The Watchtower, March 1, 2004 carried an article entitled, “A ‘Slave’ who is both Faithful and Discreet”. It sets out to show that the Society is the only Christian group to have such a leadership today,and that their leaders have always been marked with this distinction.
The phrase, “Faithful and Discreet Slave” comes from Matthew 24:45 in the New World Translation and is the title given to the good slave, who, while waiting for his master to return, gives”food in due season” to his fellow slaves. Is this really an apt description of the Watchtower’s Governing Body, and is it good Biblical exegeses to say that they are this slave?
Early in the article, the writers make a very interesting point:
“‘The faithful and discreet slave’ cannot be one person” – p.8.
Their reasoning for this does not concern us just at present; their desire to prove it is obvious though; they want the title applied to all the members of the Governing Body. However, as any student of the Watchtower Society will know, by making this statement, they have just proved that they cannot be the ‘faithful and discreet slave’.
Below see just four quotes taken from Watchtower material after their founder, Charles Taze Russell, died. In other words this is not what he claimed himself but what his replacement, the then president Judge Rutherford, said.
“THE WATCH TOWER unhesitatingly proclaims Brother Russell as ‘that faithful and wise servant.'” – The Watchtower Reprints, March 1, 1917, p. 6049
“The Lord Jesus, in his great prophetic statement in Matthew 24:45-47, made known the fact that at the end of the age he would be present and would have a special servant whom he would ‘make ruler over all his house to give meat in due season to the household.’ “For several years some have recognized and now many more are recognizing, that Pastor Russell is that servant.” – The Watchtower Reprints, November 1, 1917, p. 6159
“…the earthly creature made prominent therein above all others is the messenger of the Laodicean Church – ‘that wise and faithful servant of the Lord‘ – CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL…” – The Finished Mystery, 1917, p. 5.
“Do we believe that the Lord chose as an earthly representative to serve the household of faith one wise and faithful servant whom he made ruler over the household, and that the person so chosen was Charles Taze Russell? … We assume that every one in present truth, realizing that his knowledge of present truth came from the Lord through the ministration of his servant, will answer the foregoing questions in the affirmative… (No one in present truth for a moment doubts that Brother Russell filled the office of the ‘faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season’.)” – The Watchtower, April 1, 1920, p. 100
Faithful and Discreet Replacement
This explanation, of course, had to change if the Society were going to continue with a ‘prophetic’ leadership. If Russell was the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ and Russell was dead, there was no ‘faithful and discreet slave’ any longer on earth.
Notice that the quote below, which is one of those changing the original belief, talks of Russell claiming for himself; they ignore the above quotes in official Watchtower literature, after Russell died.
“Some have claimed that the Scripture, ‘the faithful and wise servant’, specifically applies to Brother Russell. He never made that claim himself. That Brother Russell was greatly used of the Lord no one can doubt who knew him. That the Lord used him more wonderfully than anyone on earth since St. Paul’s day there can be no doubt. But that does not at all affect the explanation of this scripture. It is clearly manifest from the scriptures herein before cited that the elect Servant of God is Christ, Jesus the Head and his body members; and that Christ Jesus speaks of these faithful members as a part of himself. To say that `that faithful and wise servant’ specifically applies to one individual and to none other would imply that a large proportion of the body members of Christ could not be classed either as faithful or wise. That would be doing violence to the scripture” – The Watchtower, 15 February 1927, p.56.
Even though the small sentence we have just looked at, showing that the’ faithful and discreet slave’ cannot be one person, has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the Society is not the ‘faithful and discreet slave’, it is still interesting to look at their reasoning, which brings them to this conclusion.
“Well, might the term ‘faithful and discreet slave’ apply in a general sense to each individual Christian? It is true that all Christians must be faithful and discreet; however, Jesus clearly had something more in mind when he spoke of ‘the faithful and discreet slave.’ How do we know that? Because he said that the ‘master on arriving’ would appoint the slave ‘over all his belongings.’ How could each individual Christian be placed over everything – over ‘all’ of the Lord’s belongings? Impossible! The only reasonable conclusion, then, is that Jesus was referring to a group of Christians as ‘the faithful and discreet slave.’ Can there be such a thing as a composite slave? Yes. Seven hundred years before Christ, Jehovah referred to the entire nation of Israel as ‘my witnesses’ and ‘my servant whom I have chosen.'” – p.9.
For the purpose of this article it is not necessary to decide whether it is one or many, we need to decide whether it refers to the Watchtower Society. I would say that the context in which this passage is found, Matthew 24:42-25:30, it is much more likely to be an individual. It is in the context of being ready for the return of the Master and we cannot do that as a group, it is as an individual that must determine whether he/she is ready or not.
Notice, however, the argument above resorts to a favourite phrase of the Watchtower, “… only reasonable conclusion.” As the context of the passage has not been looked at, nor the full extent of the text investigated, I would say that no reasonable conclusion can be drawn. Certainly on the one point they have made, we might come to this conclusion, but that is neither good scholarship nor ‘reasonable’.
Faithful and Discreet Slaves
What is again interesting, is that Russell first expounded these verses as being each individual Christian.
“We believe that every member of this body of Christ is engaged in the blessed work, either directly or indirectly, of giving meat in due season to the household of faith. ‘ 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? Blessed is that servant (the whole body of Christ) whom his Lord when he has come (Gr. eithon) shall find so doing,” – The Watch Tower Reprints, November 1881, p.291.
But it appears a few years later he changed it – by popular demand!
“In our examination of this text we seem to have treated the term ‘that servant’ as though the Spirit had erred in saying ‘that servant’ when it meant servants (plural), and we applied it to all true servants of God. Since then we have been met from various quarters with objections to so general an application, and the suggestion that it would be wrong to allow modesty or any other consideration, good or bad, to warp our judgment in the exposition of the inspired Word; to which proposition we agree.” – The Watch Tower Reprints, March 1, 1896. p. 1946
Original Faithful and Discreet Servant Dismissed
In order to prove that a group can be referred to in the singular and thus ‘prove’ the many members of the Governing Body (plural) can be the ‘servant’ (singular) they introduce in the above quote the fact that all Israel is termed as a servant. However they then go on to show that this servant was dismissed;
“A ‘Servant’ Is Dismissed. Since Israel was God’s ‘servant’ centuries ago, was it also the slave that Jesus spoke about? No, for ancient Israel sadly turned out to be neither faithful nor discreet… Israel climaxed a long history of rebellion by rejecting Jesus, at which point Jehovah rejected them… This unfaithfulness on the part of the ‘servant,’ Israel, did not mean that faithful worshipers would be forever cut off from a spiritual food supply. At Pentecost 33 C.E., 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection, holy spirit was poured out upon about 120 of his disciples in an upper room in Jerusalem. At that moment, a new nation was born. Appropriately, its birth was publicized when its members boldly began telling the inhabitants of Jerusalem about “the magnificent things of God.” (Acts 2:11) Thus, that new nation, a spiritual nation, became the ‘servant’ that would declare Jehovah’s glory to the nations and supply food at the proper time.” – p.8.
Having introduced Israel as ‘the servant,’ the writers of this article need now to show why they are still not the servant. The answer, according to the Society, is that Jehovah totally rejected the Jews. Again, this shows a lack of good Biblical exegeses, because as Romans 11 shows, although rejected for a time they will be brought back. This is not the time or place to expound Romans 11 but it is the place to make the point that this Society cannot be the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ because they are not giving proper food in due time.
Jesus’ Presence in1914
Already we have shown, from two parts of this article, that although setting out to prove that the Society is the ‘faithful and discreet slave’, it has done just the opposite. There is a third time as well with these words found on p.11,
“What about today? When Jesus’ presence began in 1914, did he find a group of anointed Christians who were faithfully dispensing food at the proper time? He certainly did.”
Unfortunately, history shows us He did not, at least with the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society. Why? For the simple reason that in 1914 the food they were dispensing was that Jesus’ presence began in 1874! We print below just 3 of the many quotes regarding this,
“The Millennium (Rev. 20:3, 4, 7) began in 1874, with the return of Christ.” – The Finished Mystery, 1917, p.386
“No one can properly understand the work of God at this present time who does not realize that since 1874, the time of the Lord’s return in power, there has been a complete change in God’s operations.” – The Watchtower, September 15 1922, p.278
“Surely there is not the slightest room for doubt in the mind of a truly consecrated child of God that the Lord Jesus is present and has been since 1874….” – The Watchtower, January 1 1924, p. 5.
The Society end this article on p.12, with the bold statement,
“All this shows that the slave has been both “faithful and discreet slave.”
I believe that what we have shared above shows that statement to be untrue and indeed “all this shows” the opposite’ that this Organisation has been neither faithful nor discreet.
What About Today?
The article we are quoting from ends here but a second article beginning on p.13 seeks to bring conclusive evidence that the slave, today, is the Governing Body of the Watchtower Society. The article is entitled “‘The Faithful Slave’ Passes the Test”. It seeks to prove that in 1919 Jehovah tested His people to find out who the true slave was.
In essence, it claims that Jehovah applied His test to the Watchtower Society and they passed! They indeed were shown to be the ‘faithful and discreet slave’. But in order to be the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ they must be giving out good spiritual food. Here again we have a problem because according to the Society today the food being given out in 1919 was not good.
- In 1919 the Society taught that celebrating Christmas was good and acceptable to Jehovah, today it is pagan.
- In 1919 the Society taught that Jesus died on a cross, today it is pagan.
- In 1919 the Society taught that all true Christians had a heavenly reward, today it is pagan.
Despite what the writers of the article want us to think, I believe that once again we have shown that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society have failed the test and that the cannot be the ‘faithful and discreet slave’.