Friday, October 14, 2016

Did Russell Claim His Writings to be Superior to the Bible?

Many quote some statements of Brother Russell and claim that he placed his writings above the Bible. Did Russell really make such a claim?

One has objected that while Russell didn’t claim infallibility, his claims for the printed Watch Tower were certainly masked as something divine. It is being objected that Russell claimed that without the Watch Tower on hand to explain the Bible and its prophecies one is lost, that it was impossible to understand God’s Word without the Watch Tower. That one would be better off to leave the Bible and study only the Watch Tower.
The only reference that can be provided to allegedly support the above is the article that Russell wrote entitled: “Is the Reading of “Scripture Studies” Bible Study?” Even then, one has to take what Russell wrote out of context, and this is usually done by focusing on two paragraphs of the article. The two paragraphs often quoted from are:
a.. If the six volumes of SCRIPTURE STUDIES are practically the Bible topically arranged, with Bible proof-texts given, we might not improperly name the volumes– the Bible in an arranged form. That is to say, they are not merely comments on the Bible, but they are practically the Bible itself, since there is no desire to build any doctrine or thought on any individual preference or on any individual wisdom, but to present the entire matter on the lines of the Word of God. We therefore think it safe to follow this kind of reading, this kind of instruction, this kind of Bible study.
b.. Furthermore, not only do we find that people cannot see the Divine Plan in studying the Bible by itself, but we see, also, that if anyone lays the SCRIPTURE STUDIES aside, even after he has used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for ten years –if he then lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness. On the other hand, if he had merely read the SCRIPTURE STUDIES with their references, and had not read a page of the Bible, as such, he would be in the light at the end of the two years, because he would have the light of the Scriptures.
The rest of the article is usually ignored, and the quotes are usually placed in the context of the claims of JWs today, or in the context of making it appear that Russell was making the same or similar claims as the JW leadership claims for itself.
However, it should be presumed that any Christian writer who writes books would believe that what he is written is in harmony with the light of God’s Word, and thus, that if one is out of harmony with what he wrote, to that extent a person would considered to be in darkness. Russell certainly believed that the references he had given to the Bible in what he wrote represented the light of the scriptures, and thus that the Studies contained the “light of the scriptures.” To be disagreement with the “light of the scriptures” then would place one to some extent in darkness. Nevertheless, at the same time, we should not take Russell’s words out of context and use that as though he were laying down some kind of hard set rule by which he expected others to bow down to his conclusions.
Many quote one or parts of two paragraphs of Russell’s article, placed in the context of JW organization doctrine, or in an effort to claim that Russell was claiming to be the ultimate authority, and, in effect, try to make Russell say something that we don’t believe Russell intended to mean by his words. We believe this because of what Russell states in the context, as well as the general tenor of his entire works. Russell continuously referred to the Bible, or to Jesus and the apostles, as the final authority.
Notice that he says that if a person had merely the Scriptures Studies “with their references,” that is, the references to the Bible, the “only authority” that Russell accepted for divine light. As I said, Russell believed that what he had written was in agreement with “the light of the Scriptures.” Can you imagine any Christian author who would write a book and claim that what he had written was not in harmony with the “light of the scriptures”?
Russell, in this article, was not specifically referring to the Watch Tower magazine, but more specifically to the Scripture Studies series. He certainly never claimed that one would be better off to leave the Bible, since his argument was concerning the references to the Bible in the Scripture Studies.
The experiences Russell and others related of those going into darkness mostly involved universalism, the belief that all, including Satan, will eventually live forever. The New Covenant Bible Students disagreed with him over the covenants. Russell did not condemn them to the second death for their darkness, nor did he claim they were no longer Christians, etc., as might the JWs. Nor was Russell speaking of the JWs’ Watchtower of today, which is basically the kind of organization that he never believed in.
Russell on “Church Organization”
While we believe that Russell overstated the matter and probably should not have stated it as he did, we do not believe that he intended the claims that many make concerning what he said. He plainly says in that article, using the subheading:
One objects that the article does tell Jehovah’s Witnesses not to accept the Bible as the final authority.
We are not with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and there was no Jehovah’s Witnesses organization in 1910, so “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in 1910 were not told anything. Nevertheless, the Bible Students were not told that the Bible was not the final authority, nor were they told not to read the Bible by itself. That is is a gross misrepresentation of what was stated, to say the least! Brother Russell never told anyone that the Studies in the Scriptures are the final authority! Indeed, in the same article reference, Russell states that the “Scriptures Studies” are “not a substitute for the Bible.”
Brother Russell, of course, believed that what he had written was in harmony with the light of truth as revealed in the scriptures, and as due to be understood. If he believed otherwise, then he was wasting his time in writing anything. No other system of theology presented those truths. Thus, if he believed that what he had written was the light of God’s Word due to be understood, then if one was not in harmony with that light, he would be to that extent in darkness.
We do not, however, believe that when Russell said “by itself”, that he was speaking of not having help from anyone else. No one actually studies the Bible in the absolute sense of “by itself”, that is, without any aid whatsoever from any other source. Taken to the extreme limit of “by itself”, one could not use English translations, since that would be mean that one is not actually studying the Bible “by itself”, but with the interpretive help of the whoever translated it English. In the absolute sense, one would need the original autographs of the Bible in order to absolutely study the without help from anyone else, so as not have had help from copyists who may or may not have copied the material correctly. To study the Bible in the extreme sense of “by itself” would mean no help from priest, minister, teachers, church, tradition, parents, etc. In truth, anyone who comes to a study of the Bible has to first have received help to read. His manner of approach to such a study of the Bible is also be influenced by the shaping and molding of his mind by his parents, teachers, friends, and other influences all the while he was growing up.
We believe that when Russell said “by itself,” he simply meant without the aid of “Scripture Studies”, and this conclusion is corroborated by the context, as well as by Russell’s writings as a whole. If the “Scripture Studies” revealed the light of the Scriptures, as Russell believed, then, of course, without the scriptural understanding revealed in those “Scripture Studies” one is to that extent in darkness.
It is claimed by some that Russell said that if a Bible Student stopped studying the Scripture Studies, that he would return to the traditional doctrines of the trinity, immortality of the soul, etc. Actually, Russell never stated this at all.
Russell, of course, was writing from his experience. In his day, I don’t remember ever reading of one who had actually understood the scriptural principles of doctrine revealed in the Scriptures Studies who went back into belief in the trinity, immortality of the soul, eternal conscious suffering, etc. The ones I have read about, even if they stopped studying the “Scripture Studies,” did not go back to those doctrines of men. Most were being influenced by some who were denying some points that Russell taught, such as, that the “new covenant” is made with restored Israel rather than the church, or that Jesus returned in 1874, etc. If Jesus returned in 1874, as Russell claimed, then to be in the light of this truth would mean acceptance of this truth; to not believe this truth would mean that one is in darkness on this truth. If the “new covenant” is made with restored Israel in the age to come, then to be in harmony with this truth would mean one was in the light of this truth; to deny this truth would mean that one was in darkness on this truth. If one once believed in any truth, and then turned aside from that truth for a some doctrine of man, then such a person would gone into darkness concerning the real truth.
Indeed, this same kind of principle applies to every “denomination” of Christendom that has taken a stand on some doctrinal principles. They would claim that others who disagree with them on whatever doctrine they hold central is in darkness regarding that doctrine.
Please note that when Russell speaks of one going into darkness, he did not mean what JWs might mean if they had used such an expression. Russell did not condemn those who disagreed with him to the second death, as did Rutherford. For instance, those who believed that the “new covenant” is made with the church, he still called “brethren”. They were not disfellowshiped, although many of them withdraw fellowship from the Bible Students who believed that the “new covnenant” is to be made with Israel. Nor did Russell consider any who disagreed with him to not be a Christian; rather, he believed that many Christians were simply in the dark concerning many scriptural truths due to their having the minds bent toward studying the scriptures in the darkness of the traditions of men, rather than in the light what the holy spirit was actually revealing through and from the scriptures by means of his writings.
One claims that Russell ‘implied’ that “is own Scripture Studies were superior to the Bible.” The author further states: “Russell usurps the authority of the Holy Writ and posits that the Bible, which Witnesses claim as the inspired word of Jehovah, is inadequate by itself. Russell clearly elevated his own teachings above the authority of the Bible.”
In reality, Russell, who never spoke for an organization such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, did not make such an implication, nor does the quote cited from the Watch Tower, September 15, 1910 (page 298), which is taken out of context, say, or even imply, such a thing. Even within the statement, Russell is speaking of reading the Scriptures Studies “with their references,” that is, with their scriptural references.
In the context, however, we can definitely find that Russell had no intent whatsoever of stating that the Scripture Studies are superior to the Bible. Before the part quoted, Russell states: “The six volumes of SCRIPTURE STUDIES are not intended to supplant the Bible.” Already, we should know that he is not then saying that the Scriptures Studies are superior to the Bible.
After the quote given as an alleged proof that Russell implied that the Scripture Studies were superior to the Bible, Russell wrote:
If these books are to be of any value to us it must be because we see in them loyalty to the Word of God, and as far as our judgment goes, see them to be in full harmony with the Word and not antagonistic to it. Therefore, in reading them the first time, and perhaps the second time, and before we would accept anything as being our own personal faith and conviction, we should say, “I will not take it because these studies say so; I wish to see what the Bible says.” And so we would study the Scriptures in the light of these SCRIPTURE STUDIES; we would prove every point, or disprove it, as the case might be. We would be satisfied with nothing less than a thorough investigation of the Bible from this standpoint.”
Does this sound like that Russell was implying that the Scripture Studies are superior to the Bible? Indeed, Russell himself, if he found some points that he had written that he later found to be in error, did not say that one should hold to the error because it was in the Scripture Studies, but rather that one should hold to the Bible itself.
And then, later in the same article, we find the subtopic:
Again, the question is, does this sound like that Russell was placing the Scripture Studies as superior to the Bible?
The statement is made that, in the book, The Divine Plan of the Ages, “Russell prophesied that 1914 would see the battle of Armageddon and the dawn of Christ’s thousand year reign on the Earth.” There are at least two major things wrong with the statement.
First we note that Russell never “prophesied” anything. He plainly stated: “I am not a prophet”.
Did Russell Claim Infallibility?
Did Russell Claim Direct Revelation From God?
Did Russell Claim to be a Prophet?
There is nothing in the book, The Divine Plan of the Ages, about 1914. This book is online at:
For what Russell actually wrote about 1914, see:
It is important to realize that Russell was not expecting the kind of Armageddon that the JWs preach. His view (before 1914) of Armageddon was that it was a period of time in which the peoples of nations would be chastised, not eternally destroyed. In 1915, he still did not believe in Armageddon as the JWs teach, but he began to separate the time of trouble, which he believed had begun in October of 1914, from the battle of Armageddon itself, which he believed would be the final phase of the time of trouble. He did NOT teach that Armageddon was to eternally destroy most of earth’s population, as Rutherford later claimed.

A related quote from Brother Russell (Watch Tower, December 15, 1896, page 305):
Nor would we have our writings reverenced or regarded as infallible, or on a par with the holy Scriptures. The most we claim or have ever claimed for our teachings is, that they are what we believe to be harmonious interpretations of the divine Word, in harmony with the spirit of the truth. And we still urge, as in the past, that each reader study the subjects we present in the light of the Scriptures, proving all things by the Scriptures, accepting what they see to be thus approved, and rejecting all else. It is to this end, to enable the student to trace the subject in the divinely inspired Record, that we so freely intersperse both quotations and citations of the Scriptures upon which to build.
Originally published before 2012; edited and republished December 2014.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Faithful and Wise Servant and Other Servants

"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time?" -- Matthew 24:45, Revised Standard Version.
The Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the right times?” -- Luke 12:42, World English.
Matthew 24:35-30; Luke 12:35-48
Who is the faithful and wise servant?
According to a statement made to us by one associated with the "Jehovah's Witnesses" organization, Jesus is supposed to have clearly said he would appoint a "faithful and discreet slave" on the earth whom he would "appoint over all his belongings" to give spiritual food at the right time. (Matthew 24:45-47) According to our JW neighbor, "there is ONE earthly 'slave' or organization."
Likewise, in The Watchtower 07/01/43 p. 204, we read this statement: "The Son has returned as King; he has come to his temple. He has appointed his 'faithful and wise servant', who is his visible mouthpiece."
In The Watchtower, October 1, 1967, issue, on page 590, we read: "Jehovah poured out his spirit upon them and assigned them the responsibility of serving as his sole visible channel, through whom alone spiritual instruction was to come. Those who recognize Jehovah's visible theocratic organization, therefore, must recognize and accept this appointment of the "faithful and discreet slave" and be submissive to it."
More recently, the Watchtower headquarters has released the report of their 2012 Annual Meeting, in which it is stated:
The faithful and discreet slave” was appointed over Jesus’ domestics in 1919. That slave is the small, composite group of anointed brothers serving at world headquarters during Christ’s presence who are directly involved in preparing and dispensing spiritual food. When this group work together as the Governing Body, they act as “the faithful and discreet slave.”
The Watch Tower Society in recent decades has claimed that the appointed "faithful and discreet slave" is the remnant of the ones they believe to be of the 144,000 joint-heirs, which they claim has been appointed to rule over the domestics (meaning especially their “other sheep” class), to dispense the alleged proper spiritual food at the proper time. It appears that now the governing body is claiming the role of “faithful and discreet slave” for themselves only, and and thus they are longer saying that it is all of their 144,000 remnant. It is probable that those of their governing body have realized that the former application did not fit what was really happening, since the members of their "remnant" class are not actually providing the dogma of the JW beliefs, but rather it is indeed their "governing body" that does this.
Nevertheless, we believe that all of the above views assume a lot that Jesus never actually stated. What is Jesus really saying in Matthew 24:45-47 and Luke 12:41-48? Is Jesus saying that, when he returns again, one needs to identify whom he has appointed to an office of “faithful and wise servant” (or, “faithful and discreet slave”) if we wish to receive the truth? Is Jesus saying that we should submit to this person or persons, and base our entire faith and beliefs around the one(s) believed to be this faithful and wise servant?
After much study of this parable, we have concluded that all of the above views to be incorrect. They are all based on some kind of preconceived perception that Jesus was speaking about some kind of office designated as “the faithful and wise servant” or “the faithful and discreet slave”. The real question is: Was Jesus actually stating that he was going to appoint some one person, or a group of persons, to an office called “the faithful and wise servant”?
We reason that the context of Jesus’ words, as well as the rest of the scriptures, show, that every Christian becomes a slave or servant for Christ when he receives the holy spirit; it is up to each individual Christian to prove whether he is faithful and wise or not. We should note that, in the parable as recorded in Luke 12:41-48,, Jesus did not only speak of the faithful and wise servant, but he also spoke of “that servant” who proves himself to be a bad or evil servant, who begins to be abusive toward his fellow servants. And there is “that servant” who knew what he was supposed to be doing, but who did not do, as well as “that servant” who did not know what he was supposed to be doing. From this, we conclude that not all of the Master’s slaves or servants prove to be under the classification of the faithful and wise servant.
We do not, however, believe that all those represented by the other three “servants” are necessarily lost forever, or cast into the “second death”. second death. (Luke 12:42-48; note especially verses 47 and 48; see our study: "The Parable of the Four Servants")
In the context, we find that the reason for the parable of the faithful and wise servant is because of Jesus' exhortation to his servants to be watchful. (Matthew 24:42-44) Those who prove themselves faithful and wise are said to be appointed over all his belongings; as a class, we believe that they are appointed as such in the Millennial reign over all the belongings of Jesus. In the final reward, not all receive the exact same assignment, and rewards are meted out in varying degrees, but as a class the faithful and wise are appointed over all his belongings. (Luke 19:17,19) This is applied in the time when the “other sheep” are being distinguished from the goats, that is, in the Millennial Age.
Thus seen, in this age, any servant of God who is faithful and wise in obeying the Master (Jesus) is such a faithful and wise servant. Not all of the spirit-begotten (often referred to as “born again”) Christians prove themselves to be represented by the faithful and wise servant, however, since Jesus speaks of other servants besides the faithful and wise servant.
Is the Faithful and Wise Servant One Person, or One Entity?
A point that one should note here is that each of these "classes" -- not just the faithful and wise servant -- are represented in the singular, so if the faithful and wise servant is one singular person, then so we should look for other singular persons to fulfill "that servant" that "says in his heart, 'My lord delays his coming'" (Luke 12:45), as well as "That servant, who knew his lord's will, and didn't prepare" (Luke 12:47) and that servant "who didn't know, and did things worthy of stripes." (Luke 12:48) Actually each servant represents classes of Christians individually, some who are faithful and wise and others who prove less faithful, and are disciplined accordingly. Although some have attempted to identify the “evil servant”, most do not remain consistent in their explanation of the two servants spoken of in Luke 12:47,48.
Matthew 24:45 Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his lord has set over [entrusted] his household, to give them their food in due season?
Matthew 24:46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord will find doing so when he comes.
Luke 12:42 - The Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the right times?
Luke 12:43 Blessed is that servant whom his lord will find doing so when he comes.
Luke 12:44 Truly I tell you, that he will set him over all that he has.
The claim is often made that Jesus appoints the faithful and wise servant to give food at the proper times when he returns when, or shortly after, his second coming. Actually, neither Matthew nor Luke say that when Christ returns that he will look for a servant whom he will appoint to an office of “faithful and wise servant”. The idea has to be read into what is stated. In the parable, Jesus spoke of the master of the house as returning, and upon his return, he finds the servant whom he had already appointed to serve the food, and judges that servant as having been either faithful and wise, or that he was a bad servant, or that he did not obey the master’s instructions. As regards the faithful and wise servant, however, Jesus speaks of a further assignment that is given to that servant who has already proven himself faithful and wise. In other words, the servant has proven himself to be a faithful and wise servant before he is appointed over all of the Master's belongings.
Jesus asked: "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his lord has set over his household, to give them their food in due season?” Jesus answered who such a servant is: “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord will find doing so when he comes." It is each individual servant who has proven himself to faithful and wise in giving food to his fellow-servants.
Therefore, we conclude that, in application, every one who belongs to Christ are each entrusted to each other to exhort, to give food to upbuild fellow Christians in proper seasons. (Romans 14:19; 15:2; 1 Corinthians 3:2,5-7; 4:1,2; 14:26; Ephesians 4:11-15; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 2 Timothy 4:2; Hebrews 3:13; 10:24; 1 Peter 1:1,2; 4:10,11; Jude 1:20; See also Matthew 4:4; John 21:15,17) It is in this manner that each individual "servant" provides spiritual food to the domestics -- identified in Matthew 24:49 as "fellow servants".
Jesus had just spoken of being watchful (Matthew 24:36-44; Luke 12:35-40). Peter asked if Jesus had spoken this parable about being watchful to them, or even to all. (Luke 12:41) Peter was evidently wondering if the parable applied to every disciple of Jesus or just to the twelve apostles. Luke does not record a direct answer by Jesus, but Mark does have Jesus saying: "What I tell you, I tell all: Watch." (Mark 13:37) Jesus answered by giving another parable concerning several servants, one who is faithful and wise, another who is evil, another who knew his master's will, but did not prepare or do according to his will, and another who who was aware of his master's will. All of the disciples of Jesus are included in the instructions to be watching since all down through the age since none would know when he returns.
Each Christian is set by the Lord to dispense food to fellow members of the household -- this does not make each of them the faithful and wise servant. The faithful and wise servant is found already faithfully and wisely dispensing food to fellow-servants at the return of the master, as depicted in the parable. If this applies to Brother Russell as one individual as related to the parousia of 1874, then Brother Russell would have already proven to have been that faithful and wise servant before 1874, and if the "return" spoken is the parousia that began in 1874, then it would follow that Brother Russell, due to his being faithful and wise in giving food to the household of faith in the past, was at that time made the servant of, not just the household which he had supposedly already been given charge of, but of all the Lord's goods.
We should note, however, that Brother Russell did not realize that Christ had returned until 1876, two years after Christ had returned. Others of the household of faith had recognized Christ's return before Brother Russell.
In actuality, we believe that an application of the parable to Russell himself would have necessitated that at the time of the Master's going away in the first century, that Jesus in the first century had appointed Brother Russell as that servant to give food to the household, so that when Jesus returned he would find Brother Russell faithfully and wisely still giving food to the household. Some have tried to circumvent this by saying that around 1870 or so Brother Russell was appointed to be the faithful and wise servant, and that when Christ returned in 1874, he found Brother Russell to have been that faithful and wise servant, which, in reality would seem to be appointing him twice to an office of "faithful and wise servant".
Some have suggested that since Luke 12:42 speaks of a future appointment, that this means that the there was indeed one person who would be the “faithful and wise servant” when Jesus returned. Luke 12:42, however, is parallel to Matthew 24:45, and Luke 12:43,44 is parallel to Matthew 24:46,47. Both accounts are speaking of the same thing, and both accounts are referring to two different appointments.
Please understand that we are not saying that Brother Russell was not used by Jesus as a special means to dispense food to the household of faith, for the evidence of what we have gained from his works proves that he most certainly was, even as were many others down through the Gospel Age -- none of their writings were perfect, and not everything they said was without error, and so it is also with Brother Russell. We also believe that the Edgars and others have been used as special channels of communication related to truths they brought forth, and yet we do not view any of their writings as totally without error, and there are many conclusions they present that we do not agree with. What we are saying is that this parable does not fit any one individual; this can be seen especially as evidenced by Luke 12:47,48.
An argument has been made that Jesus speaks of "that faithful and wise servant" (singular) who gives the food to "them" -- the household -- in due season. It is argued that this only makes sense if the faithful and wise steward is one person.
Actually, this argument would only make sense if one also has an individual identity for "that servant" [singular] spoken of in Luke 12:47, and the "the one" [singular] spoken of in Luke 12:48, as well as "that servant" spoken of in Luke 12:45,46.
The word "servant" [singular] is often used by Jesus to pictorially describe any "servant" who might be fulfilling the role being described. The context is overwhelmingly demonstrative that Jesus is giving a general description of any servant who might fulfill each role he describes. Each servant of God is appointed to dispense food, as we have already shown. As a result of the degree of his faithfulness, each servant is placed in the various descriptions given of the various servants described. It is true that the word "servant" represents each individual of the class; nevertheless, the singular "servant" can be used to represent more than one person as each individually of that class:
Matthew 10:25 - It is enough for the disciple that he be like his teacher, and the servant like his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more them of his household!
Is Jesus here saying that there is only one "servant" who will be like him? The sentence following shows that Jesus is applying it singularly to each individual "of his household."
Matthew 18:28 - But that servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants, who owed him one hundred denarii, and he laid hold on him, and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe.'
Does this servant represent only one person, or does it represent each individual singularly in that class? Note here also that this servant is contrasted with his fellow-servants.
Matthew 20:26,27 (New American Standard) - It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Mark 9:35 - He sat down, and called the twelve; and he said to them, "If any man wants to be first, he will be last of all, and servant of all."
Mark 10:43 - But it shall not be so among you, but whoever wants to become great among you, will be your servant.
Mark 10:44 - Whoever of you wants to become first among you, shall be servant of all.
It should be obvious here that Jesus is not saying that there would be only one such "first" servant. But taken out of context, and applied in isolation, one could also quote these scriptures and say that there is one servant appointed as "first" over God's people. This is closely related to the faithful and wise servant, for it is this faithful and wise servant, whoever it may be individually, that is the one who is "great" in God's eyes, and it is these who receive the highest reward in the kingdom. Please note that this servant does not necessarily need to be recognized as "great" by the fellow-servants in this lifetime, but that his reward will be great in the kingdom. -- Luke 6:23,35.
Luke 14:17 - He sent out his servant at supper time to tell those who were invited, 'Come, for everything is ready now.'
Luke 14:21 - That servant came, and told his lord these things. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor, maimed, blind, and lame.'
Luke 14:23 - The lord said to the servant, 'Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
Does this mean that in application that there is only one individual that Jesus selected as "that servant" to invite others to the supper? We don't know of anyone who would think so, and yet, taken in isolation, one could conclude that this could be so.
However, this does illustrate the general charge given to each individual spirit-begotten son to be "that servant" in inviting others to the supper.
For usages of the expression "that servant" (singular) in the NT (WEB), see:
For usages of "wicked servant" (singular):
Other examples:
"wicked and slothful servant" (singular) - Matthew 25:26.
"whoever would become great among you will be your servant." (singular) - Matthew 20:26.
Was Jesus here saying that there would be one singular person who would be great who would be the servant of the church?
Some have wrongly concluded that we are claiming that all of the Lord's people are included in the faithful and wise servant. We suggest a closer reading of what we have stated, for what we wrote should not lead to such a conclusion. The Lord's people are being described by our Lord as fulfilling individually any of the roles that the Lord is describing, not just those who prove themselves to "faithful and wise" in doing so.
Isn’t this faithful and wise servant made “ruler” over all the Master’s belongings after Christ returns?
Some have confused the appointment as "ruler" with the appointment given to every Christian to provide food for the household in due time. The appointment of "ruler" over all the Lord's belongings is not the same as the appointment the servant to give food to the household. Each servant is appointed first to give food to fellow-servants of the household; IF he is found faithful and wise in doing so, then the second appoint is giving over "all" his belongings, which implies "joint-heirship", a joint-lordship, with the Lord Jesus. No one is "appointed" to an office called "the faithful and wise servant" -- one becomes faithful and wise in his service by faithfully and wisely fulfilling the commission given to him.
Regarding the word “ruler”: The Greek is not as strong as it appears to be in most translations. The King James Version, for instance reads: "whom his lord hath made ruler over his household." While the Greek word, katesteesen (Strong's #2525), could be rendered "made ruler", it doesn't have to be so understood. The Revised Standard Version renders it: "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time?" The The New Century translation renders it like this: "Who is the wise and loyal servant that the master trusts to give the other servants their food at the right time?"
Matthew 24:45
tis ara estin ho pistos doulos kai phronimos
5101 0686 1510_2 3588 4103 1401 2532 5429
hon katesteesen ho kurios epi tees oiketeias autou
3739 2525 3588 2962 1909 3588 3609_5 0846_3
tou dounai autois teen tropheen en kairw

3588 1325 0846_93 3588 5160 1722 2540
Westcott & Hort Interlinear as it appears on the Bible Students' Library DVD
Luke 12:42
kai eipen ho kurios tis ara estin ho pistos
2532 1511_7 3588 2962 5101 0686 1510_2 3588 4103
oikonomos ho phronimos hon katasteesei ho kurios

3623 3588 5429 3739 2525 3588 2962
epi tees therapeias autou tou didonai en
1909 3588 2322 0846_3 3588 1325 1722
kairw to sitometrion
2540 3588 4620
The above is the general appointment. However, especially in Luke’s account, without noticing exactly what is being said, one could easily confuse the two.
Luke 12:42 - The Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the right times?
Luke 12:43 Blessed is that servant whom his lord will find doing so when he comes.
Luke 12:44 Truly I tell you, that he will set him over all that he has.
Luke 12:42 mentions “whom his lord will set over his household”, but this does not refer to when he comes to mete out judgment to his servants. It is before, as we see from Luke 12:43,44, which refers to the second appointment “over all that he has.”
Matthew 24:47
ameen legw humin hoti epi pasin tois huparchousin
0281 3004 4771_6 3754 1909 3956 3588 5224 5225
autou katasteesei auton
0846_3 2525 0846_7
Luke 12:44
aleethws legw humin hoti epi pasin tois
0230 3004 4771_6 3754 1909 3956 3588
huparchousin autou katasteesei auton
5224 5225 0846_3 2525 0846_7
The above is the appointment after being found faithful; this is the reward for faithfulness. This is not, however, applied to all the consecrated, but only to those who prove themselves to be faithful and wise in his service.
Matthew 25:21
ephee autw ho kurios autou eu doule agathe kai
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piste epi oliga ees pistos epi pollwn
4103 1909 3641 1511_3 4103 1909 4183
se katasteesw eiselthe eis teen charan tou kuriou
4771_3 2525 1525 1519 3588 5479 3588 2962
Here the word katesteesen is used, evidently again describing the appointment of he who has proven to have been faithful and wise service. The word is also used on Matthew 25:23.
The same word, katesteesen, is used by the apostle in the describing man's appointment over the things of the earth:
Hebrews 2:7
eelattwsas auton brachu ti par aggelous doxee
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kai timee estephanwsas auton kai katesteesas auton

2532 5092 4737 0846_7 2532 2525 0846_7
epi ta erga twn cheirwn sou
1909 3588 2041 3588 5495 4771_1
Notice that "man" is spoken of singularly, but in application, "man" and "him" represents mankind.
For more usages of Katesteesen, see:
In the first appointment in Jesus’ parable, each Christian is set as a servant to give food to fellow servants as needed. This first appointment does not make them, however, the faithful and wise servant. It is only the ones who prove themselves faithful and wise in doing this, who then receive the reward of being set, not to give food to fellow-servants, but over all the belongings of the Master, which includes the world of mankind as well as the angels.
Thus, what we believe many fail to note is that the servant has already been "set over", or entrusted with the job of giving food in due to season to the saints long before the Master comes (Matthew 24:46, Luke 12:43; Erchomai, Strong's #2065). The servant who has been faithful and wise in doing so, then, some time after the coming spoken of, is made ruler over something else: "all" that the Master has. What is this "all" that the Master has? We believe it to be all the heathen who are to blessed, as well as the angels, since the saints are said to judge both the world and angels. -- 1 Corinthians 6:2,3.
From this, we conclude that the faithful and wise servant applies to the especially to the joint-heirs since they jointly-inherit what Jesus has received from the Father. Those who prove themselves faithful and wise are said to be appointed over all his belongings; as a class they are appointed as such in the Millennial reign over all the belongings of Jesus as, not just heirs of God, but also as joint-heirs with Jesus. -- Romans 8:17.
APPENDIX TWO: The Seven Angels
What about the seven stars and seven angels (messengers) spoken of in Revelation. Aren't each of these, being singular, representative of only one person who was to give a certain message at various times in the church's history, and thus that the "seventh angel", the faithful and wise servant, is thus only "one" individual?
There is nothing in Revelation 1:16,20, or Chapters 2 or 3 of the Revelation about Jesus' appointing any of these as a faithful and wise servant to give food at proper times. The idea has to be confused with what Jesus said in Matthew and Luke, and then read into Revelation.
Regardless, to what extent are we to agree with any of the servants that God has used in the past? To what extent are we to agree and hold to whatever Arius wrote? Indeed, we do not even have his writings, for they were destroyed by the trinitarians (except for a couple of short letters).
While we do believe that there was a single actual "angel" assigned to churches named, we are hesitant to add to this that this single angel is meant to represent any one individual. The seven churches are first of all evidently applied to the literal churches that existed at the time that John received the revelation. Likewise, the seven angels, (symbolized by the seven stars), we believe, first actually speaks of seven literal beings, symbolically spoken of as stars, that is, a guiding influence in the present darkness to each church (singular) respectively in each location (singular) described.
Since we are told that the meaning of the stars is "angels", then we have the symbol and what it represents given to us. John, who, first of all, was a literal human being, is told to write down in a book what he saw and heard to send this to the seven churches. Thus he was instructed to write to the "angel" of the seven churches. The carrying out of these instructions, evidently was through the spirit by means of the actual angels -- actually spirit beings -- written to by their influence as angels over the churches being addressed. We have not been able to verify that these letters individually were actually sent to the churches by John himself, although it is possible that there were human messengers were used for such.
Notice, however, that, not only is there one star (one angel) assigned to each of the churches, each of the churches is represented as one church (singular) located at one place (singular). We believe that these were the actual churches that existed in the first century, each existing as a singular unit. With this background, then, if we apply these to various time-periods in the history of the church, which I believe we should do, to what extent are we to keep the singularity of the literal application to singular individuals in the history of the church, or does it lose its singularity of application? It certainly loses it application of singularity of a single church in a specific location.
Then, also, we have the problem of trying to identify who these individuals might be. Not all Bible Students agree on who they are, and there are several different versions of "who" they might be, both from within the Bible Student movement and also by writers not associated with the Bible Student movement. To what extent should we spend our time looking for each of these individuals and/or studying their writings? To what extent should we submit ourselves to their writings and not go beyond they wrote, even if we have what they wrote? To what extent should we hold ourselves to the writings of Martin Luther, for example, who wrote over 60,000 pages of material?
APPENDIX THREE: 100% Faithful to Russell
We often hear some say that they are fully in agreement with what Brother Russell taught, since he was the "last" messenger to the church. Is there anyone who is 100% in agreement with all that Russell wrote, or is there anyone who actually does stay by everything he wrote, and not go beyond what he taught? As far as that goes, where in his writings does he say to do this? Many have indeed added much to, and often contradicted, what Brother Russell wrote even in their zeal to claim that we should follow only what Russell wrote.
Indeed, one cannot be 100% in agreement with what Russell taught, since it is obvious that he was wrong in some of his conclusions.
Further, Brother Russell never claimed to be the man with the writer's inkhorn. This idea is a "new idea" that has to be added to what he wrote. Brother Russell never actually claimed to be the "faithful and wise servant" nor the Laodicean angel. These teachings, and many other teachings that are often presented concerning Brother Russell, or related to his teachings, were and are served as "food" for the household by others, not by Brother Russell himself. Many who teach these often endeavor to bind others to only what Russell taught (or at least their perceptions of what Russell taught), in a manner similar to the way the JW leadership would others bind themselves only to what the JW “governing body” teaches.
The point is, if Brother Russell is represented as the singular star of Laodicea (or the faithful and wise servant), to what extent should we go to either adding to the things he wrote, or trying to recognize or correct any errors he may have made? To what extent should we go to doing the same with others whom one might think were represented as an angel to a specific church? If you believe Martin Luther was one of the angels, should we accept all he taught, or should we recognize that in a general way God used him to present certain truths? To what extent did Brother Russell serve all the truth for our time, since he did not serve the idea that he was that faithful and wise servant, the Laodicean Messenger, or the man with the writer's inkhorn?
We do believe that God has used him in a very special way; at the same time, we do not believe that a Bible Student should be made to feel that Brother Russell’s works are the end of it all. Indeed, to the extent that one does actually believe this, such a Bible Student is failing to be a true "Bible student". It would be similar to the trinitarians, who cannot seem to read the Bible except through the tint of the dogma they accept from their trinitarian teachers.
APPENDIX FOUR: Preaching Brother Russell
It is sad to see that many have become enmeshed with preaching Brother Russell; often they do not seem to realize that they are indeed doing such.
In 1909, Russell, in his discussion regarding the viewpoint of his friends and others, stated:
Our friends reply that they are in no danger of worshiping the Society or anybody else; that their experience in man-worship and sect-worship are things of the past. They declare that they were led out of those forms of idolatry and into the proper reverence and worship of God and his Word by the Society's publications and no others, and that they have never heard of any teachings which, in so clear and unmistakable language, guard the Lord's people against every form of man-worship, sect-worship, etc., and that no others so fully and thoroughly set forth the rights and liberties of the Lord's people as against the enslaving tendencies of the great Adversary and bishops, ministers and elders.
--Watch Tower, October 1, 1909, page 292
Although in the article, Brother Russell never claimed to be the faithful and wise servant, he allowed for the view that the Society could be meant. One could say, due to the special arrangement between Brother Russell and the Board of Directors, that Russell was the Society. Nevertheless, about one year later Russell was concerned over man-worship, as he realized that many were preaching Brother Russell. What did Brother Russell, himself, however, say about such? As far as we can determine, his last statement before he died concerning such was:
Another thing: Some of the dear brethren seem to find as much about Brother Russell in the Bible as they find about the Lord Jesus, and I think that is a great mistake. I do not find it there. Some of them say that I am blinded on that subject, that they all can see better than I can. Perhaps they can, I do not know, but I think, dear friends, that there is a danger in that direction, and I would like to put you all on guard. I think it is the Lord's will that we should recognize every agency God uses, but we are not to recognize any agency of God as being in any competition whatever with the Lord or with his divine arrangement. He is the fountain of blessing, he only is most to be praised. I think that is the right sentiment. I believe you all agree with that. And yet I think there is a danger of some dear friends preaching Brother Russell. Brother Russell would like for you not to do so. He thinks it would not be to the glory of God. Let me repeat, then, dear friends, that in my opinion we have so much of the Gospel of God, so much of his plan to study, so many opportunities of showing forth his praises, that we should employ all our time in that way. My advice, therefore, is that we give very little attention to anything outside of that. The Scriptures do indeed say that we may render honor to him to whom honor is due, and that is applicable to anybody and everybody; as, for instance, we look back and we see Martin Luther, and he did a grand work, and we thank God for him; and we might say the same of John Wesley, and very truthfully; I am glad in God's providence he lived, and that he was a faithful man. And there were others of the Lord's people in the past. Let us be glad and rejoice in every one, and be thankful to God he has used various agencies in helping us, and in helping others, and in bringing forward his great cause; but let us not go into anything that would be at all like man-worship, for I am sure that would be displeasing to the Lord and injurious to ourselves. I remind you again of the Scripture in Revelations where the Church is pictured, which we called attention to, I believe, thirty years ago. John, the revelator, who was seeing these things, fell down to worship the angel who showed them to him, and the angel said, "See thou do it not; worship God; I am thy fellow-servant." And so, dear friends, if our Heavenly Father and our Heavenly Lord have used Brother Russell in any measure he is very glad and very thankful to be used. And if the Lord is pleased to use him any more, he will be glad to be used down to the last breath, but he does not want any worship, he does not want any undue adoration, he does not want any praise. He is glad to have the love of all those who are brethren of the Lord and to be considered a fellow-servant with all, striving to bring to pass all the glorious things that God has promised, striving to tell the good tidings of great joy to as many as the Lord, our God, shall call.
-1910; ("Convention Report Sermons", pg. 125)

His statements in 1910 in some ways seem to contradict what he had stated a year earlier. In 1910, Brother Russell did feel that many of his brothers were "preaching Brother Russell" and possibly getting into creature worship by doing this. The fact that many would be involved in such a worship was demonstrated in John's worship of the angel. Is it up to us to determine the heart of another, as to whether he is actually giving worship to creature should only belong to God? Do any of us, personally, have that power to know the hearts of others along this line? Obviously, we should not condemn our brother by whether he believes or does not believe that Brother Russell was that faithful and wise servant or not.
Nevertheless, we recognize that there is the possibility that there have been and probably are some who are fulfilling the symbolism of the Revelation by giving Brother Russell undue worship as represented in the act of John (singular - not that there would only be one person to do this, nor that the one true church as a whole would do this, but that individuals are represented individually in the act of John), which Brother Russell discussed. However, we note that John, when he bowed before the angel, was not cut off, not "disfellowshiped", etc., although he was rebuked, and responded to the rebuke. We believe that the words of Russell himself, as already quoted, provides such a rebuke to any of the church today who are so carried to such extremes concerning Brother Russell.
We do believe that if one has given his life, in word and deed, to Brother Russell, or any other "leaders" thought to be specially used by God, thinking thereby that he is serving God and Jesus, that this would be a deception of Satan. Many do speak of 'remaining faithful to Brother Russell', having 'faith in what Brother Russell said'. Such statements should make one feel uneasy. It is similar to many in the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and other groups, who, in deed, dedicate their lives to their leaders, thinking thereby that they are serving God and Jesus. If you are with the JWs, for instance, you might hear a statement such as "How dare anyone have the audacity to think they know more than 'the faithful and discreet slave." And some have even applied the statement; "if it was good enough for xxx, it is good enough for me." We can hear similar expressions said in several groups, each speaking of their respective leaders. Is it sectarianism? Is it carnal thinking? -- 1 Corinthians 1:12,13; 3:3,4.
Some years ago of one the JWs' Watchtower magazines told all that one must be faithful to "Jehovah's organization", in application, such would refer to being faithful to the leaders of the JW organization. Similar statements can be found in the Armstrong groups, as some of their leaders speak of being faithful to the teachings of Herbert Armstrong. Many will stand by the words of their faithful leader(s) even when they they have been shown facts or scriptures contrary to something said by their favorite leader(s). Where does one draw the line between giving due homage and/or worship that only belongs to the Creator? We cannot decide this for each individual -- we should simply leave that up to God through Jesus. The Bible, however, should be the standard of any true Bible Student, not the writings of this or that person.
APPENDIX FIVE: The JW Governing Body and the F&DS
In the JWs annual report, we find several scriptures presented that are alleged to show that Jesus was saying that when he returns, he was going to appoint a faithful and discreet slave who was to be in charge of dispensing spiritual truth to the domestics. The following scriptures are presented: Matthew 24:3,29,34,36,42,44.
Matthew 24:3 - And as he sat on the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what [shall be] the sign of your presence, and of the end of the age?" -- Light Improved Version (hereafter referred to as LIV)
This question was provoked by Jesus’ description of the temple being destroyed, and left the disciples wondering how they were to know that Jesus was present in his kingdom, if the temple was to be destroyed. The question pertains to more than just the parousia of Christ, however, since it also includes the events relative to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. The disciples probably did not understand that there was to be an end of the Jewish age as well as a later end of the age in which Satan is god. (2 Corinthians 4:4) Thus, Jesus’ answer includes events relative to, not just the end of the Jewish age, but also the end of the age which ceases with the abyssing of Satan, as well as events in between. (Revelation 20:1-4) This does not in any way limit the time of the appointment of the servant or slave spoken of in Matthew 24:45 to when or after Christ returns.
Matthew 24:29 Then they will deliver you up to oppression, and will kill you. You will be hated by all of the nations for my name's sake.
This scripture is not speaking of Christ’s return, but of the persecution upon the saints throughout the Gospel Age. This persecution began in the first century, and history has recorded how this persecution has continued throughout the Gospel Age. What Brother Russell wrote about this may be seen at:
Matthew 24:34 In truth, I say to you, this generation will not pass away, until all these things be accomplished. - LIV
Does this scripture limit the time when when the Master appoints the servant to give food to the household?
After examining the scriptures carefully, our conclusion is that “this generation” of Matthew 24:34 is the crooked and perverse generation that exists through Adam. It is this generation -- equated with the heavens and earth of Matthew 24:35 -- that will not pass away until all these things have been fulfilled. See our study:
This Generation
Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Matthew 24:36 But no one knows of that day and hour, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Matthew 24:36 is referenced, although it is not clear as to why it is being referenced. In this verse, Jesus is not speaking of the beginning of parousia, but of when the heavens and earth with its “crooked and perverse generation” is to pass away. (Matthew 24:34; Philippians 2:15) The heavens and earth began with the creation of the world of mankind as recorded in Genesis 1 & 2; the "generation" of the human race through Adam became a crooked and perverse generation through the disobedience of Adam. When Adam sinned, he brought sin into this world. (Romans 5:12) and as a result of that sin, God gave mankind up to a reprobate mind, bringing him into subjection to vanity and a crooked, perverse, corrupted, condition, from which man could not bring himself out of. -- Ecclesiastes 1:2,13-15; 7:13,29; Romans 1:24-2:1; 3:9-18; 5:12-19; 8:19-24; 2 Peter 1:4.
Matthew 24:42 Watch therefore, for you don't know in what hour your Lord comes.
Matthew 24:44 Therefore also be ready, for in an hour that you don't expect, the Son of Man will come.
This, again, is in reference, not to the beginning of Jesus’ parousia, but to when Christ comes to bring a full end to the present heavens and earth. Isaiah tells us that the destruction that takes place at time will leave a few people left in the earth. (Isaiah 24:6) Unless those days should be cut short, no flesh would be saved. (Matthew 24:22) We do not know when this will take place, and therefore we should also be watchful.
Evidently, the thought the authors of the report would like for one conclude is that the faithful and discreet slave has to be appointed before this is fulfilled(?) At any rate, there is nothing in the verses that designates that Christ’s second appearing has to be before any servant could be appointed to give food to the fellow servants.
See also: