Paragraph 16. Consider how Paul handled a problem that arose in the Syrian city of Antioch. The Christian congregation there was split over the issue of circumcision. (Acts 14:26-15:2) Since Paul had been appointed to take the lead in preaching to the uncircumcised Gentiles, he might have thought of himself as an expert in dealing with non-Jews and therefore well-qualified to resolve the problem. (Read Galatians 2:8,9.) When his efforts did not seem to clear up the issue, however, "'with humility and modesty, he went along with arrangements to approach the governing body in Jerusalem to discuss the matter."
First of all, there was no centralized "governing body" in Jerusalem. Yes, there were 'apostles' and 'older men', but the main reason Paul went to Jerusalem to try and clear the matter up is because it was men from Jerusalem who had tried enforcing the issue of circumcision on other Christians in the first place. Therefore, when the matter was not cleared up quickly, it was only common sense that he go to where the problem originated.
The very fact that after Paul's conversion he most certainly did not seek out "guidance" or "approval" from any 'governing body members in Jerusalem', speaks volumes. Paul instead was instructed by Jesus to go to Damacus and start preaching there. Surely if there had been a "governing body" through which Jesus dispensed "new light", he would have instructed Paul to go there immediately. Paul did not visit Jerusalem until several years afterwards, nor did he seek their approval:
"...But when God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called [me] through his undeserved kindness, thought good 16 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, but I went off into Arabia, and I came back again to Damascus. Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to visit Ce´phas, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. But I saw no one else of the apostles, only James the brother of the Lord...."-----Galatians 1:15-19
In fact, Paul repeatedly emphasized that his guidance did not need the approval or guidance of any 'governing body' class, but instead, his ministry was connected directly with Jesus:
".....Is it, in fact, men I am now trying to persuade or God? Or am I seeking to please men? If I were yet pleasing men, I would not be Christ’s slave. For I put YOU on notice, brothers, that the good news which was declared by me as good news is not something human; for neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught [it], except through revelation by Jesus Christ-----Galatians 1:10-12
He cooperated fully as its members listened to the matter, reached a decision, and assigned him to be one of their messengers. (Acts 15:22-31) Thus Paul 'took the lead in showing honor' to his fellow servants. -Rom. 12:10b.
Actually, that's not the entire picture. The 'older men' and Paul discussed the problem and they unanimously reached a decision that circumcision would be optional, not compulsory:
". . .For the holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to YOU, except these necessary things, 29 to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication. If YOU carefully keep yourselves from these things, YOU will prosper. Good health to YOU!" (Acts 15:28-29)
Yet this paragraph attempts to give the impression that Paul somehow submitted to the council of this supposed 'governing body', when in fact he did nothing of the kind. He went to see them as an equal, presented them with the facts and they ALL came to a decision. One can only imagine what would happen today if a "newly converted man" attempted to discuss scriptural matters with the governing body members at Brooklyn.
19. All who wish to progress spiritually must manifest a humble spirit as Paul did. He exhorted fellow Christians to do "nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with lowliness of mind considering that the others are superior to you." (Phil. 2:3)
This is a piss-poor translation and it gives a very different interpretation as to what was being said. While the NWT gives the impression here that you are to submit yourself to those who are "superior to you" (in fact, Jesus emphasized over and over and over again that the "greatest one among you is a minister"), every other translation that I've read indicates that a person is to be humble, yes, but not because someone has a position in the congregation that is "superior" to yours, but rather because humility is a mark of Christianity:
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."----New International Version
"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves"---New American Standard
In addition, this scripture was applied to all Christians, not just those who had no 'title' in the congregation because if that were the case, how were the Christians any different than when they lived under the order of the Pharisees with their "do as we say, not as we do" mentality. And if you actually factor in the Organization's bizarre theory that the bible is written 'primarily' for the "annointed", then I guess this scripture shouldn't be binding on the R&F at all. Yet that is exactly what this article is trying to support:
How can we follow that counsel? One way is by cooperating with the elders in our congregation, following their direction and upholding judicial decisions made by them. (Read Hebrews 13:17.)
Typical 'double standard' and the real meaning of this entire article. What happens when you have a elder, or a group of elders on a power trip who routinely make bad decisions based on either their lack of humility, general knowledge or just being on a power trip? In the first century, you could certainly challenge a decision made by someone....Hell, the average Christians in one congregation wanted to literally kill Paul at one point but I don't recall any of them being disfellowshipped. Yet the average Witness today is not allowed to question anything that anyone 'higher up' says or does. In other words, the Watchtower is the exact thing that Jesus and his followers preached against.
I can't help but wonder if there are stirrings again with some 'higher ups' in the Organization. The last few weeks has really been emphasizing 'unity', 'getting along with one another' and 'obeying the rules.'