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Faithful and Discreet Slave

The parable of the "faithful and discreet slave" is used by Watchtower's Governing Body to justify that in 1919 Jehovah appointed them to lead his people, and that salvation depends on following their directions.

Matthew 24 and Luke 12 record a number of Jesus' parables, or stories, one of which refers to a faithful and discreet slave.

Matthew 24:45-47 "Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to YOU, He will appoint him over all his belongings."
Luke 12:42-44 "And the Lord said: “Who really is the faithful steward, the discreet one, whom his master will appoint over his body of attendants to keep giving them their measure of food supplies at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on coming finds him doing so! I tell you truthfully, he will appoint him over all his belongings."

The faithful slave is a reference to the integrity of Joseph as an example for all Christians to follow.

Watchtower has turned this parable into the fundamental foundation of the religious structure of Jehovah's Witnesses. Watchtower claims this parable foretold that in 1919 Jesus would return and chose Watchtower's Governing Body to represent this faithful and discreet slave as his sole source of truth. Upon this basis, Jehovah's Witnesses are told to submit unquestioningly to the Governing Body, in order to have a relationship with Jehovah and be worthy of salvation.

"Today Jehovah leads the earthly part of his organization by means of “the faithful and discreet slave.” ... We show that we trust in Jehovah’s way of doing things by heeding the direction we receive from the organization and the elders." Watchtower 2022 Feb p.4
"Some may feel that they can interpret the Bible on their own. However, Jesus has appointed the ‘faithful slave’ to be the only channel for dispensing spiritual food. Since 1919, the glorified Jesus Christ has been using that slave to help his followers understand God’s own Book and heed its directives." Watchtower 2016 Nov p.16
"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 2013 Jul 15 p.20
"“The faithful and discreet slave” was appointed over Jesus’ domestics in 1919. That slave is the small, composite group of anointed brothers serving at world headquarters during Christ’s presence who are directly involved in preparing and dispensing spiritual food. When this group work together as the Governing Body, they act as “the faithful and discreet slave.”" jw.org 10th Nov 2012
"We need to obey the faithful and discreet slave to have Jehovah’s approval." Watchtower 2011 Jul 15 p.24 Simplified English Edition
"Since Jehovah God and Jesus Christ completely trust the faithful and discreet slave, should we not do the same?" Watchtower 2009 Feb 15 p.27
"[A mature christian] does not advocate or insist on personal opinions or harbor private ideas when it comes to Bible understanding. Rather, he has complete confidence in the truth as it is revealed by Jehovah God through his Son, Jesus Christ, and "the faithful and discreet slave." Watchtower 2001 Aug 1 p.14
"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 1981 Dec 1 p.27
"... show respect for the “faithful and discreet slave” that He is using at the present time. Actually, your very life depends on following this course of action. Remember, too, it is only he that endures to the end that will be saved." Watchtower 1964 Jul 15 p.435
"To act consistently with our baptism for life and into the Greater Noah we must submit to and cooperate with that slave and its legal instrument, the Watch Tower Society." Watchtower 1959 Oct 1 p.583

Is it apparent that the faithful slave is the Governing Body? No! For many decades Watchtower taught that the faithful slave referred to all the 144,000 anointed. Is it clear that the faithful slave was chosen in 1919. The article How is 1919 Derived? shows that there is no justification for 1919 having any significance.

For many decades, Watchtower taught that the faithful and discreet slave included all 144,000 "anointed" Jehovah's Witnesses. It wasn't until the 2012 Annual Meeting that the Governing Body greatly increased their own authority by announcing that they alone represented the faithful and discreet slave.

Governing Body Watchtower 2013 July 15 page 26

Watchtower 2013 Jul 15 p.26

Jehovah's Witnesses are told they must be prepared to follow any instructions they receive from the faithful and discreet slave, regardless of whether they seem to be "unsound," "strange, impractical or illogical."

"How will we be helped if we learn to trust in Jehovah and his representatives? Now is the time to learn to trust in God’s way of doing things by not second-guessing the direction and the decisions of the elders. When the great tribulation strikes, we will be ready to obey even if we receive instructions that seem strange or illogical.—w22.02, pp. 4-6." Watchtower 2022 Dec 15 p.15
"As the end of this system of things draws near, we need to trust in Jehovah’s way of doing things as never before. Why? During the great tribulation, we may receive instructions that seem strange, impractical, or illogical." Watchtower Feb 2022 p.6
"All of us must be ready to obey any instructions we may receive, whether these appear sound from a strategic or human standpoint or not." Watchtower 2013 Nov 15 p.20

This expectation the Governing Body has of its followers is frightening, since their teachings affect what Jehovah's Witnesses believe regarding doctrine, morals, history and the future.

Since the Governing Body wields such grandiose and all-encompassing power, it is important to examine whether there is proof that Watchtower leaders are being used by Jehovah.


In Bible times, Jehovah made it simple to recognise those he had chosen to lead his people through the use of miracles and gifts of the spirit. Watchtower leaders demonstrate none of these indicators.

Identifying those used by Jehovah
Bible Times
Watchtower Governing Body
Miracles Jehovah used miraculous works to identify those chosen to lead others. For example:
Noah - Gathering of the animals
Moses - Staff into a snake
Apostles - Gifts of the spirit, such as faith healing

Prophecy When Jehovah used a person to make future predictions, the prophecies were always correct. For example, Daniel's prophecy for the fall of Babylon and the line of world powers 100% of Watchtower predictions have been false, such as that the end of the world would be in 1914, then 1925, then 1975. Furthermore, the generation teaching promoted prior to 1995 is about to be proven false, as the last survivors born prior to 1914 die out.
Consistency Bible is harmonious, with Bible writers presenting a message without contradiction.
Watchtower doctrine has been in constant flux. This cannot be explained as new light, as there have been numerous flip flops and contradictions, such as the generation teaching, organ transplants, and superior authorities.

As the Watchtower is without clear and visible proof of God's backing, it resorts to unsubstantiated claims of guidance, devoid of any legitimate basis.

The "faithful and discreet slave" has abundant credentials. Following is a partial list of Scriptural and prophetic designations applying to or being represented in the remnant of Jesus Christ's anointed followers since the notable year 1919:" Watchtower 1981 Mar 1 p.27

The 1981 article follows with a list of 80 "prophetic designations" that the reader is expected to believe foreshadow the modern day slave, including Bible accounts as diverse as "Noah's wife", "Angels sent to Lot" and the "Gleaning left behind". Can these accounts seriously be considered proof that the Watchtower leaders represent the Slave since 1919?

This concept became even more ironic when the Watchtower 2013 Jul 15 pp.22,25 stated the Faithful Slave were not been appointed over all Jesus belongings. In 1919, they were appointed over the domestics, but the appointment over all his belongings does not take place until after the Great Tribulation. The "foremost" reason the Slave was demanding trust ceased to exist.

Another line of reasoning is that "mature" Christians will realise that Watchtower is guided by Jehovah, due to superiority of doctrine, displays of love and growth in membership.

"Those mature in Christian growth have, through the Scriptures and the evident manifestation of Jehovah's favor on his faithful and discreet slave, come to appreciate that Jehovah deals with his people as an organization and that his spirit operates in conjunction with that organization. (Matthew 24:45-47)" Watchtower 1958 May 1 p.285
"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" Watchtower 1964 Jun 15 p.365

Is self proclamation of being the Slave proof that this is so? Every religion believes they have Scriptural backing for their beliefs and can point to membership numbers as evidence of God's favour.

The Governing Body do not display consistency of teachings, having been required to present ongoing changes to doctrine. They have a 100% failure rate for their prophecies or predictions for the timing of the world's end. Neither are they able to perform miracles. There is no proof of their being God's spokesmen, or that they are being used by him.

Circular Reasoning

The Governing Body say they are trustworthy because Jesus has appointed them.

"There are many reasons to have complete trust in the slave class. First and foremost, Jesus has appointed them over all his precious "belongings." This is a clear indication that he has complete trust in them." Organized to Do Jehovah's Will (2005) p.18

This is a classic example of circular reasoning - "Since we tell you that Jesus trusts us, you can trust us."

The following is a copy of notes taken in a 2017 pioneer school.

These notes and Watchtower quotes can be summarised as follows:

Who Really is the Slave?

Watchtower turns a parable into a prophecy

Jesus provided a story about a faithful slave, with the intention to invoke good behaviour in his followers. He was not prophesying about a group of leaders 2000 years in the future.

Under examination, it becomes clear this parable is a reference to the servant Joseph from Genesis, and would have been readily understood as such by those listening to Jesus.

Genesis 39:4-6 "Joseph kept finding favor in his eyes, and he became his personal attendant. So he appointed him over his house, and he put him in charge of all that was his. From the time he appointed him over his house and in charge of all that was his, Jehovah kept blessing the house of the Egyptian because of Joseph, and Jehovah’s blessing came to be on all that he had in the house and in the field. He eventually left everything that was his in Joseph’s care, and he gave no thought to anything except the food he was eating."

Joseph was servant to Potiphar and then Pharaoh. He is described through the Old and New Testaments as a faithful, discreet servant, appointed over all his Lord's belongs, and came to be in charge of supplying the rations of grain during Egypt's time of famine.

  • Servant - Genesis 39:17, 19; 41:12
  • Discreet and wise - Genesis 41:33,39 Psalm 105:21-22, 39 Acts 7:10
  • Appointed over all belongings - Genesis 39:4-5, Acts 7:10
  • Supplies grain at the appointed time - Genesis 41:53-57

The parable in Luke 12:42-46 parallels in vocabulary and story line with the story of Joseph. Potiphar was absent, during which time Joseph faithfully avoided his wife's advances, until "his master came to his house." (Genesis 39:16) Likewise the slave of Luke 12:43 is blessed when found doing the right thing when the "master on coming finds him doing so!"

As such, the parable was intended as a positive example that all could benefit from. In particular, it is aimed at congregational ministers, which is the common Christian understanding of this story.

"Some state that the "slave" refers to Christian ministers, or their office of oversight, with responsibility to care for the spiritual needs of the congregation. The 'master's' arrival is said to be either the second coming of Christ or the death of the individual minister. Thus it is held that the parable should motivate Christian ministers to care well for what is entrusted to them." Watchtower 1981 Mar 1 p.24

In Commentary on Matthew 24, Matthew Henry writes:

"Concerning the good servant; he shows here what he is-a ruler of the household; what, being so, he should be-faithful and wise; and what, if he be so, he shall be eternally-blessed. Here are good instructions and encouragements to the ministers of Christ.

First, We have here his place and office. ... The church of Christ is his household. ...
Secondly, His right discharge of this office. The good servant, if thus preferred, will be a good steward; for,
1. He is faithful; stewards must be so, 1 Co. 4:2. He that is trusted, must be trusty; and the greater the trust is, the more is expected from them. It is a great good thing that is committed to ministers (2 Tim. 1:14); and they must be faithful, as Moses was, Heb. 3:2. Christ counts those ministers, and those only, that are faithful, 1 Tim. 1:12. A faithful minister of Jesus Christ is one that sincerely designs his master's honour, not his own; delivers the whole counsel of God, not his own fancies and conceits; follows Christ's institutions and adheres to them; regards the meanest, reproves the greatest, and doth not respect persons." blueletterbible.org (9 July 2006) dead link. Also St Iakla (14 May 2016)

In line with this, 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 says;

"Let a man so appraise us as being subordinates of Christ and stewards of sacred secrets of God. Besides, in this case, what is looked for in stewards is for a man to be found faithful."

"Who really is the faithful and discreet slave ...?" This question is intended to evoke the positive moral example of Joseph in Jesus followers. It has been misused by Watchtower to establish its own authority. A parable to motivate those in authority to use their positions lovingly, has been taken to be a prophecy, and used as license for a small leadership to wield incontestable power.

Watchtower Development

Not only does Watchtower misapply this parable, it has done so inconsistently, using a range of preconceived notions to arrive at a variety of interpretations for who constitute the Faithful Slave, highlighted by numerous changes to this doctrine.

Originally, Russell said the Slave was an illustration of the entire body of Christ, the little flock of 144,000 heavenly rulers.

""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?" Zion's Watch Tower 1881 Oct/Nov p.5

Later, the slave was used to refer to a single person, Pastor Russell. (This interpretation was originally suggested by Russell's wife in a letter dated 1895. See Zion's Watch Tower 1906 Jul 15 pp.215-216 for a reprint of the letter.) Russell was thought to have been appointed as the Slave to direct the domestics (Jesus true followers) immediately prior to the Second Coming.

"In our examination of this text we seem to have treated the term "that servant" as though the Spirit had erred in saying "that servant" when it meant servants (plural), and we applied it to all true servants of God. … The objection urged is that the Lord's words clearly mention and distinguish between his "household" (his faithful people in general), the "fellow-servants" (plural) , and "that servant" specially indicated as the Lord's agent in dispensing present truth as food to his "fellow-servants" and the "household." Zion's Watch Tower 1896 Mar 1 pp.47,48
"However much we might endeavor to apply this figure to the Lord's people collectively, the fact would still remain that the various items stated would not fit to a company of individuals. For instance, in the 42nd verse, in the common version it is rendered, that faithful steward; the revised version, the faithful steward; as though a particular one were meant and the term not used indefinitely for a number. Turning to the Greek text we find that the emphasis is there also and in double form--the faithful, the wise steward. ...at the time of the parable's fulfillment the Lord would appoint a servant in the household to bring these matters to the attention of all the servants, and that certain responsibilities would rest upon such a one respecting the dispatch of his duties… " Zion's Watch Tower 1904 Apr 15 p.125
"Thousands of the readers of Pastor Russell's writings believe that he filled the office of "that faithful and wise servant," and that his great work was giving to the Household of Faith meat in due season. His modesty and humility precluded him from openly claiming this title, but he admitted as much in private conversation." Watch Tower 1916 Dec 1 p.356

Russell continued to be considered the Faithful Slave after his death in 1916.

"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." Watch Tower 1917 Mar 1 p.67
"We believe that all who are now rejoicing in present truth will concede that Brother Russell faithfully filled the office of special servant of tile Lord; and that he was made ruler over all the Lord’s goods." Watch Tower 1923 Mar 1 p.68

With Russell's death, a new interpretation became necessary. In the 1917 leaflet The Parable of the Penny, Rutherford was described as the Steward, replacing Russell.

"Saith unto His steward. — Brother J. F. Rutherford, President and Manager of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society after the Pastor’s death, and elected to that office in harmony with the Pastor’s will." p.2

In 1926, Rutherford reinterpreted the Faithful Slave from a single person to a group of people. Thus the interpretation had come full circle, but this time the servant included Jesus as well as the 144,000.

"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." Watchtower 1927 Feb 15 p.53

Over time, Jesus was removed from the role of faithful servant, so once more it was just the little flock. Refinements to this interpretation resulted in a convoluted doctrine, with this single Slave described as a class of people that feed the same class of people! For many decades it was taught that the slave and the domestics were both the same group of people. The 144,000 anointed ones were the slave as a whole, yet individually the same 144,000 were the domestics that as a group they rule over. The faithful and discreet slave became the 144,000 collectively. The domestics became the 144,000 individually. The 144,000 fed the 144,000. The rest of Jehovah's Witnesses and worldly people were not directly mentioned in this parable. This was explained in the following article.

"If all the anointed as a group, no matter where on earth they live, are members of the slave class, who are the "domestics"? They are the same anointed ones but considered from a different viewpoint-as individuals. Yes, as individuals they would be of the "slave" or they would be "domestics," depending on whether they were dispensing spiritual food or partaking of it. To illustrate: As recorded at 2 Peter 3:15, 16, the apostle Peter makes reference to Paul's letters. When reading them, Peter would be as one of the domestics feeding on the spiritual food provided by Paul as a representative of the slave class." Watchtower 1995 May 15 p.16

Not only was this bizarre concept unnecessarily confusing, in reality the Watchtower Society does not operate this way. The majority of the 144,000 do not feed the sheep, in that they are not involved in establishing Watchtower doctrines, rules or procedures of the organization. The Governing Body alone has say in what is fed to the sheep.

Few of the Anointed Witnesses I have known have written any Watchtower articles or developed any doctrine or procedure. In recent times, most articles are written by members of the Other Sheep and simply authorised by the Governing Body.

"4. Those used as writers must be dedicated, baptized brothers or sisters in good standing with their local congregations and who have writing ability. They should be exemplary, modest, not inclined to talk loosely to others about their writing activity. ... 5. PREPARING MATERIAL: The subjects on which articles may be written are quite varied. Some articles will deal with spiritual matters, and these should be written by brothers." Branch Organization Manual p.24-1 Para. 4

Since its formation, the Governing Body has varied in size between seven and and eighteen anointed men. When the Watchtower says to follow the "faithful and discreet slave" the majority of Jehovah's Witnesses understood this to mean following the rules of the Governing Body, as only these members direct the Organization.

From around 2009, the Watchtower openly admitted the Governing Body leaders represented the Slave, and began downplaying the importance of the rest of the Anointed. For instance, review the following quotes from the Watchtower 2009 June 15:

"However, Christians who have truly received this anointing do not demand special attention. They do not believe that their being of the anointed gives them special insights beyond what even some experienced members of the "great crowd" may have." p.23
"Today, the Governing Body represents the faithful and discreet slave class." Image p.23
"Are all these anointed ones throughout the earth part of a global network that is somehow involved in revealing new spiritual truths? No. Although as a composite body the slave class is responsible for feeding the spiritual household, not all individuals of the slave class have the same responsibilities or work assignments." p.24
"Similarly, today a limited number of anointed men have the responsibility of representing the slave class. They make up the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses." p.24

This same sentiment was expressed in 2010.

"Would all anointed Christians “shine”? In a sense, yes, for all Christians would participate in preaching, in disciple making, and in building one another up at meetings. Anointed ones would set the example. (Zech. 8:23) In addition to this, however, deep things were to be revealed during the time of the end. The very prophecy Daniel recorded was “sealed up” until that time. (Dan. 12:9) How and through whom would the spirit search into these deep things?

When the time comes to clarify a spiritual matter in our day, holy spirit helps responsible representatives of “the faithful and discreet slave” at world headquarters to discern deep truths that were not previously understood. (Matt. 24:45; 1 Cor. 2:13) The Governing Body as a whole considers adjusted explanations. (Acts 15:6) What they learn, they publish for the benefit of all." Watchtower 2010 Jul 15 pp.22,23
"The anointed and their other sheep companions recognize that by following the lead of the modern-day Governing Body, they are in fact following their Leader, Christ." Watchtower 2010 Sep 15 p.23
"He has provided direction for the anointed “domestics” and their “other sheep” companions by means of a Governing Body." Watchtower 2010 Sep 15 p.26
"As Head of the Christian congregation, Christ has used this “faithful and discreet slave” to administer His Kingdom interests on earth. He has provided direction for the anointed “domestics” and their “other sheep” companions by means of a Governing Body." Examining the Scriptures 2012 Jul 15

In 2011, it was claimed it is not even necessary to know who the Anointed are.

"A number of factors — including past religious beliefs or even mental or emotional imbalance — might cause some to assume mistakenly that they have the heavenly calling. We thus have no way of knowing the exact number of anointed ones on earth; nor do we need to know." Watchtower 2011 Aug 15 p.22

Whilst it was stated that the Governing Body direct the rest of the Anointed, it was not explained where this left the rest of the Anointed, or how they were used as part of the Slave. The concept that all Anointed are of the Slave fell apart with these indications that as a whole the Anointed are not of importance. It had become clear that only the Governing Body have any influence in "feeding the sheep" and running the organisation, and regard themselves alone as representing the Slave.

This became official at the Annual Meeting 6th Oct 2012. The information was released onto jw.org Nov 2012 and first appeared in the Watchtower 2013, July 15.

"The evidence points to the following conclusion: “The faithful and discreet slave” was appointed over Jesus’ domestics in 1919. That slave is the small, composite group of anointed brothers serving at world headquarters during Christ’s presence who are directly involved in preparing and dispensing spiritual food. When this group work together as the Governing Body, they act as “the faithful and discreet slave.”" jw.org (10th Nov 2012)
"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." Watchtower 2013 Jul 15 p.22

A particular nuance with this teaching is that the Slave only represents the Governing Body when it acts collectively as a group, being described as "composite".

Teaching introduced 2012

The 2012 Annual meeting presented the new teaching, summarised at jw.org 10th Nov 2012.

“Who Really Is the Faithful and Discreet Slave?”

Jesus was referring, not to an individual, but to a composite “slave”—a group working together as one body. Jesus said that the slave (1) is appointed to a supervisory role “over [the master’s] domestics” and (2) gives the domestics spiritual “food at the proper time.”

From 1919 on, there has always been a small group of anointed Christians at the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have supervised our worldwide preaching work and have been directly involved in preparing and dispensing spiritual food. In recent years, that group has been closely identified with the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The evidence points to the following conclusion: “The faithful and discreet slave” was appointed over Jesus’ domestics in 1919. That slave is the small, composite group of anointed brothers serving at world headquarters during Christ’s presence who are directly involved in preparing and dispensing spiritual food. When this group work together as the Governing Body, they act as “the faithful and discreet slave.”

Who Are the “Domestics”?

Jesus said that “his domestics” would receive “food at the proper time.” All genuine followers of Jesus are fed by “the faithful and discreet slave.” Therefore, all of Christ’s disciples—both individual anointed Christians and members of the “other sheep”—are “his domestics.”—John 10:16.

After the speaker explained this aspect of Jesus’ prophecy, the audience erupted in sustained applause. Several in attendance later expressed their profound gratitude that Jesus considers them among “his domestics.””

The Watchtower 2013 Jul 15 went into more detail on this teaching, outlining a number of changes to the understanding of Matthew 24:45-47.

Faithful Slave
The Faithful Slave is only the Governing Body, not all the Anointed, and only when acting as a composite group.

Evil Slave
The Evil Slave can only be one of the Governing Body, if they start mistreating the brothers.

The domestics include both the anointed and the other sheep, not just the anointed. The appointment over the domestics was in 1919.

All the Belongings
The appointment over "all the belongings" is when the Governing Body arrive in heaven, and after the start of the great tribulation. (See pp.8,22

Watchtower 2013 July 15 page 22 Watchtower 2013 Jul 15 p.22

What is remarkable about this teaching is that in 1981 the Watchtower described this very concept, that only the leaders represent the Slave class, as deceptive and from objectors; in other words, it was an apostate teaching.

The 2012 teaching that only the Governing Body represents the Slave was described in 1981 as an apostate concept

"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. Therefore, we must look to the Scriptures for an understanding. In doing this, what do we find?
[ ... ]
Thus we see a clear Scriptural basis for saying that all anointed followers of Christ Jesus make up God's "servant," with Jesus as its Master." Watchtower 1981 Mar 1 pp.24-26

One must wonder, if God truly appointed the Governing Body to dispense truth since 1919, why it took them 93 years to dispense the truth about this doctrine. How can can anyone possibly believe Jesus is using these men to dispense truth, when they were actively teaching against the very doctrine about themselves they now claim is truth?

Changes To The Slave Doctrine Summarised


The Watchtower claims the Slave has been given all authority.

"The facts of modern history show that in the year 1919 [Jesus] revived these much afflicted disciples and gathered them together in a united body. Then he appointed them as his “slave” class “over all his belongings,” that is, over all his royal interests at the earth." Watchtower 1971 Dec 15 p.750

This is not what was intended by the Scriptures. The Bible states that the appointment over all the belongings is made after the master arrives.

Matthew 24:46,47 "Happy is that slave if his master on arriving (erchomai) finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings."

The master has not yet arrived, as the memorial is to cease on his arrival, and so the Slave has not been appointed over all the belongings.

1 Corinthians 11:26 "For as often as you eat this loaf and drink this cup, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives (erchomai)."

The leaders have prematurely seized control for themselves, and consolidated that control. The 2012 version of the doctrine leaves Christians uncared for between 33 CE and 1919 CE, and elevates the exclusivity and importance of Governing Body. This is in contrast to the parable, which indicates that at this time the elders are to be shepherds of the congregation.

One would expect that the definition for one of Jehovah's Witnesses to be a person that worships Jehovah. However, the defining concept to being a Jehovah's Witness is not worship of Jehovah, but rather following the "faithful and discreet slave." In a judicial committee, the foremost question is not whether a Witness believes the Bible or worships Jehovah, but whether they believe God is using the Watchtower Faithful and Discreet Slave in our day. If a person believes in the Bible and Jehovah, they will still be disfellowshipped as an apostate if they openly confess that the Watchtower leaders do not represent Jehovah's slave.

The Governing Body has managed to deflect attention from Jesus by means of their doctrine that Jesus is mediator for the Slave class alone, and that salvation can only be achieved through association with the Slave.

"He is the Mediator between his heavenly Father, Jehovah God, and the nation of spiritual Israel, which is limited to only 144,000 members. " Worldwide Security Under the "Prince of Peace" (1986) pp.10-11
"Jesus knew that he was going to purchase these anointed ones with his own blood, so he fittingly referred to them collectively as his slave." Watchtower 1993 May 1 p.16
"To keep in relationship with "our Savior, God," the "great crowd" needs to remain united with the remnant of spiritual Israelites." Watchtower 1979 Nov 15 p.27 Benefiting from "One Mediator Between God and Men"

Rather than draw people to Jesus, the Governing Body misapply the parable of the Faithful and Discreet Slave to direct attention to themselves, inserting their authority between Jesus and his followers.

Watchtower 1971 Dec 15 page 749

The Watchtower 2013 April 15 does not include Jesus at all in an image depicting the hierarchy of their Organisation Chart. This no longer references Jesus or the Anointed, nor separates the Governing Body from the Faithful Slave, but extends from Jehovah directly to the Governing Body, Branch Committees, Travelling Overseers, Elders, Congregations and finally Publishers.

Watchtower 2013 Apr 15 page 29

Unusually for a Christian religion, they have chosen this representation, which does not include Jesus at all, but has the Governing Body directly beneath Jehovah. The image draws on the Celestial Chariot of Ezekiel 1 as a basis for the heavenly part of the Organisation. There is no reason why they could not have used Daniel 7, which the same Watchtower also references, which has Jehovah's Throne on wheels, along with the Son of Man. They could then include Jesus as part of their organizational structure, as surely Jesus is the most important part of any Christian organization.

The Governing Body use the Slave concept to say that without them the Bible is beyond understanding.

"However, we cannot hope to acquire a good relationship with Jehovah if we ignore those whom Jesus has appointed to care for his belongings. Without the assistance of “the faithful and discreet slave,” we would neither understand the full import of what we read in God’s Word nor know how to apply it." Examining the Scriptures Daily 2012 Mar 4
"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 1994 Oct 1 p.8
"We have the opportunity to show love for our brothers who take the lead in the congregation or in connection with Jehovah's visible organization worldwide. This includes being loyal to "the faithful and discreet slave." (Matthew 24:45-47) Let us face the fact that no matter how much Bible reading we have done, we would never have learned the truth on our own. We would not have discovered the truth regarding Jehovah, his purposes and attributes, the meaning and importance of his name, the Kingdom, Jesus' ransom, the difference between God's organization and Satan's, nor why God has permitted wickedness." Watchtower 1990 Dec 1 p.19
"Thus the Bible is an organizational book and belongs to the Christian congregation as an organization, not to individuals, regardless of how sincerely they may believe that they can interpret the Bible. For this reason the Bible cannot be properly understood without Jehovah's visible organization in mind." Watchtower 1967 Oct 1 p.587

The Bible has been provided for people to know God's requirements. Has the Watchtower enlightened people beyond the words of Jesus? Is it not more accurate to say that what the Watchtower has said beyond that contained in the Bible has regularly been wrong and later changed? Information such as:

By going beyond the guidelines given in the Scriptures on disfellowshipping, have not the Slave created a practice that has had a destructive effect on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, dividing families for decades?

When a group of men claim special guidance from God as his sole representatives, they risk controlling people without justification, leading to disastrous results for the followers. Christians do well to keep in mind Bible warnings about following humans, and remember who their head really is.

"Do not put YOUR trust in nobles, Nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs." Psalms 146:3
"But I want YOU to know that the head of every man is the Christ; in turn the head of a woman is the man; in turn the head of the Christ is God." 1 Corinthians 11:3

Related to the topic of the Faithful and Discreet Slave are the articles:


Quotes regarding 1900 year Slave - dropped in 2012

For many decades Watchtower taught that Jesus established the Faithful and Discreet Slave class in 33 A.D., to care spiritually for his people. This slave included all of the 144,000, and continued uninterrupted from Jesus death until the time of his return. Since 1919 the slave was awaken, cleansed and identified by their association with Watchtower, as shown in the following quotes. This concept was discarded in 2012.

"Over a period of more than 1,960 years, that work of education has continued, preparing a little flock made up of people from "every tribe and tongue and people and nation" to serve with Christ in his heavenly Kingdom." Yearbook 1996 p.3
"In this regard, the book God's Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached stated: "As to just how the 'faithful and discreet slave' class existed and served down through the centuries after the death of the apostles of the Master Jesus Christ, we do not have a distinct historical picture. Apparently one generation of the 'slave' class fed the next succeeding generation thereof. (2 Timothy 2:2)" Watchtower 1995 May 15 p.16
"Jehovah's Witnesses believe that this parable pertains to the one true congregation of Jesus Christ's anointed followers. Beginning with Pentecost, 33 C.E., and continuing through the 19 centuries since then, this slavelike congregation has been feeding its members spiritually, doing so faithfully and discreetly. the one approved channel representing God's kingdom on earth in the "time of the end."" Watchtower 1981 Mar 1 p.24
"That "slave," according to Jesus' description, would be on hand when the Lord departed for heaven and would still be alive at the time of Christ's return. Such a description could not possibly fit an individual human. But it does fit Christ's faithful anointed congregation viewed as a whole." United in Worship of the Only True God p.119
"We understand that this heavenly calling continued down through the centuries, though during the so-called Dark Ages, there may have been times when the number of anointed ones were very few." Watchtower 1996 Aug 15 p. 31
"Down through the years the slavelike congregation has been feeding its true members faithfully and discreetly. From Pentecost, A.D. 33, up to this very present hour this has been lovingly and carefully performed. Regularly and progressively such a great crowd are receiving their spiritual food through the columns of the eighty-one-year-old instrument in the hands of the "slave" class, The Watchtower, the religious magazine with the largest circulation in the world. Surely Jehovah and Jesus Christ have supplied no hasty, expedient form of leadership for the great crowd of true worshipers. Yes, beyond doubt the old but awake "faithful and discreet slave" stands today as a wonder watchman to the peoples of the nations. Just as their Master, Jesus Christ, stood for the rise and fall of many in Israel in the first century of the Christian Era, so now before the whole world the anointed witnesses stand as a guide to survival for a minority of mankind but prove to be an occasion for stumbling into Armageddon destruction for the rest.-Luke 2:34." Watchtower 1960 Jul 15 p. 435
Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God page 183
Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God p.183

Further Reading

The Truth Changes - PDF by Doug Mason discussing the changes from the Watchtower 2013 July 15, and the implications. See also Spanish Version.


Written July 2006, latest update September 2022.

creative commons copyright    Paul Grundy  2005 - 2022