Thursday, May 04, 2006

Who Really Is the Faithful and Discreet Slave?

Matt 24:45 "Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time?" The answer is given in the question. It is the ones who feed the domestics. Who was the faithful and discreet slave in the first century? It was the Christian Congregation of anointed followers who carried out and directed the assignment of preaching the good news thus feeding the sheep.

Remember Jesus told Peter to 'Feed my little sheep.' And remember Jesus said "Go therefore and make disciples." Who are doing those things today? Once you find the ones following these commandments of Jesus then you will be able to answer the question: "Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time?"

Is the FDS a class?

At Luke 12:42-44 the parallel account of Jesus' illustration of the faithful slave or steward is recorded. But lets begin with the illustration given by Jesus in the verses just before that.

"35 Let YOUR loins be girded and YOUR lamps be burning, 36 and YOU yourselves be like men waiting for their master when he returns from the marriage, so that at his arriving and knocking they may at once open to him. Happy are those slaves whom the master on arriving finds watching! Truly I say to YOU, He will gird himself and make them recline at the table and will come alongside and minister to them. ... 39 But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief would come, he would have kept watching and not have let his house be broken into. 40 YOU also, keep ready, because at an hour that YOU do not think likely the Son of man is coming." 41 Then Peter said: "Lord, are you saying this illustration to us or also to all?" 42 And the Lord said: "Who really is the faithful steward, the discreet one, whom his master will appoint over his body of attendants to keep giving them their measure of food supplies at the proper time?"

First you will note that Jesus is speaking of the entire household of God as slaves. He says, "Happy are those slaves whom the master on arriving finds watching!" Then Peter asks as recorded at Luke 12:41, "Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?" (New International Version The Living Bible). Peter is therefore asking if the illustration applies to 'us', the 12 apostles, an 'us' class if you will. Jesus answers, "Who really is the faithful steward, the discreet one..." Thus Jesus illustrates that the slaves collectively are known as only one slave, THE Faithful and Discreet Slave or Steward which is appointed over all the slaves.

Why does Jesus answer Peter's question the way he does? It is clear that Jesus was saying the one faithful and discreet slave is made up of all those slaves of the master's house who keep on the watch and supply spiritual food. The kind of spiritual food that you and I have received when we learned the truth about God's name, his son, the kingdom, the paradise, hellfire, trinity, etc.

But most importantly just a few verses before Jesus gives the illustration of the faithful and discreet steward in Luke 12 notice who Jesus is addressing. At Luke 12:32 Jesus says, “Have no fear, little flock, because YOUR Father has approved of giving YOU the kingdom." This proves beyond a doubt that the faithful and discreet steward are those slaves who will be kings in the kingdom of God.

It is only logical that the slave could not be just one individual because he was to provide spiritual food from when the Christian congregation began at Pentecost until the Master, Jesus, returned. Of course that would be impossible for any one human to do. The facts indicate that this faithful and discreet slave class is made up of all anointed ones as a group on earth at any given time. It is most definitely a class of people and not just one individual.

To illustrate how all of the slaves of the master act as one collective slave look at 1 Corinthians 3. It is an example of the feeding work of the faithful and discreet slave in the first century. Notice verse 8, "Now he that plants and he that waters are one, but each [person] will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God's fellow workers. YOU people are God's field under cultivation, God's building."

The ones dispensing the food while made up of individuals like Paul and Apollos were just one in their labor of feeding sheep. That faithful and discreet slave was being used by Jehovah to direct the preaching of His kingdom and the gathering of more sheep to be fed. The FDS made up of individuals worked together in feeding the sheep and the result was that God made it grow. It is the same today.

Does the faithful and discreet slave make mistakes?

The slave is only faithful and discreet, not faithful and perfect. Take note that Job was noted as faithful and meek yet he proclaimed himself righteous more than God. "Against Job his anger blazed over his declaring his own soul righteous rather than God."--Job 32:2. If you expect perfection you will never find the faithful and discreet slave. It is just as the WT put it:

What will our Master look for when he returns to execute judgment? He will take note as to whether those professing to be his servants are such in reality. Have they been faithful in obeying the command to "make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded"? (Matt. 28:19, 20) Do they have a fine record of works displaying active concern for the "least" of Christ's brothers? When seeing these brothers of Christ in need, did they feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, extend hospitality to strangers, clothe the poorly clad, give help and comfort to the sick and visit those who were unjustly imprisoned? (Matt. 25:35-40) Have they remained spiritually awake, untarnished by the degrading works of the flesh?

Should anyone who is of the anointed remnant, be it man or woman, be able to consult and have dialogue with those of the governing body?

Anyone including those of the anointed may write to the governing body. But it is impossible that all of the anointed could be consulted before making decisions. How could they possibly consult with 1000s of people? Did the apostles and older men in Jerusalem when deciding the issue of circumcision consult with all of the anointed? That is absurd and unreasonable. Who decided the issue? It was that governing body in Jerusalem that decided after listening to the evidence.

The governing body at Bethel often gives assignments to persons to review or research certain subjects. They then listen to their findings and make decisions. They cannot possibly research everything for themselves without help. They are following the example in the first century. If an anointed brother has ideas let him write Bethel. They can consider what he says. Just because they did not accept Robert King's ideas does not mean that they listen to no one. As it turns out Mr. King has shown from his beating of his fellow slaves that he is not truly anointed after all.

What happens if the ideas from the remnant not on the governing body are for the most part ignored and no one asks for their contributions?

A person who is humble will continue to preach the good news of the kingdom. He will understand that his views are not always correct and if they are correct then Jesus will change things in due time since he is walking in the midst of the congregations holding the stars in his hand directing them.

A person who thinks more of himself than necessary, who lacks humility, and believes he knows more than the brothers at Bethel or anyone else might proclaim himself a watchman of Jehovah and go on a letter writing campaign against his brothers and encourage others to do so. He might write a book, denouncing the hard working brothers in responsible positions among Jehovah's people. And he might call them names like liars, adulterers, supporters of child molesters, Baal worshippers, inspired by demons, false prophets, and so on. He might even try to gain a following to pass out his book to as many brothers as possible. If anyone disagrees with him he might pronounce them as operandi of the demons. In other words, in short, he will beat the FDS.

Did the marriage of the master take place yet?

The marriage as seen in the book of Revelation of Jesus to the bride did not happen yet. It is future. But this is a different illustration all together. In this illustration Jesus is highlighting not the marriage but of the marriage feast.
In the illustration the master Jesus is also the bridegroom and because of wedding festivities he is returning at an uncertain hour of the night or morning. We need to understand that marriage festivities were not the same in Bible times as they are today. It was not simply the case of attending a wedding at a certain location and that’s it. Here is what the insight book says about wedding celebrations in Israelite times:

"The people along the route would take great interest in the procession. The voices of the bride and bridegroom would be heard in exultation. Some, particularly maidens bearing lamps, would join the procession. (Jer 7:34; 16:9; Isa 62:5; Mt 25:1) The bridegroom might spend considerable time at his home and, then again, some delay might take place before the procession would leave the home of the bride, so that it would thus be quite late, and some who were waiting along the way might get drowsy and fall asleep, as in Jesus’ illustration of the ten virgins. The singing and exultation might be heard quite a distance ahead, those hearing it making the cry: “Here is the bridegroom!” The attendants were ready to greet the bridegroom when he came, and those invited to the marriage supper would enter the house. After the bridegroom and his entourage had gone into the house and closed the door, it was too late for tardy guests to enter. (Mt 25:1-12; 22:1-3; Ge 29:22) It was looked upon as a gross insult to decline the invitation to the marriage feast. The guests might be provided with robes (Mt 22:11), and their respective places at the feast were often designated by the one extending the invitation.—Lu 14:8-10."

With this in mind we can alleviate some of the confusion about the illustration in Luke 12. The wedding procession is proceeding along at this time but the actual marriage feast is yet to take place in heaven.

Since Christ is returning from the wedding in Luke 12 and since his bride is the anointed how can the slaves who welcome his arrival home also be the anointed?

The problem is that many are trying to combine different illustrations all together into one illustration. The anointed are illustrated in many different ways: A bride, slaves, brothers of Christ, sons of God, guests of the marriage feast, virgins, etc.

Notice this illustration for example. Matt 22: 1 "In further reply Jesus again spoke to them with illustrations, saying: 2 “The kingdom of the heavens has become like a man, a king, that made a marriage feast for his son. 3 And he sent forth his slaves to call those invited to the marriage feast, but they were unwilling to come. 4 Again he sent forth other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Look! I have prepared my dinner, my bulls and fattened animals are slaughtered, and all things are ready. Come to the marriage feast.”’ 5 But unconcerned they went off, one to his own field, another to his commercial business; 6 but the rest, laying hold of his slaves, treated them insolently and killed them.
7 “But the king grew wrathful, and sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The marriage feast indeed is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Therefore go to the roads leading out of the city, and anyone YOU find invite to the marriage feast.’
10 Accordingly those slaves went out to the roads and gathered together all they found, both wicked and good; and the room for the wedding ceremonies was filled with those reclining at the table. 11 “When the king came in to inspect the guests he caught sight there of a man not clothed with a marriage garment. 12 So he said to him, ‘Fellow, how did you get in here not having on a marriage garment?’ He was rendered speechless. 13 Then the king said to his servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the darkness outside. There is where [his] weeping and the gnashing of [his] teeth will be.’ "

This is more in line with the illustration in Luke 12. Obviously in this illustration the chosen anointed are likened to persons attending the wedding feast, not to the bride. And so in Luke 12 it is also talking about those who are dining with the bridegroom. Remember how a marriage worked in olden times. The wedding procession is returning to the master’s house for the wedding feast after he has picked up his bride. Many times this would be late at night. The slaves just didn't know when the master might show up so they had to be on the watch. When the master arrives the wedding feast commences. The faithful slave has kept on the watch and opened the door when the Master knocks. And so because of their watchfulness and because they opened the door for the Master when he arrived, the good slaves are invited to recline at the table with the master at the wedding feast. Meaning they are there for that wedding feast which really of course takes place in heaven. But they must be on the watch and open the door before the wedding feast takes place. This they have done since early in the 20th century.

Luke 12:37 Happy are those slaves whom the master on arriving finds watching! Truly I say to YOU, He will gird himself and make them recline at the table and will come alongside and minister to them.
41 Then Peter said: "Lord, are you saying this illustration to us or also to all?" 42 And the Lord said: "Who really is the faithful steward, the discreet one, whom his master will appoint over his body of attendants to keep giving them their measure of food supplies at the proper time? ”

And so in this illustration it is not the bride who pictures the anointed but rather those slaves that await the arrival of the master.

Has the faithful and discreet slave already been appointed over all the master's earthly belongings?

That is what we as Jehovah's Witnesses believe. But understand that we do not believe that the faithful slave has been appointed over all the master's belongings, both heavenly and earthly. Nor do we believe or teach that the slave has received the same authority as the anointed will receive once becoming kings in God's kingdom. Apostates have attempted to shroud the truth and complicate what Jehovah's Witnesses teach in this regard but it becomes very simple and uncomplicated when examining what the Watchtower publications really say. The March 1, 2004 WT study article states,

"What are the belongings over which the newly crowned Master appointed his faithful slave? All the spiritual things that belong to Him here on earth. For example, two decades after Christ’s enthronement in 1914, “a great crowd” of “other sheep” was identified. (Revelation 7:9; John 10:16) ... In effect, they said to “the faithful and discreet slave”: “We will go with you people, for we have heard that God is with you people.” (Zechariah 8:23) These newly baptized Christians partook of the same rich spiritual food as the anointed domestics, and the two classes have shared this spiritual table ever since. What a blessing this has been for members of the “great crowd”!

20 The members of the “great crowd” gladly joined the anointed slave class as preachers of the good news. As they preached, the Master’s earthly belongings increased, adding to the responsibilities of “the faithful and discreet slave.” ...From approximately five thousand anointed ones in 1914, the ranks of God’s praisers have increased to more than six million today, the majority of whom are of the “great crowd.” Yes, indeed, the King’s belongings have increased manyfold since his coronation in 1914!

21 All of this shows that the slave has been both “faithful and discreet."

So you see it is only logical. All the earthly belongings that the slave has been appointed over are those same belongings that the slave increased for the master by being faithful to his appointment to preach the good news and to feed the body of servants or domestics. The faithful slave is merely following the example of the early Christian congregation in faithfully carrying out the preaching of the good news. The result of which has been an increase in the master's belongings and more responsibility is thus given to the faithful and discreet slave because of this increase.

Yes, the slave is in charge of all those earthly belongings of the master because he has proven himself faithful in taking care of and increasing the master's belongings in the first place. It is not some sinister plot that the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses have hatched up to gain control over all our lives by claiming they have been given some mystical authority by Jesus that they never really received. If not for the faithful slave increasing the belongings which includes all of us who have learned the truth, we would not even know about the faithful and discreet slave at all and the truths that we have been shown from the Bible by that slave unless Jesus made the rocks cry out. But this was not necessary because unlike other religions of the world the appointed slave faithfully carried out his commission to preach the good news and thus increased the master's belonging thereby receiving more responsibility.

In other words, to make this more understandable, just for the sake of argument, lets assume that the appointment over all the belongings takes place at the time when Jesus arrives for his final judgment and that being put in charge of all those belongings means his finally receiving his heavenly reward and ruling as king with Jesus. Would this really change anything?

Consider. The Master Jesus appointed a faithful and discreet slave to provide the food at some point before his coming. That slave would be easy to recognize just before the second coming of Jesus because he would be on the watch for the master, be providing the spiritual food just as he was appointed to do, and increasing the master's belongings by preaching the good news that Jesus commanded him to preach. Therefore, the appointment of that slave has already taken place for sure. Why did the slave receive that appointment in the first place? In order to understand the appointment of a slave over an entire household lets consider the Bible example of Joseph as a slave in Potiphar's house.

"But Jehovah proved to be with Joseph, so that he turned out a successful man and came to be over the house of his master, the Egyptian. 3 And his master got to see that Jehovah was with him and that everything he was doing Jehovah was making turn out successful in his hand.
4 And Joseph kept finding favor in his eyes and waited upon him continually, so that he appointed him over his house, and all that was his he gave into his hand. 5 And it followed that from the time he appointed him over his house and in charge of all that was his Jehovah kept blessing the house of the Egyptian due to Joseph, and Jehovah’s blessing came to be upon all that he had in the house and in the field. 6 Finally he left everything that was his in Joseph’s hand; and he did not know what was with him at all except the bread he was eating."
--Genesis 39:2-6.

What you will notice is that after Joseph became a slave in Potiphar's house he proved himself to be very trustworthy. Potiphar's house prospered greatly as a result. You might call Joseph a faithful and discreet slave. Because of this Potiphar appointed him over all his household. Since being in charge of the master's household as the household prospered he would bring on more slaves as needed and likewise provide for the new slaves added to the masters house.

What do we learn from this example of Joseph? That a slave receives an appointment over the entire household only after he has proven to his master that he is trustworthy and faithful and discreet. Jesus, the master, is certainly wiser than Potiphar and would not appoint an unfaithful and indiscreet slave, would he? Of course not. He appointed a slave that had already proven himself to be faithful and discreet. That faithful slave can definitely be found before Jesus arrives the final time.

The reality is that even if the faithful and discreet slave has not yet been appointed over all of the master's belongings (as interpreted by some) he has still been appointed to provide the food because he has proven himself to be faithful and discreet. It is really only a matter of quibbling over a word or phrase and its perceived interpretation. The interpretation of 'all the belongings' as given to us by the faithful and discreet slave clearly shows us that they believe that they have only been appointed over the earthly belongings of the master because of the increase that their faithfulness has brought. So whether or not the faithful slave has been appointed over all the belongings as of yet as interpreted by someone else really changes nothing from our standpoint. We still are under obligation to find that faithful and discreet slave that has increased the master's belongings and take in the food that is provided if we want to to be sustained. Certainly it would not be worth leaving Jehovah's organization over such a minor point. Especially when considering all the basic truths that we have learned from Jehovah by means of that faithful and discreet slave.

So who really is the faithful and discreet slave? Where can the slave class be found?

All one has to do is ask a few simple questions: Who has helped us to learn the marvelous truths of the Bible about God’s name, the trinity, hellfire, paradise earth, God’s kingdom, and so on? Who is currently preaching the good news of the Kingdom throughout the earth following the example of Jesus and the first century Christians? Who has been used by Jehovah in building a worldwide and united brotherhood? Who has Jehovah used in providing us with so much spiritual food that it is difficult to even keep up with it all? When you have a Bible question, what publications do you turn to in order to find the answer? (Have you ever noticed that even apostates turn to the Insight book when wanting to find out certain facts about the Bible? Why? Because they have no better Bible source.) It is quite apparent to all who are honest with themselves and others that the faithful and discreet slave is found only among the people known as Jehovah’s Witnesses.