What is the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses?

What JW.ORG Says

“The Governing Body is a small group of mature Christians who provide direction for Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide. Their work is twofold:

The Governing Body follows the pattern set by “the apostles and elders in Jerusalem” in the first century, who made important decisions on behalf of the entire Christian congregation. (Acts 15:2) Like those faithful men, the members of the Governing Body are not the leaders of our organization. They look to the Bible for guidance, acknowledging that Jehovah God has appointed Jesus Christ as the Head of the congregation.​—1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:​23.”

The Truth

The JW.ORG article states that “the members of the Governing Body are not the leaders of our organization,” while also stating that the Governing Body “oversees,” “supervises,” and “makes important decisions on behalf of the entire Christian congregation.” These terms are more or less synonymous with “leading” and in fact Watchtower publications consistently say that the Governing Body “take the lead.” (w89 9/15 pp. 20-25) They do not clarify how the Governing Body can be “taking the lead” while somehow not also being “leaders.”

Although the Governing Body states that Christ is “the head of the congregation” as he rules invisibly in heaven, they routinely refer to themselves as “the visible part of God’s organization.” (ws13 4/15 pp. 15-20) They also claim to be the “faithful and discreet slave” spoken about by Jesus.

The Governing Body reasons that by being loyal to them their members are being loyal to Christ, as he supposedly has appointed to them to their relative positions:

  • “We can also remember the Governing Body by following its instructions and direction. The Governing Body gives us direction through our publications, meetings, assemblies, and conventions…And all of us show respect for our Leader, Jesus, by obeying the men he is using today.” ws17 February pp. 20-26
  • The Governing Body continues “following the Lamb,” Jesus, “no matter where he goes.” (Revelation 14:4) So when we follow the direction of the Governing Body, we follow our Leader, Jesus. ws17 February pp. 20-26
  •  Jesus Christ, who has committed all his earthly Kingdom interests, or belongings, to his faithful slave class and its Governing Body. w90 3/15 pp. 15-20

The Governing Body states in Watchtower publications that they are not elected to their positions, but chosen by holy spirit:

  • “…the Governing Body is not a legal instrument. Its members are not elected. They are appointed through the holy spirit under the direction of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ.w90 3/15 pp. 15-20

However, when under oath during the 2015 Australian Royal Commission, Governing Body Member Geoffrey Jackson confirmed that the Governing Body itself does, in fact, elect future members:

  • Angus Stewart: “And is it the case that the Governing Body then appoints new members of the Governing Body?”

    Geoffrey Jackson: “That is correct.”

In Watchtower publications Witnesses are told that the Governing Body are the only channel God is using on earth today:

  • “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.—John 6:68.” – w94 10/1 p.8

However, during the aforementioned Royal Commission, Geoffrey Jackson stated the exact opposite:

  • Angus Stewart: “Do you see yourselves as Jehovah God’s spokespeople on earth?”

    Geoffrey Jackson: “That, I think, would seem to be quite presumptuous to say that we are the only spokesperson that God is using.”

If a Jehovah’s Witness believes something that is contrary to what the Governing Body teaches and does not keep this silent, he is labeled as an apostate:

  • “[An apostate] thinks he knows better than his fellow Christians, better also than the “faithful and discreet slave,” through whom he has learned the best part, if not all that he knows about Jehovah God and his purposes. He develops a spirit of independence, and becomes “proud in heart . . . something detestable to Jehovah.” (Prov. 16:5)  w80 8/1 pp. 17-22

Trusting in and being thankful to the Governing Body is presented as essential for maintaining one’s faith in God:

  • “To avoid falling away from the faith, we also need to guard against ingratitude. We should be thankful for the abundant spiritual food we are receiving through the “faithful and discreet slave.”” w80 8/1 pp. 17-22

Suffice it to say, contrary to what is stated on their official website, the Governing Body are indeed the leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and those beneath them are beholden to their interpretation of scripture under penalty of shunning.

A transcript of Geoffrey Jackson’s testimony is available on the Royal Commission’s official website

Unedited video of Jackson’s testimony can be seen on Youtube.

Part One: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erWV8YnTFto

Part Two: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBE_oof1RzE

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