The Governing Body
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The Watchtower Society teaches that Jehovah God has always had one singular Organization from the very beginning (The Watchtower, January 1, 2000, pp.30-31), and currently this one singular Organization is the Jehovah's Witnesses (Worship the Only True God, 2002, pp.128-135). Jehovah's Witnesses are fiercely loyal to “Jehovah's Organization” because they believe it is the only true, Godly, organization in existence and is directed by Holy Spirit – thus it is the only place where people can find everlasting life (The Watchtower, November 15, 1992 p.21 para.12-15). The Organization's leadership is known not only known as “the faithful and discreet slave” but is also known as the “Governing Body” (Bearing Thorough Witness of the Only True God, 2009, p.71 para.10, p.103 para.9; The Watchtower, April 1 2007, p.28 para.11).

Just to be clear, the Jehovah's Witness membership does actually claim Jesus Christ to be the head of their world-wide congregation; however they also believe that Jesus uses the Governing Body to convey His teaching and instruction (The Watchtower, April 1 2007 p.28 para.11; Bearing Thorough Witness of the Only True God, 2009, p.103 para.9).

 

GOVERNING BODY OVERVIEW

According to the Watchtower Society's publications, the Governing Body is a group of anointed servants of God (all men) who represent the faithful and discreet slave, and shoulder the responsibility of providing direction and “spiritual food” to all believers (The Watchtower, August 15 2008, p.29). According to this source, each of the members within the Governing Body serve in various committees, and each committee has an assigned area of oversight in order to keep the Organization running smoothly.

 

BIBLICAL FOUNDATION

The Watchtower Society teaches that the provision of the Governing Body is patterned after the first century Christian congregation, using the Biblical account at Acts 15:2 as a model. If you remember, this is the account where some of the early Christians were disputing with Paul and Barnabas concerning the ritual of circumcision. In the end, Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem in order to consult with the Apostles stationed there in order to settle the matter. Because of this Biblical account, the Watchtower Society teaches that the Apostles of old acted in the same capacity as the modern day Governing Body (Bearing Thorough Witness of the Only True God, 2009, p.103 para.8; p.105 para.7).

They also point out where, in Scripture, this same “Governing Body” in Jerusalem dispatched evangelizers to Samaria in order to support new believers living out there, as written in Acts 8:14-17. This is the account of when the Apostles in Jerusalem heard that the Samaritans were accepting the Word, and thus the Apostles Peter and John were dispatched to them in order to pray for them and give them Holy Spirit. The Watchtower Society views this as supporting their teaching that the Governing Body exercises authority in like manner today (Bearing Thorough Witness of the Only True God, 2009, p.63 para.11).

Jehovah's Witnesses are also taught that this “Governing Body” in the Bible appointed qualified men to resolve many other congregational matters, such as the handling of money, supplies, and keeping careful records (Bearing Thorough Witness of the Only True God, 2009, p.42 para.18).

The Watchtower Society also teaches that the Scriptures show the apostles dispatched evangelizers who were taught the decrees given from the “Governing Body” (Apostles and older men) in Jerusalem (Acts 16:4), and that all instruction and counsel and elder appointments are directed through the Governing Body (Bearing Thorough Witness of the Only True God, 2009, p.43 para.20). Therefore, the common Jehovah's Witness membership is also taught that by listening to the elders they are obeying Jehovah (Keep Yourselves in God's Love, 2008, p.43 para.15).

In short, the Watchtower Society teaches that it is only through the direction of the Governing Body that doctrine, counseling, evangelizing, business matters, congregational matters, missionary work, appointments of responsibility, and shepherding take place, no exceptions; and they state this is based on the Governing Body arrangement outlined in Scripture as mentioned above; thus, to obey them is the same as obeying God.


BIBLE vs. THE WATCHTOWER'S TEACHING

Although the Watchtower Society teaches a rigid system of dependence upon their Governing Body, the actual Bible accounts are certainly more relaxed in their view of the Biblical “Governing Body” system:

1. Phillip was dispatched directly by God's Angel and Holy Spirit, without confirmation or approval from the Governing Body (Acts 8: 26-40)
2. Barnabas and Paul were chosen evangelizers through the Holy Spirit, without confirmation or approval from the Governing Body (Acts 13:2)
3. Barnabas and Paul were directed by holy spirit to travel, without confirmation or approval from the Governing Body (Acts 13:4)
4. Barnabas and Paul ordained men in some of the congregations without confirmation or approval from the Governing Body (Acts 14: 23)
5. Timothy was chosen by Paul to accompany him on his journeys without confirmation or approval from the Governing Body (Acts 16:1-3)
6. Timothy and Paul were led directly by the Spirit of Jesus, not by the confirmation or approval of the Governing Body (Acts 16:6-10)
7. The Lord Himself spoke directly to Paul – not through the Governing Body (Acts 18:9)
8. The Ephesians were given the Spiritual gifts of prophecy and tongues although they weren't members of the Governing Body (Acts 19:1-7)
9. Paul recommended a female minister without confirmation or approval from the Governing Body (Romans 16:1)
10. Paul wrotel letters of doctrinal teaching to other congregations without the Governing Body's oversight (Books of Romans -Philemon)
11. Paul decided the rules on disfellowshipping / reinstatement, not the Governing Body (1 Corinthians 5:1-5 and 2 Corinthians 2:5-11)
12. Paul also taught things that weren't specifically decreed from the Governing Body (1 Corinthians 7:12, 1 Timothy 2:12)

Please note that none of the people in the above list were a part of a “Governing Body” stationed in Jerusalem as evidenced by two facts: 1) Some of them were known to be common members of the new congregations and, 2) The others traveled as missionaries on a continual basis. Even the Watchtower Society agrees with this: For example, they view Paul as a missionary (The Watchtower, August 15, 2007, pp.8-10), and a traveling overseer (What Does the Bible Really Teach?, 2005, p.119, para. 4). Peter is viewed as a traveling evangelist (Insight On the Scriptures, 1988, Vol.2, p.620-621; The Watchtower, May 15, 1990, p.24). Philip is viewed as a stationary evangelist (What Does the Bible Really Teach?, 2005, p.53, box). Timothy is viewed as a minister and overseer (Insight On the Scriptures, Vol. 2, 1988, pp.1105 -1006) This is in complete contrast to theApostles and older menwho remained stationed in Jerusalem as a “Governing Body” (Just as the modern day “Governing Body” remains stationed in Brooklyn).

As shown by the aforementioned list of examples, God's direction through a governing body was actually the exception, not the norm. In essence, although the group of Apostles and older men stationed in Jerusalem exercised a certain amount of authority and leadership over the congregation, the Bible clearly shows that they didn't exercise sole earthly authority and leadership over the congregation as God's spokesmen. As you can see from the examples listed, other congregational leaders outside of the men stationed in Jerusalem were also directly led by God – it wasn't the elite privilege of a single group of men.