Here's a "normalized" copy of the pivotal 1938 Watchtower articles that centralized authority in Brooklyn and got rid of 'elective elders.' These are based on .pdf copies of the originals, but aren't exact renditions (for example, some abbreviations and punctuations have been modified, paragraph numbers omitted).
June 1, 1938
“Instead of bronze I will bring in gold; and instead of iron I will bring in silver; and instead of wood, bronze; and instead of stones, iron; and I will appoint the oversight of thee to prosperity, and the setting of thy tasks to righteousness.” (Isaiah 60:17 Rotherham)
JEHOVAH ’S ORGANIZATION is in no wise democratic. Jehovah is supreme, and his government or organization is strictly theocratic. This conclusion is not open to successful contradiction. Let this great and indisputable truth stand as a guidepost in the consideration of the foregoing text and what follows herein.
Jehovah God is the supreme power, and Jehovah together with Christ Jesus constitutes the “Higher Powers,” to which all persons must be subject. (Romans 13:1) Jesus is designated in the prophecy as “The Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6), meaning the mighty executive officer of Jehovah, the Almighty God. He is the representative and spokesman of the Almighty Jehovah. (Genesis 17:1) Jesus Christ is “the Head of the church,” which is his body. (Colossians 1:18) Jehovah is the “head of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:3), and therefore Zion, God’s capital organization, is a theocratic government, a pure theocracy, and not “a peoples’ mandate” or a government “of the people, by the people.” The organization of Jehovah is a kingdom. It is not a limited or constitutional monarchy with restrictions upon it by a creature or creatures. Jehovah has made Christ Jesus Lord and King, and Christ Jesus answers to no members of his body for his official acts. All official acts and service, as foreshadowed in the various offices in the nation of Israel, Jehovah’s typical people, are now fulfilled in Christ Jesus the King. In the official service the members of the body of Christ share in a limited measure only as underpriests, Levites, and servants called to the kingdom as servers of God’s “judgments written.” For this reason there are no individuals in the organization under Christ Jesus’ who hold a superior degree or rank of superiority. ‘All are one in Christ Jesus’ and under Christ Jesus, the Head Jehovah God and Christ Jesus are the Teachers, and Christ Jesus at the temple is in immediate command of the organization invisible and visible. Separate and individual rights do not exist, but every member of the organization must of necessity be in complete subjection to the Head. It is necessary to get these principles fixed in mind and then keep in mind that everything and everyone in the organization must be in harmony therewith and work harmoniously.
The primary purpose of this publication is to aid the people of God now on the earth to more keenly appreciate their relationship to God and Christ and, so understanding, to then move forward in complete, harmonious action. The temple company are now at unity, having come “unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ...the head,...from whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:13-16) The words of Isaiah 60:17 according to the AV read: “For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness.” Those words are prophetic and have a complete fulfillment after the coming of Christ Jesus to the temple and the construction or building up of Zion, and show a clear contrast in the conditions existing in the church prior to that time and after the coming of the Lord to the temple. That prophecy of Isaiah shows how the work of the anointed remnant in Christ would be far richer, grander and more glorious than what preceded the building up of Zion, and this contrast is shown as gold is contrasted with bronze, or copper, and is richer than bronze, or copper; silver richer and more desirable than iron, and copper than wood, and iron than stone. Otherwise stated, these material things are used in contrast and to illustrate the present better and happier condition now existing in God’s organization.
That prophecy of Isaiah had its first miniature fulfillment when the Jewish remnant were delivered from Babylon by the Gentile kings, Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian, and when that typical people were permitted to return to Jerusalem (Zion) there
to build the temple of God and to reconstruct the walls. (Ezra 6:1-15) It shows that the later Persian king, the successor of Cyrus, compelled heathen opposers to contribute toward the building of the temple and walls of Jerusalem. Thus, according to the prophecy of Isaiah 60:16, concerning them it is written: “Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings [Darius, picturing Jehovah God, and Cyrus the Persian, picturing Christ Jesus]; and thou shalt know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” (Isaiah 60:16)
Furthermore, the prophecy of Isaiah 60:17 had a temporary or miniature fulfillment with the establishment of the church, and which lasted during the days of the apostles; and thereafter captivity and affliction again came upon God’s people, reaching a climax in the persecution of 1917 and 1918. But the complete fulfillment is after the affliction upon the faithful followers of Christ Jesus and after the coming of Christ Jesus to the temple, there to try, test and make manifest the approved sons of antitypical Levi.
For the guidance of its readers in the consideration of this matter The Watch tower ventures here the assertion that what follows herein, and which is fully supported by the Scriptures, establishes the following, to wit: That the teaching in the congregations during the “Elijah period” respecting the liberty of the classes or companies or congregations in voting into office their elders and deacons was an error; that the text at Acts 14:23 was misunderstood, and hence misinterpreted, and that the stretching forth of the hand by the members of the congregation was not the proper means of expressing the choice of servants; that the commission to “ordain” or “appoint officers in the church” was never delegated to the congregation or company; and that the entire absence in the epistles of Paul to the church respecting suck arrangement is very persuasive proof in support of this conclusion; that Paul, acting on instructions from the Lord, delegated certain authority and power to Timothy and Titus to perform certain duties in the church concerning the selection of servants or officers, but that said authority was not conferred upon the congregation as a whole or as a supposed “democratic” body. Furthermore, that in the interval from the days of the apostles to the coming of the Lord Jesus to the temple of Jehovah the Lord provided by and through the office of the holy spirit for the needs of each and every congregation; that with the coming of Christ to the temple the Lord Jesus Christ directs all things concerning his church, because he is in full command and fulfills completely the places or offices occupied by the apostle Paul and others; and that the instructions given by Paul to Timothy and Titus are also applicable to the “last days,” where we now are; and that the “faithful and wise servant” occupies a place similar to that fulfilled by Timothy and Titus, and that the servant now Acts under the direction and command and supervision of the Lord Jesus Christ, and hence the entire organization must be at complete unity and move forward in perfect accord and harmonious action.
This is the day of Jehovah and the time for the vindication of his name. He has given his elect servant for a witness to the people, and the head of that servant, Christ Jesus, is the Leader and Commander. (Isaiah 55:4) Christ Jesus at the temple is in charge of Zion, and every member thereof must be in complete harmony with him and be joyfully obedient to his commands, and hence no member thereof has any right or privilege to take a separate course according to his own ideas. Christ Jesus is the chief representative and vindicator of Jehovah, and over and above all of the organization is Jehovah the Most High. Every one of the organization looks not to a selfish interest, but to the general interest or welfare of the organization. To the remnant of that organization now on the earth is committed much, and much more is demanded of them. In order for these to move forward in the war the Lord provides information for their aid and comfort and specifically directs them in the right way to go. Among the people of Jehovah under Christ there can be no division, but all must stand shoulder to shoulder as one compact body, joyfully rendering their offerings in righteousness unto the Lord. In some of the companies there appear still to be controversies, but when the faithful get a proper understanding of God’s organization and their individual relation thereto there can be no controversies amongst the people of God in which the real remnant participates. It is the time for absolute peace within the organization, and a time for war against the enemy.
The Commander, Christ Jesus, in the day of his flesh gave no direction whatsoever concerning any arrangement to be made for the regulation of the companies or congregations of his followers, or selection of servants amongst them. He definitely stated his relationship to the church. He is the Foundation Stone and the Builder, and therefore he said to his apostles: “Upon this rock [Christ himself] I will build my church.” (Matthew 6:18) He delegated certain authority to his apostles, and to them he said: “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you...Receive ye the holy [spirit].” (John 20:21, 22) To the communities or companies of his brethren he gave instruction concerning offenses against the Lord’s organization and as to the manner in which they should deal with such, but no instruction concerning the selection of servants was given by him. (Matthew 18:15-18) When Saul, who was afterwards called Paul, received enlightenment from the Lord and forsook religion, he was appointed by the Lord Jesus as his special
representative, and he received a special commission from Christ Jesus. “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way; for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.” (Acts 9:15)
This message and commission was committed to Paul: “And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men, of what thou hast seen and heard.” (Acts 22:14, 15) “And the night following, the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” (Acts 23:11)
Paul testified to his own commission as follows: “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you.” (1 Corinthians 11:23) Concerning the message which Paul proclaimed he said: “For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the Revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:12) Thus the Scriptures show that the apostle Paul was specifically commissioned and instructed by the Lord in what he was to do. The Lord Jesus gave to his apostles the specific promise, to wit: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. But the Comforter, which is the holy [spirit], whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:16, 17, 26) It is therefore made certain that when Paul proceeded to set the affairs of the church in order he was guided by the holy spirit, through the Word of God, and also received direct and specific instructions from the Lord Jesus Christ. What Paul did, therefore, must be taken as the expressed will of God concerning his church, builded upon Christ Jesus, the foundation and head.
There was a miniature establishment of Zion made manifest by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:4) This was so understood by the apostles, as shown by the records at Acts 4:23-27. (Psalm 2:1-6) Paul, as the special servant of the Lord, would have in mind the scriptures relating to the setting up of Zion, and which scriptures include the prophecy of Isaiah 60:17. What Paul was told by the Lord concerning the complete fulfilment of the prophecy relating to Zion, as set forth in that text, is not revealed, but we do know that Paul received certain information which he could not make known but which served to guide him in what he did. (2 Corinthians 12:4) What Paul did under the direction of the Lord Jesus Christ in setting in order the affairs of the church must of necessity be in harmony with the prophecy concerning Zion, because the church and Zion are inseparable. It may properly be said that the name “church” is applicable more particularly to the faithful followers of Christ Jesus until the coming of Christ Jesus to the temple, at which latter time Zion is builded up and the organization is spoken of as “Zion.” When builded up, of necessity that completed body must be in absolute unity and in complete harmony in action to go forward and perform the will of God.
This important fact cannot be ignored, to wit: That nowhere in the epistles to the congregations or church companies, as such, did Paul give any instruction to them as to the manner of appointing officers or servants, which instruction they could carry out as a democratically ruled body. The question, of necessity, is asked: Why was no such instruction given? And the answer must surely be that the appointment of officers or servants of the church or congregation is not vested in the members of each separate company as though it were a democratically ruled organization. If it were the will of the Lord that each company or congregation should be self-contained in this matter, Paul surely would have made the same to clearly appear in the instructions given. What instruction is given in the Scriptures concerning the selection of servants, elders and deacons, Paul gave the same to Timothy and Titus, those two men being the ones specially appointed by Paul to set in order the companies or congregations and to keep them in order. It appears that to those two men the apostles and the Lord delegated authority concerning the church organization and government.
A long period of time elapsed between the death of the apostles and the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul gave no instruction concerning the selection of servants of the church that must be followed during that period of time, but, as shown by the Scriptures, the whole matter was left to the Lord, who through the office of the holy spirit would look to all things that were necessary. No doubt Paul had a vision of the disintegration of the congregations, which began shortly after his death and with the coming forward of religionists, and which continued uninterrupted until the coming of the Lord Jesus to the temple. The apostle Paul did emphatically say, to wit: “And he [the Lord Jesus Christ, and not a company or congregation] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13) It would therefore clearly follow that a company or congregation that appoints evangelists, pastors and teachers is acting contrary to the provision made by the Lord.
When it is clearly seen and appreciated that at no time in the history of the church of God does the
Lord treat the church as a democracy; that the idea of a democracy is entirely absent in the writings of the apostles concerning the church; that there is no intimation that there is a confederacy or unity existing in the congregations, such as exists amongst the states of America, it must be concluded that the Hierarchy form of government, so seductive to many minds, is clearly a product of the Devil; also that the democratic form of government is contrary to the Word of God. Such was the case with the priest-ridden Jerusalem, as shown by the prophecy of Jeremiah, when the self-constituted elect class, the clergy, ruled contrary to the will of God. Likewise “the Roman Catholic Hierarchy of authority,” and similar ‘authoritative’ governments and religious organizations, are clearly of the Devil, instituted and practiced for the purpose of turning men away from God and his King, and bringing them under the control of the representatives of the Devil. Therefore the faithful apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ could not have started an organization which for its method of operation is a government by democratic methods or a rule by “orders” of priests or Hierarchy. The rule of Jehovah God, both that with his typical people Israel and that of his people taken out for his name, is purely a theocratic rule. God’s kingdom or organization is a pure theocracy, not subject to the whims or rules of any creature.
Smarting under the tyrannical rule by the clergy and Hierarchy, sincere men turned to the democratic government of religious organizations with a hope of a better condition, and that withod has for years been followed in religious organizations. But is such in harmony with the Scriptures? The fact that such a method was adopted in the congregations of those who claimed to serve the Lord is no proof that it is right. During the Elijah period of the church sincere followers of Christ Jesus left the Babylonish organization and they came out with spots on their garments, which they had received by reason of associating with that devilish organization. Within the period known as “the Elijah time of the church” elders and deacons in the congregations were selected by a vote of the members expressed by the stretching forth of the hand. Whether this was proper or not, at least the Lord permitted it or did not interfere. The intention or purpose of the Christians who adopted and followed this method was, no doubt, good, but that would not make it Scriptural. The authority for such action or voting, it was claimed, was found in Acts 14:23. Barnabas was associated with Paul in the work of preaching the gospel and setting matters aright in the congregations. Having this in mind, which is shown in this same chapter, note the words of Acts: 14:23: “And when they [Paul together with Barnabas, and not the congregation] had ordained [(Greek) cheirotoneo ] them [that is, in the respective congregations] elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they [Paul and Barnabas, the apostles, and not the company] commended them [the ones chosen] to the Lord, on whom they believed.”
In the same manner Paul commended the elders of Ephesus to God. (Acts 20:32) The Greek word cheirotoneo is, in the foregoing text at Acts 14:23, rendered “ordained”; but “ordain” or “ordained” is a wrong word, as will be observed by the examination of subsequent scriptures herein cited. The Greek word cheirotonein means “to extend or stretch forth the hand.” But the question is: Was the stretching forth of the hand the act performed by the apostles or by the congregation? Was the stretching forth of the hand a sign or means of voting? Manifestly it was the apostles who stretched forth the hand, not as a means or sign of voting, but as an act of confirming those men chosen for the office of service. The Greek word cheirotoneo , rendered “ordained” at Acts 14:23, in fact means chosen. This is shown by the text at 2 Corinthians 8:18, 19, wherein that same Greek word is rendered “chosen.” This latter text, however, does not show that the men were chosen by the company or congregation, but by those upon whom the apostles had previously conferred authority by stretching forth of their hands as at Acts 14:23.
The selection of officers or servants by the democratic method of voting by the congregation ignores the command concerning “the Higher Powers.” (Romans 13:1) Only the Almighty God and Christ Jesus constitute the higher powers, and the apostle Paul was a special representative of such higher powers, and Paul, acting by virtue of the authority conferred upon him, designated others to represent the higher powers. The stretching forth of the hand was an act of confirmation by the apostles. The following texts support that conclusion: in the sixth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles it is seen that the apostles instructed the brethren to ‘look out’ or nominate certain men to perform certain duties of service, and to bring these before or to the attention of the apostles; and concerning these men it is written: “Whom they set before the apostles, and when they [the apostles] had prayed, they [the apostles] laid their hands on them.” Thus the congregation or company recognized the Higher Powers acting through the apostles, and the apostles, after praying to the Higher Powers, laid their hands on these men, thus confirming their selection. Clearly therefore it was the apostles who stretched forth or put forth their hands. The following texts show that it was the apostles who stretched forth the hand: “Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the holy [spirit].” (Acts 8:17, 18) “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the holy [spirit] came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” (Acts 19:5, 6) “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy,
with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” (1 Timothy 4:14)
In giving instruction to Timothy as to what course he should take, the apostle Paul said: “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins; keep thyself pure.” (1 Timothy 5:22) Mark that this instruction was not given to the congregation, but to Timothy alone, whom Paul had appointed to represent him and perform certain duties in the church. The apostle specifically instructed Timothy as to the required qualifications of the servants to be selected, and warned Timothy that he must act with caution after due and prayerful investigation and consideration. Again, Paul said to Timothy: “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6); thus showing that it was the apostle who confirmed Timothy as his representative. At 1 Timothy 4:14 it is written: “With the laying on of the hands of the presbytery”; which does not mean the congregation, but those who had been selected to represent the Higher Powers, that is to say, Paul and the other mature ones which had been selected by him to act in the government of the congregation.
The “laying on of hands” was not an annual ceremony or affair, such as the yearly selection of servants, according to the practice in vogue during the Elijah period; and this is clearly shown by the text: “Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” (Hebrews 6:1, 2) When a person was once selected to perform certain duties, there was no need to renew that selection so long as the person appointed acted in faith and faithfully.
With God’s typical people Israel the laying on of hands was not a practice of the congregation, but the same was restricted to the duly constituted representatives of the people. Such laying on of hands did not indicate voting by some voting in the affirmative and some in the negative. This is shown by the direction which the Lord gave to the Israelites. “When the sin, which they have sinned against it, is known, then the congregation shall offer a young bullock for the sin, and bring him before the tabernacle of the congregation. And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock before the Lord; and the bullock shall be killed before the Lord.” (Leviticus 4:14, 15) Jehovah selected the Levites for his service without taking a vote of the people. (Numbers 3:40, 45) The Levites, the servants selected by Jehovah, laid their hands on the bullock, as representing them in the sacrifice to God. (Numbers 8:9-12)
When the time came to select a successor to Moses Jehovah did the choosing. Moses did not pick a successor, neither was Joshua offered or put forward for the Job and voted on by others. ”And the Lord said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him, after the judgment of Urim before the Lord; at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation. And Moses did as the Lord commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation. And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses.” (Numbers 27:18-23)
In the selection of one to take the place of Judas Iscariot such was not done by a vote of the congregation or disciples. The apostles put forward two men, and the judgment was put up to the Lord by the casting of lots. On that occasion Peter said to the others: There “must one be ordained,” or,” of these must one become a witness with us [and] of his [Jesus’] resurrection.” (Acts 1:22 ARV) On that occasion Peter quoted from Psalms concerning Judas: “Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein, and his bishopric let another take.” (Vs. 20) Then Justus and Matthias were put forward: “And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:24-26)
All the foregoing Scriptural proof is to the effect that the Jews’ stretching forth the hand, or the laying on of hands (as stated in 2 Corinthians 8:18, 19), was not done by the congregation, but by the representatives which bad been chosen by the apostle Paul. (See also Acts 15:37-41) It was the apostles who commended the elders to the Lord, just as Paul did concerning the elders at Ephesus. (Acts 20:17-32) It appears that the congregation might agree upon or nominate men for service and place these before the apostles, but the approval or final selection rested upon Paul (1 Corinthians 16:3) or upon one to whom the apostle had delegated authority to act as the representative of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 8:19, 22)
In his epistles the apostle Paul uses the Greek word episkopos to designate the overseers of the congregations. ”And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church...Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over
the which the holy [spirit] hath made you overseers [(Greek) episkopous ].” (Acts 20:17, 28) That Greek word is rendered by Strong “officer, bishop, overseer.” Not the congregation, but the holy spirit, acting as the representative of the Lord absent, made such men “overseers.” All the apostles were overseers or epis kopoi . The word so often used by religionists, “archbishop,” does not once occur in the apostle’s writings. Those faithful men were made overseers, not by any vote of any creatures, but by the holy spirit, as shown by the testimony of the apostle Paul himself. In the various epistles by the several apostolic writers there appears no instruction whatsoever to the congregation as to the holding of regular election of officers of the congregation or company. Nothing is said about separate congregations’ voting their respective officers into positions of service. Paul's letter to the Philippians is addressed “to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons” (Philippians 1:1); no instructions are given as to the election by voting or stretching forth of the hand.
As the apostle Paul was clothed by the Lord Jesus Christ with power and authority to appoint officers in the church, it clearly appears that the apostle had authority to delegate such power to act to others and that he did select and delegate such authority to Timothy and Titus for that purpose. (1 Timothy 1:3; 5:21, 22; Titus 1:5) Concerning the organization of the congregation or company and the appointment of others and servants Paul did give instruction to Timothy and Titus. To Titus he said: “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that were wanting, and appoint elders in every city, as I gave thee charge.” (Titus 1:5 ARV) If Timothy and Titus were mere voters in the congregation, whose votes did not count for more than that of others in the same congregation, surely the apostle would not have specifically instructed them as to how the organization should be arranged. These scriptures therefore show that Paul was commissioned to bestow upon Timothy and Titus the power and authority to perfect the organization of the companies or congregations.
Religionists have misapplied these Scriptural texts by reserving to themselves the power of appointment, so that they, the clergy, might hold control of the members in their own hands, and that for selfish purposes. Thus they have made themselves bosses, exalted and glorified themselves, and made themselves to appear far above the “common herd” of the congrega tion, which they have called and still call “the laity” as a class distinguished from the clergy. To avoid such improper distinction between clergy bosses and the common people the practice was adopted and followed, during the Elijah period, of each congregation, by each member, voting, thus appointing or electing elders and deacons, and as many as were available were so selected, so that all might have something to do Now the time has come for a different procedure. And why? The strongest reason is, because the Lord Jesus Christ is at the temple and all in Christ have come to a maturity, that is to say, to the status of elders or mature ones, and all are on an exact level, and the Lord Jesus Christ is in complete control.
The “higher powers” are Jehovah and Christ Jesus, and the authority to ‘lay on hands’ is restricted or limited to a number to be overseers, such as the apostles, Timothy, and Titus. This is in clear recognition of the Higher Powers, and acting under authority and direction of the Higher Powers. Such restriction of laying on of hands is a safeguarding measure, in this, that the younger, ignorant learners and ones less mature are therefore less qualified and less discreet, and hence not so fitted to fill such places as the more mature ones. Therefore Timothy was instructed to lay hands on no man without first giving the matter careful and prayerful consideration, acting cautiously under the direction of the Lord. The laying on of hands did not make the person thus selected a superior order of Christian. It merely meant that such had a definite responsibility placed upon him within certain limits, and that the congregation acquiesced in such arrangement and acted accordingly in full harmony. It still remains true, as written, “All ye are brethren,” and, “Ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Matthew 23:8; Galatians 3:28); and for this reason are all on a common level so far as rank or distinction is concerned. Nor does it appear that the elders or overseers and the deacons were appointed for a limited term of a year or less, but that they were appointed for life or as long as they remained faithful in the performance of duty. Such rule would not apply, however, to such as a company servant, who may be appointed annually in the readjustment of the service organization and when the determining factor in the selection of such one is measured by faithfulness, zeal and efficiency. Activity in service to the general advancement of the kingdom interest is the important matter.
In the apostolic days the congregations in different parts of the land were not independent units without central supervision. They were regulated from the central body, which Christ Jesus established in the faithful apostles; which is shown by the record at Acts 15:2-30. Nor was the appointment of officers the responsibility of each separate congregation without the confirmation and regulation by the central authority, that is to say, the apostles or their immediate representatives. By virtue of the authority conferred upon him by the holy spirit Paul decided (“ordained”) vital matters for the congregation, but only as the Lord had provided: “If not, as the Lord has apportioned to each one, even as God has called
each one, so let him walk. And thus in all the congregations I appoint.” (1 Corinthians 7: 17 Diaglott)
Thus the “Higher Powers” were duly acknowledged and, as commanded, “every soul” was “subject to the higher powers.” (Romans 13:1) The apostles are no longer on the earth in the flesh, but the Higher Powers are present in the temple, Jehovah God, the Supreme Power, being there represented by Christ Jesus the Higher Power. Therefore no individual on earth acts as the direct personal representative of the Higher Powers, as did the apostles in their day.
Titled offices or officers, supposed to be superior to the common ones, have always been in vogue in the religious organizations called “Christendom,” and that was even so among those engaged in the Elijah work, from 1878 to 1918. There were those who assumed a titled position or office and assumed to act as bosses over others and thus showed insubordination to the body of Christ as a whole. Now the Lord having come to the temple and gathered unto himself the faithful, all such must be on a common level, at unity in Christ. It strongly appears that the epistles to Timothy and Titus were written for the specific direction of Jehovah’s witnesses in the “last days,” but that does not at all argue for the appointment of titled ones, such as elders ( episkopous ) and deacons ( diakonous ). T he Lord, through the apostle Paul, delegated to Timothy and Titus certain duties. Paul, in his day, made known the will and ordinances of the Lord, which he had received from the Lord, and hence Paul there stood in the place of or represented more particularly the Lord Jesus Christ, who now is at the temple as the only Son of Jehovah God. Jesus Christ at the temple is the great and special representative of Jehovah. When on the earth Jesus had appointive power, and now much more. He has the same because he is clothed with all power in heaven and in earth. (John 15:16; Matthew 28:18)
It must be seen by all who love and serve Jehovah, and who therefore believe the revealed truths of his Word, that the Lord Jesus Christ as the Head of Jehovah’s organization Zion has a visible part of his organization on the earth, which represents the Lord and acts under the direct supervision of the Lord Jesus Christ. Otherwise the work of the Lord in the earth would be without order. His visible kingdom interests or “goods” must be committed to some representative, and the question now is, Who is that visible representative, standing in the place similar to that occupied and followed by Timothy and Titus, and which representative is clothed with certain authority to act? The answer must be found in the Scriptures, and not in the mere opinion of men. Jesus declared, as it is written, that upon his coming to the temple he would commit all his goods or kingdom interests on earth to that “faithful and wise servant,” which faithful and wise servant is made up and composed of all the anointed ones on earth brought into the temple into unity in Christ, and acting in complete unity under the direction of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Matthew 24:45-47) Paul, as the representative of Christ Jesus, delegated to Timothy and Titus authority to act in certain matters of appointing servants in the church. The Lord Jesus, now at the temple and in full charge of every part of his organization according to his own word, delegates to his earthly representative certain duties to be performed in his visible organization, and which duties, of necessity, must include the selection of servants. The anointed remnant on earth at the temple, for convenience, is designated as “The Society.” That does not mean The WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY as a corporation, because that corporation is organized to meet certain legal requirements. “The Society,” as that term is now used, does mean God’s people on the earth at full unity, duly organized and carrying on the work of bearing testimony to the name of Jehovah God in harmony with his will, which “testimony of Jesus Christ” is committed unto them, these all being the children of God by his organization Zion. (Revelation 12:17; Isaiah 54:13) The letters of the apostle Paul, addressed to Timothy and Titus, applying to the “last days,” now apply to the Society; and the things committed to Titus and Timothy to do, and the special charge to them, are performed by the Society, acting under the direct supervision of the Lord Jesus Christ at the temple.
Timothy was charged concerning the teaching of what is the will of God. (1 Timothy 1:3, 4, 18; 2:12; 3:11; 2 Timothy 2:14) He was instructed with reference to recognizing the “Higher Powers,” and the prayerful and faithful support of them. (1 Timothy 2:1-3) The Higher Powers are now in active office, and it is their time of war. (2 Timothy 2:3) because of his appointive power Timothy was instructed as to the qualifications of servants in the church or companies. (1 Timothy 3:1-13)
No provision was made for the office of “elder,” or “priest.” In fact an episkopos or overseer must first be an elder, as shown by Acts 20:17, 28; that is to say, he must be one of the mature ones in Christ. Such overseers were not just one in a province, set over all others in that territory, such as the Roman Catholic system follows. The overseer was one appointed to look after the interests of the company or congregation. Timothy was instructed as to the proper conduct of himself in God’s organization or house, (1 Timothy 3:14, 15) Likewise in all these matters “The Society” is instructed to deport itself in harmony with God’s will, as set, forth in the Scriptures.
Timothy was commanded to exhort and to remind the brethren (by repeatedly calling attention to such things). He was youthful, but was told to permit no one to despise him by reason of his youth. (1 Timothy 4:12)
So likewise “The Society” is comparatively a youthful organization, having existed as such only since the coming of the Lord Jesus to the temple. Yet it is not to be despised for that reason, but to act in harmony with the will of God and the Lord Jesus.
When the Lord Jesus came to the temple in 1918, he did not elect an individual as his representative and servant, but did select a company of faithful men and women as his servants and formed them into an organization representing his kingdom interests on earth and made that body his “faithful and wise servant” to which he committed all his kingdom interests on the earth, which interests he designates as “all his goods.” That “faithful and wise servant” he built up in Zion as a part of his capital organization. (Psalm 132:12, 13; 78:68-70) Therefore as the apostle Paul did not need letters of commendation” (2 Corinthians 3:1-3; 1:1), so likewise “The Society,” which operates legally under the name of The WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY, needs no letters of recommendation from any man or men, because it is a part of God’s organization. Its works, together with the results thereof, by the grace of the Lord, viewed in the light of prophecy, are in themselves “letters of commendation” from the Lord himself.
Timothy had a “gift...by prophecy.” (1 Timothy 4:14) Whether it was a gift of prophecy to him or previous favorable mention of him to Paul, at least “The Society” has had previous favorable mention in or been prophesied of in the Scriptures, and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Great Elder, has laid his hands upon “THE SOCIETY,” even as Paul laid his hands upon Timothy (2 Timothy 1:6), and so it sets forth the truth in the fulfillment of prophecies. Also “rebukes” are not now the prerogative of private individuals at the pleasure or choice of such, but such reproof is the prerogative of “The Society” against those who have been entrusted with duties and responsibilities and who have proved undependable and unfaithful. (1 Timothy 5:1, 2, 20) “The Society” acts by and through its duly constituted servants, recognizing the great fact that ‘God hath set the members in the body as it pleaseth him’ (1 Corinthians 12:18), which he does by and through his Chief Officer, Christ Jesus. It must be conceded by all who love the Lord that the Lord has perfected and directs his own organization.
Christ Jesus is at the temple as and for Jehovah, and he is there accompanied by his holy angels. There he has gathered unto himself the faithful who have been resurrected and also the faithful remnant yet on the earth, and above all and over all is Jehovah God. Surely the Lord Jesus Christ has his own good and sufficient way of communicating with and instructing the temple company, which he does by and through his organization on earth in the manner that he has provided. Therefore “The Society” takes note of those mature ones in the organization (who are in fact elders, by the grace of God) “that rule [preside over] well” the things committed to them. (1 Timothy 5:17, 18) “The Society” therefore is the proper instrument used in the appointment of servants in the various companies, which duty does not devolve upon individuals or congregations acting independently and democratically. (1 Timothy 5:22) This is done after prayerfully and diligently seeking the will of the Lord, and by acknowledging him and receiving his direction as he has promised. (Proverbs 3:5, 6) “The Society” performs the duties laid upon it by Christ Jesus, the King and Ruler.
Jesus Christ, Jehovah’s great Apostle or Sent One, and who is at the temple, has ‘laid hands’ upon “The Society” as his “faithful and wise servant” and visible representative. (2 Timothy 1:6) “The Society” has been and is a “partaker of the afflictions of the gospel” and is not ashamed of bonds and imprisonment for his sake, rejoicing to have a part in the reproaches that have fallen upon God and upon Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 1:8; Amos 15:3) “The Society,” acting as the servant and representative of the Lord, commits the testimony work to the Lord’s faithful witnesses now on the earth. (2 Timothy 2:2) They too must study to properly perform and set forth the will of God for his people. (2 Timothy 2:15) The policy of “The Society” is true to the instructions given to Timothy, to “shun profane and vain babblings:…foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.” (2 Timothy 2:16, 23) As with Timothy, “The Society’s” mission is to “preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and doctrine. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:2-5)
As Titus was instructed and commissioned to do, so likewise is “The Society” to appoint servants. “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.” (Titus 1:5) The ones to be appointed are first carefully considered, seeing that they are duly qualified, as provided by the Scriptures. (Titus 1:6-9) The exercise of its power of authority is not to be disputed, because done at the command of the Lord. (Titus 2:15)
It must and does exhort those consecrated to the Lord to be subject to the “Higher Powers,” which are ordained of Jehovah God. (Romans 13:1-4) For that reason “The Society” would be unfaithful to the Lord and would act in violation of his commandment if it should advise and instruct God’s people to salute men or the flags of any country or nation or to do obeisance to any earthly thing, thereby implying that protection or salvation comes from some creature or thing, and not from the Lord. (Titus 3:1) As Titus was instructed: “Avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about
the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition reject” (Titus 3:9, 10), so likewise “The Society” must do. The heretics the Lord deals with.
In full accord with the foregoing, those who act as company servants in the various companies of publishers are the representatives of the Society by appointment. While the respective companies may recommend certain ones, it is the prerogative of the Society to pass over such recommendations and to appoint the ones that appear to be best suited for the place or places. In the days of the apostles overseers were appointed for life of faithful service. An ecclesia could not throw out of service one assigned thereto in order to satisfy the selfish whims of some, but the apostle or the ones to whom he delegated authority removed such appointed ones because of unfaithfulness or failure to perform assigned duties. (1 Corinthians 5:3-5; Titus 3:10) Whatever the reason for the Lord’s permitting the democratic form of rule in the congregations or companies to prevail during the Elijah period, and without regard to whether the same was right or wrong, the Scriptures and the attending facts show that, when the Lord arrives at the temple, a change is made, which change is brought about by the Lord informing his remnant of their true relationship to him. It is the time of understanding, and the remnant must now “with all thy getting get understanding.” The reason for such clearer light and understanding, and for such change for betterment, is further discussed in the next issue of The Watchtower. (To be continued)