Part 18—“Your Will Be Done on Earth”
After calling the apostle Peter happy for being able with God’s help to identify him as “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus referred to his own self and said: “On this rock-mass I will build my congregation, and the gates of Haʹdes will not overpower it.” (Matt. 16:18) After Jesus had been killed and resurrected from the dead and later ascended back to heaven, to his heavenly Father’s right hand, then Jesus began to build his true congregation of spiritual Israelites. He began to do so on the festival day of Pentecost A.D. 33, when he poured out the holy spirit upon the faithful remnant of his disciples who were gathered together in Jerusalem. Thus as “living stones” in union with Jesus Christ as the chief foundation, they began to be built up together into a place for God to dwell in by his spirit.
23, 24. What did Jesus’ building the congregation upon himself include, and how did Paul explain this in Ephesians 4:10-14?
23 In building the congregation upon himself as the rock-mass Jesus did so, not only in piling up upon himself “living stones,” his dedicated baptized followers, but also in organizing them for Jehovah’s service as the temple or sanctuary of God. This called for the appointing of numerous special servants and the assigning of them to their duties inside the congregation. The apostle Paul explains this in these words concerning the organizing work done by Jesus in heaven:
24 “The very one that descended [to earth] is also the one that ascended far above all the heavens that he might give fullness to all things. And he gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as missionaries, 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, until we all attain to the oneness in the faith and in the accurate knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of growth that belongs to the fullness of the Christ; in order that we should no longer be babes.”—Eph. 4:10-14.
25. What was Jesus’ purpose in organizing the congregation and appointing special servants for it?
25 Jesus’ purpose in organizing the congregation and appointing special servants was that the holy ones might all receive full training for ministerial work and might not remain spiritual babes but become full-grown persons in union with Christ. They must all become “persons of advanced age” in a Christian spiritual sense, all of them “elders” or elderly persons, as pictured by the twenty-four “elders” seen in the vision to John, seated on thrones round about God’s heavenly throne.—Rev. 4:4, 10, RS.a
26. How were many congregations established outside Jerusalem, and, where competent ones were available, what did such congregations have?
26 The first local Christian congregation was established in Jerusalem. There the visible governing body of the “holy nation” of spiritual Israel had its headquarters until shortly before the city of Jerusalem was destroyed A.D. 70. But due to the great witness that was given at Jerusalem on and after Pentecost to thousands of visitors who became believers, congregations were established in many other cities, towns and communities. The number of these increased still more after the good news of the Kingdom was authorized to be preached to the non-Jewish peoples from A.D. 36 onward. All these congregations had their local organization for meetings and for preaching out in the field. Where such special servants were available, each congregation had overseers and their assistants, ministerial servants. For example, to whom did Paul write at the city of Philippi in Macedonia? Here is the introduction of his letter to the Philippians: “Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the holy ones in union with Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, along with overseers and ministerial servants.” (Phil. 1:1) Paul also called attention to the overseers of the congregation of Ephesus, Asia Minor.—Acts 20:17-28.
27. Why were Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus of a special kind, and what first were all special servants in congregations required to be before appointment?
27 Timothy and Titus were general overseers over congregations in certain assigned areas. Hence Paul’s two letters to Timothy and his one letter to Titus are really instructions to overseers. However, in 1 Timothy 3:1-12 and in Titus 1:5-9 the apostle Paul sets out the qualifications required of those suitable to be appointed by Timothy and Titus to be overseers and ministerial servants in local Christian congregations. Of course, all these special servants had to be Christian “elders” or older men spiritually. This had to be true of the twelve apostles; and Peter speaks of himself as an “elder” or “presbyter” (according to the Greek) when he writes: “To the older men among you I give this exhortation, for I, too, am an older man [presbýteros, Greek] like them and a witness of the sufferings of the Christ, a sharer even of the glory that is destined to be revealed.”—1 Pet. 5:1.
28. Necessarily, then, of what was the governing body at Jerusalem composed, and what shows it included more than the twelve apostles?
28 The governing body at Jerusalem necessarily consisted of none but “elders” or “presbyters” or “older men.” These were not only the “twelve apostles of the Lamb” but also other servants in the congregation there. Acts 15:1, 2, 6, 22, 23 records that, when the congregation in Antioch, Syria, referred a disputed matter to the governing body in Jerusalem, “the apostles and the older men [presbyters] gathered together to see about this affair.” After deciding the disputed matter, “the apostles and the older men” determined to send certain men with a letter stating their decision. They began the letter in this way: “The apostles and the older [presbyters] brothers to those brothers in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia who are from the nations.” But how did all these become “elders”?
29. In Christendom, what have “elder” and “eldership” become, and what questions do we raise about their supporting texts, Acts 14:23 and Titus 1:5?
29 In the congregations of Christendom the term “elder” has become a title and “eldership” has become a position or office to which men are appointed. In support of this, the religious organizations having such elders and elderships appeal to Acts 14:23 (AS), which tells of Paul and Barnabas as founders of congregations: “And when they had appointed for them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they had believed.” Also Titus 1:5 (RS): “This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you.” However, does this mean appointing men to eldership as an office, or appointing men who were already elders in the required sense to offices or service positions in the congregations? Is “eldership” appointive?
30. To whom in Israel did Jehovah specifically send Moses, and what does The Jewish Encyclopedia say about “elders”?
30 In the ancient days of the prophet Moses the congregation of natural Israel was reported as having “elders.” Jehovah God specially sent Moses to these “elders” or older men of Israel. (Ex. 3:16, 18) But were those elders appointed to eldership or did they grow into being elders physically and mentally? The Jewish Encyclopedia, Volume V (of 1910), page 92, under “Elder,” says:
In primitive times age was a necessary condition of authority. Not only among the ancient Jews, but also among other nations of antiquity the elders of the nation or of the clan constituted the official class. The institution of elders existed among the Egyptians (Gen. 1.7), among the Midianites (Num. xxii.7), and later among the Greeks (gérontes or presbýteroi) and Romans (”patres” or “senatus”). . . . the elders occupied an important position in the communal as well as in the political affairs of the Jewish people. It is not certain that they were elected by the people, although they were considered their representatives, . . . The position and function of the elder are nowhere clearly defined.
31. How does one become a Christian “elder,” and in what way is it, then, that “elders” are appointed?
31 Now as to the Christian congregation or congregation of spiritual Israel, one fact is clear from Ephesians 4:13, 14 and; 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 and Hebrews 5:11-14: A man becomes a Christian “elder” or “presbyter” by spiritual growth and development, not by mere physical age or by appointment. According to the qualifications set out by Paul at 1 Timothy 3:1-12 and Titus 1:5-9, it is from men who are “elders” by spiritual growth that overseers and ministerial assistants are appointed. It is in this sense, then, that those with appointive power appoint elders, not to be elders, but to be responsible servants in or over congregations.
32. During the last half of the nineteenth century, who was it argued had the authority to appoint elders, and by what method?
32 However, who is it that has the appointive power to appoint or ordain elders to service positions for the congregations? In the latter half of the nineteenth century it was argued that the congregations themselves are authorized by the Holy Scriptures to ordain or appoint their own “elders.”b It was pointed out that in Acts 14:23 concerning the appointing or ordaining of elders in every church the word in the original Greek text is kheirotoneîn and that this Greek verb “means, ‘to elect by stretching out the hand,’ still the usual form of voting. This definition is given in Prof. Young’s Analytical Bible Concordance. As that may be considered a Presbyterian authority, we will give also the definition set forth in ‘Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance,’ which may be considered a Methodist authority. The latter defines the root of the word—‘A hand-reacher, or voter (by raising the hand).’”c
33-35. Of what meaning only did the definitions given of kheirotoneîn take note, and what other later meaning do two Greek-English authorities give as applicable?
33 Those definitions, though, take note of only the primitive or early meaning of the Greek verb kheirotoneîn. With the development of the Greek language the meaning enlarged in course of history.
34 A Greek-English Lexicon, by Liddell and Scott, in a new edition by Jones and McKenzie, reprinted in 1948, defines kheirotoneîn as follows: “stretch out the hand, for the purpose of giving one’s vote in the assembly, . . . II. with accusative of person, elect, properly by show of hands, . . . b. later, generally, appoint, . . . appoint to an office in the Church, presbytérous Acts of the Apostles 14:23, compare 2 Epistle to the 2 Corinthians 8:19 (Passive).”
35 Agreement with this is found in A Greek and English Lexicon to the New Testament, by John Parkhurst, in a new edition (1845) by J. R. Major, page 673, which says: “III. To choose by vote or suffrage, however expressed. Occurs 2 Corinthians 8:19. IV. With an accusative following, to appoint or constitute to an office, though without suffrages or votes. Occurs Acts 14:23.”
36. As proved by Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, what meaning did this Greek verb have in the apostles’ days?
36 In proof of this latter meaning of appointing without votes by others in the congregation, the Jewish historian Josephus wrote his Antiquities of the Jews in the common Greek in the days of Christ’s apostles, in the last half of the first century. In Book 6 and in Chapters 4 and 13, Josephus uses the Greek verb kheirotoneîn when saying that King Saul of Israel was ordained by God. The Bible does not show that the congregation of Israel stretched forth their hands and voted King Saul into office. The prophet Samuel anointed Saul to be king and he became the anointed one ordained (kheirotoneîn) by Jehovah God.d Consequently, in the apostles’ days, the Greek verb used in Acts 14:23 and in 2 Corinthians 8:19 had come to mean ordain or appoint by even an individual without any supporting or guiding votes of others by hand-stretching.
37. As having a bearing on the meaning of Acts 14:23, what did Paul tell an individual to do, in Titus 1:5, and by what method, and hence how may Acts 14:23 not rightly be interpreted?
37 Whereas Acts 14:23 says “they appointed older men to office for them in the congregation” and uses the Greek verb kheirotoneîn, the apostle Paul instructed an individual, Titus the overseer, to “make appointments of older men in city after city, as I gave you orders.” There was no election of those older men to office by having Titus get the majority vote of any congregation by resorting to their stretching out the hands for or against candidates. That was the democratic method. But the appointment according to orders from Paul, who was an inspired member of the Christian governing body, was the theocratic method. (Titus 1:5) Hence the Greek text of Acts 14:23 may not be rightly interpreted in support of the democratic or congregational method as against theocratic appointments.
38. Why is the democratic method not the right way for Jehovah’s living sanctuary on earth, but for faithfully serving on earth how will the holy ones be rewarded?
38 The spiritual Israelites, who are in the new covenant to be a people for Jehovah’s name, are his “holy ones.” They form a living sanctuary for him to dwell in by his spirit. They must be organized upon Jesus Christ the “rock-mass” and his twelve apostles, in harmony with the theocratic arrangement and not the democratic method. The democratic way calls for the rule of an organization from the people up as the source of one’s powers and authority. The theocratic way calls for the rule of the organization from the top down, from the Supreme Being down. It is the clean, peaceful, efficient way for Jehovah’s living “sanctuary” of his holy ones. It is the blessed way for them to be organized for serving on earth as Jehovah’s witnesses. Serving faithfully till death, they will reign and govern with Jesus Christ in heaven. Thus the covenant for the Kingdom into which they have been anointed by God will be fulfilled.
THE “LITTLE HORN” IN OPPOSITION
1. Why was the vision that Daniel had in King Belshazzar’s first year timelily given in that year, and how did it affect Daniel?
FROM being mercilessly worn down to finally being given the everlasting kingdom over this entire green earth—this sums up the astounding experience of the holy ones of the Most High God, as seen in vision by the prophet Daniel. The golden glory of the Babylonian world power was about to lose its luster. The last one of its dynasty of Chaldean kings was on the throne of world government. It was the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon. The dream and visions of Daniel’s own head in that year of the time of the end of Babylon as the third world power had to do partly with that passing world power. So it was timely and suitable that the dream should be sent to Daniel before Babylon came down from its lofty throne. The remnant of Jehovah’s holy ones, such as Daniel, Zerubbabel and the Jewish high priest Jeshua, were still held down as captives and slaves in Babylon. The dream and its brief angelic interpretation greatly alarmed Daniel. His color changed. But, seeing as we do the almost completed interpretation of it today by the unfolding facts of history for the past two millenniums and a half, with some highly dramatic features yet to be fulfilled, we can well appreciate why Daniel was so alarmed.
2, 3. What was Daniel’s description of the terrible dream?
2 Here is Daniel’s description of the dream in its terribleness:
3 “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand upon two feet like a man; and the mind of a man was given to it. And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side; it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, ‘Arise, devour much flesh.’ After this I looked, and lo, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back; and the beast had four heads; and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrible and dreadful and exceedingly strong; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots; and behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.”—Dan. 7:2-8, RS.
(To be continued)
b See the book The New Creation, by C. T. Russell, copyrighted 1904, pages 276-282.
c The New Creation, page 276, paragraph 2. See also Zion’s Watch Tower as of March 15, 1906, page 91, paragraphs 7, 8.
d Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, Book 6, Chapter 4, paragraph 2, reads: “Accordingly Saul sent away his servant that followed him. Then the prophet took a vessel of oil, and poured it upon the head of the young man, and kissed him, and said, ‘Be thou a king by the ordination of God [basileùs hypò toû Theoû kheirotonētheís] against the Philistines, and for avenging the Hebrews for what they have suffered by them.’” Antiquities, Book 6, Chapter 13, paragraph 9, reads: “Hereupon David entered into the king’s tent, but he did neither kill Saul, though he knew where he lay, by the spear that was stuck down by him, nor did he give leave to Abishai, who would have killed him, and was strongly inclined so to do. For he said it was a horrid crime to kill one that was ordained [kheirotoneîn] king by God, although he were a wicked man: for that he who gave him the dominion, would in time inflict punishment upon him; so he restrained his eagerness.” See the translation by William Whiston, M. A., Boston, Mass., of 1849, pages 188, 189, 217. Compare also 1 Samuel 10:1, 20-24; 26:5-12.