Cooperating With the Governing Body Today
“He will appoint him over all his belongings.”—LUKE 12:44.
1. In what kingdom did Christ begin ruling in 33 C.E., and by what means?
AT PENTECOST 33 C.E., Jesus Christ, the Head of the congregation, began actively ruling in the kingdom of his spirit-anointed slaves. How so? By means of the holy spirit, angels, and a visible governing body. As the apostle Paul indicated, God ‘delivered anointed ones from the authority of the darkness and transferred them into the kingdom of the Son of his love.’—Colossians 1:13-18; Acts 2:33, 42; 15:2; Galatians 2:1, 2; Revelation 22:16.
2. In what larger Kingdom did Christ begin reigning in 1914?
2 At the end of “the appointed times of the nations,” Jehovah increased Christ’s kingly authority, extending it beyond the Christian congregation. (Luke 21:24) Yes, in the year 1914, God gave his Son kingly authority over the “nations,” “the kingdom of the world,” all mankind.—Psalm 2:6-8; Revelation 11:15.
Appointed “Over All His Belongings”
3, 4. (a) In Jesus’ illustration of the minas, who was represented by the man of noble birth? (b) What Kingdom developments occurred in 1918 and 1919?
3 Noteworthy here is Jesus’ illustration of a man of noble birth. (Luke 19:11-27) Before traveling abroad to secure kingly power, the man gave his slaves money (minas) with which to work. Upon returning, this man, who represents Christ, called before him “these slaves to whom he had given the silver money, in order to ascertain what they had gained by business activity.” (Luke 19:15) How did this work out after Jesus secured kingly power?
4 In 1918 the enthroned King Jesus Christ found a small group of Christians who had previously left Christendom’s churches and were busy caring for their Master’s earthly interests. After refining them as with fire, Jesus gave his slaves increased authority in 1919. (Malachi 3:1-4; Luke 19:16-19) He appointed them “over all his belongings.”—Luke 12:42-44.
“Food Supplies at the Proper Time”
5, 6. (a) What enlarged assignment did Christ’s steward receive? (b) What prophecies were due to be fulfilled after 1914, and how was the steward class to participate actively in their fulfillment?
5 The reigning King Jesus Christ gave an enlarged assignment to his steward, or house manager, on earth. Anointed Christians were to be “ambassadors” of God substituting for a crowned king empowered to rule over all the peoples of the earth. (2 Corinthians 5:20; Daniel 7:14) Their collective responsibility was no longer to be only that of giving Christ’s body of anointed attendants “their measure of food supplies at the proper time.” (Luke 12:42) They were now to take an active part in the working out of the prophecies due to be fulfilled after the Kingdom’s establishment in 1914.
6 What did this mean in actual practice? It meant expanding the preaching of ‘this good news of the kingdom to all the inhabited earth.’ (Matthew 24:14) Moreover, it meant publishing powerful messages of judgment against Satan’s wicked system and its supporters. This had the effect of ‘rocking the nations.’ Thus, “desirable things,” Christ’s “other sheep,” began to come in. (Haggai 2:7; John 10:16) From 1935 onward, the “great crowd” began to flock into Jehovah’s organization worldwide. (Revelation 7:9, 10) This called for progressive improvements in organization. Symbolically speaking, stones were to be replaced by iron, wood by copper, iron by silver, and copper by gold. (Isaiah 60:17) All of this has taken place since 1919 under the active and close direction of Jesus Christ, who has committed all his earthly Kingdom interests, or belongings, to his faithful slave class and its Governing Body.
7. What did the steward’s increased responsibilities involve?
7 We can easily understand that the increased load of responsibility devolving upon the Master’s slave, steward, or house manager involved intense writing and editorial activities. Spiritual food supplies had to be published regularly at the proper time in The Watchtower. In 1919 The Golden Age (a companion magazine later to become Consolation, and then Awake!) began to be published to arouse public interest, in addition to building up the “domestics.” (Matthew 24:45) Floods of books, booklets, and tracts have also been produced over the years.
8. With what were the members of the Governing Body first identified, and what statement did The Watchtower make in 1944?
8 Looking back in this “time of the end,” we are not surprised that the members of the Governing Body were at first closely identified with the editorial staff of the Watch Tower Society. (Daniel 12:4) The article “The Theocratic Alignment Today,” published in The Watchtower of November 1, 1944, said: “Reasonably, those who were entrusted with the publication of the revealed Bible truths were looked to as the Lord’s chosen governing body to guide all those who desired to worship God in spirit and in truth and to serve him unitedly in spreading these revealed truths to other hungering and thirsting ones.”
9. With what did the Governing Body later come to be closely identified, and why?
9 There were legal requirements involved in publishing magazines and other Bible study aids. Hence, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society was set up and registered in the state of Pennsylvania, U.S.A. For years, the visible Governing Body came to be identified with the seven-member board of directors of this corporation established to publish the Bible study aids needed and used by the Lord’s people earth wide.
10, 11. What refinement took place in 1944, and what comment was made about this in The Watchtower?
10 The Society’s seven directors were faithful Christians. But their role in a legal corporation might have suggested that they owed their positions on the Governing Body to their being elected by legal members of the Watch Tower Society. Furthermore, by law such membership and its voting privileges were originally granted only to certain ones who made contributions to the Society. This arrangement needed to be changed. This was done at the annual meeting of the Pennsylvania corporation of the Watch Tower Society held on October 2, 1944. The statutes of the Society were amended so that membership would no longer be on a financial basis. Members would be chosen from among faithful servants of Jehovah, and these have come to include many serving full-time at the Society’s headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, and in its branches throughout the world.
11 Reporting on this improvement, The Watchtower of November 1, 1944, stated: “Money, as represented in financial contributions, should have no determining voice, should in fact have nothing to do with the filling of the governing body of Jehovah’s witnesses on earth. . . . The holy spirit, the active force which comes down from Jehovah God through Christ Jesus, is that which should determine and guide in the matter.”
Different From a Board of Directors
12. What shows that Jehovah blessed the refinements under the direction of the Governing Body?
12 The progress of the preaching work during the following decades proves that Jehovah blessed the foregoing refinements in the understanding of the Governing Body. (Proverbs 10:22) Why, the number of Kingdom proclaimers throughout the earth jumped from less than 130,000 in 1944 to 1,483,430 in 1970! But further improvements were yet to come.
13. (a) Until 1971, what was the situation as regards the Governing Body? (b) What occurred at the Society’s annual meeting in 1971?
13 Until 1971 those of the Governing Body were still identified with the seven members of the board of directors of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. The Society’s president carried the main load of responsibility for making decisions affecting the operation of the Society’s branches throughout the world. But epoch-making talks were delivered at the annual meeting held on October 1, 1971. The Society’s president spoke on the subject “Bringing the Holy Place Into Right Condition,” and the vice president on the topic “A Governing Body As Different From a Legal Corporation.” What difference is there between the Governing Body and the legal corporation?
14. What differences exist between a legal corporation and the Governing Body?
14 As already mentioned, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania has a board of directors limited to seven members. These dedicated Christian men are elected for three-year terms by corporation members totaling no more than 500, the majority of whom are not anointed Christians. Moreover, since the corporation’s existence is purely legal, with a fixed geographic headquarters, it can be dissolved by Caesar, that is, the State. (Mark 12:17) However, the Governing Body is not a legal instrument. Its members are not elected. They are appointed through the holy spirit under the direction of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. (Compare Acts 20:28.) Moreover, those making up the Governing Body are spirit-appointed men without any obligatory fixed geographic location or headquarters.
15. What statement about organization was made in The Watchtower of December 15, 1971, and what can be said of the modern-day Governing Body?
15 As to such refinements in understanding, The Watchtower of December 15, 1971, said: “Thankfully Jehovah’s Christian witnesses know and assert that this is no one-man religious organization, but that it has a governing body of spirit-anointed Christians.” The Governing Body of the anointed slave class and of their millions of companions among the other sheep has been progressively equipped to take care of its office of oversight.
16. How have Christ’s earthly belongings increased since 1971, and what are some of these that he has committed to the care of the faithful and discreet slave, represented by its Governing Body?
16 The earthly belongings of the King Jesus Christ have continually grown. Since 1971 the number of Witnesses has leaped from under 1,600,000 to a peak of over 3,700,000 in 1989. What proof of God’s blessing! (Isaiah 60:22) This growth has called for the expansion of facilities at the Society’s headquarters and in its branches, as well as for the modernizing of methods of production and distribution. It has resulted in the building of many Kingdom Halls and Assembly Halls throughout the earth. All the while, the Governing Body has also continued to carry the responsibility of overseeing the preaching work, producing Bible study material, and appointing overseers in the branches, districts, circuits, and congregations. These are the Kingdom interests that Christ has committed to the care of the faithful and discreet slave, represented by its Governing Body.
17. What further improvements in oversight were made in 1971, 1974, and 1976?
17 The first-century governing body was enlarged to include more than Jesus’ apostles. When the circumcision issue was decided, that body evidently included “the apostles and older men in Jerusalem.” (Acts 15:1, 2) Comparably, the Governing Body was enlarged in 1971 and again in 1974. To facilitate their work of oversight, the Governing Body arranged for five committees to begin functioning on January 1, 1976. Each committee is composed of from three to six members, all of whom have equal voice in matters under consideration. The chairman of each committee serves for one year, and individual members of the Governing Body serve on one or more of these committees. Each of these five committees gives particular attention to a specific aspect of Christ’s earthly belongings. A sixth committee—the Chairman’s Committee, whose membership rotates each year, handles urgent problems.
Active Cooperation With the Governing Body
18. How does the Governing Body operate, and what is one way that we can reflect our cooperation with it?
18 The committees of the Governing Body hold weekly meetings to review important matters, make decisions after prayerful considerations, and plan for future theocratic activity. As noted earlier, Acts chapter 15 shows that a weighty question needing resolution was referred to the first-century governing body for attention. Similarly today, important questions are referred to the entire Governing Body, which meets weekly or more often when necessary. The members of the Governing Body, at present 12 in number, seek Jehovah God’s direction through the Scriptures and by means of prayer. One way we reflect our cooperation with the Governing Body is by remembering these specially appointed ones in our daily prayers.—Romans 12:12.
19. How do instructions of the Governing Body reach the congregations?
19 How do the instructions and decisions of the Governing Body reach the congregations? After the members of the first-century governing body reached their decision with the help of God’s spirit, they sent a letter to the congregations. (Acts 15:22-29) However, the principal way today is through Christian publications.
20. (a) What further organizational refinement was made in 1976? (b) How do Branch Committees cooperate with the Governing Body?
20 Since February 1, 1976, each of the branches of the Watch Tower Society has had a Branch Committee made up of capable men appointed by the Governing Body. As representatives of the Governing Body for the country or countries under the supervision of their branch, these brothers must be faithful, loyal men. This reminds us of the capable, God-fearing, trustworthy men who helped Moses judge the people in ancient Israel. (Exodus 18:17-26) Members of a Branch Committee implement instructions received by means of the Society’s books and magazines and Our Kingdom Ministry, as well as in general letters and special letters dealing with local problems. Branch Committees keep the Governing Body up-to-date on the progress of the work in each land and on problems that may arise. Such reports from all over the world help the Governing Body to decide what subjects should be considered in the Society’s publications.
21. How are traveling overseers appointed, and what do their duties include?
21 Under the direction of the holy spirit, Branch Committees recommend mature, spiritual men to serve as circuit and district overseers. After being appointed directly by the Governing Body, they serve as traveling overseers. These brothers visit circuits and congregations in order to build them up spiritually and help them apply instructions received from the Governing Body. (Compare Acts 16:4; Romans 1:11, 12.) Traveling overseers submit reports to the branch office. With the help of the holy spirit and the inspired Scriptures, they share with local elders in recommending qualified brothers for appointment as ministerial servants and elders by the Governing Body or by its representatives.—Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:5; compare 1 Timothy 3:1-13; 4:14.
22. (a) How do congregation elders cooperate with the Governing Body? (b) What proves that Jehovah is blessing this theocratic arrangement?
22 In turn, those making up bodies of elders ‘pay attention to themselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed them overseers.’ (Acts 20:28) These overseers faithfully seek to apply instructions received from Jehovah God and Jesus Christ by means of the faithful and discreet slave and its Governing Body. Jehovah is blessing this theocratic arrangement, for ‘the congregations continue to be made firm in the faith and to increase in number from day to day.’—Acts 16:5.
23. Regarding the Governing Body, we should be resolved to do what?
23 How fine it is that through the Governing Body, Jehovah God and the Master, Jesus Christ, are manifesting support of God’s people! (Psalm 94:14) As part of Jehovah’s organization, we individually benefit from such support. (Psalm 145:14) This should strengthen our resolve to cooperate with God’s arrangements. Indeed, may we always be found cooperating with the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses as we move forward to the time when “the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”—Isaiah 11:9.
Main Points to Remember
□ What increased responsibilities did the steward class receive in 1919?
□ For many years, with what was the visible Governing Body identified?
□ What progressive refinements were made in the appointment of the members of the Governing Body?
□ What are some of Christ’s earthly belongings that he has committed to the slave class and its Governing Body?
□ How can we cooperate with the Governing Body?
[Pictures on page 16, 17]
From its world headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, the Governing Body supervises the publishing and preaching work of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 93 branches of the Watch Tower Society