How Does Jehovah Direct His Organization?
1. What information regarding Jehovah’s organization does the Bible reveal, and why is it important to us?
THROUGH the inspired Scriptures, Jehovah gives us glimpses of his marvelous heavenly organization. (Isa. 6:2, 3; Ezek. 1:1, 4-28; Dan. 7:9, 10, 13, 14) Although we cannot see spirit creatures, he alerts us to ways in which activity of the holy angels affects true worshipers on earth. (Gen. 28:12, 13; 2 Ki. 6:15-17; Ps. 34:7; Matt. 13:41, 42; 25:31, 32) The Bible also describes the visible part of Jehovah’s organization and helps us to understand how he directs it. If we truly have spiritual comprehension of these things, this will help us to “walk worthily of Jehovah to the end of fully pleasing him.”—Col. 1:9, 10.
Identifying the Visible Part
2. Since Pentecost of 33 C.E. what has been the congregation of God?
2 For 1,545 years the nation of Israel was the congregation of God. But they failed to keep the Law covenant and rejected God’s own Son. So Jehovah brought into existence a new congregation, with which he made a new covenant. This congregation is identified in the Scriptures as the “bride” of Christ, made up of 144,000 chosen by God to be united with his Son in heaven. (Eph. 5:22-32; Rev. 14:1; 21:9, 10) The first ones were anointed with holy spirit at the time of Pentecost, 33 C.E. By means of holy spirit Jehovah gave unmistakable evidence that this was now the congregation that he would use to accomplish his purpose.—Heb. 2:2-4.
3. Who today comprise Jehovah’s visible organization?
3 Today only a remnant of the 144,000 are on earth. But, in fulfillment of Bible prophecy, a great crowd of “other sheep” have been brought into active association with them. Jesus Christ, the Fine Shepherd, has merged these “other sheep” with the ones who are the remnant of his spirit-begotten followers so that they form just “one flock” under him as their “one shepherd.” (John 10:11, 16; Rev. 7:9, 10) These all make up one united organization, Jehovah’s visible organization today.
Theocratic in Structure
4. Who directs the organization, and how?
4 The Scriptural expression “congregation of the living God” makes evident who directs it. The organization is theocratic, or God-ruled. Jehovah provides direction for his people through the one that He appointed to be the invisible head of the congregation, the Lord Jesus Christ, and by means of His own inspired Word, the Bible.—1 Tim. 3:14, 15; Eph. 1:22, 23; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
5. (a) How was heavenly direction of the congregation manifest in the first century? (b) What shows that Jesus is still the head of the congregation?
5 Such theocratic direction was very much in evidence when the first members of the congregation were stirred to action by holy spirit at Pentecost of 33 C.E. (Acts 2:1-4, 32, 33) It was manifest when Jehovah’s angel directed events that led to the spreading of the good news into Africa. (Acts 8:26-39) Likewise, when Jesus’ voice gave directions at the conversion of Saul of Tarsus and again when missionary work among the Gentiles was initiated. (Acts 9:3-7, 10-17; 10:9-16, 19-23; 11:12) But needed direction was not always provided in such spectacular ways. In time there were no more voices heard from heaven, no more angels that appeared to men and no more miraculous gifts of the spirit. Yet Jesus had promised his faithful followers: “Look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things,” and the facts show that he is. (Matt. 28:20; 1 Cor. 13:8) Not only do Jehovah’s Witnesses acknowledge his headship, but it is evident that it would have been impossible for them to continue to proclaim the Kingdom message in the face of intense hostility without his help.
6. (a) Who make up the “faithful and discreet slave,” and why? (b) What assignment did he give to that “slave”?
6 Shortly before Jesus’ death he spoke to his disciples about a “faithful and discreet slave” that he as Master would entrust with special responsibility. That “slave,” according to Jesus’ description, would be on hand when the Lord departed for heaven and would still be alive at the time of Christ’s return. Such a description could not possibly fit an individual human. But it does fit Christ’s faithful anointed congregation viewed as a whole. Jesus knew that he was going to purchase them with his own blood, so he fittingly referred to them collectively as his “slave.” He gave them work to do, commissioning all of them to make disciples and then progressively to feed these spiritually, giving them “their [spiritual] food at the proper time.” Their appointment was confirmed by holy spirit at Pentecost of 33 C.E.—Matt. 24:45-47; 28:19, 20; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20; compare Isaiah 43:10.
7. (a) What enlarged responsibilities does the “slave” now have? (b) Why is our response to instruction through this channel important?
7 At the Master’s return, if the “slave” was faithfully doing his work, he would be entrusted with enlarged responsibilities. The years that followed would be the time for a global witness to the Kingdom, and a “great crowd” of worshipers of Jehovah would be gathered with a view to their preservation through the “great tribulation.” (Matt. 24:14; Rev. 7:9, 10) These, too, would need spiritual food, and it would be served to them by the composite “slave,” Christ’s spirit-anointed servants. To please Jehovah, we need to accept the instruction he provides through this channel and act in full harmony with it.
8, 9. (a) In the first century what arrangement was there for resolving questions about doctrine and giving needed direction with reference to preaching the good news? (b) What similar arrangement exists today?
8 At times, of course, questions about doctrine and procedure might arise. What then? The 15th chapter of Acts tells how an issue regarding requirements for Gentile converts was resolved. It was referred to the apostles and older men at Jerusalem, who served as a central governing body. Those older men were not infallible; they were not persons who never made a mistake. (Compare Galatians 2:11-14.) But God used them. They considered what the inspired Scriptures said on the subject at hand as well as the evidence of the operation of God’s spirit in opening up the Gentile field, and then they rendered a decision. God blessed that arrangement. (Acts 15:1-29; 16:4, 5) From that central body, individuals were also sent out to further the preaching of the good news in harmony with what the Lord himself had authorized.—Acts 8:14; Gal. 2:9.
9 In our day the Governing Body is made up of spirit-anointed brothers from various lands. It is located at the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Loyally it furthers the interests of pure worship under the headship of Jesus Christ. These brothers share the viewpoint of the apostle Paul, who, when sending spiritual counsel to fellow Christians, wrote: “Not that we are the masters over your faith, but we are fellow workers for your joy, for it is by your faith that you are standing.”—2 Cor. 1:24.
10. (a) How is it determined who will be elders or ministerial servants? (b) Why should we cooperate closely with the ones appointed to such positions?
10 This theocratic arrangement is recognized by Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide. All their local congregations work in close cooperation with it. They look to the Governing Body to provide for appointment of elders and ministerial servants to care for the smooth functioning of the congregations. On what basis are persons selected for such appointment? The requirements are clearly stated in the Bible. Both the elders who make recommendations and those authorized to do the appointing bear a serious responsibility before God to adhere to these. (1 Tim. 3:1-10, 12, 13; 5:22; Titus 1:5-9) There is no electioneering among members of the congregation nor any congregational voting. Instead, in harmony with what was done by the apostles when appointments were made in the first century, those overseers responsible for recommending, and those who later make appointments, offer prayer for the aid of God’s spirit and seek guidance from his inspired Word. (Acts 6:2-4, 6; 14:23; compare Psalm 75:6, 7.) By our response to the direction the elders give, we can show our appreciation for Christ’s loving provision of these “gifts in men” to aid us all in attaining to “oneness in the faith.”—Eph. 4:8, 11-16.
11. (a) What valuable services are performed by women within the theocratic arrangement? (b) When do they need to wear a head covering, and why?
11 The Scriptures direct that positions of oversight in the congregation be cared for by males. This in no way downgrades women, for many of them are included among the heirs of the heavenly Kingdom. By modest, chaste conduct and diligence in caring for their families, Christian women also contribute to the fine reputation of the congregation. (Titus 2:3-5) They often do much of the work in locating newly interested ones and bringing them into contact with the organization. (Ps. 68:11) But teaching within the congregation is cared for by men who are appointed. (1 Tim. 2:12, 13) And if there are no qualified men at a meeting arranged by the congregation, then a woman would wear a head covering when presiding or praying.* Thus she shows respect for Jehovah’s arrangement, even as Jesus set the example for all in submission to his Father.—1 Cor. 11:3-16; John 8:28, 29.
12. (a) What view does the Bible urge elders to take toward their position? (b) In what splendid privilege may all of us share?
12 In the world an individual who holds a prominent position is considered to be important, but within God’s organization the rule is: “He that conducts himself as a lesser one among all of you is the one that is great.” (Luke 9:46-48; 22:24-26) So the Scriptures counsel elders to be careful not to lord it over those who are God’s inheritance but, rather, to become examples to the flock. (1 Pet. 5:2, 3) Not just a select few, but all of Jehovah’s Witnesses, male and female, have the splendid privilege of representing the Sovereign of the universe, humbly speaking in his name and telling people everywhere about his Kingdom.
13. Using the scriptures cited, discuss the questions listed at the end of this paragraph.
13 We do well to ask ourselves: “Do we truly appreciate how Jehovah is directing his visible organization? Do our attitudes, speech and actions reflect that?” Reasoning on the following points can help each of us to make such an analysis:
When elders try to readjust the thinking of persons so they view matters in harmony with the rest of the organization, whose kindly concern should we discern in this? (Eph. 4:7, 8, 11-13; 2 Cor. 13:11)
When we appreciatively accept the spiritual provisions that come through the “slave” class and its Governing Body, for whom are we showing respect? But what if we were to speak disparagingly of these? (Luke 10:16; compare 3 John 9, 10.)
14. (a) By our attitude toward the theocratic organization, what do we demonstrate? (b) In this regard, what opportunities are there for us to prove the Devil a liar and to bring joy to Jehovah’s heart?
14 It is by means of his visible organization under Christ as appointed head that Jehovah is dealing with us today. So our attitude toward this organization demonstrates in a practical way the stand that we are taking on the issue of sovereignty. (Heb. 13:17) Satan contends that we are all motivated by desire for personal gain, that our chief concern is self. But if we gladly make ourselves available to serve in any way that is needed, while avoiding saying and doing things that would draw undue attention to self, we prove that the Devil is a liar. If we love and respect those who ‘take the lead’ among us, imitating their faith but refusing to be the kind of person who ‘admires personalities for his own benefit,’ we bring joy to Jehovah’s heart. (Heb. 13:7; Jude 16) By cultivating wholesome respect for Jehovah’s organization and wholeheartedly doing the work that he directs, we give evidence that Jehovah truly is our God and that we are united in his worship.—1 Cor. 15:58.
She does not need a head covering, however, when preaching from house to house, since the responsibility to preach the good news rests on all Christians. But if circumstances require that she conduct a home Bible study in the presence of her husband (her head, even though not a Christian), she should use a head covering. Also, if, as an exceptional circumstance, a dedicated male member of the congregation is present when she conducts a prearranged home Bible study, she should cover her head, but he should offer the prayer.
● What is Jehovah’s visible organization today? What is its purpose?
● Who is the appointed head of the congregation? Through what visible arrangements does he provide loving direction for us?
● What wholesome attitudes toward responsibility and persons in the organization should we cultivate?