Questions From Readers
Can we say that God’s servants today who have the earthly hope have as much of God’s spirit as do spirit-anointed Christians?
This question is not a new one. This same matter was addressed in “Questions From Readers” in The Watchtower of April 15, 1952. Many have become Witnesses since then, so we can consider the question and in the process review what that earlier material said.
Fundamentally, the answer is, yes, faithful brothers and sisters of the other sheep class can share equally with anointed ones in receiving God’s holy spirit.—John 10:16.
This, of course, does not mean that the spirit operates in the same way on all individuals. Think back to faithful servants in pre-Christian times, who certainly received God’s spirit. With power from the spirit, some of them slew ferocious beasts, cured the sick, even raised the dead. And they needed the spirit to write inspired books of the Bible. (Judges 13:24, 25; 14:5, 6; 1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:17-37; 5:1-14) The Watchtower said: “Though not of the anointed class, they were filled with holy spirit.”
From another angle, consider men and women in the first century who were anointed with holy spirit, becoming spiritual sons of God with the heavenly hope. All had been anointed, but that does not mean that the spirit thereafter operated in the same way on all of them. That is clear from 1 Corinthians chapter 12. There the apostle Paul discussed gifts of the spirit. We read in 1Co 12 verses 8, 9, and 11: “To one there is given through the spirit speech of wisdom, to another speech of knowledge according to the same spirit, to another faith by the same spirit, to another gifts of healings by that one spirit. . . . But all these operations the one and the same spirit performs, making a distribution to each one respectively just as it wills.”
Significantly, not all anointed ones back then had miraculous gifts of the spirit. In 1 Corinthians chapter 14, Paul mentioned a congregation meeting in which one had the gift of tongues, but no one present had the gift of translation. Nonetheless, at some earlier point, each one of them had experienced anointing with spirit. Would it be reasonable to say that the brother having the gift of tongues had more of the spirit than others present? No. Those other anointed ones were not disadvantaged, as if unable to understand the Bible as well as that one or unable to face trials as well. The spirit operated in a special way on the brother who could speak in tongues. Still, he and they needed to stay close to Jehovah and to “keep getting filled with spirit,” as Paul wrote.—Ephesians 5:18.
Regarding those of the remnant today, they certainly have received God’s spirit. At one point it operated on them in a special way—at the time when they were anointed and adopted as spiritual sons. Thereafter they “keep getting filled with spirit,” having its help when they seek to understand the Bible more clearly, take the lead in the preaching work, or face tests—personal or organizational.
Members of the “other sheep,” though not having had the experience of being anointed, in other respects do receive holy spirit. The Watchtower of April 15, 1952, observed:
“The ‘other sheep’ today perform the same preaching work as the remnant, under the same trying conditions, and manifest the same faithfulness and integrity. They feed at the same spiritual table, eating the same food, absorbing the same truths. Being of the earthly class, with earthly hopes and a keen interest in earthly things, they might interest themselves more in scriptures relating to earthly conditions in the new world; whereas the anointed remnant, with heavenly hopes and strong personal interest in the things of the spirit, might study more diligently those things in God’s Word. . . . Yet the fact remains that the same truths and the same understanding are available to both classes, and it is just how the individuals apply themselves in study that determines the comprehension of heavenly and earthly things they acquire. The Lord’s spirit is available in equal portions to both classes, and knowledge and understanding are offered equally to both, with equal opportunities for absorbing it.”