I wish to make some comments concerning a public and printed affirmation made by the WTBS Inc.'s ´" governing body" which claims also, among other things of similar nature, to be "the earthly representative of God's organization..".
The quote , under the theme :
* Overseers and Ministerial Servants Theocratically Appointed * can be found in "The Watchtower " January 15 th ,2001, page 12 ,paragraph 19 :
"Therefore, the appointments are to be viewed as being made by holy spirit. Just as overseers and ministerial servants were appointed theocratically in the first century, the same is true today "
My question is the following:
Were the first century overseers and ministerial servants "appointed theocratically"??
The best way to proceed is to go and see what the Scriptures say about this matter. Let's start with Paul's letters.
*** Rbi8 2 Timothy 1:6 ***
6 For this very cause I remind you to stir up like a fire the gift of God which is in you through the laying of my hands upon you.
*** Rbi8 Titus 1:5 ***
5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might correct the things that were defective and might make appointments of older men in city after city, as I gave you orders;
Here we note that:
*Timothy receives a "gift of God " just by " the laying "of Paul's hands upon him.
*Timothy can make " appointments of older men" as Paul gave him orders.
*No mention of a "governing body", no mention of special recommendation from a group of Christians located in Jerusalem or even Antioch, only Paul's commands or "orders" to Timothy.
*Also, if the appointment were as "been made by the holy spirit" why the need of "…a fine testimony from the people on the outside.."?
*** Rbi8 1 Timothy 3:7 ***
7 Moreover, he should also have a fine testimony from people on the outside, in order that he might not fall into reproach and a snare of the Devil.
(See also references in:
*** Rbi8 Acts 22:12 ***
12 “Now An·a·ni'as, a certain man reverent according to the Law, well reported on by all the Jews dwelling there .."
*** Rbi8 2 Corinthians 8:21 ***
21 For we “make honest provision, not only in the sight of Jehovah, but also in the sight of men.”
*** Rbi8 1 Thessalonians 4:12 ***
12 so that YOU may be walking decently as regards people outside and not be needing anything.
Let's take another important scripture:
*** Rbi8 Acts 2:38 ***
38 Peter [said] to them: “Repent, and let each one of YOU be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of YOUR sins, and YOU will receive the free gift of the holy spirit.
It is clear , after baptism, they ".. will receive the free gift of the holy spirit" . So again , if the appointment were as "been made by the holy spirit" why the need of "…a fine testimony from the people on the outside.."? The holy spirit cannot testify of the person's conduct?
According to Peter's words, all those who were getting baptized would :
** " receive the free gift of the holy spirit ".
Now how can the WTBS Inc. 'governing body' affirm that:
"Just as overseers and ministerial servants were appointed theocratically in the first century"
" the appointments are to be viewed as being made by holy spirit"??
Brothers received the " free gift of the holy spirit " at the time of their baptism and later , the same holy spirit would ' appoint ' some of them as 'overseers ' or as 'deacons/ministerial servants'??
As usual where things get to " strange " we return to the Bible, and what a better testimony and example than the account about Stephen.
*** Rbi8 Acts 6:1-6 ***
6 Now in these days, when the disciples were increasing, a murmuring arose on the part of the Greek-speaking Jews against the Hebrew-speaking Jews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution.
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.
3 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; 4 but we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
5 And the thing spoken was pleasing to the whole multitude, and they selected Stephen, a man full of faith and holy spirit, and Philip and Proch'o·rus and Ni·ca'nor and Ti'mon and Par'me·nas and Nic·o·la'us, a proselyte of Antioch; 6 and they placed them before the apostles, and, after having prayed, these laid their hands upon them.
Please notice the following:
**The 'necessary business ' was the 'daily distribution (of food)
to the widows;
**Appointing of selected men was needed, bu the choosing was made by the 'multitude of disciples ';
**Was a local affair - in Jerusalem -, and again no mention of a
'governing body ' but just the 'twelve ' and "the disciples".
**again the mentioning of ".. laid their hands upon them."
**Stephen, one of the selected men was: " a man full of faith
and holy spirit".
**Later, the Scriptures would refer to Stephen , in
Acts 7:55 "But he, being full of holy spirit, gazed into heaven and caught sight of God’s glory and of Jesus standing at God’s right hand.."
Let's review the WTBS Inc.'s quote:
"Just … ministerial servants were appointed theocratically
in the first century, the same is true today"
***Ministerial servants/ deacons diligently distribuiting 'food ' at
the tables of needy widows, and simply because they have been "appointed … over this necessary business "??
***Ministerial servants/deacons ' full of faith and holy spirit '??
*** And who today will performs the " laying of the hands "
upon the ministerial servants/deacons and overseers??
Other elders, the Circuit Overseer, the District Overseer,
the City Oversser, the Zone Overseer, one of the
Member of the of the Branch Committee ?
Or even better, one of the new Corporation's
President or as a token of supreme honor, one
of the remaining mamebers of the 'governing body '??
And why not one of the "anointed remnant" among the
8700, still leaving on this planet. ?After all they are Christ's
brothers and partekers in the future of His divine nature
and heirs of the heavenly glory.
But it is not finished yet, let's take :
*** Rbi8 Acts 8:14-17 ***
14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Sa·mar'i·a had accepted the word of God, they dispatched Peter and John to them; 15 and these went down and prayed for them to get holy spirit. 16 For it had not yet fallen upon any one of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they went laying their hands upon them, and they began to receive holy spirit
**We have, only the 12 apostles in Jerusalem, no other 'board of directors or corporation's officials nor "governing body" nor a " faithful and discreet class";
**They prayed for the baptized ones in Samaria, to receive
**To do that , they "went laying their hands upon them…"
*** Rbi8 Acts 8:18-20 ***
18 Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the hands of the apostles the spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying: “Give me also this authority, that anyone upon whom I lay my hands may receive holy spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him: “May your silver perish with you, because you thought through money to get possession of the free gift of God.
**It is interesting that again the holy spirit is spoken of as :
" free gift of God. ", like in Acts 2:38 "… receive the free gift of the holy spirit. "
Another similar account is related in:
*** Rbi8 Acts 9:17 ***
17 So An·a·ni'as went off and entered into the house, and he laid his hands upon him and said: “Saul, brother, the Lord, the Jesus that appeared to you on the road over which you were coming, has sent me forth, in order that you may recover sight and be filled with holy spirit.”
***No mention of any member of a 'governing body'.
And look at this other account:
*** Rbi8 Acts 13:1-3 ***
13 Now in Antioch there were prophets and teachers in the local congregation, Bar'na·bas as well as Sym'e·on who was called Ni'ger, and Lucius of Cy·re'ne, and Man'a·en who was educated with Herod the district ruler, and Saul. 2 As they were publicly ministering to Jehovah and fasting, the holy spirit said: “Of all persons set Bar'na·bas and Saul apart for me for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then they fasted and prayed and laid their hands upon them and let them go.
**We are in Antioch, and in the ' local congregation' (singular form) there were prophets and teachers (plural form) but not 'governing body ' or anything similar to it.
**A special assignment was given to Barnabas and Paul but this was done not by a decree of ' a governing body ' , nor by the "12 apostles" but just the "prohets and teachers" in the " local congregation of Antioch".
**The special assignment was given because "the holy spirit said" not
because a 'governing body' or a "board of directors" decided.
In conclusion , no trace of a ' governing body' . Therefore to affirm that: and to explain in the same article that:
Just as overseers and ministerial servants were appointed theocratically in the first century, the same is true today"
and explain the implication of "theocratic appointments" as:
19 Theocratic appointments come from Jehovah through his Son and God’s visible earthly channel, “the faithful and discreet slave” and its Governing Body. (Matthew 24:45-47)
has no scriptural support at all.
I've have deliberatly avoided to refer to how things have been "
decided in the congregations/ ekklesia's from the years 1879 - 1916
(C.T. Russell's presidency) and from 1917 to 1971( Rutherford, and Knorr's presidency ) in order to shorten a very long and painful story indeed.
"Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas"
(Virgilium, Georgicae, II ,489)