1. In Tyndale’s translation of Romans 13:1-6, what are officers of political governments called with reference to the God of Christians?
IN HIS translation of 1526 C.E., from the original Greek into the vernacular English of his day, William Tyndale wrote concerning the “higher powers” or “superior authorities” of this world: “For he is the minister of god, for thy welth. Butt and yff thou do evyll, then feare. for he beareth not a swearde for nought. for he is the minister off god, to take vengeaunce on them that do evyll. Wherfore ye must nedes obey, nott for feare off vengeance only: but also be cause of conscience. Even for this cause paye ye tribute. For they are goddes ministers, servynge for the same purpose.”—Rom. 13:1-6, Dabney.
2. (a) Is the fact that officers of worldly governments are called “ministers” based on Tyndale’s translation of 1526? (b) Does their use of that term deny to Paul and fellow Christians who are no part of this world the right to call themselves ministers?
2 There is no reason to believe that the entitling of certain officers of State in various political governments as “prime minister” or “minister” of this or that is based upon the above words of the apostle Paul. Even then, there is a vast difference between the secular ministry of such politicians called ‘God’s ministers’ and the religious “ministry” of the apostle Paul and that of his fellow Christians who are no part of this world. Their areas of operation are different from one another. The use of the term “minister” in a governmental sense by worldly politicians does not debar Paul and his fellow Christians from being called “ministers” in a religious sense according to the languages that are involved.
3. Are Jehovah’s Witnesses of today, who go preaching from house to house like Tychicus and Timothy, each “God’s minister in the good news about the Christ”?
3 When, in Ephesians 6:21, the apostle Paul calls Tychicus “a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord,” he was not classifying Tychicus with the clergymen of Christendom. (Also, Colossians 1:7; 4:7.) Paul also called Timothy “our brother and God’s minister in the good news about the Christ.” (1 Thess. 3:2) Certainly Jehovah’s dedicated, baptized witnesses of today who preach “this good news of the kingdom” from house to house are “God’s minister[s] in the good news about the Christ.”—Matt. 24:14; Mark 13:10.
4. What do the Scriptures indicate as to whether the Christian congregation as a whole, as well as individual members of it, has a ministry?
4 What, though, about the congregation of baptized Christians as a whole? To the congregation in Thyatira, Asia Minor, the glorified Son of God, Jesus Christ, said: “I know your deeds, and your love and faith and ministry.” (Rev. 2:18, 19) To the congregation in Corinth, Achaia, Greece, Paul wrote: “There are varieties of ministries, and yet there is the same Lord.” (1 Cor. 12:5) In harmony with that fact, from the Pentecost of 33 C.E. forward the glorified Jesus Christ bestowed upon his congregation on earth gifts in the form of men, such as apostles, prophets, evangelizers, shepherds, teachers. For what purpose? “With a view to the readjustment of the holy ones, for ministerial work [literally, work of ministry], for the building up of the body of the Christ.” (Eph. 4:7-12) Finally, to all the members of the Hebrew Christian congregation in Jerusalem, the apostle Paul wrote: “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name, in that you have ministered to the holy ones and continue ministering.” (Heb. 6:10) In this way all were performing a ministry approved by Jehovah God.
AS REGARDS SECULAR WORK
5. (a) Contrary to the style of professional ministers of Christendom, may ministers according to the Scriptural rule be part-time secular workers? (b) When did the term “minister” appear in Bible translations?
5 One’s being Scripturally a minister as a part of the dedicated, baptized congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses does not mean living a life in luxury and at ease. The living arrangements for the professional ministers of the religious systems of Christendom may lead many to think so. But according to the inspired Bible this should not be so. Yet, those who are “ministers” according to the Bible meaning of the word may be workers at secular employment for part of the time. Why, even Jesus Christ was a carpenter at Nazareth until 30 years of age! Then he devoted his full time to the ministry for which he had been anointed with God’s spirit. Whether he spoke the Latin language and used its term “minister,” we do not know. But when the Hebrew-Greek Scriptures were translated into the Latin of the Roman Empire, then the word minister appeared in that translation.
6. (a) According to the roots of the corresponding word in the Latin or the Greek, “minister” has what kind of sense? (b) How, then, could it be “glorified” by Paul?
6 Since the word minister is derived from the Latin adjective minus, meaning “less,” to be a minister means, basically, for one to “be or act like something less” (quod minus est, Latin). The corresponding Greek word di·aʹko·nos has a like lowly derivation. It is understood to be drawn from di·aʹ (meaning “through”) and konis (meaning “dust”). To a Greek the word would present the idea of someone going through the dust in order to make himself available or to render some service. However, despite the lowly roots of the Greek word the apostle Paul used it when saying: “I glorify my ministry.” (Rom. 11:13) He proved this by sticking to it to the finish.
7. (a) Is the ministry of the Kingdom message cheapened by ministers’ not charging for it? (b) How is any necessary secular work viewed by Kingdom ministers?
7 It was not for self-glory that Paul zealously carried on his ministry. It was without cost or without charge to the ones to whom he preached the “good news.” But by this he was not cheapening his ministry. Receivers of the “good news” still had to ‘count the cost’ for doing something beneficial to themselves without paying for the “good news.” Paul felt most highly honored at being entrusted with such glorious “good news,” a ministry without equal when compared with all the highpaying occupations of this world. Today Jehovah’s Witnesses imitate the example of the apostle Paul. How? By not engaging in the ministry of God’s Kingdom message for personal gain in a material or worldly way. They view it as wrong to handle the Kingdom message like something of a commercial kind, as merely a means of making a comfortable living. Any secular work that they may be obliged to do takes a secondary place with them as a sideline. The Kingdom ministry is something worth making sacrifices for!
8. In what way did Paul, after finally reaching Rome, continue to ‘glorify his ministry’ there?
8 When the apostle Paul finally arrived in Rome and made contact with the congregation, he continued to do what he had said in his letter written years earlier to them: he ‘glorified his ministry.’ How did he do this in spite of being a prisoner with a chain? Doctor Luke, his faithful companion, tells us: “When, finally, we entered into Rome, Paul was permitted to stay by himself with the soldier guarding him. However, three days later he called together those who were the principal men of the Jews. When they had assembled, [Paul talked to them]. . . . So he remained for an entire two years in his own hired house, and he would kindly receive all those who came in to him, preaching the kingdom of God to them and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with the greatest freeness of speech, without hindrance.”—Acts 28:16-31; Eph. 6:20.
9. To what extent did Paul’s imprisonment and the reason for it become public knowledge in Rome, and how did the Christians in that city feel about it?
9 What was the result of this activity of Paul held unjustly as a prisoner? He tells us: “Now I desire you to know, brothers, that my affairs have turned out for the advancement of the good news rather than otherwise, so that my bonds have become public knowledge in association with Christ among all the Prætorian Guard and all the rest; and most of the brothers in the Lord, feeling confidence by reason of my prison bonds, are showing all the more courage to speak the word of God fearlessly.” “All the holy ones, but especially those of the household of Caesar, send you their greetings.”—Phil. 1:12-14; 4:22.
NOW THE TIME TO DIGNIFY THE MINISTRY
10. When did the remnant of Jehovah’s faithful dedicated baptized people respond to the call to get out of the world empire of false religion?
10 Jehovah’s Witnesses have responded to the divine call to come out of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. During World War I of 1914-1918, Babylon the Great collaborated with the warring political powers in putting restrictions upon the dedicated, baptized people of Jehovah God. This went as far as the imprisoning of leading members of the headquarters staff of their organization. But in the postwar year of 1919 there came relief and release. Then they saw the need for reorganizing themselves for the foretold work of preaching “this good news of the kingdom” worldwide.—Matt. 24:14.
11. (a) When met in convention in 1919, members of the remnant exposed Babylon the Great in what way? (b) What awaited time period did they hail, and in line with that what magazine began to be published?
11 A reorganization of the remnant followed for preaching “this good news of the kingdom” earth wide as never before. With that in view they held a general convention in September of the year 1919, at Cedar Point, Ohio, U.S.A. There they publicly exposed Babylon the Great as the backer of the then proposed League of Nations, which the clergy of the Protestant Church called “the political expression of the kingdom of God on earth.” The conventioners hailed the “golden age” that is to be ushered in by God’s heavenly kingdom under Christ. As announced at the convention, in October of 1919 a new magazine began to be published as a complement to the Watch Tower magazine and it was entitled “The Golden Age.” Later, due to the increasing need of comfort on the part of the whole human family, the name of the magazine was changed to “Consolation.” After World War II the name was changed to “Awake!”
12. (a) Further improving their ministerial appearance, the remnant took on themselves what new identification? (b) What was all of this doing to their Kingdom ministry?
12 All of this gave a new ministerial appearance to those preachers of God’s established kingdom. In 1931 they shook off all the reproachful names with which Babylon the Great continued to dub them, for then they adopted the name based on Bible prophecy, that is, Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Isa. 43:10-12) This gave them a new identification before Babylon the Great and her political patronizers. This stripping off of religious clothing that had been stained and soiled by contact with Babylon the Great was pleasing to their God, Jehovah. They took on a new image in his sight. Figuratively, it was as if the anointed remnant were putting on the “robes of state” that befitted their priestly ministry. (Zech. 3:4, 5) This dignified, honored, glorified their ministry toward God.
13. (a) What further proof was given from 1935 onward that the remnant had been restored to God’s favor? (b) Those of the “great multitude” joined the remnant in doing what about the ministry?
13 Was there visible evidence of the restoration of the anointed remnant to divine favor after World War I? Yes, for what proved to be “a great crowd” of sincere seekers of the one living and true God began associating with the comparatively small remnant of the “royal priesthood.” (1 Pet. 2:9) This has definitely been the case since the spring of the year 1935. Then a general convention was held in Washington, D.C. There, on May 31, the president of the Watch Tower Society gave the feature talk on the subject of “The Great Multitude.” This was based on Revelation 7:9-15, Authorized Version. Next day 840 symbolized their dedication to Jehovah God by water baptism. The majority of these baptismal candidates entertained the hope of the “great multitude” for an earthly paradise under Christ’s kingdom. This they well knew meant their joining the anointed remnant in their house-to-house activity as ministers of Jehovah God. They, too, began to ‘glorify their ministry.’
14. Though not in most cases able to devote their full time to the Kingdom preaching, those of the “great multitude” are under what obligation because of their dedication and symbolic baptism?
14 Till now hundreds of thousands of sheeplike persons have flocked to the side of the anointed remnant and have joined them in the Kingdom ministry. Not all of these have been able to devote their full time to that ministry in the capacity of full-time publishers, traveling representatives of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, or as staff members of branch offices of the Society. Earthly obligations require most of them to do secular work for most of their time or a good part of it. Yet their dedication to God, as symbolized by water baptism, calls for them to be ministers of him in serving the interests of his kingdom.
15. How do these find themselves in a situation like that of the apostle Paul at Corinth?
15 They find themselves in a situation like that of the apostle Paul. For a year and a half he worked in Corinth as a tentmaker with Aquila, a Jewish believer. (Acts 18:1-11) Some today might classify Paul as being then “a regular minister.”
16. When Paul stopped at Miletus on his way to Jerusalem, what did he say about secular work on his part?
16 We also recall what Paul said while on his way to Jerusalem when he stopped at the seaport of Miletus in Asia Minor. From there he sent and called for the elders or overseers of the congregation in Ephesus. Among other things, he said to them: “Therefore keep awake, and bear in mind that for three years, night and day, I did not quit admonishing each one with tears. . . . I have coveted no man’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands have attended to the needs of me and of those with me. I have exhibited to you in all things that by thus laboring you must assist those who are weak, and must bear in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, when he himself said, ‘There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.’”—Acts 20:31-35.
17. (a) Was Paul downgrading his ministry by working at times at secular employment, or what was the idea of it? (b) What is there to say about whether other dedicated Christians of the day were worker-ministers, as illustrated by what temple attendants?
17 By working temporarily in secular employment, at a paying job, Paul was not downgrading his Kingdom ministry. He arranged to make his preaching and teaching without cost to his hearers and pupils. In that way he was really keeping his educational work clear of the charge of being a money-making racket. (1 Cor. 9:13-18) In this case he was really doing what he said: “I glorify my ministry.” (Rom. 11:13) His being a worker-minister for self-support proved that he had a pure unselfish motive in his Kingdom ministry. Most of his dedicated Christian associates were worker-ministers, some of them even being slaves to non-Christian masters. (Acts 18:1-4; Rom. 16:3-5) Necessary secular work does not degrade the Kingdom ministry, for we must bear in mind that the Levites under the Mosaic Law covenant of Israel served at the temple in Jerusalem just one week each half year, besides at the annual festivals in Jerusalem. The rest of the time they lived in their Levite cities throughout the land and worked there for the upkeep of their families. Thus they too were worker-ministers.
18. (a) Are such worker-ministers among Jehovah’s Witnesses entitled to the consideration granted to ministers of Babylon the Great? (b) How do worker-ministers ‘glorify their ministry’ while engaged in secular employment?
18 Because many of Jehovah’s dedicated, baptized witnesses find it necessary or obligatory to do secular work most of their time, it does not mean or argue that they are not real ministers of God, entitled to all the considerations given by governments to religious ministers of Babylon the Great. Although being worker-ministers, they put the interests of God’s kingdom ahead of everything else. Because of preaching God’s kingdom even from house to house, they are indeed Kingdom ministers, not ranking lower than the political ministers in the governments of this world. By the praiseworthy quality of the work that they render to their secular employers these worker-ministers indirectly ‘glorify their ministry.’ This brings credit to God to whom we render sacred service.
19. (a) If circumstances change to make it possible for him, what will the worker-minister do to the extent of his ability? (b) Regardless of the amount of time spent directly in behalf of the Kingdom, what will each dedicated baptized witness of Jehovah do?
19 It goes without saying that, if circumstances change to allow worker-ministers to engage in the Kingdom ministry full time, they will appreciatively take up the ministry of God’s Word to the full extent of their ability. At all events, whether we are able to devote our full time or only part of it directly in the interests of God’s now established kingdom by Christ, let us incessantly ‘glorify our ministry.’