The congregations continued to be made firm in the faith.—Acts 16:5.
Brothers traveling on behalf of the governing body shared “the decrees that had been decided on by the apostles and the elders who were in Jerusalem.” (Acts 16:4) As congregations observed those decrees, they “continued to be made firm in the faith and to increase in number day by day.” What should we do when we receive direction from God’s organization today? Jehovah’s own Book directs all of us to be obedient and submissive. (Deut. 30:16; Heb. 13:7, 17) A critical or rebellious spirit has no place in God’s organization, for such an attitude could disrupt our loving, peaceful, and united congregations. Of course, no loyal Christian would want to display a disrespectful and disloyal spirit like that of Diotrephes. (3 John 9, 10) We might well ask ourselves: ‘Do I contribute to the spirituality of those around me? Am I quick to accept and support the direction given by the brothers taking the lead?’ w16.11 2:10, 11
Seek the peace of the city to which I have exiled you.—Jer. 29:7.
The Jewish exiles who submitted to the will of God lived a relatively normal life in Babylon. Their captors allowed them to administer their own affairs to some extent. The exiles even had freedom to move about the country. Babylon was a center of trade and commerce in the ancient world, and documents that have been unearthed indicate that many Jews learned the art of buying and selling there, while others became skilled craftsmen. Some Jews even became prosperous. Exile in Babylon was nothing like the slavery in Egypt that the Israelites had experienced centuries before. (Ex. 2:23-25) But would the Israelites ever again be able to worship God in a completely acceptable way? At the time, it seemed most unlikely that they would. Babylon never released its captives. Yet, Jehovah had promised that his people would be liberated, and so they were. God’s word of promise never fails.—Isa. 55:11. w16.11 4:3, 5
We died with reference to sin.—Rom. 6:2.
Those Christians were still alive on earth, so how could that be said of them? God applied the ransom to Paul and others of his day. Thus Jehovah forgave their sins, anointed them with holy spirit, and called them to be his spiritual sons. Then they had the heavenly hope. If they proved faithful, they would live and rule with Christ in heaven. But Paul could speak of them while they were still alive and serving God on earth as having “died with reference to sin.” He used the example of Jesus, who died as a human and then was raised up as an immortal spirit in heaven. Death was no longer master over Jesus. It was similar with anointed Christians, who could consider themselves “dead with reference to sin but living with reference to God by Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 6:9, 11) Their way of life was not as it once was. They were no longer obeying the dictates or impulses of their sinful desires. They had died to that previous way of life. w16.12 1:9, 10