Theocratic Organization with Which to Move Forward Now
1. (a) According to Psalm 68:18, what were those twelve apostles? (b) As a group, how did they act together, and so what were they authorized to do?
THOSE “twelve apostles of the Lamb” were gifts from the great Theocrat Jehovah through Jesus Christ to the congregation. The psalm of David (Ps 68:18) had foretold such gifts, and the apostle Paul matches the psalm to its fulfillment and says: “Wherefore he says [in Psalm 68:18]: ‘When he ascended on high he carried away captives; he gave gifts in men.’ . . . And he gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelizers, some as shepherds and teachers, with a view to the readjustment of the holy ones, for ministerial work, for the building up of the body of the Christ.” (Eph. 4:8-12) At the beginning those twelve apostles, because of their position, served as a governing body for the whole congregation of believers. So they made appointments of qualified men in the congregation to assist them in less vital matters. As an illustration of this, when the Jerusalem congregation had increased to five thousand members and a disturbing difficulty arose, here is what happened:
2. How did the apostles take care of the difficulty over food distribution, and so what happened regarding the word of God?
2 “So the twelve called the multitude of the disciples to them and said: ‘It is not pleasing for us to leave the word of God to distribute food to tables. So, brothers, search out for yourselves seven certified men from among you, full of spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them over this necessary business; but we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.’ And the thing spoken was pleasing to the whole multitude, and they selected . . . and they placed them before the apostles, and, after having prayed, these laid their hands upon them. Consequently the word of God went on growing, and the number of the disciples kept multiplying in Jerusalem very much.”—Acts 6:1-7.
3. (a) Why were those appointments of the seven assistants theocratic? (b) Were additions made to the governing body, and what does the account of the settling of the circumcision issue show?
3 As those seven assistants were appointed by the apostolic governing body, who extended their hands in approval of such assistants, those appointments were theocratic, not congregational or democratic. Later on, official “older men” or “elders” (presbyters) were theocratically appointed and added to the governing body at Jerusalem. So, about the year 49 C.E., when Paul and Barnabas came to Jerusalem and submitted the question raised about circumcising non-Jewish believers, the governing body that handled and settled the issue was made up of “the apostles and the older men,” under the guidance of God’s holy spirit.—Acts 15:1-29; 16:4.
4, 5. (a) What shows whether the first-century congregation was a legal corporation regulated by worldly authority or not? (b) The whole congregation was what, in a composite way, and how do the words of Isaiah 43:10 indicate this?
4 That first-century congregation was not some legal corporation that was registered and chartered by the Jewish government at Jerusalem or by the Senate of the Roman Empire, with officers to be appointed according to Caesar’s specifications. No, but it was a theocratic organization with officers and assistants that were theocratically appointed by the governing body and Jesus Christ, the “head of the congregation.” The “gifts in men” that had been given to it were, not from the Roman Emperor Caesar, but from the great Theocrat, Jehovah God, through Jesus Christ. For what purpose? “With a view to the readjustment of the holy ones, for ministerial work.” (Eph. 4:11, 12) The whole congregation was a service body, all members rendering sacred service to the great Theocrat Jehovah. They were one composite “servant” of their Divine Ruler, whose witnesses they were. They were bearing witness that He had sent the promised Messiah in the person of Jesus Christ his Son. To them as spiritual Israelites the words applied:
5 “‘You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even my servant whom I have chosen.’”—Isa. 43:10.
6. Who, then, is that “steward” and “slave” mentioned by Jesus in Luke 12:42-44?
6 Thus the many witnesses form one “servant,” whom Jehovah calls “my servant whom I have chosen.” This composite “servant” is the one whom Jesus Christ had in mind when he spoke of his going away and his returning, saying: “Who really is the faithful steward, the discreet one, whom his master will appoint over his body of attendants to keep giving them their measure of food supplies at the proper time? Happy is that slave, if his master on arriving finds him doing so! I tell you truthfully, He will appoint him over all his belongings.”—Luke 12:42-44.
7. How did Jesus refer to this same class in his prophecy on the conclusion of the system of things?
7 Notice that Jesus calls this “steward” also a “slave” to his master. In the prophecy on the conclusion of the system of things Jesus speaks of this same “slave” class, saying: “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.
8. When and how did Jesus appoint this “steward” or “slave” class, and what did it proceed to do?
8 Before Jesus Christ the Lord left by ascending to heaven, he gathered together his faithful disciples, including his loyal apostles. On the day of Pentecost following his ascension back to his heavenly Father, Jesus received and poured out the holy spirit on his disciples gathered together at Jerusalem, and thereby he appointed this “slave” class, this “steward” class, to give to his “domestics,” his “body of attendants,” spiritual food, “their measure of food supplies at the proper time.” The slave class proceeded to do so.
INSPECTION, APPOINTMENT, “GIFTS IN MEN”
9. When did the Lord Jesus Christ undertake an inspection of the “slave” class, and what did he find about it?
9 In the year 1914 C.E., at the close of the “appointed times of the nations,” the Lord Jesus Christ was installed in the heavenly Messianic kingdom. Thereafter he undertook an inspection of the “slave” or “steward” class on earth. (Matt. 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27) He did find dedicated, baptized, anointed disciples on earth who, in spite of World War I and persecutions and other difficulties, were striving to serve the interests of Jehovah’s Messianic kingdom. They were endeavoring to feed in a spiritual way the faithful “domestics” or “body of attendants” of the now reigning Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.
10. What appointment did he make respecting that faithful “slave” class in 1919, and what name did it embrace in 1931?
10 The facts of modern history show that in the year 1919 he revived these much afflicted disciples and gathered them together in a united body. Then he appointed them as his “slave” class “over all his belongings,” that is, over all his royal interests at the earth. (Rev. 11:7-12) It was this active body of dedicated, anointed Christians who, in the summer of 1931, embraced a name to distinguish them from Christendom’s sects, namely, Jehovah’s witnesses.—Isa. 43:10-12; 44:8.
11. What must be said about the governing body for this “faithful and discreet slave” class?
11 This “faithful and discreet slave” class of today has a visible governing body, just as the same class had a governing body back in the first century, from Pentecost of 33 C.E. forward.
12, 13. (a) What spiritual services as rendered by the “gifts in men” did the twelve apostles render after the outpouring of the spirit? (b) What account proves that they did evangelizing?
12 As we have already observed, the “faithful and discreet slave” class back there was favored with gifts in men, or gifts in the form of men. These were provided by Jehovah God through Jesus Christ. According to Ephesians 4:7-11, not all of these gifts were apostles. Some were prophets, others evangelizers, others shepherds, still others teachers. Of course, the apostles were at the same time prophets, evangelizers, shepherds (pastors) and teachers. On the day of Pentecost, under the force of the outpoured holy spirit, the twelve apostles prophesied, in fulfillment of Joel 2:28, 29. (Acts 2:16-18, 21) They evangelized also, or declared good news, for, after the twelve apostles were arrested, jailed, haled into court, flogged and released, what did they do? Acts 5:42 tells us:
13 “Every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news, [evangelízein, Greek] about the Christ, Jesus.”
14. Since the congregation is called the “flock of God,” this laid what obligation upon the twelve apostles, and did they fulfill it?
14 That account proves that they were not only evangelizers but also teachers. Were those apostles also shepherds or pastors? Yes. Remember how, at the Sea of Galilee, the resurrected Jesus told Peter to prove his love and affection by obeying the command: “Feed my lambs. . . . Shepherd my little sheep. . . . Feed my little sheep.” (John 21:15-17) All the other apostles also became and acted as spiritual shepherds in the congregation. The very fact that the congregation is called the “flock of God” laid on these apostles the obligation to be shepherds of that flock.
15. How does the record show whether the apostles monopolized the ministry of prophesying?
15 However, although the twelve apostles and the apostle Paul were capable of serving and did serve as prophets, evangelizers, shepherds and teachers, they did not monopolize those forms of the Christian ministry. There were other dedicated, baptized men who specialized or were prominent in those varieties of ministries. (1 Cor. 12:4, 5) For instance, when the apostle Paul, at Ephesus, baptized those men, about twelve of them, “in the name of the Lord Jesus” and then laid his hands upon them, “the holy spirit came upon them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.” (Acts 19:1-7) The gift of miraculous prophecy was imparted by the holy spirit to many other dedicated, baptized Christians in the days of the apostles. (1 Cor. 12:7-10, 27-29; 14:29-32; Acts 13:1; 21:10) So not only the apostles prophesied.
16. How did Paul at Miletus show that others besides the apostles were to fulfill the ministry of spiritual shepherds?
16 What about the gift of spiritual “shepherds”? There is historical evidence that they were not lacking. About the year 56 C.E., when on his way to Jerusalem, Paul the “apostle to the nations” stopped at the seaport of Miletus and sent for the official elders of the nearby Ephesus congregation to come to him before his ship left. In the course of his farewell remarks Paul reminded these elders or presbyters of the spiritual work that they were appointed to render, saying: “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son. I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness.” (Acts 20:28, 29) So those elders were both overseers and spiritual shepherds.
17. Whom did the starlike “angels” of Revelation 1:20; 2:1 picture, and hence what was the responsibility of these?
17 Doubtless, not one individual elder, presbyter, overseer or shepherd, but the entire “body of elders” was what the glorified Lord, Jesus Christ, called the “angel” that was symbolized by a heavenly star. Thus, about the year 96 C.E., he told the aged apostle John on the Isle of Patmos to write, saying: “To the angel of the congregation in Ephesus write: These are the things that he says who holds the seven stars in his right hand, he who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.” (Rev. 2:1; 1:20) The “body of elders” (or presbytery) there at Ephesus was to act like a star in shedding heavenly, spiritual light upon the congregation over which the holy spirit had made them shepherds. By such light these spiritual shepherds would guide them aright.—1 Tim. 4:14, margin.
18. How does 1 Peter 5:1-4 show that Peter recognized that the gift of shepherds included others besides the apostles?
18 Further, with respect to the gift of shepherds to the first-century congregation, the apostle Peter wrote, about the years 62-64 C.E. Putting himself on a level with the “elders” of the congregations in Asia Minor, Peter wrote: “Therefore, to the elders among you I give this exhortation, for I too am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of the Christ, a sharer even of the glory that is to be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God in your care, . . . becoming examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd has been made manifest, you will receive the unfadable crown of glory.” (1 Pet. 5:1-4, margin) So Peter recognized that the gift of shepherds included others besides the apostles.
19. As indicated by Paul in Titus 1:5-9, who were the “teachers” that are included among the “gifts in men”?
19 “Teachers” were also given as “gifts in men.” By these are meant, not parents who teach their children in family gatherings or ordinary congregation members who teach interested persons the Bible truths in their private homes, but men who are specially gifted with the art of teaching and who are therefore appointed to be teachers inside the congregation in its regular Bible studies. For instance, after his release from his first imprisonment in Rome, the apostle Paul wrote to Titus, whom he had left in Crete to appoint official elders for the congregations in city after city. When setting out the qualifications of such elders, who should also be overseers, Paul wrote: “An overseer must be . . . holding firmly to the faithful word as respects his art of teaching, that he may be able both to exhort by the teaching that is healthful and to reprove those who contradict.”—Titus 1:5-9.
20. How did Paul indicate to Timothy that the official “elders” of congregations are “gifts” in the form of “teachers”?
20 About the same time the apostle Paul wrote Timothy, who had been given authority to make appointments. When telling him the basis on which overseers were to be appointed over a congregation, Paul lists sixteen qualifications. Among all these we note the seventh requirement to be: “qualified to teach.” (1 Tim. 3:1-7) As an overseer had to be more than a “newly converted man,” he must be officially an “elder.” That the nonapostolic “elders” were among the “gifts” in the form of teachers, the apostle Paul indicated to Timothy by going on to tell him: “Let the elders who preside in a fine way be reckoned worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard in speaking and teaching.” (1 Tim. 5:17, margin) Accordingly, today Jehovah’s witnesses endeavor to have official “elders” to preside over the midweek Bible studies that are conducted in locations convenient for the members of the congregation who are living in that neighborhood. Only if enough elders are not available for all such weekly Bible studies, are “ministerial servants” used to conduct such local Bible studies.—1 Tim. 3:8, 9, 12, 13.
21, 22. (a) Whom did Paul list third among the “gifts in men,” and did Jesus appoint only the apostles to be such? (b) What man was personally called an “evangelizer,” and to what extent did he act as such?
21 Third among the “gifts in men” the apostle Paul names “evangelizers.” (Eph. 4:8, 11) During his days in the flesh on earth the Lord Jesus Christ sent out more than just the twelve apostles to do evangelizing work. (Luke 9:1-6; 10:1-11) So too when he ascended to heaven and poured out the holy spirit upon his waiting disciples on the day of Pentecost, he gave others besides the twelve apostles to be evangelizers.
22 Philip of Caesarea, whom the apostles appointed with six others to look after the distribution of food to needy disciples in Jerusalem, did not remain long at that work that a ministerial servant of a congregation might perform. After his fellow worker, Stephen, was martyred, persecution broke out against the Christians at the instigation of Saul of Tarsus, and the disciples, except the apostles, were scattered from Jerusalem. Among these scattered disciples was Philip, and he went down to Samaria and did productive evangelizing work there. After that he presented the good news to an official eunuch of Queen Candace who was returning to Ethiopia, and then he did evangelizing work along the Mediterranean seacoast from Ashdod up to Caesarea. (Acts 8:1-40) More than twenty years later Philip was still busy at his evangelizing work, for, when Paul and his missionary companions visited with Philip at Caesarea, he was still called “Philip the evangelizer.” (Acts 21:8) As one of the “gifts in men” he proved to be of great value.
23. Whom did Paul, by letter, tell to continue working as an evangelizer?
23 Timothy, a missionary companion of the apostle Paul, was another of the “gifts” in the capacity of an evangelizer. Shortly before his death, about 65 C.E., Paul wrote a second letter to Timothy and said: “Do the work of an evangelizer, fully accomplish your ministry [di·a·ko·niʹa, Greek].”—2 Tim. 4:5; 1 Thess. 1:1, 5; 2:2, 4, 8, 9; 3:2, 6.
AND WHAT ABOUT TODAY?
24. Who today are doing evangelizing work, and under whose guidance?
24 Today the Christian witnesses of Jehovah are heeding those words addressed to Timothy nineteen centuries ago. The official elders who are qualified to give public lectures from a speaker’s platform are not the only ones who are doing evangelizing work. All the dedicated baptized members of the more than 27,150 congregations around the earth are doing so. In Revelation 14:6 we have the assurance that this is being done under angelic guidance, for that verse foretold an angel flying in midheaven who “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.”
25. In 1919 to whom was encouragement given to do evangelizing work in a more direct manner, and what did The Watchtower say?
25 In the first postwar year of 1919 there came the revival of our public Christian activity. Encouragement was then given to all those making up each congregation to take part in preaching God’s kingdom—to the official elders and deacons or ministerial servants and to all others, dedicated men and women alike. Let them do this, not just by distributing four-page tracts, but also by going to the doors just as the then “colporteurs” did and offering to the householders directly books and booklets as Bible study helps. The article “Announcing the Kingdom” in the Watch Tower magazine said:
The door of opportunity is opening before you. Enter it quickly. Remember as you go forth in this work you are not soliciting merely as the agent of a magazine, but you are an ambassador of the King of kings and Lord of lords, announcing to the people in this dignified manner the incoming of the Golden Age, the glorious kingdom of our Lord and Master, for which true Christians have hoped and prayed for many centuries. You are an angel of peace, bearing to a war-torn, sin-sick, sorrowing and broken-hearted world the glad message of salvation. How wonderful is our privilege!—The Watch Tower as of September 15, 1919, page 281, paragraph 6.
26. In what momentous time are we living, according to the available proof, and what must go and what must come in?
26 Now, after all the intervening years, we have the proof more than ever before that Jehovah God enthroned his Son Jesus Christ in the Messianic kingdom in the heavens at the close of the Gentile Times in the year 1914. We know that we are in the “time of the end” as regards the political nations of this world and that the destruction of them in the approaching “great tribulation” upon the whole world is ominously near. (Dan. 12:1-4; Matt. 24:21, 22; Rev. 7:14) We, for our part, are approaching the portals of the righteous new order earth wide as promised by Jehovah God, which order will completely replace the tottering wicked system of things. The old order of these past thousands of years must go amid the fiery trouble ahead. The new order under Jehovah’s theocratic government must come in!
27, 28. (a) What, then, is this information, and what must be done with it? (b) What has Jehovah provided for getting that work done, and what is its attitude toward that work?
27 This is the only good news on earth today. It is the Gospel. It is the Evangel. With it we can do glorious evangelizing work! In his prophecy of Matthew 24:14 and Mark 13:10 Jesus said that “this good news of the kingdom” must be preached internationally before the end of this system of things comes. Jehovah the great Theocrat has now provided us the theocratic organization for getting this good news preached to its completion.
28 Is that visible earthly organization eager to do that grand work? Look! The appointed elders and overseers of the congregations are actively working in that behalf. The ministerial servants of the congregations are cooperating in that behalf. The rank and file of the congregations, the dedicated men and women and their children, are taking part in the work, both from house to house and publicly. The governing body over all these theocratic congregations is whole-souled behind this evangelizing work and is making every arrangement for getting the work done within the time divinely allowed. The “faithful and discreet slave” class of today has been appointed over all the Kingdom interests belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ, and, as a faithful steward of his interests, it serves out spiritual food through the evangelizing work.
29. (a) According to what is this organization patterned, and so what kind of organization is it? (b) How long will it be available as a divine instrument?
29 This worldwide evangelizing organization is not tailored according to any present-day legal corporation that may be required under the laws of man-made political governments that now face destruction in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon. (Rev. 16:14-16) No legal corporation of earth shapes the evangelizing organization or governs it. Rather, it governs such corporations as mere temporary instruments useful in the work of the great Theocrat. Hence it is patterned according to His design for it. It is a theocratic organization, ruled from the divine Top down, and not from the rank and file up. The dedicated, baptized members of it are under Theocracy! Earthly legal corporations will cease when the man-made governments that chartered them perish shortly. But the theocratic organization will live on, serving its Supreme Theocratic Ruler. Under his protection it will enter into his righteous new order. It will be right there on hand, as soon as the “great tribulation” is over, and be instantly ready to serve as His instrument in his new order.
30. Why have we excellent reason to move forward unitedly into God’s new order?
30 Forward, then, under Theocracy into the new order! Our Leader, the reigning heavenly King, Jesus Christ, moves at the head of our advancing column. Let us not break our ranks, nor run in fear and disorderly panic. We have nothing to fear at the massing of our many enemies. On our side is God the Almighty, the great Theocrat whom we obey as ruler rather than men. He is over us. It is his work that we are doing at his command through Jesus Christ. We are his “men of goodwill,” and He takes delight in us. His spirit it is that pervades the whole organization, and this holy spirit is the active force that unites us unbreakably.
31. How are we highly privileged in connection with God’s Word, and what should we make known to everybody?
31 Our life-giving message, the Evangel that we preach and teach, is from Him and is drawn from his revealed Word, the Holy Bible. Our message is true, and soon it must come to heart-gladdening fulfillment! Highly honored are we to be favored with the privilege of proclaiming and teaching it to all mankind. Immediately before us is the glorious reward for our living up to this marvelous privilege. Forward, then, unitedly into the new order under Theocracy! Make known to everybody just how fully we appreciate that Jehovah is now reigning as God King.—Ps. 96:10.
[Chart on page 749]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
Modern-Day Theocratic Organization of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses
Head of the Christian Congregation
“Faithful and Discreet Slave” Class,
whom Jesus has ‘appointed over all his belongings.’
ELDERS ELDERS ELDERS ELDERS ELDERS
in the Cong. in the Cong. in the Cong. in the Cong. in the Cong.
MINISTERIAL MINISTERIAL MINISTERIAL MINISTERIAL
SERVANTS SERVANTS SERVANTS SERVANTS