In Ephesians 4:10-13 the Apostle Paul gives a terse outline of the Gospel-Age Church in its organizational nature; and we offer some of this Scripture from the Diaglott: “He [Jesus] is the one having ascended far above all of the Heavens, so that He may fulfill all things. And He gave indeed the apostles, and the prophets, and the evangelists, and shepherds and teachers... for the work of service in order to the building up of the body of the Anointed One.” The Apostles in this text refer exclusively to the Twelve, who wrote by inspiration, and were given plenipotentiary powers by Jesus. “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.” (Matt. 16:19)
Next in order and in rank in the Church are the “prophets.” These cannot be the Old Testament prophets because they are not a part of the Church; therefore, they must be men of rank in the Gospel Age, and we understand them to be included in the “seven stars” of Rev. 1:16: “He [Jesus] had in his right hand seven stars.” On page 345 of the 1916 Watch Tower, there is this comment about them:
“This One whom we thus know, thus recognize, as the instructor and Caretaker of the candlesticks, we are also to recognize as having in His right hand ─ in His favor as well as His power ─ seven stars, the angels, the messengers, of the seven churches. That they are in His right hand seems to teach us that these should be considered as in some special sense under the Master's guidance, protection and care in the interest of the Churches which they represented.”
So far as we know, That Servant never named seven individuals as these “seven stars”; however, immediately after Brother Russell's demise, J. F. Rutherford named St. Paul, St. John, Arius, Waldo, Wycliffe, Luther and Brother Russell as the “seven stars.” While we agree that the above seven are a part of the “seven stars,” we believe there were others. This list omits Claudius of Turin, the first Protestant Reformer, John Wesley, Servetus, Hubmaier, and many other saintly reformers of the Gospel Age. We believe the “seven stars” are a composite group of forty-nine ─ 7 X 7 = 49 ─ just as The Mystery of God, The Christ, is a composite group of 144,001 members. “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand... The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.” (Rev. 1:20) “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” (Rev. 10:7)
It is not our purpose here to elaborate upon the “evangelists” (lesser lights in the general church than the “prophets”) or the “shepherds and teachers” (local elders), other than to note that these four classes of leaders constitute the full and complete organization of the Church ─ and is not an organization made by man. This organization should not be added to nor taken from. “Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” (Rev. 22:7,18) And, since St. Paul wrote by inspiration, we may accept his outline as being infallible. He further defines these two classes of Church leaders in Eph. 2: 19,20, Dia.: “You are fellow-citizens with the saints... having been built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets.” During the Age many have attempted to add to, or take from this organization, or arrangement, for the Church, which has brought them the condemnation of Rev. 22:18,19. They are the class described in Psa. 107:11: “They rebelled against the words of God [the true Bible doctrines], and contemned the counsel of the Most High [the organization of the Church as given by St. Paul].”
The same Apostle gives the Church organization in slightly different words in 1 Cor. 12:27-29, Dia.: “Now you are a Body of Christ, and members in part. And those whom God placed in the congregation, are first Apostles; second, Prophets; third, Teachers... All are not Apostles; all are not Prophets; all are not Teachers.” Here again St. Paul says the Prophets are second to the Apostles, and given their place in the congregation for the work of the ministry, for the perfecting of the Saints. And, since God has so placed them, woe be to any who attempt to place themselves into such positions, or to ignore those that God has so placed. When the great apostasy developed, after the demise of the Apostles, the Church of Rome tossed aside completely the organization of the Church ─ just as they did with all the important teachings of the Bible ─ they “rebelled [revolutionized] against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the Most High.” And in like manner, the Jehovah's Witnesses have done much the same thing since Brother Russell's demise. “And on this account God will send to them an energy of delusion, to their believing the falsehood [such as Millions Now Living Will Never Die; and more recently, their establishment of the Kingdom in this “present evil world,” etc.]; in order that all those may be judged who believed not the truth, but approved the iniquity.” (2 Thes. 2:11,12, Dia.)
“Them that honour Me I will honour” (1 Sam. 2:30); and we do well also to honor those that the Lord honors ─ not as “angel” worshipers, but in sound and proper appraisal of their position in the Household, their service in the Household, and as examples of the believers in the Household. Actuated by this text, we now offer some observations concerning Brother Russell in memory of his passing beyond the vail October 31, 1916.
Some of the Gospel-Age prophets had a special doctrine that they emphasized above all others, and which acted somewhat as the foundation of all their teachings; and we believe this was true of Brother Russell, which we would briefly describe as: A correct understanding of the Atonement as portrayed in Leviticus 16, the central teaching of which is RESTITUTION.
THE PATH OF THE JUST
“The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Prov. 4:18) This truth has applied all during the Age to the course of the individual believers, and to the Church as a body; and it was pointedly true of Brother Russell in his own endeavors to arrive at the truth on various subjects, some of which we now describe. First, however, we would commend the courage of the man for casting aside the vast accumulation of error that existed in the early days of his ministry. Many of those errors were firmly entrenched as the truth by the powerful leaders of Christendom; and it required not only courage, but unusual brilliance of mind to separate the truth from the error. Even those truths that were held by the various systems, such as justification by faith, baptism, etc., needed much polishing to bring them to the clarity with which we now understand them, and which we accept as fact, often not considering the great amount of work that was required to hand them to us as we now accept them in commonplace fashion. And one of these great truths was the doctrine of Restitution, which had been completely lost during the Dark Ages.
Some detail on the subject will clarify this. Brother Russell had been closely associated with Messrs. Barbour and Paton as co-editors of The Herald of the Morning; but in 1878 Mr. Barbour began to develop his errors in denial of the Ransom; and he cunningly stressed Leviticus 16 as proof of his contention. This distressed Brother Russell greatly. He knew the arguments were wrong, but he did not understand the truth clearly enough to refute them. Knowing they had come into the Harvest of the Gospel Age, he logically concluded that any error that appeared would be clearly refuted by the Truth, because the time had come for “the hail [hard sharp Truth] to sweep away the refuge of lies.” (Isa. 28:17) Therefore, he sent word to the foreman of his Pittsburgh store that he would not come that day, and for him to conduct the business as usual in his absence. Knowing that Hebrews discusses more than any other Biblical book the tabernacle types, and that St. Paul possessed a very clear understanding of those types, he spent that whole day in study and prayer in a strenuous effort to learn the truth about them. By evening he was still completely in the dark, so he spent the next day in the same manner, and with the same results. He went to his task the third day, and about noon came to Hebrews 13:10-16, wherein the Apostle contrasts the sacrifices of the Jewish ritual with those of the Gospel Age ─ first of all the sacrifice of Jesus as the antitype of the Atonement Day bullock. Realizing that his prayers and efforts had finally been rewarded, he jubilantly exclaimed to his wife: “I have it! I have it!” To which she answered, “Do not be too sure.” However, going over the verses again with her, he reassured himself that he had the truth, and that Restitution was the logical answer to the types in Leviticus 16.
However, he then became measurably afraid of his own findings, so that, instead of rushing into print with this phenomenal truth, he called a conference of leading brethren, and discussed the subject with them for eight days, making notes there that he later published as Tabernacle Shadows of the Better Sacrifices. Excepting Mr. Paton, those leaders were convinced of the truth, and began to preach it to the Allegheny ecclesia; but they, too, were hesitant about accepting it. But once finally convinced, they heartily began to preach it to others; thus, the light on this great doctrine shone more and more unto the perfect day. The “perfect day” in our text would be better rendered "median day," meaning the position of the sun at high noon, when it is brightest and when it seems to stand still in the heavens.
The great truth contained in Tabernacle Shadows immediately swept away the refuge of lies on eternal torment, the consciousness of the dead, confusion on the establishment of the Kingdom, etc. However, almost always during the Harvest there was primarily a hesitance on the part of those hearing it for the first time to believe it; but persuasion and detailed explanation usually convinced them, after which they, too, accepted it with enthusiasm and then began to preach it to others.
Perhaps a little digression should be injected here. In Exodus 34:29-35 we are told that when Moses came down from Mount Sinai his face shone, “and the children of Israel were afraid to come nigh to him... Moses gave the children of Israel all that the Lord had spoken with him... Till he had done speaking he put a vail on his face.” St. Paul also tells us in Hebrews that those things that occurred at Sinai were typical of the establishment of the Kingdom here in the end of the Age. And the brethren, inoculated as they all were, with the colossal errors of the past, at first feared to receive the Truth. Of course, the first to respond fully to the Tabernacle truths was Brother Russell himself, although even he was overwhelmed by its brilliance for a time; but the Lord then used him as the vail between Him and the brethren to buffer the dazzling effect at first experienced. From this standpoint, Brother Russell was the antitypica1 vail that the Lord used to convey new and radical truths to the Harvest workers.
As stated foregoing, Leviticus 16 reveals the offerings for sin, which in turn effects atonement, which “in due time” will accomplish “the restitution of all things.” (Acts 3:19-23) After clearly understanding this great truth, Brother Russell repeatedly preached it in his public lectures; and he urged all the pilgrims to do likewise. This in turn aroused the vicious antagonism of the Hell-fire preachers throughout Christendom; but the more they opposed, the more the message prospered; and by the time Brother Russell died in 1916 it was considered by many in Christendom as a reflection upon the intelligence of anyone who still believed in eternal torment as the wages of sin.
BELOVED OF GOD
Those who knew him well loved Brother Russell as a father ─ probably loved him more than they did any other human being. And this affection shown toward him was never abused, nor did it mar his humility. He was also greatly beloved of God. We understand he was the antitype of Daniel in certain of his activities; and three different times (Dan. 9:23; 10:11,19) we are told he was greatly beloved. “O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken to me, I was strengthened.” (10:19) He was also the antitype of Eldad in Num. 11:26,27; and Eldad means Beloved of God.
His demise in 1916 greatly saddened the entire Truth movement, although it was not long after 1916 before sundry and subtle errors beclouded the minds of many, as the errorists endeavored to take from Brother Russell what God had given him. The following from E-9-319 is a glowing tribute still cherished by many who knew him well:
“He will ever occupy in our hearts the large place that his holy character, unselfish service and faithful sufferings have won for him. That his memory may still continue fragrant and blest to us let us together briefly review the activities, achievements and attainments of this eminent saint of God. He certainly was a SCHOLAR in the true sense of that term. Those who require a university diploma as indispensable evidence of learning will deny him the merit of scholarship. However, there are not a few cases of scholars that were self-made, gaining their knowledge apart from the schools of the learned world. Among such our Pastor won a high place. Apart from English he was not a linguist, though he learned how to use well for his Biblical work the gains of the best scholarship in Greek and Hebrew. He was deeply versed in history, as his writings attest. So thoroughly did he understand business that able financiers eagerly sought his advice. His writings show that he was at home in the perplexing questions of industry, economics, sociology, capital and labor. The realms of philosophy were deeply explored by him, and he was an expert in theoretical and practical psychology and phrenology. Few have understood the workings of the human intellect and heart so well as he. Human anatomy and physiology were open books to him. However, his real eminence in learning was in the domain of theology, in which he was without a peer since the days of the Apostles. His knowledge of the Bible was phenomenal; and when other theologians will have been discarded, he will be recognized as a standing authority in this the greatest of all sciences.
“Naturally such a scholar would be a writer. Very few human beings have written more than he. His correspondence alone was sufficient for the life work of an industrious and talented man. When it is remembered that some years over 300,000 letters and postals were written to him, and that he supervised the answers to this huge mail, we can realize something of the amount of his correspondence and the time and labor involved. As an author he produced six unrivaled books on the Bible whose combined circulation during his life aggregated 10,000,000 copies. As a bookleteer he published a number of booklets of great value, one of which, on Hell, has been circulated more widely than any other booklet ever written. He produced over 200 tracts, some of which attained a circulation of over 50,000,000 copies. His sermons, appearing regularly every week for thirteen years, were published part of that time simultaneously in over 2,000 newspapers, having a combined circulation of over 15,000,000 copies. He edited a semi-monthly religious magazine with a circulation of about 45,000 copies.”
The foregoing is the comment of an eminent scholar, a scholar who had the advantage of higher institutional learning; yet his superiority of schooling did not deter him in giving to Brother Russell the glowing tribute reproduced above. He freely admitted that Brother Russell was his intellectual superior, and gladly rendered honor to whom honor was due. And, as respects Brother Russell's executive ability, we were told that a prominent industrialist once said of Brother Russell that he would be worth two million dollars a year to any corporation large enough to afford such help.
THE PAROUSIA MESSENGER
It is our opinion that the opening words of the Jeremiah prophecy are well adapted to describing Brother Russell: “The word of the Lord came unto me, saying... I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee. Then the Lord put forth His hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” (Jer. 1:4-10) In his youth Brother Russell was acutely conscious of his lack of higher learning; thus, he considered other prominent religious leaders more qualified than he to declare the truths that had been given him. But he soon recognized that the task was his ─ that the Lord had indeed put His words into his mouth.
With the great advances that had come since 1874 in inventions, in learning, and in the professions, Christendom was basking in the security that no evil could befall them. This was truly a strong deterrent to the preaching of a great world war breaking forth in 1914; and it required exceptional courage and faith to continue to announce it. In fact, we are told that the Gideons (the group that place the Bibles in the Hotels) had a convention in Toronto in 1913, and there made the proclamation that it was nonsense to expect a great war in a year, that Christendom was much too advanced for any such folly. With everything so calm on the surface, the casual observer was inclined to agree with them. It was causing Brother Russell some concern, too, so he made careful re-check of the chronology, but could find nothing wrong with it.
When the war did start right on time in 1914 it was like a bolt of lightning from a sunny sky. With the assassination of the Austrian Archduke and his wife, as they were taking a carriage drive through a part of Serbia, the world became a holocaust in a twenty-four hour period; and it gave loud testimony to the world that Brother Russell had been “ordained a prophet unto the nations.” Inasmuch as he had made crystal clear the meaning of the Lord's Parousia ─ over the thousand years, and in its various stages ─ Brother Johnson began to refer to him as the Parousia Messenger. This title is not to be found in the Bible by direct statement, but it is easily conceived by considering a few texts. In Psa. 91:11 it is stated, “He will give his angels a charge concerning thee”; and the Manna comment for November 17 explains that these angels would be human messengers provided for the special oversight and welfare of the Church. Thus, Parousia Messenger could aptly be stated Parousia Angel, but Parousia Messenger makes the thought a little clearer to the average reader.
He was not only the Parousia Messenger, but he was That Servant (Matt. 24:45-47), he was the prophet unto the nations (Jer. 1:5), he was “that faithful and wise steward” (Luke 12:42), he was one of the stars (Rev. 1:16), he was one of the prophets in the Gospel-Age Church, and those who knew him intimately would readily testify that he was one of the foundation stones in the Parousia Church (Eph. 2:20), he was a pilgrim, he was a warrior and, as such, he was the antitypica1 Parousia David. He was also the antitypical Eleazar of the Gospel-Age Harvest. As such he had full charge of the antitypical Tabernacle, the Church: “He shall make him ruler over all His goods.” (Matt. 24:47) In this he was the parallel of the twelve Apostles in the Jewish Harvest. He was a genteel man, but most of his adult years were spent in fighting ─ set for the defense of the Truth. In Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, under biographical names, it lists Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916) “American Pastor.” And the same dictionary lists Joseph Franklin Rutherford (1869-1942) “Judge - American leader of Jehovah's Witnesses.” It is our hearty recommendation that wherever two or more brethren may meet together that they hold a memorial service the last week in October, which meeting could include testimonies, and perhaps a reading of some sort pertinent to his life, work and character, as we all join in saying, God bless his memory!
THE EPIPHANY MESSENGER
As Pilgrim, Brother Paul S. L. Johnson was Brother Russell's special helper during the final years of his life. The title Epiphany Messenger is likewise not found in the Bible; but, using Psa. 91:11, there is no difficulty in coining the expression. He did for the Epiphany what the Parousia Messenger did for the Parousia, although his ministry was not nearly so extensive or compelling. At the death of the Parousia Messenger we believe it could truthfully be said that all the living Saints had come into his organization, leaving none to be found elsewhere; but this was definitely not the case with the Epiphany Messenger. He often said that there were more Saints in the other Truth groups than he had with him ─ which means it was not necessary for them to come under his direction to retain their saintly standing, although those who did so received special blessings, particularly in service, that did not come to those in the other groups.
He was one of the stars ─ one of the prophets, but much less important than the Parousia Messenger had been. He was certainly the son of the Parousia David; and this is the record in 1 Chron. 22:5: “David said, Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be bui1ded for the Lord must be exceedingly magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will now therefore make preparation for it. So David prepared abundantly before his death.” Indeed, the Parousia David left a goodly heritage not only to his son Solomon, but to the entire Household, in the clear and logical structure of the Parousia Truth; although many of the former pilgrims began to tamper with that Truth, and it then fell to the lot of the Epiphany Messenger to defend almost every important tenet of Parousia Truth. And now it has become so vitiated by some that it is no longer recognizable for what it once was.
Recognizing the colossal task which faced him, the Epiphany Messenger made special prayer for wisdom and strength sufficient for the job to be done, and this is what 1 Kings 4:29-31 has to say about it: “God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the seashore. And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men.” Very often did various religious organizations write to him for his analysis on extremely difficult Bible texts; and those of us who were close to him know the skill with which he answered them.
As a young man, before he joined the Harvest Movement, he had gained extensive recognition as a Lutheran minister in Columbus, Ohio, and elsewhere. By intensive study for about three months in 1903 he had been able clearly to see the Truth on the unity of God, human mortality, death as the wages of sin, Papacy as the Beast, identity of the Millennium and the Judgment Day, and 1914 as the end of the Age. Thereafter he made no progress toward understanding Present Truth until he came into the Harvest movement. He was a true scholar of Greek and Hebrew, spoke German fluently; and in his earlier years he was able to give an oration in Latin ─ a feat which very few College professors of Latin are able to do. He graduated from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, with the highest honors of anyone who ever attended that institution up to that time. We knew a prominent Lutheran minister in Dayton, Ohio, who had been his classmate, and he said Paul Johnson was known throughout the campus as the mental giant. All this is simply a statement of fact, and in no sense intended to give undue praise, in like manner as he wrote about the Parousia Messenger after his death. Thus, we conclude this present appraisal the same as we did that of the Parousia Messenger ─ God bless his memory!
We invite all of like mind to join with us in giving honor to whom honor is due, and in honoring those whom the Lord honors. Our Lord Himself said, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” (John 12:26)
(Brother John J. Hoefle, Reprint 478, October 1996)
QUESTIONS OF GENERAL INTEREST
QUESTION ─ What about the number of the beast, 666?
ANSWER ─ There are various interpretations given to this. I am not specially prepared to say all about my view of the matter, except that I believe it would represent the title of papacy. There are three Latin words inscribed on the Pope’s crown, Vicarous Felii Dei, the Vicarious Son of God. This title attached to the Pope would seem to be an illegitimate one. He is not the vicarious Son of God; He is not the vicar of Christ; he is not reigning instead of Christ; and therefore every intimation to the effect that he is the substitute or representative of Christ in reigning power would seem to be that much of a blasphemy. Not that the Pope and the Catholics understand that they are blaspheming. I presume they feel fully confident that this is all very true of him. But to our understanding it is untrue, and he is in a false position, and is really anti-Christ, or the counterfeit Christ, as the Bible would express the matter. (1911, page 37)
QUESTION ─ Kindly explain Isaiah 26:14: “They are dead; they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise; therefore hast Thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.”
ANSWER ─ There are some who think that this text refers to mankind and they then try to use this text to overthrow other texts. We should not go trying to overthrow one text by another. We should rather be for trying to bring all the texts of Scripture into full harmony with each other and with the whole. Here is a text which seems to conflict with the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. Look at the text for a moment. We find here a very special description of the class here specified. This description applies to the “Giants” of the present day in the world. This refers to the great giant trusts and corporations that have a wonderful power and they are all coming together. It does not matter how strong they seem to be at the present time, they shall come down. They shall die. They shall perish. They shall never rise again when once they have perished. These are the class to whom this text does refer. (1912, pages 210, 211)
QUESTION ─ Please explain the text that speaks of some persons as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed.
ANSWER ─ The Apostle is speaking of some who are to suffer destruction at the hands of the Lord, and he says as wild beasts they are taken and destroyed. You do not think it any harm to destroy a lion. Why? Because he is ferocious and apt to do some harm. If it were a dove flying about and harmless, I would say, do not touch it, but let it go. Or if it were some bird of beautiful plumage flying about and doing no harm, but only uttering some beautiful trill of voice, I would say, do not touch the bird. Why should we destroy the life of any such innocent and beautiful creature? But if it were a lion or a tiger, and the whole village or city was in distress because of it, and it was going to do some harm, we would say that we had better destroy it. Every policeman, under such circumstances, is authorized to draw his revolver and to shoot immediately. It is only fit for destruction; and is not a proper thing to let go at liberty. So, the Lord has this view with respecting a certain class He is going to destroy in the Second Death. They are not fit for life; that is the reason they will be destroyed. They are no more fit for life than the brute beasts are fit to live. Just as it is proper to destroy a corrupt person who has injured others, and to cut off his opportunity of perpetuating evil, so it would be to destroy a brute beast. And God purposes that all the wicked will He destroy ─ those who have had full knowledge, and have been helped in every way that God, Christ and the Ancient Worthies will be able to help them ─ after they have had all of that, if they are still, at heart, antagonistic to righteousness, and if they still love iniquity, let them die as brute beasts. But it would not be right to torment them. It is not right to torment brute beasts. Who would say that God or man had a right to torment even brute beasts, or human creatures? But it is right to destroy beasts and it is right for God to destroy those who will ultimately be like brute beasts, in that they would be injurious to others. ( 1907, pages 224, 225)
(The above questions are from What Pastor Russell Said)
ANNOUNCEMENT: We are pleased to announce that we now have available at no cost to you, tract No. 10, titled God’s Standard. We believe this will be good to give to those who think they are saints and are still “gathering saints.” Also, it would be good to give to those who believe themselves to be Consecrated Epiphany Campers. This would encourage and bless both of those groups, as they would learn that God has opened another door for those consecrators who are too late to be of the Saint class, just as the Ancient Worthies were too early for that elect class.