Chapter 12 part 1

Christian Organization

Should Christians be organized? Some people feel that God deals with each person individually, privately, so no organization is required. Seeing arrogant clergy in powerful churches exploit and abuse their submissive flocks, they conclude that any kind of heirarchy or authority structure is wrong. What does God himself say?

The question is easier to answer if it is turned around: should Christians be disorganized? All true Christians have one Lord as their ruler, master, and owner, and he has told us to preach the coming of a unified new world government, the Kingdom of God. We could hardly expect anyone to take that Kingdom seriously if we were disunited.

Yet Christendom, which claims to be Christian, is divided into thousands of dissenting denominations and sects. This is not God’s doing and it does not please him. In the first century, when the congregation in Corinth was in danger of breaking up because of factions and cliques, Paul counseled them: “I urge you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you should all speak in agreement and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be completely united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.” To the congregation in Ephesus he wrote: “I appeal to you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with complete humility and mildness, patiently putting up with one another in love, earnestly endeavoring to maintain the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace. One body there is, and one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” —1 Corinthians 1:10-13, Ephesians 4:1-6; see also Philippians 1:27 and 2:1, 2, also Romans 15:5, 6..

Jehovah is not a God of disorder, but of peace. (1 Corinthians 14:33) He has always arranged for his people to be organized. From earliest times he authorized men to teach and even enforce his instructions. Long ago it was the family patriarch who did this. (Genesis 18:19) When God established the nation of Israel, he arranged for mature older men to be honest and wise judges in each city. During times of crisis he would inspire "judges" to lead the nation temporarily. There were also military leaders, "chiefs of tens, of hundreds, of thousands". And he instituted a priesthood to teach his Law. These priests were also placed as intercessors between the people and God. —Exodus 18:25, 26, Deut 16:18-20, Deuteronomy 1:13,15 and 17:8-12, Ezra 7:10,11, Malachi 2:7, Hebrews 5:1-4.

These were imperfect men*, so unfortunately some leaders did abuse the authority entrusted to them. Being a judge is a heavy responsibility—get it wrong and people's lives can be ruined. Jehovah angrily condemned the judges in Micah's day: “Hear, please, you heads of Jacob, and you commanders of the house of Israel. Is it not your business to know justice? But you hate what is good and love what is bad; you tear off the skin from my people and the flesh from their bones. . . Hear this, please, you heads of the house of Jacob, and you commanders of the house of Israel, who detest justice and who make crooked all that is straight, who build Zion with bloodshed and Jerusalem with unrighteousness. Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests instruct for a price, and her prophets practice divination for money. and yet they lean on Jehovah, saying: ‘Is not Jehovah with us? No calamity will come upon us.’ So because of you, Zion will be plowed up as a field, Jerusalem will become heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the House will become like high places in a forest.” (Micah 3:1, 2, 9-12) Jehovah holds those who represent him as enforcers of His law to a high standard, and they fail to do so at great peril. When it was done well, the earnest leadership of devoted and conscientious servants of God resulted in a strong and peaceful community and nation. But when it was not, the people ‘groaned, because the wicked were ruling.’ (Proverbs 29:2) There were even some revolts and assassinations.

In the early days of Israel, Samuel was a good leader, but his sons after him were a disaster (1 Samual 8:1-5). So the people asked Samuel to set up a monarchy. This, of course, would not be any protection from bad leadership; likely they were influenced by seeing the glory and strength of neighboring nations led by kings. Although Jehovah had them forewarned that this would have serious disadvantages, they insisted. (1 Samuel 8:9-19) Jehovah worked with this arrangement, and blessed kings who accepted Him as King over them (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). As for those kings who became arrogant, seeing themselves as supreme, sometimes he corrected them, and sometimes he simply allowed the people to suffer from the consequences of their choice (for one example, 2 Chronicles 32:22-29.)

After many years of varying degrees of abuse of power, the leaders responsible to teach submission to God themselves refused to recognise His Son. For this that nation was finally rejected. At Pentecost of 33 CE, by holy spirit the Christian congregation was anointed as the true Israel, replacing the natural Jews as God's select nation. (see Chapter 6 for a more complete discussion.) In this way the prophecy of Ezekiel 34:1-16 began to be fulfilled.

Since this congregation is also made up of imperfect human beings, it too needed instruction and a governing arrangement. How did God organize them?

From among his many disciples Jesus chose twelve to be "apostles" ("those sent forth"), trained especially for leadership. One betrayed him,* but eleven proved faithful. On the day of Pentecost, Peter, one of the 12, gave a public speech that resulted in 3,000 people joining the congregation. These new members were Jewish, so they already had some knowledge of God, but they did not know much about the Christ. So we read at Acts 2:42, "they continued devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles." These apostles were charged with leading the fledgling congregation.

These new Christians had warm unity among themselves, sharing meals and taking care of other needs, and praying together. Verse 46 says they were "in constant attendance at the temple with a united purpose." So they met together as a united group. They were organized.

As their numbers grew, it became impractical to all meet in one place, so separate congregations came into existence. Notice the way things developed by reading Acts 8:1, 9:31, 11:19-21, 14:21-23. Did this spreading out break up their unity? If left to their own natural impulses, it surely would have. But they were guided by one spirit; they followed one Lord, Jesus Christ. From heaven Jesus used the holy spirit to guide his people. He also sent angels, such as when directing Philip to speak to the Ethiopian or when he set Peter free from jail. —Acts 2:33-36, 5:19, 20, 8:26.

Jesus also used the apostles, with other experienced disciples, as a central governing body. They were not lords over the congregation; Jesus had repeatedly taught them that the greatest among them must be the servant of all. (Please read Matthew 20:25-27, 23:8-12.) Yet their authority was respected by all the congregations as mature older men. Guided by that holy spirit, they made decisions and solved issues that arose. For example, see how they handled a practical problem at Acts 6:1-7. Their primary work was overseeing the ministry, as illustrated at Acts 8:14-17.

In time other mature men became part of that governing body. Later, Christ also selected Paul to be an apostle (see Acts 13:1-4, Romans 1:1). So when a doctrinal dispute arose in Antioch, Paul properly tried to handle it locally. When his efforts proved insufficient, the congregation agreed that it was time to consult the governing body in Jerusalem. (See Acts 15:1, 2; notice the "elders" that were included.)

To decide this matter, for guidance these faithful men looked to holy spirit and scripture, not to their own feelings as men. When the correct answer was found, they sent it to all the congregations, not just to Antioch. They knew that all Christians should be united in their service to God. —See Acts 15:3-35, 16:4, 5.

Another function of the governing body was to supervise the appointment of mature men to oversee local congregations, to shepherd the flock and take the lead in the ministry. The account at Titus 1:5-9 shows how Paul, as an apostle, delegated to Titus, a mature older man, authority to select mature spiritual men there in Crete to be local overseers, giving him a list of qualities they had to meet. There was no limit to the number of overseers a congregation could have; all men who qualified could be appointed. These would form a united governing body on the local level.

These men were not elected democratically by the whole congregation, which would have selected for popularity, not quality. The local overseers could not be "self-willed", that is, being independent-minded or stubbornly proud. Rather, they were to be loyal, "holding firmly to the faithful word." Their first responsibility would be to encourage, which means to build up, admonish, exhort, urge to action. Notice also that they had authority to "reprove those who contradict." Because of this organized arrangement, the whole congregation could be "healthy in the faith." —vss 10-13.

The central governing body did not thereafter abandon these men, but kept in touch, despite the challenging travelling conditions of the time. Notice how Paul built up and encouraged the older men in Ephesus during his last visit with them, at Acts 20:28, 31-37.

Clearly, then, Christ organized his people. Ephesians 4:11-16 says "he gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelizers, some as shepherds and teachers, for the readjustment of the holy ones, for ministerial work, to build up of the body of the Christ, until we all attain to the oneness of the faith . . . so that we should no longer be children. . . carried here and there by every wind of teaching, by the trickery of men, by cunning in contriving error. But speaking the truth, let us by love grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ. From him all the body is harmoniously joined together and cooperating through every joint that gives what is needed. When each respective member functions properly, this makes for the growth of the body as it builds itself up in love."

Because true Christianity unites us, we communicate and associate with one another. Our love moves us to meet together often, for mutual strength and encouragement. Paul advised, ‘do not miss the meetings, as some have the custom, but consider one another, building each other up to love and fine works, doing so all the more as you see the day [of Christ] drawing near.’ So Christian gatherings should not be exhibitions of showy piety or self-righteousness, nor solemn occasions of pretentious formality, nor long boring marathons of dry instruction. Of course that last point is a matter of perspective; what intensely fascinates one may be mind-numbing or incomprehensible for another. Paul did on one occasion speak at length long into the night, and a young man fell asleep and out the window and died. Paul raised him up, then continued speaking til daybreak. Hopefully the young man learned to be more attentive, or at least to sit in a safer place. —Hebrews 10:24, 25, Romans 1:11, 12, Acts 20:7-12.

From reading Paul's letters it is clear that he could be quite profound. Not all meetings were so deep; at 1 Corinthians 14:26-33, 40 we read "when you come together, one has a psalm [song], another has a teaching, another has a revelation. . . a tongue. . . an interpretation. Let all things take place for building up. . . God is not a God of disorder, but of peace. . . let all things take place decently and by arrangement." So meetings should be varied, but also organized, arranged and orderly, although not to the degree that all the life is squeezed out of them. A plan, yes; a script, not too much.

Christian Organization Today

Christians today should be organized according to the same general pattern. Before returning to heaven Jesus promised to come again, and he asked, “when the Son of man arrives, will he really find the faith on the earth?” Considering the waywardness of men, that was a serious question. After saying, “Prove yourselves ready, because the Son of man is coming at an hour that you do not expect,” he asked, “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his household, 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.” —Luke 18:8, Matthew 24:44-47.

As shown in chapter 7, we are now in the last days of this system of things. This is the day for the good news of the Kingdom to be preached in all the earth. For many centuries the churches have corrupted the Kingdom message, glorifying worldly nations as if they were the kingdom of God. Before the end, Jesus would restore the true proclamation, as both good news and a warning to mankind. In that sense, he would "return" as the end-times began. He would seek out and find those who were trying to serve in a pure way, unite them and appoint them over this work and over those who would respond to it. In this way, those faithful slaves were to be appointed over all his belongings on earth.

As shown in chapters 6 and 9 of this book, this Earth will be made new as a paradise home for faithful mankind. For many centuries now, God has been selecting from among his faithful servants "144,000" to govern this new world. According to 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and Revelation 7:1-4, some of these will be present when Christ returns in glory; therefore, they should be among us today. Just as the Levites were assigned to teach God's law to the nation of Israel, it would be proper that these "elect" would be out front in the Lord’s work, both as leaders of the congregation and as advocates of God's Kingdom to the world. Then when their earthly assignment is done, they will be appointed over all his belongings in a greater way, as kings reigning alongside him. These, then, would be the leading faithful slaves in our time. Of course any Christian, regardless of his calling, who faithfully obeys Jesus' command to "feed my little sheep" can be assured his Master will honor him with greater assignments when the Kingdom fully arrives.*Matthew 24:14, John 21:15-17.

How do we identify these "faithful slaves" providing "food" (spiritual teaching) appropriate for our time? You will not find them disunited, scattered amongst the various contending denominations of Christendom. Jesus said "a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand." Since God’s Kingdom will certainly stand, it cannot be divided. So it is not expressed in this earth by many splintered sects. Nor will we find them with the large, successful, rich, well accepted and politically powerful churches. Those who are true Christians will never attain prominence or popularity in this wicked world alienated from God. In fact, since "the path to life is narrow, and few find it", the true Christian organization would be rather modest by worldly standards, and far from well regarded. So what one organization is really preaching the Kingdom and truly living by its ideals, despite unrelenting disapproval by the world? The evidence shows that the group known as "Jehovah’s Witnesses" are the ones who best fit the description of the faithful and discreet slave. —James 2:5.

Faithful? Yes: they have doggedly endured in advocating the Kingdom as man’s only hope. They stay out of the filthy politics and vicious wars of this world. They earnestly strive to remain clean spiritually, to remove all vestige of the paganism adopted by Christendom through the long night of her domination. (compare Malachi 3:1-4, Daniel 11:32-35.) They also try to stay clean morally, removing anyone who is wicked (stubbornly unrepentant in defiance of clear scriptural standards) from their fellowship. Discreet? Yes. They have acted wisely in focusing their energies and assets on serving God with singleness of purpose, not getting distracted into "modern" psychology or acquiring wealth, as many churches of Christendom have.

It is true, they haven't been perfectly discreet. In their overeagerness to welcome the Lord’s return in Kingdom power, in the past they set dates they thought they had worked out from scriptural clues. As these proved incorrect, they gradually learned to humbly wait, to limit themselves to what is obvious in Bible prophecy, to not try to 'read between the lines' so much. That is discretion. And over their 150-year history there have been a few other errors in judgment and doctrine. Although these were nothing compared to the corruption in the traditional churches, their enemies loudly point at and proclaim them, adding false accusations as well, so that you will focus only on that and disregard their earnest faithfulness. Type "Jehovah's Witnesses" into any search engine, and you will find hundreds of web sites dedicated to their destruction. (Interestingly, when you try to discern what is motivating such intense hatred, the majority seem to advocate either the Trinity or homosexuality.)

Although all true Christians give out "food" to a spiritually hungry world, if we look again at the scripture, note that Jesus said that he appointed his faithful steward "over his household" or, according to other translations, "his household servants", "his body of attendants", "his family". His household, his family, is his united congregation of true disciples. (Matthew 12.47-50) That Jesus described Christians as a household cared for by an appointed servant is another proof that He expects us to be organized, and that there would be at least a minimal heirarchy involved. But who within the congregation serve regular spiritual nourishment to their fellow believers?

Following the first-century pattern, Jehovah’s Witnesses are united under the guidance of a central governing body of mature older men. These serve in a position comparable to the apostles and older men in first-century Jerusalem. With the assignment of conveying accurate scriptural understanding to keep the Christian congregation unified and strong, this body is the central manifestation, the narrow definition, of the "faithful slave" Christ has appointed.* Then widening out, each local congregation also has a governing body of mature older men, selected and appointed just as their first-century counterparts were. These ‘elders’ have authority, but they are very different from the clergy of Christendom. Paul reminded a group of elders: “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.” (Acts 20:28; see also verses 29-35 and Matthew 20:25-28.) So they understand that they are not “masters over your faith,” rather, they are “fellow workers for your joy. For it is by [your own] faith that you stand.” (2 Corinthians 1:24) They are instructed: “Shepherd the flock of God under your care, serving as overseers, not under compulsion, but willingly before God; not for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly; not lording it over those who are God’s inheritance, but becoming examples to the flock.” Then, “when the chief shepherd has been made manifest, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” Note that this parallels the reward promised the "faithful slave". As mentioned earlier, for some of these that "crown of glory" will include heavenly kingship. But all who faithfully discharge their trust will be glorified with honorable assignments (and everlasting life) in the coming new world. —1 Peter 5:1-4; compare Romans 5:17 and 21.

The shepherds/overseers/elders are not the only ones who upbuild, nourish, and strengthen their fellow believers. Although not holding office, mature women are also to be "teachers of what is good" within the congregation; they too are faithful slaves. (Titus 2:3, 4) And there is more.

Offices and Assignments in the Congregation

"God has assigned the respective ones in the congregation, first, apostles, second, prophets, third, teachers, then powerful works, gifts of healing, helpful services, abilities to direct, different tongues, . . . translators." (1 Corinthians 12:28-31) Ephesians 4:11, quoted earlier, adds "evangelizers" and "shepherds".

Apparently no one was titled "Apostle" after the original twelve plus Paul. The word means "sent-forth one", which actually applies to all Christians. (Matthew 28:19) But as an office, the comparable position today is that held by those who lead the global congregation, even though the title itself is not being used.

A "prophet" is one who "speaks out", who declares God’s word. It does not need to be a new message, or a revelation about the future. So, that too applies to all Christians. But as Paul used it, it would correspond best today to those who compose teaching aids for Bible instruction, both for public consumption and for the household of faith. Obviously, composing the words does not mean they are teaching their own ideas; a true prophet conveys a message faithful to inspired scripture. (contrast Jeremiah 23:16, 21, 22.)

A "teacher" is the person who actually goes one-on-one with students, carefully educating and motivating them. Once again, all Christians "ought to be teachers" in time, if they apply themselves. (see Hebrews 5:11-14, 1 Tim 4:12-16.) Teaching within the congregation at meetings, however, was an appointive office associated with the "older men", as we saw earlier from Titus 1:5-13. Such ones have an fine example in Ezra, a priest of Israel in the 5th century BC. He “prepared his heart to consult the law of Jehovah and to do it and to teach its regulations and justice in Israel.” Note the four essential elements: the right heart, or motive; consulting God's law, not human ideas; being an example by doing it oneself; then finally, teaching it, with order and justice as a result. —Ezra 7:10, 11.

Paul was inspired to reveal that "gifts of prophesying will be done away with" and that "tongues will cease" and "[miraculous] knowledge will be done away with" when "what is complete arrives." (1 Corinthians 13:8-13) When Christianity was firmly established and the inspired canon of scripture was complete, these special gifts came to an end because they had served their purpose. Already before 70 CE the record shows that miracles were less often granted. (1 Timothy 5:23) The final Bible books were penned by John, the last surviving of the original apostles, by 100 CE.

Even so, these gifts have a similar modern counterpart. "Powerful works" and "gifts of healing" have not ceased, they have changed form. We no longer can cure sickness with a mere touch, but we can still raise up those who are sick at heart, we can banish those maladies of spirit that are truly deadly, by applying the soothing "oil" of God's word. In a sense, we even "raise the dead" as people respond to the good news and turn from their sins. What could be more powerful than that? —James 5:14, 15, Ephesians 2:1-5.

"Tongues" and "translators" were special gifts in the first century: some were given the power to speak the good news in a language they did not naturally know. Tongues did not mean incoherent outbursts, as some believe today; it was to spread the word without having to laboriously study foreign languages, some of which did not even have a written form in those days. But not everyone present would understand the words being spoken; for their benefit another would translate, whether by it being their native tongue or by power of the holy spirit. Paul established the rule, ‘do not speak in a tongue unless a translator is present. Also, limit it to two or three at the most, and take orderly turns.’ (1 Corinthians 14:9, 21-23, 26-28, 33) This direct gift no longer exists, despite the glossolalia of the so-called "full gospel" churches. Yet in truth the power of God continues to overcome language barriers. Today the good news is being preached in essentially every language on earth. Bibles and instructional literature is translated into hundreds of languages, some spoken by just a few thousand people in isolated places. The purpose of the original gift of tongues is being served. (For proof of this, visit the "" website and look at the language selector at the top. There are 11 versions of Arabic alone.)

"Helpful services and abilities to direct" relate to all the little practical tasks involved in keeping a congregation working together smoothly. The distribution of food to the needy mentioned at Acts 6:1-7 is one of these. All Christians should be helpful, but as an office, this is the position of "ministerial servant" ("deacon" in the King James), mentioned as distinct from "overseer" three times in the Christian scriptures. The requirements to receive this appointment are high, but not as exacting as those for overseer. —Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8, 12, see context.

"Shepherds" "overseers" and "older men" (elders) are all the same office. The term "older man" should not be taken to mean that such a man must be elderly. Timothy was likely not much more than 30 years old when Paul wrote the letter now known as "The First to Timothy." Reading that, it is clear that Timothy was exercising the authority of an overseer, despite his relative youth (see 1 Timothy 4:11, 12.) "Older" relates to maturity, not chronological age. There is, of course, some natural correlation. As shown in Philippians 1:1, a congregation would typically have several shepherds, not just a single "pastor."

Finally, there are "evangelizers". Literally, this means "bearer of good news." Obviously, all Christians are evangelizers, so why are they mentioned separately? This word is only used 3 times in scripture, but the idea is mentioned frequently. If an office at all, it evidently refers to those who travel extensively to spread the good news. In other words, missionaries who pioneer the work into territories where many have yet to hear it. Not all of us can do that, but we all can be zealous advocates of God's Kingdom where we are.

These various offices or services are parts of a single united Christian organization, as Paul points out: “Now there are different gifts, but there is the same spirit; and there are different ministries, and yet there is the same Lord; and there are different activities, and yet it is the same God who does them all in everyone. . . so that there should be no division in the body, but its members should have mutual concern for one another.” —1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 25; see also 12, 13.

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Philippians 1:27
Only behave in a manner worthy of the good news about the Christ, so that whether I come and see you or I am absent, I may hear about you and learn that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one soul striving side by side for the faith of the good news.

Philippians 2:1, 2
If, then, there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any sharing of spirit, if any tender affection and compassion, make my joy full by being of the same mind and having the same love, being joined together in soul, having the one thought in mind.

Romans 15:5, 6
May the God who supplies endurance and comfort grant you to have among yourselves the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had, so that unitedly you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Cor 14.33
For God is a God, not of disorder, but of peace.

Gen 18:19
For I have come to know him in order that he may command his sons and his household after him to keep the way of Jehovah, by doing what is right and just, so that Jehovah may bring about what he has promised concerning Abraham.

Exodus 18:25, 26
Moses chose capable men out of all Israel and appointed them as heads over the people, as chiefs of thousands, chiefs of hundreds, chiefs of fifties, and chiefs of tens. So they judged the people when cases arose. A difficult case they would bring to Moses, but every minor case they would judge.

Numbers 27:16, 17
Let Jehovah, the God of the spirit of all people, appoint over the assembly a man who will go out and come in before them and who will lead them out and bring them in, so that Jehovah’s assembly may not become like sheep that have no shepherd.

Deut 16:18-20
You should appoint judges and officers for each tribe in all the cities that Jehovah your God is giving you, and they must judge the people with righteous judgment. You must not pervert justice, show partiality, or accept a bribe, for the bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and distorts the words of the righteous. Justice—justice you should pursue, so that you may keep living and take possession of the land that Jehovah your God is giving you.

Deut 1:13, 15
13 Select wise, discreet, and experienced men of your tribes, and I will appoint them as heads over you.
15 So I took the heads of your tribes, wise and experienced men, and appointed them as heads over you, chiefs of thousands, chiefs of hundreds, chiefs of fifties, chiefs of tens, and officers of your tribes.

Deut 17:8-12
If a case arises in one of your cities that is too difficult for you to judge, whether it is a case involving bloodshed or a legal claim that has been raised or a violent deed that has been committed or other matters of dispute, you should rise up and go to the place that Jehovah your God chooses. Go to the Levitical priests and to the judge serving in those days, and make your inquiry, and they will hand down the decision to you. Then you must act according to the decision that they hand down to you from the place that Jehovah chooses. Be careful to do according to all that they instruct you. You must act according to the law that they show you and according to the decision that they declare to you. Do not deviate from the decision that they will hand down to you, either to the right or to the left. The man who acts presumptuously by not listening to the priest who is ministering to Jehovah your God or to the judge must die. You must remove what is bad from Israel.

Ezra 7:10, 11
For Ezra himself had prepared his heart to consult the law of Jehovah and to do it and to teach its regulations and justice in Israel. This is a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest and copyist, an expert in the study of the commandments of Jehovah and of his regulations to Israel.

Malachi 2:7
For the lips of a priest should safeguard knowledge, and people should seek instruction in the law from his mouth, because he is the messenger of Jehovah of armies. [God provides leaders and teachers for this, but verse 8 shows that they did not always do it right.]

Heb 5:1-4
For every high priest taken from among men is appointed in their behalf over the things relating to God, so that he may offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal compassionately with the ignorant and erring ones, since he too is confronted with his own weakness, and because of that he must make offerings for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. A man does not take this honor of his own accord, but he receives it only when he is called by God, just as Aaron was.

Prov 29:2
When the righteous become many, the people rejoice; but when anyone wicked is ruling, the people sigh.

1 Sam 8:1-5
When Samuel had grown old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beer-sheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways; they were inclined to pursue dishonest profit, they accepted bribes, and they perverted justice. In time all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him: “Look! You have grown old, but your sons are not walking in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the other nations.”

1 Sam 8:9-19
[God said to Samuel:] “Now listen to them. But you must solemnly warn them, and tell them what the king who will reign over them will have the right to demand.” So Samuel told the people who were asking him for a king all the words of Jehovah. He said: “This is what the king who rules over you will have the right to demand: He will take your sons and put them in his chariots and make them his horsemen, and some will have to run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself chiefs over thousands and chiefs over fifties, and some will do his plowing, reap his harvest, and make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be ointment mixers, cooks, and bakers. He will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and he will give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grainfields and your vineyards, and he will give it to his court officials and his servants. And he will take your male and female servants, your best herds, and your donkeys, and he will use them for his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you will become his servants. The day will come when you will cry out because of the king you have chosen for yourselves, but Jehovah will not answer you in that day.” However, the people refused to listen to what Samuel told them, and they said: “No, we are determined to have a king over us.”

(What an opportunity they had. They could have said, "Okay, we don't want that. But what we have now ain't working either. So what does Jehovah want us to do? Surely not to let your sons keep cheating us." But no, they were dazzled by the kingdoms around them, and they wanted to be like them. Or they could have said, "Wait a minute. Didn't Jehovah tell Moses we would end up with a king someday? And tell us how he should rule? He didn't describe it like that. You're just trying to put us off." And they would be right, as the next scripture will show. But the problem was, God saw their heart, and they were thinking, not of solving a corruption problem, but of attaining glory in the world. Having that motive, it would indeed turn out the way He described. Verse 7 gives the reason we can draw this conclusion: "Jehovah said to Samuel: 'Listen to everything the people say to you; for it is not you whom they have rejected, but it is I whom they have rejected as their king.'")

De 17:14-20
When you enter the land that Jehovah your God is giving you and you have taken possession of it and are living in it, and you say, “Let me appoint a king over myself like all the nations around me,” in that case, you should without fail appoint a king whom Jehovah your God chooses. You should appoint a king from among your brothers. You are forbidden to appoint over yourself a foreigner who is not your brother. However, he should not acquire many horses for himself or make the people go back to Egypt in order to obtain more horses, since Jehovah told you, “You must never go back again by this way.” Neither should he take many wives for himself, so that his heart may not go astray; nor should he acquire vast amounts of silver and gold for himself. When he takes his seat on the throne of his kingdom, he must write for himself in a book a copy of this Law, taken from the one kept by the Levitical priests. It is to remain with him, and he must read from it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear Jehovah his God and observe all the words of this Law and these regulations by carrying them out. Thus his heart will not exalt itself above his brothers, and he will not deviate from the commandment, either to the right or to the left, so that he may remain a long time over his kingdom, he and his sons in the midst of Israel.

(In other words, having a king in itself wasn't a problem. It depended on who the king was, what kind of person he was. If he respected the real King, everything would be fine.)

2 Chron 32:22-29
So Jehovah saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of King Sennacherib of Assyria and from the hand of all others and gave them rest on every side. And many brought gifts to Jehovah at Jerusalem and choice things to King Hezekiah of Judah, and he was greatly respected by all the nations after that. In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death, and he prayed to Jehovah, who answered him and gave him a sign. But Hezekiah did not respond appreciatively to the good done to him, for his heart became haughty, bringing indignation against him and against Judah and Jerusalem. However, Hezekiah humbled himself for the haughtiness of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and Jehovah’s indignation did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah. And Hezekiah came to have vast riches and glory; and he made storehouses for himself for silver, gold, precious stones, balsam oil, shields, and for all the desirable articles. He also made storage places for the produce of grain and new wine and oil, as well as stalls for all the different kinds of livestock and stalls for the flocks. He also acquired cities for himself, and an abundance of livestock, flocks, and herds, for God gave him very many possessions.

Ezekiel 34:1-16, 23, 24
The word of Jehovah again came to me, saying: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy, and say to the shepherds, “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: ‘Woe to the shepherds of Israel, who have been feeding themselves! Is it not the flock that the shepherds should feed? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, and you slaughter the fattest animal, but you do not feed the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bandaged the injured or brought back the strays or looked for the lost; rather, you have ruled them with harshness and tyranny. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; they were scattered and became food for every wild beast of the field. My sheep were straying on all the mountains and on every high hill; my sheep were scattered over all the surface of the earth, with no one searching for them or seeking to find them.’” Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of Jehovah: “As surely as I am alive,” declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, “because my sheep have become prey, food for every wild beast of the field, for there was no shepherd, and my shepherds did not search for my sheep; rather, they kept feeding themselves and did not feed my sheep,” therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of Jehovah. This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: “I am against the shepherds, and I will demand an accounting of them for my sheep, and I will dismiss them from feeding my sheep, and the shepherds will no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouth, and they will no longer be food for them.” For this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: “Here I am, and I myself will search for my sheep, and I will care for them. I will care for my sheep like a shepherd who has found his scattered sheep and is feeding them. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered in the day of clouds and thick gloom. I will bring them out from the peoples and collect them together from the lands and bring them into their land and feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams and by all the dwelling places of the land. In a good pasture I will feed them, and the land where they graze will be on Israel’s high mountains. They will lie down there in a good grazing land, and they will feed on choice pastures on the mountains of Israel. I myself will feed my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down,” declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. “The lost one I will search for, the stray I will bring back, the injured I will bandage, and the weak I will strengthen; but the fat one and the strong one I will annihilate. I will feed that one with judgment.”
23 I will raise up one shepherd over them, my servant David, and he will feed them. He himself will feed them and become their shepherd. And I, Jehovah, will become their God, and my servant David a chieftain among them. I myself, Jehovah, have spoken.

"My servant David" is Jesus Christ, the "son of David" (Matt 1:1). This explains why he spoke so harshly of the clergy who were spiritually neglecting God's people while glorifying themselves. (Matt 23:4-6, 13 and context) There is another fulfillment of this prophecy in the last days, when Christendom's clergy are found neglecting and abusing their flock while enriching and glorifying themselves. Christ "returned" first to restore true Christianity, then will "return" in the final sense to execute judgment against the unresponsive and wicked world, including the false shepherds.

Matt 23:4-6, 13
They bind up heavy loads and put them on the shoulders of men, but they themselves are not willing to budge them with their finger. All the works they do, they do to be seen by men, for they broaden the scripture-containing cases that they wear as safeguards and lengthen the fringes of their garments. They like the most prominent place at evening meals and the front seats in the synagogues . . . 13 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut up the Kingdom of the heavens before men; for you yourselves do not go in, neither do you permit those on their way in to go in.

Acts 8:1
Saul, for his part, was approving of his [Stephen's] murder. On that day great persecution arose against the congregation that was in Jerusalem; all except the apostles were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.
Acts 9:31
Then, indeed, the congregation throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria entered into a period of peace, being built up; and as it walked in the fear of Jehovah and in the comfort of the holy spirit it kept on multiplying.
Acts 11:19-21
Now those who had been scattered by the tribulation that arose over Stephen went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, but they spoke the word only to the Jews. However, some of the men among them from Cyprus and Cyrene came to Antioch and began talking to the Greek-speaking people, declaring the good news of the Lord Jesus. Furthermore, the hand of Jehovah was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord.
Acts 14:21-23
After declaring the good news to that city and making quite a few disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch. There they strengthened the disciples, encouraging them to remain in the faith and saying: “We must enter into the Kingdom of God through many tribulations.” Moreover, they appointed elders for them in each congregation, offering prayer with fasting, and they entrusted them to Jehovah, in whom they had become believers.

Acts 2:33-36
Therefore, because he was exalted to the right hand of God and received the promised holy spirit from the Father, he has poured out what you see and hear. For David did not ascend to the heavens, but he himself says, “Jehovah said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.’” Therefore, let all the house of Israel know for a certainty that God made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you executed on a stake.
Acts 5:19-20
During the night Jehovah's angel opened the doors of the prison, brought them out and said: "Go, take your stand in the temple again and keep on speaking to the people all the sayings about this life."
Acts 8:26
Jehovah's angel spoke to Philip, saying: "Get up, and go to the south to the road that runs down from Jerusalem to Gaza." (This is a desert road.)

Matt 20:25-27
Jesus . . . said: "You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them and the great men wield authority over them. This must not be the way among you; whoever wants to become great among you must be a minister to all, and whoever wants to be first among you must serve as a slave to all [of you].
Matthew 23:8-12
But you, do not you be called Rabbi [Honored Teacher], for One is your Teacher, but you are all brothers. Moreover, do not call anyone your Father on earth, for One is your Father, the heavenly One. Neither be called 'leaders,' for your Leader is one, the Christ. But the greatest one among you must be your minister. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Acts 6:1-7
Now in those days when the disciples were increasing, the Greek-speaking Jews began complaining against the Hebrew-speaking Jews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution. So the Twelve called the multitude of the disciples together and said: “It is not right for us to leave the word of God to distribute food to tables. So, brothers, select for yourselves seven reputable men from among you, full of spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them over this necessary matter; but we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” What they said was pleasing to the whole multitude, and they selected Stephen, a man full of faith and holy spirit, as well as Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. They brought them to the apostles, and after praying, they laid their hands on them [a customary way of making an appointment official]. Consequently, the word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples kept multiplying very much in Jerusalem; and a large crowd of priests began to be obedient to the faith.

Acts 8:14-17
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them; and these went down and prayed for them to get holy spirit. For it had not yet come upon any one of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them [showing acceptance], and they began to receive holy spirit [proving God's approval; by waiting for the apostle's visit, God showed that He was working through them, but, He moved them to go. They were not leading Him.]

Acts 13:1-4
Now in Antioch there were prophets and teachers in the local congregation: Barnabas, Symeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who was educated with Herod the district ruler, and Saul. As they were ministering to Jehovah and fasting, the holy spirit said: “Set aside for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying, they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So these men, sent out by the holy spirit, went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed away to Cyprus.
Romans 1:1, 7
Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ and called to be an apostle, set apart for God's good news . . .to all those who are in Rome as God's beloved ones.

Acts 15:1, 2
Now some men came down from Judea and began to teach the brothers: “Unless you get circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” But after quite a bit of dissension and disputing by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was arranged for Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others to go up to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem regarding this issue.

Acts 15:3-35
So after being escorted partway by the congregation, these men continued on through both Phoenicia and Samaria, relating in detail the conversion of people of the nations and bringing great joy to all the brothers. On arriving in Jerusalem, they were kindly received by the congregation and the apostles and the elders, and they related the many things God had done by means of them. But some of those of the sect of the Pharisees who had become believers stood up from their seats and said: “It is necessary to circumcise them and command them to observe the Law of Moses.” So the apostles and the elders gathered together to look into this matter. After much intense discussion had taken place, Peter rose and said to them: “Men, brothers, you well know that from early days God made the choice among you that through my mouth people of the nations should hear the word of the good news and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness by giving them the holy spirit, just as he did to us also. And he made no distinction at all between us and them, but purified their hearts by faith. So why are you now making a test of God by imposing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our forefathers nor we were capable of bearing? On the contrary, we have faith that we are saved through the undeserved kindness of the Lord Jesus in the same way that they are.” At that the entire group became silent, and they began to listen to Barnabas and Paul relate the many signs and wonders that God had done through them among the nations. After they finished speaking, James replied: “Men, brothers, hear me. Symeon has related thoroughly how God for the first time turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name. And with this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written: ‘After these things I will return and raise up again the tent of David that is fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins and restore it, so that the men who remain may earnestly seek Jehovah, together with people of all the nations, people who are called by my name, says Jehovah, who is doing these things, known from of old.’ Therefore, my decision is not to trouble those from the nations who are turning to God, but to write them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from what is strangled, and from blood. For from ancient times Moses has had those who preach him in city after city, because he is read aloud in the synagogues on every sabbath.” Then the apostles and the elders, together with the whole congregation, decided to send chosen men from among them to Antioch, along with Paul and Barnabas; they sent Judas who was called Barsabbas and Silas, who were leading men among the brothers. They wrote this and sent it through them: “The apostles and the elders, your brothers, to those brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia who are from the nations: Greetings! Since we have heard that some went out from among us and caused you trouble with what they have said, trying to subvert you, although we did not give them any instructions, we have come to a unanimous decision to choose men to send to you together with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have given up their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are therefore sending Judas and Silas, so that they also may report the same things by word of mouth. For the holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you except these necessary things: to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from what is strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you carefully keep yourselves from these things, you will prosper. Good health to you!” So when these men were dismissed, they went down to Antioch, and they gathered the whole group together and handed them the letter. After reading it, they rejoiced over the encouragement. And Judas and Silas, since they were also prophets, encouraged the brothers with many talks and strengthened them. After they had spent some time there, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them. . . . But Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch, teaching and declaring, along with many others, the good news of the word of Jehovah.
Acts 16:4, 5
As they traveled on through the cities, they would deliver to them for observance the decrees that had been decided on by the apostles and the elders who were in Jerusalem. Then, indeed, the congregations continued to be made firm in the faith and to increase in number day by day.

Titus 1:5-13
I left you in Crete so that you would correct the things that were defective and make appointments of elders in city after city, as I instructed you: if there is any man free from accusation, a husband of one wife, having believing children who are not accused of debauchery or rebelliousness. For as God’s steward, an overseer must be free from accusation, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not a drunkard, not violent, not greedy of dishonest gain, but hospitable, a lover of goodness, sound in mind, righteous, loyal, self-controlled, holding firmly to the faithful word as respects his art of teaching, so that he may be able both to encourage by the teaching that is wholesome and to reprove those who contradict.
10 For there are many rebellious men, profitless talkers, and deceivers, especially those who adhere to the circumcision. It is necessary to shut their mouths, because these very men keep on subverting entire households by teaching things they should not for the sake of dishonest gain. A certain one of them, their own prophet, said: “Cretans are always liars, injurious wild beasts, idle gluttons.” This witness is true. For this very reason, keep on reproving them with severity so that they may be healthy in the faith.

Acts 20:28, 31-37
“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. . . . Keep awake, and bear in mind that for three years, night and day, I never stopped admonishing each one of you with tears. And now I entrust you to God and to the word of his undeserved kindness, which word can build you up and give you the inheritance among all the sanctified ones. I have desired no man’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands have provided for my own needs and the needs of those with me. I have shown you in all things that by working hard in this way, you must assist those who are weak and must keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, when he himself said: ‘There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.’” And when he had said these things, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. Indeed, quite a bit of weeping broke out among them all, and they embraced Paul and affectionately kissed him.

Heb 10:24, 25
Let us keep one another in mind to build each other up in love and fine works, rather than neglecting meeting together, as some have the custom. Rather, we should be encouraging one another, all the more so as we behold the day drawing near.
Romans 1:11, 12
I am longing to see you, that I may impart some spiritual gift to you for you to be made firm; or, rather, that we may have an interchange of encouragement between us, each one by the other's faith, both yours and mine.
Acts 20:7-12
On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to have a meal, Paul began to speak before them, as he was going to depart the next day; and he prolonged his speech until midnight. So there were quite a few lamps in the upper chamber where we were gathered together. Seated at the window, a certain young man named Eutychus fell into a deep sleep while Paul kept talking on, and, collapsing in sleep, he fell down from the third story and was picked up dead. But Paul went downstairs, threw himself upon him and embraced him and said: "Stop making a commotion, for he is alive." He then went back upstairs and began the meal and ate. After conversing for quite a while longer, until daybreak, he finally departed. So they took the boy away alive and were comforted beyond measure.

Luke 19:12-26
A man of noble birth traveled to a distant land to secure ruling power for himself and to return. Calling ten of his slaves, he gave them ten minas and told them, “Do business with these until I come.” But [some of] his citizens hated him and sent out a body of ambassadors after him to say, “We do not want this man to become king over us.” When he eventually got back after having secured the rulership, he summoned the slaves to whom he had given the money, in order to ascertain what they had gained by their business activity. So the first one came forward and said, “Lord, your mina gained ten minas.” He said to him, “Well done, good slave! Because in a very small matter you have proved yourself faithful, hold authority over ten cities.” Now the second came, saying, “Your mina, Lord, made five minas.” He said to this one as well, “You too, be in charge of five cities.” But another one came, saying, “Lord, here is your mina that I kept hidden away in a cloth. You see, I was in fear of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and you reap what you did not sow.” He said to him, “By your own words I judge you, wicked slave. If you really believe that I am a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow, why did you not put my money in a bank? Then on my coming, I would have collected it with interest.” With that he said to those standing by, “Take the mina from him and give it to the one who has the ten minas.” But they said to him, “Lord, he has ten minas—!” I say to you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.

(The nobleman represents Christ, who went to heaven to receive authority to reign in the Kingdom; the unhappy citizens "hated him without cause" [John 15:25], for he was a good ruler. On his return in ruling power he will reward those whom he finds have been faithfully hard at work as assigned. The wicked slave accused him falsely. Far from exploiting slavish labor for his own profit, his assignments are for our benefit in the end, and his rewards are generous. We can also derive a principle of proportional reward from this: greater effort is rewarded more, less effort somewhat less, but irresponsible laziness will be punished, and resentful rebellion even more so [look up vs 27].)

Matt 25:13-30
Keep on the watch, therefore, because you know neither the day nor the hour. For it is just like a man about to travel abroad who summoned his slaves and entrusted his belongings to them. He gave five talents to one, two to another, and one to still another, to each according to his own ability, and he went abroad. Immediately the one who received the five talents went and did business with them and gained five more. Likewise, the one who received the two gained two more. But the slave who received just one went off and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. So the one who had received the five talents came forward and brought five additional talents, saying, “Master, you entrusted five talents to me; see, I gained five talents more.” His master said to him: “Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things. I will appoint you over many things. Enter into the joy of your master.” Next the one who had received the two talents came forward and said, “Master, you entrusted two talents to me; see, I gained two talents more.” His master said to him: “Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things. I will appoint you over many things. Enter into the joy of your master.” Finally the slave who had received the one talent came forward and said: “Master, I knew you to be a demanding man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you did not winnow. So I grew afraid and went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.” In reply his master said to him: “Wicked and sluggish slave, did you really believe that I reaped where I did not sow and gathered where I did not winnow? Well, then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my coming I would have received it back with interest. Therefore, take the talent away from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. And throw the good-for-nothing slave out into the darkness outside. There is where his weeping and the gnashing of his teeth will be.”

This parable resembles the one in Luke 19, so the meaning is similar, but there are three differences: he doesn't mention why the man went on a trip; the slaves are given different amounts, as the master estimated their ability to use it; and the resentful slave is punished more severely. So from these we can learn: Jesus can check on us anytime, not just when he is first enthroned; he expects from us no more than we are able to do, but he does expect that much; and he really does not appreciate passive-aggressive resentment. After all, that is totally unwarranted. If we really know him, we would serve gladly and enthusiastically, even when we are not able to do as much as someone else. We could imagine the slave that only got one talent resenting getting less than the others. Bad attitude. If you feel you haven't been given much to work with, take consolation in knowing that he correspondingly doesn't expect as much from you. Work with what you have, and trust that He will appreciate whatever you manage to do. Unlike masters in this world, who might say, "yeah, yeah, just put it on the table there, and get back to work," Jesus will say "Well done!" and include you in his joy.

We do not derive a principle of "the rich get richer and the poor get robbed" from this parable. That is the way the Devil's world is, but it is not the way Jesus does things!

1 Peter 4:10
In proportion as each one has received a gift, use it in ministering to one another as fine stewards of God's undeserved kindness, expressed in various ways.

Rev 2:26, 27
To the one who conquers and observes my deeds down to the end, I will give authority over the nations, and he will shepherd the people with an iron rod so that they will be broken to pieces like clay vessels, just as I have received from my Father.

Matt 17:10-13
The disciples asked him: “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” In reply he said: “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things. However, I say to you that Elijah has already come and they did not recognize him but did whatever they wanted with him. In this way also the Son of man is destined to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples perceived that he spoke to them about John the Baptist.

1 Thess 4:15-17
For this is what we tell you by the word of Jehovah, that we the living who survive to the presence of the Lord shall in no way precede those who have fallen asleep in death; because the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first. Afterward we the living who are surviving, will be caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air, together with them; and thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Rev 7:1-4
After this I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding tight the four winds of the earth, so that no wind could blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the sunrise, having a seal of the living God; and he called with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying: "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until after we have sealed the slaves of our God in their foreheads." And I heard the number of those who were sealed, 144,000, sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel.

Matthew 24:14
This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.
John 21:15-17
Jesus said to Simon Peter: "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these [fish]?" He replied: "Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you." He said to him: "Feed my lambs." Again he said to him, a second time: "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him: "Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you." He said to him: "Shepherd my little sheep." He said to him a third time: "Simon son of John, do you have affection for me?" Peter became grieved that he asked him the third time: "Do you have affection for me?" So he said to him: "Lord, you are aware of all things; you know that I have affection for you." Jesus said to him: "Feed my little sheep."

James 2:5
Listen, my beloved brothers. God chose the ones who are poor from the world's standpoint to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom he promised to those who love him, did he not?

Malachi 3:1-4
“Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will clear up a way before me. And suddenly the true Lord, whom you are seeking, will come to His temple, and the messenger of the covenant will come, in whom you take delight. Look! He will certainly come,” says Jehovah of armies. “But who will endure the day of his coming, and who will be able to stand when he appears? For he will be like the fire of a refiner and like the lye of laundrymen. And he will sit as a refiner and cleanser of silver and will cleanse the sons of Levi; and he will clarify them like gold and like silver, and they will certainly become to Jehovah people presenting a gift offering in righteousness. And the gift offering of Judah and of Jerusalem will actually be satisfying to Jehovah, as in the days of long ago and as in the years of antiquity.”
Daniel 11:32-35
Those who are acting wickedly against the covenant he will lead into apostasy by means of smooth words. But the people who know their God will prevail and act effectively. And those having insight among the people will impart understanding to the many. And they will be made to stumble by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plundering, for some days. But when they are made to stumble, they will be given a little help; and many will join with them by means of smooth speech. And some of those having insight will be made to stumble, in order to do a refining work because of them and to do a cleansing and to do a whitening, until the time of the end; because it is yet for the time appointed.

Matthew 24:45-47
Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics* [the other servants in the house], 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.

Luke 12:42-44
The Lord said: "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."

*"Domestics", "attendants", "household", even "family" are different ways of translating the word used.

Matt 12:47-50
Someone said to him: “Look! Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak to you.” In reply he said to the one who spoke to him: “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And extending his hand toward his disciples, he said: “Look! My mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, that one is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

Acts 20:28-35
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, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore keep awake, and bear in mind that for three years, night and day, I never stopped admonishing each one with tears. And now I entrust you to God and to the word of his undeserved kindness, which word can build you up and give you the inheritance among all the sanctified ones. I have desired no man’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands have provided for my own needs and the needs of those with me. I have shown you in all things that by working hard in this way, you must assist those who are weak and must keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, when he himself said, “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”

Matthew 20:25-28
Jesus said: "You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over the people and the great men wield authority over them. This must not be the way among you; but whoever wants to become great among you must be servant to all, and whoever wants to be first among you must be slave to all. Just as the Son of man came, not to be served, but to serve."

Romans 5:17 and 21
17 For if by the trespass of the one man [Adam], death ruled as king [over mankind] through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of the undeserved kindness and of the free gift of righteousness rule as kings in life through the one person, Jesus Christ. . . . 21 Just as sin ruled as king with death, so also undeserved kindness might rule as king through righteousness, leading to everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Note, everyone who responds faithfully is redeemed from death by Christ, so all such ones triumph over the kings sin and death. So all true Christians, who are declared righteous for life*, can be said to “rule as kings in life” even now in their imperfect state, and all the more so later when made perfect. Of course, this has a more specific meaning for those chosen to literally rule with Christ in the future, but Paul was not discussing that in this context.
*this is actually the only kind of declaration of righteousness. No one is declared righteous for death, after all, and there are no intermediate states.

Titus 2:3-5
Likewise let the older women be reverent in behavior, not slanderous, nor enslaved to a lot of wine; teachers of what is good, so that they may train the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sound in mind, chaste, managing their home well, good.

1 Cor 12:28-31
God has assigned the respective ones in the congregation: first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then powerful works; then gifts of healings; helpful services, abilities to direct, different tongues. Not all are apostles, are they? Not all are prophets, are they? Not all are teachers, are they? Not all perform powerful works, do they? Not all have gifts of healings, do they? Not all speak in tongues, do they? Not all are interpreters, are they? But keep zealously seeking the greater gifts. And yet I will show you an even greater way. [he then begins to discuss the surpassing importance of principled love as a foundation for everything else.]

Matt 28:19
Go therefore, make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit.

Jeremiah 23:16, 21, 22
[Speaking of false prophets in ancient Israel that reassured the wayward that God was happy with their bad behavior:] This is what Jehovah of armies has said: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you people. They are deluding you. The vision they speak is from their own heart, not from the mouth of Jehovah. . . I did not send the prophets, yet they ran. I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my inner circle, they would have made my people hear my words, and would have caused them to turn back from their bad way and from their evil deeds."

Heb 5:11-14
We have much to say about him, and it is difficult to explain, because you have become dull in your hearing. For although by now you should be teachers, you again need someone to teach you from the beginning the elementary things of the sacred pronouncements of God, and you have gone back to needing milk, not solid food. . . . Solid food belongs to mature people, to those who through use have their powers of discernment trained to distinguish both right and wrong.
1 Tim 4:12-16
[Paul advises younger Timothy:] Never let anyone look down on your youth. Instead, become an example to the faithful ones in speaking, in conduct, in love, in faith, in chasteness. Until I come, continue applying yourself to public reading, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift in you that was given you through a prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Ponder over these things; be absorbed in them, so that your advancement may be plainly seen by all people. Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Persevere in these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.

1 Cor 13:8-13
Love never fails. But if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away with; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is [supernatural] knowledge, it will be done away with. For we have partial knowledge and we prophesy partially, but when what is complete comes, what is partial will be done away with. When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, to think as a child, to reason as a child; but now that I have become a man, I have done away with the traits of a child. For now we are seeing in hazy outline, as if by means of a metal mirror, but then it will be face-to-face. At present I know partially, but then I will know accurately, just as I am accurately known. Now, however, these three remain: faith, hope, love; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Timothy 5:23
Do not drink water any longer, but take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent cases of sickness.

Note that Timothy was getting sick, so the spirit wasn't preventing that, and Paul does not tell him to ask for miraculous healing. This is evidence of the limited use of such miracles even back then. It is understood that the water wasn't very clean where Timothy was at the time, so the advice to drink wine instead was sound. He could choose fairly weak wine to reduce intoxication. It was a temporary fix for the moment. A similar benefit was observed for beer in 19th century London.

James 5:14, 15
Is there anyone sick among you? Let him call the elders of the congregation to him, and let them pray over him, applying oil to him in the name of Jehovah. And the prayer of faith will make the sick one well, and Jehovah will raise him up. Also, if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
Eph 2:1-5
Furthermore, God made you alive, though you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you at one time walked according to the ways this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. Yes, among them we all at one time conducted ourselves in harmony with the desires of our flesh, following the will of the flesh and our thoughts, and we were naturally children of wrath just as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, made us alive together with the Christ, even when we were dead in our trespasses . . .

1 Cor 14:9, 21-23, 26-28, 33
Unless you with the tongue use speech that is easily understood, how will anyone know what is being said? You will, in fact, be speaking into the air.
21 In the Law it is written: “‘With the tongues of foreigners and with the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and yet even then they will refuse to listen to me,’ says Jehovah.” Therefore, tongues are not a sign for the believers, but for the unbelievers, whereas prophesying is not for the unbelievers, but for the believers. So if the whole congregation comes together to one place and they all speak in tongues, but ordinary people or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you have lost your minds?
26 What is to be done, then, brothers? When you come together, one has a psalm, another has a teaching, another has a revelation, another has a tongue, another has an interpretation. Let all things take place for building up. And if someone speaks in a tongue, let it be limited to two or three at the most, and in turns; and someone must translate. But if there be no translator, he should keep silent in the congregation and speak to himself and to God.
33 For God is a God not of disorder but of peace.

Acts 6:1-7
Now in those days when the disciples were increasing, the Greek-speaking Jews began complaining against the Hebrew-speaking Jews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution. So the Twelve called the multitude of the disciples together and said: “It is not right for us to leave the word of God to distribute food to tables. So, brothers, select for yourselves seven reputable men from among you, full of spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them over this necessary matter; but we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” What they said was pleasing to the whole multitude, and they selected Stephen, a man full of faith and holy spirit, as well as Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. They brought them to the apostles, and after praying, they laid their hands on them. Consequently, the word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples kept multiplying very much in Jerusalem; and a large crowd of priests began to be obedient to the faith.

Philippians 1:1
Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the holy ones in union with Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, along with overseers and ministerial servants:
1 Tim 3:2-12
The overseer should therefore be irreprehensible, a husband of one wife, moderate in habits, sound in mind, orderly, hospitable, qualified to teach, not a drunkard, not violent, but reasonable, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money, a man presiding over his own household in a fine manner, having his children in subjection with all seriousness (for if any man does not know how to preside over his own household, how will he care for the congregation of God?), not a newly converted man, for fear that he might get puffed up with pride and fall into the judgment passed on the Devil. Moreover, he should also have a fine testimony from outsiders so that he does not fall into reproach and a snare of the Devil.
8 Ministerial servants should likewise be serious, not double-tongued, not indulging in a lot of wine, not greedy of dishonest gain, holding the sacred secret of the faith with a clean conscience. Also, let these be tested as to fitness first; then let them serve as ministers, as they are free from accusation.
11 Women should likewise be serious, not slanderous, moderate in habits, faithful in all things.
12 Let ministerial servants be husbands of one wife, presiding in a fine manner over their children and their own households.

1 Tim 4:11, 12
Keep on giving these commands and teaching them. Never let anyone look down on your youth. Instead, become an example to the faithful ones in speaking, in conduct, in love, in faith, in chasteness.

1 Cor 12:4-6, 12, 13, 25
Now there are different gifts, but there is the same spirit; and there are different ministries, and yet there is the same Lord; and there are different activities, and yet it is the same God who does them all in everyone. 12 For just as the body is one but has many members, and all the members of that body, although being many, are one body, so too is the Christ. For by one spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink one spirit. . . 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its members should have mutual concern for one another.

Review for Chapter 12 part 1

Why are Christians organized?

Why are Christians united?

Describe the organization of Israel.

What is a congregation?

As Christianity spread, what kept them united?

How did the governing body function?

How were the congregations governed locally?

How were the local leaders chosen?

What kind of men were these elders?

Why are the elders called "shepherds"?

What did Christ look for as the last days began?

How did he identify the faithful slave?

What is the responsibility of the faithful slave?

How is the faithful slave rewarded?

Who today fulfill the obligations of the faithful slave?

How can you be a faithful slave?

Describe the various positions of service in the congregation.

Restore Scripture View

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Women also had authority. They did not usually command or judge peoples, but they all were to manage their home and teach their children well. This in fact shapes the generation to come, a critically important task. Disintegrating home life has caused many an empire to fall. Not that Israelite women alone were to blame, but Israel's many failures to remain faithful to God could surely have been avoided by more conscientious teaching of godly thinking to the young ones.

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This was expected, as it was prophesied, but that does not mean Judas was doomed to fail against his own will. All the apostles no doubt had some personality issues (Peter's impulsiveness is prominently noted in the accounts) but Judas had a deeper flaw: selfishness. When selecting the 12 Jesus was well aware of all their flaws, and it is possible he chose Judas knowing that his flaw was dangerous. But at no time did he push Judas to be more selfish, in fact the opposite. Judas did that quite on his own. He was entrusted with managing the funds donated to help the poor, which proved in time too tempting for him. He is to blame for what he did, not God. This is a caution to us, however: God tests us by trusting us with work that challenges our weaknesses. That trust can make us, or break us.

Pride may also have been a factor. "Iscariot" means "of Kerioth," a Judean town, so Judas was from Judea, while the other 11 were all from Galilee. Judeans tended to look down on Galileans as unrefined country folk, so his upbringing may have given Judas some attitude. How about you?

The relevant scriptures:
John 6:70, 71 Jesus answered "I chose you twelve, did I not? Yet one of you is a slanderer." He was, in fact, speaking of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for this one was going to betray him, although he was one of the Twelve.
John 13:17, 18 If you know these things, happy you are if you do them. I am not talking about all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this was so that the scripture might be fulfilled: "The one who was eating my bread has lifted his heel against me." (Psalm 41:9)
John 6:64 Jesus knew from the beginning those who did not believe and the one who would betray him. [that is, from the moment Judas decided to turn, Jesus was aware of it. This does not mean Judas was chosen at the start to be the traitor.]
John 12:3-6 Then Mary took a pound of perfumed oil, genuine nard, very costly, and she poured it on the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet dry with her hair. The house became filled with the scent of the perfumed oil. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, who was about to betray him, said: "Why was this perfumed oil not sold for 300 denarii and given to the poor?" He said this, though, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief and had the money box and used to steal the money put in it.
John 7:52 In answer they [the Pharisees] said to him [Nicodemus]: "You are not also out of Galilee, are you? Search and see that no prophet is to be raised up out of Galilee." (The Pharisees had attitude in abundance.)

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In fact the official term in their literature for the small group of mature men overseeing the organization is “the faithful slave,” or in conversation just “the slave,” particularly when discussing their role in providing spiritual instruction. When the context is more about legal or practical matters, the same group is referred to as the "Governing Body." Note that the latter is capitalized, as it is a legal term, but the other is not, as it is drawn from the scripture, where it is not a title.

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Jesus used the singular "faithful slave" so that each disciple listening would place himself as the subject of the question. Any disciple who teaches ('gives out food') in the congregation would individually take Jesus' words as a challenge to remain faithful to his assignment until his Master's return. A similar challenge and promise is found in the parables of the minas (Luke 19:12-26) and the talents (Matt 25:14-30). See also 1 Peter 4:10.

In using the singular, Jesus did not mean that he would have just one man, like a pope, leading his people on earth. He was very clear on that point: “Do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly One. Neither be called leaders, for your Leader is one, the Christ.” —Matthew 23:9, 10. So although the governing body fulfills the responsibility of the "faithful slave" today, they do so together. We do not follow any one man.

It is not obvious in the parables that there is much interval between "Well done" and "Bring my enemies here." In one sense Christ returned at the beginning of the last days (early in the 20th century) and blessed those he found faithful then with the privilege of carrying the Good News of the imminent Kingdom to the world during the end times. Much later, at the end of the last days, he comes to execute judgment on his enemies (early in the 21st century, we expect). At that time Christ will return in a different way, in full power at the battle of Armageddon. Just before that, the last few of his chosen ones still remaining on earth are raised to heaven, so that finally all of them will have received their reward ("settled accounts with his slaves") to rule with him (given "authority over ten cities") and are able to have a hand in the final battle (Rev 2:26, 27). And at the same time, those found unfaithful will receive their punishment.

The fact that the parables could have two applications (one early in the last days, another at their end) is not a problem; several prophecies in scripture have both a minor and a great fulfillment (an example is at Matt 17:10-13: note Jesus says ‘Elijah’ is yet to come, then comments that he has already come; obviously he has to come more than once).