The Higher Powers/The Text

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JUNE 1, 1929
according to God's law? They could not know except by faith and by the fruits of those who are actually engaged in the work of the Lord. Jesus said: "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." - Matt. 7:20, 21.
28 If, therefore, we find one who is devoted to the Lord and is bending his efforts to do what the Lord has assigned him to do, and is faithful and true to the Lord and not compromising with the enemy, and who has the Lord's manifest blessings upon his efforts, then his fruits are being manifested and such is proof that he is pleasing to the Lord and going in the right way. (John 15:8) If one is being used of the Lord in harmony with his Word, that is tho evidence that his course of action is pleasing to the Lord. Being imperfect, such will make mistakes, but each one who has faith in the Lord will leave it to the Lord to do the chastening and the correction and to rectify the mistakes. (Heb. 12:6; Rom. 8:33) This same rule, because it is the Lord's rule, must apply to all who are in the "Society". If the "Society" is pursuing the wrong course or policy, then all of God's people must depend upon the Lord to correct that policy and change it into the right one. It is not the prerogative of any individual to set himself up as the judge to take action and oppose the work of the Lord. "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. "-Rom. 14:4.
29 If Romans the thirteenth chapter applies to the church, does that mean that the elders and deacons have authority to do judging and to determine the course or policy of the church? No, certainly not. The elders are the advisers or counselors in the ecclesia and have no jurisdiction to act except within the scope of the authority conferred upon them by the Scriptures. The deacons are servants in the church and possess no authority other than that conferred by the Scriptures. The Scriptures do not confer authority upon elders or deacons to judge or determine the course of action of the ecclesia. If there is disorder in the church the ecclesia, composed of those who are God's children, may take certain action. The Lord himself laid down the code of procedure. - Matt. 18:15-18.
29 The church as a body has jurisdiction to hear and determine matters relating to those who are members of the body; but no individual has been clothed with such power or authority, aside from the twelve apostles, who were clothed with special authority from the Lord. If Romans thirteen has any application to the powers in the world, with much stronger reasoning must it apply to the church, because it is addressed to those who are in God's family. Consider now the apostle's instructions verse by verse.

31 "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." (Verse 1) At once the question arises, To what shall God's people be subject? It is written: "And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all." (1 Cor. 15:28) This scripture really answers the question. This proves that the higher powers are Christ Jesus and Jehovah and that the supreme power is Jehovah God. The apostle uses the husband and wife to picture Christ and the church, and by his argument he shows that the church is subject to Christ: "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing." (Eph. 5:23,24) The inspired testimony of James supports this conclusion: "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded." (Jas. 4:7,8) These scriptures show beyond a doubt that the anointed can be pleasing to God only by an undivided and complete devotion to him. The apostle could not mean that the "higher powers" are the Gentile powers. It is not possible that these are higher than and have control over God's arrangement of his own people.
32 The apostle says: "The powers that be are ordained of [arranged under, Diaglott] God." Can this be properly applied to the Gentile powers on earth and not applied to the church? The words of the apostle are in answer to that question: "But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And God hath set some in the church; first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers; after that, miracles; then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues." (1 Cor. 12:18,28) Those who have insisted that the apostle referred exclusively to the Gentile powers when he said, "The powers that be are ordained of God," cite in support thereof the words of Peter, to wit: "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man [human creation, Greek] for the Lord's sake; whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well." A careful examination of this text shows that it does not apply to the powers exercised by the Gentile governments.
33 The phrase "ordinance of man" in the above text means "human creation". How then could it be said that any ordinance of the church is of human creation? When the man Christ Jesus appointed the apostles and sent them forth as leaders and governors


in the church, were they not all of human creation, within the meaning of this text? It was the man Jesus that did it, and it was men that were sent forth; and this is none the less true even though it was done in obedience to God's command.
34 "When the church by a vote makes a rule governing the ecclesia, or by vote elects leaders, is not such of human creation? When the apostles announced a rule or rules relating to the church, were not these of human creation? In support of this conclusion, note the words written: "Remember them which have the rule over you [your leaders, Diaglott] ... Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you." Heb. 13:7,17.
35 Peter's words addressed to the church seem clearly to mean this: Where the church acts under the authority of the Scriptures and creates an arrangement for its government or course of action, each member of the ecclesia should submit to such arrangement and not try to overthrow it. If that which is of human creation, such as regulations, rules or leaders, become useless or the leaders become unfaithful, the church may take action to judge or rule or put out the unfaithful ones. No individual, however, has authority to take such action. The chief lesson is that it is the Lord's arrangement or organization and he has designated the manner in which it shall be governed and judged.
36 What, then, did Peter mean when he said, "whether it be to the king, as supreme"? Undoubtedly he referred to Jesus, because Jesus is the King or Lord to the church, and is supreme over the church because he always acts in exact harmony with Jehovah, the Supreme One. But how could it be said that Jesus the King is of human creation, as those words appear in the text? The apostle did not say that Jesus is an ordinance of man. When Jesus was on earth he laid down certain rules which must be followed by the church; and these rules, being promulgated by the man Christ Jesus, were of human creation. But even that is not what is here meant by Peter's argument. Paraphrased, his words are these: 'For the Lord's sake submit yourselves to every ordinance of man [in the church], for that ordinance relates to the King, the Christ, the Head of the church. To be sure you will submit to that, because he is the Head of the church; or whether it relates to the governors of the church, who are sent by the Lord Jesus Christ.' The apostles were appointed as governors in the church. (1 Cor. 12:28) They laid down rules relating to the church. Whether those rules were directly inspired and directed from Jehovah or the Lord Jesus, or were made by the apostles, the members of the church may not have known; but they were admonished to be submissive thereto for the Lord's sake and to let the Lord determine whether or not the rules
were right. Not always did the apostles speak by commandment. Paul said on one occasion: "I speak this by permission, and not of commandment." - 1 Cor. 7:6.
37 The argument of Peter (1 Pet. 2:13,14) was for unity and harmony in the church. In support of this, note his further words: "Be respectful to all; love the brotherhood; fear God; honor the King." (1 Pet. 2:17, Diaglott) It is manifest here, when he commands the church to be respectful to all, to love their brethren and to fear God, and then speaks of the King, that he does not mean the kings of earth over which Satan is the god. To determine to whom he speaks, it is but necessary to notice the opening words of the epistle, which he addresses to the new creation.
38 As further proof that Peter's words have reference to the government in the church, and that when he speaks with reference to the King he has reference to Christ, he says: "Or to governors, as sent by him for the punishment of evil-doers, and the praise of well-doers" (Diaglott) Can it be said that God has sent the governors of the various nations to punish evil-doers in the church and to praise well-doers therein? Whoever heard of the governor or ruler of any Gentile nation giving praise to those because of their full and absolute obedience and faithfulness unto the Lord God and to the Lord Jesus Christ? The Lord Jesus Christ did send the apostles as governors in the church; and the apostles, as governors in the church, did punish evil-doers. (Acts 5:1-10; 1 Cor. 5:1-5) They also gave praise to those who did well in the church. (Phil. 1:3; 2 Cor. 9:1,2; Col. 4:9,12,14) There is therefore no support to the argument that the Apostle Peter (1 Pet. 2:13-17) had any reference whatsoever to the laws or governments of the Gentile powers.
39 Jehovah conferred all power upon Christ Jesus, and in turn Jesus Christ delegated to his disciples certain powers in the church. (John 17:2) After he had been raised from the dead Jesus said to his faithful disciples: "Receive ye the holy spirit [power]: whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." (John 20:22,23) That the apostles had and exercised such power, note the words of Paul: "For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority [power], which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed." (2 Cor. 10:13) "Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction." - 2 Cor. 13:10.
40 Addressing the Ephesians, Paul wrote: "Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning


JUNE 1, 1929
of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God." - Eph. 3:7,9,10.
41 These words of the apostle could hardly be construed to mean that "by the church" on earth the wisdom of God is being made known to the princely angelic powers in the literal heavens. The context shows that this is the meaning of the apostle's words, to wit: That by the divine arrangement God was using Paul as his minister to make known these truths to the principalities and powers throughout the church, the members of which are 'seated with Christ in heavenly places'. (Eph. 2:6) It was Paul who was given the privilege to disclose to others, the apostles and leaders, the mystery of God. The Scriptures therefore show that the apostles, and particularly Paul, occupied important positions as governors in the church; and this must be taken into consideration in determining the meaning of their words.
42 There are no successors to the apostles. There has long been in the world an organization called the "Christian church", or "Christianity". Because men in that organization have assumed to be successors to the apostles and individually to direct the affairs of the church and of the world, there has been much confusion of mind of those who have studied the Word of God. The apostle's words have been wofully misconstrued. It should always be kept in mind that Christ is the Head of the church, and that the apostles held special positions therein and that no men since the apostle's day have filled their places. They exercised certain governing powers in the church. The Lord Jesus, and the apostles, under his direction, laid down certain rules for the governing of the church; and the ecclesia, as a body, is clothed with certain power and authority to act, and every individual member of the church should be subject to that arrangement. - Eph. 2:18-21.
43 Seeing, then, that the Society is made up or composed of God's anointed yet on earth, and that this body or company of Christians is diligently endeavoring to carry out the Lord's commandments, and knowing that the Lord Jesus is the Head thereof, even every member should diligently seek to be in harmony with the policy, course of action and work of such Society. If any are of the opinion that the Society is not pursuing the proper course, then commit the matter to the Lord and wait upon him to do the judging and to determine what is the proper course to be taken. Every member of Zion on earth is in the covenant with the Lord, and every one must be in harmony with the Lord; and, that being true, every one must be subject to the higher powers.

(To be continued)