Chapter 12:

Christian Organization

Should Christians be organized? Some people feel that God deals with each one of us individually, privately, so no organization is required. They see powerful churches with arrogant clergy exploiting and abusing their submissive flocks, and conclude that any kind of heirarchy or authority structure is wrong. What does God himself say?

The question is easier to answer if it is turned around: should Christians be disorganized? That doesn't seem such a good idea, does it? All true Christians acknowledge one Lord as ruler, master, and owner, and he wants us to work together effectively in our obedience to him. Christians have an assignment, to preach the coming of a unified new world government, the Kingdom of God. We could hardly expect anyone to take that Kingdom seriously if we were disunited.

Christendom is divided into thousands of denominations and sects. This is not God’s doing and it does not please him. When the congregation in Corinth came to be in danger of breaking up because of factions and cliques, Paul urged them: “I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.” To the congregation in Ephesus he wrote: “I entreat you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with complete lowliness of mind and mildness, patiently putting up with one another in love, earnestly endeavoring to observe the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace. One body there is, and one spirit, even as you were called in the one hope to which you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” —1 Cor 1:10-13, Eph 4:1-6; see also Philippians 1:26 and 2:1, 2.

Jehovah is not a God of disorder, but of peace. (1 Cor 14.33) He has always arranged for his people to be organized. From earliest times he has authorized men to teach and even enforce his instructions. Long ago it was the family patriarch who did this. (Gen 18:19) When God established the nation of Israel, he arranged for mature older men to be honest and wise judges in each city. During times of crisis he would inspire "judges" to lead the nation temporarily. There were also military leaders, "chiefs of tens, of hundreds, of thousands". And he instituted a priesthood to teach his Law. These priests were also placed as intercessors between the people and God. —Exodus 18:25, 26, Deut 16:18-20, Deut 1:13,15 and 17:8-12, Ezra 7:10,11, Malachi 2:7, Heb 5:1-4.

These were imperfect men*, so unfortunately there were some who misused the authority entrusted to them. In the best of times, the earnest leadership of devoted and conscientious servants of God resulted in a strong and peaceful community and nation. At other times the people ‘sighed, because the wicked were ruling.’ (Prov 29:2) There were even occasional revolts and assassinations.

Samuel was a good leader, but his sons after him were a disaster (1 Sam 8:1-5). So the people asked Samuel to set up a monarchy. This, of course, would not be any protection from bad leadership; likely they were influenced by seeing the glory and strength of neighboring nations led by kings. Although Jehovah had them forewarned that this would have serious disadvantages, they insisted. (1 Sam 8:9-19) Jehovah worked with this arrangement, blessing kings who accepted Him as King over them (De 17:14-20). As for those kings who became arrogant, seeing themselves as supreme, sometimes he corrected them, and sometimes he simply allowed the people to suffer from the consequences of their choice (for one example, 2 Chron 32:22-29.)

After many years of varying degrees of waywardness and abuse of power, the leaders responsible to teach submission to God themselves refused to recognise His Son. For this that nation was finally rejected. At Pentecost of 33 CE, by holy spirit the Christian congregation was anointed as the true Israel, replacing the natural Jews as God's select nation. (see Chapter 6 for a more complete discussion.) In this way the prophecy of Ezekiel 34:1-16 began to be fulfilled.

Since this congregation is also made up of imperfect human beings, it too needed instruction and a governing arrangement. How did God organize them?

From among his many disciples Jesus chose twelve to be "apostles", trained especially for leadership. One betrayed him, but eleven proved faithful. On the day of Pentecost, Peter, one of the 12, gave a public speech that resulted in 3,000 people joining the congregation. These new members were Jewish, and so already had some knowledge of God. But they still had much to learn about the Christ, so we read at Acts 2.42, "they continued devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles." These apostles were charged with leading the fledgling congregation.

These new Christians had warm unity among themselves, sharing meals and taking care of other needs, and praying together. Verse 46 says they were "in constant attendance at the temple with one accord." So they met together as a united group. They were organized.

As their numbers grew, it became impractical to meet in one place, so separate congregations came into existence. Notice the way things developed by reading Acts 8.1, 9.31, 11.19-21, 14.21-23. Did this spreading out break up their unity? If left to their own natural impulses, it surely would have. But they were guided by one spirit; they followed one Lord. This Lord, Jesus Christ, actively directed his people by the holy spirit he had been given. He also sent angels to help out at times, such as when directing Philip to speak to the Ethiopian or when he set Peter free from jail. —Acts 2.33-36, 5.19, 20, 8.26.

Jesus also used that arrangement of 12 apostles as a central governing body. They were not lords over the congregation; Jesus had repeatedly taught them that the greatest among them must be the servant of all. (Please read Matt 20.25-27, 23.8-12.) Yet their authority was respected by all the congregations as mature older men with holy spirit upon them. These men organized matters as needed. For example, see how they handled a practical problem at Acts 6.1-7. Their primary work was overseeing the ministry, as illustrated at Acts 8.14-17.

In time other mature men became part of that governing body. Later, Christ also selected Paul to be an apostle (see Acts 13.1-4, Rom 1.1). So when a doctrinal dispute arose in Antioch, Paul properly tried to handle it locally. When his efforts proved insufficient, the congregation agreed that it was time to consult the governing body in Jerusalem. (See Acts 15.1, 2; notice that "older men" were included.)

These faithful men looked to holy spirit for guidance in making their decision; then, when it was made, they sent out the answer, not just to Antioch, but to all the congregations. Clearly it was their desire that the congregations be united in their service to God. And their work was blessed. —See Acts 15.3-35, 16.4, 5.

Another function of the governing body was to supervise the appointment of mature men to oversee local congregations. These men were to shepherd the flock and take the lead in the ministry. The account at Titus 1.5-9 shows how Paul, as an apostle, delegated to Titus, a mature older man, authority to select mature men there in Crete to be local overseers. There was no limit to the number of overseers a congregation could have; all men who qualified could be appointed. These would form a united governing body on the local level.

Look at the qualifications required. These criteria were not set locally, nor were popular men elected democratically. The local overseers could not be "self-willed", that is, being independent-minded or stubbornly proud. Rather, they were to be loyal, "holding firmly to the faithful word." Their first responsibility would be to exhort, which means to build up, encourage, admonish, urge to action. Notice also that they had authority to "reprove those who contradict." Because of this organized arrangement, the whole congregation could be "healthy in the faith." —vss 10-13.

The central governing body did not thereafter abandon these men, but kept in touch, despite the challenging travelling conditions of the time. Notice how Paul built up and encouraged the older men in Ephesus during his last visit with them, at Acts 20.28, 31-37.

Clearly, then, Christ organized his people. Ephesians 4:11-16 says "he gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelizers, some as shepherds and teachers, for the readjustment of the holy ones, for ministerial work, for the building up of the body of the Christ, in order that we should no longer be babes. . . carried here and there by every wind of teaching, by the trickery of men, by cunning in contriving error. But speaking the truth, let us by love grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ. From him all the body, being harmoniously joined together and cooperating through every joint that gives what is needed, according to the functioning of each member in due measure, makes for the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love."

Because true Christianity unites us, we communicate and associate with one another. Our love moves us to meet together often for mutual strength and encouragement. Paul advised, ‘do not miss the meetings, as some have the custom, but consider one another, building each other up to love and fine works, doing so all the more as you see the day [of Christ] drawing near.’ So Christian gatherings should not be exhibitions of showy piety or self-righteousness, nor solemn occasions of pretentious formality, nor long boring marathons of dry instruction. Of course that last point is a matter of perspective; what intensely fascinates one may be mind-numbing or incomprehensible for another. Paul did once speak at length long into the night, and a young man fell asleep and out the window and died. Paul raised him up, then continued speaking til daybreak. Hopefully the young man learned to be more attentive, or at least to sit in a safer place. —Heb 10:24, 25, Romans 1:11, 12, Acts 20:7-12.

From reading Paul's letters it is clear that he could be quite profound. Not all meetings were so deep; at 1 Corinthians 14:26-33, 40 we read "when you come together, one has a psalm [song], another has a teaching, another has a revelation. . . a tongue. . . an interpretation. Let all things take place for upbuilding. . . God is not a God of disorder, but of peace. . . let all things take place decently and by arrangement." So meetings should be varied, but also organized, arranged and orderly, although not to the degree that all the life is squeezed out of them.

Christian Organization Today

Christians today should be organized according to the same general pattern. Before returning to heaven Jesus promised to come again, and he asked, "when the Son of man arrives, will he really find the faith on the earth?" Considering the waywardness of men, that was a serious question. After saying, "Prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming," he asked, "Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings." —Luke 18:8, Matt 24:44-47.

As shown in chapter 7, we are now in the last days of this system of things. This is the day for the good news of the Kingdom to be preached in all the earth. For many centuries the churches have corrupted the Kingdom message, glorifying worldly nations as if they were the kingdom of God. Before the end, Jesus would restore the true proclamation, as both good news and a warning to mankind. In that sense, he would "return" as the end-times began. He would seek out and find those who were trying to serve in a pure way, unite them and appoint them over this work and over those who would respond to it. In this way, those faithful slaves were to be appointed over all his belongings on earth.

As shown in chapters 6 and 9 of this book, this Earth will be made new as a paradise home for faithful mankind. For many centuries now, God has been selecting from among his faithful servants "144,000" to govern this new world. According to 1 Thess 4:15-17 and Rev 7:1-4, some of these will be present when Christ returns in glory; therefore, they should be among us today. Just as the Levites were assigned to teach God's law to the nation of Israel, it would be proper that these "elect" would be taking the lead in the Lord’s work, both as instructors within the congregation and as advocates of God's Kingdom to the world. Then when their earthly assignment is done, they will be appointed over all his belongings in a greater way, as kings reigning alongside him. These, then, would be the leading faithful slaves in our time. Of course any Christian, regardless of his calling, who faithfully obeys Jesus' command to "feed my little sheep" can be assured his Master will honor him with greater assignments when the Kingdom fully arrives.*Matt 24:14, John 21:15-17.

How do we identify these "faithful slaves" giving out "food" (spiritual teaching) appropriate for our time? You will not find them disunited, scattered amongst the various contending denominations of Christendom. Jesus said "a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand." Since God’s Kingdom will certainly stand, it cannot be divided. It is not expressed in this earth by many splintered sects. Nor will we find them with the large, successful, rich, well accepted churches. Those who are true Christians will never attain prominence or popularity in this wicked world alienated from God. In fact, since "the path to life is narrow, and few find it", the true Christian organization would be rather modest by worldly standards, and far from well regarded. So what one organization is really preaching the Kingdom and truly living by its ideals, despite unrelenting disapproval by the world? Try not to scoff when we assert that the group known as "Jehovah’s Witnesses" are the ones that best fit the description of the faithful and discreet slave. —James 2:5.

Faithful? Yes! We have doggedly endured in advocating the Kingdom as man’s only hope. We have stayed out of the filthy politics and vicious wars of this world. We have earnestly striven to remain clean spiritually, shedding any vestige of the paganism adopted by Christendom through the long night of her domination. (compare Mal 3:1-4, Daniel 11:32-35.) Discreet? Yes, we have acted wisely by focusing our energies and assets on serving with singleness of purpose, not getting distracted into "modern" psychology or acquiring wealth, as many churches of Christendom have. True, we haven't been flawlessly discreet. In our overeagerness to welcome our Lord’s return in Kingdom power, we have set dates we thought we had worked out from scriptural clues. There have been a few other somewhat embarrassing errors in judgment and doctrine. We need not proclaim these from the housetops; our enemies do that for us.* We are not perfect. But we have learned to be humble, to wait, and that, at least, is a characteristic of wise ones.

Type "Jehovah's Witnesses" into any search engine, and you will find hundreds of web sites dedicated to our destruction.

All true Christians give out "food" to a spiritually hungry world. But looking again at the scripture, note that Jesus said that he appointed his faithful steward "over his household" or, according to other translations, "his household servants", "his body of attendants", "his family". His household, his family, is his united congregation of true disciples. (Matt 12.47-50) That Jesus described Christians as a household cared for by an appointed servant is another proof that He expects us to be organized, and that there would be at least a minimal heirarchy involved. But who within the congregation serve regular spiritual nourishment to their fellow believers?

Following the first-century pattern, Jehovah’s Witnesses are united under the guidance of a central governing body of mature older men. These serve in a position comparable to the apostles and older men in first-century Jerusalem. With the assignment of conveying accurate scriptural understanding to keep the Christian congregation unified and strong, these are the central manifestation, the narrow definition, of the "faithful slave" Christ has appointed. Then widening out, each local congregation also has a governing body of mature older men, selected and appointed just as their first-century counterparts were. These ‘elders’ have authority, but they are not like the clergy of Christendom. Paul reminded a group of elders: “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son.” (Acts 20:28; see also verses 29-35 and Matthew 20:25-28.) So they understand that they are not “masters over your faith,” rather, they are “fellow workers for your joy. For it is by [your own] faith that you stand.” (2 Cor 1.24) They are instructed: “Shepherd the flock of God in your care, not under compulsion, but willingly; neither for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly; neither as lording it over those who are God’s inheritance, but becoming examples to the flock.” Then, “when the chief shepherd has been made manifest, you will receive the unfadable crown of glory.” Note that this parallels the reward promised the "faithful slave". As mentioned earlier, for some of these that "crown of glory" will include heavenly kingship. But all who faithfully discharge their trust will be glorified with honorable assignments (and everlasting life) in the coming new world. —1 Peter 5.1-4; compare Romans 5:17 and 21.

The shepherds/overseers/elders are not the only ones who upbuild, nourish, and strengthen their fellow believers. Although not holding office, mature women are also to be "teachers of what is good" within the congregation, and so are also part of an even wider definition of "faithful slave". (Titus 2:3, 4) And there is more.

Offices and Assignments in the Congregation

"God has set the respective ones in the congregation, first, apostles, second, prophets, third, teachers, then powerful works, gifts of healing, helpful services, abilities to direct, different tongues, . . . translators." (1 Cor 12:28-31) Ephesians 4:11, quoted earlier, adds "evangelizers" and "shepherds".

Apparently no one was titled "Apostle" after the original twelve plus Paul. The word means "sent-forth one", which actually applies to all Christians. (Matt 28:19) But as an office, the comparable position today is that held by those who lead the global congregation, even though the title itself is not being used.

A "prophet" is one who "speaks out", who declares God’s word. It does not need to be a new message, or a revelation about the future. So, that too applies to all Christians. But as Paul used it, it would correspond best today to those who compose teaching aids for Bible instruction, both for public consumption and for the household of faith. Obviously, composing the words does not mean they are teaching their own ideas; a true prophet conveys a message faithful to inspired scripture. (see Jeremiah 23:16, 21, 22.)

A "teacher" is the person who actually goes one-on-one with students, carefully educating and motivating them. Once again, all Christians "ought to be teachers" in time, if they apply themselves. (see Heb 5:11-14, 1 Tim 4.12-16.) Teaching within the congregation at meetings, however, was an appointive office associated with the "older men", as we saw earlier from Titus 1:5-13. Such ones have an fine example in Ezra, a priest of Israel in the 5th century BC. He “prepared his heart to consult the law of Jehovah and to do it and to teach in Israel regulation and justice.” Note the four essential elements: the right heart, or motive; consulting God's law, not human ideas; being an example by doing it oneself; then finally, teaching it, with order and justice as a result. —Ezra 7:10, 11.

Paul revealed by inspiration that "gifts of prophesying will be done away with" and that "tongues will cease" and "[miraculous] knowledge will be done away with" when "what is complete arrives." (1 Cor 13:8-13) When Christianity was firmly established and the inspired canon of scripture was complete, these gifts came to an end because they had served their purpose. Already before 70 CE the record shows that miracles were less often granted. The final Bible books were penned by John, the last surviving of the original apostles, by 100 CE. Even so, these gifts have a similar modern counterpart. "Powerful works" and "gifts of healing" have not ceased, they have changed form. We no longer can cure sickness with a mere touch, but we can still raise up those who are sick at heart, we can banish those maladies of spirit that are truly deadly, by applying the soothing "oil" of God's word. In a sense, we even "raise the dead" as people respond to the good news and turn from their sins. What could be more powerful than that? —James 5:14, 15, Eph 2:1-5.

"Tongues" and "translators" were special gifts in the first century: some were given the power to speak the good news in a language they did not naturally know. Tongues did not mean incoherent outbursts, as some believe today; it was to spread the word without having to laboriously study foreign languages, some of which did not even have a written form in those days. But not everyone present would understand the words being spoken; for their benefit another would translate, whether by it being their native tongue or by power of the holy spirit. Paul established the rule, ‘do not speak in a tongue unless a translator is present. Also, limit it to two or three at the most, and take orderly turns.’ (1 Cor 14:9, 21-23, 26-28, 33) This direct gift no longer exists, despite the protestations of the so-called "full gospel" churches. Yet in truth the power of God continues to overcome language barriers. Today the good news is being preached in essentially every language on earth. Bibles and instructional literature is translated into hundreds of languages, some spoken by just a few thousand people in isolated places. The purpose of the original gift of tongues is being served. (For proof of this, visit the official "Watchtower" website and explore the language choices.)

"Helpful services and abilities to direct" relate to all the little practical tasks involved in keeping a congregation working together smoothly. The distribution of food to the needy mentioned at Acts 6:1-7 is one of these. All Christians should be helpful, but as an office, this is the position of "ministerial servant" ("deacon" in the King James), mentioned as distinct from "overseer" three times in the Christian scriptures. The requirements to receive this appointment are high, but not as exacting as those for overseer. —Philippians 1:1; 1 Tim 3:8, 12, see context.

"Shepherds" "overseers" and "older men" (elders) are all the same office. The term "older man" should not be taken to mean that such a man must be elderly. Timothy was likely not much more than 30 years old when Paul wrote the letter now known as "The First to Timothy." Reading that, it is clear that Timothy was exercising the authority of an overseer, despite his relative youth (see 1 Tim 4:11, 12.) "Older" relates to maturity, not chronological age. There is, of course, some natural correlation. As shown in Philippians 1:1, a congregation would typically have several shepherds, not just a single "pastor" as is common in churches today.

Finally, there are "evangelizers". Literally, this means "bearer of good news." Obviously, all Christians are evangelizers, so why are they mentioned separately? This word is only used 3 times in scripture, but the idea is mentioned frequently. If an office at all, it evidently refers to those who travel extensively to spread the good news. In other words, missionaries who pioneer the work into territories where many have yet to hear it. Not all of us can do that, but we all can be zealous advocates of God's Kingdom where we are.

These various offices or services are parts of a single united Christian organization, as Paul points out: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but there is the same spirit; and there are varieties of ministries, and yet there is the same Lord; and there are varieties of operations, and yet it is the same God who performs all the operations in all persons. . . so that there should be no division in the body, but its members should have the same care for one another.” —1 Cor 12:4-6, 25; see also 12, 13.

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Philippians 1:26
Only behave in a manner worthy of the good news about the Christ, in order that, whether I come and see you or be absent, I may hear about the things which concern you, that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one soul striving side by side for the faith of the good news.

Philippians 2:1, 2
If, then, there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any sharing of spirit, if any tender affections and compassions, make my joy full in that you are of the same mind and have the same love, being joined together in soul, holding the one thought in mind.

(one more:) Romans 15:5, 6
May the God who supplies endurance and comfort grant you to have among yourselves the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had, that with one accord you may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Cor 14.33
For God is a God, not of disorder, but of peace.

Gen 18:19
For I have become acquainted with him in order that he may command his sons and his household after him so that they shall keep the way of Jehovah, to do righteousness and judgment; in order that Jehovah may certainly bring upon Abraham what he has spoken about him.

Exodus 18:25, 26
Moses then went choosing capable men out of all Israel and to give them positions as heads over the people, as chiefs of thousands, chiefs of hundreds, chiefs of fifties and chiefs of tens. And they judged the people on every proper occasion; a hard case they would bring to Moses, but every small case they themselves would handle as judges.
Numbers 27:16, 17
Let Jehovah the God of the spirits of all sorts of flesh appoint over the assembly a man who will go out before them and who will come in before them and who will bring them out and who will bring them in, that Jehovah’s assembly may not become like sheep that have no shepherd.
Deut 16:18-20
You should set judges and officers for yourself inside all your gates that Jehovah your God is giving you by your tribes, and they must judge the people with righteous judgment. You must not pervert judgment. You must not be partial or accept a bribe, for the bribe blinds the eyes of wise ones and distorts the words of righteous ones. Justice— justice you should pursue, in order that you may keep alive and may indeed take possession of the land that Jehovah your God is giving you.
Deut 1:13, 15
13 Get wise and discreet and experienced men of your tribes, that I may set them as heads over you.
15 So I took the heads of your tribes, men wise and experienced, and put them as heads over you, chiefs of thousands and chiefs of hundreds and chiefs of fifties and chiefs of tens and officers of your tribes.
Deut 17:8-12
In case a matter for judicial decision should be too extraordinary for you, one in which blood has been shed, in which a legal claim has been raised, or a violent deed has been committed, matters of dispute, inside your gates, you must also rise and go up to the place that Jehovah your God will choose, and you must go to the priests, the Levites, and to the judge who will be acting in those days, and you must make inquiry, and they must hand down to you the word of the judicial decision. Then you must do in accordance with the word that they will hand down to you from that place which Jehovah will choose; and you must be careful to do according to all that they instruct you. In accordance with the law that they will point out to you, and according to the judicial decision that they will say to you, you should do. You must not turn aside from the word that they will hand down to you, to the right or to the left. And the man who will behave with presumptuousness in not listening to the priest who is standing to minister there to Jehovah your God or to the judge, that man must die; and you must clear out what is bad from Israel.
Ezra 7:10, 11
For Ezra himself had prepared his heart to consult the law of Jehovah and to do it and to teach in Israel regulation and justice. And this is a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave Ezra the priest the copyist, a copyist of the words of the commandments of Jehovah and of his regulations toward Israel.
Malachi 2:7
For the lips of a priest are the ones that should keep knowledge, and law [of God] is what people should seek from his mouth; for he is the messenger of Jehovah of armies.
Heb 5:1-4
For every high priest taken from among men is appointed in behalf of men over the things pertaining to God, that he may offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal moderately with the ignorant and erring ones since he also is surrounded with his own weakness, and on its account he is obliged to make offerings for sins as much for himself as for the people. Also, a man takes this honor, not of his own accord, but only when he is called by God, just as Aaron also was.

Prov 29:2
When the righteous become many, the people rejoice; but when anyone wicked bears rule, the people sigh.

1 Sam 8:1-5
And it came about that as soon as Samuel had grown old he made appointments of his sons as judges for Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second Abijah; they were judging in Beer-sheba. And his sons did not walk in his ways, but they were inclined to follow unjust profit and would accept a bribe and pervert judgment. In time all the older men of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him: "Look! You yourself have grown old, but your own sons have not walked in your ways. Now do appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations."

1 Sam 8:9-19
[God said to Samuel:] "Now listen to their voice. But you must solemnly warn them and tell them the rightful due of the king who will reign over them." So Samuel said all the words of Jehovah to the people who were asking a king of him. And he went on to say: "This will become the rightful due of the king that will reign over you: your sons he will take and put them as his in his chariots and among his horsemen, and some will have to run before his chariots; and to appoint for himself chiefs over thousands and chiefs over fifties, and some to do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his war instruments and his chariot instruments. And your daughters he will take for ointment mixers and cooks and bakers. And your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves, the best ones, he will take from you and give to his servants. And of your fields of seed and of your vineyards he will take the tenth, and he will certainly give it to his court officials and his servants. And your menservants and your maidservants and your best herds, and your asses he will take, and he will have to use them for his work. Of your flocks he will take the tenth, and you yourselves will become his as servants. And you will certainly cry out in that day by reason of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but Jehovah will not answer you in that day." However, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel and said: "No, but a king is what will come to be over us!"

De 17:14-20
When you eventually come into the land that Jehovah your God is giving you, and you have taken possession of it and have dwelt in it, and you have said, 'Let me set a king over myself like all the nations who are round about me'; you should without fail set over yourself a king whom Jehovah your God will choose. From among your brothers you should set a king over yourself. You will not be allowed to put over yourself a foreigner who is not your brother. Only he should not increase horses for himself, nor make the people go back to Egypt in order to increase horses; whereas Jehovah has said to you, 'you must never go back again by this way.' He should also not multiply wives for himself, that his heart may not turn aside; nor should he increase silver and gold for himself very much. And it must occur that when he takes his seat on the throne of his kingdom, he must write in a book for himself a copy of this law from that which is in the charge of the priests, the Levites. And it must continue with him, and he must read in it all the days of his life, in order that he may learn to fear Jehovah his God so as to keep all the words of this law and these regulations by doing them; that his heart may not exalt itself above his brothers and that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right or to the left, in order that he may lengthen his days upon his kingdom, he and his sons in the midst of Israel.

2 Chron 32:22-29
Thus Jehovah saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem out of the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria and out of the hand of all others and gave them rest all around. And there were many bringing gifts to Jehovah at Jerusalem and choice things to Hezekiah the king of Judah, and he came to be exalted in the eyes of all the nations after that. In those days Hezekiah fell sick to the point of dying, and he began to pray to Jehovah. So He talked to him, and a portent He gave him. But according to the benefit rendered him Hezekiah made no return, for his heart became haughty and there came to be indignation against him and against Judah and Jerusalem. However, Hezekiah humbled himself for the haughtiness of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and Jehovah's indignation did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah. And Hezekiah came to have riches and glory to a very great amount; and storehouses he made for himself for silver and for gold and for precious stones and for balsam oil and for shields and for all the desirable articles; and also storage places for the produce of grain and new wine and oil, and also stalls for all the different sorts of beasts and stalls for the droves. And cities he acquired for himself, and also livestock of the flock and of the herd in abundance; for God gave him very many goods.

Ezekiel 34:1-16, 23, 24
And the word of Jehovah continued to occur to me, saying: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy, and you must say to them, to the shepherds, This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel, who have become feeders of themselves! Is it not the flock that the shepherds ought to feed? The fat is what you eat, and with the wool you clothe your own selves. The plump animal is what you slaughter. The flock itself you do not feed. The sickened ones you have not strengthened, and the ailing one you have not healed, and the broken one you have not bandaged, and the dispersed one you have not brought back, and the lost one you have not sought to find, but with harshness you have had them in subjection, even with tyranny. And they were gradually scattered because of there being no shepherd, so that they became food for every wild beast of the field, and they continued to be scattered. My sheep kept straying on all the mountains and on every high hill; and on all the surface of the earth my sheep were scattered, with no one making a search and with no one seeking to find.” Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of Jehovah, “As I am alive,” is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, “surely for the reason that my sheep became something for plunder and my sheep continued to be food for every wild beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, and my shepherds did not search for my sheep, but the shepherds kept feeding themselves, and my own sheep they did not feed, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of Jehovah. This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘Here I am against the shepherds, and I shall certainly ask back my sheep from their hand and make them cease from feeding my sheep, and the shepherds will no longer feed themselves; and I will deliver my sheep out of their mouth, and they will not become food for them.’” For this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: “Here I am, I myself, and I will search for my sheep and care for them. According to the care of one feeding his drove in the day of his coming to be in the midst of his sheep that have been spread abroad, that is the way that I shall care for my sheep; and I will deliver them out of all the places to which they have been scattered in the day of clouds and thick gloom. And I will bring them out from the peoples and collect them together from the lands and bring them in onto their soil and feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streambeds and by all the dwelling places of the land. In a good pasturage I shall feed them, and on Israel’s high mountains their abiding place will come to be. There they will lie down in a good abiding place, and on a fat pasturage they will feed upon the mountains of Israel. I myself shall feed my sheep, and I myself shall make them lie down,” is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. “The lost one I shall search for, and the dispersed one I shall bring back, and the broken one I shall bandage and the ailing one I shall strengthen, but the fat one and the strong one I shall annihilate. I shall feed that one with judgment.”
23 “And I will raise up over them one shepherd, and he must feed them, even my servant David. He himself will feed them, and he himself will become their shepherd. And I myself, Jehovah, will become their God, and my servant David a chieftain in the midst of them. I myself, Jehovah, have spoken.”

"My servant David" is Jesus Christ, the "son of David" (Matt 1:1). This explains why he spoke so harshly of the clergy who were spiritually neglecting God's people while glorifying themselves. (Matt 23:4-6, 13 and context) There is another fulfillment of this prophecy in the last days, when Christendom's clergy are found neglecting and abusing their flock while enriching and glorifying themselves. Christ "returned" first to restore true Christianity, then will "return" in the final sense to execute judgment against the unresponsive and wicked world, including the false shepherds.

Matt 23:4-6, 13
They bind up heavy loads and put them upon the shoulders of men, but they themselves are not willing to budge them with their finger. All the works they do they do to be viewed by men; for they make great their phylacteries [scripture-containing cases worn on the forehead and arm for protection, like a charm], and enlarge the fringes of their garments. They like the most prominent place at evening meals and the front seats in the synagogues... 13 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut up the kingdom of the heavens before men; for you yourselves do not go in, neither do you permit those on their way in to go in!”

Acts 8.1
Saul, for his part, was approving of the murder of him [Stephen]. On that day great persecution arose against the congregation that was in Jerusalem; all except the apostles were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.
Acts 9:31
Then, indeed, the congregation throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria entered into a period of peace, being built up; and as it walked in the fear of Jehovah and in the comfort of the holy spirit it kept on multiplying.
Acts 11:19-21
Consequently those who had been scattered by the tribulation that arose over Stephen went through as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, but speaking the word to no one except to Jews only. However, out of them there were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene that came to Antioch and began talking to the Greek-speaking people, declaring the good news of the Lord Jesus. Furthermore, the hand of Jehovah was with them, and a great number that became believers turned to the Lord.
Acts 14:21-23
And after declaring the good news to that city and making quite a few disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to remain in the faith, saying: "We must enter into the kingdom of God through many tribulations." Moreover, they appointed older men for them in each congregation and, offering prayer with fastings, they committed them to Jehovah in whom they had become believers.

Acts 2.33-36
Therefore because he was exalted to the right hand of God and received the promised holy spirit from the Father, he has poured out this which you see and hear. Actually David did not ascend to the heavens, but he himself says, 'Jehovah said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand, until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet."' Therefore let all the house of Israel know for a certainty that God made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you impaled."
Acts 5:19-20
During the night Jehovah's angel opened the doors of the prison, brought them out and said: "Be on your way, take your stand in the temple again and keep on speaking to the people all the sayings about this life."
Acts 8:26
Jehovah's angel spoke to Philip, saying: "Rise and go to the south to the road that runs down from Jerusalem to Gaza." (This is a desert road.)

Matt 20.25-27
Jesus . . . said: "You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them and the great men wield authority over them. This is not the way among you; but whoever wants to become great among you must be your minister, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.
Matthew 23:8-12
But you, do not you be called Rabbi [Honored Teacher], for One is your Teacher, whereas all you are brothers. Moreover, do not call anyone your Father on earth, for One is your Father, the heavenly One. Neither be called 'leaders,' for your Leader is one, the Christ. But the greatest one among you must be your minister. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Acts 6.1-7
Now in these days, when the disciples were increasing, a murmuring arose on the part of the Greek-speaking Jews against the Hebrew-speaking Jews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution. So the twelve called the multitude of the disciples to them and said: "It is not pleasing for us to leave the word of God to distribute food to tables. So, brothers, search out for yourselves seven certified men from among you, full of spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them over this necessary business; but we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." And the thing spoken was pleasing to the whole multitude, and they selected Stephen, a man full of faith and holy spirit, and Philip and Prochorus and Nicanor and Timon and Parmenas and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch; and they placed them before the apostles, and, after having prayed, these laid their hands upon them. Consequently the word of God went on growing, and the number of the disciples kept multiplying in Jerusalem very much; and a great crowd of priests began to be obedient to the faith.

Acts 8.14-17
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they dispatched Peter and John to them; and these went down and prayed for them to get holy spirit. For it had not yet fallen upon any one of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they went laying their hands upon them, and they began to receive holy spirit.

Acts 13.1-4
Now in Antioch there were prophets and teachers in the local congregation, Barnabas as well as Symeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who was educated with Herod the district ruler, and Saul. As they were fasting and doing public work for the Lord, the holy spirit said: "Set Barnabas and Saul apart from the rest for me for the work to which I have called them." Then they fasted and prayed and laid their hands upon them and let them go. Accordingly these men, sent out by the holy spirit, went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed away to Cyprus.
Romans 1:1, 7
Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ and called to be an apostle, separated to God's good news . . .to all those who are in Rome as God's beloved ones.

Acts 15.1, 2
And certain men came down from Judea and began to teach the brothers: "Unless you get circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." But when there had occurred no little dissension and disputing by Paul and Barnabas with them, they arranged for Paul and Barnabas and some others of them to go up to the apostles and older men in Jerusalem regarding this dispute.

Acts 15.3-35
After being conducted partway by the congregation, these men continued on their way through both Phoenicia and Samaria, relating in detail the conversion of people of the nations, and they were causing great joy to all the brothers. On arriving in Jerusalem they were kindly received by the congregation and the apostles and the older men, and they recounted the many things God had done by means of them. Yet, some of those of the sect of the Pharisees that had believed rose up from their seats and said: "It is necessary to circumcise them and charge them to observe the law of Moses." And the apostles and the older men gathered together to see about this affair. Now when much disputing had taken place, Peter rose and said to them: "Men, brothers, you well know that from early days God made the choice among you that through my mouth people of the nations should hear the word of the good news and believe; and God, who knows the heart, bore witness by giving them the holy spirit, just as he did to us also. And he made no distinction at all between us and them, but purified their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you making a test of God by imposing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our forefathers nor we were capable of bearing? On the contrary, we trust to get saved through the undeserved kindness of the Lord Jesus in the same way as those people also." At that the entire multitude became silent, and they began to listen to Barnabas and Paul relate the many signs and portents that God did through them among the nations. After they quit speaking, James answered, saying: "Men, brothers, hear me. Symeon has related thoroughly how God for the first time turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name. And with this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written, 'After these things I shall return and rebuild the booth of David that is fallen down; and I shall rebuild its ruins and erect it again, in order that those who remain of the men may earnestly seek Jehovah, together with people of all the nations, people who are called by my name, says Jehovah, who is doing these things, known from of old.' Hence my decision is not to trouble those from the nations who are turning to God, but to write them to abstain from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. For from ancient times Moses has had in city after city those who preach him, because he is read aloud in the synagogues on every sabbath." Then the apostles and the older men together with the whole congregation favored sending chosen men from among them to Antioch along with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was called Barsabbas and Silas, leading men among the brothers; and by their hand they wrote: "The apostles and the older men, brothers, to those brothers in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia who are from the nations: Greetings! Since we have heard that some from among us have caused you trouble with speeches, trying to subvert your souls, although we did not give them any instructions, we have come to a unanimous accord and have favored choosing men to send to you together with our loved ones, Barnabas and Paul, men that have delivered up their souls for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are therefore dispatching Judas and Silas, that they also may report the same things by word. For the holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you, except these necessary things, to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication. If you carefully keep yourselves from these things, you will prosper. Good health to you!" Accordingly, when these men were let go, they went down to Antioch, and they gathered the multitude together and handed them the letter. After reading it, they rejoiced over the encouragement. And Judas and Silas, since they themselves were also prophets, encouraged the brothers with many a discourse and strengthened them. So, when they had passed some time, they were let go in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them out. However, Paul and Barnabas continued spending time in Antioch teaching and declaring, with many others also, the good news of the word of Jehovah.
Acts 16:4, 5
Now as they traveled on through the cities they would deliver to those there for observance the decrees that had been decided upon by the apostles and older men who were in Jerusalem. Therefore, indeed, the congregations continued to be made firm in the faith and to increase in number from day to day.

Titus 1.5-13
For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might correct the things that were defective and might make appointments of older men in city after city, as I gave you orders; if there is any man free from accusation, a husband of one wife, having believing children that were not under a charge of debauchery nor unruly. For an overseer must be free from accusation as God's steward, not self-willed, not prone to wrath, not a drunken brawler, not a smiter, not greedy of dishonest gain, but hospitable, a lover of goodness, sound in mind, righteous, loyal, self-controlled, holding firmly to the faithful word as respects his teaching, that he may be able both to exhort by the teaching that is healthful and to reprove those who contradict. 10 For there are many unruly men, profitless talkers, and deceivers of the mind, especially those men who adhere to the circumcision. It is necessary to shut the mouths of these, as these very men keep on subverting entire households by teaching things they ought not for the sake of dishonest gain. A certain one of them, their own prophet, said: "Cretans are always liars, injurious wild beasts, unemployed gluttons." This witness is true. For this very cause keep on reproving them with severity, that they may be healthy in the faith.

Acts 20.28, 31-37
"Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son. . . Keep awake, and bear in mind that for three years, night and day, I did not quit admonishing each one with tears. And now I commit you to God and to the word of his undeserved kindness, which can build you up and give you the inheritance among all the sanctified ones. I have coveted no man's silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that I have with my own hands attended to my needs and the needs of those with me. I have shown to you in all things that by thus laboring you must assist those who are weak, and must bear in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, when he himself said, 'There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.'" And when he had said these things, he kneeled down with all of them and prayed. Indeed, quite a bit of weeping broke out among them all, and they fell upon Paul's neck and tenderly kissed him.

Heb 10:24, 25
Let us keep one another in mind to build each other up in love and fine works, rather than neglecting the assembling of ourselves together, as some have the custom. Rather, we should be encouraging one another all the more so as we behold the day drawing near.
Romans 1:11, 12
I am longing to see you, that I may impart some spiritual gift to you in order for you to be made firm; or, rather, that there may be an interchange of encouragement among us, by each one through the other's faith, both yours and mine.
Acts 20:7-12
On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to have a meal, Paul began discoursing to them, as he was going to depart the next day; and he prolonged his speech until midnight. So there were quite a few lamps in the upper chamber where we were gathered together. Seated at the window, a certain young man named Eutychus fell into a deep sleep while Paul kept talking on, and, collapsing in sleep, he fell down from the third story and was picked up dead. But Paul went downstairs, threw himself upon him and embraced him and said: "Stop raising a clamor, for his soul is in him." He now went upstairs and began the meal and took food, and after conversing for quite a while, until daybreak, he at length departed. So they took the boy away alive and were comforted beyond measure.

Luke 19:12-26
He said: "A certain man of noble birth traveled to a distant land to secure ruling power for himself and to return. Calling ten slaves of his he gave them ten minas and told them, 'Do business till I come.' But his citizens hated him and sent out a body of ambassadors after him, to say, 'We do not want this man to become king over us.' Eventually when he got back after having secured the rulership, he commanded to be called to him these slaves to whom he had given the silver money, in order to ascertain what they had gained by business activity. Then the first one presented himself, saying, 'Lord, your mina gained ten minas.' So he said to him, 'Well done, good slave! Because in a very small matter you have proved yourself faithful, hold authority over ten cities.' Now the second came, saying, 'Your mina, Lord, made five minas.' He said to this one also, 'You, too, be in charge of five cities.' But a different one came, saying, 'Lord, here is your mina, that I kept laid away in a cloth. You see, I was in fear of you, because you are a harsh man; you take up what you did not deposit and you reap what you did not sow.' He said to him, 'Out of your own mouth I judge you, wicked slave. You knew, did you, that I am a harsh man, taking up what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Hence why is it you did not put my silver money in a bank? Then on my arrival I would have collected it with interest.' With that he said to those standing by, 'Take the mina from him and give it to him that has the ten minas.' But they said to him, 'Lord, he has ten minas!—' I say to you, To everyone that has, more will be given; but from the one that does not have, even what he has will be taken away.
(The nobleman represents Christ, who went to heaven to receive authority to reign in the Kingdom; the unhappy citizens "hated him without cause" [John 15:25], for he was a good ruler. On his return in ruling power he will reward those whom he finds have been faithfully hard at work as assigned. The wicked slave accused him falsely. Far from exploiting slavish labor for his own profit, his assignments are for our benefit in the end, and his rewards are generous.)

Matt 25:13-30
Keep on the watch, therefore, because you know neither the day nor the hour. For it is just as when a man, about to travel abroad, summoned slaves of his and committed to them his belongings. To one he gave five talents [a sum of money], to another two, to still another one, to each one according to his own ability, and he went abroad. Immediately the one that received the five talents went his way and did business with them and gained five more. In the same way the one that received the two gained two more. But the one that received just one went off, and dug in the ground and hid the silver money of his master. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. So the one that had received five talents came forward and brought five additional talents, saying, 'Master, you committed five talents to me; see, I gained five talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things. I will appoint you over many things. Enter into the joy of your master.' Next the one that had received the two talents came forward and said, 'Master, you committed to me two talents; see, I gained two talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things. I will appoint you over many things. Enter into the joy of your master.' Finally the one that had received the one talent came forward and said, 'Master, I knew you to be an exacting man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you did not winnow. So I grew afraid and went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' In reply his master said to him, 'Wicked and sluggish slave, you knew, did you, that I reaped where I did not sow and gathered where I did not winnow? Well, then, you ought to have deposited my silver monies with the bankers, and on my arrival I would be receiving what is mine with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him and give it to him that has the ten talents. For to everyone that has, more will be given and he will have abundance; but as for him that does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. And throw the good-for-nothing slave out into the darkness outside. Out there will be his weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

1 Peter 4:10
In proportion as each one has received a gift, use it in ministering to one another as fine stewards of God's undeserved kindness, expressed in various ways.


To him that conquers and observes my deeds down to the end I will give authority over the nations, and he shall shepherd the people with an iron rod so that they will be broken to pieces like clay vessels, the same as I have received from my Father.


The disciples asked him: “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” In reply he said: “Elijah, indeed, is coming and will restore all things. However, I say to you that Elijah has already come and they did not recognize him but did with him the things they wanted. In this way also the Son of man is destined to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples perceived that he spoke to them about John the Baptist.

1 Thess 4:15-17
For this is what we tell you by the word of Jehovah, that we the living who survive to the presence of the Lord shall in no way precede those who have fallen asleep in death; because the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first. Afterward we the living who are surviving, will be caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air, together with them; and thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Rev 7:1-4
After this I saw four angels standing upon the four corners of the earth, holding tight the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow upon the earth or upon the sea or upon any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the sunrising, having a seal of the living God; and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying: "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until after we have sealed the slaves of our God in their foreheads." And I heard the number of those who were sealed, a hundred and forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel.

Matthew 24:14
This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.
John 21:15-17
Jesus said to Simon Peter: "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these [fish]?" He said to him: "Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you." He said to him: "Feed my lambs." Again he said to him, a second time: "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him: "Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you." He said to him: "Shepherd my little sheep." He said to him the third time: "Simon son of John, do you have affection for me?" Peter became grieved that he said to him the third time: "Do you have affection for me?" So he said to him: "Lord, you know all things; you are aware that I have affection for you." Jesus said to him: "Feed my little sheep."

James 2:5
Listen, my beloved brothers. God chose the ones who are poor respecting the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he promised to those who love him, did he not?

Malachi 3:1-4
“Look! I am sending my messenger, and he must clear up a way before me. And suddenly there will come to His temple the true Lord, whom you people are seeking, and the messenger of the covenant in whom you are delighting. Look! He will certainly come,” Jehovah of armies has said. “But who will be putting up with the day of his coming, and who will be the one standing when he appears? For he will be like the fire of a refiner and like the lye of laundrymen. And he must sit as a refiner and cleanser of silver and must cleanse the sons of Levi; and he must clarify them like gold and like silver, and they will certainly become to Jehovah people presenting a gift offering in righteousness. And the gift offering of Judah and of Jerusalem will actually be gratifying to Jehovah, as in the days of long ago and as in the years of antiquity.”
Daniel 11:32-35
Those who are acting wickedly against the covenant he will lead into apostasy by means of smooth words. But as regards the people who are knowing their God, they will prevail and act effectively. And as regards those having insight among the people, they will impart understanding to the many. And they will certainly be made to stumble by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plundering, for some days. But when they are made to stumble they will be helped with a little help; and many will certainly join themselves to them by means of smoothness. And some of those having insight will be made to stumble, in order to do a refining work because of them and to do a cleansing and to do a whitening, until the time of the end; because it is yet for the time appointed.

Matthew 24:45-47
Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics* [the other servants in the house], to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings.

Luke 12:42-44
The Lord said: "Who really is the faithful steward, the discreet one, whom his master will appoint over his body of attendants* to keep giving them their measure of food supplies at the proper time? Happy is that slave, if his master on arriving finds him doing so! I tell you truthfully, He will appoint him over all his belongings."

*"Domestics", "attendants", "household", even "family" are different ways of translating the word used.

Matt 12.47-50
Someone said to him: “Look! Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak to you.” As an answer he said to the one telling him: “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And extending his hand toward his disciples, he said: “Look! My mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

Acts 20:28-35
Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son. I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore keep awake, and bear in mind that for three years, night and day, I did not quit admonishing each one with tears. And now I commit you to God and to the word of his undeserved kindness, which [word] can build you up and give you the inheritance among all the sanctified ones. I have coveted no man’s silver or gold or apparel. you yourselves know that these hands have attended to the needs of me and of those with me. I have exhibited to you in all things that by thus laboring you must assist those who are weak, and must bear in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, when he himself said, “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”

Matthew 20:25-28
Jesus said: "You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them and the great men wield authority over them. This is not the way among you; but whoever wants to become great among you must be servant to all, and whoever wants to be first among you must be slave to all. Just as the Son of man came, not to be served, but to serve."

Romans 5:17 and 21
17 For if by the trespass of the one [man, Adam] death ruled as king [over mankind] through that one, much more will those who receive the abundance of the undeserved kindness and of the free gift of righteousness rule as kings in life through the one [person], Jesus Christ. . . . 21 Just as sin ruled as king with death, likewise also undeserved kindness might rule as king through righteousness with everlasting life in view through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Note, everyone who responds faithfully is redeemed from death by Christ, so all such ones triumph over the kings sin and death. In that way, all who are declared righteous for life* can be said to “rule as kings in life” even now in their imperfect state, and all the more so later when made perfect. Of course, this has a more specific meaning for those chosen to literally rule with Christ in the future, but Paul was not discussing that in this context.
*this is actually the only kind of declaration of righteousness. No one is declared righteous for death, after all, and there are no intermediate states.

Titus 2:3, 4
Likewise let the older women be reverent in behavior, not slanderous, nor enslaved to a lot of wine; teachers of what is good, that they may recall the young women to their senses, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sound in mind, chaste.

1 Cor 12:28-31
God has set the respective ones in the congregation: first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then powerful works; then gifts of healings; helpful services, abilities to direct, different tongues. Not all are apostles, are they? Not all are prophets, are they? Not all are teachers, are they? Not all perform powerful works, do they? Not all have gifts of healings, do they? Not all speak in tongues, do they? Not all are translators, are they? But keep zealously seeking the greater gifts.

Matt 28:19
Go therefore, make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit.

Jeremiah 23:16, 21, 22
[Speaking of false prophets in ancient Israel that reassured the wayward that God was happy with their bad behavior:] This is what Jehovah of armies has said: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you people. They are making you become vain. The vision of their own heart is what they speak, not from the mouth of Jehovah. . . I did not send the prophets, yet they themselves ran. I did not speak to them, yet they themselves prophesied. But if they had stood in my intimate group, then they would have made my people hear my own words, and they would have caused them to turn back from their bad way and from the badness of their dealings."

Heb 5:11-14
Concerning him we have much to say and hard to be explained, since you have become dull in your hearing. For, indeed, although you ought to be teachers in view of the time, you again need someone to teach you from the beginning the elementary things of the sacred pronouncements of God; and you have become such as need milk, not solid food. . . Solid food belongs to mature people, to those who through use have their perceptive powers trained to distinguish right from wrong.
1 Tim 4.12-16
[Paul advises younger Timothy:] Let no man ever look down on your youth. On the contrary, become an example to the faithful ones in speaking, in conduct, in love, in faith, in chasteness. While I am coming, continue applying yourself to public reading, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not be neglecting the gift in you that was given you through a prediction and when the body of older men laid their hands upon you. Ponder over these things; be absorbed in them, that your advancement may be manifest to all. Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Stay by these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.

1 Cor 13:8-13
Love never fails. But whether there are gifts of prophesying, they will be done away with; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will be done away with. For we have partial knowledge and we prophesy partially; but when that which is complete arrives, that which is partial will be done away with. When I was a babe, I used to speak as a babe, to think as a babe, to reason as a babe; but now that I have become a man, I have done away with the traits of a babe. For at present we see in hazy outline by means of a metal mirror, but then it will be face to face. At present I know partially, but then I shall know accurately even as I am accurately known. Now, however, there remain faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

James 5:14, 15
Is there anyone sick among you? Let him call the older men of the congregation, and let them pray over him, greasing him with oil in the name of Jehovah. And the prayer of faith will make the indisposed one well, and Jehovah will raise him up. Also, if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him.
Eph 2:1-5
Furthermore, [God made you alive] though you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you at one time walked according to the way of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that now operates in the sons of disobedience. Yes, among them we all at one time conducted ourselves in harmony with the desires of our flesh, doing the things willed by the flesh and the thoughts, and we were naturally children of wrath even as the rest. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, made us alive together with the Christ, even when we were dead in trespasses. . .

1 Cor 14:9, 21-23, 26-28, 33
Unless you through the tongue utter speech easily understood, how will it be known what is being spoken? You will, in fact, be speaking into the air.
21 In the Law it is written: “‘With the tongues of foreigners and with the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and yet not even then will they give heed to me,’ says Jehovah.” Consequently tongues are for a sign, not to the believers, but to the unbelievers, whereas prophesying is, not for the unbelievers, but for the believers. Therefore, if the whole congregation comes together to one place and they all speak in tongues, but ordinary people or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are mad?
26 What is to be done, then, brothers? When you come together, one has a psalm, another has a teaching, another has a revelation, another has a tongue, another has an interpretation. Let all things take place for upbuilding. And if someone speaks in a tongue, let it be limited to two or three at the most, and in turns; and let someone translate. But if there be no translator, let him keep silent in the congregation and speak to himself and to God.
33 For God is a God, not of disorder, but of peace.

Acts 6:1-7
Now in these days, when the disciples were increasing, a murmuring arose on the part of the Greek-speaking Jews against the Hebrew-speaking Jews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution. So the twelve called the multitude of the disciples to them and said: “It is not pleasing for us to leave the word of God to distribute food to tables. So, brothers, search out for yourselves seven certified men from among you, full of spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them over this necessary business; but we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And the thing spoken was pleasing to the whole multitude, and they selected Stephen, a man full of faith and holy spirit, and Philip and Prochorus and Nicanor and Timon and Parmenas and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch; and they placed them before the apostles, and, after having prayed, these laid their hands upon them. Consequently the word of God went on growing, and the number of the disciples kept multiplying in Jerusalem very much; and a great crowd of priests began to be obedient to the faith.

Philippians 1:1
Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the holy ones in union with Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, along with overseers and ministerial servants:
1 Tim 3:2-12
The overseer should therefore be irreprehensible, a husband of one wife, moderate in habits, sound in mind, orderly, hospitable, qualified to teach, not a drunken brawler, not a smiter, but reasonable, not belligerent, not a lover of money, a man presiding over his own household in a fine manner, having children in subjection with all seriousness; (if indeed any man does not know how to preside over his own household, how will he take care of God’s congregation?) not a newly converted man, for fear that he might get puffed up with pride and fall into the judgment passed upon the Devil. Moreover, he should also have a fine testimony from people on the outside, in order that he might not fall into reproach and a snare of the Devil.
8 Ministerial servants should likewise be serious, not double-tongued, not giving themselves to a lot of wine, not greedy of dishonest gain, holding the sacred secret of the faith with a clean conscience. Also, let these be tested as to fitness first, then let them serve as ministers, as they are free from accusation.
Women should likewise be serious, not slanderous, moderate in habits, faithful in all things.
Let ministerial servants be husbands of one wife, presiding in a fine manner over children and their own households.

1 Tim 4:11, 12
Keep on giving these commands and teaching them. Let no man ever look down on your youth. On the contrary, become an example to the faithful ones in speaking, in conduct, in love, in faith, in chasteness.

1 Cor 12:4-6, 12, 13, 25
Now there are varieties of gifts, but there is the same spirit; and there are varieties of ministries, and yet there is the same Lord; and there are varieties of operations, and yet it is the same God who performs all the operations in all persons. 12 For just as the body is one but has many members, and all the members of that body, although being many, are one body, so also is the Christ. For truly by one spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink one spirit. . . 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its members should have the same care for one another.

The review questions are linked to the last section of multi-part chapters.

Women also had authority. They did not usually command or judge peoples, but they all were to manage their home and teach their children well. This in fact shapes the generation to come, a critically important task. Disintegrating home life has caused many an empire to fall. Not that Israelite women alone were to blame, but Israel's many failures to remain faithful to God could surely have been avoided by more conscientious teaching of godly thinking to the young ones.
Jesus used the singular "faithful slave" so that each disciple listening would place himself as the subject of the question. Any disciple who gained a position of teaching ('giving out food') would individually take Jesus' words as a challenge to remain faithful to his assignment until his Master's return. A similar challenge and promise is found in the parables of the minas (Luke 19:12-26) and the talents (Matt 25:14-30). See also 1 Peter 4:10.
It is not obvious in the parables that there is much interval between "Well done" and "Bring my enemies here." In one sense Christ returned at the beginning of the last days (early in the 20th century) and blessed those he found faithful then with the privilege of carrying the Good News of the imminent Kingdom to the world during the end times. Much later, at the end of the last days, he comes to execute judgment on his enemies (early in the 21st century, we expect). At that time Christ will return in a different way, in full power at the battle of Armageddon. Just before that, the last few of his chosen ones still remaining on earth are raised to heaven, so that finally all of them will have received their reward ("settled accounts with his slaves") to rule with him (given "authority over ten cities") and are able to have a hand in the final battle (Rev 2:26, 27). And at the same time, those found unfaithful will receive their punishment.
The fact that the parables could have two applications (one early in the last days, another at their end) is not a problem; several prophecies in scripture have both a minor and a great fulfillment (an example is at Matt 17:10-13: note Jesus says ‘Elijah’ is yet to come, then comments that he has already come; obviously he has to come more than once).