For those who are unfamiliar with the ecclesiastical structure (i.e. church hierarchy) of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the top of the chain is not the apostles, for they do not believe that the apostolic office is for today (nor do I). Nor is it the elders of the local congregations. If its neither of these, who is running things? Who do the 7 million Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide submit to with regards to biblical instruction, exhortation, and discipline (Heb. 13:17)? None other than the handful of men who reside in Brooklyn, New York called the Governing Body. However, to suggest the rank-and-file “submits” to the governing body is quite the understatement:
***w22 5/1 p. 132 The Gentile Times***
To be faithful means to be loyal. To be loyal to the Lord means to be obedient to the Lord. To abandon or repudiate the Lord’s chosen instrument means to abandon or repudiate the Lord himself, upon the principle that he who rejects the servant sent by the Master thereby rejects the Master.
Where does the Bible speak of this “governing body” as well as the instruction that is offered by the above quote? Most Jehovah’s Witnesses would have us go to Acts 15 to establish their perspective:
“Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren. When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.”
The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter.”
Anyone familiar with the Watchtower’s view of the governing body will quickly notice what Acts 15 is silent on: a permanent ecclesiastical office. In other words, there is nothing in Acts 15 which prescribes an office to the church whereby all true Christians worldwide are to submit: from how they groom themselves, what will be studied each week in their meetings, and what all JW’s are to believe on any doctrinal issue. That is, there is nothing in this text which would suggest the following: “for all true Christians worldwide; you are to submit yourselves to a small group of men (who are neither deacons, elders, or apostles) in a centralized location by doing and believing everything they tell you.”
Instead, we see that Paul and Barnabas were involved in a great dispute and sought to meet with other apostles and elders to discuss what to do. In other words, they met because they were encountering a critical problem in the church. Contrast this to the governing body. They meet not to discuss only crucial problems; they guide (or micromanage, as I would argue) the lives of seven million Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide. Could there be a more prominent role in a religious organization than this? If not, then consider: why, in all of the instructions and qualifications for elders and deacons in the Christian Scriptures do we not find the same for the governing body? Its difficult to believe that such a prominent role was neglected in all of Paul’s letters. If such an important ecclesiastical position exists, then there is absolutely no question in my mind that it would have been clearly and explicitly spelled out in the Scriptures.