(Investigator #213, 2023 November)


Nine men, who call themselves "the faithful slave", and claim to govern the only "true religion", inherited their power from predecessors who condemn them for "self deception"! 

How could this happen? 


Jesus said:

"Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time?
Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives.
Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions..." (Matthew 24:45-47)

Mainstream Christian belief is that Jesus referred to all his followers each of whom can be either faithful or unfaithful.

But Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) disagree and since 2012 believe that the "faithful slave" is the Governing Body that rules them — numbering, in 2023, nine men.


Based on Revelation 14:1-6 JWs claim that 1900 years of Christianity produced by 1935 CE only 144,000 genuine Christians, all others were fakes.

From the 1870s to 1935 the final batch, or "remnant", of the 144,000 — perhaps numbering 50,000 — got gathered into one group, JWs.

JWs call the 144,000 the "heavenly class" because they go to heaven as "spirit creatures". Those who died before 1919 were raised in 1918; those who die since 1919 get resurrected immediately.

From the 1950s until 2011 JWs believed that the 144,000, chosen between 33 and 1935 CE, is collectively the "faithful slave" (or "servant").

The "faithful slave" was also "God's channel" because through them God "reveals", "transmits", "makes available" Bible truth:

The facts show that Christ has a composite "faithful and discreet slave," the remaining ones of the body of Christ, to represent him. This slave serves as God's channel of communication. To act consistently with our baptism for life ... we must submit to and cooperate with that slave and its legal instrument, the Watch Tower Society.
(w1959 10/1 583)   [Note, "w"   means   The Watchtower]

We gladly accept the spiritual food made available by Jehovah through "the faithful and discreet slave." (w1996 7/15 16-17)


JWs used to be called "Russellites". In 1881, their main founder,  Charles T. Russell (1852-1916), interpreted the "faithful slave" as his entire cult:

We believe that every member of this body of Christ is engaged in the blessed work, either directly or indirectly, of giving meat in due season to the household of faith. “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?
 (w1881 October and November, p. 5)

The identification was repeatedly revised:

1.    In 1895 one man, Russell, was the "slave".
2.    1909: The Watch Tower Society (the cult's "legal instrument").
3.    1917: Russell again!
4.    1923: Judge Rutherford, the cult's new president, distinguished the "office" from the person who fills it. Russell occupied the office until 1916, after that the Watchtower Society. (w1923 3/1 67-69)
5.    1927: The 144,000, including all loyal members of the cult.


In 1932 Rutherford limited the "faithful slave" members to the post-1918 remnant of the 144,000. These were allegedly pictured in the Bible by a woman named Naomi, and appointed in 1919:

The part played by Naomi at this point in the drama particularly pictures those found faithful in 1918, and whom the Lord then constituted "the faithful and wise servant class…" (w1932 11/1 340; Preservation 1932, 45-46, 280, 195)

ALL OF THE 144,000

A further revision in the 1950s defined the "slave" as all of the 144,000 from 33 CE to 1935, therefore 1900 years old:

Now that the long-expected Kingdom had become an established reality in heaven, surely its growing interests in the earth after 1919 would not be left in the hands of a novice organization of spiritual babes. And that proved to be true. It was the 1900-year-old “faithful and discreet slave,” the old Christian congregation, that was entrusted with this precious Kingdom service. (w1960 7/15 436-437)

The facts show that since 1919 this “steward” has faithfully cared for these "belongings." (w1983 9/15 19-20)

1879; 1919; 1935

The confusion of "the slave" existing since 33 CE but appointed in 1919 was not clearly solved, and seems also incompatible with Russell's Watchtower being chosen in 1879:

... in many ways the evidence was beginning to accumulate that, of all the early voices heard, Jehovah had chosen the publication we now call The Watchtower to be used as a channel through which to bring to the world of mankind a revelation of the divine will and, through the words revealed in its columns, to begin a division of the world's population into those who would do the divine will and those who would not. For this reason 1879 was a turning point in the work. This little group, headed by C.T. Russell, had now been tested and had been found fit to undertake the great preliminary campaign leading up to the climax expected in 1914. (JWs in the Divine Purpose 1959, p. 22)

By 1935 the influx of new converts threatened to refute the cult's belief that only 144,000 go to heaven. Rutherford therefore came up with:

(a) The 1935 termination date, after which only a few would be added to the 144,000 to replace a few who apostatized.

(b) The doctrine that a "great multitude" [or "crowd"] who get eternal life on Earth must, from 1935, be converted.


The JWs proof for identifying the "remnant" of the 144,000 as the "faithful slave" is their theology, regarded as "God's progressive revelations in these last days". (w1964 6/15 365)

Much of this theology consisted of eighty 20th-century parallels to Bible stories. They interpreted many Bible stories as "prophetic dramas" that pictured events after 1918:


Does the “faithful and discreet slave” class have any more credentials? Yes, an abundance of them! A partial list shows that the Christian remnant today since 1919 are referred to or represented in more than eighty Scriptural and prophetic designations. With more than eighty strokes by the finger of Biblical prophecy, the God of heaven has painted a vividly accurate portrait of his official servant class on earth. The reality of this portrait in all its divinely foreordained details stands out on the world stage for all to see. The credentials are established beyond a shadow of doubt."
(w1960 7/15 437;  w1981 3/1 27)

The prominent good guys in biblical stories such as Noah's wife, Samson, Naomi & Ruth, David's warriors, Jonah, Lazarus and others were interpreted as picturing the "remnant". Secondary good guys (such as David's friend Jonathan) who assisted the prominent good guys often pictured the "great crowd". The bad guys such as Goliath, Haman, Philistines, Assyrians, etc, pictured groups such as Nazis, Catholic-hierarchy, ex-JWs, big-business and religion. The defeat or death of the bad guys in the Bible stories pictured either Armageddon or events preliminary to it.

The 80 stories appear in all Bible translations, but their alleged 20th century fulfillments were a spin peculiar to JWs.


The removal of Russell as "faithful slave" in 1927, ironically happened also to his replacement, the so-called "anointed remnant", beginning in 2009.

In 2009 The Watchtower announced that the "anointed" have no special insights:

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...   (w2009 6/15 23-24)

Only a small group, the Governing Body, now has special insight:

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. (w2010  7/15  22-23)

At the 2012 annual meeting of the Watch Tower Society (October 6), the "faithful slave" was limited to the Governing Body:

...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. (Wikipedia)

Additional comment explained that the slave had to "logically" appear after Christ's presence began in 1914. This discarded previous logic that the "faithful slave" existed 19 centuries and was mature and spiritual because of its great age! The new "logic" makes the "faithful slave" like an immature, unspiritual baby!

In 2013 the changes were published decisively:

•    The Governing Body alone is the "faithful slave".
•    The "slave" was appointed in 1919 not 33 CE.
•    The "evil slave" can potentially be any member of the Governing Body.
•    The Governing Body is put in charge of "all possessions" when they reach heaven after the start of the great tribulation. (w2013 7/15)

Previously, when the "faithful slave" was the "remnant", the Governing Body merely represented them, and the whole group together allegedly produced new "spiritual food". In reality consultation had rarely occurred. A former Governing Body member wrote:

The fact is that not even 1 percent of the number of "anointed" ones have the slightest part in determining what Jehovah's Witnesses receive in the way of Biblical material or in the forming of policy or the directing of the activities of that people... By far the majority of the articles published in The Watchtower magazine were written by persons not of the "anointed class". (In Search of Christian Freedom 1991, p. 154)

Thus, what critics had pointed out for decades, but JWs denied, was true all along, and now JWs no longer deny it.


With most of the composite "slave" ousted in 2012, what about their "overwhelming credentials", the eighty 20th-century parallels to Bible stories?

JWs had studied the Bible stories and modern parallels in publications and meetings since the 1920s. The details of many parallels already needed revision in Rutherford's time, again after WWII, and now need revision again.

The parallel of the Samson story, for example, was updated in 1967:

This "slave" organization of true, devoted Christians, particularly the remnant thereof in modern times, was well typified by Samson of old. (w1967 2/15 106)

With the "remnant" removed as "faithful slave" whom does Samson now picture  — the "remnant", Governing Body or someone else? Or the woman Naomi — does she now picture the Governing Body men? Many details of the "overwhelming credentials" need new clarification!

Another overwhelming credential is that the "remnant" is God's 20th-century prophet, pictured by the prophet Ezekiel. The entire 400-page book The Nations Shall Know that "I Am Jehovah" (1971), which JWs studied at meetings for a year describes parallels between Ezekiel and "remnant":

As regards our twentieth century, the prophet Ezekiel well pictures the anointed remnant of Jehovah's Christian witnesses since the year 1919 C.E… (1971, p. 53)

That book predicted "the great tribulation" (including Armageddon) for "within our 20th century" (p. 216). Who now, therefore, is the falsely prophesying prophet — "remnant", Governing Body, or both?  Or was the "spiritual food made available by Jehovah" erroneous?  Was the error Jehovah's?

The basic stupidity of their theology of parallels is that anyone can imagine parallels. As an 8-year-old I imagined myself being like the Shadow (a fictitious crime-fighter). Other boys with whom I had disputes I mentally compared to the bad guys whom the Shadow defeated. Parallels that boost one's ego but pour dirt on others are easily imagined, even by an 8-year old!


In a 1981 discussion of the "faithful slave", the Governing Body condemned the 2009-2013 reinterpretation as "self deception", and "spiritually damaging":

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... 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. Accordingly, that servant, or "slave," as a collective body provides spiritual food for all the individuals of this congregation, which make up the household of “domestics.”  (w1981 3/1 24-26)

Furthermore, survival at Armageddon and everlasting life depended, at that time in 1981, on one's "treatment" of the "remnant" or "faithful slave", also called "anointed brothers of Christ" :

Your attitude to the wheatlike anointed "brothers" of Christ and the treatment you accord them will be the determining factor as to whether you go into "everlasting cutting-off" or receive "everlasting life." (w1981 8/1 26)

The 2012 removal of the "remnant" as "faithful slave" was shocking —  perhaps worse treatment than any apostates of JWs ever did to them! Thus the 1981 Governing Body of JWs apparently predicts "everlasting cutting off" for the Governing Body of today!


JWs beliefs, although constantly getting changed, are supposedly "revealed by Jehovah God" which implies infallibility. Often, however, they are, as Apostle Peter might say, "bombastic nonsense". (II Peter 2:18 NRSV)