Jesus expects Christian elders to treat the flock the same way that he treated it. They must be willing to act as servants to their companions, not masters over them. The apostle Paul had that humble attitude, for he told the older men of the congregation in Ephesus: “You well know how from the first day that I stepped into the district of Asia I was with you the whole time, slaving for the Lord with the greatest lowliness of mind.” The apostle desired that those elders help others in an earnest, humble manner. He said: “I have exhibited to you in all things that by thus laboring you must assist those who are weak.” Paul told the Corinthians that he was not the master over their faith. Instead, he was a humble fellow worker for their joy. Paul set a fine example of humility and hard work for elders today.
The apostle Paul did set a fine example for elders today. He was selfless and tireless. He worked with his own hands providing for himself, so as not to be an expensive burden upon the brothers.
But perhaps his most admirable quality was his courage in confronting evil. He publicly exposed his fellow apostle, Peter, when he hypocritically withdrew from associating with non-Jewish believers when in company with Jews. And Paul unflinchingly opposed idolatry of any kind, confronting the tendency of some in the Corinthian congregation of following men. Paul pointedly asked them: ‘Did Paul die for you?’
The apostle was not afraid to take on the powers-that-be. A situation had developed in the Corinthian congregation where certain men apparently became elders who were not lowly of mind, nor were they even followers of Jesus Christ. They were phonies. Evidently though they were impressive public orators. In other words they gave good talks. But they spoke against the apostle Paul because he was not charismatic or a captivating public speaker, saying of him: “His presence is weak and his speech is contemptible.”
Paul took the occasion to defend himself and his credentials as an apostle. Even at the risk of sounding immodest, Paul recounted his many near-death experiences, imprisonments, beatings and other sufferings for Christ.
Paul said of his detractors: “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself keeps disguising himself as an angel of light. It is therefore nothing extraordinary if his ministers also keep disguising themselves as ministers of righteousness.”
Think of it: The anointed Christian congregation in Corinth was apparently unaware of the fact that they were presided over by men who were mere agents of the Devil. They were disguised so well as “ministers of righteousness” and respectable “apostles” that their deceit was undetectable. That is why Paul feared that just as the serpent had seduced Eve, somehow the Corinthians might be corrupted away from following the Christ by the very men in their midsts.
So, while Jesus set the standard it is also true that God obviously allows some men to become elders and overseers who are not lowly and humble, but who are ambitious, cunning and deceitful. Why, one of Jesus’ own handpicked apostles turned out to be a thief and a devil!
So, here’s the thing: Is it possible that Jehovah’s Witnesses are in a similar position as the brothers and sisters in the Corinthian congregation, who were oblivious to the fact that the very men they looked to as apostles were false? This question is not so far-fetched, is it? If the Watchtower Society is Jehovah’s earthly organization, as advertised, then why wouldn’t Satan make every effort to infiltrate it using men disguised as “ministers of righteousness”? If God allowed such a thing to occur in the past, why would he prevent it now? It would certainly go a long way in explaining many of the evils that exist.
At the risk of sounding immodest myself, I have painstakingly examined virtually every teaching of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as it relates to prophecy; holding them up to critical scrutiny — as Jehovah’s Witnesses are not permitted to do. The results: The inescapable conclusion is that not only are there deceitful men in the highest level of the organization – an evil slave to be sure, but they also constitute what Paul foretold is a man of lawlessness.
One of the key activities of the man of lawlessness is that he promotes a false parousia, being the source of inspired messages and announcements to the brothers declaring that the presence has begun and the day of Jehovah is here. That is why Paul issued a warning beforehand, urging the brothers “not to be quickly shaken from your reason nor to be alarmed either by an inspired statement or by a spoken message or by a letter appearing to be from us, to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here.”
Paul countered the message of the man of lawlessness by saying the presence will not come unless the apostasy comes first.