Kingdom Missionaries, the Bringers of the Best News
1. What would make the best news today?
EVERYBODY likes to get good news. The bringer of the good news is therefore a welcome person to the joyful receiver. Today, however, in this confused world, what is good news for one may not be good news for another. Consequently news that would please all who love life and their fellow man regardless of nationality, race or language—would that not be wonderful news, the best news? Indeed it would be; and, unbelievable as it may sound, there is such good news to be published everywhere today.
2. What are those who have such news doing with it, and what would they be called according to the ancient Greeks?
2 Those who already have it find it too good to keep to themselves. Unselfishly and joyfully they are passing it on to others in all the earth, to all tribes, nations, races, colors and languages, because it is for all. They are what the Greeks of times before the Christian era would call “evangelists,” or those who “evangelize.” For example, in the Greek Septuagint, produced before the Christian era, the word “evangelize” occurs twice in the Greek text in the following passage: “I am present, as a season of beauty upon the mountains, as the feet of one preaching glad tidings of peace, as one preaching good news; for I will publish thy salvation, saying, O Sion, thy God shall reign.” (Esaias Isa 52:6, 7, Bagster) To avail ourselves of this universal good news, the best news, we desire to identify these evangelizers and their source of news.
3. What did pagan Greeks call Zeus as a news source but how long-lasting is the good news of evangelists today, and why so?
3 The ancient pagan Greeks gave their chief god Zeus (or Jupiter) the title Evangélios, meaning “Giver of good news.” (Orations [53.3] of Ælius Aristides, of the 2d century A.D.) Whatever good news Zeus ever gave the Greeks perished with him, for Zeus is no more. He proved to be a mere pagan false god, not immortal. The evangelists of the best news in this modern day of international news gathering and communication are not resorting to such a false, unreliable news source as the pagan god Zeus Evangélios. They have an everlasting news source, whose forecasts for the future have proved one hundred percent correct. He is the source of “everlasting good news,” good news that was first proclaimed thousands of years ago and that yet lives on to bring good cheer and hope to unnumbered multitudes of people today.
4. Whom did John see bearing everlasting good news, and is it reasonable that God should be the source of good news?
4 Nineteen centuries ago a news writer, with prophetic forevision of the present time of judgment upon the nations, wrote: “I saw another angel flying in midheaven, and he had everlasting good news to declare as glad tidings to those who dwell on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people, saying in a loud voice: ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived, and so worship the one that made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.’” (Rev. 14:6, 7) It is only reasonable that the God who made all the good things that we intelligent creatures enjoy should also make good news and should thus be the source of good news or glad tidings.
5. What was that angel flying in midheaven bearing, and, because of the source, why can the good news be everlasting?
5 In the prophetic vision that the Christian apostle John saw, the “angel flying in midheaven” was a bringer of good news or was an evangelist. Authentic history tells us that there were actually angel evangelists. Like the angel flying in midheaven, those angel evangelists got their good news from somewhere. From where? From the one universal source of news, God the Creator. He has sustained all his creation till now, for he is the everliving God, immortal. For this reason also he can be the source of everlasting good news, hence news of the greatest value even today.—Jer. 10:10-12.
6. What is to be said as to whether God is an evangelist, and in what way is the good news everlasting?
6 Does this mean that God the Creator is an evangelist? Yes, the greatest of the evangelists. He is the divine Evangelist; and, inasmuch as he is the original Source of good news, he conducts a universal evangelistic organization and sends out evangelists on missions to make the hearts of men of good will glad. The good news from him is “everlasting,” because, although he gave it out thousands of years ago and early in human history, it was prophetic. It foretold the good things that were to come to fulfillment at this late date. God’s news releases have been recorded and filed in the sacred Book, the Bible.
7. What good news was released in Eden, and why will all men of good will be freed shortly by uncensored truth?
7 Surely, every righteous person should declare the following to be a good news-release: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed [or, offspring] and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.” (Gen. 3:15) Those words were spoken by the original Source of good news to the original source of lying propaganda. That is to say, they were spoken by Jehovah God, the Creator of man and paradise, to the Devil, who used the serpent in the garden of Eden to tell a slanderous lie to our first human mother, Eve. The news release stated that the “lying propaganda” source was one day to be crushed out. Yes, this false news intelligence was to have his head stepped on and crushed, because he is like a deadly poisonous snake. Evidently the devilish source of this lying propaganda has not yet been stamped out, because the earth is more full of lying propaganda, slander and blackmail than ever before in man’s history. Still it has not smothered God’s Edenic release of good news. To the contrary, the Seed of God’s woman has been sent on a mission to stamp out the lying newsmonger, the original Serpent, Satan the Devil. Soon all men of good will who live will know the truth without distortion and contradiction, and this truth will set them free. (John 8:32) There will then be no censorship of the truth for selfish reasons.
8. What good news was released later to Abraham, and how did Paul comment upon it?
8 Here is another important bit of good news. It was released over two thousand years after Jehovah released the above evangel or good news in the garden of Eden. The Christian apostle Paul makes the following comment upon this later news release and refers to the faithful patriarch Abraham as he does so. He says: “Abraham ‘exercised faith in Jehovah, and it was counted to him as righteousness’. Surely you know that those who adhere to faith are the ones who are sons of Abraham. Now the Scripture, seeing in advance that God would declare people of the nations righteous due to faith, declared the good news beforehand to Abraham, namely: ‘By means of you all the nations will be blessed.’ Consequently, those who adhere to faith are being blessed together with faithful Abraham.” (Gal. 3:6-9) The blessing of all the nations is good news, evangel.
9. How is the declaring of people righteous due to faith a blessing, and why therefore are faithful news recording and reporting vital?
9 When God declares certain people of the nations to be righteous, that is a blessing. It is therefore good news, for this declaring of people of the nations righteous or justifying them lays the basis for them to gain eternal life in happiness. In this particular case, God’s declaring of people of the nations to be righteous was to be due to faith in God, faith in God’s promise. Men are called upon to prove such faith in God now. So this declaring of them to be righteous because of their faith occurs now, before actual human perfection comes to men. Since this faith must be in God’s evangelistic promise, we can appreciate how valuable it is to have a true news source and to have faithful, undistorted news recording and reporting. Men need to have faithful evangelists sent on a mission by the original Evangelist, Jehovah God. Putting confidence in lying propaganda enslaves us to liars and leads to unrighteousness and death.
10. In Eden what was the argument of the lying propagandist, and what did Eve lose by not believing in God’s law?
10 Look at what a blessing the declaring of people with faith in God’s promise to be righteous means to them. In the garden of Eden the lying propagandist, Satan the Devil, slandered Jehovah God the Creator. The Devil told the woman Eve that God could not punish her by taking away the life that she had and that God was not the sole Judge of what was right and what was wrong, but that man and woman could live by their own standards of judgment of what was good and what was bad. The Devil said by means of the serpent: “You positively will not die. For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.” (Gen. 3:4, 5) Eve quit believing or having faith in God’s law. She put faith in the Devil’s lying propaganda. For this reason she lost righteousness and put herself in the way of death, for she was in transgression against God.
11. How did Adam show a lack of faith in God, and what has resulted to all of us because of this?
11 After she ate, Eve persuaded her husband Adam to eat some of the forbidden fruit. Adam knew better than to do so, yet for the sake of Eve he did not expose and denounce the Serpent’s lying propaganda but let himself be blackmailed over onto the slanderer’s side. He joined the side of God’s slanderer and showed lack of faith in God’s ability to provide help in this crisis. For his lack of faith and obedience he lost his righteousness and entered into transgression. After God called Adam and Eve to judgment and gave out his first good news-release (Genesis 3:15), he pronounced Eve and Adam unrighteous. So he sentenced them to death, to loss of life, to a return to the dust out of which Adam had been taken. From Adam and through Eve all of us have inherited unrighteousness, hence a condemned condition, a subjection to death. The news commentator, the apostle Paul, reports: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned . . . death ruled as king from Adam.”—Rom. 5:12-14.
THE DIVINE EVANGELIST
12. By what promise was Abraham’s faith specially tested?
12 The patriarch Abraham was the twenty-first man in the line of descent from the sinner Adam. (Luke 3:34-38) Naturally, then, he inherited unrighteousness from Adam. But he also got ahold of God’s news release in Eden concerning the Seed of God’s woman, who was to bruise the Serpent in the head. Abraham accepted and believed this evangelistic news release. However, when God offered to tie him in with this promised Seed, it put Abraham’s faith in Almighty God to a test. Acting again as the great Evangelist, Jehovah God said to him: “I shall make a great nation out of you [by giving you a seed or offspring] and I shall bless you and I will make your name great; and prove yourself a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you, and him that calls down evil upon you I shall curse, and all the families of the ground will certainly bless themselves by means of you.” (Gen. 12:1-3) Such a promise called for faith.
13. In giving this promise, in what capacity was God acting, and how were the nations to be blessed by him?
13 The news commentator Paul says that by giving this promise Jehovah God, the Author of sacred Scripture, “declared the good news beforehand to Abraham.” God was thus acting as an Evangelist or Giver of good news, glad tidings, to all families and nations. First of all, this good news meant that now, before the Seed of God’s woman would bruise the Serpent in the head, God would do to others as he did to Abraham. What? Declare people who were of nations not descended from Abraham to be righteous because of their faith in God. This would be a blessing to them, for it would be the basis for them to gain eternal life in God’s coming righteous world.
14. Because of faith, how was Abraham blessed, and what will he have shortly?
14 Abraham had been some time in the Promised Land of Canaan when Jehovah God told him to look up to the uncountable stars and said: “So your seed [offspring] will become.” Did Abraham believe this good news? The sacred Record answers: “And he put faith in Jehovah, and [Jehovah] proceeded to count it to him as righteousness.” (Gen. 15:3-6) Thus, even before Abraham was circumcised in the flesh, he was declared righteous. Because of his faith in God as demonstrated by his righteous works, he was blessed, declared righteous. Because of this faith the patriarch Abraham, now dead for 3,802 years, will shortly have a resurrection from the dead to life on earth under God’s kingdom. (Jas. 2:21-23; Rom. 4:9-14) Thus Jehovah God rewards those who believe in him as the great Evangelist and who prove their faith by acting upon the good news that he declared beforehand to Abraham.
THE SON OF GOD A MISSIONARY EVANGELIST
15. Whom besides humans has God used as evangelists, and how did Gabriel state this fact?
15 It may strike us as a new thought, yet it is an old fact that the great Evangelist, Jehovah God, has used holy angels of heaven as evangelists or bringers of good news. Before God sent his only-begotten Son to this earth he provided a forerunner for his Son. This forerunner was John the Baptist, the son of the aged Levite priest Zechariah. In this case God made his angel Gabriel an evangelist, a bringer of good news. In the year 3 (B.C.) Gabriel appeared to childless priest Zechariah in the holy compartment of Jehovah’s temple at Jerusalem. Gabriel told him that he was to have a son by his aged wife Elizabeth and that he was to call his name John. To state his evangelistic errand, Gabriel said to doubting Zechariah: “I am Gabriel, who stands near before God, and I was sent forth to speak with you and declare the good news of these things to you.”—Luke 1:8-19.
16. How did Gabriel impart still greater good news?
16 Gabriel was entrusted with still greater good news when, about six months later, he appeared to Mary, a Jewish virgin of the tribe of Judah. He gladdened her heart by telling her that she had been chosen to become the mother of the Son of God. (Luke 1:26-38, 46-56) Nine months later an angel was selected to be an evangelist announcing the actual human birth of God’s promised Son at Bethlehem.
17. How did this angel disclose his office as evangelist?
17 Of this angelic bringer of good news from the great Evangelist we read: “There were also in that same country shepherds living out of doors and keeping watches in the night over their flocks. And suddenly Jehovah’s angel stood by them and Jehovah’s glory gleamed around them, and they became very fearful. But the angel said to them: ‘Have no fear, for, look! I am declaring to you good news of a great joy that all the people will have, because there was born to you today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in David’s city. And this is a sign for you: you will find an infant bound in cloth bands and lying in a manger.’” What good news that was! Yes, for the Record continues on to say: “And suddenly there came to be with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying: ‘Glory in the heights above to God, and upon earth peace among men of good-will [men whom he approves].’”—Luke 2:8-14, margin.
18. How only would the birth of Jesus prove to be good news, and what did his forerunner become?
18 However, the birth of this Son of God would be no specially good news unless he turned out to be something of benefit to all the people, so that they would have great joy. As a carpenter in the obscure town of Nazareth Jesus the Son of God brought no special joy to all the people, not even to the people of his earthly mother Mary. But things changed for Jesus after his forerunner, John, became an evangelist, a preacher of good news. “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’” (Matt. 3:1, 2) God’s Word calls the preaching of God’s kingdom evangelizing or the bringing of good news. Hence the news reporter Luke says concerning the evangelist, John the Baptist: “Therefore he also gave many other exhortations and continued declaring good news to the people.”—Luke 3:18, NW; Yg; Ro; AT.
19. Why did John draw back from baptizing Jesus, and by his anointing what did Jesus become?
19 John the Baptist declared: “The one coming after me is stronger than I am.” “Behind me there comes a man who has advanced in front of me, because he existed before me.” (Matt. 3:11; John 1:30) This was why John at first drew back from baptizing Jesus and Jesus had to assure John that it was the right thing for John to do. In proof of this, Jesus was anointed with God’s spirit from heaven. After Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters of the Jordan River, “he saw descending like a dove God’s spirit coming upon him. Look! also, there was a voice from the heavens that said: ‘This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.’” (Matt. 3:13-17) The anointed Jesus could not be stronger than John the Baptist and at the same time be less of an evangelist than John. So Jesus did become an evangelist, one commissioned and sent out by Jehovah God, who anointed him.
20. How did Jesus testify to his fellow townsmen of his change of occupation to that of evangelist?
20 To testify of his change of occupation from that of carpenter to that of evangelist, Jesus came back to Nazareth and stood up to read in the town synagogue. The prophecy of Isaiah (61:1, 2) had foretold his coming as a bringer of good news, and on this occasion that book of prophecy was handed to Jesus. “And he opened the scroll and found the place where it was written, ‘Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor, he sent me forth to preach a release to the captives and a recovery of sight to the blind, to send the crushed ones away with a release, to preach Jehovah’s acceptable year.’ With that he rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were intently fixed upon him. Then he started to say to them: ‘Today this scripture that you just heard is fulfilled.’”—Luke 4:14-22.
21. In spite of the Nazarenes, what did Jesus prove himself to be, and what did he train his disciples to be?
21 In proof that the good news is not accepted by all people as good, the Nazarenes grew offended at what Jesus preached. They threw him out of town and even tried to kill him. (Luke 4:22-30) But Jesus stuck to his commission as evangelist and went elsewhere, seeking those who appreciated good news from God. The Record tells us: “It came to pass afterwards, that he traveled through the cities and towns, preaching and evangelizing the kingdom of God; and the twelve were with him.” (Luke 8:1, Dy; Mark 1:14, 15) Jesus was an evangelist of God’s kingdom. He also taught and trained his twelve apostles to be evangelists of this kingdom. He sent them forth as missionaries with these instructions: “As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’”—Matt. 10:1-7.
22. For doing what did Jesus’ enemies have him put to death, and how was he enabled to continue his evangelistic work and through whom as leaders?
22 Jesus died innocently for proclaiming good news from God or for being a faithful evangelist. The enemies of the good news of God’s kingdom had him killed. They accused him of wanting to make himself king in opposition to Caesar of Rome. (John 19:12-16) But Almighty God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day and had him return to heaven forty days later to sit down at the right hand of God. From there Jesus was to continue his evangelistic work, directing his evangelists on earth. Down here his twelve apostles took the lead in the Kingdom publicity work. The religious enemies of the good news kept up a bitter, violent opposition; but concerning Jesus’ apostles we read: “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.
23. Were the apostles the only evangelists, and when did the answer to this question become manifest?
23 The apostles were not the only evangelists of the Christian congregation. All the dedicated, baptized members of the congregation who had possession of the good news were under responsibility to pass it on to others, to spread the good news and thus to act as evangelists. This fact became manifest, even at a time when one would think that a news agent would quit circulating news that got him into trouble, namely, at a time of religious persecution.
24. In proof of this, what does the Record say regarding the persecuted ones?
24 This was after the Jews stoned Stephen, one of seven men who were appointed to serve as special assistants to the apostles in the congregation at Jerusalem. Concerning this evangelizing under fierce persecution it is written: “Saul [of Tarsus], for his part, was approving of the murder of him. On that day great persecution arose against the congregation which was in Jerusalem; all except the apostles were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. But reverent men carried Stephen to the burial and they made a great lamentation over him. . . . However, those who had been scattered went through the land declaring the good news of the word. Philip, for one, went down to the city of Samaria and began to preach the Christ to them. But when they believed Philip who was declaring the good news of the kingdom of God and of the name of Jesus Christ, they proceeded to be baptized, both men and women.” (Acts 8:1, 2, 4, 5, 12) In this case, not the apostles who remained at Jerusalem, but the scattered disciples did the evangelizing. They all had the honor and joy of being evangelists.
25. Who were the Christians that were designated “evangelists,” and how was the gift of these foretold?
25 All persons who become dedicated, baptized followers of the leading Evangelist Jesus Christ copy him and become evangelists and are correctly spoken of as such. Yet there were those in the first-century congregation who were especially chosen and designated as such. These men who were specially distinguished by the title “evangelist” were gifts from the Lord Jesus Christ after he had been resurrected from the dead and had ascended to heaven to the right hand of the great Evangelist Jehovah God. The giving of these living gifts in the form of men had long been foretold, at Psalm 68:18, in these words: “You have ascended on high; you have carried away captives; you have taken gifts in the form of men, yes, even the stubborn ones, to reside among them, O Jah God.”
26. With what argument does Paul make the application of this prophecy?
26 The good news commentator, Paul, makes the application of this prophecy, saying to the Christian congregation or the “body of the Christ”: “Now to each one of us undeserved kindness was given according to how the Christ measured out the free gift. Wherefore he says: ‘When he ascended on high he led captive a multitude; he gave gifts in men.’ Now the expression ‘he ascended’, what does it mean but that he also descended into the lower regions, that is, the earth? The very one that descended is also the one that ascended far above all the heavens that he might give fullness to all things. And he gave some [gifts] as apostles, some as prophets, some as missionaries [or, evangelists], some as shepherds and teachers, with a view to the training of the holy ones for ministerial work, for the building up of the body of the Christ.”—Eph. 4:7-12, margin; AT.
27. How were those men properly called “evangelists,” and why, therefore, could they be spoken of as “missionaries”?
27 We note here that evangelists or missionaries, whom God gave by the glorified Jesus Christ, are ranked after the apostles and the prophets but before the shepherds (pastors) and teachers. Why were these men who were given as gifts to the congregation distinguished from all the rest of the congregation who did evangelistic work by spreading the good news? It must be because they did evangelizing work in an outstanding manner or on a larger scale, or in a greater territory or special territory. Evidently they were specially sent on a mission of proclaiming the good news. For this reason they could be spoken of as missionaries of the good news.
28. How, in Philip’s case, is it stated that those evangelists were a special class?
28 Demonstrating that they were a special class, a particular gift from God through his ascended Christ, the aforementioned Philip was called an evangelist. When telling of Paul’s final visit to Jerusalem, his traveling companion Luke says: “The next day we set out and arrived in Caesarea, and we entered into the house of Philip the missionary [or, evangelist], who was one of the seven men, and we stayed with him. This man had four daughters, virgins, that prophesied.”—Acts 21:8, 9, margin.
29. How was it seen and demonstrated that Philip was not an apostle of the Lamb, and yet how had he been used as an evangelist?
29 This Philip was not an apostle like Paul. Neither was the young man Timothy, to whom Paul wrote: “Do missionary work, thoroughly accomplish your ministry.” (2 Tim. 4:5) For this reason, when Philip was driven from Jerusalem by persecution and went down to the city of Samaria, he could only baptize the believing circumcised Samaritans in water. He could not impart to these baptized ones the gifts of the holy spirit by laying his hands upon them. This does not mean that they had not been begotten by God’s spirit to become his spiritual children with a hope of the heavenly kingdom. It merely means that they did not receive the miraculous gifts of the spirit to prophesy, or to perform miracles, or to speak in foreign languages or to interpret these. For those Samaritans to receive the miraculous gifts of the spirit, Philip had to notify the apostles who had remained at Jerusalem. Peter and John were sent down to Samaria and laid their hands on the baptized dedicated Samaritans. Then these received the holy spirit. It was thus seen and demonstrated that “through the laying on of the hands of the apostles the spirit was given.” (Acts 8:12-18) Yet, as an evangelist, Philip had been specially used by God through Christ to bring to the circumcised Samaritans the good news of God’s kingdom.
30. How in connection with Paul’s visit, was it shown that Philip was not a “gift” in the form of a prophet?
30 Philip was not a Christian prophet, gifted by the spirit to foretell events of interest and concern to his fellow Christians. His four virgin daughters, however, were prophetesses by means of God’s spirit. Not that Philip was behind or inferior to these women in the congregational organization. They did some prophesying with veiled heads, as Paul says that dedicated women did under the operation of God’s spirit in the congregation. Still they did not, any more than did their father Philip, give prophetic information to the apostle Paul. (1 Cor. 11:4, 5) But it was a certain prophet named Agabus that came down to Caesarea and foretold to Paul what was to happen to him at Jerusalem. (Acts 21:10, 11) Agabus was one of the living “gifts in the form of men” in that he was an inspired prophet.
31. How after his work in Samaria, was Philip shown to be a “gift” in the form of a designated “evangelist”?
31 Yet Philip as a designated evangelist was also a gift from the ascended Christ. He had been an assistant to the apostles at Jerusalem but was also sent on a special mission of evangelism by the angel of Jehovah God. After Philip had done such a fine work at Samaria, “Jehovah’s angel spoke to Philip, saying: ‘Rise and travel to the south to the road that runs down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’” Down there by the roadside Philip was directed by God’s spirit to get into the approaching chariot of a faithful proselyte to Judaism, an Ethiopian eunuch who was the treasurer of Queen Candace of Ethiopia. In the chariot Philip evangelized this student of Isaiah’s prophecy. “Philip opened his mouth and, starting with this Scripture, he declared to him the good news about Jesus.” At the believing eunuch’s request Philip baptized him in water.
32. Down in Ethiopia what work did the eunuch do, but what mission did Philip go on carrying out?
32 The eunuch did not receive the miraculous gifts of the spirit, but it did not require an apostle to be serving there in order for this eunuch to be begotten by God’s spirit to become a joint heir with Christ in the heavenly kingdom. Down in Ethiopia the baptized eunuch doubtless did the evangelistic work that is obligatory upon all dedicated, baptized Christians; but Philip continued his travels as one sent on a mission of evangelism. “Philip was found to be in Ashdod, and he went through the territory and kept on declaring the good news to all the cities until he got to Caesarea.” (Acts 8:26-40) He did missionary work just as Timothy was later told to do.—2 Tim. 4:5.
GOOD NEWS IN THE “TIME OF THE END”
33. How was the special evangelistic work of today foretold by Jesus, and by whom is his prophecy being fulfilled?
33 Today we are living in the time of special evangelistic work. It is the work foretold by Jesus in his prophecy concerning the end of this world or system of things: “This good news [or, evangel, Luther] of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations, and then the accomplished end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) Is this prophecy being fulfilled by evangelist angels, by Jehovah’s angel Gabriel or by the angel that announced Jesus’ human birth to the shepherds or by the host of angels that said: “Glory in the heights above to God, and upon earth peace among men of good-will”? No; there is no evidence of angelic appearances since A.D. 1914, when the “beginning of pangs of distress” befell the nations. By whom, then, since the close of World War I, is Jesus’ prophecy relative to the greatest evangelistic work thus far in human history being fulfilled? It is being fulfilled by Jehovah’s witnesses. In carrying on their earth-wide preaching of the good news of God’s established kingdom in 175 or more countries and islands, they are working under the eighty-five Branches of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania, their legal and administrative agency or servant.
34, 35. (a) What do we today not have as “gifts in the form of men,” and yet how do we have evangelistic missionaries? (b) When was the greatest graduation of missionary students held, and under what circumstances?
34 Today we do not have “gifts in the form of men” in the form of Christ’s twelve apostles or of inspired Christian prophets or of evangelists associated with the apostles as Philip and Timothy were. Nevertheless, we do have evangelistic missionaries. How so?
35 In the year 1943 Jehovah’s witnesses established in New York state a missionary training school called the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead, the name of its main school building being called Gilead, meaning “Witness Heap.” Beginning on February 1, 1943, it has since graduated two class-groups of missionary evangelists each year till now. In the past summer of 1958 Gilead held the greatest graduation exercises of its career. This was the graduation of its thirty-first class of 103 ministerial students Sunday afternoon, July 27, 1958, in the Yankee Stadium of New York city. Sixty-four countries and islands supplied the students for this thirty-first class, and they were assigned to posts of evangelistic service in fifty-two lands. In the hearing of 180,291 delegates to the Divine Will International Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who overflowed both Yankee Stadium and the nearby Polo Grounds, this graduating class was addressed by a number of speakers before they received their diplomas of merit. Pertinent to the above discussion of missionaries, or evangelists who are sent with a special assignment of service, one of the speakers delivered the following address.