Glorifying the Ministry
“I glorify my ministry.”—Rom. 11:13.
1, 2. According to Zechariah 13:4-6, instead of glorifying their ministry, what will the ministers of false religion try to do at a certain future time?
THE time approaches when those who are ministers of any false religion will be ashamed. They will try to hide what their occupation is. That is what Bible prophecy indicates. Speaking of them as “prophets” or visionaries, Zechariah 13:4-6 says:
2 “And it must occur in that day that the prophets will become ashamed, each one of his vision when he prophesies; and they will not wear an official garment of hair for the purpose of deceiving. And he will certainly say, ‘I am no prophet. I am a man cultivating the soil, because an earthling man himself acquired me from my youth on.’ And one must say to him, ‘What are these wounds on your person between your hands?’ And he will have to say, ‘Those with which I was struck in the house of my intense lovers.’”
3. To what extent will such wounds be inflicted upon the clergymen of Christendom?
3 The onetime lovers of the religious clergymen will finally turn upon them and strike them and wound them even to death or to where they give up their religious profession and its style of dress. In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, the turning of the worldly officials against those of a religious profession is pictured with strong imagery. Re Chapter 17 presents the whole world empire of false religion, which stems from ancient Babylon, as being an international harlot called Babylon the Great.
4, 5. (a) In Revelation, chapter 17, how is the world empire of false religion symbolized? (b) Finally, what will the symbolic 10 horns, and the royal-colored wild beast itself, do to its rider with God’s permission?
4 Pictorially, she sits upon a scarlet-colored wild beast, with seven heads and ten horns upon those heads. The beast makes a descent into an abyss, disappears, and comes to view again, just like in the case of the League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations. Babylon the Great climbed back upon this reappearing international political “beast” in 1945 C.E. Since then Babylon the Great has ridden the royal-colored “beast” for more than 35 years. The time must now be near when, to the shock of religionists, the symbolic beast will turn upon the loose “woman” that has dominated politics during the lifetime of seven successive world powers. Then what? Revelation 17:15-18 portrays it for us, saying:
5 “The waters that you saw, where the harlot is sitting, mean peoples and crowds and nations and tongues. And the ten horns that you saw, and the wild beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire. For God put it into their hearts to carry out his thought, even to carry out their one thought by giving their kingdom to the wild beast [the eighth world power], until the words of God will have been accomplished. And the woman whom you saw means the great city [modern Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion] that has a kingdom over the kings of the earth.”—Note Revelation 18:21-24.
6. To what extent will the destruction of Babylon the Great affect religion, and what is the reason for this?
6 Will the oncoming destruction of Babylon the Great, which includes Christendom, mean the wiping out of all religion from the face of the earth? As long as there is the one living and true God, No! His worshipers, who are no part of Christendom or of the rest of Babylon the Great, will survive the worldwide onslaught against all religion. They will have the protection of the God, Jehovah, and of his reigning “Lord of lords and King of kings,” Jesus Christ. Afterward, they will witness the destruction of the godless, irreligious rulers that will then dominate the earth entirely. The “form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father” will never perish from the earth, which is his “footstool.”—Rev. 17:12-14; Jas. 1:27; Isa. 66:1.
NOT MINISTERS OF POLITICAL GOVERNMENTS
7. In the war at Har–Magedon, what will happen to the officiating “ministers” of the political governments arrayed against Jehovah?
7 In the showdown “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon, the officiating “ministers” of the political states there arrayed against God the Almighty will be destroyed with their earthly governments. (Rev. 16:13-16; 19:11-21) Those who are nonpolitical “ministers” of the victorious Almighty God, Jehovah, will be preserved by him through that war of all wars with which the present system of earthly governments will end. What a grand reward that will be for their having kept on faithfully in their Christian ministry to him! Their being called “ministers” may be objected to in many lands, Communist and non-Communist. In such lands the term “minister” may be reserved strictly for the high-ranking officers of the State. However, in the English-speaking land of the United States of America the members of the president’s cabinet are entitled secretaries, such as secretary of state, secretary of the interior, and so on, and attorney general. Yet they will not survive.
8. In modern Greece, what are the members of the president’s cabinet called, and for whom is the word “deacon” reserved there?
8 In the Holy Bible, in its Christian Greek Scriptures, the term “minister” is a translation of the Greek word di·aʹko·nos, which word is understood to mean, literally, “through dust,” as in the case of someone sent or summoned. However, in modern Greece the president is called the proʹe·dros, meaning “the one sitting before or in front.” The members of his cabinet are not called by the Greek word di·aʹko·nos (“minister”) but are given the title hyp·our·gosʹ, meaning, literally, an “underworker.” This word occurs in the Greek Septuagint Version of the Hebrew Scriptures, according to the Sinaitic and Vatican No. 1209 manuscripts. There Joshua 1:1 reads: “Now it came to pass after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, that the LORD spoke unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister [hyp·our·gosʹ].” (The Jewish Publication Society of America and Bagster’s) The translation by Charles Thomson calls Joshua “the lieutenant of Moses.” Similarly, in the Republic of Greece, the president (proʹe·dros) has his lieutenants, attendants, assistants or underworkers (hyp·our·gosʹ), and he leaves the service of di·aʹko·nos, or “deacons,” to the religious organizations of the land.
9. Despite the political usage of the term, are there Scripturally “ministers” of God, and what did the Watch Tower magazine say about this in 1882?
9 Granted that today some lands use and apply the term “minister” in only a political sense. However, this does not mean that, from the standpoint of the Bible in its original languages, a person who dedicates himself wholly to God and devotes himself to doing the will of Jehovah God is not to be called a “minister,” or di·aʹko·nos, of Jehovah God, in imitation of Jesus Christ. Nearly a century ago, in its monthly issue of June 1882 (page 7), the magazine Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence said concerning religious ministers:
The disciples were sent to preach and teach and baptize. And while we believe that every consecrated member of the body of Christ is a minister in some sense, and all are “anointed to preach the glad tidings,” yet there are various members adapted to different parts of the work, just as there are different members and offices in the human body, which Scripturally is used to illustrate the body of Christ—the church.
10. What did the magazine issue of January 1, 1892, say about full-time publishers known as colporteurs in the light of what the nominal church of Christendom claims to be God’s ministers?
10 In its later issue of January 1, 1892 (page 9), the Watch Tower magazine said, under the heading “Views from the Tower,” the following:
Few know these colporteurs as the Lord’s real representatives, or recognize that dignity which the Lord sees in their humility and self-sacrifice. Missionaries? No, say the world and the nominal church, ours are the missionaries, who go to foreign lands. Yes, says the Lord, these are my missionaries, charged with a grand mission— . . .
Ministers? No, say the world and the nominal church, only ours who wear “clerical” garments and preach from our pulpits are God’s ministers. Yes, says the Lord, my servants (ministers) they are because they serve me, dispensing present truth to my household. I have sent forth the message which they bear. He that despiseth them despiseth me, and he that receiveth the sealing in the forehead which I send by them will know the doctrine, that it is of me. “My sheep know my voice.”
(See also the issue of February 1, 1899, paragraphs 6 and 7, under the heading “Is Present Truth Unreasonable?”)
11. From what language are the words “minister” and “ministry” drawn, and what are they defined as meaning?
11 However, has the Watchtower magazine been self-assuming or presumptuous in saying that every consecrated or dedicated, baptized disciple of Jesus Christ is a “minister”? Not at all! The English words “minister” and “ministry,” as well as the corresponding words in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and French, are drawn from the ancient Latin words minister and ministerium, words found in the Latin Vulgate Version of the Bible. Minister is defined as follows: “An attendant, waiter, servant, also a priest’s attendant, or assistant; likewise an inferior officer, underofficer.” Ministerium is defined as “the office or functions of a minister, attendance, service, ministry, in a good or bad sense; an office, occupation, work, task, employment, administration, etc.”—A New Latin Dictionary, by Lewis and Short, page 1146.
12. How widely is the Bible version first quoted from by this magazine and other Watch Tower publications used even today, and is politics being discussed in the matter of the ministry?
12 So the words “minister” and “ministry” should have a broad meaning. Here we must remember that, from the beginning, the Watch Tower magazine and associated publications have used as their fundamental Bible translation the Authorized Version, or King James Version, of 1611 C.E. To this day this recognized version is used throughout Great Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations as well as in the United States of America. So in quotations from that commonly used Bible translation, the key words “minister” and “ministry” are used in the sense given to them in the Christian Greek Scriptures (The New Testament), and not in the modern political sense. We are not discussing politics.
LATEST PREFERRED TRANSLATIONS OF THE WORDS
13. How do most Bible translators like to render the controversial word di·a·ko·niʹa into English, and what are God’s dedicated people going to do about the obligations resulting therefrom?
13 There are many modern English translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures (The New Testament). How do the majority of these modern English translations prefer to render the controversial Greek word di·a·ko·niʹa for their readers? By the word “ministry,” with all the dignity that the Holy Bible imparts to it. Rightly, the dedicated, baptized witnesses of Jehovah are within the Bible meaning of things to apply to their assigned Christian activity the fitting word “ministry.” What, now, are these “ministers” going to do with their “ministry”? Are they going to live up to it and its obligations, or renounce it because of objections or opposing pressures? From revealed Bible prophecy we know what the alienated political authorities will do to the ministers, bishops, deacons, priests and patriarchs of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. We should not blind our eyes to what is coming.
14. What does the sign language of Revelation, chapter 17, indicate will be done to Babylon the Great during “the great tribulation”?
14 As indicated in the sign language of Revelation, the secular political powers will stop having unions of Church and State. They will break off having intimate relations with the international religious prostitute. They will unseat her from their back, strip her of her claims to royalty with its scarlet and purple, rob her of her gold, pearls and precious stones with which she has gaudily exhibited herself. From her hand they will snatch away the “golden cup” that is filled with all the unclean and disgusting things, the goblet from which she has made all the peoples drink to their becoming befuddled as if they were intoxicated. Her ornate religious buildings they will convert into places for common, secular uses, or will even burn them down after they have despoiled them of their ill-gotten wealth. Woe for the day of reckoning upon Babylon the Great during “the great tribulation”!—Rev. 17:1-18; 7:14.
15. What will the Christian witnesses of Jehovah then be obliged to do?
15 What will that future course of the political powers of the world mean for the Christian witnesses of Jehovah? This: their ministry in behalf of the interests of God’s kingdom will be rejected. No longer will they be preaching “the year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah.” Even after the despoiling of Babylon the Great, they must unflinchingly carry on the proclaiming of the “day of vengeance on the part of our God.”—Isa. 61:1, 2; 59:17, 18.
16. How will Jehovah’s Witnesses imitate the apostle Paul in what he says in Romans 11:13 according to many translations?
16 Till then, what are Jehovah’s Witnesses going to do with their “ministry”? Keeping close in mind what is coming according to Bible prophecy, they will wisely determine to do what that fine example, the apostle Paul, did. In Romans 11:13, as an international legate from Jehovah God, the apostle Paul described what he did about it, according to various modern translations of his words: “For I speak to you, the nations, since I am an apostle of the nations; I glorify my ministry.” (The International Hebrew/Greek English Bible; British Revised Version; The New World Translation; The New American Bible; Rotherham) “I honor my ministry.” (Murdock; The Emphatic Diaglott; Roman Catholic Douay Version; The New English Bible) “I make much of my ministry.” (The New International Version) “I make as much as I can of my ministry.” (Phillips’ Modern English) “I make the most of my ministry.” (An American Translation) “I take pride in my ministry.” (Weymouth) “I magnify my ministry.” (Revised Standard Version) “I make much of my office.” (The Bible in Living English) “I lay great stress on my office.” (Moffatt) “I magnify mine office.” (Authorized Version) Luther’s German Bible translation reads: “I will prize my office [Amt, German].” William Tyndale rendered it: “I will magnify myn office.”
17. Although it was a work in behalf of pagan Gentiles, did Paul as a Jew say he lowered it to the level of a mere average service?
17 From the above translations we note that Paul’s di·a·ko·niʹa is not lowered to the level of a mere “service.” Paul uses in connection with his “ministry” the Greek word dox·aʹzo, the root word of which is the Greek term doʹxa, meaning “glory.” Certainly there was nothing about Paul’s di·a·ko·niʹa of which to be ashamed. As Today’s English Version renders Romans 11:13: “I am speaking now to you Gentiles: As long as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I will take pride in my work.” The Jerusalem Bible reads: “Let me tell you pagans this: I have been sent to the pagans as their apostle, and I am proud of being sent.”a
18. In the light of what the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ were naturally, why should Jehovah’s Witnesses not be belittled by the clergy with high-sounding titles who graduated from seminaries?
18 Of course, one’s Christian “ministry” is nothing over which to get a swelled head. Rather, we should feel most humble, because God has so favored his dedicated, baptized worshipers by taking them into such a ministry under the now reigning King, Jesus Christ. Christendom’s clergymen who have graduated from her theological seminaries are called Reverend, Most Reverend, Most Right Reverend, Your Reverence, and by other high-sounding titles, and may therefore belittle the dedicated, baptized witnesses of Jehovah. On the other hand, four of Jesus’ apostles were fishermen, one was a tax collector, and the seven others are not cited as having attended any of the Rabbinical schools of the first century. Yet they are given a glorious citation in the last book of the Bible, where it is stated that their names are inscribed on the 12 foundation stones of the New Jerusalem.—Rev. 21:14.
19. Are the dedicated, baptized witnesses of Jehovah ministers of any government, and how enduring will their ministry be?
19 As for being ministers of government, well, those dedicated, baptized witnesses of Jehovah are ministers of the greatest government in all existence. No, they are nothing like Cabinet officers of some man-made government such as an empire, kingdom or democracy, but they are ministers of the Sovereign of the Universe, the Creator of heaven and earth. In fulfillment of Matthew 24:14, they are the appointed heralds of the Messianic kingdom of the presently reigning King, Jesus Christ. Their ministry will not end with the catastrophic end of the old system of things, during the “great tribulation” just ahead.
20 The apostle Paul could hardly have had in mind the common, ordinary services performed by worldly men in general, when he wrote to his fellow Christian named Archippus: “Keep watching the ministry which you accepted in the Lord, that you fulfill it.” (Col. 4:17) During his final imprisonment Paul wrote to Timothy, his fellow missionary: “Do the work [erʹgon, Greek] of an evangelizer, fully accomplish your ministry.” (2 Tim. 4:5) These inspired instructions to faithful ministers of the primitive Christian congregation are excellent admonitions for all dedicated, baptized witnesses of Jehovah today to apply to themselves in this “time of the end” of the doomed old system of things, to God’s eternal glory.—Dan. 12:4.
a As far back as 383 C.E., the year when Eusebius Jerome began his Latin Vulgate Version of the Holy Scriptures from the original languages, he popularized ministerial terms among Latin-speaking and-reading Christians by using the Latin noun minister from Matthew 20:26 onward; the Latin noun ministerium (“ministry”) from Luke 10:40 forward; and the Latin verb ministrare (“to minister”) from Matthew 4:11 forward.
Latin used to be the international diplomatic language of the Western world. In 1378, the year of the “Great Schism of the West” involving the papacy, John Wycliffe published his translation of the New Testament (the Christian Greek Scriptures). “Wycliffe translated directly from the Latin Vulgate, not deeming himself competent to use the Hebrew and Greek originals as a basis. His version is quite literal and plain, but stiff and Latinized; yet less so than many of Wycliffe’s other writings.” (M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia, Volume X, page 1043, column 1, under “Wycliffe”) So back in the 14th century Wycliffe was using the word “minister.” No doubt William Tyndale “largely used it in his translation from the original tongues.” At Romans 13:4 Wycliffe’s translation reads: “He is the mynystre of God.” At Romans 11:13: “I schal onoure my mynysterie.”—Oxford – At the Clarendon Press.
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“The spirit of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah is upon me, . . . to proclaim the year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah and the day of vengeance on the part of our God.”—Isa. 61:1, 2.
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“Strangers will actually stand and shepherd the flocks, . . . and as for you the priests of Jehovah . . . the ministers of our God you will be said to be.”—Isa. 61:5, 6.