Is the Governing Body a “Faithful and Discreet Slave”?

Members of the Governing Body as of 2018. Left to Right. Back: Anthony Morris III, Stephen Lett, David Splane, Geoffrey Jackson, Mark Sanderson. Front: Gerrit Lösch, Kenneth Cook, Samuel Herd.

According to the Watchtower, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses is the “faithful and discreet slave” referred to in Matthew 24:45. The Watchtower also tells us that they were judged to be such by Jesus in the year 1919: 

Watchtower, July 2013 pp. 20-25, “Who Really is the Faithful and Discreet Slave?”

Of course anyone can claim to be anything they like, and we shouldn’t just take their word for it. How do we judge for ourselves whether their claim is true? The Bible tells us that we are required to test such claims, and gives us a process to follow in making our determination:

Dear friends, don’t believe all people who say that they have the Spirit. Instead, test them. See whether the spirit they have is from God, because there are many false prophets in the world. 1 john 4:1

You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Matthew 7:16

So, following this Biblical mandate, let’s test the Watchtower’s claim: have the Governing Body displayed the “fruits” of a “faithful and discreet slave”?

Are They Faithful?

How faithful would we consider a slave who sold his master’s house without knowing if his master wished to sell it? The Governing Body sold the world headquarters of God’s organization on earth (known as “Bethel” which is Hebrew for “House of God”). They did this when they did not know Jehovah’s will on the matter!

Watchtower, August, 2012 pp.17-18

Are They Discreet?

First, let’s lookup the definition of discreet. Here’s what I found when I googled it:


So, a discreet individual or group is going to be cautious in what they say or write. They’re not going to blurt out the first thought that comes into their head. They’re going to make sure that what they are stating is true or else they’re going to keep their mouths shut. They’ll know when “not to speak” so as to not cause offense or harm to others with untrue statements.

By their own accounting, the Governing Body was not as discreet back in 1919 as they are now:

“As we might expect, over the years Jehovah has helped ‘the faithful and discreet slave’ to become steadily more discreet. Discretion has led to greater caution when it comes to calling a Bible account a prophetic drama unless there is a clear Scriptural basis for doing so.”
March 15, 2015 Watchtower (pgs. 9-10, paragraph 10) (emphasis added)

There are two important sentences in that quote, and we’re going to deal with the second one in a moment. But first, let’s consider the fact that the Governing Body has “become steadily more discreet” over time, and so was of necessity less discreet in the past.

We can then imagine a timeline: a graph representing “discreetness,” it would be a straight line “steadily” leading up to the amount of discreetness shown by the Governing Body today.

But, where to start and end the line? Well, if we were to find the GB making a non-discreet statement, we could start the line there at zero, and then progress up to where we might guess they are at the current time, and even project that to 100% at the start of Armageddon. Something like this:


You’ll notice that the line is at zero in the year 1967 (and, being “steadily” progressive, is of necessity below zero prior to that year.) We zero the line at that year due to the Watchtower’s stating, in the November 15, 1967 Watchtower (p. 702) that organ transplants were against God’s law, and were equivalent to “cannibalism.” This statement caused harm to their followers who were in need of organ transplants (and caused at least one documented death.)

In March of 1980, the Watchtower reversed its position on organ transplants, proving that their 1967 ban was incautious, to say the least. In fact, it was the epitome of indiscretion. Since it was a mistaken ban, evidently they were not being “led by Jehovah’s spirit” when they made the 1967 announcement, and so, if they were discreet they should’ve kept their mouths shut.

On the other hand, if they thought they were being led by Jehovah’s spirit in the 1967 ban, then they were wrong, and evidently don’t know what it feels like to be led by that spirit, and hence have never really felt led by that spirit.

In accordance with our chart, if we look back prior to the year 1967 we see even more egregiously indiscreet statements such as: “vaccinations are filthy pus which never saved a life, and which are against God’s everlasting covenant.” (Golden Age, Feb 4, 1931, pp. 293-294)

All of which brings us back to 1919: the year in which Jesus supposedly judged the Governing Body to be “faithful and discreet.” But they would’ve been below zero on the discretion scale during that year! In support of this, we have the following Watchtower statement issued a couple of years prior, and still held as “truth”  up until 1926:

The Watch Tower unhesitatingly proclaims Brother Russell as “that faithful and wise servant.” — Watchtower, March 1, 1917 p. 68

How discreet was it to “unhesitatingly proclaim” something that later proved to be false? How is that being cautious, circumspect, or prudent? Well, it’s not. So they were not in any sense discreet in 1919, and Jesus would not have judged them to be so. But we are asked to believe that the leaders of the Watchtower were judged to be the F&D Slave while they were “unhesitatingly proclaiming” that they definitely were not the F&D Slave!

Let’s turn now to the second sentence in the March 2015 Watchtower quote: “Discretion has led to greater caution when it comes to calling a Bible account a prophetic drama unless there is a clear Scriptural basis for doing so.

What is the “clear Scriptural basis” for calling the parable of the “faithful and wise steward” related in MT. 24:45, a “prophetic drama”? There is none. It is a simple parable. There is no such thing as a “faithful and discreet slave class.” There never was one, and there never was intended to be one. It was a parable about how individuals are to behave, just as the parable of the Good Samaritan is not about a class of people, but rather demonstrates moral conduct for all of us to follow.

Here’s the clincher: in Mark’s account of this, Jesus says in conclusion: “But what I say to you I say to all” (Mark 13:37). So, again, his words were meant as a guide for “all” of us; and were certainly never meant as a prophecy concerning the likes of Tony, Steve, Dave, Jeff, Mark, Jerry, Ken, and Sam! 

Are They Slaves?

I looked it up: A “slave” is:

“A person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey him.”

Does this sound like the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses? According to the Bible, Christians are not “forced to obey,” but are supposed to serve God willingly:

Therefore, as a fellow elder, a witness of the sufferings of the Christ and a sharer of the glory that is to be revealed, I make this appeal to the elders among you: Shepherd the flock of God under your care, serving as overseers, not under compulsion, but willingly before God; 1 Peter 5:1-2 (NWT)

When I see Governing Body members riding around in their luxury cars or flashing their gold rings and expensive wristwatches before the cameras, it strikes me that their self-appellation of “slaves” is a slap in the face to anyone whose ancestors endured the horrors of genuine slavery.


In summary, then: we have found only thistles and thorns while testing the Governing Body’s claim. The light has indeed gotten brighter, and it is now clear as day that they are not “the faithful and discreet slave” that they claim to be.

Since their followers are compelled to serve them (on pain of eternal death), the Governing Body are more like slave owners than slaves. So, in the end, our examination finds that the Governing Body are really unfaithful and indiscreet slave owners.

See also: