“Some of your own people hate you.
They turn their backs on you because you are faithful to me. They
make fun of you and say, 'Let the Lord show his glory by saving you.
Then we can see how happy you are.' But they will be put to shame."
—Isaiah 66:5; NIRV
From the book "Jehovah's
Witnesses Proclaimers of God's Kingdom," published 1993
Does God Have an Organization?
let Him alone to go on like this, everyone will believe in Him and
adhere to Him, and the Romans will come and suppress and destroy and
take away our [holy] place and our nation [our temple and city and
our civil organization]." ―John 11:48;
these pictures represent to you God's organization? Does God
have an organization, and who decides this? It is vital that we differentiate between that which God has put in place,
and what man has established in addition to, within, or even in place of God’s
Why should we even be interested in whether or not
there is an
arrangement by which to worship God? Does it matter to God how we
worship him? Does it even matter to you whether or not your worship is
acceptable to him? The word "organization" does not
appear in the Bible, at least not in most translations. Some argue
that this in itself is compelling evidence that God does not have an
organization. But it could be pointed out that the Scriptures use
other words that convey the same thought or idea. Defining the word
organization,Webster's Dictionary says: The state or
manner of being organized; Something organized or made into
an ordered whole; A number of persons or groups united for a
On the other hand, the antonym for organization is disorder,
disorganization, chaos, confusion.
There certainly is no disorder, chaos or confusion when it comes to
worshiping the true God, for "God is a God, not of disorder, but of
peace”; and he desires that "all things take place decently and by
arrangement." (1 Cor. 14:33, 40) From the moment Jehovah led his
people out of Egypt he organized them, for "it was in battle
formation that the sons of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt.
And Jehovah was going ahead of them in the daytime in a pillar of
cloud to lead them by the way, and in the nighttime in a pillar of
fire to give them light to go in the daytime and nighttime." ―Ex.
Jehovah wasted no time in organizing his liberated people and their
worship of him. While they were yet wandering in the wilderness he
gave them his Law with detailed instructions, which included a
center for worship, the transportable tabernacle, or tent of
meeting, constructed at Mount Sinai according to his specific
instructions, and carried through the wilderness for the forty years
right into the promised land. This tent was eventually replaced when
Solomon built the magnificent temple in Jerusalem. ―Heb. 8:4,5;
certainly has never been left up to each individual to decide for
himself how he wants to worship God. That fact was established in
the Garden of Eden when Adam rebelled against God's clearly stated
command, and was promptly expelled from his home, bringing sin and
death upon all his offspring. (Rom. 5:12-14, 18,19) God's people
have always had to learn the inescapable truth that their form of
worship was not acceptable apart from what Jehovah himself had
commanded. Because of their persistent disobedience the Israelites
were finally led into exile and lost their glorious temple when it
was destroyed by the Babylonians. Although a repentant people were
restored to their homeland, and the temple was rebuilt, in time they
again forgot the crucial lesson that approved worship centers around
obedience. “What pleases the Lord more: burnt offerings and
sacrifices or obedience to his voice? It is better to obey than to
sacrifice. It is better to listen to God than to offer the fat of
sheep. Disobedience is as bad as the sin of sorcery. Pride is as bad
as the sin of worshiping idols." ―1 Samuel 15:22,23; NCV.
By the time of Jesus' birth the Jews were under the authority of
Rome, able to maintain their own traditions, but not necessarily
according to what they had received from Jehovah. In fact, some of
these traditions brought them into conflict with God's laws. Jesus confronted them: "Why do you, by your traditions,
violate the direct commandments of God? For instance, God says,
‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks
disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ But you
say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I
can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have
given to you.’ In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their
parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. You
hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he
wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are
far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas
as commands from God.’” ―Matthew 15:3-9; NLT.
In view of Jesus' words, what do you think: Does it matter whether
or not we worship God according to his commandments? Can we
acceptably worship him apart from what he has put in place, or would
that be deemed as "worshiping him in vain" (NWT), making our
worship a "farce"? The Bible definitely states: "God has no use for
the prayers of the people who won't listen to him." (Proverbs 28:9;
Herein lies an important lesson for us today! We cannot presume to
anything that Jehovah himself has put in place and expect it to be
acceptable to him. Even our prayers would go unheard by him.
The religious leaders of Jesus' day had set up
their own system of worship within God's arrangement, even in conflict to what Jehovah had given them
at Mt. Sinai, although he had clearly commanded them:
“And now, O Israel, listen to the regulations and the judicial
decisions that I am teaching you to do. . .You must not add to
the word that I am commanding you, neither must you take away from
it, so as to keep the commandments of Jehovah your God that I am
commanding you." "And you people must take care to do just as
Jehovah your God has commanded you. You must not turn to the
right or to the left." "Every word that I am commanding you is
what you should be careful to do. You must not add to it nor take
away from it." ―Deuteronomy 4:1,2; 5:32; 12:32.
Jehovah requires of his people is obedience. That is a basic
truth and has been the issue from the very beginning. Jesus taught
that in order for our worship to be acceptable we must worship
"with spirit and truth, for, indeed, the Father is looking for
suchlike ones to worship him." (John 4:23,24) Worshiping God "with
spirit and truth" means that we willingly submit to him. We listen
to him and obey him without attaching our own conditions. The
religious leaders of Jesus' day did not concern themselves with
God's requirements. Their main worry was that if they left Jesus to
continue to expose their God dishonoring teachings and traditions,
and the people would listen to him, then their authority would be
undermined, and this would lead to instability and disorder of their
organized system. This, they feared, would cause the Romans to "come
and suppress and destroy and take away our [holy] place and our
nation [our temple and city and our civil organization]." (John
8:44-47; 11:48; Amplified Bible) As it turned out, that is
exactly what happened.
Are All Religions Approved
diverse religions of this world are regarded by many as simply
different avenues of worshiping the same God. But not to be
overlooked is this vital fact: Without accepting God's provision for
salvation, that is, the ransom sacrifice of Christ Jesus, one's
worship is in vain, because "you can't be saved by believing in
anyone else. God has given us no other name under heaven that will
save us." (Acts 4:12; NIRV) How many of the
world's religions acknowledge that Jesus is the only means for salvation?
Rather than viewing the many religions as multiple ways of
reverencing the one God, the
apostle Paul declared: "I say that the things which the nations
sacrifice they sacrifice to demons, and not to God; and I do not
want you to become sharers with the demons. You cannot be drinking
the cup of Jehovah and the cup of demons; you cannot be partaking of
'the table of Jehovah' and the table of demons. Or 'are we inciting
Jehovah to jealousy'?" ―1 Corinthians 10:20-22.
Christians must have struggled against the influence of their demon
worshiping neighbors, for Paul found it necessary to remind them a
second time: "You are not the same as those who don't believe. So
don't join yourselves to them. Good and evil don't belong together.
Light and darkness cannot share the same room. How can there be any
unity between Christ and the devil? What does a believer have in
common with an unbeliever? God's temple cannot have anything to do
with idols, and we are the temple of the living God. As God said, "I
will live with them and walk with them; I will be their God, and
they will be my people." (Lev. 26:11,12) "So come away from those
people and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord.
anything that is not clean, and I will accept you." (Isa. 52:11) "I will be your father, and
you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord All-Powerful." ―2
Corinthians 6:14-18; ERV.
those who say they accept Christ as their Lord and Savior notable
differences exist. "Attend the church of your choice" is a popular
slogan in countries where most worshipers profess to be Christians.
Why is there such a variety, really, a smorgasbord of Beliefs among
the many denominations who quote the same Bible? Can we pick and
choose to suit our individual tastes or preferences as to how we
"serve [God] day and night in his Temple"? (Rev. 7:15; NLT)
When his people Israel deviated from worshiping him, according to
his instructions, was their worship acceptable to God?
Listen to what the record indicates: "During Rehoboam’s reign, the
people of Judah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, provoking his
anger with their sin, for it was even worse than that of their
ancestors. For they also built for themselves pagan shrines and set
up sacred pillars and Asherah poles on every high hill and under
every green tree. There were even male and female shrine prostitutes
throughout the land. The people imitated the detestable practices of
the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of the
Israelites." (Kings 14:22-24; NLT) It is not sincerity that
determines whether or not a person's worship is acceptable, but
standards that he himself strictly abides by. He does not accept
worship that is in the least bit tainted with worship promoted by
Satan, who is the "god of this world," and as such is
"misleading the entire inhabited earth." (2 Cor. 4:4, NIRV; 1
John 5:19; Rev. 12:9, 12) Jesus told his disciples that worshiping
the true God would include the necessity to be separate from this world,
which in turn would result in persecution: "If you find the
godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If
you lived on the world's terms, the world would love you as one of
its own. But since I picked you to live on God's terms and no longer
on the world's terms, the world is going to hate you. When that
happens, remember this: Servants don't get better treatment than
their masters. If they beat on me, they will certainly beat on you.
If they did what I told them, they will do what you tell them. They
are going to do all these things to you because of the way they
treated me, because they don't know the One who sent me." ―John
15:17-21; The Message.
Jehovah requires that his people must be different from those in the
world around them. The disciple James adds that the “external
religious worship [religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that
is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father” includes
keeping “oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.”
(James 1:27; Amplified Bible) Jehovah has made it possible
for us to worship him while keeping ourselves unspotted and
uncontaminated from this world, just as he had done with his people
who he had liberated from Egypt and entered into a covenant with.
In fact, everything that he had put in place in connection with the
old covenant foreshadowed this new arrangement under the new
Shadow of the Good Things to Come"
The Jewish temple that stood in Jerusalem and was the center for
worshiping the true God is long gone, destroyed by the Romans in 70
C.E. (Matt. 24:1,2) It had served its purpose and became "obsolete"
with the "vanishing away" of the old covenant. But even before its
destruction there had already come into existence a new "holy temple
for Jehovah. . .a place for God to inhabit by spirit." This holy
temple is likewise God's arrangement for worshiping him under the new and
“correspondingly better" covenant. Jehovah is the builder of this
temple for he himself has laid its foundation. It is the only place
where sacred service is rendered today that is
acceptable to him. As we shall see, there is no other. ―Eph. 2:21,22; Heb. 8:6, 13.
The system of
organized worship that Jehovah had given his people under the old
covenant did not consist of irrelevant statutes, idle ceremonies and
burdensome observances. They had deep significance, although his
people did not understand this at the time. But we today can
understand how this involves our worship of God under the new
covenant. The Scriptures tell us that the Law was "our tutor leading
to Christ." The tent, or tabernacle, first constructed in the
wilderness, served "as a pattern and as a foreshadowing of [what has
its true existence and reality in] the heavenly sanctuary." ―Gal. 3:24; Heb. 8:5; Amplified Bible.
Therefore, let us briefly consider Jehovah's arrangement of his
worship under the old covenant.
Because these things, "the tabernacle and the system it
represented," served as "an illustration pointing to the present
time (for the appointed time that is now here―NWT),"
it is evident that God still has a system of worship in place that we
need to abide by, if our worship is not to be in vain. Consider: If Jehovah insisted on, and enforced,
even on pain of death, worship that was intended
as "a shadow of the good things to come," then of how much greater
importance is the reality itself. For example, Jehovah required that
all sacrifices presented to him had to be offered at the entrance to
the tabernacle, "the tent of meeting." Any Israelite, or even alien
resident, offering up his burnt offering at some other place, such
as in the field, would be "cut off from his people."―Lev.
17:9; Col. 2:17; Heb. 10:28,29.
According to Insight on the Scriptures, "the entire
arrangement, including the courtyard of the tabernacle and the
temple courts, was a holy place. (Ex 38:24; 2Ch 29:5; Ac 21:28) The
primary items located in the courtyard were the altar of sacrifice
and the copper basin. These were holy objects. Only those persons
ceremonially clean could enter into the tabernacle courtyard at any
time; likewise, no one could go into the temple courts in an
unclean state. . . Evidently even a state of continued
uncleanness on the part of the Israelites was considered to be a
defiling of the tabernacle. (Le 15:31) Those presenting offerings
for cleansing from leprosy brought their sacrifice only as far as
the gate of the courtyard. (Le 14:11) No unclean person could
partake of a communion sacrifice at the tabernacle or the temple, on
pain of death. (Le 7:20,21)." ―it-1 pp. 1133-1134; Holy
Inside the tent were two compartments, or rooms. The first, or
larger compartment, was the Holy Place, as distinguished from the
innermost room, the Most Holy. It was two thirds the
total length of the structure. Inside the Holy Place of the
tabernacle were located the golden lampstand, the altar of incense,
and the table of showbread. Describing the inside of the Holy Place
Insight on the Scriptures says, "When inside the tabernacle’s
Holy Place, the priest would see, between the parts of the panel
frames of the walls, and on the ceiling, the colorful embroidered
cherubs of the tabernacle’s inner covering. (Ex 26:1, 15) Suspended
from four golden pillars was the curtain to the Most Holy, likewise
embroidered with cherubs. (Ex 26:31-33) The screen to the tabernacle
entrance was also of colorful material. (Ex 26:36) In the temple,
the walls of this room had carvings of cherubs, palm-tree figures,
gourd-shaped ornaments, and garlands of blossoms, all covered with
gold. —1Ki 6:17,18, 22, 29."
What was the significance of this arrangement?
The apostle Paul explains: "When these things were all in place, the
priests regularly entered the first room as they performed their
religious duties. But only the high priest ever entered the Most
Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for
his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.
By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to
the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle
and the system it represented were still in use. This is an
illustration pointing to the present time." ―Heb. 9:6-9; NLT.
Note that while the priests served in the first room, the Holy, only the high
priest was able to enter into the Most Holy Place, and that
only once a year, on the day of Atonement, to present before Jehovah
the blood of the sacrifice in behalf of himself and the people.
Paul continues to explain the greater significance of this: "Christ came as a high priest of the good things
that have come to pass, through the greater and more perfect tent
not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. . . For Christ
entered, not into a holy place made with hands, which is a copy
of the reality, but into heaven itself, now to appear before the
person of God for us." —Heb. 9:11, 23-25.
Upon his resurrection and ascension to heaven Christ appeared before
the very presence of Jehovah with his sacrificial
blood, entering into what was pictured by the innermost compartment
of the tabernacle, namely, the Most Holy. (Heb. 8:1-5; NCV)
Since the Most Holy compartment represented heaven itself,
then what about the first room, the Holy Place? What did it
foreshadow? The answer will
help us understand Jehovah's arrangement for worshiping him today,
and how it involves us.
God's Spiritual Temple
formation of the Christian congregation, under the old covenant,
priests officially represented God to the people they served. They
were primarily the ones instructing them about God and
teaching the Law, reading and explaining it to those coming to the
sanctuary to worship. (Neh. 8:1-8; Mal. 2:7) They also represented the people before God.
They interceded and pleaded on behalf of the people, and their
duties involved every aspect of offering the sacrifices, including
slaughtering and cutting up the animals, sprinkling the blood on the
altar, keeping the altar fire burning, cooking the meat, and
accepting all other offerings, such as the grain offerings. Although
their responsibilities kept them busy at the temple, it is of
special interest to note that "no other priest could be in the
sanctuary when the high priest went into the Most Holy to make
atonement. (Lev. 16:17)." —it-2 pp. 685, Priest.
Under the new covenant there is no longer any need for priests to
represent God to his people, or his people before God, for God
has "reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of
the reconciliation, namely, that God was by means of Christ
reconciling a world to himself; not reckoning to them their
trespasses, and he committed the word of the reconciliation to us."
(2 Cor. 5:18,19) Now that we have been
reconciled to God, that is, God has "received us into favor, brought
us into harmony with Himself" (Amplified Bible) by means of
Christ, we have only the one mediator, Christ Jesus, to represent us
before God. (1 Tim. 2:5,6) He is the one who now pleads
for us. (Rom. 5:34; 1 John 2:1) Since he, as high priest,
has entered into the Most Holy to make atonement for our sins,
therefore, as was foreshadowed under the old covenant, there are no
other priests serving in the sanctuary at this time who represent
God to his people, or his people before God.
All of Jehovah's people today are worshiping in his temple. That is
evident from the fact that those of the "great crowd," that come
out of the great tribulation, are "before the throne of God; and
they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple."
Yes, "the One seated on the throne will spread his tent over them,"
placing them inside the tent, or tabernacle. This tent is not in
heaven for we are told that "the tent of God is with mankind,
and he will reside with them, and they will be his people." (Rev.
7:14,15; 21:3; compare Psalms 15:1) Remember, it was the Most Holy
compartment in the temple that represented heaven, Jehovah's
presence, as Paul explained. The larger Holy Place pictured where
Jesus served before entering heaven, that is, here on earth. This is where his
disciples also worship Jehovah. The members of the great crowd are
permitted to render God sacred service inside his temple
because they are clean, having "washed their robes and made them white
in the blood of the Lamb." Their sins have been forgiven them. —Rev.
7:14; Matt. 26:27,28; Acts 22:16.
Since God's people are "rendering him sacred service day and night
in his temple," what is this temple? Remember, when Paul was
admonishing the Corinthian congregation to keep themselves separate
from unbelievers he had told them, according to the Contemporary
English Version, "Can people who follow the Lord have anything in common with those
who don't? Do idols belong in the temple of God? We are the
temple of the living God, as God himself says, 'I will live with
these people and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will
be my people.'" (2 Cor. 6:14-18) Yes, Jehovah's clean worshipers are his
temple: "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple? God's
Spirit lives in you. If anyone destroys God's temple, God will
destroy him. God's temple is holy. And you are that temple."—1
Cor. 3:16,17; NIRV.
That is the reason why we need to keep ourselves clean if we want
our worship to be acceptable, as Peter strongly admonishes, "So you
must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old
ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any
better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as
God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, 'You must be holy
because I am holy.'” (1 Peter 1:14-16; NLT) If Jehovah
enforced his clean standards under the old covenant, then what about
today? Is it any less important?
Just as the tent in the wilderness had been set up according to Jehovah's instructions,
Jehovah is also the builder of his spiritual temple, for he himself put in place its
cornerstone. The apostle Peter
explains: "You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone
of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God
for great honor." In addition to the cornerstone there are other
foundation stones as Peter goes on to say, "And you are living stones that God is building into
his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through
the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that
please God. As the Scriptures say, 'I am placing a cornerstone in
Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will
never be disgraced.' Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God
has given him. But for those who reject him, 'The stone that the
builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.' And, 'He is the
stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.'
They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet
the fate that was planned for them." —1 Peter 2:4-8; NLT.
It is clear that Jesus is the cornerstone of God's temple, as
Peter explains. (Mark 12:10,11; Acts 4:10, 11) But who are the ones Peter
refers to when he says, "you are living stones that God is
building into his spiritual temple, . . you are his holy priests"?
The apostle Paul helps shed light on this when writing to the
congregation in Ephesus: "Certainly, therefore, you are no longer
strangers and alien residents, but you are fellow citizens of the
holy ones and are members of the household of God, and you have been
built up upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
while Christ Jesus himself is the foundation cornerstone. In
union with him the whole building, being harmoniously joined
together, is growing into a holy temple for Jehovah. In union
with him you, too, are being built up together into a place for God
to inhabit by spirit." —Eph. 2:19-22.
At Pentecost, when the foundation of God’s temple was laid, there
were 120 disciples present, the twelve apostles, including Matthias
who had been chosen to replace Judas, and 108 other "prophets" who
all received the holy spirit. We know who the apostles are, but who
is meant by the "prophets" Paul mentions? That he is not talking
about ancient prophets is seen a little later in the same letter
when he writes: "God did not reveal [this plan regarding Christ] to
previous generations, but now by his Spirit he has revealed it to
his holy apostles and prophets." (Eph. 3:5; 1 Cor. 12:28,29) And, of course, these "prophets"
had to be present at Pentecost. Everyone of these have been
personally chosen and anointed by Jehovah. They comprise the
foundation stones of his holy temple and together with the twelve
apostles number 144,000.
Paul could not have known the full
number of these foundation stones because this was not revealed
until John received the Revelation a few decades later. These are the ones Peter calls "holy
priests," for they "will be priests of God and of the Christ, and
will rule as kings with him for the thousand years." (Rev. 20:6;
14:1-3) But please note, they will be priests of God and of the
Christ only during the thousand years, not before. First they have to
prove themselves worthy of this honor by humbly serving and caring
for God's people within his temple arrangement.—Matthew 24:45-47.
Paul speaks of God's "holy temple" as a building, and as we know, a
building does not consist of only a foundation; and neither is a
foundation made up of only the cornerstone. (compare
Luke 14:28-30) Therefore, Jehovah has been
building upon his solid foundation by collecting "out of all nations
and tribes and peoples and tongues" countless others, "all those who
[are] rightly disposed for everlasting life" by becoming obedient
believers. This he started to do immediately after the outpouring of
the holy spirit at Pentecost, when "on that day about three thousand
souls were added." These had listened to Peter's stirring witness
and responded by repenting of their sins and getting baptized. Yes, unitedly they are "rendering [God] sacred service day and night in
his temple."—Rev. 7:9,10; Acts 2:37-41; 13:48; 1 Cor. 12:12,13.
Those who make up the foundation stones of God's temple are
primarily the ones who support or care for the members of God's
household. That is their responsibility and that is where Jehovah is
directing all who would worship him. That's how it was in the first
century and has continued until today. (Acts 2:46,47)
There is no other place, no other arrangement that God acknowledges.
"But the foundation that God has laid is solid. On it is written,
'The Lord knows who his people are.'" (2 Timothy 2:19; CEV)
Curiously, many who claim to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior
as the foundation upon which they base their faith, refuse
to recognize the temple that he is the foundation of.
The Scriptures demonstrate that Jehovah has an organized way of
worshiping him. After all, it is his temple arrangement.
Therefore, it can be said that God has an organization, and
it does not matter what identifying label one attaches to it. It is
not up to any man or group of men to decide otherwise. We
may recoil at the idea of an organization, because of the negative connotations attached to this word. Organizations are seen, at best, as
impersonal; and tyrannical and oppressive at their worst.
also been true in the case of God's organization, for from it has
emanated deceit and lies, resulting in much suffering and the stumbling
and scattering of God's precious sheep. But this has not
originated with Jehovah. Rather, there are false prophets "in the
intimate group of [his] people," yes, right inside God's temple, that
have "visioned what is untrue." Jehovah emphatically states that
although they speak in his name, he "himself has not sent them," yet
"they have waited to have a word come true." Thankfully,
they will be unmasked
in connection with "the day of Jehovah." (Ezek. 13:3-10) The apostle
Paul also prophesied regarding this wicked element within
"the temple of The God" at that particular time. (2 Thess. 2:2-4) Who
are these, and why has God allowed them to remain for so long?
"The Man of Lawlessness"
Within God's Temple
Understanding that God has a holy temple arrangement for his
worship, and being able to identify it, enables his people to realize
another important fact, namely, there is no such thing as
"antitypical Jerusalem." Knowing this has far reaching implications
for those within God's household who have been led to believe that
God's condemnatory pronouncements and judgment, which are addressed
to "my people," do not actually apply to his people, but rather to
the churches of Christendom,so-called antitypical
Jerusalem. This term, of course, does not appear anywhere in the
Scriptures. In an effort to deflect Jehovah's criticism away from
themselves this label was invented by the very ones Jehovah
levels his scathing denunciations against, his own wicked people and
leaders within his temple.
Jehovah's temple came into existence on the day of Pentecost and has
survived throughout the centuries right into our day. Although it
seemed that shortly after the last of the apostles had died it had
been oversown and eclipsed by
weeds, sown by the Devil, yet over the many centuries there have always been individuals that God has acknowledged as
members of his temple. He is the one that has kept its
foundation solidly in place, adding more living stones to it as he
continued to built on it.
The temple itself is not completed until his day of judgment
arrives. By then the last foundation stone will have been put in
place. (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-42; 28:20) As we can see,
there has been
no need to lay another, a second foundation.
When Jesus' disciples asked him about "the conclusion of the system
of things" (NWT), or "the end of the world" (CEV),
Jesus mentioned, as part of the sign, that the "good news of the
kingdom would be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness
to all the nations, and then the end would come." (Matt. 24:14) This time period immediately
before the end would be a time of busy activity for his disciples,
as many people would respond to the preaching work and be directed
to God's temple arrangement, just as it took place in the first
century. In fact, the Bible reveals that a "great crowd" of
worshipers would survive the "great tribulation," as Jesus described
the end of the system of things. Therefore we could expect Jehovah to add the
final foundation stones of his temple at that time. It is clear from
the scriptures that he would have his holy ones on earth then. (Dan. 7:27; Matt. 24:21,22; Rev. 7:3, 9, 14) But, the scriptures also
reveal that then there would be a wicked element prominently present
within his temple. The apostle Paul calls this "the man of
lawlessness," "the son of destruction." Everyone of God's servants
would be impacted by his presence, which is "according to the
operation of Satan."
Almost from the very beginning wicked persons made their appearance
within God's temple. The couple Ananias and Sapphira played false to
the holy spirit and were put to death by Jehovah, as a warning example to
others. The apostle Paul mentions finding himself in dangers among
"false brothers," fellow believers who became enemies of the faith.
And certain "superfine apostles," who also opposed him, had become "arrogant, dictatorial, and overbearing" (Amplified
Bible), coveting authority and rulership over the congregations. Yes,
even the apostle Peter on one occasion "stood condemned" for "not
walking straight according to the truth of the good news," having
a dangerous influence to other disciples so that even Barnabas,
Paul's companion, "was carried away by their hypocrisy." To Peter's
credit, he humbly allowed himself to be corrected. —Acts 5:1-11; 1 Cor. 4:8; 2 Cor. 11:5, 12,13, 26; Gal. 2:4, 11-14; Phil. 3:18; 1 Peter 5:2-4.
By the end of the first century Jesus, as head of the congregations, wrote
letters to seven of them in Asia Minor, detailing some of the
problems that had developed. (Revelation, chapters
2 & 3) Only two were commended for their faithful endurance
(Smyrna and Philadelphia). Although Jesus took note of "a few names
in Sardis that did not defile their outer garments," as a whole,
members of the congregation in that city, along with the four other
congregations (Ephesus, Pergamum, Thyatira, Laodicea) were reprimanded and given time to
repent and make necessary changes. (Rev. 3:4) Failing to do so would
mean rejection and losing out on their reward. What is of interest to us, though, is what the Scriptures reveal
about developments within God's household, his temple, for our own time, the "last
The apostle John states: "We are
certain that we come from God and that the rest of the world is
under the power of the devil." (1 John
5:19; CEV) That being the case, we realize that the world around us has
always reflected the influence of the devil in its selfishness,
greed, immorality, hatred and violence. That has been true from the
very beginning and comes as no surprise to God's people. But what
does come as a
shock is that this influence of Satan
the Devil would also penetrate God's holy temple. In the last days
worldly conditions would not be uncommon also inside the
How could it be possible, though, for Satan to have such great
power over God's people? Jesus condemned the religious leaders
of his day as being "from your father the Devil," because it was really the
Devil who exercised the greater influence over them. (John 8:44) Their
dominance over the people prevented these from believing in Jesus.
Because of submitting to their leaders instead of Jehovah, they had
become followers of men, and no miracle on Jesus' part could
convince them otherwise. That is why Jesus told them: "You do
not believe, because you are none of my sheep. My sheep listen to my
voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them
everlasting life." (John 10:26,27) Contrary to what we have been
taught by our leaders, the Bible foretold a similar situation for
Paul explains that there would be a wicked element right inside
God's temple. A "man of lawlessness" would
seat himself within this temple, elevating himself above
everyone, yes, even to the point of making himself a god.
Paul calls it "the mystery of this lawlessness" that is "according
to the operation of Satan." But before the great day of Jehovah,
and Christ's return, the
presence and identity of this man of
lawlessness would be revealed, "whom the Lord Jesus will do away
with by the spirit of his mouth and bring to nothing by the
manifestation of his presence." Surprisingly, many of God's people
would accept and willingly submit to this "son of destruction," even
to the point of loving it that way. (compare Jer. 5:30,31) For that reason
Jehovah allows "an operation of error" to go to them for
this "unrighteous deception," because "they
did not accept the love of the truth that they might be saved."
Here is what Paul makes known about this man of lawlessness:
respecting the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being
gathered together to him, we request of YOU
2 not to be quickly shaken from YOUR
reason nor to be excited either through an inspired expression or
through a verbal message or through a letter as though from us, to
the effect that the day of Jehovah is here. 3 "Let no one seduce YOU in any manner, because it
will not come unless the apostasy comes first and
the man of lawlessness gets revealed, the son of destruction.
4 He is set in opposition and lifts
himself up over everyone who is called “god” or an object of
reverence, so that he sits down in the temple of The God, publicly
showing himself to be a god.
5 Do YOU not remember that, while I
was yet with YOU, I used to tell YOU these things? 6 "And so now YOU know the thing that
acts as a restraint, with a view to his being revealed in his own
due time. 7 True, the mystery of this
lawlessness is already at work; but only till he who is right now
acting as a restraint gets to be out of the way.
8 Then, indeed, the lawless one will
be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of
his mouth and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence.
9 But the lawless one’s presence is
according to the operation of Satan with every powerful work and
lying signs and portents
10 and with every unrighteous deception
for those who are perishing, as a retribution because they did not
accept the love of the truth that they might be saved.
11 So that is why God lets an operation
of error go to them, that they may get to believing the lie,
12 in order that they all may be judged
because they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in
unrighteousness. —2 Thessalonians 2:1-12;
Let us now take a closer look at what
the apostle Paul is telling us would need to transpire before the
coming of Jehovah's day, in connection with developments within
God's temple and the revealing of the man of lawlessness. How would
God's people be affected by this presence?
The Revealing of "the Man of Lawlessness"
A good indicator as to the nearness of Jehovah's day is not
necessarily studying world events, but
more importantly witnessing certain developments within God's household. These things must
first take place as foretold in the Scriptures. (Matt. 26:54) Having convinced
ourselves that we are nothing but wonderful in Jehovah's eyes, and
shrugging off his condemnatory prophecies as applying to the world, particularly the
churches of Christendom rather than to ourselves, we have failed to
comprehend our true situation before Jehovah. (Amos 3:2; 4:12) Jehovah's people have been led astray
by being told that they have "peace, when there is no peace." (Jer. 8:11; Ezek. 13:10) For that reason it
will be just as Jesus warned, we will be caught by surprise when he
arrives to settle accounts with his slaves at a time we do not think to be it. (Luke
12:40; Rev. 3:3) Paul wrote for our benefit—those living in the
last days—that Jehovah's day will not come unless there are first
certain developments taking place, and this in connection with an
apostasy and revealing, or identifying, of "the man of lawlessness."
Apostasy, from Jehovah's standpoint, is a turning away from him and
a rejection of his word. (Isaiah
Jer. 17:13, NWT) It is clear that apostasy can develop
only from among God's own people, within his household, his temple. It is not at all unusual for
an anointed one of
Jehovah to become presumptuous and apostatize. We can recall such
well known examples as the anointed cherub (who made himself Satan the
Devil), Saul, Solomon, and Jeroboam, just to mention a few, each of
these having been anointed for their privileged position before apostatizing. Sadly, the great majority of
anointed kings proved rebellious; some becoming extremely wicked and
cruel, resulting in much suffering for their subjects. It should
therefore not be at all surprising to God's people today that a wicked "man of
lawlessness" would be seating himself prominently right inside God's temple, "publicly
showing himself to be a god." This "son of
destruction," as he is also called, is said to be actually sitting in
"opposition" to true worship.
Paul says that the man of lawlessness, in his ambition to be
"someone or something considered to be extremely valuable or
important" (Webster's definition of "god"), has
elevated himself over those who are "called 'god' or an object of reverence."
(John 10:34-36) Who does the
Bible identify these ones to be? The Scriptures
speak of them as "holy" (NWT) or "chosen ones" (CEV),
who will receive "the kingdom and the rulership and the grandeur of
the kingdoms under all the heavens," and upon their proving
faithful unto death will "rule as kings with the Christ for the
thousand years." Yes, they are the ones who make up the foundation
stones of God's temple, each one of them chosen and put in place by
Jehovah God himself. Evidently, the man of
lawlessness has desired to especially dominate these within God's temple. —Dan.
7:18, 27; NWT; 1 Cor. 8:5; Rev. 2:10; 3:21; 20:6.
In agreement with what Paul foretold, among God's people today there
is actually a small group of men who have fulfilled this prophecy in
great detail. It is the
Governing Body of the Watchtower Society. The members of this
elite group of men assert that there was such a
governing body arrangement over God's people in the first century,
and therefore justifies their exalted position within God's
household. A recent Watchtower article states:
"The apostles and the elders of the Jerusalem
congregation acted as a governing body. Christ used this instrument
to lead the entire group of his anointed 'brothers' on earth. (Heb.
2:11; Acts 16:4, 5) In this time of the end, Christ has committed
'all his belongings'—all the earthly interests of the Kingdom—to his
'faithful and discreet slave' and its representative Governing Body,
a group of anointed Christian men." —September 15, 2010
Contrary to their claim, though, there is no scriptural evidence to support the
idea of a
governing body in Jerusalem that Christ used to "lead the entire
group of his anointed brothers on earth." The apostle Paul certainly did not
recognize any "special leaders" (CEV)
exercising authority over him or other fellow believers; nor, as he
says, did he
submit to any such ones. And neither did Jesus acknowledge such an
entity when he wrote directly to the seven congregations in Asia
Minor. (Gal. 1:15-19; 2:47; Rev. 1:11, 19,20) In fact, the very idea of
a governing body goes contrary to what Jesus told his disciples on
his last night with them, when once again they argued
as to who the greatest among them was: "The kings of
the Gentiles dominate them, and those who have authority over them
are called 'Benefactors.' But it must not be like that among you.On
the contrary, whoever is greatest among you must become like the
youngest, and whoever leads, like the one serving." —Luke 22:24-26,
HCSB; Matt. 20:25,26.
In imitation of the kings of the nations, and in connection with a
secular corporation, the governing body members have elevated
themselves within God's household over God's people, and "dominate
them." They have publicly shown themselves to be a
"god" by the authority they have claimed for themselves,
and by presenting their teachings as equal in authority to God's Word,
considering their publications as official as the Bible itself. (Matt.
23:2-4) For example, in one Watchtower article elders were told:
"If the Bible and the publications of the
'faithful and discreet slave' do not clearly outline a course,
the elders should not impose their personal likes and dislikes, as
if these were rules to be followed by the others." —w75
8/1 p. 474 par. 12, Elders Presiding in a Fine Way.
article addressing congregation elders admonished:
"What is your attitude toward directives from 'the faithful and
discreet slave'? Loyalty should move you to be 'ready to obey.'
(Jas. 3:17) Always try to capture the spirit of information
published by the 'slave' class. Then convey this to the
congregation. The brothers need your loyal example as you cooperate
with the rest of the body of elders."
(w81 12/1 pp. 11-14 “Kingdom Loyalty”—What Does It Mean to
You?) You may have noticed in your
congregation that the
visiting Circuit Overseer will frequently refer to the Society's
publications as the authority for establishing a scriptural matter,
or "proving" one of their many traditions. This, of course, is in an effort
to instill trust and confidence on the part of God's people in the self-proclaimed "faithful and
discreet slave," and encourage loyally following their leadership.
You can see many of the elders imitating this.
They also teach that we cannot enjoy a
Jehovah apart from the governing body: "We cannot hope to acquire a good
relationship with Jehovah if we ignore those whom Jesus has
appointed to care for his belongings. Without the assistance of 'the
faithful and discreet slave,' we would neither understand the full
import of what we read in God’s Word nor know how to apply it.
The same Watchtower says further: "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,
15, 2010 Study Watchtower) Another article declared: “It is vital that we. . . respond to the
directions of the 'slave' as we would to the voice of God, because
it is His provision." —Watchtower 6/15/1957, p. 370,
JEHOVAH’S CHANNEL OF COMMUNICATION.
Compare the above Watchtower statements with
Jesus' own words: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one
comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) Also note
Peter's statement regarding the uniqueness of Jesus' position: "There is
no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under
heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved."
(Acts 4:12) The governing body should be teaching God's people to obey
Jehovah's command, "Don't put your trust in human leaders. Don't trust in
people. They can't save you." —Psalms 146:3, NIRV.
Aaron, as high priest, was called by God and blessed with a
prominent and prestigious position within the nation of Israel, as
did his sister Miriam as prophetess. (Heb. 5:4,5; Ex. 15:20) Yet
both of them coveted the superior appointment of their brother
Moses, for God had "entrusted [Moses] with all his house," and spoke
with him "face to face." (Ex. 33:11; Num. 7:89; 12:7,8; Heb. 3:5,6)
Therefore Aaron and Miriam started to complain: "Is it just by Moses
alone that Jehovah has spoken? Is it not by us also that he has
spoken?" The account goes on to say: "And Jehovah was listening,"
and "Jehovah's anger got to be hot against them. . . and, look!
Miriam was struck with leprosy as white as snow." (Num. 12:1,2,
9,10) Has the governing body not become guilty of the same
aspiration as that of Aaron and Miriam? Are they not in effect saying,
as expressed in the above Watchtower quotes, "is it by Jesus alone
that Jehovah has spoken? Is it not by us also that he has spoken?"
In coveting the glory and the authority that has been given only to
Jesus—the greater Moses—the governing body members have also become
guilty of imitating the ambitions of the infamous rebels Korah, Dathan
and his brother Abiram. By wanting to elevate
themselves to the position of Moses as leader over God's people, those three men, along
with their 250 followers, became guilty of rebelling against
Jehovah. By the awesome display of power that Jehovah used in
executing them and everything that belonged to them he proved
beyond any doubt to all onlookers that those rebels had "treated Jehovah
disrespectfully." Yes, it was not only Moses that they had opposed,
but also Jehovah himself.—Num. 16:12-14, 30-35; Jude 11; Matt.
23:10; 1 Peter 3:22.
The modern-day Korah·Dathan·Abiram claims to be God's channel of
communication in our day. Thus in one Watchtower it was stated:
"God spoke to his people through Moses and
other prophets. Then, Jehovah spoke to them through his Son, Jesus
Christ. (Hebrews 1:1, 2) Today, we have God’s complete inspired
Word, the Holy Bible. We also have 'the faithful and discreet
slave,' appointed by Jesus to provide spiritual 'food at the proper
time.' (Matthew 24:45-47) Thus, God is still speaking. But are we
listening?" (w98 7/15 p. 12 par. 15 Beware of a Lack of
Faith) Yes, today Jehovah is still
speaking to his people; no, not by any men or group of men, but
rather by means of his Son Christ Jesus, as Paul tells us: "God, who
long ago spoke on many occasions and in many ways to our forefathers
by means of the prophets, has at the end of these days spoken to us
by means of a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things." (Heb.
1:1,2; 2:16-18; 8:1,2) The above Watchtower appropriately notes, "today,
we have God's complete inspired Word." It is within the pages of
that inspired Word that we find Jesus' teachings preserved for our
benefit, by means of which God is speaking to us. There is no need for anyone
else to replace Jesus, for he himself promised his disciples:
"And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the
system of things."—Matthew 28:20.
We are commanded not to add anything to God's Word,
nor take away from it. (Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Prov. 30:6; Rev.
22:18,19) In fact, it is this food—Jesus' teachings—that God's
appointed servants ought to be dispensing. (John 6:35; Luke 12:42)
Rather than any governing body, Jehovah has provided "the spirit of the truth, which the world
cannot receive," which not only teaches his people but also unites
them. That has
not changed since the first century! This truth never changes. (John 14:16,17, 26) The man of lawlessness,
whose "presence is according to the operation of Satan," has
replaced Jesus as head in the congregation. He has also
blasphemously replaced the holy spirit within God's household. Therefore, he
does not have "the spirit of the truth," and neither can he
receive it. To him
it is not about truth, but about authority and domination! The apostle Paul explains, "because they did not accept the love of the truth," but "took
pleasure in unrighteousness," God allows "an operation of error go
to them, that they may get to believing the lie." (2 Thess. 2:10-12)
This explains why many of their predictions have failed to
materialize, and the reason certain "truths" taught at one time are
now no longer valid. That is why the apostle John wrote: "Beloved
ones, do not believe every inspired expression, but test the
inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God, because
many false prophets have gone forth into the world." —1 John 4:1.
The apostle Paul says that the existence of the man of lawlessness,
and his identity, would be revealed in God's due time.
Jesus also said: "For all that is secret will eventually be brought into
the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light
and made known to all." (Luke 8:17, NLT)
Thanks to the internet, the ambitions and errors of our leaders have now become widely known. They have
yet it has not humbled them. Neither have they felt
embarrassed. On the contrary! Their insistence on
our absolute trust and obedience has become even more pronounced. It is as
Jeremiah wrote: "Prophets and priests and everyone in between twist
words and doctor truth. My people are broken—shattered!—and they put
on Band-Aids, Saying, 'It's not so bad. You'll be just fine.' But
things are not 'just fine'! Do you suppose they are embarrassed over
this outrage? No, they have no shame. They don't even know how to
blush. There's no hope for them. They've hit bottom and there's no
getting up. As far as I'm concerned, they're finished."—Jer. 6:13-15,
They have not blushed in connection with their bold promise as
expressed back in a 1969 Awake! magazine: "If
you are a young person, you also need to face the fact that you
will never grow old in this present system of things. Why not?
Because all the evidence in fulfillment of Bible prophecy indicates
that this corrupt system is due to end in a few years. Of the
generation that observed the beginning of the 'last days' in 1914,
Jesus foretold: 'This generation will by no means pass away until
all these things occur.' Therefore, as a young person, you will
never fulfill any career that this system offers." (Awake!
1969 May 22 p.15) Ironically, many
of the ones especially trusting in the Society's leadership and
their promises are now suffering the most, finding themselves
destitute. Contrary to their expectations, they have grown old in
this present system of things and are now working at menial jobs way past their retirement age,
not having prepared financially for their old age. But do not allow the
failed promises of the self-professed "faithful slave" throw you
off your spiritual balance! You can continue to have full confidence in Jehovah's promises,
for they will never fail to come true, nor lead to disappointment,
although appearing to delay.—Habakkuk 2:2-4.
The Governing Body members, in their effort to hold on to their
lofty position within God's temple, have hired powerful lawyers whom
they trust and who have become their advisers rather than Jehovah or
when their advice goes contrary to what the Scriptures teach. (John 13:34,35) Under
the direction of these lawyers they have dealt harshly with many of
Jehovah's sheep. It is not unusual to have one of the Society's
lawyers represent in a court of law a prominent elder who has been
charged with child molestation, or sexual harassment of a sister.
Thus they protect their own interest and wealth from lawsuits, and
attempt to hide wrongdoing, and in the process deny justice to the
innocent ones, although they know full well Jehovah's view of such
matters: "Woe to those enacting crooked statutes and writing
oppressive laws to keep the poor from getting a fair trial and to
deprive the afflicted among my people of justice, so that widows can
be their spoil and they can plunder the fatherless. What will you do
on the day of punishment when devastation comes from far away? Who
will you run to for help? Where will you leave your wealth?"—Isaiah
Anyone not submitting to their authority is expelled from the
congregation as being apostate; even God's chosen ones.
(Matt. 24:22,24,31; Col. 3:12) They are Diotrephes
personified, of whom the apostle John
wrote in his short third letter: "I wrote something to the
congregation, but Diotrephes, who likes to have the first place
among them, does not receive anything from us with respect. That is
why, if I come, I will call to remembrance his works which he goes
on doing, chattering about us with wicked words. Also, not being
content with these things, neither does he himself receive the
brothers with respect, and those who are wanting to receive them he
tries to hinder and to throw out of the congregation." (3 John 9,10)
Do they imagine that God approves of their action, and that there
will be no accountability? —Romans 14:12; Hebrews 4:13.
If we seem surprised, even shocked, by all this development within God's organization we
should remember Paul's words: "Do you not remember that, while I was yet with
you, I used to tell you these things?"
(vs. 5) Yes, these things must take place in order for the
Scriptures to be fulfilled. (Luke 21:22) This wicked element was
already evident in Paul's day, in the form of the "superfine
apostles" who had elevated themselves over their fellow believers
and had started to rule over them. But as Paul said,
any such authority they felt they had was not from
Jehovah. (1 Cor. 4:8-10) In fact, their presence and position of
authority within God's temple is "according to the operation of Satan," and
reflects his own ambitions. —2 Thess. 2:9.
The End of "the Man of Lawlessness"
Regarding the judgment that is to come upon the man of lawlessness,
the apostle Paul foretold: "Then, indeed, the lawless one will
be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of
his mouth and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence."
(2 Thess. 2:2) The "lawless one" will be done away with at Jesus
Christ's presence. It will be clear evidence of his return. Jesus
himself foretold the judgment of this "evil slave" upon his
unexpected return: "But what if the servant is evil and thinks, ‘My
master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other
servants, partying, and getting drunk? The master will return
unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant to pieces
and assign him a place with the hypocrites. In that place there will
be weeping and gnashing of teeth." —Matthew 24:48-51, NLT.
We can be absolutely certain of one thing: The man of lawlessness
gets revealed, his cover blown, before Jesus returns.
And all the evidence indicates that this is now in progress. Why,
though, has Jehovah waited so long for the revealing of this wicked
element that has been responsible for the beatings and so much
suffering among his faithful servants? Why
not before now? The answer is simple: An important feature of the
last days was the preaching of the good news of God's kingdom, as Jesus said,
"in all the nations the good news has to be preached first." (Matt. 24:14; Mark 13:10) We can well
imagine that the revealing of the man of lawlessness would greatly impact the preaching activity
in a negative way, as has already become evident.
If there is one positive thing that can be said about the Society
and its leadership is that they have organized the preaching of
the good news in an efficient way, functioning like any successful secular
corporation. This all-important work has acted as
a restraint to the revealing before now, for Jehovah has not allowed anything
or anyone to
prevent or hinder the proclamation of the reality of the good news
of his kingdom.
Even God's angels have
been sharing in this activity
of preaching the good news as a blessing and only hope for mankind, seeing to it that it
accomplished. —Revelation. 14:6.
But now the due time has arrived, from God's standpoint, to shift the
emphasis from the announcing of his
kingdom to the revealing of the man of lawlessness. It portents that
his day is very near. (Zeph. 1:7) Although the
preaching is continuing it is not with the same zeal and urgency as
was evident in previous decades. And you can expect the enthusiasm
on the part of many witnesses to continue to decline, necessitating
further adjustments in the organizing and reporting of it. Many have already stumbled at learning
about the presence and identity of the man of lawlessness and thus
no longer participate in the preaching of the good news. This was to
be expected for this too had been prophesied: "And some of those who
are wise, prudent, and understanding shall be weakened and fall,
[thus, then, the insincere among the people will lose courage and
become deserters. It will be a test] to refine, to purify, and to
make those among [God's people] white, even to the time of the end,
because it is yet for the time [God] appointed." —Daniel 11:35;
Of course, the Governing Body is not going to sit idly by while the
revealing, that is, exposing of them and their sins and errors is
progressing. They blame apostates for they have not come to understand that the
revealing is from Jehovah; and therefore they see no need to repent and humble
themselves. But was it
any different in Jeremiah's time? (Jer. 1:17-19) Has Jehovah not
always given the wicked the opportunity to repent and thus escape
any judgment foretold to come upon them? (Isaiah 3:12-14; Ezek.
33:11) Rather than fight against those
whom they would label apostates for speaking the truth, they should
take to heart Gamaliel's wise words: "So my advice is, leave these
men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things
merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is from
God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find
yourselves fighting against God!” —Acts 5:38,39, NLT.
If they believe that they are representing Jehovah, then they should
definitely refrain from expressing an attitude like that of apostate
king Jeroboam, to whom Jehovah had sent his prophet. In a fit of
rage Jeroboam gave the command to seize the prophet, no doubt with
the intention of doing away with him; but his outstretched hand
became paralyzed, so that "he was not able to draw it back to
himself." (1 Kings 13:4-5) With this demonstration of
Jehovah's anger Jeroboam should have humbled himself and
taken to heart the prophet's message of doom for him. Perhaps it was not too
late to repent and turn around, and undo his works of
In our day we should not expect the small group of governing body members,
as a whole, to
humble themselves; but rather become more and more entrenched in
their authoritarian office, and
to act decisively against anyone who is perceived posing a threat to their
Paul foretold that they would sit in opposition. Too late will they, and
any who loyally followed them, realize that they
were not what they professed to be, a "faithful and discreet slave."
Jehovah long ago foretold the coming judgment upon the "man of
lawlessness" who is sitting upon his
"divine throne" in the heart of "the sea," that
is, his people; and "publicly showing himself to be a god"; whereas
his "presence" is actually "according to the operation of Satan." (2
Thess. 2:3,4, 9,10) Therefore God addresses his
denunciation upon the "man of lawlessness" in an illustrative way upon the figurative "prince of Tyre"
(after which he addresses Satan himself as the "king of Tyre"
in verses 11-19):
“Son of man, give the prince of Tyre this message from the Sovereign
“In your great pride you claim, ‘I am a god! I sit on a divine
throne in the heart of the sea.’
But you are only a man and not a god, though you boast that you are a
You regard yourself as wiser than Daniel and think no secret is
hidden from you. 4
With your wisdom and understanding you have amassed great wealth—
gold and silver for your treasuries. 5
Yes, your wisdom has made you very rich, and your riches have made
you very proud.
“Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you think
you are as wise as a god, 7
I will now bring against you a foreign army, the terror of the
They will draw their swords against your marvelous wisdom and defile your
They will bring you down to the pit, and you will die in the heart
of the sea,
pierced with many wounds. 9
Will you then boast, ‘I am a god!’ to those who kill you?
To them you will be no god but merely a man! 10
You will die like an outcast at the hands of foreigners.
I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”—Ezekiel
28:2-10, New Living Translation.
There existed a similar element
in the Corinth congregation to whom Paul referred as the "superfine apostles," who were causing problems for
the brothers, making themselves "masters over
[their] faith," and who accepted nothing with respect even from the
apostle Paul. (Compare 3rd John vs. 9) Paul wrote: "For such men are false
apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles
of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself keeps transforming
himself into an angel of light. It is therefore nothing great if his
ministers also keep transforming themselves into ministers of
righteousness. But their end shall be according to their works."
(2 Cor. 1:24; 11:5, 13-15; 1 Cor. 4:8) The presence of "the man of lawlessness" within
God's temple is "according to the operation of Satan with every
powerful work and lying signs and portents and with every
unrighteous deception for those who are perishing." (2 Thess.
2:9,10) Since Satan, as the king of Tyre, is
addressed in Ezekiel 28:11-19, the "man of lawlessness" is likewise
given attention in verses 2-10.
Please note that in Ezekiel 28:2-10 it is the the prince of
Tyre ("the leader," New World Translation),that
Jehovah addresses, and not the king, as he does in verses
11-19. The prince would be in subjection to the king, who is his father. (compare John 8:44)
Jehovah uses the city of Tyre in a figurative sense because of its
location, sitting "in the midst the sea." (Ezek. 27:32-34)
Therefore, the "prince of Tyre" is sitting upon his "divine throne
in the heart of the sea." In an illustrative way the "sea" refers to
the people over whom he has elevated himself. Insight on the
At Revelation 17:1,15 the “waters” on
which Babylon the Great “sits” are said to mean “peoples and crowds
and nations and tongues.” Isaiah further prophesied to God’s “woman”
Zion: “Because to you the wealthiness of the sea will direct
itself; the very resources of the nations will come to you.”
(Isa 59:20; 60:1,5) This seems to mean the turning of many persons
from among the multitudes of earth toward God’s symbolic “woman.”—it-2
p. 882 Sea
The man of lawlessness, as the figurative "prince of Tyre," has
seated himself on his "divine throne in the heart of the sea," yes,
in "the temple of The God," the temple being God's people. (1 Cor.
3:16,17) He has indeed become very rich, for the "wealthiness of the sea" has been directed to
him in the form of vast amounts of money
contributed over the decades by "the sea" of God's people,
intended for the worldwide preaching work. Consequently, the
Watchtower Society with its governing body
has "amassed great wealth—gold and
silver for your treasuries,"
including much valuable real estate properties. And on account of
their wealth they have become proud and arrogant.
If they would individually discern the time of their being inspected
they would realize
that very soon now they will be brought
"down to the pit, and you will die in
the heart of the sea, pierced with many wounds." All their
acquired riches will be of no use at that time to deliver them: "Neither their silver nor
their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah's
24:48-51; Luke 19:44; Zeph. 1:18.
What Will You Do?
Many within God's
organization are convinced that we need a governing body to organize
the preaching work and to provide us with all the many publications,
our spiritual food "at the proper time." It is Jehovah's arrangement they feel. But as
has already been mentioned, there was no governing body in the first
century, neither was there any need for one. The holy spirit, which
Jesus had promised as a helper, was very active at that time. (John
14:26) It served as a teacher and helper, enabling the disciples to
remember and understand the things they were learning, even the
deeper things of God. (1 Cor. 2:10-13) It directed the preaching
work, even assigning certain ones their territory. (Acts 13:2-4;
16:6, 10) It appointed elders, and also gave the members in the
congregations different gifts, so that no one was expected to do the
same, or as much, as anyone else; nor was anyone's work compared to
someone else's work, thus avoiding any rivalry or reason for
boasting. Everyone did just as the spirit enabled them to do. And
since a fruitage of the spirit is joy, the brothers experienced much
joy in worshiping Jehovah. In fact, the Scriptures have much to say
about the joy of all the disciples. Together the congregations
functioned as one body, under the same head, Christ Jesus. —1 Cor. 12:12-18.
Since it was the same holy spirit for everyone, for there is only
one spirit, it taught every disciple the same truths. Thus, the holy spirit
was also the power that united the congregations in love and
understanding of the truth. (Eph. 4:3-6) By having Jehovah's holy spirit the
disciples would also enjoy all the fruitages of it, such as love,
peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness,
faith, mildness, and
self-control. (Gal.5:22,23) A person cannot "cultivate"
this fruitage just as one cannot cultivate the spirit. It was a
natural result of having the spirit, the powerful force which helped a person to put on
the new personality. (John 15:1-5; Eph. 4:23,24) Since this was Jehovah's spirit it enabled the
person to reflect God's qualities, just as Jesus did. One cannot
obtain these qualities from any other source. Only when the
spirit was grieved would problems arise, leading to the loss of the
fruitage of the spirit, perhaps being replaced with works of the
flesh. (Gal. 5:19-21) Then it would be easy to quickly identify a problem. For that
reason Paul and other Bible writers have much counsel on how to hold
on to that precious possession of the spirit, and keep ourselves in
God's love. (Jude 21)
When Judge Rutherford seized control of God's
organization back in 1917, maneuvering to become its president, and
his fellow corporate directors a governing body
(although at that time without any real power or authority), the holy spirit no
longer continued as the helper Jehovah meant it to be. Leaders who
had placed themselves at the helm of God's organization now replaced
that spirit. Through the Corporation that had been set up, with its
many Societies and Associations, this small group of
men started to direct God's people in every aspect of their lives,
and in every part of the earth where they were active. Right from
the beginning all this was viewed by many as Jehovah's arrangement.
After all, if Jehovah did not agree with it why would he permit it?
But Jehovah did express his indignation upon them. He sent
them to a federal penitentiary where they could sit and reflect on
what they were doing and the course they had embarked upon. And, actually at that time,
they say that they did discern that Jehovah was disciplining them,
yet it failed
to prevent them from acting on their ambition to dominate their brothers,
even fellow anointed ones. What's more, they had used a worldly
court to bring this maneuvering about, perhaps believing that God uses such means to
arrange affairs within his temple. It did not bother this small
group of men at all that they had expelled from God's temple fellow
anointed ones who had refused to go along with their ambition,
accusing these as being disloyal and "the wicked slave" that Jesus
had mentioned. In reality, they had now become that evil slave who
will be confronted at their Master's return. —Matt. 24:48-51.
These men, particularly Judge Rutherford, produced numerous books,
including prophecies that they expected God to fulfill. (compare Ezek. 13:6) But Jehovah did not support
them, he did not act on their visions; thus many of their prophecies
failed to come true. These are now part of the record they have made
for themselves. Thus, many stumbled and left God's household, with some even claiming that God doesn't have one. But it was not
Jehovah's fault. He was merely permitting this "as a retribution"
because "they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in
unrighteousness." —2 Thess. 2:10, 12.
Whereas Jehovah's holy spirit used to appoint elders, these were now
appointed by the Society, the qualifications being mostly a zeal for
the preaching activity, and of course, loyalty to their Leaders.
Although the claim is still made that everyone is appointed by holy
spirit, the truth is that the spirit has very little to do with
today's appointment of elders, or anything
else the Governing Body is doing. Take for example how it is determined who
qualifies as elder or servant. Rutherford instituted that every
member in the congregation was now required to report his activity
in the preaching work on a monthly basis, which reports were
forwarded to the appropriate branch offices. Records started to be
kept for every "publisher," which would be reviewed by the
travelling servants when they visited the congregations.
decades monthly reports for the congregation were even posted at the
front of the meeting place for all to either admire or be shamed by.
On the basis of his personal record a person might be recommended to
a position of oversight. Compare this with what Jesus said about our
"gifts of mercy," that the preaching work is often compared to: "But
you, when making gifts of mercy, do not let your left hand know what
your right is doing, that your gifts of mercy may be in secret; then
your Father who is looking on in secret will repay you." (Matt.
6:3,4) Jehovah sees what the heart of a man is like and makes
appointments accordingly. (1 Sam. 16:7) Of course, man cannot do that,
so for that reason he has to judge according to what appears to the
eyes. Therefore, record cards. This is just another of the many
traditions that Rutherford put in place, that continue to this day,
whereby God's word has been made invalid, but that is claimed to be
from God and directed by his spirit. Outrages!
The holy spirit is no longer a real force in the lives of God's
people as a whole. In fact, they teach that it's power and operation
was unique to the first century and would be done away with. But in
reality, it would only be the special gifts that would no longer be
needed and would in time disappear. Jehovah's holy spirit, its
power and fruitage upon his people will never disappear, although a
person can lose it for himself. (1 Cor. 13:8-13) No longer is there any room
for the spirit to get involved in the preaching assignments the way
it was in the first century. Can you imagine what might transpire if
a person today is directed by the spirit for a certain assignment
apart from the Governing Body? What if he acts upon the operation of
the spirit, as Paul and Barnabas did? Is this, perhaps, a reason why
some have been expelled from their congregations? Did Paul not say
that the man of lawlessness is "set in opposition," "publicly
showing himself to be a god?" (2 Thess. 2:4) And all this, of course,
is presented by them as Jehovah's arrangement to which all must
Much of what was taught by Rutherford has become the foundation of
what we presently believe. Therefore it is not an exaggeration to
say that we have built on Rutherford's foundation rather than on
God's. Although it has become evident that many of our traditions
and teachings do not have scriptural support it is impossible for today's
Governing Body to abandon what has been built upon their foundation, without being
afraid of losing everything they have accumulated over the decades.
They are expressing the same identical fears as did the religious
leaders in Jesus' day, that of losing their place in God's temple,
and their civil organization. But their fall has already been determined.
How do you feel about all this? Are you outraged at the presence of
the man of lawlessness, or do you view all these things that have
been put in place by a Governing Body as being from Jehovah? Do you
find yourself actually thanking God for "the faithful and discreet
slave," when Jehovah tells us that his presence is according to the
operation of Satan? We are told that in connection with the coming
day of Jehovah the man of lawlessness would first need to be
revealed. We are now seeing this taking place. But do you realize
that also in connection with the nearness of this day the prophet
Zephaniah foretold that Jehovah would take a close look at his
people. It would be the "time of [our] being inspected." (Luke
19:44; NWT) Yes, he examines us and exposes any who are
sitting at ease, greatly satisfied with the way things are. These
too will lose out.
"At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps.
I will punish those who are so contented.
They are like wine that has not been shaken up.
They think, 'The Lord won't do anything.
It doesn't matter whether it's good or bad.'
Their wealth will be stolen.
Their houses will be destroyed.
They will build houses.
But they will not live in them.
They will plant vineyards.
But they will not drink the wine they produce.
What's wrong with sitting "contented"? After all, are we not in a
spiritual paradise? Are we not rich and well fed spiritually because
of "the faithful and discreet slave," while the rest of the world is
starving? Jesus' message to the Laodicean congregation is likewise
applicable to us: "You do not know you are miserable and pitiable
and poor and blind and naked." (Rev. 3:17) Rather than sitting
contented ("complacent"—NLT; "unworried"—CEV; "satisfied with
themselves"—NCV; "amusing themselves
and taking it easy"—The Message) we ought to
be greatly concerned, yes, "sighing and groaning over all the
detestable things that are being done in the midst of [us]." Only
such ones will be marked for survival and be protected through the
coming great tribulation.
—Ezek. 9:4, 6; Rev. 7:9, 14.
The day of Jehovah is fast approaching. We are now witnessing the
developments within God's organization as foretold by God's
prophets. Jehovah's judgment will start with his own household.
Therefore, the identity of the man of lawlessness is now in the process of being
revealed. "For the time [has arrived] for judgment to begin with the
household of God; and if it begins with us, what will [be] the end
of those who do not respect or believe or obey the good news (the
Gospel) of God? And if the righteous are barely saved, what will
become of the godless and wicked?"
—1 Peter 4:17,18; Amplified
Lest anyone thinks that this "judgment" already occurred back
in 1918/19, according to Rutherford's tradition, we should be aware
that this judgment is not a mere inspection of God's people
the carrying out of a sentence that has
already been determined prior to it's execution. It follows
examination of the evidence. Like in a court of law, the evidence is
presented over a period of time, and then sentence is pronounced and
quickly carried out. (Isaiah 3:13,14) Thus we are told that Jehovah
will "execute judgment on his people," and then after also "he will
execute judgment among the nations; He will cause a fullness of dead
bodies." (Ps. 1:5,6; 50:4; 110:6) Therefore, the judgment that he
will execute on his people, and then the nations, has not yet
occurred, but rather is immediately ahead of us.
The apostle Peter pondered:
"And if the righteous are barely
saved, what will become of the godless and wicked?" Can you see how
we are all included, whether we are righteous or wicked? If the
righteous one within God's household, that is, his organization,
members of his temple, is
"barely saved" ("saved with difficulty," NWT), then what
about those who refuse to submit to God and his arrangement of
Do the letters that Jesus wrote to the seven congregations have any
meaning for us? Is there anything in them that we need to take to
If, today, you are associated with a congregation such as was
Philadelphia at the end of the first century, you are truly blessed. There
are still loving brothers and sisters, and caring elders, in some
congregations, but they are getting harder to find. It seems the
ratio of good to bad is about the same as it was back then. I know
one brother, in a large city in the United States, who moved with
his family to eight different congregations, before he found the one
where he felt "at home." What is the situation like in your area?
Ask any Witness
how we know that we are God's people, and he will most likely answer by saying it is
because "we have the truth;" "we have love among ourselves;" and "we preach the
good news of the kingdom."
Although these are necessary things that God requires of his people, yet
they are not what
makes us his people. (And no, it's not because Jesus chose us in
1914.) The Scriptures are very clear on this subject, and all of
God's people ought to understand it, and be able to explain it to
others. (1 Peter 3:15)
After all, how can we endure the foretold persecution within God's
house if we are not even sure as to why, or if, we are God's sons
The apostle Paul explains in
simple terms who God's people are, and the basis for it.
First of all, he points out that under the new covenant God is no longer worshiped in
a physical temple, as was the case under the old covenant, because now his
people are his temple, and there is where his spirit dwells. (John
4:19-24; 1 Cor. 3:16,17; Heb. 9:1-10, 24) His people are not scattered
throughout other religions, for they are all built upon the one "real" and
"solid" foundation, the builder and maker of which is God. (2 Cor.
6:14-18; 2 Tim. 2:19; Heb.
11:10) Jesus is the foundation cornerstone of God's temple, and with him are
144,000 "holy ones" who make up the foundation. In his letter to the Ephesians,
Paul explains this as God's arrangement: "Certainly, therefore, you are no longer
strangers and alien residents, but you are fellow citizens of the holy ones and
are members of the household of God, and you have been built up upon the
foundation of the apostles and prophets, while Christ Jesus himself is the
foundation cornerstone. In union with him the whole building, being
harmoniously joined together, is growing into a holy temple for Jehovah. In
union with him you, too, are being built up together into a place for God to
inhabit by spirit." (Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:4-9; Isa. 28:16) All of God's people
constitute his temple—either as part of the foundation, or built upon that foundation. Thus they are all
harmoniously joined together and built into a "holy temple" for God to inhabit by spirit.
How exactly is a
worshiper of Jehovah built upon the foundation? By accepting and
acknowledging that this arrangement is from Jehovah; and that it
includes not only Jesus, but also the "holy ones." (Dan.
7:13,14, 27) Any person who
desires to worship God must accept not only the foundation
cornerstone, but the entire foundation upon which God's temple is
built. (John 14:20,21; 17:20-23)
That is what Jesus meant in his parable of the sheep and the goats,
for the sheep did good to Christ's "brothers," and he views it as
having been done to him personally. The "sheep" are built upon the
foundation of his brothers. (Matt.
25:31-46) There is no other
people on earth who accept the 144,000 brothers of Christ as an
essential part of worshiping God in his temple. To all others these
foundation stones remain God's mystery, his sacred secret. (Eph.
3:8-11, 17,18; Rev. 7:14,15)
We do not need to know the
individual members of the foundation in order to exercise faith in their
position within God's temple arrangement. God never purposed to give them glory while
serving him on earth. The only names that we have been given are those of the
twelve apostles, and a few others including Paul. (1 Cor. 4:8-13) God's temple
has continued to grow in size throughout the many centuries since
Pentecost, as Jehovah
has kept expanding
the foundation, all the while building upon it, until it will finally be completed just prior to
the great tribulation. (Acts 13:48,49; 12:24; 19:20; Rev. 7:1-4) Soon thereafter, Jesus will be glorified in connection with
his holy ones, which will be witnessed by all who exercised faith and survived
the great tribulation. (2 Thess. 1:7-10)
On account of your faith you too belong to God's holy temple, having
been built upon the solid foundation; and therefore Jesus is truly
your Lord. You have his assurance that where there are two or three
gathered together in his name, he is in your midst! (Matt.
God's holy temple
existence at Pentecost—and
it should not be confused with the Watchtower Society that has
imposed itself upon God's people for the past hundred years. That
secular corporation, along with its leaders, the foretold "man of
lawlessness," will soon be removed at Jesus' presence, for our great
relief. (See 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12)
Q.I have been
disfellowshiped for having "apostate thoughts" because of
questioning the Society's teaching on some things such as God's
house having been judged back in 1919, and doubting that the
faithful slave was appointed at that time. Anyways, my question is
this: How can I continue to serve Jehovah in his temple, as you
explain we must do, under these circumstances?
forewarned that “men will expel you from the synagogue. In
fact the hour is coming when everyone that kills you will imagine
he has rendered a sacred service to God. But they will do these
things because they have not come to know either the Father or
me.” Jesus foretold this in order “that you may not be
stumbled” when it occurs. ―John
When we keep in mind that the “lawless one's
presence (our governing body) is according to the operation of
Satan,” and not from Jehovah, then we must also realize that
we should expect persecution and heavy-handed treatment to come
from them. (2 Thess. 2:9,10) Someone, like yourself, who is
unjustly expelled from the congregation by elders who are loyal to
“the man of lawlessness,” still remains a member of
God's household, his temple, as Paul assures us: “Who will
separate us from the love of the Christ? Will tribulation or
distress or persecution or hunger or nakedness or danger or sword?
Just as it is written: 'For your sake we are being put to death
all day long, we have been accounted as sheep for slaughtering.'
To the contrary, in all these things we are coming off completely
victorious through him that loved us. For I am convinced that
neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now
here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any
other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
ourselves to Jehovah's arrangement even in trying times means that
we do what we can under present circumstances, as did the “few
names in Sardis” that Jesus acknowledged as “worthy.”
(Rev. 3:4) Most, if not all of the great crowd survivors will have
endured various trials and tribulation prior to the great
tribulation, either in the way of going hungry and thirsty
spiritually, or also because of persecution. This is indicated by
God's promise: “They will hunger no more nor thirst anymore,
neither will the sun beat down upon them (from above) nor any
scorching heat (as within the congregations).”
7:16; Matt. 10:16-22; 24:9-13, 48,49; 1 Peter 1:6,7.
Until the time comes for Jehovah to cleans
his temple of all wicked ones, “as a retribution because they did
not accept the love of the truth that they might be saved,” we must
hold onto our faith and endure suffering. (1
Peter 4:15-19) Too, it's good to
bear in mind that God's allowance of these things helps identify the
man of lawlessness and everyone who “did not believe the truth but
took pleasure in unrighteousness,” while at the same time giving
Jehovah's loyal ones the opportunity to demonstrate the “tested
quality” of their faith. (2 Thes.
2:10-12; James 1:2-4) Wicked
shepherds will most definitely be held accountable for the way they
have treated God's sheep.―compare
Ezekiel 34:1-2, 10-14.
Q.If the great crowd is already
worshiping God in his temple before the great tribulation then how
is it that God will spread his tent over them after
the great tribulation,
which, as you say, is placing them within the temple?
the great tribulation members of the great crowd were not the only
ones found worshiping in God's temple. Present also was the man of
lawlessness, those who followed him, and other wicked ones. At the
arrival of the master Christ Jesus, this lawless element will be
removed from God's temple. (Matt. 24:48-51; 2 Thes. 2:8-10)
after the great tribulation (Armageddon), Jehovah spreads his
“tent” over the great crowd of survivors thus
indicating that they are indeed worthy guests in his tent.
Everyone of them belongs there, and that is why they are guided to
“fountains of waters of life. And God will wipe out every
tear from their eyes.”
In discussing the man of
lawlessness are you saying that he is among the members of the governing body of
Jehovah's witnesses--like the good slave and evil slave working
together--or is he a composite man of lawlessness represented by the
The man of lawlessness describes the small group of men who love to
be referred to by the title "the faithful and discreet slave," and who
have elevated themselves high over all the members of God's
household, his temple.
According to the apostle Paul, the man of lawlessness, also called
"the son of destruction," sits down in "the temple of The God,
publicly showing himself to be a god." As such he "lifts himself up
over everyone who is called 'god' or an object of reverence." (2 Thess. 2:3-12; NWT)
What does the Watchtower say about what the temple of The God is?
Quoting from the November 1, 2006 issue, it said: "Paul
further wrote to anointed Christians: 'Do you not know that you
people are God’s temple, and that the spirit of God dwells in you?
. . . The temple of God is holy, which temple you people are.'
(1 Corinthians 3:16,17) By means of his spirit, Jehovah ‘resides’
among the anointed and ‘walks among them.’ (2 Corinthians 6:16) He
continually guides his faithful 'slave.' (Matthew 24:45-47) The
'other sheep' cherish their privilege of being associated with the
'temple' class.—John 10:16; Matthew 25:37-40.
―w06 11/1 p. 24
par. 11 Do You Share Jehovah’s View of Sacred Things?
Since the Watchtower identifies the temple of God with the anointed
followers of Christ, then, according to their own interpretation, the man of lawlessness
must be found among them, right at the top where he has seated
himself. Yes, Paul foretold that he lifts himself up over everyone
who is called "god" or an "object of reverence," or, as the prophet
Daniel speaks of them: "the people who are the holy ones of the
Supreme One," and whose definite time has arrived to take
"possession of the kingdom itself." (Dan. 7:17, 22, 27) The man of
lawlessness "is set in opposition" particularly to these holy ones,
whom he desires to dominate. In this he goes contrary to
the command Jesus
gave his disciples on his last night with them: "The kings of the nations lord it over
them, and those having authority over them are called Benefactors.
You, though, are not to be that way." (Luke 22:25,26)
Earlier, after having pointed to the lofty position their religious
leaders had assumed, Jesus told his disciples: "But you, do not you
be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, whereas all you are
brothers. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever
humbles himself will be exalted." (Matt.
obedience to Jesus' command, there was no governing body among true
Christians in the First Century. (see
There a Governing Body in the First Century?") That does not
mean, though, that there were not those who elevated themselves
above their fellow brothers
back then. For example, the apostle Paul speaks of the "superfine apostles" in
the Corinthian congregation who had begun to rule over their fellow
brothers, and they did not receive anything from Paul with respect.
Undoubtedly they quoted Scriptures to justify their position. Diotrephes is another one mentioned as one who had lifted himself up
over the disciples. The apostle John writes: "Diotrephes, who likes
to have the first place among them, does not receive anything from
us with respect. That is why, if I come, I will call to remembrance
his works which he goes on doing, chattering about us with wicked
words. Also, not being content with these things, neither does he
himself receive the brothers with respect, and those who are wanting
to receive them he tries to hinder and to throw out of the
congregation." And Jesus praised the congregation in
Ephesus for not putting up with bad men, and putting "those to the
test who say they are apostles, but they are not, and you found them
liars." (1 Cor. 4:7,8; 2 Cor. 11:5; 12:11; 3rd John 9,10; Rev.
Rather than being an arrangement from Jehovah, as they assert, the
presence of a Governing Body is "according to the operation of Satan
with every powerful work and lying signs and portent and with every
unrighteous deception for those who are perishing, as a retribution
because they did not accept the love of the truth that they might be
saved." (2 Thess. 2:9,10; see also
People Like It That Way") It is not a single individual, but
rather all the members acting together as a
"body," that makes up the man of lawlessness. By their action they
show that they despise Jesus' words that "all you are brothers,"
namely, all are equals before Jehovah and Christ Jesus. Like wicked Diotrephes they
direct the elders in the many congregations to "throw out of the
congregation" all who do not submit to them or who are wanting to
receive such ones. But in the very near future "the Lord Jesus will do away with [them] by
the spirit of his mouth. . . by the manifestation of his presence."
(2 Thess. 2:8)
Abbreviations for Bibles quoted: AB - Amplified Bible
CEV - Contemporary English Version
DT - Darby Translation
ESV - English Standard Version
HCSB - Holman Christian Standard Bible
NASB - New American Standard Bible
NCV - New Century Version
NIRV - New International Reader's Version
NIV - New
NLT - New Living Translation
NWT - New
TNIV - Today's New International Version