How did an account that within mainstream Christianity regards as a parable (earthly story with a heavenly/spiritual meaning) become a prophecy?
This is an exciting subject that I would like to spend some time on. Today I will cover Matthew 24:45-47. Today the Watchtower calls it the “faithful and discrete slave.” The other term was “faithful and wise servant” when the King James Version was used. How many of you considered learning about the origin of this and how it was applied in the organization? Prior to getting involved with it, have you ever done a phrase search on “faithful and discreet slave?” What will you see?
Cultic groups have a way to write their leaders into the pages of scripture even though they are not mentioned specifically by name.
Mormons have Joseph Smith:
Having accepted Ellen G. White as one of God’s messengers, and believing that she manifested the gift of prophecy, then we must decide on the relationship of her writings to the Bible: Ellen G. White Estate
Within the history of the organization, it started inauspiciously with the following quote about the remnant (starting with Adventist influence):
Who then is that faithful and wise servant whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household,” to give them meat in due season? Is it not that “little flock” of consecrated servants who are faithfully carrying out their consecration vows – the body of Christ – and is not the whole body individually and collectively, giving the meat in due season to the household of faith – the great company of believers?”
Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. 1881 Oct/Nov p.5
However, this was not good enough. Instead of using it to refer to an entire group, Russell’s wife, who was on speaking terms with him, applied it to him.
The following quote is from 1906 but first appeared in December of 1895:
The excitement and connected to the against against the me able referred to temporally hindered the sprouting of the bad seed of so-called “women’s rights” and ambition, and temporarily Mrs. Russell become very enthusiastic in my support. It was she who first called attention to Matt. 24:45-47, applying it to me in a meeting at Allegheny and subsequently in another meeting with the New York Church. I demurred that I had not thought of the passage thus, and declined to make any personal application of it, although I could not deny the force of the argument that it pointed out “that servant,” and “fellow servants” and “the household,” apparently clearly and designedly distinguishing between these terms.
. July 15, 1906 Reprints p. 3811
So what we have is a seed planted and took time to germinate.
To Russell’s credit, he didn’t make a public declaration that he was “the servant,” however, here’s what the magazine said just over a month after he died:
Thousands of the readers of Pastor Russell’s writing believe that he filled the office of “that faithful and wise servant,” and that his great work was giving to the Household of Faith meat in due season. His modesty and humility precluded him from openly claiming this title, but he admitted as much in private conversation.
The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. December 1, 1916 p. 357
So it remains within the realm of possibility that Russell heard this and basically over the course of 10 years, felt those particular verses spoke about him. That in and of itself is a problem since I said previously, cult groups have their leadership written into the pages of scriptures themselves.
Regardless, with Russell now dead (even though he was to be regarded as a king: Russell, thou hast, by the Lord been crowned a king; and through the everlasting ages thy name shall be known amongst the people, and thy enemies shall come and worship at thy feet.
The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. December 1, 1916 Reprints p. 6015)
had to have the Faithful and Wise Servant change “in due time.” However, it did not change immediately since we have the following quotes:
Brother Russell occupied the office of that “faithful and wise servant”
The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. March 1, 1923 p. 68
With that in mind, many things had to change once Rutherford took over. This was a core teaching that was to change as well. So here’s how it happened. The following is a quote from The Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, February 15, 1927 p. 53:
Seeing then that The Servant of Jehovah is The Christ, and that The Christ is composed of Jesus and the faithful members of his body, we find it proper to apply the term “Servant” to Jesus Christ alone or to Jesus Christ and the members of his body collectively as one; and sometimes it is applied only to the member of the body of Christ yet on earth.
(The article has Matthew 24:45 and 46 as the basis of the entire article).
So what we have are two things:
- A partial return to a prior teaching.
- Elevating “The Servant” to a heavenly individual: namely Watchtower Jesus.
Moving along in our WT chronology, this is something that didn’t change. However, in groups like the Watchtower, the truth continues to get twisted. Remember earlier how I said, the Watchtower printed out statements stating that Russell was the servant.
However, what we have is blame getting passed along in Qualified to Be Ministers, published in 1955 on page 318 by saying the following about “elective elders”:
Many of these insisted on living in the past, in the time of Pastor Russell, who was claimed by them to be the sole channel of Scriptural enlightenment, whom they called “the servant” of Matthew 24:45.
So in short, the “thousands of readers” must have only been the “elective elders” based upon prior statements.
Further twisting occurs in 1973 with the following:
From this it is clearly seen that the editor and publisher of Zion’s Watch Tower disavowed any claim to being individually, in his person, that “faithful and wise servant.” He never did claim to be such. However, he did continue to edit the Watch Tower magazine down to the day of his death on October 31, 1916.
God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached. 1973. p. 346
Now this is an idea that didn’t undergo much by way of change however, from what I’ve read, it’s a shift from a Jesus/Michael emphasis to those on Earth with the following:
To that end, their ‘master’ appointed a collective ‘faithful steward’ class, the body of anointed Christians on the earth since Pentecost 33 C.E. Since the ‘master’ found the remaining ones of this body faithfully and discreetly giving out ‘food supplies’ when he arrived for inspection in 1919, he appointed them ‘over all his belonging.”
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. September 15, 1983 p. 19-20
In less than 30 years, we have a shift to the Governing Body with this quote:
For instance, a number of branches are being merged and consolidated, which will allow many who were formerly serving in Bethel homes in those countries to focus on the preaching work. Brother Lett urged the audience to keep praying that the Governing Body, as the representative of the slave class, continue to be not only faithful but also wise, or discreet.—Matt. 24:45-47. The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. August 15, 2011 p. 18
The transition to the Governing Body (and throwing the anointed under the bus) is complete with the following from the article: “Who Really Is the Faithful and Discreet Slave?”
Who, then, is the faithful and discreet slave? In keeping with Jesus’ pattern of feeding many through the hands of a few, that slave is made up of a small group of anointed brothers who are directly involved in preparing and dispensing spiritual food during Christ’s presence. Throughout the last days, the anointed brothers who make up the faithful slave have served together at headquarters. In recent decades, that slave has been closely identified with the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Note, however, that the word “slave” in Jesus’ illustration is singular, indicating that this is a composite slave. The decisions of the Governing Body are thus made collectively.
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. July 15, 2013 p. 22
So here are the questions:
- The tacking occurred from going to a small group to one individual to all anointed and now it is the Governing Body. Why did the light get brighter to only dim to old light then get modified to a few and not a few thousand?
- Since Jesus came back in 1914 now, why was it that an individual was regarded as the “faithful and discreet slave?” Should it not have been more than just one man?
- How was it possible to have the anointed as the “faithful and discreet slave” since there are anointed females?
- Most importantly, what sort of confirmation was there since special roles for anyone in the bible are attributed to a miraculous sign? As you go though and name someone specially chosen in the bible, there is some sort of miraculous act attributed to them.
As always, this organization has written itself into the Bible taking a few verses and specifically applying it to them. What more do you need in terms of proof that you should place down the magazine and read the Bible on its own?