages indicate the congregation members are involved in the process.
In paragraph 9, we get into outright falsehoods:
Some may feel that they can interpret the Bible on their own. However, Jesus has appointed the ‘faithful slave’ to be the only channel for dispensing spiritual food. Since 1919, the glorified Jesus Christ has been using that slave to help his followers understand God’s own Book and heed its directives.
The message is that we cannot understand the Bible on our own. We need the Governing Body to explain it to us. This is why, when we raise a point from the Bible that contradicts an official teaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the comeback is often, “Do you think you know more than the Governing Body?”
First of all, interpretations belong to God. (Ge 40:8) Therefore, we must allow God’s own word to interpret itself, not rely on the speculation of men. The slave appointed in Matthew 24:45-47 is charged with feeding, not interpreting. If it starts interpreting, if it starts governing, if it starts punishing those who disagree with its interpretations, then it can lay no claim to faithfulness and discretion. Instead, it is like the evil slave who lords it over his fellow slaves by beating them and satisfying its own fleshly desires. (Mt 24:48-51; Lu 12:45, 46)[i]
Moses was the channel that God was using to direct the nation of Israel. Today, we are under the leadership of the greater Moses. (Acts 3:22) Telling Christians that they are not allowed to understand the Bible themselves, but must take their instruction and direction from a man or group of men as those appointed by God to channel his words, means that such men are sitting in the seat of the Greater Moses. This has happened before with grave consequences for those too presumptuous to know their proper place. (Mt 23:2)
Such men demand loyalty for themselves. It is not enough that we are loyal to Jesus. According to such men, we can only please God by being loyal to these men who claim his divine appointment upon themselves.
Each one of us does well to ask himself, ‘Am I loyal to the channel that Jesus is using today? – par. 9
Jehovah, through Christ, used some of the apostles and older men of the first century to write the Christian Scriptures. Since those words were written under inspiration we can say for sure that they were a channel that Christ used to feed his flock. Were the first century Christians asked to be loyal to those men? Look up “loyal” and “loyalty” in the WT Library and scan every reference to see if you can find even one that calls for loyalty to men. You’ll find nothing. Loyalty is to be given to God and to his Son. Not to men. At least, not in the sense of loyal obedience. So if they were not commanded to be loyal to the apostles and other Bible writers, there can be no basis in Scripture for the foregoing statement.
The subtitle of this section asks us to remember how we are led. We are led by Jesus, through the holy spirit which guides us to understand the Bible. Our leader is one, the Christ. (Mt 23:10) We cannot have two leaders, therefore, we cannot be led by men and by Christ.
Jehovah’s Chariot is on the Move!
Please open your Bible to Ezekiel 1:4-28—the passage cited in paragraph 10. Now see if you can find the word “chariot” in this passage. Now extend your search. Using the WT library, look up every occurrence of the word “chariot” in the NWT. There are 76. Scan through all of them and see if you can find a single one depicting Jehovah God mounted on a chariot. Not a one, right? Now look carefully at the vision Ezekiel had. Does it depict an organization of any kind? Does it depict a vehicle of any kind? A careful read will indicate that the wheels go anywhere the spirit of God directs them, but there is nothing to indicate that the expanse above them and the throne of God are connected and travel with the wheels. If you were describing the movement of a car, would you describe it by where the wheels go, or by where the entire vehicle goes? Thus we must conclude that the wheels are moving on their own. Jehovah remains in place.
The idea of God on a chariot is of pagan origin. [ii] Like Russell and Rutherford whose teachings were tainted with paganism—such as placing the motif of the Egyptian Sun god, Ra, on the cover of the Finished Mystery—the modern-day Governing Body continues to promote the pagan concept of God mounted on a chariot to support its idea that we are the earthly part of a heavenly organization. There are no Scriptures to support any of this, so they have to make it up and hope we won’t notice.
Jehovah rides on this chariot, and it goes wherever his spirit impels it to go. In turn, the heavenly part of his organization influences the earthly part. The chariot certainly has been on the move! Think about the many organizational changes that have been made during the past decade—and bear in mind that Jehovah is behind such developments. – par. 10
Let us see what organizational developments Jehovah has been behind, allegedly.
- Replacing all anointed Christians who were formerly thought to be the faithful slave with the members of the Governing Body.
- Assuming ownership of all Kingdom Halls worldwide.
- The sell-off of Kingdom Halls to raise funds.
- The initiative of a new hall design with God’s blessing for 3600 building projects in the US alone.
- The failure of the new hall design after only 18 months.
- The cancellation of numerous building projects around the world.
- The dismissing of 25% of all Bethel staff worldwide to cut costs.
- The dismissal of the majority of Special Pioneers to cut costs.
- The dismissal of all district overseers to cut costs.
- The completion of the resort-like headquarters at Warwick.
Apparently, the Governing Body is so enamored with their magnificent new headquarters that they ignore all the above and focus on point 10 as proof that “Jehovah’s chariot is on the move!” It would seem that what Jehovah really wants is for the organization to boast of beautiful buildings.
This calls to mind a similar attitude from sincere worshippers of the past.
“As he was going out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him: “Teacher, see! what wonderful stones and buildings!” However, Jesus said to him: “Do you see these great buildings? By no means will a stone be left here upon a stone and not be thrown down.”” (Mr 13:1, 2)
The next piece of “evidence” presented that Jehovah’s chariot is on the move has to do with education. Formerly, we would get four 32-page magazines per month. A witness would view that as 128 pages of ‘divine education’ every month. Now we get one 32-page and one 16-page magazine per month; less than half the former output. Is this evidence of Jehovah’s chariot on the move?
Show Loyalty to Jehovah and Support [JW.org]
Is it possible to be loyal to Jehovah while supporting JW.org? Let’s not mince words. By “support”, the article means ‘do what the Organization tells you to do.’ However, can we obey God and men without conflict? Can we slave for two masters? (Mt 6:24)
As a practical example of the problem this presents, let us consider paragraph 15.
“When we make major decisions in life, one way to demonstrate our loyalty to God is by seeking help from his written Word and [JW.org]. To illustrate the importance of doing so, consider a sensitive subject that affects many parents. It is a practice among certain immigrants to send their newborn babies to relatives to be cared for so that the parents can continue working and making money in their new country.” – par. 15
So the decision whether or not to follow this practice among “certain immigrants” is a way of demonstrating loyalty to God by seeking help from his written word. Yet, his written word says nothing about this practice. JW.org on the other hand, does have something to say about it—a great deal in point of fact. It is not a good practice according to JW.org. That much is clear from this study. So while paragraph 15 says, “this is a personal decision,” it immediately makes it clear that it really isn’t by adding, “but we should bear in mind that God holds us responsible for the decisions we make. (Read Romans 14:12)”. Then, to drive the rule home, it gives an example showing why not to follow this practice.
So on the one hand, we have principles from God’s word that would allow someone to make up their own mind, while on the other hand we have a rule which, if not followed, would bring the reproach of the congregation down upon the offending individual.
This is a JW euphemism for “be obedient” or “Do what we tell you to do.”
“An important way that we display loyalty to God is by following the direction we receive from [JW.org].” – par. 17
Hold on just one minute. We just read in paragraph 15 that “one way to demonstrate our loyalty to God is by seeking help from his written Word”. Well, his written word says:
“Do not put your trust in princes
Nor in a son of man, who cannot bring salvation.”
Therefore, we cannot show loyalty to God if we obey men instead of God. If the men are telling us to do something which God has already told us to do, then the men are merely relaying his orders, like a radio relays the instructions from whoever is on the other end of the transmission. However, if the men are making up their own rules in the name of God, then how can we be loyal to God if we are disobeying Psalm 146:3 and putting our trust in the “direction we receive from JW.org”?
The title of this Watchtower study article is “Do You Highly Esteem Jehovah’s Own Book?” It should be obvious by now that this is a piece of misdirection. The real theme is ‘Do you esteem the direction you get from JW.org?’
That the average Witness views the instructions received from the men of the Governing Body as on par with God’s inspired word is a sad reality of the modern Organization, a far cry from the one I knew in my youth.
[i] To see Bible proof that the slave was not appointed in 1919, see The “Slave” is not 1900 Years Old. To see Bible proof that the slave cannot be a tiny cabal of men, see Identifying the Faithful Slave – Parts 1 thru 4.
[ii] For more on the origins of the idea of God on a chariot, see here.
Again, a very valuable review you wrote, thanks for this.
Bu it’s highly speculative that Paul was criticizing the Thessalonichans, isn’t it? Maybe he really just said that it was a good thing they accepted his words as God’s words BECAUSE they were indeed God’s words and they felt it to be so.
I have a couple of questions for you:
1) Is it more noble minded, or less noble minded to weigh the contents of a teaching by careful and regular examination of the scriptures?
2) Does the bible give us a clear answer to this first question, or is it speculation? (Clue: Acts 17:11)
I do find it interesting that the main theme of Paul’s letters is to correct somekinds of misunderstandings, doctrinal errors and bad behaviour. Could this be why there is no letter to Beroeans? 😉
Hi All! Could someone explain to me what Jehovah’s book is? I gather that the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses are not referring to any of the 66 books of the Bible. The books written by Prophets and Apostolic teachers! To the real men of God who have been appointed by Christ in this hour..Stand ready in these congregations to take the lead for the sheep who have been skinned and thrown about!! The JW leadership acknowledges to the flock that world conditions are bad but have left the elders to rule — as if they have begun ruling without… Read more »
This study was a classic example of how the WTS has always told us WHAT to think instead of HOW to think. By repeatedly bringing 1Th 2:13 into play the way they do we’re being told to accept their words “just as they truthfully are” as the word of God! Such presumptuosness cannot endure forever. Sooner or later we have to take our minds back and do our own thinking.
“For instance, if a group of Witnesses chose to attend the two weekly meetings organized by the Governing Body but then to have a third meeting in the home of a congregation member where any and all could come for Bible study, would they be allowed to do so? Or would the elders defy the counsel at Hebrews 10:24, 25 and prohibit the brothers and sisters from attending?” I think we all know the answer to that question…. This was indeed an intensely hard WT to sit through without shouting out “Wait a minute!” Numerous comments delivered through the meeting… Read more »
I’m getting the same thing now at some meetings…..”wait a minute…what on earth???”. It’s funny how when I take off the blinkers just how many assumptions I use to mindlessly repeat that had no basis in scripture. The biggest “wait a minute for me” was a month or so back at the CLAM where a brother proudly trumpeted “We use to say Jehovah’s CHRISTIAN Witnesses but now with a better understanding we’ve dropped “CHRISTIAN” and always make sure to only say “Jehovah’s Witnesses”. In my somewhat warped sense of humor inner voice I made the “Twightlightzone” music and said to… Read more »
“we’ve dropped “CHRISTIAN” and always make sure to only say “Jehovah’s Witnesses”
That must have been quite a “Wait a minute” moment – I don’t know if I could have contained myself with that one.
“It’s funny how when I take off the blinkers just how many assumptions I use to mindlessly repeat that had no basis in scripture.”
I was thinking about all this intently on the way into work today, and came to the same conclusion that I always do: Unity trumps truth when it comes to this religion. I don’t know any other way to put it.
It’s protect the “brand” at all costs. Whitewash covering whitewash. Mat 23:27 “How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look fine on the outside but are full of bones and decaying corpses on the inside. ” It’s funny, there is no official training to do this but if a newly interested one walks into a conversation of a group of JWs the brothers immediately in Unison start talking in script or automated language. When the non believer physically leaves the conversation, everyone goes back to normal. All of this… Read more »
Hi Mailman. I agree. It seems that more and more we are clinging to the title God’s Organisation. Bear in mind that this is pretty much what the Roman Catholics claimed – the one true apostolic church – .and slowly they added teachings which were not in the scriptures. Yet they still have many followers. If another group arises and makes the same sort of claims we used to make, where do we stand. It just goes to show the danger when we veer away from God’s Word. Jesus said it is “by their fruits you will recognize those men”… Read more »
Mailman. Its one thing to call yourself by a name. It is another to claim you have been given the name. Even the name Christian was by divine providence. Isn’t it a bit like calling yourself “kings Servants – by Royal appointment”. Unless the king objects, which is unlikely, you can call yourself Kings Servants, but to say it is by Royal Appointment.. well let us hope you are correct.
Just my thoughts
Hi bro. Josephus good morning. Hmmm, whether I am correct or not is just secondary. What is more important is how this adopted title of our religion is impacting its teachings/doctrines. I just find it odd the GB’s continuing claim that JWs are God’s nation or the only organization on earth with His approval. This is as if the torch was passed on to JWs – now God’s sole organization on earth (even bypassing 1st Century Christians when there were no JWs). Shouldn’t our Lord Jesus Christ be the ultimate judge for separating the goats from the sheep? The WT… Read more »
It now feels more awkward than ever for the Governing Body or Watchtower to use these terms and phrases: God’s Organization God’s Nation Jehovah’s Sole Nation or Organization Why? Our CBS book admitted that the name Jehovah’s Witnesses was just adopted by the International Bible Students. The appointment never came from Jehovah, our Almighty Father himself. The Israelites could have been called Jehovah’s Witnesses based on Isa. 43:10 yet they were never called that way. From whom does this appointment – of being Jehovah’s nation or sole God’s organization on earth – came from again? Isn’t this extremely presumptuous? This… Read more »
“Self-Serving” is the word!
Thanks Meleti, excellent review. And getting to the core message was great. That is basically asking the brothers to accept the appointment of the Jw.orgs appointment in 1919 as Factual. Based on What evidence? And to Submit to Its Directions and Changes, as coming from God, Yes in para 7 ” It urges us to promote unity of doctrine.” So, when the GB and its helpers, stuff up, clarify changes, just keep promoting the doctrinal changes as they are Roled out. No questions asked. then in para 10 , it says that “Jehovah is behind such” changes. Please remember this… Read more »
Hi Meleti. I am sad that you are sad, but then so are many of us. All we want is to be led by God’s Word. Against paragraphs 8-9, rather than “do you think you know more than the GB”, the answer is “probably not”. But what you should ask is “Do you trust the GB”. I have given much thought to Jesus words about the Evil Slave. It is worrying. If the application is really in our time, then let us hope the GB come to their senses and that they start showing they really esteem God’s word. Time… Read more »
“Jehovah is communicating in some way that we do not understand with those members on the GB.”
Shocking! After their recent public denial of being led by the same Spirit that led the Apostles teachings and their necromantic admission to talking to resurrected friends in heaven…
The evil slave and the sifting has been made so clear. The reaping by the Angels is nigh!
The sin against the Holy Spirit is the blasphemy we are seeing everywhere at alarming levels !
I highly esteem the Bible. I just don’t believe it is inerrant. If you believe that it is inerrant then it allows you to be extremely sure about what you preach. I dislike fundamentalism intensely
Howdy Meleti. This study article would make lots of sense if you believe that the Watchtower is the inspired word of Jehovah. Then it would have the right to make sweeping statements, assumptions and generalized claims to authority over the brothers. To paraphrase the article it is essentially saying that JW.ORG is the visible manifestation of Jehovah’s heavenly arrangement. All changes in organizational policy and arrangements are coming from him so get with it folks!! I wanted to add a bit of perspective to what is being said in paragraphs 4-6 under the heading of “Gods Own Book and Human… Read more »
Excellent scriptures to ponder, Enoch. It’s really helpful to have them compiled together that way to show those who are suffering that the idea of leaving it in Jehovah’s hands and saying nothing is anything but scriptural.
Thanks Meleti. I know active members of the congregation might wind up here because of ill treatment, often at the hands of people in responsible positions. The last thing I want is for a wandering, beaten up sheep to feel guilty for feeling “bitterness” in their soul. They end up suffering once for the original injustice and then twice for being dismissed when they talk. They cant talk to the “World” and the brothers shut them down with Soda Pop cliches. There are literally thousands of brothers walking around stricken in spirit with noone to talk to. So very sad.
@Meleti Vivlon – You sound pissed!
I try to avoid getting emotional, to deal with the subject matter at arm’s length so as not to alienate the first-time reader still well in the throes of WT indoctrination, but it is hard at times when the sheer accumulation of blarney is so overwhelming. Sometimes I envy Paul and the straightforward way he was able to speak.
Hard not to show hints of emotion as the activism progresses eh?
A Google search of the word Beroean brought me here, your measured analysis of topics at hand has kept me here.
I/we appreciate your academic approach to all of this and look forward to many future considerations of these topics at hand.
Take heart friend, Gods Spirit will prevail and truth will be revealed to those for which it was intended, …in spite of ourselves!
Here’s me, tipping my hat to you and to the bigger picture!
Thanks Drifter, that is much appreciated. Especially as I’m going through a difficult time personally at present.
Really sorry to hear you are going through a difficult time. :'( I will be praying for you.
Point #10 should read “Warwick” instead of “Wallkill”. There are many other organizational changes that allegedly have Jehovah’s backing. JW Broadcasting, the replacement of the mid-week meeting with the Christian Life & Ministry meeting (aka CLAM), forcing Circuit Overseers to go off the road when they turn 70, and adjustments in doctrinal matters, such as “adjustment” in understanding of “this generation”, the supposed stopping the practice of using type/antitypes when the Bible is silent on such matters, the Revised NWT, and so on.
Thanks, Leaving_Quietly. I’ve made that change to the text.