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

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

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

Acts 14:23 “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


According to the Bible, the election of elders was practiced in the Early Church.  The eventual elimination of this practice gradually led to Elders becoming the Lord’s of the Church, rather than its servants and opened the way for the development of the Antichrist system.

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

Acts 14: 23 – And in every Church, after prayer and fasting, they selected Elders by show of hands, and commended them to the Lord on whom their faith rested.  –  Weymouth

Rotherham and Young’s Literal translation say, “appointed to them by vote elders in every assembly.”

RVIC Revised Version Improved and Corrected says, “elected elders.”

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

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

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

Acts 6:3  Therefore, brethren, pick out from among yourselves seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, and we will appoint them to undertake this duty.   Weymouth

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

  • JOEL

    WATCHTOWER is sure proud of their self made Corporation and believe that God actually is using a NON Scriptural entity to run the congregation of his son, Christ.

    Watchtower 1979 11/1 p. 30 The Watchtower—Announcer of Jehovah’s Kingdom for 100 Years

    ….. cooperate with the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania until it has served Jehovah’s purpose.

    • greg (Bible Student)

      Greetings Joel.

      I like these excellent findings that you expressed in both your comments. Thank you for sharing and highlighting them here for our benefit and edification!

      Not to disagree with you in the least, but only to supplement your comment, I sometimes like to imagine that Watchtower actually has served a scriptural purpose–just not the one Watchtower likes to believe it has. Like Satan, and the Pharisees of old have done, maybe Watchtower has served God’s purpose in bringing to the public eye of scrutiny all the hypocrisy and fruitage of False Religion and the Anti-Christ system. (Compare Matthew 24:15; Luke 16:14-15) In a somewhat subtle way, and as part of the larger system of Christendom and Babylon the Great, ever since the days of Rutherford, Watchtower has oppressed the Nation of Israel, and placed themselves not just in Jesus’ place, but also in Israel’s stead.

      What do you think?

      Cheers and Thanks!

      • Nubby Tope

        Hi Greg,

        Very interesting points Joel made and I agree with what you said about WT. I used to think they had God’s backing but now I find myself starting to believe that WT lost His backing from Rutherford’s time onward. And it is a corporation not just a religion. And as for replacing Israel, am I right in assuming that WT thinks it’ll be surrounded by nations when actually its Israel that is surrounded. What else does WT have wrong about Israel?

        • Ted R (Bible Student)

          According to WT doctrine, the remnant of 144000 left on earth, made up of “anointed JW’s” are spiritual Israel. All prophecies relating to Israel are dealing with them. It’s called replacement theology. As of a few years ago the thought is that the United Nations will turn against all false religion first, then when all other religions have been banned the JW’s will be the only ones left standing and the nations will then turn against the JW’s sparking the Great Tribulation and Armageddon in which all who are not JW’s will be destroyed in second death and only JW’s who have been faithful, going to meetings and field service etc. will survive (maybe). Now that the nations seem to be uniting against them due to their extreme policies of disfellowshipping and child abuse, they seem to feel that Armageddon is very close due to the increased persecution so I’m not sure how they twist that, I haven’t seen anything in writing! Another failed prophecy? They believe the Nation of Israel gave up their chance when Christ was sacrificed, ignoring or twisting any scripture that shows Israel will be restored to apply to them.

      • JOEL

        I agree with you and appreciate your comment.

        We really have no clue as to what is and what isn’t when it comes down to how it all fits into the equation. Watchtower is not the solution, but part of the worldwide problem and like you said, served a scriptural purpose in showing how religion is tainted with false beliefs and reasonings.

        Whether or not anyone believes in the Bible, the statement found at Revelation 18:4,5. holds true to All people not to be in religion. “4.  And I heard another voice out of heaven say: “Get out of her, my people, if YOU do not want to share with her in her sins, and if YOU do not want to receive part of her plagues. 5 For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind.”

        The scripture says that God’s people would be in false religion and to get out. It does not say there is a right religion, nor give a religion to go to, it simply says “Get Out of Her” and that God’s people was within her. So God does have a people and a lot of them have left all religion and some of them are still in religion.

        Religion is not a destiny for God’s people to go, because they are already God’s people stuck in ALL religions. But God’s people need to leave religion to be his people that are united in the teachings of Christ, but not by corporate religious mandates and bylaws.

        • just Stay Sweet and Good

          JOEL I agree people should get out of falsehood whever they find it. This is just good “mental health” There are enought challenges in everyday life to contend with our faith, as as Christians, than to have to defend the indefenisble. “Mental health” issues show up in an excessive dependance on alcohol, antidpresants, food, material things and just a continually circular reasoning that requires a person to always be tying to establish their own righteouness. Romans 3:9-18 talks about me and talks about you and talks about every body who as ever lived, so why are people trying to prove there good? It by grace that we are saved, by not works, so no man can boast. When we come accros a braggert we then know we have someone who really doesn’t beieve it aka an unbeliver.

      • just stay sweet and good

        Gregg. How has the WTBS oppressed the nation of Israel?

        • greg (Bible Student)

          Hi JSS&G.

          And may I add congratulations, too! 🙂

          Among many other things, Rutherford openly made many public and written expressions of his contempt and disdain for the Jews. Here are a just few sample links to help get you started.





          And you can always find more documents by doing a search on various internet search engines. There are other –and sometimes better– search engines besides Google. Personally, I like the results I get from DuckDuckGo. Just copy and paste the following search term:

          j. f. rutherford anit-semetism israel germany

          Take care my friend,

          • Just Stay Sweet and Good

            Gregg…….Thankyou……Yes I’m aware of all of these sources. This interchange is so good for me because their have been things in the past I just forgot. Just today, it popped into my head that this anti semitism CONTINUED till 1958 which was during brother Knorr’s watch. The name of the public talk that was being given in all the congregations was “Zionism vs Christianity?” or something like that. It flat out repudiated the position that Jehovah God has anything with the reestablishing the earthly nation of Israel. My husband at that time was given the “Protocols of Zionism” as his source material for the public talk that was given around the Los Angeles area. We were very active in handing out the handbills for the public talks in that era. We all suffer from the sins of commission and sins of omission. I am very ashamed of my participation in this position.

            • Nubby Tope

              Hi there JSSAG,

              Those Protocols of Zion; I’ve heard of them but what exactly did they contain? I remember once I read something somewhere that a convention in Berlin 1933/34 that had flags of swastikas present! I think it was the book Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Third Reich. What special points were made in that Zionism v Christianity talk?

              • just Stay Sweet and Good

                Nubby……Basically…..The epmhasis was on the gathering of the Gentile/”other sheep” into the WTBS and the leadership of the Anointed, as Gods ONLY interests in the last days. I was in my teens and did not have the sohistication that I have now, to be able to decern what their actual rhteric was and any qualifieing statements. Sadly, it gave me me same attitude that many evangilist have, namely “If the Jews don’t accept Jesus they will die at at Armagedon or Hell fire” a very simplistic postion that does not glorifie the RANSOM FOR ALL. My personality was twisted into a smart mouth, overly righteous young person who was totaly at loss as to what to say when I found righteous Jews in the door to door work. I knew I loved my Jewish friends and then when I read Romans 11 just as it is written and took Paul at his words I then was on my way to my Christian freedom. What a friend we have in Jesus

                • Richard.Tazzyman

                  JSS&G,That is exactly the way I felt as a JW IN my teens as well.I could not reconsile why Jehovah was not able to fullfill his Promise to Abraham.By replacing the Literal Nation with a spiritual Nation dID NOT SIT EASY WITH ME.And as you stated,what a wake up when I read what the Apostle paul had to say on the Subject.Yes we have a friend in Jesus & his heavenly father,”WHO CANNOT LIE”.Bro Richard(Bible Student,Melbourne,Australia)

  • JOEL

    Watchtower 1971 12/15 pp. 748-749 par. 4 Theocratic Organization with Which to Move Forward Now

    4 That first-century congregation was not some legal corporation that was registered and chartered by the Jewish government at Jerusalem or by the Senate of the Roman Empire, with officers to be appointed according to Caesar’s specifications.


    Watchtower 2017 Feb Study Edition, Pg. 26 Who is Leading God’s people Today?
    10 ….. The expression “governing body” began appearing in our publications in the 1940’s, when it was understood to be closely connected with the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. However, in 1971, the Governing Body was distinguished from the Watch Tower Society—a legal instrument rather than a Scriptural entity—and its directors.

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

  • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

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

  • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

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



  • Ted R. (Bible Student)

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

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

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

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

  • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

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

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

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

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

    • Nubby Tope

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

      • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

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

        • Nubby Tope

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

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

          • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

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

          • Just Stay Sweet and Good

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

        • Just Stay Sweet and Good

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

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