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Does the Bible support a Jehovah’s Witnesses Governing Body?

The Watch Tower Society originally used the term “governing body” in a strict legal sense, and in fact, used the term quite sparingly.  As stated in the Watchtower, it was not until “the year 1944 the Watchtower magazine began to speak about the governing body of the Christian congregation (italics theirs).” (Watchtower, Dec. 15, 1971, p. 755)  Since the 1950s, the term would frequently be used to refer to the first century, making assertions such as, “The apostle Paul belonged to the governing body in the first century” (Watchtower, April 15, 1951, p. 235 par. 7) without citing any scriptural backup. On the other hand, the magazine described the modern day “Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, [as] the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” (Watchtower, Jan. 1, 1950, p. 10 par. 2)

Election of Leaders by Congregation Voting.  In the Early Church, brethren met in various cities—Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, Thessonalica—and even in homes (Acts 11:22:13:1; 1Corinthians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; Romans 16:5; Colossians 4:15).  Each ecclesia (church group) was autonomous electing its  own leaders, its own “Elders—those not necessarily advanced in age, but mature in character.

Acts 14:23 “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.”

How did they “ordain” their leaders?  The Greek for “ordained” is “cheirotoneo from a comparative of NT:5495 and teino (to stretch); to be a hand-reacher or voter (by raising the hand).” (Strong’s #5500).  Early Christians had the responsibility of voting for their Elders by the stretching forth of their hands!

Twelve Apostles not Succeeded in Authority. The twelve Apostles were chosen directly by Jesus, but they had no replacements except, of course, Paul replaced Judas.  Just as Jesus selected the original twelve, he selected Paul as a replacement (Acts 9:15).   The other Apostles were well meaning, but premature in selecting the replacement Apostle themselves (Acts 1:26).  Inspired by God, they were the “twelve stars” crowning  the head of the Early Church (Revelation 12:1); also identified the twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem (Acts 21:14).  It would be hard to imagine that Paul as the greatest of the Apostles, would not be numbered among this special group of twelve.  There was no “apostolic succession” of any kind for a body of leadership authority through the Christian Age.

The only time one ecclesia recommended a ruling to the brethren at large was when a Jerusalem counsel decided that the Gentile brethren should not be forced to circumcise.   And, of course, at that time, there were actual Apostles in the ecclesia of Jerusalem making that recommendation [decree] to “abstain from meat offered to idols…” (Acts 15:22-29).

The independence of the Early Church is attested to by the fact that there were factions among the Corinthian brethren, some following either Paul, Peter or Apollos.  Paul said in 1 Cor 3:6-7, “I planted, A-pol’los watered, but God kept making it grow; so that neither is he that plants anything nor is he that waters, but God who makes it grow.” NWT.  Paul humbly said that He and Apollos were not anything.  Paul did not rule over the brethren.  In 1 Thes 2:7 he said, ” we became gentle in the midst of YOU, as when a nursing mother cherishes her own children.” NWT

Alas, as prophetically predicted, very soon the Christian Church evolved into dividing between “clergy” and “laity.”  (Acts 20:29; Matt 13:25; Rev 2:20; 1 Jn 2:18; 2 Thes 2:3)  On the one hand, some grasping for power took advantage of those ready to let go of their responsibility of electing their own leadership. Gradually a tower of authority built up with priests, bishops and finally a “pope.”  Again, the responsibility for decisions and authority to choose leader in the Ecclesia  rests with the congregation.

Qualifications for Leadership as Basis for Voting. While the Apostle Paul said the Ecclesia is to submit to and obey those which have “rule over you” (Hebrews 13:7, 17)—Paul also laid guidelines for selecting and voting for those who in the first place would be acceptable leader as an overseer!

When Paul gave Titus the responsibility for instructing new Ecclesias in Crete for organizing their leadership—he certainly was consistent with what he arranged earlier (Acts 14:23). “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain (elect) elders in every city, as I had appointed thee” (Titus 1:5).

Each congregation was responsible for electing Elders who qualified. He then laid out the qualifications for evaluation by the Ecclesia members quite clearly:

  • Above reproach (Titus 1:6);
  • Husband of one wife with children not unruly;
  • Not self-willed, quick-tempered or addicted to wine;
  • No striker; not given to filthy lucre (Titus 1:7);
  • Hospitable, sensible, just, self-controlled (Titus 1:8);
  • Holding fast the faithful word; able to exhort in sound doctrine (1:9)

In his letter to Timothy, Apostle Paul similarly lines up the qualifications for voting for overseers:

  • Blameless, the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:1,2):
  • Vigilant, sober, of good beheaviore, givento hospitality:
  • Apt to teach (1 Timothy 3:2);
  • Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre;
  • Patient, not a brawler, not covetous (1 Timothy 3:3);
  • Having his children in subjection with all gravity (1 Timothy 3:4);
  • Not a notive  (1 Timothy 3:7);
  • Of good report of them which are without (1 Timothy 3:7)

Individual Responsibility for Raising the Hand in Voting. Thus, the Ecclesia is given criteria for voting wisely and determining Jehovah’s will for the the selection of their teachers and instructors.  Congregations do NOT need to have an outside authoritative body of leaders to tell them what to do and what to think and what to change for “new light.”

Each member is responsible for attempting to determine the LORD’s will and expressing it in voting by the raising of his/her hand.  So Bible Students base their leadership selection—as well as activity selections—by the voting of the Ecclesia.


According to the Bible, the election of elders 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 opened the way for the development of the Antichrist system.

Paul and Barnabas went around to all the churches and conducted the election of Elders.

Acts 14: 23 – 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.  –  Weymouth

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.”

In 2 Corinthians Paul speaks of a brother who was elected by the churches to travel with him:

2 Cor 8:19 – … he is the one who was chosen by the vote of the Churches to travel with us… – Weymouth

In another example, we recall that the Apostles asked the Jerusalem Church to select seven deacons.

Acts 6:3  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.   Weymouth

Who would have challenged the Apostles had they exerted their influence to appoint deacons themselves.  Yet instead they humbly asked the Ecclesia to make this selection.


Romans 14:4  Who are you to judge the house servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for Jehovah can make him stand. – NWT

2 Tim 2:7 – 7  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. – NKJV

Gal 5:1 – Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.   NKJV

Gal 5:13 – For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  NKJV

2Co 3:17 –  …where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.   NWT

John 8:31, 32 – And so Jesus went on to say to the Jews that had believed him: “If YOU remain in my word, YOU are really my disciples, and YOU will know the truth, and the truth will set YOU free.  NWT


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232 comments to Does the Bible support a Jehovah’s Witnesses Governing Body?

  • all of simple is kingdom hall of jehovah’s witnesses societes bethel is all of our enjoye of good people all of nation zion king jéhovah good god’s like, all of book’s jehovah good god’s organised is all of very fary all of simple jehovah’s witnesses book’ all of very expensive all of organised very well woes.

  • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

    San Diego convention has started. The convention has seating capacity they say of 60,000. There is 17,000 in attendance. I have attended and you couldn’t find a seat. Also police was called on ones without a badge on. It is said the attendants have homeland security type methods with microphones etc. But they get millions from holding big conventions so they can’t stop them. Just an update.

  • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

    We had a discussion on what the rings are about that governing body members and some Circuit overseers are wearing. There are many youtube videos about it but no explanation of what they symbolize.



  • Ted R. (Bible Student)

    Here is the song:
    A Special Possession 1 Pet 2:9
    1 God has a new creation His spirit anointed sons.
    He has bought them from mankind; His approval the’ve won.
    A special possession. They’re a people for your name.
    They love you. They praise you.
    2. As one they declare your fame.
    They are a holy nation. Who handle the truth aright.
    God has called them from darkness To his wonderful light.
    3. Faithful to their commission. They gather the other sheep.
    To the Lamb they are loyal. His commandments keep.

    First point: Since the Governing Body is supposedly the Faithful and Discreet Slave. what about all the others who claim to be anointed? Why don’t they have a say in the organization since the anointed are the special possession?

    Point 2: The “other sheep” were the Gentiles who became one flock with the Jewish Christians. Christ first went to the Jews who were Gods chosen at that time and offered them his special promise. Then later the door was opened for the Gentiles to share in that promise. This is not a separate class since Jesus said they would become ONE FLOCK!
    Point 3: Where is Jesus in this song?

    Is this really handling the truth aright?????

  • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

    For the individual coming over to look at the articles on the “Organization” here are a few other quotes on this subject.

    “Christ thus leads the congregation by means of the spirit-anointed “faithful and discreet slave” and its Governing Body.” Examining the Scriptures Daily 2007 p.34
    “Jehovah’s visible organization can use you, but can get along without you too. But you cannot get along without it. Fruitless ones are eventually pruned off and never missed as new ones are grafted in. Pruned-off branches soon wither and die, being cut off from the circulating, life-giving sap.” Watchtower 1950 Jan 15 p.26
    The word “Organization” does not appear in the Bible.
    This is the most significant concept behind being a Jehovah’s Witness. Believing in God is not what makes a Witness unique, as a large portion of people believe in God. Trusting in the Bible is not the key factor to being a Witness, as billions of people believe they follow the Bible. It is belonging to the “Organization” that distinguishes one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and makes them feel solely worthy of salvation.
    To appreciate the level of adulation Watchtower followers are expected to have for the organization, it is revealing that the Watchtower April 2013 study article titled “Make Sure of the More Important Things” uses the term “organization” 24 times, but Jesus only 18 times. The following article then contains an image outlining the composition of the organization that does not even include Jesus, but rather the Governing Body directly below Jehovah on his throne.

    The Watchtower 1975 Sep 1 p.531 asks “Where could we turn if we would leave God’s organization today? There is nowhere else! (John 6:66-69)”. This quote refers to John for support that there is nowhere other than the Organization. However, John makes a very different point:

    “Simon Peter answered him: “Lord, WHOM shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life.”” John 6:68

    • Nubby Tope

      I still can’t get over that first song at the Memorial where GB were praised but not once was Jesus mentioned! Who is the Memorial really about? The arrogance on display here just mystifies me.

      • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

        Nubby Tope, i wish you could print that song here and let us all see it. Or a link to it maybe. I think it would make for great discussion.
        How have you been doing?
        My son is in town and I imagine he will get the third degree when he attends kingdom hall this Sunday.IT distresses him. I hate that these people can’t accept others decision not to worship their governingbody. Also what is the song number? Maybe someone might have it. Peace

        • Nubby Tope

          Jacqueline, I’m OK thanks, although I feel a bit down – not because of being DF’D although I chose to disassociate as that seemed more dignified than being kicked out – but because one of my best friends died this week. He was my neighbour and we had a lot of fun together. Reading Crisis of Conscience and that really blows the lid off things! Someone like Ray Franz doesn’t leave without a good reason and with hard proof to back it up! Getting used to my new freedom now and enjoying it and that’s down to the support from you guys!

          One elder said to me that Bible Students are just a few people who meet on internet but never meet in person! Said it like he knew everything! Boy! Did I give him a dressing-down by telling him about thousands worldwide, congs, meetings, conventions every year, Dawn magazine and Frank & Earnest radio, and closer to the Scriptures than JWs! He blushed like a strawberry! I control my life, not some Goon Squad!

          • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

            Good for you Ellis, you know the truth about them and it sets you free.This is a great opportunity to explain why this website was set up, in the first place. It is to stick with friends until they can stand on their own two feet and steady them while they come out of the organization. That is the mission Jehovah has given us. Once that happens our brothers can go straight thru Christ Jesus to our Father, Jehovah, cut out the middle man! I try not to get bogged down with other issues and stick to that mission of revealing the governingbody and the so called “Jehovah witnesses” for what they are, a cult now. This concentration of power in a few billionaire men is not about worship, it is about power. So glad you let those elders know that you are a man and they have no authority over you. The Christian Resource app is an incredible source of truth from Bible student present and the past. Among some other religious men and them we can discern where we are in the stream of times. Have you been watching the news about world events? What a scene with Korea. Morally, there is a great revealing going on. Bill Cosby and some of the High Ones around the globe are being revealed, every mountain is falling! This is not just in the United States but globally. So we are so happy on this site to have been of support and help. It was by God’s permission that we were used. We will continue our mission from God to point people to Christ. Also Christianquestions.com is our radio show now and you can ask questions. We meet on Sunday like all religions and weekday also. They should have just asked us on here. Take care
            Btw. I see the song posted by Ted, praises should have been flowing out to God and Jesus only on that night. They are hustlers.

          • Just Stay Sweet and Good

            Nubby Tope………I know how you feel. I was determined to act like a good Christain woman when I left. In did pretty good for a while, just smiled and wished them Gods blessings Until one day stuff just came out of me. Praise be to JEHOVAH I was not ugly, but I sure told them how I loved my new brothers and how I wish I would be as good example as they are in “suffering evil” for the sake of their savior. They certainly have had to endure a lot of mud slinging in the years since brother Russell died. Now, its our turn to step up to the plate and feel the heat, just as our Lord and Master did. What he did for us he did in public, for the whole world to witness. Can we not do the same for him? There is no such thing as a closet Christian. Count it all a blessing. The best is yet to come.

        • Just Stay Sweet and Good

          Jacquiline………Remember “All hail Jehovahs firstborn”? That was a real work of art. Also, “……were gathered together before, you as sheep from your pasture we came………..Twas Nican 14 when your glory was seen you majesty power and might. ………..centurys later our own Lord his life blood out poured to fulfill this divine prophecy” 1 Cor 7:23

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