Quotes on the "Theocratic" Organization

For those of you who don't have access to Society's library we reprint see relevant pages that were included with Chris Christensen's letter to the New York Board.

 
Bill Blackmore
 

The Watchtower 15 December 1971 pages 748 - 762
(taken from Watchtower Library CD-ROM 1999)

Theocratic Organization with Which to Move Forward Now

THOSE "twelve apostles of the Lamb" were gifts from the great Theocrat Jehovah through Jesus Christ to the congregation. The psalm of David (ÞPs Ü68:18) had foretold such gifts, and the apostle Paul matches the psalm to its fulfillment and says: "Wherefore he says [in Psalm 68:18]: ‘When he ascended on high he carried away captives; he gave gifts in men.’ . . . And he gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelizers, some as shepherds and teachers, with a view to the readjustment of the holy ones, for ministerial work, for the building up of the body of the Christ." (Eph. 4:8-12) At the beginning those twelve apostles, because of their position, served as a governing body for the whole congregation of believers. So they made appointments of qualified men in the congregation to assist them in less vital matters. As an illustration of this, when the Jerusalem congregation had increased to five thousand members and a disturbing difficulty arose, here is what happened:

2 "So the twelve called the multitude of the disciples to them and said: ‘It is not pleasing for us to leave the word of God to distribute food to tables. So, brothers, search out for yourselves seven certified men from among you, full of spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them over this necessary business; but we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.’ And the thing spoken was pleasing to the whole multitude, and they selected . . . and they placed them before the apostles, and, after having prayed, these laid their hands upon them. Consequently the word of God went on growing, and the number of the disciples kept multiplying in Jerusalem very much."—Acts 6:1-7.

3 As those seven assistants were appointed by the apostolic governing body, who extended their hands in approval of such assistants, those appointments were theocratic, not congregational or democratic. Later on, official "older men" or "elders" (presbyters) were theocratically appointed and added to the governing body at Jerusalem. So, about the year 49 C.E., when Paul and Barnabas came to Jerusalem and submitted the question raised about circumcising non-Jewish believers, the governing body that handled and settled the issue was made up of "the apostles and the older men," under the guidance of God’s holy spirit.—Acts 15:1-29; 16:4.

4 That first-century congregation was not some legal corporation that was registered and chartered by the Jewish government at Jerusalem or by the Senate of the Roman Empire, with officers to be appointed according to Caesar’s specifications. No, but it was a theocratic organization with officers and assistants that were theocratically appointed by the governing body and Jesus Christ, the "head of the congregation." The "gifts in men" that had been given to it were, not from the Roman Emperor Caesar, but from the great Theocrat, Jehovah God, through Jesus Christ. For what purpose? "With a view to the readjustment of the holy ones, for ministerial work." (Eph. 4:11, 12) The whole congregation was a service body, all members rendering sacred service to the great Theocrat Jehovah. They were one composite "servant" of their Divine Ruler, whose witnesses they were. They were bearing witness that He had sent the promised Messiah in the person of Jesus Christ his Son. To them as spiritual Israelites the words applied:

5 "‘You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even my servant whom I have chosen.’"—Isa. 43:10.

6 Thus the many witnesses form one "servant," whom Jehovah calls "my servant whom I have chosen." This composite "servant" is the one whom Jesus Christ had in mind when he spoke of his going away and his returning, saying: "Who really is the faithful steward, the discreet one, whom his master will appoint over his body of attendants to keep giving them their measure of food supplies at the proper time? Happy is that slave, if his master on arriving finds him doing so! I tell you truthfully, He will appoint him over all his belongings."—Luke 12:42-44.

7 Notice that Jesus calls this "steward" also a "slave" to his master. In the prophecy on the conclusion of the system of things Jesus speaks of this same "slave" class, saying: "Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings."—Matt. 24:45-47.

8 Before Jesus Christ the Lord left by ascending to heaven, he gathered together his faithful disciples, including his loyal apostles. On the day of Pentecost following his ascension back to his heavenly Father, Jesus received and poured out the holy spirit on his disciples gathered together at Jerusalem, and thereby he appointed this "slave" class, this "steward" class, to give to his "domestics," his "body of attendants," spiritual food, "their measure of food supplies at the proper time." The slave class proceeded to do so.

INSPECTION, APPOINTMENT, "GIFTS IN MEN"

9 In the year 1914 C.E., at the close of the "appointed times of the nations," the Lord Jesus Christ was installed in the heavenly Messianic kingdom. Thereafter he undertook an inspection of the "slave" or "steward" class on earth. (Matt. 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27) He did find dedicated, baptized, anointed disciples on earth who, in spite of World War I and persecutions and other difficulties, were striving to serve the interests of Jehovah’s Messianic kingdom. They were endeavoring to feed in a spiritual way the faithful "domestics" or "body of attendants" of the now reigning Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.

10 The facts of modern history show that in the year 1919 he revived these much afflicted disciples and gathered them together in a united body. Then he appointed them as his "slave" class "over all his belongings," that is, over all his royal interests at the earth. (Rev. 11:7-12) It was this active body of dedicated, anointed Christians who, in the summer of 1931, embraced a name to distinguish them from Christendom’s sects, namely, Jehovah’s witnesses.—Isa. 43:10-12; 44:8.

11 This "faithful and discreet slave" class of today has a visible governing body, just as the same class had a governing body back in the first century, from Pentecost of 33 C.E. forward.

12 As we have already observed, the "faithful and discreet slave" class back there was favored with gifts in men, or gifts in the form of men. These were provided by Jehovah God through Jesus Christ. According to Ephesians 4:7-11, not all of these gifts were apostles. Some were prophets, others evangelizers, others shepherds, still others teachers. Of course, the apostles were at the same time prophets, evangelizers, shepherds (pastors) and teachers. On the day of Pentecost, under the force of the outpoured holy spirit, the twelve apostles prophesied, in fulfillment of Joel 2:28, 29. (Acts 2:16-18, 21) They evangelized also, or declared good news, for, after the twelve apostles were arrested, jailed, haled into court, flogged and released, what did they do? Acts 5:42 tells us:

13 "Every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news, [evangelízein, Greek] about the Christ, Jesus."

14 That account proves that they were not only evangelizers but also teachers. Were those apostles also shepherds or pastors? Yes. Remember how, at the Sea of Galilee, the resurrected Jesus told Peter to prove his love and affection by obeying the command: "Feed my lambs. . . . Shepherd my little sheep. . . . Feed my little sheep." (John 21:15-17) All the other apostles also became and acted as spiritual shepherds in the congregation. The very fact that the congregation is called the "flock of God" laid on these apostles the obligation to be shepherds of that flock.

15 However, although the twelve apostles and the apostle Paul were capable of serving and did serve as prophets, evangelizers, shepherds and teachers, they did not monopolize those forms of the Christian ministry. There were other dedicated, baptized men who specialized or were prominent in those varieties of ministries. (1 Cor. 12:4, 5) For instance, when the apostle Paul, at Ephesus, baptized those men, about twelve of them, "in the name of the Lord Jesus" and then laid his hands upon them, "the holy spirit came upon them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying." (Acts 19:1-7) The gift of miraculous prophecy was imparted by the holy spirit to many other dedicated, baptized Christians in the days of the apostles. (1 Cor. 12:7-10, 27-29; 14:29-32; Acts 13:1; 21:10) So not only the apostles prophesied.

16 What about the gift of spiritual "shepherds"? There is historical evidence that they were not lacking. About the year 56 C.E., when on his way to Jerusalem, Paul the "apostle to the nations" stopped at the seaport of Miletus and sent for the official elders of the nearby Ephesus congregation to come to him before his ship left. In the course of his farewell remarks Paul reminded these elders or presbyters of the spiritual work that they were appointed to render, saying: "Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son. I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness." (Acts 20:28, 29) So those elders were both overseers and spiritual shepherds.

17 Doubtless, not one individual elder, presbyter, overseer or shepherd, but the entire "body of elders" was what the glorified Lord, Jesus Christ, called the "angel" that was symbolized by a heavenly star. Thus, about the year 96 C.E., he told the aged apostle John on the Isle of Patmos to write, saying: "To the angel of the congregation in Ephesus write: These are the things that he says who holds the seven stars in his right hand, he who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands." (Rev. 2:1; 1:20) The "body of elders" (or presbytery) there at Ephesus was to act like a star in shedding heavenly, spiritual light upon the congregation over which the holy spirit had made them shepherds. By such light these spiritual shepherds would guide them aright.—1 Tim. 4:14, margin.

18 Further, with respect to the gift of shepherds to the first-century congregation, the apostle Peter wrote, about the years 62-64 C.E. Putting himself on a level with the "elders" of the congregations in Asia Minor, Peter wrote: "Therefore, to the elders among you I give this exhortation, for I too am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of the Christ, a sharer even of the glory that is to be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God in your care, . . . becoming examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd has been made manifest, you will receive the unfadable crown of glory." (1 Pet. 5:1-4, margin) So Peter recognized that the gift of shepherds included others besides the apostles.

19 "Teachers" were also given as "gifts in men." By these are meant, not parents who teach their children in family gatherings or ordinary congregation members who teach interested persons the Bible truths in their private homes, but men who are specially gifted with the art of teaching and who are therefore appointed to be teachers inside the congregation in its regular Bible studies. For instance, after his release from his first imprisonment in Rome, the apostle Paul wrote to Titus, whom he had left in Crete to appoint official elders for the congregations in city after city. When setting out the qualifications of such elders, who should also be overseers, Paul wrote: "An overseer must be . . . holding firmly to the faithful word as respects his art of teaching, that he may be able both to exhort by the teaching that is healthful and to reprove those who contradict."—Titus 1:5-9.

20 About the same time the apostle Paul wrote Timothy, who had been given authority to make appointments. When telling him the basis on which overseers were to be appointed over a congregation, Paul lists sixteen qualifications. Among all these we note the seventh requirement to be: "qualified to teach." (1 Tim. 3:1-7) As an overseer had to be more than a "newly converted man," he must be officially an "elder." That the nonapostolic "elders" were among the "gifts" in the form of teachers, the apostle Paul indicated to Timothy by going on to tell him: "Let the elders who preside in a fine way be reckoned worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard in speaking and teaching." (1 Tim. 5:17, margin) Accordingly, today Jehovah’s witnesses endeavor to have official "elders" to preside over the midweek Bible studies that are conducted in locations convenient for the members of the congregation who are living in that neighborhood. Only if enough elders are not available for all such weekly Bible studies, are "ministerial servants" used to conduct such local Bible studies.—1 Tim. 3:8, 9, 12, 13.

EVANGELIZING

21 Third among the "gifts in men" the apostle Paul names "evangelizers." (Eph. 4:8, 11) During his days in the flesh on earth the Lord Jesus Christ sent out more than just the twelve apostles to do evangelizing work. (Luke 9:1-6; 10:1-11) So too when he ascended to heaven and poured out the holy spirit upon his waiting disciples on the day of Pentecost, he gave others besides the twelve apostles to be evangelizers.

22 Philip of Caesarea, whom the apostles appointed with six others to look after the distribution of food to needy disciples in Jerusalem, did not remain long at that work that a ministerial servant of a congregation might perform. After his fellow worker, Stephen, was martyred, persecution broke out against the Christians at the instigation of Saul of Tarsus, and the disciples, except the apostles, were scattered from Jerusalem. Among these scattered disciples was Philip, and he went down to Samaria and did productive evangelizing work there. After that he presented the good news to an official eunuch of Queen Candace who was returning to Ethiopia, and then he did evangelizing work along the Mediterranean seacoast from Ashdod up to Caesarea. (Acts 8:1-40) More than twenty years later Philip was still busy at his evangelizing work, for, when Paul and his missionary companions visited with Philip at Caesarea, he was still called "Philip the evangelizer." (Acts 21:8) As one of the "gifts in men" he proved to be of great value.

23 Timothy, a missionary companion of the apostle Paul, was another of the "gifts" in the capacity of an evangelizer. Shortly before his death, about 65 C.E., Paul wrote a second letter to Timothy and said: "Do the work of an evangelizer, fully accomplish your ministry [di·a·ko·ni'a, Greek]."—2 Tim. 4:5; 1 Thess. 1:1, 5; 2:2, 4, 8, 9; 3:2, 6.

AND WHAT ABOUT TODAY?

24 Today the Christian witnesses of Jehovah are heeding those words addressed to Timothy nineteen centuries ago. The official elders who are qualified to give public lectures from a speaker’s platform are not the only ones who are doing evangelizing work. All the dedicated baptized members of the more than 27,150 congregations around the earth are doing so. In Revelation 14:6 we have the assurance that this is being done under angelic guidance, for that verse foretold an angel flying in midheaven who "had everlasting good news to declare as glad tidings to those who dwell on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people."

25 In the first postwar year of 1919 there came the revival of our public Christian activity. Encouragement was then given to all those making up each congregation to take part in preaching God’s kingdom—to the official elders and deacons or ministerial servants and to all others, dedicated men and women alike. Let them do this, not just by distributing four-page tracts, but also by going to the doors just as the then "colporteurs" did and offering to the householders directly books and booklets as Bible study helps. The article "Announcing the Kingdom" in the Watch Tower magazine said:

The door of opportunity is opening before you. Enter it quickly. Remember as you go forth in this work you are not soliciting merely as the agent of a magazine, but you are an ambassador of the King of kings and Lord of lords, announcing to the people in this dignified manner the incoming of the Golden Age, the glorious kingdom of our Lord and Master, for which true Christians have hoped and prayed for many centuries. You are an angel of peace, bearing to a war-torn, sin-sick, sorrowing and broken-hearted world the glad message of salvation. How wonderful is our privilege!—The Watch Tower as of September 15, 1919, page 281, paragraph 6.

26 Now, after all the intervening years, we have the proof more than ever before that Jehovah God enthroned his Son Jesus Christ in the Messianic kingdom in the heavens at the close of the Gentile Times in the year 1914. We know that we are in the "time of the end" as regards the political nations of this world and that the destruction of them in the approaching "great tribulation" upon the whole world is ominously near. (Dan. 12:1-4; Matt. 24:21, 22; Rev. 7:14) We, for our part, are approaching the portals of the righteous new order earth wide as promised by Jehovah God, which order will completely replace the tottering wicked system of things. The old order of these past thousands of years must go amid the fiery trouble ahead. The new order under Jehovah’s theocratic government must come in!

27 This is the only good news on earth today. It is the Gospel. It is the Evangel. With it we can do glorious evangelizing work! In his prophecy of Matthew 24:14 and Mark 13:10 Jesus said that "this good news of the kingdom" must be preached internationally before the end of this system of things comes. Jehovah the great Theocrat has now provided us the theocratic organization for getting this good news preached to its completion.

28 Is that visible earthly organization eager to do that grand work? Look! The appointed elders and overseers of the congregations are actively working in that behalf. The ministerial servants of the congregations are cooperating in that behalf. The rank and file of the congregations, the dedicated men and women and their children, are taking part in the work, both from house to house and publicly. The governing body over all these theocratic congregations is whole-souled behind this evangelizing work and is making every arrangement for getting the work done within the time divinely allowed. The "faithful and discreet slave" class of today has been appointed over all the Kingdom interests belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ, and, as a faithful steward of his interests, it serves out spiritual food through the evangelizing work.

29 This worldwide evangelizing organization is not tailored according to any present-day legal corporation that may be required under the laws of man-made political governments that now face destruction in the "war of the great day of God the Almighty" at Har–Magedon. (Rev. 16:14-16) No legal corporation of earth shapes the evangelizing organization or governs it. Rather, it governs such corporations as mere temporary instruments useful in the work of the great Theocrat. Hence it is patterned according to His design for it. It is a theocratic organization, ruled from the divine Top down, and not from the rank and file up. The dedicated, baptized members of it are under Theocracy! Earthly legal corporations will cease when the man-made governments that chartered them perish shortly. But the theocratic organization will live on, serving its Supreme Theocratic Ruler. Under his protection it will enter into his righteous new order. It will be right there on hand, as soon as the "great tribulation" is over, and be instantly ready to serve as His instrument in his new order.

30 Forward, then, under Theocracy into the new order! Our Leader, the reigning heavenly King, Jesus Christ, moves at the head of our advancing column. Let us not break our ranks, nor run in fear and disorderly panic. We have nothing to fear at the massing of our many enemies. On our side is God the Almighty, the great Theocrat whom we obey as ruler rather than men. He is over us. It is his work that we are doing at his command through Jesus Christ. We are his "men of goodwill," and He takes delight in us. His spirit it is that pervades the whole organization, and this holy spirit is the active force that unites us unbreakably.

31 Our life-giving message, the Evangel that we preach and teach, is from Him and is drawn from his revealed Word, the Holy Bible. Our message is true, and soon it must come to heart-gladdening fulfillment! Highly honored are we to be favored with the privilege of proclaiming and teaching it to all mankind. Immediately before us is the glorious reward for our living up to this marvelous privilege. Forward, then, unitedly into the new order under Theocracy! Make known to everybody just how fully we appreciate that Jehovah is now reigning as God King.—Ps. 96:10.

[Study Questions]

1. (a) According to Psalm 68:18, what were those twelve apostles? (b) As a group, how did they act together, and so what were they authorized to do?

2. How did the apostles take care of the difficulty over food distribution, and so what happened regarding the word of God?

3. (a) Why were those appointments of the seven assistants theocratic? (b) Were additions made to the governing body, and what does the account of the settling of the circumcision issue show?

4, 5. (a) What shows whether the first-century congregation was a legal corporation regulated by worldly authority or not? (b) The whole congregation was what, in a composite way, and how do the words of Isaiah 43:10 indicate this?

6. Who, then, is that "steward" and "slave" mentioned by Jesus in Luke 12:42-44?

7. How did Jesus refer to this same class in his prophecy on the conclusion of the system of things?

8. When and how did Jesus appoint this "steward" or "slave" class, and what did it proceed to do?

9. When did the Lord Jesus Christ undertake an inspection of the "slave" class, and what did he find about it?

10. What appointment did he make respecting that faithful "slave" class in 1919, and what name did it embrace in 1931?

11. What must be said about the governing body for this "faithful and discreet slave" class?

12, 13. (a) What spiritual services as rendered by the "gifts in men" did the twelve apostles render after the outpouring of the spirit? (b) What account proves that they did evangelizing?

14. Since the congregation is called the "flock of God," this laid what obligation upon the twelve apostles, and did they fulfill it?

15. How does the record show whether the apostles monopolized the ministry of prophesying?

16. How did Paul at Miletus show that others besides the apostles were to fulfill the ministry of spiritual shepherds?

17. Whom did the starlike "angels" of Revelation 1:20; 2:1 picture, and hence what was the responsibility of these?

18. How does 1 Peter 5:1-4 show that Peter recognized that the gift of shepherds included others besides the apostles?

19. As indicated by Paul in Titus 1:5-9, who were the "teachers" that are included among the "gifts in men"?

20. How did Paul indicate to Timothy that the official "elders" of congregations are "gifts" in the form of "teachers"?

21, 22. (a) Whom did Paul list third among the "gifts in men," and did Jesus appoint only the apostles to be such? (b) What man was personally called an "evangelizer," and to what extent did he act as such?

23. Whom did Paul, by letter, tell to continue working as an evangelizer?

24. Who today are doing evangelizing work, and under whose guidance?

25. In 1919 to whom was encouragement given to do evangelizing work in a more direct manner, and what did The Watchtower say?

26. In what momentous time are we living, according to the available proof, and what must go and what must come in?

27, 28. (a) What, then, is this information, and what must be done with it? (b) What has Jehovah provided for getting that work done, and what is its attitude toward that work?

29. (a) According to what is this organization patterned, and so what kind of organization is it? (b) How long will it be available as a divine instrument?

30. Why have we excellent reason to move forward unitedly into God’s new order?

31. How are we highly privileged in connection with God’s Word, and what should we make known to everybody?

[Chart on page 749]

(For fully formatted text, see publication)

Modern-Day Theocratic Organization of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses

JEHOVAH GOD

Jesus Christ
Head of the Christian Congregation

"Faithful and Discreet Slave" Class,
whom Jesus has ‘appointed over all his belongings.’
—Matt. 24:45-47.

GOVERNING BODY

ELDERS ELDERS ELDERS ELDERS ELDERS
in the Cong. in the Cong. in the Cong. in the Cong. in the Cong.

MINISTERIAL MINISTERIAL MINISTERIAL MINISTERIAL
SERVANTS SERVANTS SERVANTS SERVANTS

A Governing Body as Different from a Legal Corporation

 

ON Friday morning, October 1, 1971, the legal corporation known as Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania held its annual corporation meeting, this time in the Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s witnesses at Buckingham, Pennsylvania. All seven members of the Board of Directors of said Society attended and had a part in the program presented. The membership of this Society is limited to five hundred at the most, there being at present four hundred and fifty such members throughout the earth. Many of these members attended this annual corporation meeting in person, still more by means of proxy. All together, 2,076 attended this corporation meeting, doubtless all of them being interested Christian witnesses of Jehovah.

At this meeting a question came up and was discussed from the platform. It was as to what the relationship is between the Board of Directors of the Society as a legal corporation and the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. Are they the same, identical, or are they different? Such questions were due to the fact that it has been published in print that the Governing Body of Jehovah’s witnesses at headquarters is associated with the Board of Directors of the said Society. How did this come about, and does this make the Board of Directors the same as the Governing Body of Jehovah’s witnesses all the earth around?

The official magazine of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses is The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. In the year 1944 the Watchtower magazine began to speak about the governing body of the Christian congregation. The true Christian congregation was established on the festival day of Pentecost of the year 33 C.E. at Jerusalem in the Roman province of Judea. On that notable day this congregation of dedicated Christians, consisting then of about 120 members, was anointed with holy spirit, which Jehovah God poured out upon them through the glorified Jesus Christ. This anointed body of dedicated, baptized Christians was then given a special assignment of service. According to the prophetic words of Jesus Christ at Matthew 24:45-47, it was given the appointment as the "faithful and discreet slave." The now heavenly Jesus Christ was the Master and Lord of this anointed "slave" class.

The Bible book, Acts of Apostles, discloses that this anointed Christian congregation as a "slave" class had a visible, earthly governing body. On that day of Pentecost it was composed of twelve men, namely, the twelve apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. Years later, about the year 49 C.E., this governing body was reported to include the then surviving apostles of Christ and the spiritual elders of the Jerusalem congregation. (Acts, chapter 15) This Christian governing body did not use as an administrative agency any legal corporation recognized, authorized and chartered by Caesar or any province of the Roman Empire. The decree issued was written up and carried by personal messengers to the Christian congregations that were concerned because of the non-Jewish or Gentile converts among them. The Christian apostle John, who wrote the last books of the Holy Bible toward the close of the first century C.E., was apparently the last surviving member of the original governing body appointed by Jesus Christ.

Centuries passed. Came the month of July of the year 1879. Then there appeared on the scene a new religious magazine called Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. It was then to be published monthly, at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., its first issue comprising only 6,000 copies. Its editor and publisher was a sincere Christian man, Charles Taze Russell, and the names of five other regular contributors to the magazine were announced. Besides calling attention to the second presence of Christ as due to be invisible and in the spirit, it came out unreservedly for the perfect human sacrifice of Jesus Christ as being the "ransom for all." (1 Tim. 2:5, 6) At that time C. T. Russell was associated with a Christian congregation of Bible students at Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and this congregation had requested him to serve as its religious pastor. Thereafter C. T. Russell became known world wide as "Pastor Russell."

In September of 1881 the issue of Zion’s Watch Tower was published as a special edition featuring "Food for Thinking Christians." This commanded a lot of attention and had a wide distribution. Previously, other pamphlets had been published by C. T. Russell. In fact, during the preceding four years more than a million copies of these pamphlets had been circulated free of charge. For the purpose of more efficiently spreading Bible literature similar to such pamphlets, Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society was organized in 1881. But it was a legally unincorporated society. Three years later, in 1884, for the purpose of better taking care of all the responsibilities involved, Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society was legally incorporated under the Membership Corporation Law of Pennsylvania, the charter of the Society being issued on December 13, 1884. It was chartered to have a Board of Directors, from among whom a president, vice-president and secretary-treasurer were chosen. The six incorporators of the legal Society served as the first six directors thereof, to serve for a year at a time.—Zion’s Watch Tower, January 1885.

In the year 1914 International Bible Students Association was incorporated in London, England, to work in conjunction with the American corporation, known since September 22, 1896, as Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. As time went on, other legal religious corporations were organized in other lands to work in their respective lands in cooperation with the American religious corporation. As a consequence, many thousands of God-fearing persons around the globe became readers of the publications of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society and dedicated their all to Jehovah God through Jesus Christ and got baptized in symbol of this and looked to the editorial staff and publishers of the Watch Tower Society for spiritual food in the form of the Watch Tower magazine and other publications as aids to Bible understanding. These dedicated Christians became known as International Bible Students. They continued under this designation until July 26, 1931, when, at a general convention of the International Bible Students Association in Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A., a resolution was adopted to embrace the name Jehovah’s witnesses.

GOVERNING BODY

 

According to the apostolic example of the first century C.E., these dedicated, baptized Christians known today as Jehovah’s witnesses have a governing body, as specifically noted from the year 1944 onward. This governing body has through the years been associated with the publishers of the Watch Tower magazine and the Board of Directors of the legal religious corporation now known as Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. According to Pennsylvania law, this corporation must hold annual corporation meetings at its registered offices in Pittsburgh, Pa., or elsewhere as duly voted upon, and must elect directors to fill the vacancies of those whose three-year term of office is expiring, and also to transact all necessary obligations. From among the full board of seven directors, all of whom are dedicated, baptized, spirit-anointed Christians, the officers of the Society must be elected.

In view of what was presented from the platform by speakers to the "Divine Name" District Assemblies of Jehovah’s witnesses around the earth during the summer of 1971, the question was being asked, Are the directors of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania the same as the governing body of Jehovah’s witnesses, who are an unincorporated body of dedicated, baptized Christians and who worship Jehovah as their God? Also, at the annual corporation meeting of the Watch Tower Society such as that at Buckingham, Pennsylvania, do the members of the Society automatically elect the members of the governing body of Jehovah’s witnesses by electing the members of the Society’s Board of Directors? Such questions interested those attending the meeting.

Let us keep in mind that the governing body must be made up of dedicated, baptized Christians who are anointed with God’s spirit and begotten by Him to be his spiritual children, and who are to be united with the glorified Jesus Christ in the heavenly kingdom. This must be so because, as in the case of the twelve apostles of Christ, the governing body is part of the "faithful and discreet slave" class and presides over it as spiritual shepherds and overseers. This "slave" class is made up of the spirit-begotten, spirit-anointed followers of Jesus Christ, and these followers make up his congregation on earth and unitedly serve as a composite "slave" of God under the Head of the Christian congregation, Jesus Christ. In consequence of this, and in order to answer the above questions, we are obliged to examine the spiritual status of the individual members of the Pennsylvania corporation who do the voting in of the directors of the Watch Tower Society. Who are these voting members?

By amendment to the Charter as voted upon in 1944, the membership of the Society was restricted to five hundred at the most, and these were to be men fully devoted to Jehovah God as dedicated, baptized disciples of Jesus Christ. These are selected by the Board of Directors of the Watch Tower Society. But their spiritual status must also come under scrutiny. Why so? Because not all these present-day members of the Society are spirit-anointed members of the "faithful and discreet slave" class. At this writing there are just 450 members of the Society, but less than half (or 200) of them are of the anointed remnant of the "slave" class. So the major number are disciples of Christ who have no heavenly hope. They are of Christ’s "other sheep" whose hope is to gain everlasting life in a Paradise earth under his heavenly kingdom.

Hence the question arises, Can this majority of voters who are made up of such "other sheep," by voting in the directors of the Watch Tower Society, at the same time be voting in the members of the anointed governing body of the "faithful and discreet slave" class? Scripturally, they could not do so. Not just because they are not anointed heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, but because the governing body of the "slave" class is not appointed by any man. It is appointed by the same one who appointed the twelve apostles in the first century C.E., namely, Jesus Christ the Head of the true Christian congregation and the Lord and Master of the "faithful and discreet slave" class.—John 15:16, 19.

Another thing to keep in mind is this: The directors of the Society now have their terms of office expire after three years, and each year there are directors whose term expires and who need to be replaced or be reelected to office by the members of the Society at its annual corporation meeting. Each year also the terms of the three officers of the Society expire, namely, those of the president, vice-president and secretary-treasurer (and now also of his assistant). But is this the case with the members of the governing body of the "faithful and discreet slave" class? No! The members of the governing body are not elected annually, but are in their positions of responsibility permanently as long as they live and continue faithful as disciples of Jesus Christ. That was the case with the twelve apostles and with the fellow elders of the Jerusalem congregation.

The governing body does not have officers such as the Society’s Board of Directors has, namely, president, vice-president, secretary-treasurer and assistant secretary-treasurer. It has merely a chairman, such as the governing body of the first century had. Apparently, the apostle Peter was the chairman of the governing body on the festival day of Pentecost of 33 C.E., and the disciple James, the half brother of Jesus Christ, was the chairman at a later date, according to the account in Acts of Apostles. From this, and from what historical evidence there is available, the chairmanship of the governing body rotated, just the same as the chairmanship of the presbytery or "body of elders" of each Christian congregation rotated among the coequal elders.—1 Tim. 4:14.

From this it can clearly be seen that, when a member of the Society’s Board of Directors is elected each year to the presidency of the Watch Tower Society, he is not simultaneously elected to the chairmanship of the governing body of Jehovah’s witnesses. Any member of the governing body can be chairman thereof without being at the same time the president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. It all depends upon the rotation system for the chairmanship in the governing body. Only if the rotation method puts an individual in the chairmanship at the same time that he is elected by the Board of Directors to the presidency will one occupy the chairmanship and the presidency at the same time, for at least a year.

SIZE OF THE GOVERNING BODY

 

Another point worth noting is this: The membership of the governing body is not limited to the number of members of the Board of Directors of the Society, namely, to the number seven. The Christian congregation or the "faithful and discreet slave" class started out on Pentecost of 33 C.E. with twelve members on its governing body, and that governing body located at Jerusalem was increased from the twelve apostles of Christ to include other elders of the Jerusalem congregation. So the governing body at that vital Jerusalem council included the eleven surviving apostles of Christ, and the disciple James who seems to have been chairman for the occasion, also Judas (Barsabbas) and Silas as "leading men among the brothers," yes, "prophets," and doubtless Paul and Barnabas. That means at least sixteen anointed Christians associated with the governing body back there at Jerusalem. (Acts 15:22, 32) So it is today: the governing body of the "faithful and discreet slave" class includes more than the seven anointed Christians who are on the Board of Directors of the Society. This fact, in addition, makes it manifest that the voting members of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania do not nominate and elect the members of the governing body of the "slave" class. It further accentuates the difference between the governing body and the legal Board of Directors.

How is it, then, that members of the governing body come to be directors of the Pennsylvania corporation? This is according to the will of the voting members of the Watch Tower Society. They choose to be guided by God’s inspired Word. They look to Jehovah God through Jesus Christ to direct them in this matter of voting for the Society’s directors. From the Society’s present-day Charter (as amended in 1944) the Society as a legal corporation is merely an "administrative agency" of Jehovah’s witnesses. Hence, also, of the governing body of Jehovah’s witnesses. So the Society’s voting members see that this governing body could most directly use that "administrative agency" as an instrument in behalf of the work of the "faithful and discreet slave" class by having members of the governing body on the Board of Directors of the Society. They recognize that the Society is not the administrative body, but is merely an agency for administering matters.

Hence the Society’s voting members do not desire that there be any basis for conflict and division. They do not want to cause anything like a situation where the "administrative agency" controls and directs the user of that agency, which user is the governing body as representing the "faithful and discreet slave" class. No more so than to have the tail wag a dog instead of the dog’s wagging its tail. A legal religious instrument according to Caesar’s law should not attempt to direct and control its creator; rather, the creator of the legal religious instrument should control and direct it. In harmony with God’s holy spirit, therefore, in order to have the greatest efficiency and perfect harmony between the governing body and the Board of Directors of the legal corporation, the voting members of the Society have wisely elected to the Directorate those whom they know are members of the governing body of the "faithful and discreet slave" class.

HOW THE GOVERNING BODY CAME TO EXIST

 

How did this governing body make its appearance in recent times? Evidently under the direction of Jehovah God and his Son Jesus Christ. According to the facts available, the governing body became associated with the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. C. T. Russell was patently of that governing body back there in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Being fully dedicated to God through Christ, he set himself to apply his time, energy, abilities, wealth and influence to defending God’s inspired Word and spreading its message. To that end he began publishing Zion’s Watch Tower back there in July of 1879, believing, as he said in its columns, that this had Jehovah’s backing, and hence there would be no solicitation for money. He manifested the qualifications of an overseer as set out in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 and accordingly he was requested by the congregation of Christian Bible students at Allegheny to serve as its pastor or spiritual shepherd. Five years later Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society was incorporated and served as an "agency" to minister spiritual food to thousands of sincere persons seeking to know God and to understand his Word and to come into relationship with him through Christ.

Dedicated, baptized, anointed Christians became associated with that Society at headquarters in Pennsylvania. Whether on the Board of Directors or not, they rendered themselves available for special work of the "faithful and discreet slave" class. They aided in the feeding and directing of the slave class, and thus a governing body made its appearance. This was evidently under the guidance of Jehovah’s invisible active force or holy spirit. Also, under the direction of the Head of the Christian congregation, Jesus Christ the Son of God. True, the members of that governing body were not directly appointed by the Lord Jesus Christ. For that matter, not all the members of the governing body associated with the Jerusalem congregation in the first century were thus directly appointed. How, then, were those "elders" of the Jerusalem congregation who were not numbered among the twelve apostles made members of the governing body? Evidently by appointment of the original twelve apostles, acting under the guidance of Jehovah’s holy spirit.

This is illustrated by the action of those twelve apostles when appointing Stephen and Philip and five other men to take care of certain business of the Jerusalem congregation. (Acts 6:1-8) Also, the apostle Paul pointed out in his remarks to the elders of the Ephesus congregation that the overseers of God’s flock of spiritual sheep were appointed by God’s holy spirit. (Acts 20:28) Thus, too, even though there were no apostles of Christ on hand in the nineteenth century, God’s holy spirit must have been operative toward the formation of the governing body for his anointed remnant of the "faithful and discreet slave" class. The facts speak for themselves. There came on the scene a body of anointed Christians who accepted and undertook the responsibilities of governing the affairs of Jehovah’s dedicated, baptized, anointed people who were following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and endeavoring to fulfill the work stated in Jesus’ prophecy at Matthew 24:45-47. Facts speak louder than words. The governing body is there. Thankfully Jehovah’s Christian witnesses know and assert that this is no one-man religious organization, but that it has a governing body of spirit-anointed Christians.

ROTATION OF OFFICES IN THE DIRECTORATE?

 

In the governing body there is a rotation of the chairmanship of a year’s length among the members thereof. Does this mean that there must be a rotation in the offices of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania among the Board of Directors each year at election time? No! The Society’s Charter does not call for that.

CHAIRMANSHIP NOT DEPENDENT UPON PRESIDENCY

 

The governing body of the "faithful and discreet slave" class does have a rotation of the chairmanship among its members. Since the governing body of the "slave" class preceded the legal corporation known as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, the chairmanship of the governing body is not determined by or dependent upon who is elected president yearly of the Society. What follows? Even though the occupant of the presidency may remain in office over a number of years because of his suitability for that highly responsible office, this does not interfere with the rotation system for the chairmanship among the governing body of the "slave" class. The governing body has the strictly spiritual field for its operation. The legal nonprofit corporation, the Society, has many additional duties as an administrative agency of Jehovah’s witnesses.

The governing body is very grateful to God for the religious Society that is to be used as an agency of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. This legal nonprofit Society, through being manned by faithful dedicated, baptized disciples of Jesus Christ, all ordained ministers, who volunteer their services as directly to Jehovah God, has tremendously facilitated the carrying on of the greatest work on earth today, namely, the preaching of the good news of God’s now established kingdom in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations before the end of this system of things arrives, shortly now. The functioning of the legal, religious society in this way has thus spared Jehovah’s witnesses the vexatious problems, hindrances, interruptions and controversies that afflict the nonreligious, industrial, commercial, labor and legal establishments of the wicked world. Now this is because their religious society with 93 branch offices, and its associated societies, have had the volunteer services of thousands of dedicated workers world wide, and these have made over 230,000,000 Bible books and 530,000,000 booklets and have printed and distributed over four billion religious magazines, The Watchtower and Awake! This work they did in more than 160 languages at just a nominal cost for the printed literature. Thus we are amazed to see that during the past thirty years, or since 1942, these dedicated workers have produced 4,942,619,411 Bibles, bound books, booklets and magazines. With the end of this worldly system of things, its many legal corporations, organized under the laws of the political states, will cease to function as such, but the Christian witnesses of Jehovah will have to continue on.

AN INTERESTING PROBLEM

 

At the close of discussing matters such as the above at the annual chartered meeting of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania at Buckingham, Pa., on October 1, 1971, an interesting problem was posed for the audience, especially for the voting members present of the said Society. It was this: Nineteen hundred years ago, the "faithful and discreet slave" class with its governing body functioned without a legal corporation chartered by Caesar, and it did so—successfully, magnificently. What about the governing body of the "faithful and discreet slave" class of the present time? Can it also function without the legal nonprofit corporation known as Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania? and succeed? In the light of the precedent established by the apostles and fellow elders of the Jerusalem congregation in the first century C.E., we leave you to answer the question for yourself.

[Footnotes]

 

Quoting from the Charter: "The purposes of this Society are: To act as the servant of and the legal world-wide governing agency for that body of Christian persons known as Jehovah’s witnesses; to preach the gospel of God’s kingdom under Christ Jesus unto all nations as a witness to the name, word and supremacy of Almighty God JEHOVAH; to print and distribute Bibles and to disseminate Bible truths in various languages by means of making and publishing literature containing information and comment explaining Bible truths and prophecy concerning establishment of Jehovah’s kingdom under Christ Jesus; to authorize and appoint agents, servants, employees, teachers, instructors, evangelists, missionaries and ministers to go forth to all the world publicly and from house to house to preach and teach Bible truths to persons willing to listen by leaving with such persons said literature and by conducting Bible studies thereon; to improve men, women and children mentally and morally by Christian missionary work and by charitable and benevolent instruction of the people on the Bible and incidental scientific, historical and literary subjects; to establish and maintain private Bible schools and classes for gratuitous instruction of men and women in the Bible, Bible literature and Bible history; to teach, train, prepare and equip men and women as ministers, missionaries, evangelists, preachers, teachers and lecturers; to provide and maintain homes, places and buildings for gratuitous housing of such students, lecturers, teachers and ministers; to furnish gratuitously to such students, lecturers, teachers, educators and ministers suitable meals and lodging and to prepare, support, maintain and send out to various parts of the world Christian missionaries, teachers and instructors in the Bible and Bible literature, and for public Christian worship of Almighty God [through] Christ Jesus; to arrange for and hold local and world-wide assemblies for such worship; to use or operate radio broadcasting stations for preaching this gospel of the kingdom; and to do any and all other lawful things that its Board of Directors shall deem expedient for the purposes stated."

According to a Resolution adopted by the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses at its meeting on September 6, 1971, the chairmanship of the Governing Body should rotate annually in alphabetical order according to the last name of each member.

See excerpt of Charter quoted on page 759, column 2, and page 760, column 1.

The present Governing Body comprises eleven anointed witnesses of Jehovah.

[Picture on page 756]

In this Assembly Hall at Buckingham, Pa., the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania held its annual corporation meeting for 1971