The friendly Jehovah’s Witnesses that come to your door on a Saturday afternoon or who work with you or who are a part of your family all consider themselves to be a part of Jehovah God’s organization on earth. This organization is well identified with the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. The Society has been in existence for 140 years, and according to jw.org the Society “is used by Jehovah’s Witnesses to support their worldwide work, which includes publishing Bibles and Bible-based literature.” [1] Despite this claim of producing “Bible-based literature “, the material that the Society publishes is highly contradictory to the Bible. Along with this, the material contains mechanisms that allow for great control over the 8 million plus Witnesses who rely on the Society’s publications for spiritual “truth”.

This article discusses one of the main mechanisms of control (there are others) that is used repeatedly in the Society’s publications to maintain a form of mind control over faithful Witnesses. When we interact with or minister to Witnesses, it’s important to understand both the spiritual condition they are in and the control they sit under. Please keep both in mind and demonstrate all compassion, gentleness, and love.

The controlling teaching of “the faithful and discreet slave” channel

One of the main ways that the Watch Tower Society controls Witnesses is through the teaching that there is a “slave” in their midst who is Jehovah God’s sole channel of communication to men on earth. When someone claims to be “the channel” between God and man, all manner of control is possible as we will soon see.

The Watchtower Society arrives at this teaching by a faulty interpretation of Matthew 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?” Matthew 24:45 New World Translation (The New World Translation is published by the Society. It has been customized to support their teachings.)

The Society teaches that “the faithful and discreet slave” of Matthew 24:45 is literally a reference to certain Jehovah’s Witnesses who bring spiritual “food” to mankind as a “channel” between God and man. The following quotes from the Watchtower magazine, a major teaching publication of the Society, show how the slave is considered a channel:

“Let us now unmistakably identify Jehovah’s channel of communication for our day, that we may continue in his favor. … Yes, particularly since 1919 has it been true that he has appointed the collective body of the anointed remnant over all the visible interests of the Kingdom. The “slave” then became responsible not only for ministering to the needs of the anointed body members but also for taking on the responsibility of preaching the good news of the established Kingdom to people of all nations. … It is vital that we appreciate this fact and respond to the directions of the “slave” as we would to the voice of God, because it is His provision.” “Overseers of Jehovah’s People”. Watchtower, June 15, 1957, p. 370. (emphasis mine)

“The facts show that during this time and up to the present hour the ‘slave’ class has served as God’s sole collective channel for the flow of Biblical truth to men on earth.” “Staying Awake with the ‘Faithful and Discreet Slave’”. Watchtower, July 15, 1960, page 439. (emphasis mine)

“That faithful slave is the channel through which Jesus is feeding his true followers in this time of the end. It is vital that we recognize the faithful slave. Our spiritual health and our relationship with God depend on this channel. “ “Who Really Is the Faithful and Discreet Slave?” Watchtower, July 15, 2013, p. 20-21. (emphasis mine)

The History of the “slave”
Who is the slave?

This “slave” is truly important! As seen above, Witnesses are told that they must listen to it as they “would to the voice of God”; and it is on whom their “relationship with God” depends! Who is this all important “slave”?  Well, that depends on what year it is.

The Society’s teaching about who the slave is has changed over the years. In the early years of the Watch Tower, it was the “little flock” of all Bible Students (how Witnesses were known back then). [2] Then it was Charles Taze Russell, first president of the Watch Tower Society. [3] Later it was taught that the “slave” was not an individual. By 1927, the “slave” (or servant) of Mathew 24:45 was declared to be Jesus or Jesus together with his body, the faithful, anointed witnesses at that time or just the faithful members of his body. [4] It remained the entire “anointed class” for decades.

More recently, the identity of the “slave” was changed again. In the July 15, 2013, Watchtower, it is stated that the “understanding of Jesus’ words about the faithful and discreet slave needs to be changed” (simplified edition p. 20-21. It says “clarified” instead of “changed” in the regular edition.) The article also says, “Do all anointed ones on earth make up the faithful slave? No.” (p. 21-22) This is a complete reversal of what the Society taught previously. So, who is the slave now? The article goes on to say that it is the Governing Body, a board of eight men that oversee the organization. [p. 22.] That is who the “slave” is today, for now. [5] One can only wonder how long this new teaching will last.

Ironically, this latest change put the identity of the “slave” onto the leaders of the organization (the Governing Body) even though the March 1, 1981 Watchtower stated that it would be forcing an interpretation of the parable of Mathew 24:42-47 if one was to think that “the ‘slave’ pictures only the leading ones”. (emphasis mine) The article also says that doing so would be “self-deception” that is “spiritually damaging.” This article clearly stresses that the “slave” is the full body of the “anointed class”.  [6] So today, the Watch Tower Society now promotes as truth a teaching they used to teach as something that was deceptive and harmful.

The identity of the “slave” keeps changing. One would think that Jehovah’s channel of communication (the slave) would know who the slave is! Clearly, the communication is garbled!

The “slave” has been and remains Jehovah’s channel of communication to mankind

While the identity of the slave has changed, the teaching that the “slave” is Jehovah’s channel of communication to mankind has not. It has been consistently repeated in the Society’s publications decade after decade. It has served them well. It has given the Society controlling authority in the lives of Witnesses, and has allowed them to hold onto that authority even though their printed prophesies have failed and many of their teachings have been changed. Through the channel, the Society calls for loyalty and obedience from Witnesses. If one was to reject the channel, they would face various perils; or so they have been taught. This kind of control tactic is common in high control groups and cults.

The extensive control of the “slave”

Just how controlling is this “slave”, this channel of communication? The following quotes from the Society’s publications will help answer that question. Listed below are quotes that show their teachings about “Jehovah’s channel of communication” and “the slave” and how they are used to control. These teachings permeate life within “Jehovah’s organization” and have a powerful effect on the minds of its members. Following each quote, there is a list of results that can come from the teaching. You will see that the channel acts more like a master than a slave. Its grip is strong and its influence runs deep. If you meet with or minister to a Jehovah’s Witness, please remember the kind of control they are sitting under. Pray that they come out from under this oppressive weight and come to know the freedom that comes with saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Watch Tower teachings about Jehovah’s channel of communication and resulting effects

Visiting the Watchtower Online Library will allow you to look up these quotes and read them in context if you wish. In a number of cases, the context reveals even more control mechanisms.

Watch Tower teaching:
“Theocratic ones will appreciate the Lord’s visible organization and not be so foolish as to pit against Jehovah’s channel their own human reasoning and sentiment and personal feelings. Watchtower, February 1, 1952, pp. 79-80

Results:
Creates the belief that it is foolish to question the channel.
Stifles independent thought.
Encourages mindless following.
Demeaning to your intelligence and discernment.
Diminishes self-confidence.

Additional information about this article:
This article also says that no one can interpret the Bible alone. Interpretation comes from Jehovah through Jesus who then uses only the slave/channel to feed mankind. (p.79) Ironically, this same article contains an example of gross eisegesis. (Eisegesis is the faulty hermeneutic practice of reading your own meaning into a verse instead of digging out the real meaning that is there. The proper practice is exegesis.) In this article, the Society overlays “the slave” onto “your mother” at Proverbs 6:20-23. This example and plenty of others show they are not sound interpreters. Tragically, the article goes on to say that Witnesses should accept the slave’s food (interpretations and teachings) before they prove their “Scripturalness” for themselves. (pp. 80-81)

Watch Tower teaching:
“Let us now unmistakably identify Jehovah’s channel of communication for our day, that we may continue in his favor. …  It is vital that we appreciate this fact and respond to the directions of the “slave” as we would to the voice of God, because it is His provision.” Watchtower, June 15, 1957, p. 370

Results:
Creates the belief that listening to the channel is the same as listening to God.
Encourages obedience to the channel as to God.
Creates fear of disobedience.
Demands you acknowledge the channel in order to keep God’s favor.
Encourages complacency.

Watch Tower teaching:
“Since the Master Jesus Christ had appointed this “slave” class to be “over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time,” the famine-relief spiritual food could come only though this one “channel,” this appointed “slave” class, the Elijah class.” Let Your Name Be Sanctified, 1961, p. 302

“Like Elijah and Elisha with the “sons of the prophets,” Jehovah’s Elisha class today is furnishing help for doing the foretold prophesying or preaching through the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses. This is for our everlasting salvation.” Let Your Name Be Sanctified, 1961, p. 378

Results:
Maintains the fear of leaving Jehovah’s organization; because if you do, you will starve spiritually. 
Maintains the belief and fear that there is nowhere else to go.
Maintains the belief that the Bible is insufficient for spiritual food.
Maintains pride in being connected with the channel.

Watch Tower teaching:
“Make haste to identify the visible theocratic organization of God that represents his king, Jesus Christ. It is essential for life. Doing so, be complete in accepting its every aspect. We cannot claim to love God, yet deny his Word and channel of communication.” Watchtower, October 1, 1967, p. 591-592

Results:
Puts fear into you that denying the channel is denying God.

Creates the need to obey and stay a Witness; because if you left, it would be the same as denying that you love God.  
Teaches that you cannot love God without his channel.    
Encourages oversite to keep members in check. If someone openly questions any aspect of the channel, that puts their love of God in question.
Creates pride of membership and judgement of outsiders. (Witnesses alone love God because they do not deny the channel.)
Control through connecting God’s word with the channel.

 

Watch Tower teaching:
“But Jehovah God has also provided his visible organization, his “faithful and discreet slave,” made up of spirit-anointed ones, to help Christians in all nations to understand and apply properly the Bible in their lives. Unless we are in touch with this channel of communication that God is using, we will not progress along the road to life, no matter how much Bible reading we do.”
Watchtower, December 1, 1981, p. 27

Results:
Promotes total dependence on the channel.

The Bible is not enough, you need Jehovah’s organization. 
Christians everywhere need them to understand the Bible.
Denying the organization is denying God’s provision.
Creates two classes of people, one with a higher understanding.

Watch Tower teaching:
“What does God require of those who will reside forever upon his Paradise earth? … A third requirement is that we be associated with God’s channel, his organization. … To receive everlasting life in the earthly Paradise we must identify that organization and serve God as part of it.” Watchtower, February 15, 1983, p. 12-13

Results:
The epitome of control tactics: Must stay a Witness to be saved. 

Creates workers as serving Jehovah’s organization is the same as serving God.
Follow the channel and serve it. 
Only other option is disfellowshipping (shunning) and annihilation.

Watch Tower teaching:
“All who want to understand the Bible should appreciate that the “greatly diversified wisdom of God” can become known only through Jehovah’s channel of communication, the faithful and discreet slave.” Watchtower, October 1, 1994, p. 8

Results:
Creates the fear that if you separate from the channel, you separate from the wisdom of God. 

Creates allusion that there is nowhere else to go.
Creates pride in the channel.

Watch Tower teaching:
“We need to guard against developing a spirit of independence. By word or action, may we never challenge the channel of communication that Jehovah is using today. (Num. 16:1-3) On the contrary, we should cherish our privilege to cooperate with the slave class.” Watchtower, November 15, 2009 p. 14

Results:
Discourages independence.

Creates passivity.
Gives a call for complete, unchallenging obedience.
Creates pride in being connected with the channel.

Watch Tower teaching:
“That faithful slave is the channel through which Jesus is feeding his true followers in this time of the end. It is vital that we recognize the faithful slave. Our spiritual health and our relationship with God depend on this channel.”
Watchtower, July 15, 2013 p. 20-21

Results:
If you do not recognize the channel, you are not listening to Jesus.

Maintains dependency on Jehovah’s organization.
You are spiritually lost without the channel.

What control this “slave” exercises! It is a yoke under which no man need live. The Bible never speaks of a “channel of communication” or “slave” with such powers. The Bible never says that we must be associated with any channel for salvation! There is no mention of a channel that has been gifted with divine interpretation of the Bible or given progressive revelations from God (“new light”) as the Watch Tower Society claims. [7][8] All this was invented from a faulty interpretation of Mathew 24:45. Furthermore, the Bible does not divide Christians into classes such as “the slave class” or “anointed class” and “the earthly class”. All believers in Christ fit this glorious description:

“But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.” (1 Peter 2:9-10) (SMALL CAPS represent OT references in the NASB)

And as stated above, the channel of the Watch Tower Society has a long history of false prophesies and changed teachings that contradict. It is not trustworthy. The Old Testament tells us that such false prophets should not be feared. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22) There is no need to fear life or eternal life without the Society. God will provide.

Jesus and the Bible

And God has provided for us. He has done so in His Son. The Bible tells us that there is “one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 2:5) One mediator. Believers do not need a channel between them and God. They have Jesus! When any group or person claims to be a channel between God and you, beware! That is a clear indicator that their message is at odds with God’s word.

Furthermore, believers have all the communication they need from God in the Bible. With the help and work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, the Bible is sufficient and understandable to individuals who are in Christ. (John 14:16-17, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 1 John 2:27) They do not need help from a self-designated channel that claims special revelation in the interpretation of Scripture. What the Society is really doing is simply overlaying their organization and ideas on top of Scripture and disseminating that “light” to Witnesses. Their publications contain what might be the most extreme example of systemic eisegesis I have ever seen. Sadly, this results in the preaching of another Jesus and a different gospel (2 Corinthians 11:4) and slavery for its members.

Finally and so importantly: no society or organization or religion is necessary for salvation. Salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone. There is no one else, no other name by which we must be saved. (John 3:16, John 11:25, John 14:6, Acts 4:12) We must turn to Jesus for salvation and to Him alone. To Him be the glory!

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

 

Footnotes
[1] What Is the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society?, jw.org
[2] Zion’s Watch Tower, Oct/Nov 1881, p.5: “”Who then is that faithful and wise servant whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household,” to give them meat in due season? Is it not that “little flock” of consecrated servants who are faithfully carrying out their consecration vows – the body of Christ – and is not the whole body individually and collectively, giving the meat in due season to the household of faith – the great company of believers? Blessed is that servant (the whole body of Christ) whom his Lord when he has come (Gr. elthon) shall find so doing.”
[3] The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, March 1, 1917, p.67: “THE WATCH TOWER unhesitatingly proclaims Brother Russell as “that faithful and wise servant.” He delivered the message faithfully, finished his course and has now entered into his reward. Through him the Lord gave to the church the message that is so essential to each one who in this harvest time would win the glorious prize. We cannot too strongly urge upon the pilgrim brethren, therefore, that they emphasize to the various classes the necessity of adhering strictly to the message which the Lord gave through this chosen channel.”
[4] The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, February 15, 1927, p. 53: “Seeing then that The Servant of Jehovah is The Christ, and that The Christ is composed of Jesus and the faithful members of his body, we find it proper to apply the term “Servant” to Jesus Christ alone or to Jesus Christ and the members of his body collectively as one; and sometimes it is applied only to the members of the body of Christ yet on earth.”
See Also: The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, February 15, 1927, p. 56: “There seems to be no ground, within the meaning of the Scriptures, for concluding that “the faithful and wise servant” refers to any individual person, but does haye reference to the feet members of Christ on earth -those who are blind to everything except to the will of the Lord, and who are harmoniously lifting up their voices together in declaring his message of the kingdom.” [EVIL SERVANT] “All who were begotten and anointed of the holy spirit and thereby in Christ constituted a part of The Servant class.” (EVIL SERVANT is a heading in the article.)
[5] Watchtower, July 15, 2013, p. 22: “Who, then, is the faithful and discreet slave? In keeping with Jesus’ pattern of feeding many through the hands of a few, that slave is made up of a small group of anointed brothers who are directly involved in preparing and dispensing spiritual food during Christ’s presence. Throughout the last days, the anointed brothers who make up the faithful slave have served together at headquarters. In recent decades, that slave has been closely identified with the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Note, however, that the word “slave” in Jesus’ illustration is singular, indicating that this is a composite slave. The decisions of the Governing Body are thus made collectively.”
See Also: Watchtower, July 15, 2013, p. 25: “The faithful and discreet slave”: A small group of anointed brothers who are directly involved in preparing and dispensing spiritual food during Christ’s presence. Today, these anointed brothers make up the Governing Body”
[6] Watchtower, March 1, 1981, p. 24-25: “Witnesses of Jehovah understand that the “slave” is comprised of all anointed Christians as a group on earth at any given time during the 19 centuries since Pentecost. Accordingly, the “domestics” are these followers of Christ as individuals. Some readers may feel that this is a rather sectarian view of matters. Or they may object to the idea that the “slave” and the “domestics” represent the same class, one as a composite body and the other as individuals. The objectors may argue that not all of Christ’s anointed disciples have a share in preparing the spiritual food, so that perhaps the “slave” pictures only the leading ones, and the “domestics” those they serve in the congregation. There is no point in trying to force an interpretation of the parable. Self-deception is of no benefit and is spiritually damaging.”
[7] Watchtower, June 1, 1938, p. 169: “So Jehovah’s visible organization under Christ is a channel for bringing the divine interpretation of his word to his devoted people.”
[8] Watchtower, June 15, 1964, p. 365-366: “As Jehovah revealed his truths by means of the first-century Christian congregation so he does today by means of the present-day Christian congregation. Through this agency he is having carried out prophesying on an intensified and unparalleled scale. All this activity is not an accident. Jehovah is the one behind all of it. The abundance of spiritual food and the amazing details of Jehovah’s purposes that have been revealed to Jehovah’s anointed witnesses are clear evidence that they are the ones mentioned by Jesus when he foretold a “faithful and discreet slave” class that would be used to dispense God’s progressive revelations in these last days. Of this class Jesus said: “Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings.”—Matt. 24:47. [23. What evidence do we have that this is so?] The holy spirit of Jehovah is working mightily today! How thankful we should be for the provision God has made of this slave class, the modern spiritual remnant, as they faithfully dispense the revealed truths of Jehovah!” [paragraph break]

Sharon Lareau

Founder of Chapter 3 Ministries
Ministering in the spirit of Titus 2:3-5 and encouraging women to contend for the faith.