Thursday, November 17, 2011

It is asserted that a Governing Body existed in the first Century and that it directed all Congregational and preaching affairs, from Jerusalem.
 This is implied…by the Organization of "Jehovah's Witnesses" and their "representative" Governing Body, simply because “one letterwas sent out from Jerusalem by the apostles, older men and thewhole congregationwith a list of decrees. (Acts 15:22, 23).
This letter was only sent out because of the trouble “Christianized Jews” from Judea were causing to the Gentile converts in all areas. Finally, Paul and Barnabas were forced to bring the problem to the attention of the Apostles. The apostles then had to address the problem that originated in their own area.
This "trouble" being caused to Paul, Barnabas, and the Christian Gentiles, wasn't corrected by the "Older men or Apostles" as it should have been. (Acts 13-15)
Peter of all people knew how God felt about "Gentiles" for quite some time. 

(So did the other Apostles and Older men).
Cornelius and his entire extended family and friends had received Holy Spirit, even without being baptized first.  (All of them were Gentiles, not circumcised, and seemed ineligible for baptism by the Jewish Christians.)
Read why the release of this letter actually came about, in the book of Acts, chapters 13-15.
Starting in Acts chapter 13 (Acts 13:1, 2), notice what it says about how the work of Paul and Barnabas was directed:      
The Holy Spirit said: “Of all persons, set Barnabas and Saul (Paul) apart for me for the work to which I have called them” Acts 13:2.  
Then at Acts 13:4 it says… Accordingly these men sent out by Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia…

 This clearly shows where the direction for their preaching campaign was coming from.

*** It is interesting to note what Paul himself says about where he took his directions from. 
       It was not from men, not even from those who were Apostles before he was. 
       Did men tell Paul what to teach?   
       Please look at what the Bible really teaches.   
    (Gal 1:11, 12, 16, 17)

Paul and Barnabas were having great success in their missionary tour with Gentiles.  Holy Spirit not only directed, but blessed their work.  But trouble arose from the disciples in Judea, concerning the un-circumcised Gentiles.
The Apostles and older men in Jerusalem should have straightened this out early on, but they condoned it by their silence.
There were never any other letters sent out, like this one, by this group of men in Jerusalem and the "whole congregation", or any other so-called "Governing Body". 
There was only this one letter, containing a number of decrees.  
The decrees established a unified singular code, which would be binding to both Jew and Gentile Christians. This would settle the friction between them, and help to remove the imagined supremacy of the Jewish Law, which Christ abolished (Col 2:14) (Ephesians 2:14,15,16). Establishing this truth would "make  peace" and relieve unnecessary burdens (Acts 15:19).

Jesus said 
“Neither be called ‘leaders’ for your leader is one, the Christ." Matt 23:10
" But the greatest one among you must be your minister." Matt 23:11
"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Matt 23:12
"Whereas all of you are brothers." Matt 23:8
So why does the Watchtower regularly slip in statements in magazines and books that imply there was direction by a “governing body”? (which term is not found in the Bible) Neither is there an "elder body" found in scripture. The only scriptural governing identity found in scripture, is Christ (Matt.2:6). The only BODY, is the body of Christ (anointed congregation of the 144,000) (1Cor 12:27) (Eph 4:4; 5:30)

The only logical reason that this authority has been fabricated, is for the power to dominate their brothers.
The Governing Body equates themselves with the original 12 Apostles, insisting that the True God is backing them up.
The book study we had on Philip the evangelizer showed yet another attempt to imply what the scriptures do not say...
 “What the Bible does not really teach”
The account about Philip in (Acts 8:1-40) is used to support the idea that a governing body was directing his work.
Read the account and see what actually happened.
In our book study this week, the Watchtower Organization says that… Evidently… Philip worked in close co-operation with the first century governing body." ... That statement is a lie.... Why?  Where is the evidence?  There is no evidence. 
They assert this just because when the apostles in Jerusalem… heard… that Samaria had already accepted the word of God, they dispatched Peter and John. This does not mean they were directing Philip’s work.  
They heard about it after Philip had already finished. 
(Acts 8:14-17).
Whenever you hear words or expressions like “evidently”, “no doubt”, “likely”, “must be”, one should start looking at the scriptures cited... if there are any.
Let’s refresh our memory of Acts 8:1,5 ...
Why was Philip in Samaria at all?
Did the apostles from Jerusalem tell him to go there or send him?
Not at all, and that’s a fact, not conjecture.
 According to the scriptures (Acts 8:1-5) it was due to the great persecution that was happening in Jerusalem.
All except the apostles were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.
Obviously those in Jerusalem would hear about Philip's successful witnessing. But there is no indication, and more importantly no scriptural evidence that he was sent out by them, due to "close cooperation" with them.
Is there any indication or scripture as to how Philip was directed in his preaching?
Why oddly enough there is, and it’s right there in the chapter itself. Let’s see how, and by whom, Philip was directed.
(Acts 8:26, 27, 29) “However, an angel of the LORD spoke to Philip, saying: ‘Rise and go to the south to the road that runs down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ So the spirit said to Philip; ‘Approach and join yourself to this chariot.’ ”
So it was not a governing body, but an angel of the LORD, that directed Philip in this account.
(I wonder why they missed this point and did not bother to mention it in the book study.)
(think about it)
At (Acts 8:39) we read: When they had come up out of the water, The spirit of the LORD quickly led Philip away…Philip was sent to Ashdod, and he went through the territory and kept on declaring the good news to all the cities until he got to Caesarea.
If one reads the account, it is clearly evident that Philip was directed by Holy Spirit, and not a "governing body" as the Watchtower Organization strongly implies!
Read also about all of Paul’s missionary tours. It was Holy Spirit that directed him also.
In their effort to bolster their power and control, the Watchtower Organization will continue to... imply...  (Dan.11:32)...  what the bible does not, really, teach. 
And just like during the Catholic Inquisitions, the Watchtower society will not tolerate any “independent thinking.”  Not even when it has clear scriptural evidence! 
 Not even when the evidence is from the Holy Spirit.   (Acts 7:51)

Power intoxication progresses. Soon a blatant resolution for absolute control may be demanded.
To comply with a demand for authority equal to that of God, constitutes idolatry.
The Great Tribulation has long been expected to be a test of loyalty to the True God.
Such a test is upon us.We all have need of endurance.

       The following is a related Question that someone asked:
Question regarding… Was there a Governing Body in Jerusalem?
 The question is how does this fit in with Acts 16:4?
"Now as they traveled on through the cities they would deliver to those there for observance the decrees that had been decided upon by the apostles and older men who were in Jerusalem."   
What decrees though is this account referring to?
Well if you remember… (Putting things in context)… they just finished taking care of the "#circumcision issue" that was being insisted on by the "Christian men" in Judea. This error wasn't corrected by the "Older men or Apostles" as it should have been. (Acts 13-15)
Peter of all people already knew how God felt about "Gentiles" (So did the other Apostles and Older men).
Cornelius and his entire extended family and friends (Gentiles) received Holy Spirit without even first being baptized. But if you remember Paul had to confront Peter about his attitude toward the Gentile Christians... even after God had used Peter to go to Cornelius. (Some old prejudices die slowly...if at all.)
So what decrees* were in this ONE and only letter?    

(Acts 15:27,28, 29)
"No further burden to you...except these necessary things,    (or these decrees):  Circumsicion not needed...obviously.
*Keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols
*and from blood

*and from things strangled
*and from fornication"

So keeping in context with
what just happened in (Acts 13-15) we cannot imply more concerning what (Acts 16:4) says… (We cannot go beyond the things written)…we cannot assume that (Acts 16:4) is talking about any other "decrees" than the ones mentioned in this one letter. There were never any other letters sent out by the whole congregation in Jerusalem and its older men, or the Apostles as a group. 

 In review,

Paul and Barnabas had to petition the Congregations in Judea and Jerusalem to attend to the "trouble" that had arisen from disciples in their own area (Acts 15:24). These were still insisting on the practice of the Jewish codes, even though the Apostles were already well aware that God was accepting uncircumcised Gentiles (Cornelius). The Apostles failed to correct this wrong attitude, and as a result, these "Christians" actually persecuted Paul, Barnabas, and the new Gentile Christians. 
When Paul related clear evidence of the backing of Holy Spirit,
the Apostles had no choice but to attend to this offense.

I'm satisfied that
these above mentioned decrees are also the "decrees" that are being referred to in (Acts 16:4).
They were all listed in that one letter that was sent.
By the way this was the only collective letter ever recorded as having been sent from the entire Jerusalem congregation and the Apostles as a group.

James letter is the only other letter documented as written in Jerusalem...and it reads "James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ to the twelve tribes that are scattered about". No mention of a Governing Body here...only James.

The other letters were not from Jerusalem and they declare the sender.

Luke wrote Acts from Rome.

Paul wrote many of them and listed himself and one or two others that happened to be with him at the time.

Paul wrote Romans, 1 & 2 Thessalonians from Corinth. (Possibly Galatians from Corinth or Antioch)
Paul wrote  Ephesians,  Philippians,  Colossians, 2 Timothy, Philemon, and Hebrews from Rome.
Paul wrote 1 Timothy,  and possibly Titus and 2 Corinthians from Macedonia.
He wrote 1 Corinthians from Ephesus.

Peter wrote his two letters probably from Babylon or nearby.

John wrote his three letters from Ephesus or nearby
Jude wrote from Palestine
(James wrote his letter when he was in Jerusalem) None of the others did.
And of course John wrote Revelation from the Island of Patmos.

It's very interesting to note that Jesus gave John the revelation (That God gave him).
John subsequently was told to write letters to the seven congregations of Asia Minor.

If there was a GB anywhere around during this time, then why didn't Jesus (Or the Holy Spirit) direct the Governing Body to write the seven letters to the congregations?
 Jesus used John to write Revelation when John was on the Island of Patmos.
The obvious conclusion:  No Governing Body in first Century.  No management directing the preaching work, or dispensing all the spiritual food.  Work was only directed by Holy Spirit!
Pearl Doxsey has an article in 4womaninthewilderness covering it also.
Agape Obadiah