Do the Bible Students have a governing body?

Here is the Governing Body of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. 

Although the Bible Students are few in numbers, they are spread all over the world—America, Canada, England, France, Germany, Lithania, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, India, Africa, Brazil, South America, etc.. . . .Generally, when possible, they are gathered together in “ecclesias.” This word “ecclesia” comes from the Greek word ekklesia which is a compound of  “a calling out” and translated “church” in most common versions of the New Testament (Strong’s Concordance #1577).

Does the Bible Students Movement have a governing body? If not, why not?

The Bible Students do not have a governing body.  As far as the Scriptures go, there has only been one governing body: the Apostles. And they were really only set up as a group for the foundation and establishment of the Church.  They were NOT to lord it over the members of the Church, but rather begin the instruction of it as Jesus and God had taught them. “…not as being lords over those entrusted to you, but as being examples to the flock….” 1 Pet. 1:3.  Such lording over the brethren was one of the earliest mistakes in the church and soundly condemned as being of the Nicolaitans in Revelation. (Rev 2:6)

The Apostles never claimed to a monopoly of the teaching nor of the pastoral work.  Paul, in fact, described the many talents among the brethren for which they alone were responsible to exercise in Eph. 4:11-15, and 1 Cor. 12:28, 29.

No one should limit our personal responsibilities to examine the Scriptures and to prove what is truth for ourselves.  To do so would be to disobey many Scriptural injunctions to examine the teachings from others to see if they square with what we already know to be true from the Bible.  The Bereans were commended for such caution and conscience before the Lord (Acts 17:10, 11).

Nowhere in the Bible is there authority given for any outside group of the various local ecclesias (churches / study groups).  There was no apostolic succession authorized and only the original 12 (Judas having been replaced by Paul, appointed directly by the Lord) were ever authorized in such a role.  Mark. 3:14, Rev. 21:12-14; 2:2

In fact, the early Church was given instruction how to handle their own affairs by electing, locally, elders and deacons to serve them, in Timothy and in Titus, with such qualifications outlined that the Church is thus responsible to monitor its leaders spiritual growth and behaviors as would benefit all.  In the case of conflict, our Lord outlines in Matt. 18:15-17, specific actions to take which do not include any outside the local ecclesia.

We realize that the “governing body” of the JWs doesn’t claim apostolic authority, but their actions and ruling, and indeed, the very term “governing” belie the lack of such a claim.  Even our elders and deacons are mere servants of the greater body and are subject to review on a regular basis for their own character’s benefit as well as the Church’s.

As Bible Students, we believe each and every individual is responsible for his or her own doctrinal belief, character development, and support of every other individual.  It isn’t as easy as having some greater [human] power telling us what to think and do, but then, we have great privilege to learn of Jehovah how to conduct our affairs in order to glorify Him.  Jehovah has provided us with the tools needed for our personal Christian growth, including the Bible, Holy Spirit and the prayer relationship with Him and His Son, Jesus Christ.  These tools are also to aid in the support and encouragment of all the body members of the Christ.

contributed by L.L.

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48 comments to Do the Bible Students have a governing body?

  • JAman

    After 39 years of JW membership and misinformation, and lack of love, I have read the posts here with great interest, especially of interest to me is how the Bible Students offer prayer? I would be greatly encouraged if you could please assist me. A brother with love.

    • Jacqueline

      JAman, Please bear with us, there is a convention going on this weekend. Your questions are very appropriate and will get an answer. Thanks.
      In Christ,

    • Peter K. (admin)

      JAman – I just posted a new Article that will help to explain how Bible Students offer prayer. I believe this will answer many of your questions. Click here: – God bless you.

  • serein

    hi i totaly agree with what u say and i want to know were my nearest bible student group is, im in south yorkshire uk and would like to either start one or go to one.

    • Peter K. (admin)

      Serein – I am really happy to see your enthusiasm. We rejoice in Jehovah’s loving plan to bless ALL the families of the earth. I will find some contacts for you in the UK. I can send you a personal email if you privately provide your email address by selecting from the top of the site “ABOUT\CONTACT.” Let me know if you are interested in Bible Student Internet or conference call studies.

    • Peter K. (admin)

      Serein. In the UK, you can contact a wonderful brother by the name of Donald Holiday. His email address is
      I would also be glad to personally assisit you in any way I can. You can contact me under the ABOUT\CONTACT. I should be able to check any messages there on Sunday.

  • Joanna

    I feel very late in posting on this thread, but as I have just started looking at this site, and just read this, I really wanted to comment here. I love the spirit of dialogue and love I am seeing here, without compromise of God’s character and Word. I think that this is an important topic, and goes along with our Lord’s teaching in Matthew 23:1-12 (for the full context), particularly verses 8-10, “But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your master, even Christ.”

    Jesus is saying that we are all brethren in Christ and equal. That’s not saying there is no hierarchy to keep order in the Church, but that no one is above another to tell them what they have to think or do.

    To me this is a very important concept, and is further taught in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, “prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” This shows our individual responsibility before our Lord to prove to ourselves whether our beliefs fit with the Scriptures, not to take someone else’s word for it.

    Galatians 1:8 also shows that even if the Apostle Paul himself were to tell us something not fitting with God’s word that we are to take God’s word not his.


    • Jacqueline

      I just saw your post, thanks to Serein posting and I looked to see her post. I want to comment on your last paragraph. Witnessses are told from the platform by Circuit and District overseers and in print;
      “that even if we know and can prove scripturally that something said by the governing body is wrong, we are to accept it until the governing body changes it.” We are told we would be going ahead of the organization if we questioned their words. They say rejecting them is the same as rejecting Jehovah himself. Not much is said about Christ. Because again we have been told within the last year that we cannot get to God unless we accept the governing body. All Christians know, that there is one mediator betweeen God and men, the man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.(1Tim.2:5,6)
      I know you might find it difficult to believe that we are told this, and it will be enforced. Any witness reading this will acknowledge the truthfulness of my statements. That’s why we appreciate a web-site that can help to heal and let us dsicuss these points without feeling we will be disciplined. Looking at your plainly stated post makes me feel ashamed and wonder, how could I let men cause me to fear them? I imagine many witnesses are asking themselves the same question, for most, it is because they will lose all of their friends and family. Witnesses generally do not have friends outside of the organization. Thank you.

  • Peter K. (admin)

    Bro. Ted – I was waiting for someone else to respond to you. I hope others do. In the meantime, I will respond. You have accused us of speaking “Half truth and some outright falsehoods.” We do not want to mislead anyone with information that is not true. Please take time for our readers to lay out what you believe is “half truth” and “outright falsehoods.” I presume that if you truly love your brothers and sisters in Christ and want to help and protect fellow JWs and that you will take advantage of this open forum to do so. If you can demonstrate that we have been false in any of our statements, we are prepared to apologize and correct ourselves.

    You asked, “what do the Churches have to offer?” Personally, I am not impressed with the doctrinal messages other Churches have to offer. I believe that Jesus died a ransom for ALL, not just for a few. That is why I am a Bible Student.

    You state that what we Bible Students have to offer is “condemnation.” To the contrary, let me publicly state that I am very impressed by the dedication and sacrifice of so many JWs who’s one desire is to devote all their energy and life to serving Jehovah. Of such, I am very inspired. However, regrading “condemnation,” let me say this. Probably, the very best you see for my future is that I will die forever in Armageddon. However, the very worst that I believe will happen to you is that you will become fully enlightened of Jehovah and live forever on Paradise earth. That is what you you are hoping for. My view of you is that your dreams will come true. However, I would encourage you to consider the heavenly call, the Little Flock.

  • Ted

    Where do you folks come up with this stuff?

    Half truth and some outright falsehoods.
    Funny you always refer back to decades ago.
    Remember they came out of Christendom and had to correct their understanding and after all what to the Churches have to offer?
    Or you for that matter?
    Just condemation and from a very sad sort..
    I would HATE to be in your shoes !

    • ptt7000

      Hello Ted,

      Several of us former JWs have looked at, and analyzed your statements. We agree with the administrator, there is a need to be specific. We know you are probably an Elder, perhaps directly out of Bethel. We recognize the choice of words, i.e. “half truths” and “outright falsehoods”. Since you mention this, please be specific. I would like to discuss it with you. Over 60 yrs as a witness, I think I know all of the doctrine. I will wait on your reply. Let’s talk.
      Thank you

  • ptt7000

    I have really enjoyed this post from you, Joe and corrections from the admin. I feel I can send my family to this post alone and if they like, they can visit other parts of the web-site. Since they are all JW’s, I will just ask them to read this page since my thoughts are the same as posted here. They sometimes will not let me explain but maybe they will read in the comfort of their own homes and realize they have another option. And not just the watchtower society.
    Again very well put.
    Thank you,
    In Christ

    • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

      Ellis, look at how naive I was when this site started! I am posting so some of the new ones can go to these pages back in 2010 and enjoy the great variance of witnesses coming on as most had not left the org then. Some of them are associated with Bible students groups now in person or online.

  • Peter K. (admin)

    Joe – Regarding your question on the stand and announce method, my response is under a new post labeled, ” How can I leave the JWs without losing my family?”

    I like your summary of Bible Student information, but I will offer a few minor corrections.

    1) Most Bible Students believe Jesus returned invisibly in 1874, when the signs of Daniel 12 began to be fulfilled (increase in knowledge, travel, Israel starting to be delivered and book of Daniel unsealed/understood.) No Bible Students, nor Pastor Russell, has ever believed Jesus returned in 1914. J.F. Rutherford likely changed this since it was the only way he could identify himself as the Faithful and Discreet Slave who was watching when Jesus returned (Matt 24:45, 46).

    2) The Watchman Nee movement is not related to the Bible Students or Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    3) The Finished Mystery was authorized by J.F. Rutherford as the 7th (not 6th) book and is not accepted by Bible Students as part of the 6 volume Studies in the Scriptures.

  • If someone wants to see the Convention in Romania on-line ,
    he may try this link to connect
    the sessions start at 9 in the morning , that is about seven hours earlier for the U.S.

    and also here

    greetings from romania

  • Joe

    Hi, Pete. Please read the following and in particular the last paragraph then give me your thoughts about it. It mentions the stand and announce method you had spoken of. Joe at 913 492-1564;


    When you include those in Europe, Africa and Asia, the Bible Students now number millions, believe because of Christ’s ransom sacrifice, God will lovingly resurrect 144,000 people to heaven and also bless ALL humans regardless of their different races, languages, tribes, nations etc. He will orderly resurrect them upon our planet Earth returned to paradise conditions such as in Eden and taught God’s will. After a thousand years they will be tested and those who prove unfaithful at that time will go into eternal second death. God, His Son Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit are one in being absolutely holy, the Father relatively greatest (Titus 2:13), usually called Our Father, sometimes by respectful titles such as Lord, occasionally a formal name such as Jehovah or Yahweh. Events from 1914 on have heralded Christ’s return or presence (parousia in Greek) as a spirit being. He is invisible as a spirit or energy-like being, but he is visible via the events. World War I came with deadly flu, followed by WWII, natural disasters, in 1948 Israel was restored as a nation. But Bible Students are cheered knowing that after foes unsuccessfully attack Israel and its allies in the place or condition called Armageddon, blessings will soon come upon earth for all. The one faith for Christians is general Christianity with good, average and bad branches.

    Groups of two or more meet in autonomous or self-governing Bible study groups earthwide mostly in private homes (Ro 16:1) except that regional conventions and a bi-annual international convention are usually in rented facilities. Romania has possibly 35,000 in one group, millions may be part of God’s Kingdom Society in Nigeria, India has thousands, small groups are in the U.K., E.U., Australia, India, Pakistan, Japan, China, Russia, the Ukraine etc, The U.S. may have up to 3,000, many associating with larger Ecclesias (congregations) in the Northeast, around Chicago, groups as small as 2-3 persons in all or most all parts of the U.S. and Canada. China’s “Little Flock” movement numbering up to 50 million and founded by Watchtower Nee has many similar beliefs. Many Bible Student groups share publishing houses for Bibles, tracts (leaflets), song books etc, for example Dawn Bible Students. ( There are Christian summer camps for youths, retirement homes with fellowship for example in the U.S. and Israel. Members exercise Bible trained conscience to enjoy great freedom in Christ concerning holidays, health concerns, diet, education, science, donations, personal dress and association etc. Bible Students are pro-education.

    Each Ecclesia (congregation) decides what it will study in or about the Bible, etc. Groups freely associate and can work together as when holding conventions. Anyone wanting to start a new group simply goes and does it, as easy as inviting people to read a chapter in the Bible and enjoy meal, song, prayer. Elders among Bible Students are older reputable ones serving without requiring salary or perks. When necessary for weddings etc groups can record who one or more of the ministering servants are and apply for official licenses. The main founder was evangelist Charles Taze Russell, active in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He wrote many publications, traveled widely, preached, debated and made a few predictions. One was that earth would warm, melting the ice-caps and becoming a tropical paradise. He wrongly Israel’s return as a nation would be in 1914 but admitted he had been wrong. Bible Students preach the Good News of God’s kingdom globally via radio, phone conferences, websites, forums, email, print etc. (Mt 28:19

    AFTER C.T. RUSSELL DIED IN 1916 attorney Joseph Rutherford seized control of properties, ordered guards to keep away board of director members loyal to Russell. Rutherford restructured Russell’s “Watchtower Society” from a publishing house into a centralized organization with dictatorial control. Almost all the Bible Students left Rutherford so he had his remaining followers preach at every house to get more people to donate time, money and energy. He made even more Armageddon mispredictions without apology, and in 1931 named his group Jehovah’s Witnesses. (JWs)

    Rutherford also had a big pyramid erected near Russell’s small gravestone misleading some to think Russell was into occult pyramidology though Russell opposed the occult. In one chapter of one book he discussed features of pyramids helpful for learning Bible topics, an item many Christians in general were then interested in. Rutherford’s staff wrote some silly statements and highly inflammatory comments against other Christians in The Finished Mystery, the sixth book in a series, misclaiming it was as Russell had wanted when alive. Watchtower has also told JWs that Bible Students are a “wicked” or “evil” Slave Class, some Elders implying Bible Students are totally insignificant in numbers or don’t even exist! They have said Bible Students worship Russell but the truth is Bible Students regard Russell with great appreciation as Lutherans respect Luther and his writings. In fact some Bible Student groups do not study Russell’s publications, use only the Bible and distribute small Bible tracts or leaflets like you are reading here.

    Watchtower denies the cross was a cross saying it was a stake and teaches JWs the cross represents a heinous murder weapon not to be worn even though Paul said to boast of it, and it is a symbol of Christ’s victory over death. Bible Students are concerned that Watchtower’s Governing Body men teach JWs to die rather than take emergency blood transfusions despite 1 Samuel 14:31-35 and Matthew 12:7 proving God’s mercy and reasonableness. Watchtower heads order shunning so harsh that it has caused some JWs to suicide, destroyed countless marriages and families. Policies hiding and sheltering “repentant” pedophiles have helped those to the harm of children! ( Their misleading members to think Armageddon would come in 1975 ruined lives. (See videos) They talk JWs into building expensive Kingdom Halls and assembly buildings for the organization instead of help JWs and others in need; do little to help youths and seniors. They claim only JWs faithful to Watchtower as God’s “only true organization on earth” will survive Armageddon and receive God’s blessings.

    In 2010 Watchtower stopped teaching JWs to believe and teach the Public that the Generation alive in 1914 would see Armageddon then paradise, substituting a “New Light” idea of an Overlap Generation possibly continuing years ahead that confused and greatly disappointed many aging and older JWs. Watchtower’s Governing Body keeps misteaching Christ is mediator for only 144,000 anointed Christians but Bible Students say he’s the Mediator for ALL mankind and most regular JWs agree with Bible Students. (See Watchtower magazine of Feb 15, 1991, p 18 par 11) Their September 15, 2010 Watchtower magazine on p 23 says: “The anointed and their other sheep companions recognize that by following the lead of the modern day Governing Body, they are in fact following their Leader, Christ.” Bible Students and most JWs disagree with that!!! The strongest bond of Unity is love (Col 3:14) not forcing people to attend Watchtower meetings or lose some family and friends by disfellowshipping! JWs wanting to break free from Watchtower can stand at any meeting and say “All who want to worship Jehovah in another place can go over to my house.” Read more at

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