Recognizing the Theocratic Organization for Life
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time, while you cast all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.”—1 Pet. 5:6, NW.
1. Why cannot recognizing Jehovah’s theocratic organization be stressed too strongly in view of life, unity and peace?
RECOGNIZING Jehovah’s theocratic organization cannot be stressed too strongly. If one’s life depended upon a course of action, one ought to be only too glad to take that course, even if it hurt his pride by humbling himself. That is the way it should be with acknowledging the theocratic organization and its mode of operation under God’s hand. Anarchists refuse to recognize organization and to submit to it. To say that there is no theocratic organization smacks of lawlessness or anarchism, for that would mean God has no organization and does not have his people, his flock, organized. It is more important for him to have his living, intelligent creation organized than for him to have his inanimate creations, the sun, moon and stars, organized, for the unity, harmony, peace and working effectiveness of his universe depend upon their being theocratically organized and operated.
2. As in favor of recognizing the organization, for whom were the ancient Hebrew Scriptures written?
2 The sacred Bible is God’s Book of instructions to his intelligent creatures on earth. To be able to carry out the instructions of God’s Book, or Bible, we have to recognize the theocratic organization, inasmuch as the Bible itself recognizes it, from cover to cover. In fact, the Bible is the Book of the visible theocratic organization. The words that are the first words in it that God himself wrote with his own “finger” were for a theocratic organization, that is, the “Ten Words,” the Ten Commandments, for his typical theocratic organization, the nation of Israel. (Deut. 10:1-4) All the other parts of the Torah, or the Law, from Genesis through Deuteronomy, were written by the prophet Moses at the inspiration of Jehovah God for the same organization. The fact is, all the other books of the ancient Hebrew Scriptures were written for the typical theocratic organization of Israel. But not for them only, because the Christian apostle Paul writes to the Christian congregation of God and quotes Psalm 69:9 to make this argument: “Even Christ did not please himself; but just as it is written: ‘The reproaches of those who were reproaching you have fallen upon me.’ For all the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Rom. 15:3, 4, NW) Consequently, the ancient Hebrew Scriptures from Genesis to Malachi were written primarily for the instruction of the Christian congregation of God.
3. Likewise, for whom were the Christian Greek Scriptures written, and why is it necessary for them to be organization-minded?
3 The same is true of the Christian Greek Scriptures from Matthew to Revelation. Except for the gospel account by Luke, the Acts of the Apostles, the letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon and the second and third letters of the apostle John, all the books of the Christian Greek Scriptures were written directly to the Christian congregation and primarily for the Christian congregation. But even those eight exceptions were written to persons of the Christian theocratic organization and were written to them expressly in behalf of that organization. Hence today all the twenty-seven books of the Christian Greek Scriptures belong to the Christian flock of God and not to any individual; and these books, together with the thirty-nine books of the Hebrew Scriptures, form the complete inspired Bible. In view of its unbreakable connection with the Christian theocratic organization, the Bible is organization-minded and it cannot be fully understood without our having the theocratic organization in mind. This makes it very necessary for those who humble themselves under God’s mighty hand to take account of the theocratic organization and to recognize it. All the sheep of God’s flock must be organization-minded, like the Bible.
STRUCTURE AND ACTIVITIES
4. Despite Christendom’s state, what argues that God has a visible organization, and how is it in its arrangements and methods?
4 Today we are nineteen centuries removed from the visible theocratic organization of the first century of the Christian era. During all those centuries the organization that professes to be Christian has undergone many changes and has split up into hundreds of religious sects and cults, which has resulted in a scattering of the religious flock. The religious disorganization in Christendom has therefore often taken the form of violent religious wars and persecution of smaller or newer sects. To have Christian theocratic organization we must slash through the religious traditions of Christendom and go back to the apostolic instructions and arrangements of the first century. Today on earth God has his flock of sheep under his Right Shepherd, and so he must and he does have a visible organization now under His mighty hand. In proof that it is theocratic, just as the apostles of Jesus Christ were, this organized flock of his sheep is apostolic in its arrangements and its methods of activity. At the same time it is adjusted to the needs of our modern day for God’s prescribed service.
5. What does it not mean for the organization today to be apostolic?
5 The organization’s being apostolic does not mean it has living “apostles,” so called, or even “apostolic successors.” It could not have such, because the twelve apostles of the Lamb Jesus Christ were foundation stones of the Christian congregation and belonged to its beginning, founding, or infancy. (Rev. 21:14, 19) By the close of the first century all the authentic apostles were dead, and they made no appointment of successors. The inspired Bible speaks against so-called “apostolic successors,” who, like Simon Magus of Samaria, greedily want to exercise the power of the apostles over God’s flock. “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself keeps transforming himself into an angel of light. It is therefore nothing great if his ministers also keep transforming themselves into ministers of righteousness.” Such ambitious self-exalting men fail to recognize the theocratic organization and to humble themselves under God’s mighty hand.—2 Cor. 11:5, 12-15; Acts 8:9-24, NW.
6, 7. (a) When and with how many did the visible theocratic organization start out, and how many were added the first day? (b) What does the Record say concerning their apostolic organization and activities?
6 A.D. 33 the Christian congregation started out as a visible theocratic organization of one hundred and twenty members on the festival day of Pentecost in an upper room in Jerusalem. On that occasion God’s holy spirit was poured out through his Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, upon that little flock of faithful followers of Jesus. Due to that outpouring of holy spirit with miraculous manifestations upon that little congregation an impressive witness was given to Jehovah God and his exalted Son Jesus Christ by the preaching of Peter and the other apostles under the power of the outpoured holy spirit. Three thousand in the crowd of listeners accepted the message and were baptized in water in evidence of their becoming believers in Jesus Christ as the Son, Lord and Christ of Jehovah God. Concerning their apostolic organization and activities we read this in the Record: “Therefore those who embraced his word heartily were baptized, and on that day about three thousand souls were added. And they continued devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to association together, to taking of meals and to prayers.”—Acts 2:1-42, NW; Ac 1:15.
7 In further comment upon their activities the Record goes on to say: “And day after day they were in constant attendance at the temple with one accord, and they took their meals in private homes and partook of nourishment with great rejoicing and sincerity of heart, praising God and finding acceptance with all the people. At the same time Jehovah continued to join to them daily those being saved.” (Acts 2:46, 47, NW) The congregation at Jerusalem kept up this course even after persecution by the unbelieving Jews burst forth upon them: “And every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus.”—Acts 5:42, NW.
8. So, from the Record, what did the procedure in those days include?
8 From this Record we note that the procedure in apostolic days included the following: Devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles, which teaching was backed up by the Hebrew Scriptures, from which they made many quotations; associating together as fellow believers to form a new congregation separate from the Jewish synagogue; taking meals together in private homes with rejoicing and sincere hearts. This was in connection with their preaching from house to house, for, as they taught and declared the good news about Jesus Christ, those who accepted this spiritual food would share material food with them for their physical refreshment. (Gal. 6:6) Besides this house-to-house preaching, they held public gatherings in the courts of the temple, attending there day by day in order to reach the crowds thronging the temple with the message. So they were active continually in praising Jehovah God and declaring the good news about Jesus Christ both privately and publicly. This method was successful, for Jehovah added believers to their number daily.
9. Who, today, devote themselves to the teaching of the apostles, and how so?
9 What was theocratic back there is theocratic today. What succeeded back there because of its theocratic nature should succeed today. That is why Jehovah’s witnesses have gone back to the time of the apostles by trying to imitate them. This is one way of devoting ourselves today to the apostles’ teaching: copy their methods. As for their oral teaching, we do not have the apostles personally in the flesh with us today, but we do have their writings, together with the inspired writings of their fellow disciples, such as Mark, Luke, James and Jude. By closely following these inspired Christian writings and refusing the religious traditions of uninspired men we today devote ourselves to the written teaching of the inspired apostles. This written teaching instructs us on how the true Christian congregation today should be organized and conducted with qualified overseers and ministerial servants, these being appointed by the governing body of the entire Christian congregation throughout the earth. As in the apostolic days Jehovah’s witnesses associate together in their places of meeting, doing so regularly and not falling into the bad habit of forsaking the gathering of themselves together, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as they behold the day for the battle of Armageddon drawing near. The temple of Jerusalem was destroyed A.D. 70, and Jehovah’s witnesses today cannot attend there for the purpose of holding public meetings, but they do hold public meetings today wherever they can, indoors and outdoors.—Acts 14:23; 20:28-35; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; Heb. 10:25.
10. What specially prominent feature of apostolic days marks the activities of Jehovah’s witnesses today?
10 One specially prominent feature of apostolic days marks the theocratic activities of Jehovah’s witnesses today. What? Their preaching of the good news from house to house and when they are being entertained in private homes, as at large conventions in certain cities corresponding to Jerusalem, the ancient convention city. That the apostles themselves were not above the theocratic requirement to preach from house to house the apostle Paul showed, saying to the older men of the Ephesus congregation: “I did not hold back from telling you any of the things that were profitable nor from teaching you publicly and from house to house. But I thoroughly bore witness both to Jews and to Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus. . . . I do not make my soul of any account as dear to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry which I received of the Lord Jesus, to bear thorough witness to the good news of the undeserved kindness of God.”—Acts 20:20, 21, 24, NW.
11. From where has objection to this activity come, and why?
11 So penetrative has this house-to-house method been in reaching most of the people with God’s message in this twentieth century that the religious clergy of Christendom have untheocratically objected, protested and caused the matter to come before political, police and judicial authorities of the land, just as the Jewish clergy did in the days of the apostles. As a result, the witnesses of Jehovah have had to fight in the courts of law in order to hold open this avenue of preaching the message of God’s kingdom. In lands where Jehovah’s witnesses have been banned or where the state religion does not allow their holding public lectures, they imitate the apostles by theocratically going from house to house, quietly preaching without exciting public attention.
12. To be theocratic today, on what foundation must we rest?
12 Bringing ourselves into agreement with the apostolic methods and arrangements of the first century is a part of our recognizing the theocratic organization today for the sake of our lives. We know that the New Jerusalem is pictured as having twelve foundation stones and on them the “twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (Rev. 21:14, 19, NW) We today, to be theocratic, must still rest upon this twelvefold foundation of these Christian apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the foundation cornerstone on which all those apostolic foundations rested.—Eph. 2:20-22.
13. To render complete recognition of the organization today, what other feature of it must we take recognition of, and since when?
13 But now in this “time of the end” of this world there is one other feature of the theocratic organization that we must recognize. What? The “faithful and discreet slave.” Jesus, in his detailed prophecy on evidences that would mark the “time of the end” when he would be invisibly present, said he would then appoint such a “faithful and discreet slave.” “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings.” (Matt. 24:45-47, NW) The world events since A.D. 1914, and particularly the events among Jehovah’s people since A.D. 1918, give visible evidence that the Lord Jesus Christ, having come into his kingdom, has come to God’s spiritual temple to carry on the final judgment at the “house of God” and, in expression of his judgment work, he has found a “faithful and discreet slave” and has appointed him over all his belongings, all his visible Kingdom interests on earth. (1 Pet. 4:17) Hence in order to render complete recognition of the theocratic organization today, we have to take recognition of this “faithful and discreet slave” that the returned Lord and Judge has appointed over all his belongings. We cannot sidestep this.
14. Who is this “slave,” and to whom does he now serve the food?
14 For years it used to be thought that this “faithful and discreet slave” was one man or was the responsible office to be filled by an individual man. But is the visible theocratic organization dependent upon any single man for spiritual “food at the proper time”? No; and now in the light of accomplished prophecies we correctly see that the appointed “slave” is a class, the remnant or the remaining ones of the anointed, spiritual followers of Jesus Christ who are called to be joint heirs with him in his heavenly kingdom. Today, in administering all the belongings of the Lord Jesus on earth, this “slave” class serves the “food at the proper time,” not only to the members of the anointed remnant, but now also to a “great crowd” of the Lord’s “other sheep,” the faithful believers who await an earthly destiny in the new world. Since the Lord has appointed the “slave” class to administer all his visible belongings, the Lord Jesus as the Right Shepherd does not feed his sheep on earth today by any other than this “slave.”
15. According to what example does the “slave” class have a governing body, and whom does it include?
15 Since the “faithful and discreet slave” is a class, its continued faithfulness and discreetness do not depend upon the life and conduct of any single individual. Since the “slave” class is made up of many anointed Christians, it must have a governing body. It does, just as the theocratic congregation of apostolic times had a governing body. Peter did not claim to be that governing body. Neither did Paul. Both of these apostles recognized the governing body as including more men than themselves, and they submitted their matters of dispute to the decision of the governing body. The twelve apostles of the Lamb being a mere dozen, not all the spiritually qualified men of their day could be included among such special apostles. And so the governing body took in, besides the twelve apostles of the Lamb, other older men of the theocratic organization at Jerusalem, such as James, the half brother of Jesus Christ. (Acts 15:1-29; Gal. 1:18, 19; Jas. 1:1) Naturally, the governing body of the “faithful and discreet slave” class today does not include any of the twelve apostles, now long absent from the earthly scene, but it does follow the written instructions of those apostles and the other older men associated with them in writing the Christian Greek Scriptures. The theocratic governing body of today includes older, spiritually qualified men of the anointed remnant.
16. With what is the governing body closely associated, and how is its extension throughout the earth carried on?
16 Being adapted to modern conditions and requirements and being obliged to render to Caesar Caesar’s things, the visible theocratic organization today has a legally established service agency, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, incorporated in 1884 under the laws of the state of Pennsylvania, United States of America. (Matt. 22:21) It is with this legal corporation that the governing body of the “faithful and discreet slave” class is closely associated for administrative, legal and publishing purposes, to see that “this good news of the kingdom” is preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations. (Matt. 24:14, NW) As the Kingdom preaching has expanded to 150 lands already, this legal corporation has branch offices in over sixty of such lands. Properly and necessarily the branches are given financial support by the original legal corporation. The Christian men put in charge of such branches are dedicated witnesses of Jehovah and are called “branch servants.” Branch servants are just that, “servants,” not bosses. All considered, our recognizing the theocratic organization today must take in our recognizing all these arrangements and provisions of Jehovah God through Jesus Christ for our day. In proof of our loyal recognition of such, we should strive to co-operate faithfully with the theocratic organization and its appointments and operating parts.
17. Since when does Isaiah 32:1, 2 apply, and how?
17 Since God established the Kingdom in the heavens A.D. 1914, and particularly since 1919, the prophecy of Isaiah 32:1 (RS) has applied concerning the enthroned Jesus and his appointed servants on earth: “Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes [sarimʹ, Hebrew] will rule in justice. Each will be like a hiding-place from the wind, a covert from the tempest, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.” Since “princes” or sarimʹ here means, not worldly princes, but principal theocratic men, those who are the appointed chief ones in a class or group even down to a group of ten, the “faithful and discreet slave” class would be occupying a princely position respecting the “other sheep” of Jehovah’s witnesses. The branch servants, whether members of the anointed remnant or members of the “other sheep” class, would be theocratic princes or sarimʹ in the territory under the respective branches. Any male servant appointed by the governing body and ‘ruling in justice’ among ten of Jehovah’s witnesses would be a theocratic prince or sar. Of all of Jehovah’s witnesses on earth the theocratic sarimʹ especially should recognize the theocratic organization today operating.
18. On what basis are any retained in service as sarimʹ, and what does their ‘ruling in justice’ require?
18 Jehovah’s theocratic King, Jesus Christ, retains in his service on earth only faithful and obedient “princes.” For them to be kept in special service the sarimʹ must recognize their Lord, Jehovah’s enthroned King, and must humble themselves under his royal hand and must rule in justice. Ruling in justice means that the sarimʹ must do right by their King Jesus Christ, must do right by the King’s “faithful and discreet slave” that has been appointed over all his earthly belongings, and must do right by the King’s other sheep, his subjects. The position of sarimʹ of the King is not the place for men to follow the custom that unfortunately held true in Israel during the period of the judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel. What was right in his own eyes was what each one was accustomed to do.” (Judg. 21:25, NW) Being examples to those among whom they serve, the sarimʹ themselves should carry out the organization instructions. This means they must carefully inform themselves on such instructions—priests of ancient Israel even used to memorize their Bible instructions—and must study them over. In that way they will get the understanding of their meaning and also of their implications, thus being able to take care of many things that are not expressly stated in the instructions. After that, to rule in justice, they will endeavor to be always in accord with organization instructions.
19. Taking the branch servant, for instance, what is the main reason for him to recognize the organization and submit to instructions?
19 In the case of a branch servant, for instance, he will bear in mind that the branch of a tree or vine does not bear up the main stock, but the stock is what sustains all the branches. The branch cannot operate sundered from the main stock; it must abide in it if it is to produce fruit. So it is with a branch organization. It is merely the agency of the legal corporation that provides the funds and other means of operation, and so it is financially dependent upon the original corporation. Such financial dependence in itself imposes upon the branch servant to do what he is told to do; for the funds-supplying Society is responsible to spend money on the branch and it must account to God for how it uses its funds. The theocratic contributors to the Society hold it responsible to spend the money in the wisest, most effective way. Even in this world such a procedure is counted as normal, good, sound business practice. Accordingly the branch servant must obey organization instructions and must strive to be effective in his place of service in order to bring about the most economical operation of the branch with the best and biggest results. But since he is one of the King’s sarimʹ) there should be a motive much higher than that of financial obligation and dependence, for our organization is not commercialistic. The higher motive springs from the fact that the organization is theocratic, subject to Jehovah God and ruled by him through his reigning King Jesus Christ. This is the main reason for all those dedicated to God to recognize the organization, to be submissive to it and to prove loyal to it.