The Watchtower, August 15, 1957 Issue, Pages 485-487:
Is Ordination Through Baptism Val id?
Some persons view ordination resulting from baptism as strange and new. Being accustomed to elaborate ceremonies, many of them overlook Scriptural and his tori cal facts about ordination and baptism. These facts follow.
WHAT is ordination through baptism? Who practice it? Is it something novel, something new? How were early Christians ordained? What does it mean to be ordained? Is baptism which results in ordination a valid ceremony? These are vital questions for every Christian. Oddly enough, few professed Christians are able to give clear, explicit answers. There is no reason for vagueness when secular history and the Bible have much to say about ordination and baptism.
An understanding of the words "ordain" and "ordination" is both interesting and enlightening. To ordain means "to establish by appointment,"1 "to appoint or establish."2 Ordination, says The Encyclopedia Americana, is "the ceremony by which priests, deacons, subdeacons, candidates for the minor orders and ministers of any denomination are admitted to their specific office in the church."3
Does ordination require a special ceremony? Giving us a fuller insight into ordination, McClintock and Strong's Cyclopaedia says it is "the ceremony by which an individual is set apart to an order or office of the Christian ministry. . . . In a broader, and in fact its only important sense, . . . the appointment or designation of a person to a ministerial office, whether with or without atten dan t ceremonies. The term ordination is derived directly from the Latin ordinatio, signifying, with reference to things or affairs, a setting in order, an establishment, an edict, and with reference to men, an appointment to office. . . . A scriptural investigation of this subject can hardly fail to impress any ingenuous mind with the great significance of the fact that neither the Lord Jesus Christ nor any of his disciples gave specific commands or declarations in reference to ordination."4
Two things readily become apparent about ordination: (1) An ordained minister, in the broad sense, is an appointed minister, and (2) his ordination is not confined to any particular kind of ceremony.
EARLY CHRISTIANS ALL ORDAINED MINISTERS
Scholars who have studied the early history of Christianity are impressed by this singular fact: All early Christians were considered ordained ministers if they had undergone the rite of water baptism. All baptized believers, his tori ans show, were authorized to preach God's Word; and baptism was the sole initiatory rite.
Those who had not been baptized among the early Christians were treated as learners; hence they were in a position different from the baptized believers. The work Ecclesiastical History tells us: "There reigned among the members of the Christian church, however distinguished they were by worldly rank and titles, not only an amiable harmony, but also a perfect equality. . . . Whoever acknowledged Christ as the Saviour of mankind, and made a solemn profession of this confidence in him, was immediately baptized and received into the church. But in process of time, it was thought prudent and necessary to divide Christians into two orders, distinguished by the names of believers and catechumens. The former were those who had been solemnly admitted into the church by baptism, and, in consequence thereof, were instructed in all the mysteries of religion."5
So we see, then, that among the early Christians believers were received into the organization after a period of training and education in God's Word. During this period the catechumens were students or persons of good will, and after their baptism each was regarded as an ordained minister of God's Word.
WHO DOES THE ORDAINING?
We speak of ordination through baptism, but who does the ordaining? Many religious groups today, such as the Society of Friends, Disciples of Christ, Plymouth Brethren and Jehovah's witnesses, do not recognize any human right of ordination. They recognize the ordination as coming only from Almighty God Jehovah.
Christ Jesus himself was not ordained by the clergy and religious system of his day. No man ordained the Lord Jesus. True, John the Baptist baptized Jesus, but that does not mean that John ordained Jesus. Christ dedicated himself to God, saying: "Look! I a m c ome (in the roll of the book it is written about me) to do your will, O God."6 So why did Jesus insist that John baptize him? Because Jesus wanted to symbolize in a public confession that he had dedicated himself to God. The Bible tells us of Jesus' baptism that "immediately on coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being parted, and, like a dove, the spirit coming down upon him; and a voice came out of the heavens: 'You are my Son, the beloved; I have approved you.'"7 By pouring out his spirit upon his Son, Jehovah God himself, and not John the Baptist, ordained Christ Jesus.
After his ordination immediately following his baptism in the River Jor dan Jesus publicly stated the authority of his ordination by reading from Isaiah 61:1, 2: "He opened the scroll and found the place where it was written, 'Jehovah's spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor, he sent me forth to preach a release to the captives and a recovery of sight to the blind, to send the crushed ones away with a release, to preach Jehovah's acceptable year.'"8
Jehovah God alone, then, authorizes ordination. He does the appointing, the ordaining. Showing further that no man or earthly organization can ordain God's ministers are the words of the apostle: "Paul, an apostle, neither from men nor through a man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him up from the dead. For neither did I accept it from man, nor was I taught it, except through revelation by Jesus Christ."9 Jehovah ordains his ministers through his Son, Christ Jesus.
RECOGNIZED AND CERTIFIED BY MAN
Though ordination itself proceeds only from God, yet this ordination may be recognized and certified by man. Man-made organizations acting as governing bodies may declare one to be duly ordained.
In declaring one to be duly ordained man-made organizations usually require some form of ceremony. It varies with each religious organization. In many large orthodox denominations the ceremony is elaborate; in other groups it is often very simple. The ceremony Jesus underwent just before he was ordained was a very simple one, and it marked his stepping into the ministry.
Today the New World society of Jehovah's witnesses uses the same simple ceremony that Jesus underwent to symbolize by public witness the dedication of a believer which leads to God's ordination of him as a minister. The fact that a ceremony is simple does not render it invalid or cause it to be of slight importance. We must remember that ordination is in "its only important sense, . . . the appointment or designation of a person to a ministerial office, whether with or without atten dan t ceremonies."4
In Christ Jesus' case there was a simple ceremony preceding his ordination. Since Christ Jesus left us, as Peter declared, "a model for you to follow his steps closely,"10 Jehovah's witnesses follow the example of Jesus and that of the early Christians in the matter of baptism in association with ordination. Actually, the submission to the ceremony of public immersion in water brands each one of Jehovah's Christian witnesses. It marks him as a person who has dedicated his entire life to the service of Jehovah God as a minister. So water baptism is the ceremony one of Jehovah's witnesses undergoes to symbolize publicly his dedication to Jehovah to become his ordained minister.
Just as Jesus was not ordained by John, so one of Jehovah's witnesses is not ordained by the hands laid upon him by the one who baptizes him in water. However, since water baptism has a relationship to his ordination from God, he properly submits his baptismal date as the approximate time of his ordination. This is done to satisfy the law of the land when an ordination date is required.
Because of its Scripturalness, water baptism in token of one's dedication to God for ordination as his minister is recognized by the New World society of Jehovah's witnesses and their legal servant, the Watch Tower Society. For purposes of record, within the meaning of the law of earthly nations, baptism is a valid ceremony of ordination for Jehovah's witnesses.
Since ordination in reality comes from God through Christ, no certificate of ordination is needed. Jesus had none; the apostles had none. The best proof that one can have of his ordination is fruits of Kingdom preaching. As the apostle put it: "Do we, perhaps, like some men, need letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter."11
Ordination through water baptism is indeed a valid and time-honored practice of true Christianity.
1 Webster's New International Dictionary.
2 Funk and Wagnall's Practical Standard Dictionary.
3 The Encyclopedia Americana , 1942 ed., Vol. 20, p. 770.
4 Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, Vol. VII, p. 411, McClintock and Strong, 1877, Harper & Brothers, New York.
5 Mosheim, Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 1, p. 100.
6 Hebrews 10:7, NW.
7 Mark 1:10 , 11, NW.
8 Luke 4:17-19, NW.
9 Galatians 1:1, 12, NW.
10 1 Peter 2:21 , NW.
2 Corinthians 3:1, 2, NW.
The Watchtower, September 1, 1956 Issue, Page 520:
But in spite of all this opposition Jehovah's witnesses continue to preach the good news of the Kingdom. They are triumphing over their enemies in doing so. In New York city alone the number of their congregations has increased from one in 1935 to 57 in 1956. And even in Communist Russia their numbers are increasing amazingly and that even though they refuse to compromise one iota and have to carry on their work entirely underground. If, as Dean Pike also said, communism is a religion and it takes a better religion to defeat it, Jehovah's witnesses have that better religion.
accounts for their triumphing over their enemies or theirs being a better religion?
For one thing, the manner in which they carry on their work. Not only do they
have ordained ministers preaching from the public platform, but each one of
them is an ordained minister and preaches. Where? At the doorsteps of the people,
in the market places, in the homes and as opportunity affords no matter where
they may be. Whether worldly courts recognize them as ministers or not, they
know they have dedicated themselves to Jehovah God to do his will, they know
he has commanded them, through his Son, to preach the Kingdom and they are preaching.
The Watchtower, January 1, 1956 Issue, Page 23:
Today there are 17,011 full-time ordained ministers working throughout the world.
To these ranks there could be added many more; and the Society confidently hopes
that those who can arrange their affairs to get into the full-time ministerial
activity will do so, for in this field there is an abun dan
t blessing. A slight
decrease in the number of pioneers has appeared during 1955 service year, there
being 254 fewer full-time ministers than in 1954. We sincerely hope that this
becomes reversed during the 1956 service year, and that many more will feel
confident that Jehovah will open up the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing
greater than the pioneers can contain, even as he is doing for all of his servants
in overflowing measure. All of these ministers not only preach the good news
from house to house and conduct Bible studies, but leave printed sermons with
the people in the form of Bibles, books, booklets and magazines, as well as
tracts and other publications that will aid a person to gain a clear understanding
of what Jehovah's purposes are in these last days.
The Watchtower, December 15, 1955 Issue, Page 742:
twenty-nine million hours of preaching spent in 1955 by 236,124 ordained ministers
was bound to have powerful effect upon the thinking of millions. By 1955 in
there was one minister of Jehovah's witnesses for every 922 inhabitants of the
continent. The gathering work in this part of the world has gained great momentum
and no amount of clergy opposition can now slow it down. Thousands of congregations
are continually expanding as they absorb the tens of thousands of new ones fleeing
to God's organization for safety.
The Watchtower, November 1, 1955 Issue, Pages 661-671:
Ordination of the Qualified Ministers
PAUL says: "Our being adequately qualified issues from God, who has indeed adequately qualified us to be ministers of a new covenant." (2 Cor. 3:5, 6, NW) That means it must be God who ordains or appoints a person to be his minister. This fact was typified in the case of Jeremiah, who was a minister of the old law covenant of Israel . Being of the priestly family of Aaron, Jeremiah was automatically in line to be a priest at the temple in Jerusalem . But to be more than a priest, na mel y, a prophet who would prophesy with respect to all nations of the earth, Jeremiah needed more than to be born as the son of Hilkiah the priest. No man could make him such a prophet. God, who inspires prophecy, was therefore the One to ordain or appoint him as prophet, to qualify him adequately. Jeremiah points to his ordination or appointment from God, when he says: "The word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I hallowed thee, I appointed [ordained, AV] thee a prophet unto the nations. . . . thou shalt go to whomsoever I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. . . . And Jehovah put forth his hand and touched my mouth; and Jehovah said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations."-Jer. 1:4-10, Da.
2 Even Jesus the carpenter of Nazareth had to have this ordination from Jehovah God. As a man Jesus was not of a priestly family in Israel . As a member of the royal tribe of Judah he was an heir to the earthly throne of David but not to a heavenly throne and royalty. To be a high priest like the royal priest King Melchizedek, Jesus had to be ordained by Jehovah, and Jehovah had sworn prophetically that Jesus should be such a royal priest. To be a heavenly king sitting on Jehovah's own throne at his right hand, Jesus had to be anointed with something more than the anointing oil at the hands of a human prophet or priest. He had to be anointed and thus ordained or appointed with the holy spirit from Jehovah God. As Paul writes: "The Christ did not glorify himself by becoming a high priest, but was glorified by him who spoke with reference to him: 'You are my Son; today I have become your Father.' Just as he says also in another place: 'You are a priest forever after the likeness of Mel·chiz´e·dek.'"-Heb. 5:5, 6, NW.
3 Jesus did receive the needed ordination from God. When John, the son of priest Zechariah, baptized Jesus in the Jor dan River , he did not ordain Jesus to be either priest or king. He could not do so. John did not know why he was baptizing Jesus. He did not then understand that he baptized Jesus merely to symbolize that Jesus had dedicated himself to do God's will for which he had come into the world. The water baptism symbolized Jesus' dedication, for a change of course in life. It was first after Jesus had been baptized and came up out of the water that his heavenly Father Jehovah God ordained or appointed him by audibly acknowledging the dedicated Jesus as his spiritual Son and by anointing him with his holy spirit. (Matt. 3:13-17) Shortly afterward, to show that it was Jehovah, not the priestly John the Baptist, who had ordained him, Jesus went to the synagogue in Nazareth and read to the people Isaiah's prophecy: "Jehovah's spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor, he sent me forth to preach." Then Jesus said to the congregation: "Today this scripture that you just heard is fulfilled."-Luke 4:16-21, NW; 3:21 -23.
4 Did Paul also have this ordination or appointment from God? He said: "For the purpose of this witness I was appointed [ordained, AV] a preacher and an apostle . . . a teacher of nations in the matter of faith and truth." (1 Tim. 2:7, NW) "Appointed" or "ordained" by whom? Paul answers in his words to the Galatians: "Paul, an apostle, neither from men nor through a man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, . . . when God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through his undeserved kindness, thought good to reveal his Son in connection with me, that I might declare the good news about him to the nations, I did not go at once into conference with flesh and blood. Neither did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles previous to me." (Gal. 1:1, 15-17, NW) Paul was baptized, likely by Ananias who told him to get baptized. Afterward Paul was "filled with holy spirit" in evidence that he was ordained or appointed by Jehovah through Christ, who had chosen him as a vessel to bear his name.-Acts 9:15-18, NW.
5 Even the first uncircumcised Gentile converts had this ordination or appointment from God to be ministers of his new covenant. If their ordination had not been by God, the Jewish Christians would have been unprepared and disinclined to recognize them then as ordained Christian ministers. Before the apostle Peter finished preaching to the Italian Cornelius and many of his relatives and intimate friends, these uncircumcised non-Jews believed and accepted God's mercy through Christ and God ordained or appointed them as his ministerial witnesses. The Bible history says: "While Peter was yet speaking about these matters the holy spirit fell upon all those hearing the word. And the faithful ones that had come with Peter who were of those circumcised were amazed, because the free gift of the holy spirit was being poured out also upon people of the nations. For they heard them speaking with tongues and glorifying God. Then Peter responded: 'Can anyone forbid water so that these might not be baptized who have received the holy spirit even as we have?' With that he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ." Later, at Jerusalem , Peter explained to his fellow Jewish Christians: "When I started to speak the holy spirit fell upon them just as it did also upon us originally. . . . If, therefore, God gave the same free gift to them as he also did to us who have believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I should be able to hinder God?"-Acts 10:44-48; 11:15 -17, NW.
6 So Peter had them baptized, not to ordain them (God had done that already), but for them to symbolize their faith and dedication that God had already accepted with miraculous evidence.
7 How about dedicated witnesses of Jehovah today? These also rely upon this appointment or ordination from him in order to be qualified as his ministers in this most necessary respect. Today on earth there is only a remnant of those whom Jehovah God has been choosing during the past nineteen centuries and appointing or ordaining to be his anointed ministers of the new covenant. These are the remnant or "remaining ones" of the seed of God's womanly organization. (Rev. 12:17, NW) To them he says: "Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen." (Isa. 43:10, AS) As a group this remnant now form a servant body or a slave body. They form what Jesus in his prophecy called "the faithful and discreet slave," who has been "appointed over his domestics to give them their food at the proper time." From whom have the remnant received their appointment or ordination as such? Not from men, but from their Master, the reigning King Jesus Christ. Since coming into his kingdom in 1914 and since coming to the temple in 1918 for the judgment first of the "house of God," he has found this remnant of dedicated, anointed Christians doing what they were appointed to do. So he has done to them what he promised: "Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings."-Matt. 24:45-47, NW.
8 What proof do we have of their being appointed by God through his invisible, glorified Christ and of their being adequately qualified? The proof is their giving of the spiritual "food at the proper time." It was not with regard to them that Jehovah prophesied: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord Jehovah, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Jehovah." (Amos 8:11 , AS) It was with regard to Christendom's clergy and their congregations. They reject the food served at the hands and mouths of the "slave" class and so suffer famine spiritually. All because these do not recognize the unorthodox ordination or appointment of the "faithful and discreet slave" class. But there are hundreds of thousands of others who are conscious of their spiritual need and who find out where to get the spiritual food and who do accept it at the hands of the anointed remnant of Jehovah's witnesses. These are the honest, humble, sheeplike people whom Jehovah's Right Shepherd Jesus Christ brings into the fold to be his "other sheep," making them "one flock" with the anointed remnant.-John 10:16.
MINISTERS UNDER THE NEW COVENANT
9 Since the "other sheep" must follow Jehovah's Right Shepherd, they also must be 'faithful and true witnesses' just as he was; they also must be adequately qualified ministers of Jehovah God. Of course, they cannot be "ministers of a new covenant" in the sense that the apostle Paul was, who was in the new covenant as a member of the "holy nation" of spiritual Israel and who was therefore a priestly minister, a member of the "royal priesthood" with a heavenly calling. But we must remember that spiritual Israel was typified or foreshadowed by natural Israel of ancient time. As members of that chosen nation the natural Israelites were in the old law covenant with Jehovah their God. But among the natural Israelites there were many non-Israelites who were temporary residents or alien sojourners and who served in various ways in Israel , some even being temple slaves. These also worshiped Jehovah as their God and his law protected them and provided many blessings and privileges for them. They were "your temporary resident who is inside your gates" who were not to work on Israel 's sabbath day. (Ex. 20:8-10, NW) They were to bring no reproach upon Jehovah's name but were to praise him along with the natural Israelites. They had to show how blessed they were by him through his natural seed of Abraham.
10 Likewise with the "other sheep," the modern-day "temporary resident who is inside [the] gates" of spiritual Israelites. They are not spiritual Israelites in the new covenant, but they do live under the blessings and provisions of that new covenant and must harmonize their lives with it. They must be a New World society with the remnant of spiritual Israel . They are under the one general law of being Jehovah's witnesses and preaching the Kingdom news for a witness to all the nations, before this worldly system of things completely ends. (Matt. 24:14) To do this, they also have to be adequately qualified, and this requires them, first of all, to have an ordination from God. As the necessary step toward this they have willingly and lovingly dedicated themselves to God through his Son Jesus Christ, and this full surrender of themselves to him they have symbolized as Jesus did, by water baptism. In view of their proper dedication of themselves God accepts them into the "one flock" of his Right Shepherd Jesus Christ, not to be members of spiritual Israel or of the royal priesthood with a heavenly inheritance nor to be priestly ministers of the new covenant, but to be witnesses of Jehovah and adequately qualified ministers under the new covenant. He ordains or appoints them as his earthly ministers, to serve with the anointed remnant of spiritual Israel . All such have this ordination or appointment by virtue of Jehovah's acceptance of their dedication through Jesus Christ the Mediator of the new covenant. So they are all his ordained ministers, whether male or female according to the flesh.
11 On this basis alone it would be proper for all nations that claim to give consideration to Christian ministers to recognize them as Scripturally ordained ministers. The nations are self-willed and dicta tori al when they set up their own rules and requirements and by them declare who is a real ordained minister recognized by God. When the nations require a written authorization from some man, group of men or religious organization, or some man-made ceremony to be performed before they recognize these dedicated men and women as God's ministers, it is Scripturally out of order. Uninspired lawmakers of this world did not write the Scriptures, but God caused the writing of those Scriptures by the moving force of his spirit, and his true ministers have the testimony of his inspired Scriptures respecting their ordination by him for having dedicated themselves to him. The proof of what his ordained ministers should be ought to be taken from the written Word of God who does the ordaining, not from man-made laws and their legal interpretation by judges.
12 God, the Universal Sovereign, has the right to determine how his visible organization of his people shall be framed and operated and who shall be his ministers in it and upon what conditions. Even religious sects of Christendom recognize this right of their sectarian organization. Last year the chief administrative officer of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America , when speaking to 400 delegates of the World Presbyterian Alliance at Princeton , New Jersey , included among the basic religious freedoms the 'freedom to determine the internal government and conditions of a church body.' He then said: "When in the considered and prayerful judgment of a church the freedom to fulfill these responsibilities is essentially abridged by state or society, it is the duty of the church to say 'no' to the state and 'no' to the society." (New York Times, July 29, 1954) Jehovah's witnesses theocratically stick to His rules and appointments as to how his New Covenant organization should be built and operated. They say no to worldly interferers.
13 They need no religious men to lay hands upon them to be ordained. Their ordination is from God and results to them from dedicating their eternal existence to him through Christ. They are not ordained by the hands laid upon them by the one who baptizes them in water in symbol of their dedication. But, inasmuch as their water baptism has a relationship to their ordination from God, they may, for the purposes of record, submit their baptismal date as the approximate time of their ordination, to satisfy the law of the land where an ordination date is asked for. What Jehovah's witnesses want upon themselves to qualify them is the hand of God, the hand of Him who touched Jeremiah's mouth and said: "Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth." (Jer. 1:9) They want the hand of Him who brought Ezra the priest safely to Jerusalem, "the good hand of his God upon him"; the same hand of which Nehemiah, the builder of Jerusalem's walls, says: "So the king gave [them] to me, according to the good hand of my God upon me." (Ezra 7:6, 9, 28; Neh. 2:8, 18, NW) Says the psalmist: "Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself." (Ps. 80:17, AS) Jehovah's is the first hand that should be upon us to ordain or appoint us as qualified ministers. Without first his hand upon us the laying of human hands upon us afterward has no force, but is mere form.
14 It is Jehovah's hand that sets his anointed remnant of spiritual Israel and their dedicated companions apart, separates them. As King Solomon prophetically said to God at the temple inauguration in Jerusalem : "You yourself separated them as your possession out of all the peoples of the earth, just as you have spoken by means of Moses your servant when you were bringing our forefathers out from Egypt , O Lord Jehovah." (1 Ki. 8:53, NW) That they are all of them separated from this world to preach the good news of God's kingdom, the apostle Paul showed in the introduction of his letter: "Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ and called to be an apostle, separated to God's good news, which he promised aforetime through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son." ( Rom. 1:1, 2, NW) Because of thus being set apart, separated, they are obligated to practice the clean, undefiled form of worship, the pure religion, which includes, among other things, "to keep oneself without spot from the world." (Jas. 1:27, NW) Therefore they are unlike the "regular ministers" or clergy of Christendom who claim to be set apart and whom the law gives a set-apart status and yet who mix in with the politics and combats of the nations and spot themselves all up with this world.
15 All the nation of spiritual Israel and their dedicated companions are separated and have a status set apart from this world. They are all a New World society of qualified ministers. Yet they do have certain members among them specially set apart to various responsible services, to which they are ordained or appointed. For example, in the first century there were Christian prophets and teachers in the Antioch ( Syria ) congregation and these were all ministering in these responsible positions. Then the record says: "As they were publicly ministering to Jehovah and fasting, the holy spirit said: 'Of all persons set Bar´na·bas and Saul apart for me for the work to which I have called them.' Then they fasted and prayed and laid their hands upon them and let them go." (Acts 13:1-3, NW) That laying on of the hands of the congregation by means of their representative men was a form of ordination or appointment to a special service. Later in the course of their activity in this special service Paul and Barnabas made appointments of older men in newly formed congregations to responsible service positions: "they appointed older men to office for them in the congregation and, offering prayer with fastings, they committed them to Jehovah in whom they had become believers." (Acts 14:23, NW) The apostle Paul, when assigning the appointive power to young Timothy, said: "Let no man ever look down on your youth. . . . Never lay your hands hastily upon any man; neither be a sharer in the sins of others; preserve yourself pure."-1 Tim. 4:12 ; 5:22 , NW.
16 So appointments of special servants within the New World society must be made, not democratically, but theocratically, by the governing body or by acting representatives of the governing body in other lands. However, the appointment of these special ministerial servants or overseers within the congregation does not mean that a separate clergy class is being created and all the rest of the congregation are not ministers adequately qualified by God. All of us retain our adequate qualification from God as long as we study and faithfully serve Jehovah as his witnesses.
17 The ancient laying on of the hands of responsible servants of the congregation had the force of ordaining or appointing. That ceremony had some actual effect in those early days when "through the laying on of the hands of the apostles the spirit was given." Those who laid their hands on Paul and Barnabas did not impart the spirit but they were told by the spirit to set them apart for special work. Today we do not have the spirit speaking audibly to us or the apostles bodily present with us to lay their hands upon us to impart the miraculous gifts of the spirit, and there is no professed Christian on earth today that can Scripturally prove he is even an apostolic successor with such power. Those miraculous gifts of the spirit have passed away as well as the apostolic channels. That is why Paul classed the "laying on of the hands" as part of the "elementary doctrine about the Christ." (Heb. 6:1, 2; Acts 8:18 and 1 Cor. 13:8-11, NW) The formality of literally laying hands upon a person at his appointment has no special power today.
18 What does matter is the plain appointment itself by the authorized governing body. That appointment may be delivered verbally or by letter, even by a formal appointment letter. What matters here is that the appointment comes from the recognized governing body, and so the signature of the appointment letter or form must show that it comes from such authoritative body. The signature's being handwritten or stamped does not alter the matter or weaken or void the appointment. If the stamp is that of the governing body and is imprinted by the one who has the authority to use that stamp, then the appointment is authoritative and is binding.
19 This is true even though rubber-stamping an appointment letter or form may not be so ceremonial or impressive-looking as a literal formalistic laying of men's hands upon the head of an appointed person. Stamping an official letter is good Bible practice.
20 When Queen Jezebel wanted to issue instructions to the older men of Jezreel, what did she do? Have King Ahab sign instruction letters? Listen: "She wrote letters in A´hab's name and sealed them with his seal and sent the letters to the older men and the nobles that were in his city dwelling with Na´both." The older men and nobles recognized the stamped-in seal and carried out the instructions that apparently came from the king. (1 Ki. 21:8-11, NW) The value and power of an authoritative stamp or seal King Ahasuerus showed when he said to Esther his queen and to Mordecai his prime minister: "You yourselves write in behalf of the Jews according to what is good in your own eyes in the king's name and seal [it] with the king's signet ring, for a writing that is written in the king's name and sealed with the king's signet ring it is not possible to undo." Prime Minister Mordecai did accordingly: "He proceeded to write in the name of King A·has·u·e´rus and do the sealing with the king's signet ring and send written documents by the hand of the couriers." In the face of that uniform stamp the governors of all of Persia 's provinces and also the Jews recognized the binding force of those written documents and they acted as instructed in them.-Esther 8:8, 10, NW.
21 So let no one undervalue the power of a properly stamped letter; the stamp gives it weight and authority. Now one form letter with such true, official stamp may appoint more than one servant of a congregation, but the duties assigned to any person appointed determine the degree of responsibility of that appointed person, whether he has more responsibilities than other servants. What else the letter may say or whom else the same letter may appoint to a different service does not take away from that servant's special position. So stamped appointment letters (form letters in many cases) are used by the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society and its many branches today as a convenient way of making appointments of servants for more than 14,000 congregations of Jehovah's witnesses throughout the earth. In all such congregations the members recognize the stamp and accept the appointment. Who, then, has a right to question the power of the ordination or appointment? You may be sure that all such special servants put in office by these stamped appointment letters the Society's governing body keeps its hands on, not literally, but to back them up, support and sustain them or to remove them in the general interests of the work.
INSCRIBED LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION
22 The apostle Paul himself raised the question of qualification. He said: "And who is adequately qualified for these things? We are; for we are not peddlers of the word of God as many men are, but as out of sincerity, yes, as sent from God [not from men], . . . we are speaking." (2 Cor. 2:16, 17, NW) But did Paul have or carry around with him even a stamped or sealed letter of appointment or of recommendation from the governing body at Jerusalem or from those who laid their hands on him and Barnabas at Antioch ? Could he show such a letter to the synagogues that he visited for preaching or to congregations that he established or to Governor Felix or Governor Festus or to King Agrippa or to Emperor Nero when he finally appeared before him on trial at Rome ? There is nothing to show he had such a letter! Paul did not need such a letter. He had something better than a man-composed, man-signed letter on writing tablets or paper. He had witnesses at Damascus to testify that he had been baptized in water to symbolize his dedication or his faith in Jehovah through Jesus Christ. He was also "filled with holy spirit" and had the miraculous gifts of that spirit. What is more, he had the power to lay his hands on baptized believers and impart to them the gifts of the spirit. From this he knew that his being adequately qualified had issued from God. What need did he have, then, of a stamped or sealed letter from anyone on earth? The most telling evidence of anyone's being adequately qualified for a service or ministry is the product of his work, what he has accomplished. Paul had that evidence, and it served as a most impressive letter of recommendation proving his appointment.
23 To the Christian congregation that he had established in Corinth he said: "Are we starting again to recommend ourselves? Or do we, perhaps, like some men, need letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, inscribed on our hearts and known and being read by all mankind. For you are shown to be a letter of Christ written by us as ministers, inscribed not with ink but with spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets, but on fleshly tablets, on hearts." (2 Cor. 3:1-3, NW) Later on the newly instructed Apollos got such a letter of recommendation from the Christian brothers at Ephesus to the congregation at Corinth , but Paul did not need such a literal letter of recommendation. (Acts 18:24-28, 1-11) Those very disciples whom he had made during a year and a half of intense preaching and teaching activity at Corinth were themselves a power-laden letter.
24 Those disciples were Paul's letter written on his heart because he carried them along with him in his affections and he wrote them letters because he cared for them. At the same time he had taught and trained them to be preaching witnesses of Jehovah and Christ, and so those Corinthian Christians were Paul's letter on open display, "known and being read by all mankind." They were a letter not from man, not even from the governing body at Jerusalem .
25 They were "shown to be a letter of Christ," and Jesus Christ, who had chosen Paul to be a special vessel to bear his name to the non-Jewish nations, used Paul himself as his minister in writing that letter. Paul could not have written that human letter by himself, for, as Jesus told his disciples, "apart from me you can do nothing at all." (John 15:5, NW) He used Paul in a much harder way than by merely having him sit down with literal pen and ink and write a letter on paper recommending himself by written words rather than by laborious deeds. Aside from Paul's working weekdays as a tentmaker with Aquila and Priscilla, Jesus used Paul to write this human letter of recommendation by having him talk in the Jewish synagogue every sabbath, to win over both Jews and Greeks. In time he became more "intensely occupied with the word [of God], witnessing to the Jews to prove that Jesus is the Christ," staying there all together a year and a half, "teaching among them the word of God."
26 When Paul finally left Corinth he left behind the fruitage of his labors. What? A Christian congregation including Crispus the former presiding officer of the synagogue and all his household, whom Paul himself baptized. This congregation was a letter of recommendation, "inscribed not with ink but with spirit of the living God," for it was done by the spirit of God which worked through Paul, he coming to them "with a demonstration of spirit and power, that [their] faith might be, not in men's wisdom, but in God's power." God's spirit in Paul produced or wrote the readable words of that congregation letter. The letter was written on no cold stone tablets, but on warm, loving "fleshly tablets, on hearts." Those hearts were something to read, for they told of love first to God, they told of belief, of faith exercised for righteousness, and they overflowed so as to move the mouths of the Corinthians to make public declaration for salvation. Acts 18:1-11; 1 Cor. 2:4, 5; 2 Cor. 3:1-3; Matt. 22:37, 38; Rom. 10:10, NW) For anyone to produce such a living, speaking letter of recommendation of its writer his being adequately qualified by Almighty God was most certainly required.
27 How about today? Except for appointment letters sent to congregations or carried by specially appointed servants of God's visible organization, Jehovah's witnesses do not carry letters of appointment or recommendation to prove that they, as dedicated men and women, are Scripturally ordained ministers of God serving in connection with his new covenant through the Mediator Jesus Christ. The New World society of Jehovah's witnesses who use the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society as their servant need no such letters of appointment or ordination, no such letters of recommendation, any more than Paul did. Christendom does not recognize the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society as an instrument in God's hands. But the "Modern History of Jehovah's Witnesses" now being published in the columns of the magazine The Watchtower gives an authentic, documented history of how the Most High God and his Son Jesus Christ have used the Society, yes, and used the official magazine that it publishes, since the time both of these were begun. Today this Bible magazine has a printing of at least 2,100,000 copies each issue, in forty-one languages, and the publishing Society has seventy-five branches spread over the earth. That fact is an inerasable letter known and read by all men and it recommends to every good conscience these two instruments as being used by God for fulfilling his glorious purpose in this most crucial time of uncertainty, doubt and fear.
28 Christendom and her nominally Christian governments refuse to recognize the Scriptural ordination of the dedicated witnesses of Jehovah. Hence they do not give them the standing and consideration of ordained ministers of religion. In place of being respected as adequately qualified ministers, Jehovah's witnesses have the distinction of fulfilling Jesus' prophecy: "You will be hated by all the nations on account of my name." (Matt. 24:9, NW) No paper letters that you witnesses could show them would alter the world's attitude toward you. But you have a letter, and you yourselves have been used to write it, that speaks more authoritatively than any handwritten, typewritten or printed letter stamped and sealed to show your divine ordination or appointment. It is a living letter the contents of which are spread over all the earth in more than 160 lands and terri tori es, to be read in over 100 languages. Since 1919, despite world-wide hatred, the anointed remnant of the adequately qualified ministers of the new covenant have preached the good news of the Kingdom to all nations. In this way they have been writing by the spirit of God on fleshly tablets, on hearts, and today the "great crowd" of other sheep gathered to the "one flock" of the Right Shepherd Jesus is proof they were ordained by God. It is a human letter of recommendation testifying that they are the "faithful and discreet slave" class of God.
29 Particularly since 1931 the "great crowd" of other sheep have been associating and preaching with the anointed remnant. They cannot escape history. They too have been writing history by loyally serving with the remnant as witnesses of Jehovah, suffering with them, dying with them, keeping Christian integrity with them till now. Their being ordained, adequately qualified ministers of God has all along also been questioned and rejected by Christendom. But what does the voice of accomplished history testify today? Are they divinely sent, adequately ordained ministers under God's new covenant? Do they have any unimpeachable letter of recommendation that silences all question as unwarranted and all accusation as prejudiced and false? Not any letter in ink on paper or scratched on stone tablets, but the living letter written by means of God's spirit upon sheeplike people. It is a recommendation letter written on "fleshly tablets, on hearts" of other believing men and women who since 1931 have increased from far less than one hundred thousand to now over 550,000 witnesses of Jehovah in the New World society.
Let the Devil's heaven and earth destroy or wipe that living, spirit-filled
letter out, if they can! The destructive floodwaters of the war of Armageddon
will wash out of existence those devilish heavens and earth and their bloodstained
record but never wash out the contents of this living letter written by all
of Jehovah's witnesses with his spirit. All the survivors of Armageddon will
be our letter of recommendation before all the universe! That letter of recommendation
will even be read by the dead when they are resurrected after Armageddon. The
contents of this letter will yet grow longer as more human hearts are written
upon until Armageddon. When the world's religious systems are destroyed amid
that war, it will survive and will thereafter spread over the face of the cleansed
earth as a living testimony to the power and spirit of Jehovah now operative
in his adequately qualified ministers. So keep on writing this " New
letter by thoroughly accomplishing your ministry, preaching this good news of
the triumphant kingdom for a witness to all the nations until this world ends!
The Watchtower, October 15, 1955 Issue, Page 628:
23 What do Jehovah's witnesses care whether worldly courts of law rule that they are "regular ministers" specially "set apart" or not? They know that they have dedicated themselves to God to do His will and they know that he commands them through Christ to go out to the people and preach and prove themselves his ordained ministers by actively serving the interests of his kingdom. Jehovah has known better than to wait for 200 years for the clergy of Christendom to stir their laity to action. The limited "time of the end" not allowing for that estimated time, Jehovah has raised up his own witnesses and they are giving the Kingdom witness right on time, just as he has ordered.
Page 640 (of the same Issue):
QUALIFIED TO BE MINISTERS
qualified ministers are needed today more than at any other time in man's history.
That means ministers ordained by God. Further, it means they must have the light
from God through Christ shine upon them and they must make public confession
of the true faith. As proof that Jehovah's dedicated witnesses today meet these
qualifications, 'food at the proper time' is being served to hundreds of thousands
who are conscious of their spiritual need. These in turn, adequately fed, grow
to maturity, dedicate their lives to do God's will and prepare themselves for
the ministry. Are you one of such? Then you will read with lasting benefit the
new 384-page book Qualified to Be Ministers. Not only is it a provision to train
and qualify new ministers, but also it is an aid to maturity and advancement
for those already engaged in preaching activity. It covers preparation and delivery
of speeches, composition, private study, the ministry, congregation activities,
worship-clean and unclean-modern history of Jehovah's witnesses, and theocratic
society. Send for a copy for 50c.
The Watchtower, June 1, 1955 Issue, Pages 331-332:
MINISTERIAL STANDING DENIED
The second of the two main questions , Is the pursuer a "regular minister" by virtue of his appointment as a pioneer? as a congregation servant? the judge decided against Walsh. Sir John Cameron, the Dean of Faculty of Advocates in Scotland , who appeared for Walsh, had argued strongly that if it were decided that Jehovah's witnesses were a religious denomination it must then be for the denomination to determine who were its regular ministers. Surely no one outside could tell a denomination who its ministers were to be! The test must be subjective. He maintained that "regular" meant "according to rule" and since Walsh was appointed according to the rule of Jehovah's witnesses the court must hold that he is a "regular minister." The judge held, however, that since all of Jehovah's witnesses were ordained ministers, the ordination itself did not create a "regular minister" and that it was for the court to decide the matter as far as the National Service Act was concerned.
Dealing with the term "minister" the judge said: "In order to be a minister a person must first be invested with the office of a minister of religion and second, be in use to, or at least entitled to, (for that is how I read these words) administer the religious ordinances of his communion. I am also of opinion that these two essential elements necessarily imply that a minister is in some way set apart in spiritual things from the ordinary members of his communion."
The judge then applied his definition to Walsh's appointment as congregation servant. He objected to the form of appointment, a letter signed with the Society's stamp, and to the fact that the same letter was used to appoint other ministers to lesser offices in the congregation. He concluded that "the emphasis is definitely on administration rather than on spiritual leadership."
The judge also found fault with the scholastic requirements of a congregation servant. Of the theocratic ministry school, where a congregation servant must have been trained for at least a year before his appointment, the judge said: It "sounds scholastic, particularly when taken along with the instructions and prescribed schedule of study." Then, to the surprise of all who attend these schools, the judge went on to say that "what is taught is such as can be understood by children of . . . tender years." The fact is that the ministry school is not geared down to the intellectual standard of children, but children are required to attend to get out of the course what they can. And that they get a great deal out of it is shown by the progress they make.
Commenting on the Dean's argument that the founders of Christianity were not selected because of any scholastic attainments, the judge had this to say: "It was argued that the apostles were not required to have any particular qualifications but as plain men were commanded to preach and that Jehovah's witnesses are following that example. That argument is, in my opinion, beside the point, for it is quite obvious that in exempting a regular minister of a religious denomination from national service in 1948 parliament was not thinking of a minister such as those who preached in the early church, but of a minister of religion as known in modern times."
The judge found that Walsh was not a "regular minister" because of his pioneer status, even though the ministry was his vocation. A pioneer devotes more than a hundred hours a month to actual preaching to the public, apart from time spent in study and at meetings of Jehovah's witnesses. How many clergymen devote that much time to their preaching? And the pioneer is not dependent on a stipend but earns his keep as Paul did! The judge's chief difficulty was the age at which Walsh became a pioneer. In his opinion "it is absurd to treat a boy of 15 years as being a minister of religion." It is clear that the judge could not get out of his mind the orthodox pattern and when Walsh did not fit that he could not see him in the role of "regular minister."
PUBLICITY AND APPEAL
Great publicity was given to the case in the Scottish press and the national British dailies. The case itself was unusual enough, but the flight of three officers of the Society from headquarters to Edinburgh to stand beside Douglas Walsh in the witness box appealed to the public and attracted reporters from far and near. The major papers devoted more than a thousand column-inches to the case. Outstanding both for accuracy and space was The Scotsman. This high-quality paper reported fully each day and gave twenty-eight column-inches to the decision itself.
has ordained his witnesses to be his ministers in res tori
ng true worship
in the earth at this most critical day in man's history. Their authority comes
from him. Every one of Jehovah's witnesses must be a minister but some are appointed
to positions of responsibility that distinguish them from other ministers in
the organization. Do such appointment and added responsibility according to
the law of Britain
make the pioneers
and congregation servants "regular ministers" under that law? Lord
Strachan said they do not but Jehovah's witnesses claim they do. Hence their
appeal to the High Court of Justiciary in Scotland
where three judges
will next hear the case.
The Watchtower, February 1, 1955 Issue, Page 86:
"A Right Kind of Minister"
term minister (Greek: diákonos) as used in the Greek Scriptures means, literally,
a servant. (1 Tim. 4:6, NW) It here refers to one who is a public servant of
Jehovah, and is ordained by him, after having first taken the step of dedicating
himself by a solemn agreement to do the will of God. Such a minister, in order
to prove worthy of the name and retain divine favor, will faithfully strive
to carry out whatever commands and commissions are laid upon him by the "superior
authorities." Such a minister will also, of necessity, prove to be a close
footstep follower of Jesus Christ, the foremost minister of God, and, like him,
will recognize the prior obligation to be a preacher of the good news of Jehovah's
established kingdom by Christ. Thus, like Jesus, he will prove to be one of
Jehovah's witnesses, witnessing to the truth.-Rom. 13:1; John 18:37
, NW; Isa. 43:10,
The Watchtower, March 1, 1954 Issue, Pages 138-139:
AN ORDINATION CEREMONY?
The Associated Press dispatches reporting on the 1953 mass baptism of Jehovah's witnesses in connection with their international assembly stated that Jehovah's witnesses considered their baptism as an ordination ceremony and that each baptized witness was an ordained minister. Upon what grounds do they base their position?
In the first place, it, the baptism, being performed at God's command, is recognized by him as authoritative. It represents their agreement to follow in the footsteps of Christ Jesus, who certainly was the minister of Jehovah God. This ordination is further recognized as authoritative by the instrument God is using at the present time to give an effective and harmonious witness to his name and kingdom, na mel y, the Watch Tower Society. And on November 30, 1953 , the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that this baptism of immersion by Jehovah's witnesses is a valid ceremony of ordination within the meaning of the law for Jehovah's witnesses. Incidentally, the 1954 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses shows that 50,665 ministers were thus ordained during 1953.
But is it not necessary to go to a theological seminary to be qualified as a minister? If it were, then neither Jesus nor his apostles, with the exception of Paul, could have been recognized as ministers. In fact, some asked regarding Jesus: "How does this man have a knowledge of letters, when he has not studied at the schools?" And the educated class at the time wondered at the boldness of Peter and John, for they noticed that Peter and John were unlettered and ordinary men. But that did not keep them from preaching the good news. And not only they, but all the early Christians preached. (John 7:15; Acts 4:13; 8:4, NW) One can become adequately equipped to preach by studying at home evenings and week ends, and by attending the various Bible classes arranged for under the direction of the Watch Tower Society.
It follows, then, that a diploma from a theological seminary is likewise not a ministerial prerequisite. The very best proof that one could have that he is a minister is the same to which Paul pointed as his letters of recommendation, na mel y, individuals who, due to one's efforts, have dedicated themselves to Jehovah God.-2 Cor. 3:1-3, NW.
Once having dedicated ourselves to God and symbolized it by water baptism, we may never let that fact slip out of our consciousness, for it is better not to have vowed than to vow and then not to pay our vows. (Eccl. 5:5) Jesus was ever conscious of having agreed to do God's will and he spoke of God's will as a cup he was drinking and a baptism with which he was being baptized and had yet to be baptized with. (Matt. 20:22, 23; Luke 12:50, NW) Only by keeping integrity to God and by associating with God's people, the New World society, may we hope to survive the destruction of this wicked world in the coming battle of Armageddon and enter into the new world of righteousness even as Noah and his family entered a new world after the flood.-Matt. 24:37-39; 2 Pet. 3:7, 13; Rev. 16:14, 16.
sum up: we have seen that John's baptism was a picture of repentance; that Christian
baptism in water is a picture of dedication to do God's will; that only complete
immersion is water baptism, that only it fittingly pictures dedication and that
it serves both as a public confession of one's dedication and as an ordination
ceremony; that neither a theological seminary training nor a diploma is a prerequisite
to being a minister of Jehovah God, and that by keeping integrity we can hope
to survive the destruction of this wicked system of things to enter into the
new world of righteousness as members of the New World society.
The Watchtower, January 1, 1952 Issue, Page 18:
GENERAL SURVEY OF WORK DONE
These 384,694 publishers were not alone in their work. They were taking along
and training some "babes". Some who had been prisoners in devilish
organizations heard the good news of God's kingdom and began to pull away from
the old world and its way of thinking, and they associated themselves with these
publishers for the new world. They too went out and preached, 57,686 of them,
for the first time. Combined, that means 442,380 ministers-a new all-time peak
for Jehovah's witnesses! The Society is interested in the welfare of every one
of these 442,380 persons and it wants to see the m
c ontinue as ordained
ministers. This is the way Paul felt. He wanted to help the members of the early
church to become qualified, fully grown, mature ordained ministers. Paul knew
why he was called; he said: "I should declare to the nations the good news."
He said we should imitate him as he imitated Christ. If it was his responsibility
to declare the good news, then it is the responsibility of everyone who comes
to this knowledge to declare the good news. That is why Jesus said he gives
"gifts in men", na mel
y, "with a
view to the training of the holy ones for ministerial work."
The Watchtower, November 1, 1951 Issue, Pages 671-672:
. Must we be baptized before we are recognized by God as an ordained minister? The booklet Defending and Legally Establishing the Good News states that when in court we should say we are unordained ministers if we have not been baptized.-E. B., Indiana.
The authorities of the land generally call for some ceremony in connection with ordination for the ministry, and that is why the time of one's baptism is generally submitted as the date of one's ordination. Certainly that was so for Jesus, for it was then that the spirit descended upon him, in fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1, 2. However, a person may devote himself to God through Christ and begin carrying it out in faithful worship and active service long before water baptism, because the opportunity for baptism is not right at hand. In such a case God ordains such one his minister from the time of his dedication and looks for him to symbolize it at the first opportunity. The legal booklet is particularly viewing the matter from the standpoint of the law of the land, and is recognizing the two classifications made concerning ministers, na mel y, ordained ministers and regular unordained ministers. So viewed through the eyes of the law of the land, the legal booklet suggests that we determine which group we belong to on the basis of whether we have been baptized or not. The same legal rights extend to all ministers, whether they are counted ordained or regular.
the legal booklet also takes recognition of the fact that one may be ordained
by God or anointed with his spirit before being baptized with water, for it
shows that Cornelius and his fellow Gentile believers were ordained with the
spirit of God before they were immersed in water. (Acts 10:44-48) Though that
was extraordinary, yet it shows that God can ordain a dedicated person before
water baptism. So while an unbaptized one may be ordained by God, he may still
point out to the court that he has not as yet undergone the ordination ceremony
of water immersion, and for that reason may be classed by the law of the land
as a regular minister rather than an ordained minister. That the Watchtower
Society itself places weight and significance to the act of water immersion
is shown by the fact that only those who have so symbolized their dedication
to God are entitled to a personal copy of the booklet Counsel on Theocratic
Organization for Jehovah's Witnesses.
The Watchtower, February 15, 1951 Issue, Page 112:
Federal Court of Appeals Rebukes Unfair Board
On October 18, 1950 , the United States Court of Appeals at Cincinnati again reversed the convictions of two ministers of Jehovah's witnesses. Twice convicted, Peter Niznik and Raymond Comodor, part-time missionary evangelists (company publishers) in Pennsylvania , were discharged with the judgments against them reversed. Basis of the reversal was the refusal of their Selective Service board to classify them as ministers of religion. The court held that the action of the board was invalid and void, contrary to the regulations, arbitrary and discriminatory.
Upon the second trial the board members had attempted to justify their refusal to grant exemption from training and service. They testified that they had looked through the files and, after having done so, ruled that these registrants should not be given a minister's classification. They did not dispute or question the overwhelming evidence submitted by the registrants as to their background, training and activity in the ministry. The truthfulness of the statements submitted by them orally and in writing was not questioned. But solely upon the grounds that they were Jehovah's witnesses, had not attended an orthodox religious seminary and had not been "regularly" ordained according to orthodox ceremony and ritual, the board ignored the regulations pertaining to ministerial classification in such cases and denied exemption. In setting aside the convictions the court said:
"Although the members of the draft board performed long, laborious, and patriotic duties, nevertheless, their ruling in this regard, that appellants were not entitled to classification as ministers of religion, was based not upon the evidence or information in appellants' files, or upon a belief in the truthfulness of the statements made by appellants, but upon the fact that they were members of Jehovah's witnesses. The regulation pertaining to ministerial classification in this case was plain.
"'(a) In Class IV-D shall be placed any registrant who is a regular or duly ordained minister of religion . . . (b) A regular minister of religion is a man who customarily preaches and teaches the principles of religion of a recognized church, religious sect, or religious organization of which he is a member, without having been formally ordained as a minister of religion; and who is recognized by such church, sect, or organization as a minister.' Section 622.44 of the Selective Service Regulations.
"Disregard of this provision, and refusal to classify as a minister of religion solely on the ground that appellants were members of a religious sect and that they had not attended a religious seminary and had not been regularly ordained, was arbitrary and contrary to the law and regulations. 'In classifying a registrant there shall be no discrimination for or against him because of his race, creed, or color, or because of his membership or activity in any labor, political, religious, or other organization. Each registrant shall receive equal and fair justice.' Section 623.1(c) of the Selective Service Regulations.
"The classification of the local board, accordingly, was invalid, and its action void. The judgments are, therefore, reversed, the convictions are set aside, and appellants are discharged."
The religious magazine The Christian Century recalled the thousands of other cases involving Jehovah's witnesses, which resulted in their being denied classification as ministers and sentenced to long terms in prison. Commending the court for stopping such arbitrary and capricious determinations in these cases, the editors wrote: "This paper has contended since the first of these Witness cases came up, that the designation of ministers is a church and not a state function. We trust Selective Service will accept this ruling by the federal court. The government agency should never have allowed itself to become entangled in an ecclesiastical issue of this sort, and now that the court has opened a way out . . . should hasten to take advantage of the opportunity."
and publication agree that whether a person should be recognized as a minister
must not be determined according to orthodox standards of the popular religious
organizations or prejudice. Both call upon boards to administer fairly the act
The Watchtower, February 1, 1951 Issue, Pages 78-81:
GOSPEL MINISTERS AND AMBASSADORS EXEMPT
16 The consecrated priests and Levites were exempted fro m c onscription for military service in Israel . (Num. 1:45-54; 2:32 , 33) Since Jehovah's witnesses are consecrated to God as followers of Jesus Christ, they should likewise be exempted from military duties with carnal weapons. God now exempts them, not requiring them to fight as did Joshua, Gideon, Samson, Jephthah, Barak and David of ancient times. Jehovah God has made these Christian witnesses his ministers of the Kingdom gospel. In the United States of America the Selective Service Act of 1948 exempts ordained and regular ministers of the gospel from military obligations. But the officers charged with applying that Act allow the exemption only to those who are full-time ministers, and not to all the rest. But each one of Jehovah's witnesses has as his vocation the ministry and is a minister of the gospel, whether able to render full time or only part time. Not merely the full-time servants among them, but each and every one of Jehovah's witnesses is under a vow of dedication, which involves "duties superior to those arising from any human relation". God's Word therefore appoints each and every one of them a minister of God and preacher of the Kingdom gospel; and officers of the law of the land, while having a legal right to do so, have no Scriptural right to discriminate and limit military exemption only to some, while excluding others. In doing so they must take responsibility before God for 'framing mischief by law'.
17 Being such ministers and preachers, they have not abandoned their neutrality as conscientious objectors and turned aside to engage in military support of this or that side of any worldly conflict. Jesus predicted their neutrality and their preaching activities at this militant time. When he prophesied, "Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom," he did not say his true followers would engage in such armed rising. Instead, he foretold they would be roughly treated and be "hated by all the nations", not just enemy nations, but all. Then giving Jehovah's witnesses a commission for this day as well as foretelling what type of work they would do, he said: "This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations, and then the accomplished end will come." (Matt. 24:14, NW) So now each and every witness who is under vow to Jehovah God through Christ must obey that prophetic command and fulfill his commission as an ordained minister of the good news of the Kingdom. There is no exemption to any consecrated minister. Those taking the lead among them must set the example, and the others must imitate them. (1 Pet. 5:1-3) These leading ministers do not engage in carnal warfare, but preach. The rank and file of Jehovah's witnesses, being also ministers of God, copy their faithful example and peacefully preach.
18 To these Christian witnesses the apostle Paul wrote: "He committed the message of the reconciliation to us. We are therefore ambassadors substituting for Christ, as though God were making entreaty through us. As substitutes for Christ we beg: 'Become reconciled to God.'" (2 Cor. 5:19, 20, NW) As "ambassadors substituting for Christ" Jehovah's witnesses have conscientious objection to serving in the military and related establishments of the nations.
19 Ambassadors are exempt from military service in the nation to which their government sends them, especially in a hostile nation. Remember, in Bible times ambassadors were sent, not to friendly nations, but to nations at war or threatening war. God's ambassadors substituting for Christ are not sent to friendly nations, but to hostile nations. All nations of this world of Satan are hostile to God. The message given these ambassadors to deliver is, "Become reconciled to God." This shows that the nations are not friendly. How, then, could these ambassadors Scripturally serve in the military forces of such nations or Scripturally consent to do so when required by national law? To desert the ranks of His ministers and thus quit preaching would mean to fight against God, who sent his ambassadors that they might call on the nations to become reconciled to God, not fight him. Jehovah's witnesses are God's ambassadors sent to ALL the nations, with the same message for all. Consequently they have not enlisted in the fighting forces of any of the nations. They maintain strict neutrality toward such nations in their mortal combats. They keep true to the divine government, which sends them as ambassadors, even though this neutrality and this Kingdom-preaching cause them to be "hated by all the nations". They have not fought for the unreconciled systems which God will destroy at Armageddon. Hence their conscientious objection!
20 Concerning these ambassadors the apostle says in this same letter: "Though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage warfare according to what we are in the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful by God for overturning strongly entrenched things. For we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are bringing every thought into captivity to make it obedient to the Christ." (2 Cor. 10:3-5, NW) For this spiritual warfare you are ordered: "Take up the complete suit of armor from God"; and such spiritual armor you must take up "that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil; because we have a fight, not against blood and flesh, but against the [spiritual] governments, against the authorities, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places." Satan the Devil is the "ruler of this world" and the "god of this system of things". (Eph. 6:11-13 and John 12:31 and 2 Cor. 4:4, NW) The very application of such military terms in a spiritual way to God's ambassadors shows they are not pacifists.
21 Their warfare is not against blood and flesh. Their real foes cannot be touched by carnal weapons, and hence they take up God's spiritual armor. They turn their fighting qualities and energies into the spiritual warfare in order to liberate people from the bondage of the wicked spirit forces dominating this world. They are in God's spiritual army under Jesus Christ. For them to desert it and join this world in its fights would be disloyalty to God and Christ. It would deserve to be punished with destruction without hope of any life in the righteous new world. They must keep their agreement with God and pay their vow to him, for those who are "false to agreements" are by God's law "deserving of death". ( Rom. 1:31, 32, NW) So Jehovah's witnesses keep neutral toward worldly conflicts and obey these strict orders from on high: "As a right kind of soldier of Christ Jesus take your part in suffering evil. No man serving as a soldier involves himself in the commercial businesses of life, in order that he may meet the approval of the one who enrolled him as a soldier." (2 Tim. 2:3, 4, NW) By this neutral stand toward worldly conflicts and by loyal endurance in the spiritual warfare these soldiers enrolled by Christ meet his approval.
AN EARTH-WIDE BROTHERHOOD
22 Since God's ambassadors are sent to all nations with the one message of reconciliation, then all those who become reconciled to him become one earth-wide association of brothers. In just that way Jehovah's witnesses are an international congregation of Christian brothers. God's Word forbids them to split up over selfish interests and start fighting one another; it commands them to keep united and preserve peace among themselves. To emphasize this, the question was asked: "Does Christ exist divided? . . . For whereas there are jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and are you not walking as men do?" (1 Cor. 1:13; 3:3, NW) On this account they have not abandoned their neutrality toward this world and joined the armies of this divided world under their enemy Satan the Devil. To do so would have meant to become pitted against their spiritual brothers, the children of God, just as in war Protestant becomes pitted against Protestant, Catholic against Catholic, Jew against Jew. This would have resulted in fratricidal warfare for which they would be held strictly accountable by their heavenly Father. Contrary to taking or seeking to take the life of their brothers, the sons of God, they are exhorted to lay down their lives for their brothers, in imitation of Jesus Christ and not of Cain who slaughtered his brother Abel. Hence the apostle John writes:
23 "Do not marvel, brothers, that the world hates you. We know we have passed over from death to life, because we love the brothers. He who does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a manslayer, and you know that no manslayer has everlasting life remaining in him. By this we have come to know love, because that one surrendered his soul [or, life] for us; and we are under obligation to surrender our souls [or, lives] for our brothers."-1 John 3:11-16, NW, margin.
24 The spirit of Jehovah God is upon his witnesses for them to "preach good tidings unto the meek" and to "bind up the brokenhearted", rather than to break hearts by carnal combat. Now when the river of life-saving truth is flowing forth from the throne of God's established kingdom, his witnesses must be like trees whose leaves are "for the healing of the nations" and "for medicine", rather than wounding the nations. (Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18; Rev. 22:2; Ezek. 47:12) This is the "surpassing way" of love, the love of God with all that a person has and the love of one's neighbor as oneself.-1 Cor. 12:31-13:7, NW.
All the foregoing is only a partial statement of the case of Jehovah's witnesses,
which they have made to boards, officials and courts having the responsibility
under the law of the land to determine whether they shall be granted the rights
given to conscientious objectors and ministers. But enough has been said to
prove to such boards and officials and all others that Jehovah's witnesses are
consistent in their claim. They are not pacifists, but are ministers and conscientious
objectors on Scriptural grounds. In taking this stand the boards have been enabled
to see that Jehovah's witnesses stay neutral toward this world and that they
remain God's ministers and ordained preachers of the good news of his kingdom
under Christ, with Scriptural and conscientious objection to their participation
in worldly war in any form.
The Watchtower, January 1, 1950 Issue, Page 10:
witnesses are ministers of God, ordained to preach the Word.