The “Slave” Who Lived to See the “Sign”
1. According to the account of the creation of heavenly lights, God desired man to be like him in what respect?
MAN’S Creator is a timekeeper. He meant for man to keep time also. In the creative account as found in the first chapter of his inspired Word, we read: “And God went on to say: ‘Let luminaries come to be in the expanse of the heavens to make a division between the day and the night; and they must serve as signs and for seasons and for days and years. And they must serve as luminaries in the expanse of the heavens to shine upon the earth.’ And it came to be so. And God proceeded to make the two great luminaries, the greater luminary for dominating the day and the lesser luminary for dominating the night, and also the stars.” (Genesis 1:14-16) So the Holy Bible keeps a count of time on man’s existence, and does so in seasons and days and years.
2, 3. (a) How did the Bible project the count of time even down to the year 1914 C.E.? (b) What did Jesus say regarding the time for his coming at the “great tribulation” that occurs during his parousia?
2 The Bible’s count of time carried on from man’s creation in the Garden of Eden until where its chronology connects up with the authentic dates of secular history. The Bible’s prophecies that contain chronological features project the count of time still farther into the future, even down to the end of the “seven times” of Gentile domination of mankind without divine interruption, till in the year 1914 C.E. (Daniel 4:16, 23, 25, 32; Luke 21:24) That year was the time when the parousia or “presence” of the glorified Jesus Christ in heaven began. Jesus prophesied of the unequaled “great tribulation” that was to occur during his parousia, but he did not pinpoint the particular day and hour when that unparalleled time of trouble would break upon the whole world of mankind. He said:
3 “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father. For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken along and the other be abandoned; two women will be grinding at the hand mill: one will be taken along and the other be abandoned. Keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming [Greek: erʹkhe·tai].”—Matthew 24:36-42; Mark 13:32, 33.
4. So social conditions among mankind during Jesus’ parousia were to be like the days of whom, and which particular days?
4 According to this prophecy, the social conditions among men and women on earth during this invisible parousia of the Lord Jesus Christ should be like those in the days of Noah before the planetary deluge. Evidently by the time reference, “the days of Noah,” Jesus meant “those days before the flood” when Noah was preparing the ark that God had instructed him to build. Otherwise, there would have been nothing special for the antediluvian people to take note of to indicate that a deluge was scheduled for their generation. This preparing of the ark would locate the particular “days of Noah” within the last hundred years of his life before the deluge, for the deluge started in Noah’s six hundredth year, and so we read: “Noah got to be five hundred years old. After that Noah became father to Shem, Ham and Japheth.”—Genesis 5:32; 7:11.
5. (a) The “days of Noah” for building the ark are also shown to be limited by what fact? (b) The comparison made with the “days of Noah” proves what about the meaning of parousia?
5 Another limit on the time would be that Noah was told that he must take into the ark his own wife and his three sons and his “sons’ wives” with him. (Genesis 6:18) This would indicate that Noah’s three sons were married before the work on the ark began. So the time before the deluge during which the people could note that something unusual was going on may have been reduced to around fifty years before the global catastrophe. At any rate, the “days” allowed to the people for taking serious note were a considerable time. Inasmuch as “so the presence [parousia] of the Son of man will be,” this proves that the invisible parousia of Christ is an extended period of time and does not mark merely the time of the start of the “great tribulation” at a certain hour of a specific day. In harmony with that view of the parousia, Jesus’ parallel statement, in Luke 17:26, says: “Moreover, just as it occurred in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of man.” But just as the days of Noah’s building the ark led up to the entry of him and his immediate family into that tremendous structure, so the invisible parousia runs for a period of time and comes to a climax in a global “great tribulation.”
6. (a) In what way, as Jesus said, would the days of Noah resemble the time of his parousia? (b) What, then, was wrong on the part of the people?
6 In Noah’s days the earth was filled with violence and was being ruined. (Genesis 6:11, 12) That, of course, was bad, wrong! But Jesus did not refer to that in showing the resemblance between the days of Noah and the days of his parousia or “presence.” Jesus said: “They were eating, they were drinking, men were marrying, women were being given in marriage, until that day when Noah entered into the ark, and the flood arrived and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:27) Such things mentioned were right and proper in themselves. Well, then, what was the wrong thing on the part of the people? It was that they became absorbed in those common, everyday things, and evidenced no faith in Noah’s message from God and did not take seriously Noah’s backing up his message as absolutely true by building the ark in demonstration of his faith. (Hebrews 11:7) That this was the wrong thing on the part of the people, Jesus said: “And they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away.”—Matthew 24:39.
7. (a) For what were the people who were destroyed in the Flood condemned, and due to what? (b) How has the same feature on the part of the people been demonstrated since 1914?
7 The people destroyed in the global deluge were condemned for their unrighteous lack of faith. They were ungodly. Consequently, God “did not hold back from punishing an ancient world, but kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a deluge upon a world of ungodly people.” (2 Peter 2:5) Jesus’ prophecy, “So the presence of the Son of man will be,” prompts us to examine the doings and attitude of the people today during his parousia, his unseen “presence.” Does Jehovah God find the same absence of faith upon them? The same absorbing concern for the ordinary, everyday procedures of life, eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, with indifference toward what a small group, comparable to Noah and seven family members, are saying and doing? Well, for nearly sixty years now, since the beginning of Christ’s parousia in 1914 C.E., Jehovah’s “chosen ones” and, latterly, a “great crowd” of other sheeplike persons have been proclaiming world wide God’s established kingdom and the oncoming “great tribulation,” but the people in general have shown no serious concern.
8. (a) On what day of the final week did Noah and his family enter the ark to stay, and what then fixed matters? (b) Against what failure on our part today is this a warning?
8 In Noah’s time, during the final week before the deluge, the specimens of the animals and birds that were to be preserved were brought into the ark. On the last day of that crucial week, on the seventeenth day of the second month (Noah’s calendar) of the year 2370 B.C.E., Noah and his seven family members themselves entered the ark. “After that Jehovah shut the door behind him.” (Genesis 7:1-16) This action shut Noah and his family in for salvation, but the preoccupied people out for destruction. Jesus makes this a warning example for all his disciples who are living in these days of his parousia or “presence.” Far be it from us, therefore, to imitate this world of ungodly people in their selfish inattentiveness and faithless indifference! Failure to take note and to act according to the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy could signify nothing but destruction for us with the unbelieving world. The destructive “great tribulation” will catch the unwary at an unannounced, not now known day and hour.
SELECTED FOR LIFE OR FOR DESTRUCTION
9. (a) How did Jesus show that the salvation would be selective and the destruction would be selective? (b) In what way is it important to be sharp-sighted like the eagles?
9 At that time the salvation will be selective and the destruction will be selective, even with regard to close associates in secular affairs, like farming in a field or grinding grain at home. Said Jesus: “Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken along and the other be abandoned; two women will be grinding at the hand mill: one will be taken along and the other be abandoned.” (Matthew 24:40, 41) Weeks before this prophecy, when Jesus made a similar statement, his listeners asked him: “Where, Lord?” He answered: “Where the body is, there also the eagles will be gathered together.” (Luke 17:34-37) So the ones “taken along” for salvation will be the spiritually sharp-sighted ones, like eagles, who gather to the spiritual feast that Jehovah provides within his place of safety. The ones abandoned to destruction will be those who do not keep spiritually aware of the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy and who indifferently pursue their selfish way of life. These, seeking to preserve their human souls by worldly means, will lose their souls in the sudden “great tribulation.”
10. How did Jesus here emphasize that we should not be like the worldly people, self-absorbed?
10 We dare not be like the worldly people, even those of Christendom, who resemble the self-absorbed people of Noah’s days. In our interest Jesus emphasized the lesson of his illustration, saying: “Keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming [Greek: erʹkhe·tai].” (Matthew 24:42) If we believe in the Lord’s parousia since 1914 C.E., there is all the more reason for us to keep awake and on guard lest we be overtaken by the “great tribulation” wrongly occupied.
11, 12. (a) Why did Jesus not tell his disciples the precise time of his coming as Jehovah’s executional officer to the “great tribulation”? (b) Our being overtaken by the “great tribulation” as by a thief at night will mean what for us, as shown by Jesus’ illustration?
11 The Lord Jesus did not inform his disciples of the exact day and hour of the particular month of the certain year when he is coming (Greek: erʹkhe·tai) as Jehovah’s executional officer at the “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning.” He is not letting any of his disciples know of the precise time, so that they can be careless and occupy themselves with worldly pursuits until almost the last minute, and then immediately before the known precise time take on a form of godliness and busy themselves in God’s commanded service. Not so! But the failure to advise us of the precise date enforces upon us the need to stay continually on the alert. Our being overtaken by the “great tribulation” as by a thief will mean an eternal loss if we are not active in God’s pure worship. Hence, Jesus said:
12 “But know one thing, that if the householder had known in what watch [of the night] the thief was coming, he would have kept awake and not allowed his house to be broken into. On this account you too prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming [Greek: erʹkhe·tai].”—Matthew 24:43, 44.
13. (a) What is the purpose of leaving the disciples uncertain as to the precise time when the Lord comes to execute Jehovah’s vengeance? (b) So what does this behoove us to do about it?
13 What is the purpose of this leaving of his disciples uncertain as to the precise time of the Lord’s coming to execute the vengeance of Jehovah or to mete out justice upon this system of things, religious and political and social? It is to require all who claim to be Christ’s disciples to prove whether they are genuine everyday Christians all the time, continually occupied in preaching the good news of God’s Messianic kingdom and constantly exerting themselves in making “disciples of people of all the nations,” or are merely opportunists. That is, do they wait until they see that there is no longer any time to delay but now at last they must get busy as if they had always been wholly taken up with God’s approved work? Since it is “at an hour that you do not think to be it” that “the Son of man is coming,” it behooves us to be awake and active at all hours in the worship and service that our Lord approves.
“THE FAITHFUL AND DISCREET SLAVE”
14. What question did Jesus here raise, leaving his listeners to determine what they cared to be?
14 Here the Lord Jesus has got onto the subject of watchfulness and preparedness as required of his disciples. So he now raises a question that challenges each one of his disciples regarding his personal devotion to Jehovah’s Messiah and personal use of prudence, foresight and insight in service to the Messiah. Each disciple could determine for himself what kind of slave he wanted to be as he heard the Master ask the question: “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time?”—Matthew 24:45.
15. (a) Why did Jesus raise the question regarding a slave that would be faithful? (b) What question arises as to the identity of the slave, and what does Meyer’s Hand-Book on Matthew have to say about this?
15 Knowing, as he did, from the inspired prophecies of his Father’s Word that there would be rebellious apostates from the true Christian faith and service, Jesus quite properly raised this searching question that affects each disciple of his. But, by the form of his question, was he speaking about a particular man, an individual disciple of his? Or was he speaking with reference to a class of disciples? The Critical and Exegetical Hand-Book to the Gospel of Matthew, by H. A. W. Meyer, Th.D., (1884) makes a suggestion. On page 429, it says regarding the expression “who therefore” (AV): “Considering the necessity for preparedness thus indicated. The inference itself is presented in the form of an allegory, the doúlos [slave] representing the disciples whom the Lord has appointed to be the guides of His church, in which they are required to show themselves faithful (1 Cor. iv. 1 f.) and prudent, . . .” This limiting the “slave” to the twelve apostles, however, might allow for the doctrine of an apostolic succession or an episcopal succession, a succession of bishops (overseers) by the religious process of ordination.
16. As to whether the “slave” class includes the whole body of disciples, not just overseers, what does Mark 13:34-36 say?
16 However, when we view the “faithful and discreet slave” as being the whole body of disciples (including spiritual overseers), it eliminates such a thing as “episcopal succession” that history shows has worked such harm and oppression in Christendom. The way in which the disciple Mark words Jesus’ discussion of this matter indicates that the entire body of disciples is involved. Mark 13:34-36 says: “It is like a man traveling abroad that left his house and gave the authority to his slaves, to each one his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to keep on the watch. Therefore keep on the watch, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming [Greek: erʹkhe·tai], whether late in the day or at midnight or at cockcrowing or early in the morning; in order that when he arrives suddenly, he does not find you sleeping.”
17. Why was it not harsh on Jesus’ part to liken his disciples to “slaves,” but what did their slavehood make obligatory?
17 It might sound somewhat harsh that Jesus should liken his disciples to “slaves.” But there was a proper basis for this classification for them, for we read, in 1 Corinthians 6:20 and 1Co 7:23: “You were bought with a price. By all means, glorify God in the body of you people.” “You were bought with a price; stop becoming slaves of men.” Besides those words of the apostle Paul, the apostle Peter wrote to the Christians: “You know that it was not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, that you were delivered from your fruitless form of conduct received by tradition from your forefathers. But it was with precious blood, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb, even Christ’s.” (1 Peter 1:18, 19) In accord with this, this disciple of Christ opened up his second letter with this introduction: “Simon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ.” Also, Paul did not feel embarrassed when introducing himself as “Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:1) And a fleshly half brother of the Lord introduced his letter with the words: “Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ, but a brother of James.” (Jude 1) Slavehood on such a basis makes Christian faithfulness all the more obligatory.
18. Why was ancient Israel a nation of servants to Jehovah, and how did he liken all those servants to a single person?
18 No objection to Christian slavedom was raised by Christ’s disciples on account of any mistreatment as in the objection made regarding the mistreatment of the nation of Israel: “Is Israel a servant, or a slave born in the household? Why is it that he has come to be for plunder?” (Jeremiah 2:14) The ancient nation of Israel came to be “for plunder” by the Gentiles because the Israelites failed to act as faithful servants of the Most High God, Jehovah. Because of Jehovah’s redemption of them from ancient Egypt, the whole people of Israel was a nation of servants of Jehovah. When telling Pharaoh of Egypt concerning the special claim that Jehovah had upon the nation of Israel, He likened this chosen nation to a single person, saying: “Israel is my son, my firstborn. And I say to you: Send my son away that he may serve me.”—Exodus 4:22, 23.
19. How did Jehovah speak through Isaiah to the nation of Israel as a single individual slave of His?
19 More than seven centuries later, Jehovah speaks to the whole nation of Israel as if it were a single individual servant of His, saying: “But you, O Israel, are my servant, you, O Jacob, whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend; you, whom I have taken hold of from the extremities of the earth, and you, whom I have called even from the remote parts of it. And so I said to you, ‘You are my servant; I have chosen you, and I have not rejected you.’” (Isaiah 41:8, 9) To make clear that this composite “servant” is made up of many individuals, the Creator says to the nation of Israel: “‘You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even my servant whom I have chosen.’ . . . And now listen, O Jacob my servant, and you, O Israel, whom I have chosen. This is what Jehovah has said, . . . ‘Have I not from that time on caused you individually to hear and told it out? And you are my witnesses.’”—Isaiah 43:10; 44:1-8; also Isa 42:19; 44:21; 48:20; 49:3; Jeremiah 30:10.
20. When was natural Israel rejected, and who became a spiritual Israel, and why do the words of Isaiah 43:10 apply to it?
20 At the Festival of Pentecost of the year 33 C.E., fifty days from the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, the circumcised nation of natural Israel was cast off by Jehovah God. But about the years 50-52 the Christian apostle Paul wrote to his Christian brothers in the Roman province of Galatia and said: “Neither is circumcision anything nor is uncircumcision, but a new creation is something. And all those who will walk orderly by this rule of conduct, upon them be peace and mercy, even upon the Israel of God.” (Galatians 6:15, 16) The true Christian congregation was the organization that walked orderly by that rule regarding a “new creation,” and now, since natural Israel’s being rejected, the congregation of Christ’s followers was “the Israel of God.” It was a spiritual Israel. As a united congregation it was the “servant” of Jehovah God and his Christ. To it in a spiritual way Isaiah 43:10 could be directed: “‘You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even my servant.’”
21. (a) Though Jesus raised the question about him, did Jesus know who that composite “slave” was? (b) What question do we ask about when that “slave” class began?
21 Although raising the question about the “faithful and discreet slave,” Jesus was in no doubt about who this “slave” was. Jesus doubtless had in mind that “servant” of Jehovah God, that “Israel of God.” There would be no mistake in fixing upon that composite “servant.” With the price of his own blood he had bought that Israel of God as his slave, and in the illustration given in his prophecy he could refer to it as a composite “slave,” one that would prove “faithful and discreet.” Since Jesus spoke of this “slave” in his prophecy concerning the “sign of [his] presence and of the conclusion of the system of things,” did that composite “faithful and discreet slave” first come into existence during his “presence” or parousia from 1914 onward?
22. (a) Why could the “faithful and discreet slave” class not have come into existence first during Christ’s parousia? (b) Who were the “domestics” whom the “slave” had to feed?
22 No; for Jesus’ illustration portrays the lord of the “slave” as going away, as a “man traveling abroad that left his house and gave the authority to his slaves.” (Mark 13:34) So the “faithful and discreet slave” is one “whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time.” (Matthew 24:45) It was more than nineteen hundred years ago, at his ascension to heaven, that the “master” of the composite “slave” went away, leaving the “slave” with instructions to feed the “domestics.” (Matthew 28:16-20) The “domestics” were not the family of the master but were his “domestic servants” (H. A. W. Meyer) or his “household staff.” (New English Bible) They were slaves, just the same as the “faithful and discreet slave” charged with feeding them. Thus they were all a body of slaves, and were all subject to the same “master.” All were obligated to be “faithful and discreet.”
23. (a) So when did the existence of that composite “slave” begin? (b) What shows that such “slave” lived to see the “sign” of his master’s parousia?
23 Jesus’ illustration began fulfillment at his departure in the year 33 C.E., and the composite “slave” has been existing since then, namely, “the Israel of God,” the spirit-begotten, anointed congregation of Christ the membership of which will finally reach 144,000. (Revelation 7:4-8; 14:1-3) The historical records show that at the beginning of the invisible parousia of the “master” at the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 there was still a remnant of this “slave” class on earth. Consequently, the composite “slave” has lived to see the “sign” of the Master’s parousia or “presence.”
“GIVE THEM THEIR FOOD AT THE PROPER TIME”
24. What was that “slave” appointed to do, and why might “domestics” be used in having it done?
24 In this parable the “slave” was not given silver “talents” with which to do business. So here we are not talking about spiritual “talents.” The appointed “slave” was specially made responsible for giving his fellow “domestics” their food at the proper time. They needed food regularly, the same as the appointed “slave” did, in order to be strengthened for their work in the master’s house. If the master’s number of domestics was large, the appointed “slave” would not be going to all of them individually and serving each one his meals directly. More sensibly, the “slave” would see to it that the food was made available and that it was served to all the “domestics” or “household staff.” Some of the “domestics” would aid in the serving of the meals to their fellow domestics. It is not odd, then, that the domestics should be helping in the feeding of one another.
25. At what “proper time” did the “slave” class begin to serve the “food,” to whom, and with what result that day?
25 No sooner did the spiritual “food” become available “at the proper time” on the festival day of Pentecost of 33 C.E., than the appointed “slave” class proved itself “faithful and discreet” by passing out the “food” under the inspiration of God’s outpoured spirit. The congregation of about 120 disciples began talking among themselves about the “magnificent things of God.” But that small original congregation did not keep those “things” to themselves. Thousands of spiritually hungry ones, who professed to be servants of Jehovah God, gathered to listen to these “things.” The apostle Peter took the lead in feeding those spiritually hungry Jews and proselytes who were at Jerusalem for the celebrating of the now out-of-date festival of Pentecost. At heart they wanted to become “domestics” of the Messianic “master,” and they needed to be fed to become such. At this “proper time” it was that the “faithful and discreet slave” class fed them. As a result, about three thousand of them became believers, got baptized and received the gift of the holy spirit. Now they were indeed “domestics” of the Master, but still needed more food.—Acts 2:1-42.
26, 27. (a) When the feeding program was widened out, who was used to do the feeding of the prospective “domestics”? (b) This was in harmony with what command of the Master before his going away?
26 Less than three and a half years later the feeding efforts of the “faithful and discreet slave” class were extended to other prospective “domestics.” These were to be from “people of all the nations,” non-Jews, Gentiles. The apostle Peter was used to take the lead in this and was sent under divine guidance to the city of Caesarea on the eastern Mediterranean seacoast to convert the Italian centurion Cornelius and the interested ones whom he had gathered into his house. (Acts 10:1 to 11:18) Thus the door was flung open wide for Gentiles to become “domestics” of the Messianic Master, Jesus Christ. The “faithful and discreet slave” class had to go to these prospective “domestics” with the spiritual food and feed them, that they might become spiritual Israelites, members of the Israel of God. After these became spiritual “domestics,” they also had to join in the feeding work. This was in obedience to the Master’s command not long before his departure:
27 “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”—Matthew 28:19, 20.
28. (a) What lasting portion of spiritual food, still available today, was provided in the first century C.E.? (b) Do we today need the spiritual food that the “slave” class fed on at its start?
28 To give lasting aid in the spiritual feeding work, apostles and disciples of Jesus Christ were inspired by God’s spirit to write the twenty-seven authentic books of the Christian Greek Scriptures, from the Gospel of Matthew to Revelation. This luscious portion of the spiritual food served to the Christian “domestics” by the “faithful and discreet slave” class of the first century remains available to Christian “domestics” of this twentieth century. This has made for a complete Holy Bible, of sixty-six inspired books, thirty-nine in Hebrew and Aramaic and twenty-seven in first-century common Greek. The whole Bible is needed, not just the inspired Christian Greek Scriptures. When the “faithful and discreet slave” class started out in the first century, it had only the inspired Hebrew-Aramaic Scriptures as spiritual food in writing on which to feed. What the Christian “domestics” then fed on at the start, we need to feed on still today. The original congregation at Jerusalem spoke and read Hebrew. We today need translations of the Hebrew Scriptures.
29. (a) After the first century C.E., how did the feeding work by the “slave” class continue? (b) In the latter half of the nineteenth century, how did a feeding work get under way?
29 As to just how the “faithful and discreet slave” class existed and served down through the centuries after the death of the apostles of the Master Jesus Christ, we do not have a distinct historical picture. Apparently one generation of the “slave” class fed the next succeeding generation thereof. (2 Timothy 2:2) But in the latter half of the nineteenth century there were God-fearing persons who loved the spiritual food of the Holy Bible and who desired to feed on it, not merely entertain themselves by reading it as sacred literature. Bible study classes apart from the Sunday Schools and churches of Christendom were formed and progressed in the understanding of the fundamental truths of the Sacred Scriptures. The sincere unselfish ones among these Bible students were eager to share these vital portions of spiritual food with others. They had the faithful spirit of the “slave” appointed to give the “domestics” the needed spiritual “food at the proper time.” They were “discreet” in discerning that it was then the right and proper time and what were the best means for serving the food. They endeavored to serve it.
30. (a) What danger then existed with regard to the doctrine of a “ransom for all,” but what champion thereof was raised up at the “proper time”? (b) What did the editor of the Watch Tower publish about the “faithful and wise servant” back in 1881?
30 A “ransom for all” was one of those basic doctrines of the Bible, and a great danger began to loom up that this vital dish on the spiritual table of God-fearing persons would be taken away by the devotees of higher criticism and the evolution theory. At what can now be appreciated as “the proper time” there appeared an uncompromising champion of Christ’s “ransom for all.” It was in the form of a brand-new magazine for Bible lovers, Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, its first issue being that of July, 1879, with an initial edition of 6,000 copies. Its editor and publisher was a member of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Bible study group, namely, Charles Taze Russell. This studious Christian took note of Jesus’ illustration of the “faithful and wise servant” (Matthew 24:45, Authorized Version) and published his understanding of it in the Watch Tower issue of November, 1881, page 5. In the fourth- and fifth-last paragraphs of the article “In the Vineyard,” he said:
We believe that every member of this body of Christ is engaged in the blessed work, either directly or indirectly, of giving meat in due season to the household of faith. “Who then is that faithful and wise servant whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household,” to give them meat in due season? Is it not that “little flock” of consecrated servants who are faithfully carrying out their consecration vows—the body of Christ—and is not the whole body individually and collectively, giving the meat in due season to the household of faith—the great company of believers?
Blessed is that servant (the whole body of Christ) whom his Lord when he has come (Gr. elthon) shall find so doing. “Verily, I say unto you, that he shall make him ruler over all his goods.” “He shall inherit all things.”
31. (a) What must be said as to whether C. T. Russell claimed to be the “faithful and wise servant”? (b) What record proves that he served as a faithful part of that “servant” class?
31 From this it is clearly seen that the editor and publisher of Zion’s Watch Tower disavowed any claim to being individually, in his person, that “faithful and wise servant.” He never did claim to be such.a However, he did continue to edit the Watch Tower magazine down to the day of his death on October 31, 1916. He organized Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society in the year 1881 and got it incorporated under State of Pennsylvania law in December, 1884. He also authored and published the six volumes of Studies in the Scriptures during the years 1886-1904, as well as published many booklets on Bible themes and engineered the world-famous Photo-Drama of Creation, which began to be shown in January of 1914 and was thereafter displayed around the earth. He delivered innumerable public lectures all around the globe. His death occurred during his last public lecture tour across the United States of America. It cannot be successfully disputed that, till his death in 1916, he lovingly served as a part of the “faithful and discreet slave” class in giving to the Master’s domestics “their food at the proper time.”
32. After Russell’s death, how did a sectarian trend toward him develop, but when was this halted, and how?
32 Since the “slave” of Jesus’ illustration is not just one Christian man but is the anointed congregation of Christ’s disciples, the “faithful and discreet slave” class continued to serve on after the death of C. T. Russell. However, the sense of appreciation and indebtedness toward Russell moved many of his associates to view him as the fulfillment of the “faithful and discreet slave.” This view was prominently featured in the book published in July of 1917 by People’s Pulpit Association of Brooklyn, New York. This book was called “The Finished Mystery” and furnished a commentary of the Bible books of Revelation and Ezekiel and The Song of Solomon. On its Publishers page the book was called the “Posthumous Work of Pastor Russell.” Such a book and religious attitude tended to establish a religious sect centered around a man. Such a drift toward sectarianism was halted, however, by the publication early in 1927 of the articles “The Son and Servant” and “Servant—Good and Evil,” in The Watch Tower under date of February 1 and 15, 1927. These articles showed that the “servant” of Matthew 24:45 was a composite one.—Isaiah 43:10-12.
33. Did disposal of remaining stocks of Russell’s books and of The Finished Mystery leave Christ’s “domestics” with no “food”?
33 Later in the year 1927 any remaining stocks of the six volumes of Studies in the Scriptures by Russell and of The Finished Mystery were disposed of among the public. But did this leave the Lord’s “domestics” or “household staff” without spiritual “food at the proper time”? Not by any means! Why not, we shall shortly see.
THE “HAPPY” SLAVE
34. Who raised the question regarding the “faithful and discreet slave,” and who answered it, and how?
34 Did Jesus, in Matthew 24:45, raise the question regarding the “slave” that was appointed over his master’s “domestics” to feed them and how this “slave” would prove his faithfulness and discreetness? In the very next verse (Matthew 24:46) Jesus also answers that question, saying: “Happy is that slave if his master on arriving [Greek: elthòn] finds him doing so.” He proved his faithfulness to his master and his prudence by continuing to do what his master appointed him to do until his return, namely, “to give [the domestics] their food at the proper time.” This was to result in great happiness for the “slave” at his master’s return.
35. (a) Back in the first century, what turbulent period foretold in Jesus’ prophecy did the “slave” class survive, and what did John write at the end of the century? (b) Correspondingly, when the Gentile Times ended in 1914, what question arose about the “slave” class?
35 Nineteen centuries ago, when the “faithful and discreet slave” class was first formed, it survived the turbulent period of time prophetically described by Jesus in Matthew 24:4-22, Mark 13:5-20 and Luke 21:8-24. More than twenty-five years after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E., the apostle John wrote the Revelation and the Gospel and the three letters of John, all of these being written for the benefit of the “faithful and discreet slave” class and for the feeding of the “domestics” of the heavenly Master. In the year 1914 C.E. the remnant of the “faithful and discreet slave” class entered into the time of the complete or final fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy on the “sign of [his] presence and of the conclusion of the system of things.” The events that Jesus foretold to characterize the typical time period from 33 C.E. to 70 C.E. began occurring also in 1914 C.E. The question now arose as to whether the “faithful and discreet slave” class would survive the hard things that were due to occur to correspond with what befell the “slave” class between 33 and 70 C.E.
36. During World War I, how difficult did it become for the “slave” class to feed the “domestics,” but what about the Watch Tower magazine?
36 The end of the Gentile Times about October 4/5 of 1914 found World War I already in progress for more than two months. This was something new, not only for the world of mankind, but also for the Master’s “slave” class. World War I far exceeded in violence and destructiveness the foretold “wars and reports of wars” and the rise of nation against nation and of kingdom against kingdom such as marked the years after Jesus’ ascension to heaven in 33 C.E. (Matthew 24:6, 7) World War conditions and restrictions made it very difficult for the “faithful and discreet slave” class to continue on giving to the “domestics” of the heavenly Master “their food at the proper time.” The situation worsened for them until finally many of the domestics were in prison or military encampments and officials of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society and members of the editorial staff of The Watch Tower were imprisoned in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, under heavy sentences, in the summer of 1918 C.E. In spite of this The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence continued to be published, not from Brooklyn but from its original location, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
37. What was the distressing situation of the “slave” class at the end of World War I, and what question arose about it?
37 That was the distressing situation that existed when World War I ended on November 11, 1918. Easy international communications between the Watch Tower Society headquarters and its foreign branches had been broken up or impeded. Bible literature was either under official government ban or withdrawn from circulation among the people. Printers’ plates that had been used in the publishing of Bible tracts had somehow been destroyed or lost. What, now, were the prospects ahead of the Master’s “slave” class? What was this “slave” class resolved to do in the then opening postwar period?
TIME OF INSPECTION BY THE SLAVE’S MASTER
38. Appropriate to the time of inspection then due, what questions arose respecting the religious sects of Christendom and regarding Christians internationally hated?
38 Without a question of doubt, it was a real time for inspection of the Master’s “slave” class. All the facts of the case argue that the Master came for the work of inspection at the time. Such a thing was to be expected according to the prophecy of Malachi 3:1-5. Of course, the sectarian churches of Christendom had made a wartime record for themselves, an open record that had a heavy bearing on their claim to be disciples and slaves of Jesus Christ. Could they, by even their latest record down till 1919, prove that they themselves were the composite “faithful and discreet slave” class of the heavenly Lord and Master, Jesus Christ? He as Judge would indicate what his findings were by the way he thereafter dealt with the hundreds of religious sects of Christendom. Appropriately, now, our attention focuses upon those sincere, Bible-studying Christians who, during World War I, were persecuted for their obedience to Christ and who became “objects of hatred by all the nations” on account of Christ’s name. Since they also came under divine inspection, what did the Master show to be his decision on them?
39. According to Jesus’ parable, in what frame of mind did the master return home, and with what purpose in mind?
39 According to Jesus’ illustration, how did the master who appointed the slave return to his house? Was it in great rage in order to destroy the house? Or was it to enjoy his homecoming and to see how things had been going on during his absence? His return to his house was a peaceful one. He did not come to engage in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon. (Revelation 16:13-16) Rather, he wanted to make sure that his domestic affairs were in the right condition. Had his appointed slave done as he was assigned to do, namely, give to the “domestics” their “food at the proper time”? The master needed to make an inspection.
40. Since the serving of food regularly, and the right kind of food, was the issue on which to base a decision, what did the returned Master find concerning the persecuted, hated Christians?
40 The serving of food, the right sort of food, at the proper time was the issue. It had to be according to this that a decision must be rendered by the returned master. Well, then, what about that body of Christians internationally hated and persecuted? (Matthew 24:9) Down to 1919 C.E. they had endeavored to give “food at the proper time” to the “household of faith” or the “domestics” of the heavenly Master. They did this despite interference by persecutors and the warring nations. Not only was the regularity in serving the spiritual food a problem, but the quality of the food itself was to be considered. In this respect the body of hated, persecuted Christians, who always sought to be faithful slaves of Jesus Christ, met the test. During the years of the world conflict they had not joined Christendom or pagandom in preaching the war propaganda submitted by the political governments. They persisted in preaching the Bible message for the time and in advocating a Christian adherence to Bible principles for everybody.
41. When inspecting such Christians, by what was the Master not influenced, and how has his decision expressed itself since?
41 What, then, did the heavenly Master decide regarding these obedient slaves of his? He was not influenced by their unpopular, persecuted position in the war-mad world, for he had foretold such a hard experience for them during his invisible parousia or “presence.” Did he find that body of Christian slaves disregarding the unpopularity of the world and seeking to be pleasing to their Master by doing what he had appointed to be done during his absence? He must have found them so, according to the way the inspection, begun in 1919, has affected his decision since. His actions, his dealings with his Christian slaves, speak louder than words.
42, 43. (a) On the night of being betrayed, Jesus applied what prophecy to his apostles, and how was it fulfilled? (b) Three and a half years after Jesus’ enthronement in 1914, how was the same prophecy of Zechariah 13:7 being fulfilled?
42 Let us reflect a moment on the case of Jesus’ apostles. Three and a half years after being baptized in the Jordan River, Jesus Christ was betrayed in the garden of Gethsemane. He quoted from the prophecy of Zechariah 13:7 and foretold what would happen to his apostles, saying: “All of you will be stumbled in connection with me on this night, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered about.’ But after I have been raised up, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” (Matthew 26:31, 32) Jesus’ application of Zechariah’s prophecy to his apostles proved true on that same night of Nisan 14, 33 C.E., for the account in Matthew 26:56 tells what occurred after Jesus’ betrayal: “Then all the disciples abandoned him and fled.” His “sheep” were indeed scattered.
43 In parallel fashion, three and a half years after the close of the Gentile Times and Christ’s enthronement in the heavens in 1914 C.E., there came the annual celebration of the Lord’s Supper on Tuesday, March 26, 1918. The scattering of the heavenly Shepherd’s “sheep” was then nearing its climax, and The Watch Tower, under date of March 1, 1918, in its first paragraph of the leading article “In Memory of Our King,” said: “Whether the coming Memorial will be the last on earth, we do not, of course, know; but we do know that we are one year nearer the full consummation of our hopes. If it please the Lord to have us celebrate this Memorial other years, then we shall do so gladly.” The outlook blackened as prominent ones of the Watch Tower Society who had to do with the feeding of the heavenly Shepherd’s “sheep” were arrested, unfairly tried and sentenced to many years in Federal Penitentiary. It was not then appreciated that Zechariah 13:7 was being fulfilled.
44. (a) What did the bright side of Zechariah’s prophecy say and mean? (b) How was this part of the prophecy fulfilled upon Jesus’ apostles?
44 However, there was a bright side to this prophecy. It not only foretold the striking of the shepherd and the scattering of the sheep but also added Jehovah’s promise: “And I shall certainly turn my hand back upon those who are insignificant.” That meant a turning back of Jehovah’s hand upon the scattered sheep with favor. And so Jesus, after quoting from the prophecy about the scattering of the sheep, reassured his apostles by adding: “But after I have been raised up, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” (Matthew 26:32) This meant that, after his resurrection from the dead, he would regather them. This actually took place, and concerning this we read: “The eleven disciples went into Galilee to the mountain where Jesus had arranged for them, and when they saw him they did obeisance, but some doubted. And Jesus approached and spoke to them, saying: ‘All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth. Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.’”—Matthew 28:16-20.
45. How was this same prophecy fulfilled upon the faithful “slave” class in 1919, and how was this “slave” made “happy”?
45 Similarly, in the year 1919, Jehovah did “turn [his] hand back upon those who are insignificant.” (Zechariah 13:7) Jehovah’s Shepherd-King, Jesus Christ, did begin regathering the scattered “sheep.” Like the slave’s master in the illustration, the Lord Jesus did return to his house and inspect the situation within it. He did find there a “faithful and discreet slave” class that was striving, in spite of world conditions, to do as commanded, give the Lord’s “domestics” at the proper time their spiritual food, food taken from the inspired Word of God. So the Lord showed his favor by regathering them into a well-organized body of “domestics” in his house. The eight-day general convention held at Cedar Point, Ohio, on September 1-8, 1919, was a notification to all the world that the invisibly present Lord Jesus Christ was regathering his faithful “sheep.” It indicated to the world who it was that the returned Lord Jesus had found to be his “faithful and discreet slave” class. This made the “slave” class happy. It meant their being retained in the service of their heavenly Master.
46. Jesus explained that the faithful “slave” was “happy” in view of what reward?
46 The Lord Jesus explained why the state of the “faithful and discreet slave” was a happy one, for Jesus said: “Happy is that slave if his master on arriving [Greek: elthòn] finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings.”—Matthew 24:46, 47; Luke 12:42-44.
APPOINTED OVER ALL THE MASTER’S BELONGINGS
47. The promotion of the faithful “slave” lays what upon him, and how does this agree with the new capacity of his master?
47 The Lord Jesus pronounced the “faithful and discreet slave” happy because of what awaited him as a reward for his doing as his master appointed him to do. He gets a promotion, with larger responsibilities toward the master to whom he is so faithful. This is so, doubtless, because his master has also been clothed with larger responsibilities. Certainly the master does not leave his house and go on a journey as a mere touring sightseer or for his health. He had a more serious objective in mind, one that would enhance his position and increase his power and authority. And when we consider that Jesus was making an illustration here that applied to his departing to heaven to receive a kingdom after a long wait at his Father’s right hand, we know that this increase in the master’s responsibilities is implied in the illustration. The master is to be understood as returning home in a new and larger capacity. (Hebrews 10:12, 13) Hence “all his belongings” take on a larger value. So the promoted “slave” shares honors with his lord.
48. Why was the service committed to the “slave” class by their returned Master more important and honorable than the former service?
48 In the fulfillment of the prophetic illustration, the “master,” the Lord Jesus Christ, did obtain a heavenly kingdom when the “appointed times of the nations” ended in 1914 C.E. So his invisible parousia or “presence” began in that year with him as crowned reigning King on the heavenly throne. When he returned to his “household staff” in 1919 to make an inspection of all his “domestics,” he did so in a royal capacity such as he had not possessed when he was down here on earth in the first century. This put the “faithful and discreet slave” class in the service of a personage who had greater rank, authority and power than the one whom they had been serving hitherto. This made service to him much more important now. It was a higher honor now to be in his service. And for one to receive a promotion from him and thereby be entrusted with heavier responsibilities was a reward indeed!
49. The returned master’s appointing of the “slave” to be “over all his belongings” signified what for the slave, with what opportunity for him?
49 In the illustration, before the master departs, he gives a limited responsibility to the one who is expected to be a “faithful and discreet slave.” He appoints this slave over only his domestics or household staff with the obligation to give them their due food at the proper time. Consequently, when, at his return, the master appoints the approved slave “over all his belongings,” it signifies larger obligations for the promoted slave. Now he can demonstrate his faithfulness and discreetness in a larger way, for he has supervision over more things. He becomes a prized slave.
50. “All his belongings” refer to those where, and what are they?
50 In the fulfillment of the illustration, “all his belongings” over which the master appoints the worthy slave do not picture all his belongings up in heaven. The glorified Master, Jesus Christ, to whom “all authority” in heaven and on the earth has been given, is not incapable of taking care of all his “belongings” up in the invisible heavens where his holy angels are in his service. “All his belongings” over which the “faithful and discreet slave” class is appointed must refer to all the spiritual things that belong to him on earth in connection with his established heavenly kingdom. It does not mean any part in the political governments of this world as if the King Jesus Christ were now running and controlling all these man-made political institutions. Those institutions are doomed to destruction. “All his belongings” therefore mean the performing of a role on earth in the fulfillment of the prophecies that apply since the establishment of the Kingdom in the heavens in 1914 C.E.
51. How is the ambassadorship of the faithful “slave” class larger now than formerly, and what privilege and responsibility toward prophecy do they now have?
51 On inspecting the remnant of his anointed disciples in the year 1919 C.E., the reigning King Jesus Christ did find the appointed “slave” faithful and discreet in the feeding of his “domestics.” Accordingly, he appointed this “slave” class over all his belongings. Their enlarged responsible position now was that of serving in fulfillment of the now due Kingdom prophecies. All through the centuries the “faithful and discreet slave” class has been made up of those who are “ambassadors substituting for Christ,” which ambassadors make an entreaty to people to become reconciled to God through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:19, 20) Since their appointment in 1919, however, they are ambassadors of the inaugurated Messianic kingdom, with a Kingdom message that has taken on new meaning and force. (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10) Theirs is the privilege and responsibility to lend themselves as instruments for the carrying out of the Kingdom prophecies that have their finalizing fulfillment since 1914 C.E. What an honor it is for them to be used in the working out of what the book of Revelation foretells with all its marvelous symbolisms and its glorious news about the thousand-year reign of Christ!
52. How was this an elevation of position for the “slave” class, and how was this pictured in the book of Revelation?
52 All these are privileges, responsibilities, dignities and honors that have been reserved for the remnant of the “faithful and discreet slave” class and that are bestowed upon them by their heavenly Master, the reigning King Jesus Christ. No wonder they can be pronounced “happy”! Their being charged with these precious things denotes an elevation of them indeed. It resembles the picture presented in Revelation 11:11, 12 concerning the “two witnesses” killed by the enemy, whose dead bodies lay exposed in the broad way of the Sodom-like “great city” for three and a half days: “And after the three and a half days spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon those beholding them. And they heard a loud voice out of heaven say to them: ‘Come on up here.’ And they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them.”
53. (a) Why were the privileges and responsibilities of the “slave” class now greater? (b) How did the feeding of the “domestics” continue on despite the disposal of earlier publications?
53 Their being charged with such elevated privileges and responsibilities has meant more work for those making up the composite “faithful and discreet slave.” It has called for more time and attention on their part, also for the use of larger facilities for getting the work done in order that the Bible prophecies concerning this Kingdom work on earth fail not. They have also had to work over a larger field, all parts of the inhabited earth. (Revelation 14:6, 7; 10:11) Of course, the feeding program toward the Lord’s “domestics” has had to continue on. And with what a spiritual table of Scriptural food they have been fed! The disposing of any remaining stocks of the Studies in the Scriptures by C. T. Russell and of The Finished Mystery in the year 1927 produced no shortage of spiritual food for these “domestics.” New and up-to-date bound books and booklets and tracts have continued to be published since the book The Harp of God in 1921. Yes, in October of 1919 a companion to The Watch Tower was published in the form of the magazine The Golden Age (now entitled “Awake!”).
54. To the “slave” class there has been added the privilege of working for the realization of what picture in Revelation, and how has this resulted in larger responsibility and yet with assistance?
54 Added to the privileges and responsibilities of the rewarded “faithful and discreet slave” class was their working for the realization of the beautiful vision seen by the apostle John under inspiration and described by him in Revelation 7:9-17. Yes, since the year 1935 the “slave” class has seen that vision come to reality. Their blessed eyes see the numerically unlimited “great crowd” from everywhere over the earth praising and worshiping Jehovah God at his spiritual temple and crediting salvation to Him and to his Lamb, Jesus Christ. It has meant a great responsibility for the “faithful and discreet slave” class of spiritual Israelites to take care of this continually increasing “great crowd,” but they realize that these sheeplike ones “out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues” are a precious part of “all his belongings” on the earth and so they are happy to take care of the spiritual needs of these “other sheep.” In turn, this “great crowd” is assisting the “faithful and discreet slave” in taking care of all the Lord’s earthly “belongings.”
“IF THAT EVIL SLAVE”
55, 56. Why does each member of the “slave” class need to maintain his faithfulness and discreetness, in the light of what warning of Jesus?
55 The Lord Jesus Christ will continue to have a “faithful and discreet slave” class down to the end of its happy service on earth. However, each spirit-begotten, anointed member of that “slave” class today must watch his conduct that he does not prove himself unfit to continue in that highly favored class. By failure to maintain his personal faithfulness and discreetness he would become like a man who turns out to be an “evil slave.” Jesus warned of this danger when he continued on with his illustration to say:
56 “But if [ever] that evil slave should say in his heart, ‘My master is delaying,’ and should start to beat his fellow slaves and should eat and drink with the confirmed drunkards [literally, the (ones) getting drunk], the master of that slave will come [Greek: héxei] on a day that he does not expect and in an hour that he does not know, and will punish him with the greatest severity [literally, he will cut asunder him] and will assign him his part with the hypocrites. There is where his weeping and the gnashing of his teeth will be.”—Matthew 24:48-51; Luke 12:45, 46; INT.
57. (a) Does Jesus here say that the master does appoint an “evil slave” at the start, or that the appointed slave turns out bad? (b) By the way in which Jesus introduces the matter, what was Jesus showing?
57 When we take a close look at what Jesus here says, we notice that he does not here say that the departing “master” does appoint an “evil slave,” to begin with; nor does he say that the “faithful and discreet slave” turns out bad, becomes “evil.” He merely raises the question and says, “If ever” (as in Luke 12:45 and Interlinear reading in Matthew 24:48) the slave that was appointed over the domestics were to say, after his becoming “evil” at heart, that his master will yet be a long time in returning and were to start acting improperly, this is the way that his master would deal with him on returning. It would be far opposite from the slave’s being put over all his master’s belongings. So Jesus’ suggestion here is, Suppose that the appointed slave would turn out bad and act unfaithfully and imprudently, what would happen to him when his master suddenly returned? It would be just as Jesus described. Jesus does not speak of the original appointed slave’s turning out bad as a certainty or as very likely.
58. (a) How do other modern translations render the passage by means of paraphrase? (b) If the “slave” class appointed by Jesus went bad, how would this outcome leave Jesus?
58 Some modern translations of Jesus’ words bring out that thought more clearly, by a bit of paraphrase. An American Translation says: “But if he is a bad slave and says to himself, ‘My master is going to stay a long time,’ and begins to beat the other slaves, and eats and drinks with the drunkards.” (Matthew 24:48, 49) The New English Bible reads similarly. The New American Bible says: “But if the servant is worthless and tells himself,” etc. The New Testament in Modern Speech, by R. F. Weymouth, says: “But, if the man, being a bad servant, should say in his heart,” etc. The coming of an “evil slave” into existence is not definitely predicted by Jesus. He merely describes how an unfaithful and indiscreet slave would think, speak and act, and the punishment that he would receive from his master on his sudden returning. If the “slave” appointed by the Lord Jesus turned out bad, it would leave him without a “slave” to reward for his integrity. Jesus does not appoint two slave classes.
59. (a) For what kind of “slave” class did Jesus lay the foundation? (b) Did the prophecies indicate that the “slave” class was meant to turn out bad or would do so, or otherwise?
59 Jesus, before his departure nineteen centuries ago, took care not to appoint a bad, evil, worthless “slave” over his “domestics.” The record in the Christian Greek Scriptures proves that the appointed “slave” class did not turn out bad, and the prophecies thereof show that the “slave” class was not expected to turn out bad and would not do so. In his tried and proved apostles he laid the foundation for the building up of a body of faithful slaves. Revelation 7:3-8 foretells that a full 144,000 spiritual Israelites would be sealed as “the slaves of our God.” Revelation 12:17 foretells that, after the dragon Satan the Devil is ousted from heaven, he would war upon the remnant of the “seed” of God’s “woman,” who “observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” And Revelation 14:1-4 foretells that the entire number of 144,000 “that keep following the Lamb no matter where he goes” stand with him upon the Mount Zion. They “have been bought from the earth.” “These were bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.”
60. (a) Were individuals who act like “that evil slave” appointed as such by the Master? (b) What do all such individuals form in general?
60 If there is a class of spirit-begotten, anointed Christians who act according to the description of “that evil slave,” it is not the Lord Jesus who appointed them and put them in charge of his domestics or “household staff.” Individuals who were once members of the “faithful and discreet slave” class may break away for selfish reasons such as personal ambitions, power over others and self-indulgence. These self-seekers may form themselves into groups in pursuit of their goals. However, they would form one general class, separate and distinct from the “faithful and discreet” slave class.
61. What is it reasonable to say as to whether there would be cases that could be used to illustrate what Jesus said about the “evil slave”?
61 It is reasonable to believe that the Lord Jesus would not use an illustration without having some cases, or a general case, with which to furnish an example of what he meant, as far as conduct and the outcome thereof is concerned. This would illustrate, not that Jesus appointed “that evil slave” class or type of Christians, but that it really happens to unfaithful, unreliable, untrustworthy, indiscreet Christians during his invisible parousia or presence just as he described.
62. What instances of this were there, especially during World War I days, and how did this affect the “faithful and discreet slave” class?
62 There were instances of this in the ranks of the International Bible Students Association right after the death in 1916 C.E. of the editor of The Watch Tower and founder of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. There were attempts on the part of some individuals to seize power and control contrary to the provisions of the Society’s Charter. There were disagreements as to who made up the Lord’s approved organization. The power-seeking ones and those dissatisfied with sincere efforts to conduct matters according to the legal Charter and Bible principles were frustrated. They indulged in considerable ‘beating of their fellow slaves’ in a verbal way in print and by word of mouth and in judicial court. They put themselves on the side of the “confirmed drunkards” of this world, spiritually speaking, especially during those days of World War I. All of this put the stability of the organization, which was then under increasing religious persecution, to a great test. It brought a great trial upon the “faithful and discreet slave” class.
63. (a) What assurance did Jesus give that such an “evil slave” group would not break up his house of “domestics”? (b) How did this foretold action take place?
63 Jesus’ illustration gave the assurance that during his parousia or presence he would not permit any disloyal ones with the traits of “that evil slave” to break up his “household of faith” or to dominate it and turn it from its appointment to give his “domestics” their spiritual “food at the proper time.” At his time of inspection he punished with the greatest severity such an evilly disposed class. Or, according to the literal meaning of the Greek verb used in Matthew 24:51: “He will cut him in two.” (Marginal footnote) He “cut asunder” that class of misbehaving ones from the “faithful and discreet slave” class. This manifested itself in what appeared their strike for independence and withdrawing themselves and forming their own religious groups with a headship according to their liking. The outcome of their course of action is there for anyone who cares to investigate to do so.
64. With whom does the master assign those like “that evil slave” to have their portion, but with whom did he not want them to be?
64 Such a class that was “cut asunder” displayed the characteristics and suffered the consequences of “that evil slave” described by Jesus and could, at least in a limited way, be called the “evil slave” class. In his illustration Jesus said that the master “will assign him his part with the hypocrites.” (Matthew 24:51) In the corresponding illustration in which the “slave” is called a “steward,” Jesus says: “He will . . . assign him a part with the unfaithful ones.” (Luke 12:46) During his parousia or presence the Lord Jesus definitely does not care to have any professed Christians who take on the traits of “that evil slave” or “steward” within his “household staff” or “domestics.” The Christianity of such ones turns out to be hypocritical and they belong with the religious hypocrites of Christendom. They prove themselves unfaithful, not faithful, reliable, trustworthy in what the Lord appointed them to do. They belong with the unfaithful professed Christians of Christendom.
65. The weeping and gnashing of teeth on the part of those like “that evil slave” is because of what?
65 Among the hypocrites and unfaithful ones, those who display the trait of an “evil slave” find no real spiritual pleasure, and they must share the experiences of those hypocrites and unfaithful religionists. “There is where [their] weeping and the gnashing of [their] teeth will be.” (Matthew 24:51) This will not be because of repentance on their part. It is not a “sadness in a godly way” such as “makes for repentance to salvation that is not to be regretted.” (2 Corinthians 7:10) Their expressions are those of vexation and of bitter disappointment. They may still carry on in a religious way, but they miss the joy and blessing of carrying out the approved slave’s appointment “over all [the master’s] belongings.”
WARNING AGAINST OUR BEING SNARED
66. According to Luke’s account, what warning did Jesus give to his disciples in closing his prophecy on the “sign”?
66 In his prophecy on the “sign of [his] presence and of the conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus gave more warning than just this illustration of how an “evil slave” will fare. He spoke words to his apostles directly warning all his disciples against adopting the course of such an “evil slave.” According to Luke’s account of the close of Jesus’ remarkable prophecy, Jesus said: “But pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life, and suddenly that day be instantly upon you as a snare. For it will come in upon all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth. Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.”—Luke 21:34-36.
67. Now that they have been put over all the “belongings” of their returned Master, why is it highly important for those of the faithful “slave” class to heed his warning?
67 It is highly important now for individuals to heed those words, now that the “faithful and discreet slave” of the invisibly present Lord Jesus has been appointed “over all his belongings.” The day when the unparalleled “great tribulation” breaks upon antitypical unfaithful Jerusalem, Christendom, is very near. As a snare that is instantaneous in action that day will be released upon those dwelling upon the face of all the earth, and all the unwary ones will be caught during their overeating and heavy drinking and anxiousness over the selfish things of life. The snarelike “day” will bring their destruction. The members of the “faithful and discreet slave” class do not desire to share with those selfish heedless ones along with those like “that evil slave.”
68. (a) What more than just the presence of the “faithful and discreet slave” is proof of our living where the “sign” indicates that we are? (b) For what personal success should our supplications therefore be?
68 There is no reason for us to be uncertain with regard to the period of time in which we are living. Because we have done according to Jesus’ illustration of the “fig tree and all the other trees,” we know where we are and what is near. The “faithful and discreet slave” illustration is at the culmination of its fulfillment. Not just the presence of that “faithful and discreet slave” class, but the appointment of that class over all the Lord’s belongings and its taking care of all those belongings—these things are an outstanding feature of the “sign” proving that we are living in the parousia, the invisible presence of the enthroned King Jesus Christ, and at the same time living in the “conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 24:3) The day of the destruction of this “system of things,” Christendom and all, is near to being released like a snare. This fact is the thing to which to “keep awake.” “All the time” it is urgent for us to be “making supplication that [we] may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.”—Luke 21:36.
a See the book The Battle of Armageddon, published in 1897, page 613, under the heading “Dispensing of Food to the Household.—Matt. 24:45-51; Luke 12:42-46.”