So many people the world over are still in the dark as to who should properly be referred to as Jehovah’s witness. The truth is that the title does not refer to every believer in Christ but to a select few. In the words of Saint Paul: “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron”. (Hebrews 5:4).
The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines the word ‘witness’ as “a person who sees something happen and is able to describe it to other people,” while the Oxford Universal Dictionary defines the word as “one who is called on, selected, or appointed to be present at a transaction, so as to be able to testify to its having taken place. One who is or was present and is able to testify from personal observation”.
A Jehovah’s witness is, therefore, a person who is called, chosen or appointed and made by Jehovah (God) himself to see and understand spiritual things so as to be competent to testify to the truth of His word. Such persons are able to do this by virtue of the anointing of the Holy Spirit which distinguishes the receivers who are always few and rare from other Christians.
God said: “If there be a prophet among you, I, the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream”. (Numbers 12:6).
This statement was made by God Almighty to make it clear that Moses was His mouth-piece or prophet. But Mirian, who was presumptuous, claiming that God also spoke through her was punished with leprosy. (verses 9-15). It is God Almighty alone who chooses His servants to work for Him. Not man.
David who was a king and a prophet said: “The spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and his word was in my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2). What is more, Saint Peter wrote: “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”. (2 Peter 1:21) The Bible shows clearly that all such ones who are chosen by God must speak faithfully and truthfully in His name. (Jeremiah 23: 28).
All those prophets ordained by God in Israel who received His inspiration in the days of old before the first coming of Jesus Christ were His witnesses. Referring to them, God declared: “Ye are my witnesses, said the Lord, and my servants whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am He; before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me”. (Isaiah 43:10). The address was not directed to every Israelite or Jew. The Most High was addressing His chosen servants and they were the prophets whom He ordained as His witnesses.
Of all the prophets of old, John the Baptist was the last before Christ. He was Jehovah’s witness sent to testify to the identity of Jesus Christ, the light. It is written of him,: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light.” (John 1: 6-8).
The ancient prophets of God were typical of anointed servants in the Christian era. Concerning Jesus Christ, the Almighty God Jehovah, through His prophet Isaiah, declared prophetically: “Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people”. (Isaiah 55:4). When Jesus Christ was brought before Pilate, he stated positively that he came to the world to bear witness to the truth. And he is known as the faithful and true witness. (John 18: 37; Revelation 3:14; 1: 5).
The early Apostles of Jesus Christ were also ordained witnesses of Jehovah by reason of their anointing. During Christ’s ministry on earth, he promised to send the comforter, the spirit of truth, to his apostles, according to John 14:26; 16:13. “But when the comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the father, even the spirit of truth, which proceeded from the Father, he shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning”. (John 15:26-27).
By virtue of the anointing, each of the Jehovah’s witnesses does not need to go to any seminary or school of theology to learn about God as they are taught by God Himself in spirit. The Bible says: “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him”. ( I John 2:27). See also Galatians 1: 11-17.
After Christ’s resurrection and before his ascension, he confirmed his promise to the apostles saying: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witness unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth”. (Acts 1:8).
When the place of Judas Iscariot was to be filled, Peter the apostle, addressing the disciples of Christ that were gathered, said: “Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection”. (Acts 1: 21-22).
Mathias was thus ordained to take part in Christ’s ministry and apostleship. He with other 11 apostles received the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. What happened on the day of Pentecost shows that it was only the 12 apostles that received the anointing and that apostles are all men. “And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, what meaneth this? Others mocking said, these men are full of wine. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: (Acts 2:12-14)”.
The Bible shows that by virtue of the anointing, the apostles were able to dispense the word of God convincingly and with boldness. “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4: 33).
Although, Jesus Christ had many disciples – both men and women –in his days on earth, but it was the apostles who were always referred to as his witnesses chosen of God. Saint Peter, speaking about Jesus Christ and his good works, said: “And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree. Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly; not to all people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead”. (Acts 10:39-41).
From this statement of Saint Peter, it is clear that not all disciples were witnesses. Apart from the twelve apostles who received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, others were later on chosen and anointed by God through Jesus Christ, as His witnesses.
What baffles me most is the argument that if women are anointed by God, they ought to exercise equal rights and privileges with men of the same status in leading and teaching His flock. Why then should they be forbidden to speak in the church or to teach?
Toby writes from Port Harcourt.