The February, 2017, Study Edition of the Watchtower carries an article entitled: “Who Is Leading God’s People Today?”
The publishers seem intent to equate themselves with the apostles, cleverly doing so by repeatedly referring to the apostles as “the governing body.” (Note small case “g” and “b”) Below is a compilation of 10 references to the first century “governing body” appearing in just four paragraphs, 4-7.
“In time, other anointed elders joined the apostles in administering the affairs of the congregations. As a governing body, they gave direction to all the congregations.”
“Christians in the first century recognized that the governing body was directed by Jehovah God through their Leader, Jesus.”
“How could they be sure of this? First, holy spirit empowered the governing body.”
“Holy spirit was poured out on all anointed Christians, but it specifically enabled the apostles and other elders in Jerusalem to fulfill their role as overseers. For example, in 49 C.E., holy spirit guided the governing body to make a decision regarding the issue of circumcision.”
“The letter conveying that decision also reveals that the governing body manifested the fruitage of God’s spirit, including love and faith.”
“Second, angels assisted the governing body.”
“Moreover, angels actively promoted and accelerated the preaching work that the governing body was overseeing.”
“Third, God’s Word guided the governing body.”
“Although that governing body had authority in the early congregation, they acknowledged that their Leader was Jesus.”
“But I want you to know that the head of every man (including every member of the governing body) is the Christ…”
It is not necessarily inappropriate to describe the apostles and older men of the first century as a governing body. They did direct and govern the congregations. There is no dispute there. But why rename them? Why not simply refer to them as the apostles and older men, as the early Christians did and as Jehovah’s Witnesses have always done? The reason for the subtle change is disturbing. The Governing Body are not really interested in rebranding the apostles as “the governing body.” The intent is to elevate themselves to the office of apostles, at least in the minds of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
But here is the problem: The apostles were unique to Christianity. They are the foundation stones, along with Christ the cornerstone, of the congregation of the Firstborn, as described in the 21st chapter of Revelation: “The wall of the city also had foundation stones, and on them were the 12 names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb.”
The first century apostles are not succeeded by others. Those originals are still the apostles of Christ’s congregation, and the writings of Matthew, John, Peter and Paul are the sole basis for teaching and guiding Jesus’ disciples. Those who wish to pass themselves off as apostles have an agenda. Paul, the so-called 13th apostle, or the apostle to the nations, dealt with those whom he sarcastically dubbed “the superfine apostles.” Evidently they were men of stature among the Corinthians —probably Greek orators, which is why they denigrated Paul as having a weak personal presence and being a dreadful public speaker. That is why Paul responded, writing: “For I consider that I have not proved inferior to your superfine apostles in a single thing. But even if I am unskilled in speech, I certainly am not in knowledge; indeed we made it clear to you in every way and in everything.”
The superfine apostles criticized Paul in order to elevate themselves to the rank of apostles, which they evidently accomplished given the fact that Paul referred to them as “your superfine apostles.”
Fully aware of the spiritual danger posed by the superfine apostles, the genuine apostle went on to reveal their motivation, saying of them: “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. But their end will be according to their works.”
Under inspiration Paul revealed that Satan had successfully infiltrated the Corinthian congregation by means of men who had cleverly disguised themselves as Christian ministers. That is why Paul expressed his fear that the congregation —being oblivious to the deceit that Satan was working on them —was like Eve, who in her naiveté personally conversed with the Devil, who had effectively disguised himself as a lowly serpent.
We should not suppose that the presence of false apostles in the Corinthian congregation was some sort of peculiar anomaly. Christ himself spoke of false apostles who were/are menacing the symbolic Ephesian congregation in the run-up to the Lord’s day. At Revelation 2:2 Jesus said: “I know your deeds, and your labor and endurance, and that you cannot tolerate bad men, and that you put to the test those who say they are apostles, but they are not, and you found them to be liars.”
Most relevant, is the fact that one of the original 12 apostles was also an agent of Satan, whom the Devil used to betray the Son of God for 30 pieces of silver. Jesus referred to Judas as a slanderer, which in Hebrew literally means “devil.” (Most noteworthy, just as the Corinthians had no idea who the superfine apostles really were, the 11 faithful apostles were clueless as to who Jesus’ betrayer was even though Christ handed him the identifying morsel in their presence.)
Christ also referred to Judas as “the son of destruction.” That designation is significant since Paul also used that exact same expression in connection with the man of lawlessness. Furthermore, like the superfine apostles, Paul revealed that the man of lawlessness is an operation of Satan intended to mislead Christ’s followers with a fake parousia of Christ immediately prior to the manifestation of the Lord Jesus.
Interestingly, Paul forewarned the brothers not to believe even “an inspired statement” or “a letter appearing to be from us.” Paul’s use of the pronoun “us” is in reference to the apostles. So, Paul’s inspired writings indicate that Satan will effectively infiltrate Christ’s congregation by a clique of superfine-like apostles, who by their pretended inspired statements, spoken messages and writings intimating apostolic authority, herald the presence of Christ and the day of Jehovah is here.
But Paul’s warning is most vital today: “Let no one lead you astray in any way, because it will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed, the son of destruction. He stands in opposition and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he sits down in the temple of God, publicly showing himself to be a god. Do you not remember that when I was still with you, I used to tell you these things?”
According to the writings of the genuine apostle to the nations, the authentic presence of Christ will not begin unless the apostasy comes first. The relationship between the proclamation of the false parousia and the actual event is that the man of lawlessness works his deceit immediately before the coming of Christ. Worded another way, the powerful presence of Christ is consequent to the apostasy fomented by the man of lawlessness.
The phenomenon we are witnessing presently —the Governing Body exalting itself to an apostleship —is to be expected and is preliminary to the emergence from the highest level of the Watchtower organization of those who will prove themselves to be in total opposition to Christ in the days ahead.