Who is the “Faithful and Discreet Slave”?
If you are a Jehovah’s Witness, no doubt you have a deep love for the truth. Chances are, you would also agree that “no matter how much Bible reading we have done, we would never have learned the truth on our own” (The Watchtower, December 1, 1990, p. 19). Most of what you know about Jehovah God and his Word you learned from the “faithful and discreet slave class.” This is why you go door to door: to share what you have learned with others.
But isn’t it possible that some of the Watchtower Society’s teachings could be wrong? After all, they’ve been wrong in the past. Wasn’t C. T. Russell wrong when he expected to be taken to heaven in 1914? Wasn’t J. F. Rutherford wrong when he predicted that men like Moses and David would soon be resurrected and live in the Watchtower’s mansion in San Diego? And isn’t it possible that N. H. Knorr and F. W. Franz were wrong in saying that the generation of 1914 would live to see the end of this wicked system of things? If “God’s organization” was wrong about these things, shouldn’t we consider the possibility that they are still wrong about other, more important doctrines as well?
Why is it, then, that most Witnesses will never question the Society’s teachings, even when they “teach commands of men as doctrines” (Matthew 15:9)? What gives them this kind of authority? As you know, their claim to authority rests entirely on their interpretation of Jesus’ parable of the “faithful and discreet slave”: “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings” (Matthew 24:45-47). They believe this text makes them God’s channel for providing spiritual food to his people. “In 1919 that slave was identified as the remnant of anointed Christians. Since then, as represented by the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, it has been the center of theocracy on earth” (The Watchtower, January 15, 1994, p. 16).
Since so much rests on this passage, it is only right that we examine just what Jesus meant in this parable. The Society insists that Jesus was speaking not of individuals, but of a group of people who are members of an organization. The problem is, in Luke’s account, Jesus specifically applies the parable to individuals. “Indeed, everyone to whom much was given, much will be demanded of him; and the one whom people put in charge of much, they will demand more than usual of him” (Luke 12:48). The parable has to do with Christian stewardship. In fact, it follows the same pattern as the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) or minas (Luke 19:12-27). A master departs, leaving work for his slaves. When he returns, he evaluates their faithfulness and rewards or punishes them accordingly. It’s interesting that the Society applies these parables to individuals, while applying the “faithful and discreet slave” parable (Matthew 24:45-51) to an organization. Their interpretation is inconsistent.
This teaching on the faithful stewardship of individuals is reflected elsewhere in Scripture. “In proportion as each one has received a gift, use it in ministering to one another as fine stewards of God’s undeserved kindness expressed in various ways” (1 Peter 4:10). “Let a man so appraise us as being subordinates of Christ and stewards of sacred secrets of God. Besides, in this case, what is looked for in stewards is for a man to be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:1, 2).
Can you say that Jesus is your Master? If so, think about what it says of your stewardship when you accept the Watchtower’s teachings without question, knowing that the Bible never approves of such a practice. Have you noticed that the Society often encourages others to examine their religion, but discourages you from doing the same? How ironic that the Society’s first president, C. T. Russell, wrote: “If any one knows anything better, let him take it. If any of you ever find anything better, we hope you will tell us” (The Watchtower, December 1, 1990, p.19). We think we have something better! We encourage you to compare the teachings of the Watchtower Society with those of solid evangelical Christians. Otherwise, how will you know you’ve really been feeding on the best spiritual food? As a suggestion, start by reading a book (like Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem) which examines the biblical basis for the different views of all the major doctrines. We pray that Jehovah will guide you as you seek to be a faithful slave of our Lord, Jesus Christ.