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Is the Jehovah’s Witnesses Organization Today Structured like the Early Church? What About Congregational Elections?

Actually, there is no denominational church today that is structured like the Early Church.  The Early Watchtower actually was structured like the Early Church, but Rutherford changed that after Russell’s death.  Bible Students today still structure their congregations in this Biblical manner.

According to the Bible, the election of elders by Holy Spirit anointed congregational members was practiced in the Early Church.  The eventual elimination of this practice gradually led to Elders becoming the Lord’s of the Church, rather than its servants and it opened the way for the development of the Papal system which suppressed Christian liberty.

Paul and Barnabas went around to all the churches and conducted the election of Elders.  Acts 14: 23 (Weymouth) says, ”And in every Church, after prayer and fasting, they selected Elders by show of hands, and commended them to the Lord on whom their faith rested.  Other translations, like Rotherham and Young’s Literal translation say, “appointed to them by vote elders in every assembly.”    RVIC Revised Version Improved and Corrected says, “elected elders.”

Most translators confuse the reader by mis-translating the Greek word (Strong’s 5500) as”ordain.”  Yet the real meaning of the word cannot be hidden in 2 Corinthians  where Paul speaks of a brother who was elected by the churches to travel with him:  2 Cor 8:19 (Weymouth ) “… he is the one who was chosen by the vote of the Churches to travel with us…

In another example, we recall that the Apostles asked the Jerusalem Church to select seven deacons.  Acts 6:3 Weymouth says, “Therefore, brethren, pick out from among yourselves seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, and we will appoint them to undertake this duty.”  Certainly, no one would have challenged the Apostles had they exerted their influence to appoint deacons themselves.  Yet instead they humbly asked the Congregation to make this selection.

The Apostles never attempted to assert authoritative rule over the Congregations, even though Freedom and Christian Liberty in the Churches was so strong that it created great problems for the Apostles.

In 3 John 1 (Phillips), the Apostle John said, “9 I did write a letter to the church, but Diotrephes, who wants to be head of everything, does not recognise us!  10  If I do come to you, I shall not forget his actions nor the slanderous things he has said in spite against us. And it doesn’t stop there, for he refuses to welcome the brothers himself, and stops those who would like to do so—he even excommunicates them!

Is the JW Governing Body more like the Apostle John or Diotrephes?

Paul’s humility is very evident in his plea to the Corinthian brethren in 2 Cor10:1 (NKJV) where he says, ”Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ — who in presence am lowly among you…“

Paul did not try to force his will upon the Church.  He did not lord it over the Church, but in their presence was humble and lowly.

In 1 Thess 2 (NASV), Paul says, ”6 nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. 7 But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. 8 Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.

Speaking of himself and the other Apostles, Paul says in 1 Cor 4 (NKJV) ”11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world….”  Does the JW Governing Body live like Kings or like the Apostles?

Considering the humble condition and circumstance faced daily by the Apostles, we should feel privileged with even the lowliest of services for the Lord, the Truth and the brethren.

Paul lamented, 2 Tim 1:15 (NIV), ”You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes…”

2 Tim 4:16 (NAS), ”At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me...”

The Apostles suffered much in order to lead the Early Church by example, gentleness and love, even though they could have made things easy for themselves by implementing an iron rule.

The early church was able to resist the encroachments of power hungry leaders.  Rev 2:6 says of the first (Early) Church, “But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”    The word Nicolans means “A conqueror or lord of the people.”  These are those who lord it over the Lord’s heritage. (1 Pet. 5:3)

Yet by the third Church period (Approx 311 to 700 AD), this oppressive influence began to take over the Church.  Rev 2:14, 15 (NKJV) “ But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam…  you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.”  Yes, “while men [the apostles] slept [in death], the enemy [Satan] sowed tares [imitation Christians] amount the wheat [true Christians].” (Matt 13:25)

You can read more about how the Early Watchtower was structured like the early church from C.T. Russell’s own words here: 

————————————

WHAT DO COMMENTARIES SAY?

Since Ordaining ministers is common practice in denominational churches, it would be amazing to find any of their authorities conceding that Strongs 5500 can be translated to “vote” or ”elect,” yet the historical definition of the word in early literature is so clear that it cannot be ignored.  The following commentators concede the meaning, yet some try to maneuver out of the concession by rationalizing that the meaning of the word was changed by the apostles.

BARNES NOTES
er. 23. And when they had ordained. ceirotonhsantev. The word ordain we now use in an ecclesiastical sense, to denote a setting apart to an office by the imposition of hands.  But it is evident that the word here is not employed in that sense.  That imposition of hands might have occurred in setting apart afterwards to this office is certainly possible, but it is not implied in the word employed here, and did not take place in the transaction to which this word refers. The word occurs but in one other place in the New Testament, {#2Co 8:19} where it is applied to Luke, and translated, “who was also chosen of the church, (i.e. appointed or elected by suffrage by the churches,) to travel with us,” etc. The verb properly denotes to stretch out the hand; and as it was customary to elect to office, or to vote, by stretching out or elevating the hand, so the word simply means to elect, appoint, or designate to any office. The word here refers simply to an election or appointment of the elders.  It is said, indeed, that Paul and Barnabas did this. But probably all that is meant by it is, that they presided in the assembly when the choice was made.  It does not mean that they appointed them without consulting the church; but it evidently means that they appointed them in the usual way of appointing officers, by the suffrages of the people. See Schleusner, and the notes of Doddridge and Calvin.

JFP – JAMIESON, FAUSSET & BROWN
Acts 14:23, 24. when they had ordained them elders—literally, “chosen by showof hands.” But as that would imply that this was done by the apostles’ own hands, many render the word, as in our version, “ordained.” Still, as there is no evidence in the New Testament that the word had then lost its proper meaning, as this is beyond doubt its meaning in #2Co 8:19, and as there is indisputable evidence that the concurrence of the people was required in all elections to sacred office in the earliest ages of the Church, it is perhaps better to understand the words to mean, “when they had made a choice of elders,” that is, superintended such choice on the part of the disciples.

THE PULPIT COMMENTARY
Appointed for them for ordained them, A.V.
(ceirotonhsantev); had believed for believed, A.V. The original meaning of ceirotonew is “to stretch out the hand,” and the substantive ceirotonia is used in the LXX of #Isa 58:9 for “the putting forth of the finger” of the A.V.  But the common meaning of the verb is “to vote by stretching out the hand” and hence “to elect” by a show of hands, {#2Co 8:19} or simply “to appoint,” without any reference to voting.  In the choice of an apostle the election was by lot, {#Ac 1:26} in the appointment of deacons the choice was by the people, how indicated we are not told; {#Ac 6:5} the question here, on which commentators disagree, is whether the use of the word ceirotonew indicates voting by the people, selection by the apostles, or simple creation or appointment. As ceirotonhsantev is predicated of Paul and Barnabas, it cannot possibly refer to voting by the people, who are included in the able, as those on whose behalf the ceirotonia was made. It seems simplest and most in accordance with the classical use of the word and its use (innoiv), #Ac 10:41 (prokeceirotonhme) to take it in the sense of creation or appointment (see Steph., ‘Thesaur.’).  There is no reference to the laying on of hands.  Elders. see #Ac 11:30, note; #Ac 20:17; and especially terov #Tit 1:5,7, where we see that presbu was synonymous with ejpiskopov.  From presbuterov is formed prestos, priest, in French prestre, pretre. Comp. #Ac 13:3, for fasting and prayer as accompaniments of ordination.  Hence in the Church ordinations are preceded by the Ember days. They commended them to the Lord. {comp. #Ac 20:32}  In ver. 26 the word used is paradedomenoi.

CALVIN’S COMMENTARIES
Had ordained by election. The Greek word ceirotonein doth signify to decree, or ordain a thing, by lifting up the hands, as they used to do in the assemblies of the people. Notwithstanding, the ecclesiastical writers do often use the word ceirotoneia, in another sense; to wit, for their [the] solemn rite of ordaining, which is called in Scripture laying on of hands. Furthermore, by this manner of speech is very excellently expressed the right way to ordain pastors. Paul and Barnabas are said to choose {2} elders. Do they this alone by their private office? {3} Nay, rather they suffer the matter to be decided by the consent of them all. {4} Therefore, in ordaining pastors the people had their free election, but lest there should any tumult arise, Paul and Barnabas sit as chief moderators. Thus must the decree of the council of Laodicea be understood, which forbiddeth that the people have liberty granted them to elect. {5}

J. A. ALEXANDER COMMENTARY
And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord on whom they believed.  Besides these exhortations of instructions, they gave their converts a distinct organization as societies or churches. The meaning of the word ordained has been the subject of protracted and vehement dispute between Presbyterian and Episcopal interpreters. The latter grant that the original etymological import of the Greek word is to vote by stretching out the hand, but they contend that usage had so modified its meaning as to generate the secondary sense of choosing or appointing, without any reference to votes or popular election; and this they insist upon as the unquestionable use of the word here, where the act is predicated, not of the people but of Paul and Barnabas, who cannot be supposed to have voted for these elders with the outstretched hand.  Some go further and adopt the patristical usage of the word to denote imposition of hands, as the ordaining act; but this is commonly agreed to be an ecclesiastical usage of the word long posterior in date to the times of the Apostles. The opposite extreme is that of making the word here denote, directly and exclusively, the act of suffrage or election by the people.  To meet the objection, which has been already stated, that the act described is not that of the people, but of Paul and Barnabas, some modify this explanation of the term, so as to make it mean that Paul and Barnabas appointed or ordained the elders chosen by the people. The philological objection to this modification, that the same verb cannot denote both these processes at once, can only be removed by taking one step further and thus reaching the true mean between the opposite extremes. This middle ground is, that the verb itself, expressing as it clearly does the act of Paul and Barnabas, can only mean that they appointed or ordained these elders, without determining the mode of election or the form of ordination; but that the use of this particular expression, which originally signified the vote of an assembly, does suffice to justify us in supposing that the method of selection was the same as that recorded (not in #Ac 1:26, where the election was by lot and by direct divine authority, but) in #Ac 6:5,6, where it is explicitly recorded that the people chose the seven and the twelve ordained them.

JOHN GILL’S EXPOSITOR
Ver. 23. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, &c.] As soon as ever any number of disciples were made, or souls were converted to Christ in any place, they were at once formed, by the apostles, into a church state; and as the gifts, as well as the grace of the Holy Ghost, attended the ministry of the word, so among those that were converted, there were some that were honoured with ministerial gifts, qualifying them to preach the Gospel, and take upon them the care of the churches: these the apostles directed the churches to look out from among themselves, as in the case of deacons, an inferior office, who by joint suffrages declared their choice of them by the stretching out, or lifting up of their hands, as the word here used signifies, and not the imposition of them; and the apostles presiding in this affair, they were installed into the office of bishops, elders, or pastors over them; which expresses the great regard the apostles had to the order, as well as to the doctrine of the Gospel, and the concern they had for the welfare of souls converted under their ministry, by making a provision for them when they were gone.

CLARK’S COMMENTARY
Anciently, the choice or suffrage was called cheirotonia; for, when it was lawful for the multitude in their cities to choose their priests or bishops, they met together, and some chose one man, some another; but, that it might appear whose suffrage won, they say the electors did use ekteinein tav ceirav, to stretch forth their hands, and by their hands so stretched forth, or up, they were numbered who chose the one, and who the other; and him who was elected by the most suffrages they placed in the high priesthood. And from hence was the name cheirotonia taken, which the fathers of the councils are found to have used, calling their suffrage cheirotonia.’ St. Paul, {#2Co 8:19}, intimates that St. Luke was thus appointed to travel with him ceirotonhyeiv upo twn ekklhsiwn, who was chosen of the Churches.  Ignatius, in his epistle to the Philadelphians, uses the same term, prepon estin umin, wv ekklhsia yeou, ceirotonhsai episkopon, ye ought, as a Church of God, to choose your bishop.” Much more on this subject may be seen in Sir Norton Knatchbull, who contends that cheirotonia implies simply appointment or election, but not what he calls ordination by the imposition of hands. I believe the simple truth to be this, that in ancient times the people chose by the cheirotonia (lifting up of hands) their spiritual pastor; and the rulers of the Church, whether apostles or others, appointed that person to his office by the cheirothesia, or imposition of hands; and perhaps each of these was thought to be equally necessary: the Church agreeing in the election of the person; and the rulers of the Church appointing, by imposition of hands, the person thus elected. See note on “Ac 6:6”.

MATHIEW POOLE’S COMMENTARY
Acts 14:23. Ordained;  the word properly signifies a stretching out of the hand, such as was used when they gave their suffrages in the election of their magistrates, whereby was showed for whom they gave their voice; and afterwards it was commonly used for to constitute or appoint, or, as here, to ordain to any office or place; which might the rather be done by stretching out or laying on of the hands of the apostles, because by that means the Holy Ghost (or a power of working miracles) was frequently bestowed, #Ac 8:17,18, which in those times was necessary to authorize their doctrine to the infidel world.

PNT PEOPLE NEW TESTAMENT NOTES
And when they had ordained them elders. Observe (1) that elders were not appointed as soon as the churches were planted; time must be taken so as to know what men were fitted for the office; (2) that elders were not appointed to preside over a district, but “in every church”; (3) that there was a plurality; (4) that they were set apart with fasting, prayer, and imposition of hands. It is not here stated who selected the men, but from #Ac 6:6 we would infer that they were chosen by the church under the advice of the apostles.

COFFMAN’S COMMENTARY ON THE BIBLE
Appointed…
Arguments based on this word which would require elders to be voted upon are not valid. As MacGreggor noted: The word ‘appointed’ means literally ‘chose by show of hands’ and, strictly speaking, should imply some form of popular voting.  But it had come to be used of choice in general without reference to the means.

WEYMOUTH:   selected elders by show of hands

25 comments to Is the Jehovah’s Witnesses Organization Today Structured like the Early Church? What About Congregational Elections?

  • Jacqueline (bible student)

    Watchtower says it pays taxes to poor municipalities but now I see this is another error I (we) were told.

    http://www.recordonline.com/article/20150307/NEWS/150309486

  • Jacqueline

    This is the body of a letter that we have had for a couple of weeks but forgot to post for those not attending the KH. It concerns appointment of Elders, new arrangement. Also letters are now signed from the governingbody rather than the Christian Congregation of Jehovah witnesses. (2) letters posted.
    Here it is:

    April 22, 2014

    TO ALL CONGREGATIONS
    Re: Adjustment in process for appointing elders and ministerial servants

    Dear Brothers:

    With regard to Paul and Barnabas’ visit to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, Acts 14:23 states: “They appointed elders for them in each congregation, offering prayer with fasting, and they entrusted them to Jehovah, in whom they had become believers.” Titus and Timothy evidently are also recorded as taking part in appointing elders in the congregations. (1 Tim. 5:22; Titus 1:5) In accord with this Scriptural precedent, the Governing Body has decided that effective September 1, 2014, circuit overseers will be responsible for the appointment and deletion of elders and ministerial servants. Additional information will appear in the November 15, 2014, issue of The Watchtower.

    We request your continued prayers on our behalf as the preaching work is speeding up and more and more people are beginning to worship God by going to “the mountain of the house of Jehovah.” (Isa. 2:2) Please accept an expression of our warm Christian love.

    Your brothers,

    c: Traveling overseers PS to body of elders:

    Please arrange for this letter to be read to the congregation at the first Service Meeting after its receipt or after the next Watchtower Study, whichever comes first. This postscript should not be read to the congregation, and the letter should not be posted on the information board. If the circuit overseer is visiting your congregation, he will read this letter at the conclusion of the next congregation meeting. At circuit assemblies and special assembly days, the letter will be read by the last speaker on the program at the conclusion of his talk. We would appreciate your keeping this matter confidential until the letter is read to the congregation or circuit.

    In due course, further direction regarding the aforementioned adjustments will be provided to all bodies of elders.
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________-

    Letter #2concerning contributions for building Kingdom Halls:

    3/29/14-E
    March 29, 2014
    TO ALL CONGREGATIONS
    Re: Adjustment to financing Kingdom Hall and Assembly Hall construction worldwide
    Dear Brothers:
    On September 1, 1983, the Kingdom Hall Fund was created to help finance the increasing
    need for Kingdom Halls. For more than 30 years, this arrangement has served to expand the con-
    struction of Kingdom Halls worldwide in a tremendous way by means of Regional Building Com-
    mittees and the program for lands with limited resources. Having sufficient, adequate places of
    worship is vital, as Jehovah continues to ‘speed up’ the gathering of “a mighty nation.” (Isa. 60:22)
    In order to meet these ever-increasing needs, the Governing Body has directed that an adjustment
    be made in the way Kingdom Hall and Assembly Hall construction projects are financed.
    In harmony with the principle at 2 Corinthians 8:12-14, congregations will now be asked to
    pool their resources worldwide to support the construction of theocratic facilities wherever they are
    needed. Congregations and Assembly Halls will no longer be asked to repay a loan, and use of the
    separate contribution box labeled “Kingdom Hall Construction Worldwide” has been discontinued.
    Instead, all congregations will have the opportunity to support Kingdom Hall and Assembly Hall
    construction worldwide by resolving to make a monthly donation from congregation funds. If indi-
    vidual publishers wish to donate specifically to support Kingdom Hall and Assembly Hall construc-
    tion worldwide, such donations will be accepted gladly and used wisely by the branch office. From
    now on, all funding for approved projects will be provided by the branch office from the funds that
    have been donated by you dear brothers and sisters.
    The need for Kingdom Halls and Assembly Halls is greater than ever before. At this time,
    over 13,000 Kingdom Hall projects and 35 Assembly Hall projects are needed worldwide. Much of
    this need is in parts of the world where the cost of property and building materials is high. A tre-
    mendous amount of funds are needed to care for this work. However, we are confident that Jehovah
    will provide what is needed by your generous support. Time and again we have seen this take place.
    For example, it has been 24 years since we began offering literature under the donation arrange-
    ment, yet Jehovah’s blessing on this adjustment has been obvious. We are confident that by means
    of Jehovah’s continued blessing and the generosity of the worldwide brotherhood, the new ar-
    rangement for financing Kingdom Hall and Assembly Hall construction will be a success as
    well.—1 Chron. 29:11-14; Ps. 127:1.
    May Jehovah continue to richly bless your hard work and loyal service as you generously
    support Kingdom interests.
    Your brothers,
    c: Traveling overseers

    This is how it was handled up until now. It seems it was not correct last time so here is the change about contributions:

    ** km 2/94 p. 2 Question Box ***

    Question Box

    ▪ What procedure should be followed when presenting resolutions to the congregation?

    A resolution is required when a decision must be made about important matters such as purchasing property, remodeling or building a Kingdom Hall, sending special contributions to the Society, or caring for the circuit overseer’s expenses. It is usually best to present a resolution for approval each time congregation funds are dispensed.

    As an exception, the congregation might resolve once to contribute a specific amount each month to the Society in addition to what each individual is contributing toward the worldwide preaching work already. Also, normal Kingdom Hall operating expenses, such as utilities and cleaning supplies, do not require a resolution.

    When a need becomes evident, the body of elders should discuss the matter thoroughly. If the majority are in agreement that something needs to be done, one of the elders, perhaps a member of the Congregation Service Committee, should prepare a written resolution for presentation at the Service Meeting.

    The elder acting as chairman should briefly but clearly explain the need that exists and what the body of elders recommends to care for it. The congregation is then given opportunity to ask pertinent questions. If the matter is complicated, it may be best to delay the vote until the next Service Meeting to give everyone time to think about it. The actual vote is taken by a show of hands.

    Voting on the resolution is limited to dedicated and baptized members of the congregation unless legal requirements direct otherwise, as may be the case when corporation matters or Kingdom Hall loans are involved. It would not be appropriate for visitors from other congregations to participate.

    After the resolution has been approved, it should be dated, signed, and placed in the congregation file.

  • Anonymous

    When i pointed 1 kor 16: 3 i wanted to show that the deacons(διακονοι=helpers) were many times APPROVED by letters. As for the word χειροτονεω i dont completely disagree with the other greek scholars, but i disagree with the exclusion of its other meanings that have to be mentioned too.Χειροτονέω means approve, ordain, literally streching my hand UPON someone in order to give him an ecclesiatical position (χειρ =hand , τεινω =strech).Note what M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (1877), Volume VII, page 411, says: “Ordination signifies the appointment or designation of a person to a ministerial office, whether with or without attendant ceremonies.”The Ancient Grek Lexicon Giannakopoulos sais that χειροτονέω :”means streching hands UPON someone”.Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon,sais about χειροτονέω: “appoint to an office in the Church.” (Revised by H. Jones, Oxford, 1968, p. 1986)
    There is not ONE evidence in the scriptures that show us a so called elder election by a church independetly by the Jerusalem corpus of elders and apostles.Only the apostles and their representatives appointed elders and deacons WITHOUT asking any single member of the congregation to “vote” for the “candidate”(Acts 14:23).Titus was appointed by Paul to appoint elders in the Church in Crete by HIMSELF(Tit 1:5).Paul ordered him to appoint elders according to the his own preferences (and of course of the Jerusalem Church).Timothy was instructed “Never lay your hands hastily upon any man; neither be a sharer in the sins of others; preserve yourself chaste. . .”(1 Timothy 5:22).*** w01 1/15 p. 15 par. 16 Overseers and Ministerial Servants Theocratically Appointed ***
    “Paul then outlined the qualifications that Titus was to look for in men who would qualify for such appointments. Today, therefore, the Governing Body appoints qualified brothers at the branches to represent it in making appointments of elders and ministerial servants”. Thus the appointed men are in their positions because of thei spiritual and godlike qualities not because of their exceptional capabilities or because of their reputation within the church. They should be in harmony with the “present truth” too. That method is better.Our beloved brother Russell , stated, as the Proclaimers book sais ” *** jv chap. 15 p. 209 Development of the Organization Structure ***
    : “A horrible state of affairs prevails in some Classes when an election is to be held. The servants of the Church attempt to be rulers, dictators—sometimes even holding the chairmanship of the meeting with the apparent object of seeing that they and their special friends shall be elected as Elders and Deacons. . . . Some quietly try to take advantage of the Class by having the election at some time which is especially favorable to them and their friends. Others seek to pack the meeting with their friends, bringing in comparative strangers, who have no thought of being regular in attendance at the Class, but come merely as an act of friendship to vote for one of their friends”
    That had to be fixed. There should not be democracy among the classes but THEOCRACY.
    Now, as for the so called “scandals” among JW elders, i really dont care about them.Im loyal to the Church because i believe in my Lord Jesus Christ, in Jehovah God and thus i follow the instructions of the faithful Little Flock which guides us to waters of everlasting life. Moses, Aaron,David did many mistakes themeselves but the Lord still loved them and used them.Israelited and some of the first Christians did a lot of sins too(such as these in Corith)but they were still God’s people. even during the trial of our Lord, God gave Caiaphas the ability to express a prophesy for His son “This, though, he did not say of his own originality; but because he was high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was destined to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that the children of God who are scattered about he might also gather together in one.Therefore from that day on they took counsel to kill him”(John 11:51-53).
    “The sins of some men are publicly manifest, leading directly to judgment, but as for other men [their sins] also become manifest later. . .(1 Timothy 5:24)”.

    • Dupin

      One thing I notice with some of these quote you bring up is that you tend to favor meanings associated with the later use of said words in the apostate ecclesiastical church Anonymous.

      Liddell and Scott is on my list of lexicons to get when i can save up the money, so I have to rely on other lexicons and an expository dictionary I’ve managed to get over the years. What I get from my resources is that Χειροτονέω (G5500) basically comes from the action of Athenians voting to approve of somebody for an office in their legislative assembly. So it was literally a “vote.” Although one might argue otherwise with the verse you cite in Paul’s letter to Timothy, it appears the meaning you wish to apply to it takse root in later times, again in the context of an apostate church where men were already seizing personal power. That many didn’t accept as normal some sort of centralized selection opf elders by higher authorities is shown in John’s third letter, where one elder who was dominating an ecclesia patently refused to recognize the authority of an Apostle.

      Theocracy means “God rule” Anonymous, not ecclesiastical rule, the model the Witnesses hold to. The ecclesiastical model in the Ancient Church came about through a desire by some men who’d gained a measure of prominence and power in the Church for some sort of “unity” among the churches. In short, they didn’t trust God to rule the Church himself, that is theocracy. We all know what that led to.

      Yes Russell noticed some problems he chided the brethren for. Yet he didn’t convert the movement he started to an ecclesiastical model like Rutherford and his successors did. He saw the dangers in tha and wrote about it, something I notice you didn’t quote. He trusted that ecclesias who trusted God and let him lead in their affairs would prosper, those who didn’t, such as the ones he chided, wouldn’t. He trusted in god to rule his people. The proof stands in that many of the Ecclesiastes of Russell’s day are still around and prosperous, even though they ceased association with the Watchtower Society after Rutherford took over.

      • Dupin

        Here are the Pastor’s thoughts on what you call “theocracy.”:

        “(1) You would best first re-read some things already
        written which bear upon this subject–in our issues of May
        1, ’93, page 131; Sept. ’93, page 259; Oct. 15, ’93, page
        307; Mar. 1, ’94, page 73; April 1, ’95, page 78; May 1,
        ’95, page 109.
        (2) Beware of “organization.” It is wholly unnecessary.
        The Bible rules will be the only rules you will
        need. Do not seek to bind others’ consciences, and do
        not permit others to bind yours. Believe and obey so far
        as you can understand God’s Word to-day, and so continue
        growing in grace and knowledge and love day by day.
        (3) The Bible instructs you whom to fellowship as
        “brethren;”–only believers who are seeking to walk, not
        after the flesh, but after the spirit. Not believers of any
        and every thing, but believers of the Gospel record–that
        mankind is fallen into sin and its penalty, death, and that
        only in Christ is there salvation, “through faith in his
        blood” “shed for the remission of sins”, as “a ransom [acorresponding price] for all.” Any who merely believe
        in Christ as a noble and good person, a grand example of
        righteous living, etc., may be agreeable as neighbors or
        business acquaintances, but they are not “believers,” and
        hence are not “brethren,” any more than are Jews,
        Mohammedans, Infidels, publicans and sinners–for practically
        these also so acknowledge him…(Sept. 15 1895 Zion’s Watchtower Pg 216)

        The article goes on for quite some length and you will discover if you’ll read it that CTR counsels his readers to follow the Bible rule only,and conduct themselves as new Creatures trusting in God and his son to lead them and shepherd them.

        One thing i’ve found about Russell, when I’ve tested what he writes regarding what Biblical words mean I usually find him not only correct in his assessment, but remarkably insightful. That he pulled that off with the resources available to him and his relative lack of knowledge of the languages involved is amazing.

        • Anonymous

          I dont question the wisdom of brother Russell at all.I dont question the wisdom of the other Watchtower presidents too. The thecracy can be also found within the ecclesiatical order.As you well said theocracy means God rule (θεοκρατια=θεος +κρατος)but it also mean the dominion(κρατος)in which God rules,and that is the Church.If u deny the organizational ecclesiastical rule in which theocracy occurs ,then you deny the fact that Jehovah God and Jesus Christ rule their Church!!!!

          • Peter K. (admin)

            Anonymous – You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If the current watchtower Governing Body rules in directing Jehovah’s “earthly organization” in a theocracy today, then Brother Russell taught error. Because he taught that this type of earthly organization was opposite of the Christian liberty that was to exist in the church. http://www.ctrussell.us/ctrussell/ctrussell.nsf/d01f9bc2626a96a38625699900786730/ca82abdc19f6998a8625645200830d03?OpenDocument

          • Anonymous

            You dont answer my questions here….i have perfectly read the volumes, so please do not question my knowledge on what the Pastor said. He was an imperfect man as all are.Bro Rutherford was an imperfect man too.When Brother Russell spoke about earthly organizations , meant the “churchianity” and the other sects of Christendom (like the Roman Catholicism and Protestantism), not the Watchtower Society. You have mistaken the matter once more.

            • Peter K. (admin)

              Anonymous – Brother Russell created a democracy, not a theocracy. He recognized that only Jesus Christ could institute the theocracy on earth and that men would abuse such power. The Papacy instituted a theocracy for 1,000 years. After Russell’s death, Rutherford pursued a similar course. Here is a small sample of Brother Russell’s views:

              Volume 6, page 240: “… Unity is to be along the lines of “the faith once delivered unto the saints” in its purity and simplicity, and with full liberty to each member to take different views of minor points, and with no instruction whatever in respect to human speculations, theories, etc. The Scriptural idea of unity is upon the foundation principles of the Gospel. (1) Our redemption through the precious blood, and our justification by demonstrated faith therein. (2) Our sanctification, setting apart to the Lord, the Truth and their service–including the service of the brethren. (3) Aside from these essentials, upon which unity must be demanded, there can be no Scriptural fellowship; upon every other point fullest liberty is to be accorded…”

              Volume 6, page 241: “The Apostle declares that it is the Lord’s pleasure that there be no schism in the body–no splits, no divisions. With human methods divisions are unavoidable–except as in Papacy’s period of triumph, when the nominal system became powerful and used drastic methods of persecution in dealing with all not fully in accord with itself. That, however, was a unity of force, of compulsion–an outward unity, and not a unity of the heart. Those whom the Son makes free can never participate heartily in such unions, in which personal liberty is utterly destroyed.”

      • Anonymous

        Hi Dupin,
        Just as an FYI, here is the site for a very extensive CD of biblical references. http://www.biblestudylibrary.net/

        • Dupin

          Thank you for the link.

          Another Source for more than you would think is :

          http://www.archive.org/

          There are a lot of texts now coming online through the efforts of those folks. Although somebody is now scanning works and putting them online in a way one cannot download them. Still, there is a rich collection of older books in many languages. That includes a number of Lexicons and other such resources which nobody prints anymore.

    • Jeff

      Good evening Anonymous.

      You are absolutely right about organization. It’s too bad the Society not only became one, but made it absolutely everything. This too has happened in history with other large Christian organizations (and non-Christian too). Whenever something good gets started, Satan will try to corrupt it.

      In regards to the voting issue, I would like to share a comment from one of the various history books I have on my shelf here at home.

      During the third century, “one inspector, or bishop, presided over each Christian assembly, to which office he was elected by the voices of the whole people. In this post he was to be watchful and provident, attentive to the wants of the church, and careful to supply them. To assist him in this laborious province, he formed a council of presbyters, which was not confined to any fixed number; and to each of these he distributed his task, and appointed a station, in which he was to promote the interests of the church. To the bishops and presbyters, the ministers, or deacons were subject; and the latter were divided into a variety of classes, as the different exigencies of the church required.” 1793, London, Vernor & Hood, Poultry, Mosheim, Johann Lorenz, An ecclesiastical history, ancient and modern, from the birth of Christ to the beginning of the Eighteenth Centry, Volume 1, page 177

      Yeah… they liked Looooong titles for their books in the old days.

      It would appear that historically, some of the leaders of the church were voted upon by the voices of the whole people, and some of the deacons were also appointed by the congregation, as well as appointed by the leaders. As history moved into the fourth and fifth centuries.

      This set of books is still considered one of the standard early Christian historical works today!

      You can find this book at Google here:

      http://books.google.com/books?id=DCsMAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA177&lpg=PA177&dq=One+inspector+or+bishop+presided+over+each+christian+assembly&source=bl&ots=33wpfR1NPw&sig=Cl0yt1sSwfZs2OexHkmJ5EmldcE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=FM1WT_jQLse_gQeTnMzEDA&ved=0CCgQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=One%20inspector%20or%20bishop%20presided%20over%20each%20christian%20assembly&f=false

  • Anonymous

    You are really mistaken the matter,As a greek scholar, i assure you that the word χειροτονεω-ῶ means raise my hand “upon” someone too, that is ordain.
    As for the early church, it is certain that the those who represent the congregations appoint the elders and deacons.How?You mentioned 2 Kor. 8:19 but you obviously forgot to mention the 1 Kor. 16:3 ,which sais that the church appointed these men often by “letters”.Thats what the GB does for God’s churches today.Thus JWs follow the divine ppattern of the scriptures…So, please dont misrepresent that

    • Peter K. (admin)

      Anonymous – I take it then that you disagree with all the other Greek Scholars that I quoted? They would obviously not want to concede this point since it contradicts their practice of ordaining Pastors.

      The 1 Cor 16:3 is Strong’s 1381: “dokimazo: I put to the test, prove.” This is a different Greek word than the one in question. It is not talking about the election or selection of elders and deacons, but simply about selecting a trusted messenger to bring donations to Jerusalem.

    • Jacqueline

      Hi Anonymous, I am not going from an eccl. viewpoint, just from what I have seen in the 61 yrs. as a witness as far as appointments go. I remember the Company Servant, he was appointed at 31yrs old over Brothers that were 60- 80 from the BS. Reason he was a company man and he only had to answer to the Society. (His words often) My Uncle (a black man) was sent from B”ham Ala. to Cleveland Ohio in 1950 to get the one black cong. under the control of the society. He is still alive and is 99yrs old. He will tell you the story. I have 5 Elder fleshly brothers that have served in Africa as a missionary and a CO. You name it. Their appointments had more to do with their attitude rather than their spirituality! Lord bless their souls I love every one of them. BUT THEY ARE COMPANY MEN! They at one time would enforce the laws of the Society with Vim and Vigor. CO and DO have lived in my home and they would recommend “Good Olde Boys” For Elders or if you were big money givers to them. In fact my legal problems with the society started over a brother that wanted to be an elder, but he was a righteous man, not a team player. I was called to testify against his dealings in business as aa reason for non appointment. Other issues came after I tongue lashed the whole body and I ended up in court and got an order of protection agains all things JW, so I wouldn’t be punished. My husband was appointed at 24 yrs, awitness for 3 because of me and my status only. He didn’t even want it and it showed.
      Fool Br. Peter if you will my brother. He has never been a JW. But Richard Rawe and other former elders will testify that it is your buddy that is a team player and will enforce the laws of the society and it’s little creeped in order, the Governing Body of the witnesses.
      My brother we must always speak the gospel truth. Many in here now are in because of being pushed in over the 1975 issue and had all these children raised in it. Roe vs Wade here in the US caused crime to be down now in the US because unwanted babies are aborted.They would have been neglected and ended up in crime. (terrible but true). The 1975 issue is the same, because people were raked in and APPOINTED, simply because they thought the world would end. We have an organization of a lot of downright criminals. I have supplied links on murders and pedophilia. Just this week a brother was poisoning a whole family and elder over JW policy. He was caught on camera putting poison in their foods. These men are put in by favors and enforcers mostly.
      I am sorry to come on so strong but, please tell it like it really is my brother. In His gracious name. Jacqueline.
      PS: Just because a person uses scriptures that show how appointments shoukld be mande doesn’t mean they followed it. An organization instead of a CXhurch has made it mentally harmful to be in the JW corporation, some has stopped using their brains all together. They follow the rule books only. (KM, Shepherd flock book, organization book etc>)

    • Jacqueline

      Hello rus virgil. Also hello Danny Haszard. So nice hearing from both of you. I saw the video from jwstruggle.com, very informative and true.
      Keep the faith my brothers.

  • NO the Watchtower Jehovahs Witnesses hierarchy is structured like a corporation.The Lawyers have run the show since ca 1990.

    Their *spiritual credentials* are also illegitimate the governing body claim to have become *spirit annointed* in 1919,based on the 3 1/2 year post 1914 and the dating for this is falsified on William Millers end times apocalyptic algorithm.–Danny Haszard

    • Ken

      ……and some of the current GB members( those claiming to be anointed) are as young as 55 yrs. old or less, which means they were born in the late 50’s or early 60’s…..so much for the heavenly calling ending in 1935 as Rutherford said!

      • Peter K. (admin)

        Ken – As far as I can tell, the JW Organization is a bit ambiguous on when the high calling ends. They seem to be leaving the door slightly open, yet the reports we hear indicate that anyone who claims the heavenly calling is ridculed and discouraged from that path. Is that what you have observed?

        • Ken

          Yes Pete exactly! That’s why I would never partake at a Jw memorial.Over the years I’ve observed several people who’ve felt they were of the anointed and about 75% of the time they become the talk of the cong.usually with negative quips.I remember on time I jokingly asked an elder if he was going to partake this year, he said: “if I did I’d be in trouble”!

          • Peter K. (admin)

            Ken – I have scratched my head on this one in the past. Yet, in a way it makes sense. The JW Organization has a control structure going from elders to Circuit Overseers to District Overseers, etc. to Bethel and the Governing Body. The Anointed inadvertently become a threat to the control structure, since common sense would dictate that a brother or sister who has been spirit anointed by Jehovah might be especially respected, admired and looked up to for their holy spirit directed insights. From the Control Structure point of view, this could create chaos if any spirit anointed brother or sister disagrees with doctrines or practices.

        • Ken

          Hey you’re right, I never thought about that aspect of it. I suppose some elders would feel intimadated too…especially if it was sister or a younger brother!

          • Jacqueline

            Ken I found that to be so. I was older in age and maturity than most of the brothers in our young cong. 280, with the average age of the elders 24yrs old in 1972. The average age of our whole cong was 22yrs, young marrieds, that all moved to a huge apt complex and were mostly children of witnesses that were older and others just flocked in before 1975. I was older than them and my husband even. LOL. About 3 older sisters 1 or 2 brothers and myself anchored that congreagtion. It became a hotbed of sexualality in the ensuring years after 1980 or so. The 2 cong. consisting of about 250 each were known throughout the city and even in Chicago as an elite cong on the lake allowed to do everything and get away with it because they gave some money. They bought the cars even for any CO and it was said, “send them to us first” and we would outfit the brother plus buy a new car. (Before they were supplied.)
            Those cong went down to just 35 and about 40 in attendance since about 2005. They couldn’t hardly meet the light bills. Most just walked away. So great the pedophilia in that area.
            PS. I am in MOUSE Land on vacation with family for another week. I am enjoying just laying around. Cheers!

          • Ken

            Hey Jacqueline,sounds like you’re having fun!! Yeah I know what you mean about congs. breaking up.Over the years I’ve seen it happen in mine also….what a shame.

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