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By 30. March 2021January 9th, 2023Apostasy


The Shepherd book lists “Causing divisions” and “Promoting sects” together as the same thing. But this is incorrect. The action of promoting a sect will cause divisions, but causing divisions will not automatically lead to the formation of a sect. And because of this, the two situations are not synonymous and should not be treated as such.

A sect, as it is expressed in the Christian Greek Scriptures, is a group that deviates from the Christian faith. According to Titus 3:10, a person who promotes a sect can be disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation.

Romans 16:17, 18 is used in the Shepherd book to show that causing divisions is a disfellowshipping action. But I show that “divisions,” as used in that scripture, were caused by persons who promoted a sect. Indeed, the context suggests that such ones may have been sect promoters because they were causing divisions “contrary to the teaching that they had learned”. This raises an interesting question: What if those who were causing divisions in the congregation did so in their ‘insistence on sticking the teaching they had learned’? Should such ones be summarily disfellowshipped under the generic, catch — all expression “Causing divisions,” with no qualifications considered? This situation is discussed.

While promoting a sect is a violation of God’s principles, there can be situations where causing divisions could accord with the will of God. In the congregation in Corinth, some persons venerated Christian leaders and said that they belonged to a certain leader. In that case, true Christians had to make a sect by separating themselves from these persons by saying “I belong to Christ.”

Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:19 show that the formation of a sect (hairesis) can be the natural consequence of a Christian sticking to Bible truth in opposition to others who have deviated from it. In such a scenario, the resulting division is a byproduct of that disagreement, and so is biblically justified. In the second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 11, some persons whom Paul calls the “superfine apostles” are mentioned. They had elevated themselves to apostles, and they tried to corrupt the members of the congregation. True Christians had to separate themselves from the “superfine apostles.”

A sect is a group that has deviated from another group, and from a biblical standpoint, this other group is Jehovah’s organization. There are three purposes in connection with this organization in the last days. And there are three requirements for the understanding of the Bible, 1) knowledge of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, 2) detailed knowledge of world history, and 3) detailed knowledge of the history of the people of God in the last days. These qualifications are only found in Jehovah’s organization.

Three basic purposes in God having an organization are as follows: 1) To teach the truth about God to sincere persons, and to expose Satan the Devil as the ruler of this world,  2) To create a secure sheep-like pen of support for believers, as well as for added protection from Satan’s world. 3) To preach the good news of the Kingdom in all the world, and to systematically prepare persons who learn the truth, and who become a part of Jehovah’s organization, to be sent out to preach.

In Corinth, there were persons who made sects inside the congregation by saying that they belonged to Paul, to Apollos, and to Cephas. There were also elders who wanted more power and elevated themselves. I am sad to point out that the formation of sects also has occurred inside Jehovah’s organization today by the present members of the Governing Body. And so, it is customary to hear Jehovah’s Witnesses in effect say, ‘I belong to Jehovah, but I to Jesus, but I to “the Governing Body.” Not only is this the sentiments among many Witnesses, but often the word-of-mouth credit that should be directed to Jehovah and Jesus is often directed, instead, to the Governing Body. A search on the words “Governing Body” in the Watchtower Online Library makes clear the ever-increasing shift in recent years regarding whom Jehovah’s Witnesses are saying they ‘belong to,’ and more and more the answer is, “to the Governing Body”.

Just as the “superfine apostles,” the members of the Governing Body have elevated themselves to a supreme position. They claim that they are appointed by God as his mouthpieces, and they have all power over the doctrines, the assets, and the money. They have turned what once was Jehovah’s theocratic organization into an autocratic organization. And in keeping with that autocracy, everyone who does not strictly obey the Governing Body will be disfellowshipped.

The most dangerous sectarian decision made by the present Governing Body is that they have rejected the full inspiration of the Bible. The way the members of the Governing Body treats the text of the Bible is the very opposite of how the leaders of the Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses have treated this text for 120 years, since the 1870s.

The sectarian decisions of the members of the Governing Body have also ruined the lives of hundreds of thousands of Witnesses. Thirty-five of the disfellowshipping offenses listed in the Shepherd book are human commandments that have no basis in the Bible. During the 21st century, more than one million Witnesses have been disfellowshipped. My assessment is that if the Bible alone had been followed, as much as 90% of those who have been disfellowshipped should not have been if the Bible was followed.

The Governing Body diminishes the value and power of both the ransom sacrifice and the resurrection by rejecting the words of Jesus that the inhabitants of Chorazin, Capernaum. Bethsaida, Sodom, and Gomorrah will get a resurrection on Judgment Day, and thus, by teaching that fewer persons will have a resurrection than the Bible actually shows.

The book “Shepherd The Flock Of God” 12. 39 (4) says:

Apostasy: Apostasy is a standing away from true worship, a falling away, defection, rebellion, abandonment. It includes the following:

Causing Divisions, Promoting Sects: (Rom. 16: 17. 18; Titus 3:10, 11) This would be deliberate action disrupting the unity of the congregation or undermining the confidence in the brothers in Jehovah’s arrangement. It may involve or lead to apostasy.— it-2, p 886.


The two actions, “Causing divisions” and “Promoting sects,” are listed together as the same thing that is an expression of apostasy. From a logical point of view, making the two actions equivalent does not make sense, and it leads the reader astray. If a Witness makes a sect, he causes divisions. But if a Witness causes divisions, he or she is not necessarily making a sect.

However, the Governing Body has a purpose in blending the two actions. One of the 11 disfellowshipping offenses that are listed in the Shepherd book that has a legitimate basis in the Bible is the making of a sect (hairesis). Connecting the action “Causing divisions” with “Promoting sects,” seemingly provides a basis in the Bible for making “Causing divisions” a disfellowshipping offense as well. But in the article, “Causing divisions” in the category “Apostasy” I show that this action is not listed in the Christian Greek Scriptures as a disfellowshipping offense.

The members of the Governing Body have, in effect, issued a “gag-order” precluding any criticism against them or the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Any disagreement with the Governing Body is viewed as a violation of the gag-order; any such disagreements are redefined as “causing divisions” and it leads to disfellowshipping.

I use myself as an illustration that “Causing divisions” and “Promoting sects” can be very different. I believe that Jehovah’s Witnesses are Jehovah’s organization, and in chapter 1 of my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, I show that all the basic doctrines of Jehovah’s Witnesses, including the unique ones, are based on the Bible. My book shows that the autocratic organization that the Governing Body has created in recent years violates several laws and principles in the Bible. I sent the book to the Governing Body and wrote that if the Governing Body started to change the wrongs within the organization, the book would not be published. That was rejected!

I had no desire to leave my congregation. But my training as an elder for 56 years was that if I saw something wrong in the organization, I had to do something with it as quickly as possible. That was the reason why I wrote the book. The judicial committee that disfellowshipped me had not seen or read my book, but they were instructed by the branch office to disfellowship me—because I had violated the Governing Body’s manmade “gag-order” and therefore was pronounced guilty of “causing divisions.”

However, in no way could it rightly be said that I was promoting a sect. Wikipedia defines the word “sect” in the following way:

A sect is a subgroup of a religious, political, or philosophical belief system, usually an offshoot of a larger group. Although the term was originally a classification for religious separated groups, it can now refer to any organization that breaks away from a larger one to follow a different set of rules and principles.[1]

The Awake! magazine of January 8, 1988, defines sect in the following way:

Interestingly, many Jews of the first century took just such a view of the followers of Jesus Christ, particularly of the apostle Paul. Because of his zealous preaching of the good news about Jesus Christ, the Jewish authorities accused Paul of being “a pestilent fellow and stirring up seditions among all the Jews throughout the inhabited earth and a spearhead of the sect of the Nazarenes.” (Acts 24:5) The word “sect” is here translated from the Greek word haiʹre·sis, meaning “a choice,” that is, “the choice of an opinion contrary to that usually received.” Thus, a “sect” is a group or a body of people that chooses to follow a course or belief different from what is commonly accepted. (italics mine)

Only in dictatorial nations and organizations is it a grave error not to blindly accept what the leaders say and do. And on the mistaken premise that no one has the right to disagree with the Governing Body, one can say that by writing the book, I was causing divisions. But it is not possible to say that I was, or am, promoting a sect. The reason is that a sect is more than one person; it is a group, an offshoot of some organization. And I have not even attempted to make an opposition group to Jehovah’s Witnesses.

When Jehovah was about to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham, in effect, called Jehovah to task for what he thought was a premature error in God’s judgment. Did Jehovah ignore Abraham for the presumption to question the Almighty? Abraham’s questions leaned more towards being an accusation rather than a true inquiry. Although God had the right to chastise Abraham for his insolence, he instead humbly answered all of Abraham’s questions and never once pointed out that Abraham did not have the right to question him.

Similarly, even if the Governing Body was an elite, nearly inspired, a group designated to make the final decision regarding what Jehovah’ Witnesses must accept as truth, why should it feel that it is beyond questioning? Unlike the humility shown by Jehovah himself, the Governing Body has historically refused to allow anyone to question it without punitive actions taken against such a one. If Abraham were alive and a member of the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses today, he would likely be disfellowshipped for the “blasphemous” questions he directed at Jehovah! I am certainly not trying to tear down the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses; I have, as a Bible scholar, merely pointed out sound linguistic, logical, and scriptural arguments that do not deserve to be shrugged off as ignorant talk. If Jehovah allowed Abraham to question him, a man who actually was ignorant of the soundness of Jehovah’s righteous judgments, why should I be barred from doing the same—asking legitimate questions of the Governing Body while presenting sound scriptural arguments as a basis for my questioning? Do the members of the Governing Body believe that they are more important in status than Jehovah? Their handling of those who have questioned them over the years suggests that, Yes, they do!

The conclusion to this section is that “Causing Division” and “Promoting sects” are two different things that should not be listed together. “Promoting sects” is a legitimate basis for disfellowshipping whereas “Causing Division,” in itself, is not—only where divisions result in pursuit or promotion of a sect is it a basis for being put out of the congregation.

Creating a sect is always connected with divisions. But creating divisions is not always connected with the making of a sect.



There are only three passages in the Christian Greek Scriptures speaking about disfellowshipping offenses in addition to 1 Corinthians chapters 5 and 6; one is Titus 3:10, 11 (NWT13):

10 As for a man who promotes a sect, reject him after a first and a second admonition, 11 knowing that such a man has deviated from the way and is sinning and is self-condemned.

We first need to consider the word “reject.” It is translated from the Greek word paraiteomai, which, according to Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains by J.P. Louw and E. Nida means, “purposely to avoid association with someone—‘to shun, to avoid, to keep away from, to have nothing to do with.’” There are two situations in the Christian congregations when someone can be avoided.[1] One situation is when a person, to some extent, has deviated from the Christian teachings, but he can still be helped. (2 Thessalonians 3:14). The second situation is when a person has become wicked and has been disfellowshipped. (1 Corinthians 5:11) The person mentioned in Titus 3:10 could not be helped and therefore had to be disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation.

What is the sin of the mentioned man? The important word is the adjective hairetikos, which NWT13 translates as a course of action—“a man who promotes a sect”. However, TDNT I, 184, says: “In Christianity, it seems to have been used technically from the very first, and denotes the adherent of heresy.” Titus 3:11 shows, just as 1 Corinthians chapters 5 and 6 does, that Paul is not speaking of just one or even a few bad actions, but of being hairetikos (“heretical”), i.e., the man has become ‘a heretic,’ which speaks to the very personality of the person. The expression “have deviated from the way” is translated from ekstrefomai, which, according to Louw and Nida, has the meaning “to have departed from the patterns of correct behavior and thus to have become corrupt.”[2]

Hymenaeus and Alexander were “also handed over to Satan,” another expression in the Christian Greek Scriptures signaling that they were disfellowshipped. (1 Timotheus 1:20) What was the reason for their disfellowshipping? They were “saying that the resurrection had already occurred, and they were subverting the faith of some.” (2 Timotheus 2:17, 18.) One of the eight definitions of apostasy in the book for elders is “Deliberately spreading Teachings Contrary to Bible Truth.” These words can be applied to Hymenaeus and Alexander because they were spreading a false teaching that was subverting the faith of some. This means that we have two biblically sanctioned disfellowshipping offenses, “promoting a sect” and “spreading false teachings.”

It is important to note that the actions of the man mentioned in Titus 3:10, who was promoting a sect, are connected with his personality or character because it is shown that he had become “heretical” and “corrupt.”. And because his character had become permeated or corrupted by heresy, he had to be disfellowshipped. The words of 2 Thessalonians 3:14, 15 (NWT13) corroborate that it is the corruption of a Christian’s moral character, and not merely the act of causing divisions that warrants disfellowshipping:

14 But if anyone is not obedient to our word through this letter, keep this one marked and stop associating (synanamignymi) with him, so that he may become ashamed. 15 And yet do not consider him as an enemy, but continue admonishing him as a brother.

If a Christian had reservations regarding something in the inspired letter of Paul, and so refused to obey it, such defiance could, to some extent, cause divisions. But such bold disobedience and its resulting divisiveness evidently were not a part of the personality or character of the man. Therefore, he was not disfellowshipped like the promoter of a sect, whose personality had become corrupted by heresy to the point that he could be categorized as being a heretic. Rather, the “marked” man was still viewed as a brother. He was reproved and had to change his attitude, but he was not disfellowshipped.

One of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5 is expressed by the word hairesis (“sect”). Of the 15 works of the flesh mentioned, this fourth one also happens to be a disfellowshipping offense.

There is one other passage in the Christian Greek Scriptures that is dealing with the same subject as Titus 3:10, 11, and that is Romans 16:17, 18 (NWT84)

17 Now I exhort you, brothers, to keep your eye on those who cause divisions and occasions for stumbling contrary to the teaching that you have learned, and avoid (ekklinō) them. 18 For men of that sort are slaves, not of our Lord Christ, but of their own bellies; and by smooth talk and complimentary speech they seduce the hearts of guileless ones.

According to Louw and Nida, the word ekklinō in Romans 16:17 has the meaning: “Purposedly to avoid association with someone—to shun, to avoid, to keep away from, to have nothing to do with.”

What are the sins of those mentioned in Romans 16:17?

  • Causing divisions.
  • Causing stumbling.
  • Acting contrary to Christian teaching.
  • Are not slaves of Jesus Christ.
  • Seducing the heart of guileless ones.

The last three points are the important ones. By acting against the Christian teaching and by seducing people, they are sect-promoters. They cannot anymore be helped, and therefore the Greek word ekklinō (“avoid”) indicates that they must be disfellowshipped.

A very fine admonition is found in The Watchtower of  August 1. 1974, page 472.

Holding to the Scriptures, neither minimizing what they say nor reading into them something they do not say, will enable us to keep a balanced view toward disfellowshipped ones.

This admonition often is not followed when Romans 16:17, 18 is discussed. The first article discussing disfellowshipping in detail was published in The Watchtower of March 1, 1952. In addition to the disfellowshipping offenses mentioned in 1 Corinthians, chapters 5 and 6, “causing divisions” are listed on page 134. And Romans 16:17, 18 were mentioned as evidence. The same scripture is also used in the book for elders “Shepherd The Fock Of God” (2019) 12.39.4, for the disfellowshipping offense “causing divisions,” which is subsumed under the heading “Apostasy.”

The instruction is that a brother or sister who is accused of an action that can lead to disfellowshipping must be shown which Bible passage he or she is supposed to have violated.  My experience with judicial committees when someone is accused of causing divisions is that Romans 16:17, 18 is read, and one elder points to the words “create divisions and causes for stumbling.” But this is to read into the text what it does not say. The text does not speak about causing divisions in an unqualified general sense. But it speaks of causing divisions by going against Christian teachings and by seducing other Christians to do the same. So, the scriptural reason for disfellowshipping, in this case, is the divisions that were created as a consequence of promoting a sect and not divisions in general.

This understanding may be implicit in the instructions given in Romans 16:17, 18. Notice that Paul urged the brothers to “keep your eye on those who create divisions and causes for stumbling”. Such ones were not immediately thrown out of the congregation despite having caused divisions on more than one occasion. Clearly then, being a general cause of division was not in itself immediate grounds for ‘avoidance,’ or disfellowshipping. Rather, the brothers were instructed to first keep an eye on them. To what end? No doubt to determine if such divisions were a result of ‘going contrary to Christian teachings’ or rather, the other kind of disruption that did not involve apostasy. If the former, the elders could then take steps to “avoid them” by disfellowshipping such sect promoters from the congregation.

[1]. The shunning of disfellowshipped persons practiced by Jehovah’s Witnesses is unchristian and is a violation of several biblical principles. Three articles in the Category “Shunning not based on the Bible” on this website discuss this issue in detail.

[2]. The antichrists (2 John 1:7 11), who deliberately spread religious deception about Jesus Christ and his teachings, were also sect-promoters.


Because “causing divisions” is a negatively loaded expression—it is associated with deviation from something that is just and right—it seems to be strange to ask if causing divisions, given the stigma of being labeled a sect promoter, can be biblically justified. But I will show below that this is really the case; in some situations, Christians may have no choice but to be a disruption, or a cause of division, in order to follow the laws of God.

The right foundation for causing divisions

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul says in 1:10 (NWT84):

Now 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 (skhisma) among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.

Christians are free people, and in their personal lives, different persons will make different decisions. But because the Christian faith originates with God, in matters of faith everyone should have the same opinion and the same view. What was the reason there was no unity in Corinth? We learn that from verses 11 and 12:

11 For the disclosure was made to me about YOU, my brothers,  by those of [the house of] Chlo’e, that dissensions (eris) exist among you. 12 What I mean is this, that each one of YOU says: “I belong to Paul,” “But I to Apollos,” “But I to Cephas,” “But I to Christ.” 13 The Christ exists divided.

According to Louw and Nida, the word eris, that is translated by “dissensions,” has the meaning, “to express difference of opinion, with at least some measure of antagonism or hostility — ‘to argue, quarrel, dispute’.” Were the dissensions in Corinth right or wrong? To think too highly of persons as if they were the originators of the Christian faith was wrong. Those who looked up to persons were implicitly creating a sect.

If we were in the congregation of Corinth with the mentioned “sects” that were developing in the congregation, we would have no choice but to oppose the three mentioned sects and opt to separate ourselves, in effect, causing another division saying: “I belong to Christ.” However, in this case, we have not created a sect because, unlike the others, our purpose in causing divisions is to distance ourselves from the teachings of the real sect promoters, and in support of the original Christian teaching, namely, that we “belong to Christ”. The point is that if something is wrong, we must oppose it, even if that would cause divisions. This is what Paul implies in 1 Corinthians 11:19 (NWT84):

For there must also be sects (hairesis) among YOU, that the persons approved may also become manifest among YOU.

Only those who would say, “I belong to Christ” would have God’s approval, and they had to dissent from the others who looked up to men. So, in this case, a division (skhisma) would be right, and this is confirmed by Paul’s words in 11:19.

Causing divisions by creating a distance from the “superfine apostles”

Paul discusses the justification of causing divisions in his first letter to the Corinthians. In his second letter to this congregation, he discusses a situation that is a good illustration of the situation among Jehovah’s Witnesses  today. In 2 Corinthians 11:13, Paul mentions some members of the congregation that he calls “superfine apostles.” The Watchtower of  November 15, 1964 discusses these “superfine apostles” in the article “Keeping the Organization of Public Servants Pure, Chaste”:

By faithfully appealing to this pure Word of God the New World Society has been able to purify its doctrines and to keep its teaching pure and truthful.

14 From the very first number of the Watch Tower magazine in July of 1879, which is eighty-five years ago, it has been the endeavor of Jehovah’s dedicated people to do this. So it is very late in the day that the statement comes from the Roman Catholic Pontifex Maximus Paul VI, just back from his pilgrimage to the Middle East, as reported by the New York Times under the dateline “Rome, Jan. 8,” namely:

Pope Paul stressed that “anyone who wants to be true Christian” must go back to the Scriptures. “The return to the Gospel must be our continual exercise of thought, spiritual fervor, moral renewal, religious and human sensitiveness,” he declared.

15 However, the Roman Catholic Pontifex Maximus cluttered up the way of this return of Roman Catholics to the Bible:

He said that study of Scripture did not imply disavowal of church traditions, “but an increasing effort to bring our Christian faith closer to its original concept, search for greater essential faithfulness to the thinking of Our Lord, and spiritual invigoration of what the authentic development of tradition has brought down to us.”—N.Y. Times, Jan. 9, 1964.

16 To the contrary of this, the New World Society of Jehovah’s witnesses endeavors to purify itself of all religious traditions and to adhere to the pure written Word of God. We remember Jesus’ condemnatory words against man-made traditions.—Matt. 15:1-14.

17 Very plainly the apostle Paul was talking about doctrinal purity and about keeping the true Christian organization free from the teaching of false apostles, when he wrote these words to the congregation that he had founded in Corinth, Greece:

18 “I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy, for I personally promised you in marriage to one husband that I might present you as a chaste virgin to the Christ. But I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent seduced Eve by its cunning, your minds might be corrupted away from the sincerity and the chastity that are due the Christ. For, as it is, if someone comes and preaches a Jesus other than the one we preached, or you receive a spirit other than what you received, or good news other than what you accepted, you easily put up with him. For I consider that I have not in a single thing proved inferior to your superfine apostles. But even if I am unskilled in speech, I certainly am not in knowledge.”—2 Cor. 11:2-6.

19 Certainly, when the serpent in Eden tempted Adam’s wife Eve in order to seduce and corrupt her, its effort was in the matter of doctrine, in the matter of religious belief. It was not in moral or sexual behavior. The serpent induced Eve to believe that her Creator, Jehovah God, was a liar in what he had taught her husband Adam. In a like cunning manner, during Paul’s absence from Corinth, those so-called “superfine apostles” were trying to corrupt the Christian congregation there. How? By preaching a Christ different from the one whom Paul had preached, by trying to put in the congregation a spirit different from the one they had got through Paul along with its gifts, and by preaching a kind of “good news” different from the good news that Paul had preached to them. Thus those so-called “superfine apostles” were trying to marry off the Corinthian congregation to a different Christ as a spiritual husband. This was leading to a spiritual immorality. How?

20 The apostle Paul had already promised them in marriage to Jesus Christ the heavenly Son of God. So now if they let themselves become engaged to marry some other Christ, they would be losing their spiritual morality. They would be losing their spiritual chastity, their virgin chastity, that they owed to Jesus Christ as their promised Husband. The apostle Paul wanted to present this Christian congregation that he had founded as a “chaste virgin to the Christ,” but here those “superfine apostles” were trying to break the congregation’s engagement to Jesus Christ and switch it over to a counterfeit Christ. They were trying to seduce the already engaged congregation to commit spiritual immorality, spiritual adultery, inasmuch as in Jehovah’s law given through Moses an engaged virgin was considered as already the wife of the man to whom arrangements had been made to marry her.

21 Hence the apostle Paul likened those so-called “superfine apostles” to the serpent in Eden, and he tried to protect the Christian congregation from them. The jealousy that Paul had over them was not a selfish, impassioned, ungodly jealousy, but was a godly jealousy that tolerated no rivalry but insisted on exclusive devotion to Jesus Christ their original Bridegroom. Paul was truly a “friend of the bridegroom,” and he desired to experience in due time the friend’s “joy on account of the voice of the bridegroom” when speaking to his “chaste virgin” Bride in heaven.—John 3:29.

The important point of the article from which I have quoted above is expressed in the first words: By faithfully appealing to this pure Word of God… to keep its teaching pure and truthful.”  In 1964, when the article was published, this goal was achieved. The teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses were pure and truthful. These pure and truthful teachings are still the basic doctrines of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But in the last part of the 20th century and in the 21st century, some of these teachings were changed and new teachings were introduced. This is a situation that in some respects resembles the situation with the superfine apostles in the congregation in Corinth.

The text in brown shows that the leaders of the Witnesses focused on the word of God, the Holy Bible. Even the Pope admonished Christians to go back to the Scriptures. But in addition to the Scriptures, he also showed that Christians must accept the traditions of the Church, which in many respects contradict the words of the Bible.

We do not know much about the superfine apostles. But the words in the context illuminate some of the actions of these persons. The word “apostle” refers to someone who is sent out, and in a technical Christian sense, the word refers to the apostles of Jesus. These persons were members of the congregation in Corinth, and they evidently had received a teaching position as elders, or they had elevated themselves to a teaching position (11:6). Regarding these persons, Paul says in 11:12-15:

12  But what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to eliminate the pretext of those who are wanting a basis for being found equal to us in the things about which they boast. 13  For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself keeps disguising himself as an angel of light. 15 It is therefore nothing extraordinary if his ministers also keep disguising themselves as ministers of righteousness. But their end will be according to their works.

The comments in the online New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (2013, Study edition) regarding the last part of verse 12 is:

The things about which they boast may refer to their assertions that they qualified to serve as apostles. (2Co 11:7) Later in this chapter and in chapter 12, Paul highlighted his own qualifications to show that the basis for their claim was severely lacking. He also frankly stated that the “superfine apostles” were actually “false apostles…disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.”—2Co11:13

There are four areas where the “superfine apostles” deviated from the truth:

  • They had elevated themselves to the position of apostles of Jesus.
  • They preached another Jesus than the Jesus preached by Paul.
  • They presented another spirit than the one presented by Paul.
  • They misled the members of the congregation in Corinth.

Returning to the scriptural justification for causing divisions, we can clearly see that distancing ourselves from the “superfine apostles” was the right thing to do. The congregation in Corinth was one of God’s congregations, and the doctrines the members believed in and taught were the truth. This should, of course, not be rejected. But the teachings of the “superfine apostles” had to be rejected. I will now use the situation in Corinth as a background for describing the situation in the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses today.


The congregations in Corinth and Rome were Christian congregations, and their members tried to worship Jehovah in spirit and truth (John 4:24) Christian elders, such as Paul, visited the congregations and helped the members to understand and follow the Christian truth.

The congregations of Jehovah in the first century CE

No organization of Jehovah existed in the first century CE. In chapter 3 of my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, I show that there was no ongoing, persistent group in the first century CE that could be called “The Governing Body” and who was governing and directing the congregations. At this time, some letters were sent to the Christian congregations in order to teach them (Colossians 4.16), and the Hebrew Scriptures existed. But the Christian Greek Scriptures were not yet formed.

Because of the scarcity of inspired scriptures, the holy spirit was the force that guided the congregations, helped the members to understand the truth, and caused them to be preachers of the truth about Jehovah God and his Son Jesus Christ. First  Corinthians 12:1 mentions the miraculous gifts of the spirit, and a discussion of these gifts occurs throughout the chapter. As a compensation for the lack of inspired scriptures, one of the gifts of the spirit was miraculous knowledge (12:8), i.e., the knowledge that was not acquired through study but was miraculously given by the holy spirit.

However, in spite of the strong leadership by the holy spirit, including its miraculous gifts, there were dissensions among the congregation members (1 Corinthians 1:10, 11), and at some point, some congregation members elevated themselves to apostles and became “the superfine apostles.” (2 Corinthians 11:13).

We should keep in mind that Paul’s admonition about “speaking in agreement” should not be maintained at any cost, such as merging right and wrong teachings. On the contrary, those who wanted to serve God had to separate themselves from those who were proponents of false teachings. (1 Corinthians 11:19)

The Christian congregations in the first century were loosely connected without any organization. And the holy spirit was directing the congregations. I will now look at the situation in our time.

Jehovah’s organization in modern times

Today, we have the whole Bible, and the truth about God and his purpose is written in this book. However, a person who seeks this truth cannot just read through the Bible, and voila! he or she sees the truth clearly. The present situation requires an organization that works for Jehovah’s cause. I will now elucidate that.

That Jehovah should have a people, an organization in the last days is expressed in several prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures. In the book of Daniel, we find the expression, “the people of the holy ones of the Most High.” (Daniel 7:27, NJB) In the last chapter of Daniel, we read that his prophecies dealing with the time of the conclusion (end) should be sealed until this time. (Daniel 12:10–12) The angel who spoke with Daniel also showed that God would have a people. We read:

He raised his right hand and his left hand to heaven and swore by him who lives forever, ‘A time and two times, and half a time; and all these things will come true, once the crushing of the holy people’s power is over.’ (12:7, NJB)

It is obvious that if the power of the holy people should be crushed, the holy people must be a tight-knit group that could be distinguished from all other groups and who could be so identified and targeted.

A symbolic beast is described in Revelation chapter 13. This beast “was given authority to act for 42 months,” which is the same time mentioned in Daniel 12:7, and it should “wage war against the holy ones and conquer them.” (Revelation 13:5, 7, NWT13) The dragon would “wage war with the remaining ones of her [the symbolic woman mentioned in 12:1–2] offspring, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness concerning Jesus.” (Revelation 13:17, NWT13).

Why should Jehovah have an organization in the last days? There are at least three good reasons for this.

First, the Bible is written in a way that prevents anyone just to read it and learn the truth. In a prophecy about the people of God in the last days in Daniel 11:3, we read: “And those having insight among the people will impart understanding to the many.” The only way to learn the truth about God is by the help of teachers who are connected with Jehovah’s organization.

Second, the reason why Jehovah has reserved the truth for his organization is that humans cannot stand alone in this world that is governed by Satan. (2 Corinthians 4:4) Those who learn the truth will gradually get a new personality. And in order to keep this personality pure in spite of the pressure from worldly persons, we need to have fellowship with others who have the same personality. Therefore, persons who learn the truth are drawn to Jehovah’s organization.

Third, Jesus spoke about an enormous work that should occur in the last days, namely, the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom in all the world. Paul wrote in Romans 10:13-15:

13 For “everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” 14 However, how will they call on him if they have not put faith in him? How, in turn, will they put faith in him about whom they have not heard? How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach? 15 How, in turn, will they preach unless they have been sent out? Just as it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who declare good news of good things!”

In order to preach, Christians must be sent out. Because the truth can only be learned through Jehovah’s organization, and those who learn the truth will be a part of this organization, they will also be “sent out” to preach the good news. If any sincere person could learn the truth just by reading the Bible, there would be a great number of independent truth-seekers who would not know about each other, and so would have no way of contacting each other. Therefore, they could not be “sent out.” But because of Jehovah’s organization, there is systematic preaching work in every country in the world.

What are the qualifications and backgrounds of those who “will impart understanding to many”? In order to understand the Bible, there must be a group with different qualifications that work together. Understanding the text of the Bible can only be done by persons who have an intimate knowledge of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, and some of the group must have this knowledge. An understanding of many of the prophecies in the Bible requires detailed knowledge of world history, and some of the group must have this knowledge. This is not as straightforward as many believe.

For example, many prophecies are connected with the conquest of Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. This conquest is universally believed to have occurred in 587 BCE. But there is strong evidence, both astronomical and historical, that this conquest occurred 20 years earlier, in 607 BCE.[1] This year is important in order to calculate the beginning of Christ’s presence and the last days. In order to calculate the year when Jesus started his preaching work, we must know the Julian date of year 20 of Artaxerxes I. It is universally believed that this is 445 BCE, but this is not correct. There is strong evidence, both astronomical and historical, that this is the year 455.[2]

A number of prophecies, including time prophecies, would be fulfilled on the people of God, Jehovah’s organization in the last days. In order to understand these prophecies, a person must know which group is the people of God and have an intimate knowledge of the history of this group.

It is obvious that all the mentioned requirements cannot be fulfilled by one person. Therefore, God has one organization in our time. And all the requirements are fulfilled by different persons inside this organization. Since the 1870s, the Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses have served Jehovah as his organization. The basic doctrines of the Bible have been established, and the good news of the Kingdom has been published all over the world.

But in the last part of the 20th century and in the 21st century a situation that in some respects resembles the situation in Corinth with the “superfine apostles” has developed. The members of the Governing Body have elevated themselves to a supreme position. They have all power over the doctrines, the assets, and the money, and anyone who does not accept everything they do and write will be disfellowshipped.

Moreover, while the basic doctrines of the Bible have been upheld, the members of the Governiong Body have also introduced some false doctrines. This means, in keeping with the subject of this study, that the members of the Governing Body have, in some respects, behaved like sectarians. They have introduced some practices and doctrines that deviate from the truth of the Bible. This will be discussed in detail in the next section.

[1] . See my book Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Persian Chronology Compared with the Chronology of the Bible — Volume II Assyrian, Babylonian, and Egyptian Chronology.

[2] . See my book Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Persian Chronology Compared with the Chronology of the Bible — Volume I Persian Chronology and the Length of the Babylonian Exile of the Jews.


Paul compares the “superfine apostles” to the snake who represented Satan. This suggests that these “apostles” had bad motives and that they wanted to deceive other members of the congregation. I am certain that the eight members of the Governing Body do not have bad motives. Nevertheless, they have introduced human commandments that have caused harm and loss for hundreds of thousands of my brothers and sisters, and they have introduced false teachings. These are clear sectarian traits.

I will discuss four of these sectarian traits below, 1) the elevation of themselves, 2) the rejection of the full inspiration of the Bible, 3) disfellowshipping Witnesses based on human commandments, and 4) false teachings in connection with the resurrection. Points 1) and 4) I will discuss at some length but in connection with points 2) and 3) I will only give an outline, and I will refer to articles where these two points are discussed in detail.

Elevating themselves as “apostles”

Jesus Christ was a humble man, and he admonished his apostles to be humble as well. According to Matthew 23:8-12 (NWT13) Jesus said:

 8 But you, do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your Teacher, and all of you are brothers. 9 Moreover, do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly One.10 Neither be called leaders, for your Leader is one, the Christ. 11  But the greatest one among you must be your minister. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

An organization that is found in different countries and is spread all over the world needs leadership. In chapter 3 of my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, I show that there was not any persistent, sitting group in the first century CE that was governing the Christian congregations and therefore could be called “The Governing Body.” We read in Acts chapter 15 that on one occasion, the apostles and the elders in Jerusalem under the guidance of holy spirit made some doctrinal decisions. But there is no similar account anywhere else in the Christian Greek Scriptures.

Jesus was the one who was governing the congregations because they were a part of his Kingdom. (Colossians 1:13) Each congregation had a body of elders who took the lead. But when we study the book of Acts, we see that it was the holy spirit that led the different congregations and the preaching work in the first century CE and not an ongoing, sitting group of men.

How has the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses been led in modern times? In the 1870s, C.T. Russel and his companions studied the Bible, and after a short time, they were able to understand the basic doctrines of the Bible. The congregations at that time were independent of any organization. But C.T. Russell, who had invested his fortune in the work of spreading Bible truth, was the leader of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. However, a great number of other persons besides Russell contributed articles to The Watchtower, and this shows that many persons were taking the lead among the true Christians.

One passage that was discussed in those days was Matthew 24:25-47, where “the faithful and discreet slave” is mentioned. Some Bible students believed that this servant was Russell, while others would not apply the scripture to any particular person. J. F. Rutherford was the president of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society from 1917 to 1942. He was the spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses, and he wrote all the books and many other publications that were published.

In the days of Rutherford, the concept “the faithful and discreet slave” was applied to all anointed Witnesses on earth, both men and women. This means that no person was elevated as “the faithful and discreet slave.” But the “food at the proper time” was connected with the literature published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. This means that no particular persons were chosen and appointed by God as his special servants, constituting “the faithful and discreet slave.”

The viewpoint that “the faithful and discreet slave” was a collective expression of all the anointed Witnesses on earth, men and women, continued throughout the presidency of N.H. Knorr, until 1977, and for the rest of the 20th century. But in the 21st century, the viewpoint changed. The Watchtower of July 15, 2015, page 21, says:

“The faithful and discreet slave”: A small group of anointed brothers who are directly involved in preparing  and dispensing spiritual food during Christ’s presence, Today, these anointed brothers make up the Governing Body.

The situation today is that eight men who are known by name and who regularly are seen on the television screens at the Broadcasting of Jehovah’s Witnesses  are identified as “the faithful and discreet slave.” They are viewed as the mouthpieces of Jehovah God. If we view this situation in the light of Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:8-12, which are quoted above, we do not get a good taste in our mouths. To put the focus on eight persons who function as a government for Jehovah’s Witnesses does not accord with the words of Jesus. And these eight men have elevated themselves even more than this. The Watchtower (study edition) of January 2020, page 31, says:

Not all who have the hope of living in heaven are part of “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Read Matthew 24:45-47.) Just as in the first century, Jehovah and Jesus today are using a few brothers to feed, or teach, many. Only a few anointed Christians in the first century were used to write the Christian Greek Scriptures. Today, only a few anointed Christians have the responsibility to give God’s people “food at the proper time.”

And The Watchtower, Study Edition, of February 2022, has the title: “Do you trust in Jehovah’s Way of doing things?” On pages 4 and 5 we find the following comments:

7 We no doubt wholeheartedly agree that Jehovah always does what is right. The challenge for us, however, might be to trust in his human representatives. We might wonder whether those with a measure of authority in Jehovah’s organization really act according to Jehovah’s direction or their own…The plain truth is that we cannot say that we trust in Jehovah if we do not trust in his earthly representatives—those whom Jehovah trusts.

8 Today Jehovah leads the earthly part of his organization by means of “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matt. 24: 45) Like the first-century governing body, this slave oversees God’s people worldwide and gives direction to congregation elders. (Read Acts 16:4, 5.) The elders, in turn, implement the direction in the congregations. We show that we trust in Jehovah’s way of doing things by heeding the direction we receive from the organization and the elders.

11 We can strengthen our trust in the direction we receive from the elders by remembering that they pray for holy spirit when considering matters that affect the congregation. They also carefully consider relevant Bible principles and consult guidelines provided by Jehovah’s organization.

The quoted words above show that the eight members of the Governing Body compare themselves with those who, as God’s secretaries, wrote the Christian Greek Scriptures and that those who do not trust the eight men of the Governing Body do not trust in Jehovah. These words show that they are dignifying or glorifying themselves. That reminds me of the position the “superfine apostles” had given themselves, as seen in table 1.1.

Table 1.1. Comparing the GB with “the superfine apostles”

The “superfine apostles”:
1)     They had elevated themselves, claiming to be apostles of Jesus Christ.
Eight members of the present GB:
1)     They compare themselves to those who wrote the Christian Greek Scriptures.

2)     They function as a government for Jehovah’s Witnesses.

3)     They have all power over the doctrines, the assets, and the money.

4)     They demand total obedience. Those who are not obedient will be disfellowshipped.

The eight men’s elevation of themselves has transformed Jehovah’s Witnesses into an autocratic organization. This was confirmed in a court case in California in 2012. The background of this case was that three elders in the Menlo Park congregation in the USA were removed as elders. They took the issue to court, and Calvin Rouse, the counsel of Jehovah’s Witnesses,  said according to the court transcript:

And I say “organization.” I am general counsel for the National Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses out of Brooklyn, New York. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be here, but this is one of our 13,000 congregations in the United States. We are a hierarchical religion structured just like the Catholic Church. And when the order from the Pope comes down in the church defrocking a priest and kicking him out, he no longer has any say in any matter in the local parish priest [sic.] — in the parish. The same is the situation here.[1]

It is absolutely clear that the power that the members of the Governing Body have given themselves collides head-on with Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:8-12 that all Christians are brothers, and a group of men should not be called leaders.

The rejection of the full inspiration of the Bible

Believing in the full inspiration of the Bible includes the belief that every word is inspired by God, all accounts are included by holy spirit with a particular purpose, and all the nuances and subtleties in the original text are important.

In addition to these points, the treatment and interpretation of the text will also reveal a person’s real belief in the Bible. This means that a person who believes in the full inspiration of the Bible will always take the text at face value. This means that the text must be viewed in the light of the lexical meanings of the original words and the rules of grammar and syntax in the original languages.

This again means that we must take the text as a literal historical text unless the context clearly shows that a word or clause has a non-literal meaning. In practical application, it means that if a person does not take the creation account as a literal historical account, he or she does not accept the full inspiration of the Bible despite his or her claim to accept everything else the Bible says. And further, a person who does not accept the genealogy of Jesus in Luke 3:23-38 as a historical account that shows that the two first humans were created about 6,000 years ago does not accept the full inspiration of the Bible.

The members of the present Governing Body accept the points mentioned above. But they claim that great portions of the Hebrew Scriptures have no meaning for us today. For example, the drama in Song of Solomon with the Shulamite, the shepherd, Solomon, and different persons who are speaking and acting have no meaning for us. Only some moral principles can be gathered from the Song of Solomon.

The view that great portions of the Hebrew Scriptures have no meaning for us is a false teaching because it devaluates the importance of the text of the Bible. The translation of the NWT13 and many recent articles in The Watchtower also show that the members of the Governing Body do not view the nuances and subtleties of the text of the Bible as important. This is also something that leads the readers astray. The inspiration of the Bible is an all-or-nothing supposition. Only belief in the full inspiration of the Bible is acceptable to Jehovah.

Chapter 6 in my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, is entitled “The Governing Body’s new view of the Bible,” and it shows in detail how the Governing Body has rejected the full inspiration of the Bible. A discussion of the same subject is also found in the articles, “Analysis of the evidence used to show that the Governing Body is ‘The faithful and discreet slave,” and in the article. “The members of the Governing Body do not believe in the full inspiration of the Bible.”

Disfellowshipping based on human commandments

Chapter 5 in my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, is entitled “The disfellowshipping offenses,” and chapter 6 is entitled “The true regime of disfellowshipping.” These chapters discuss what the Bible says about disfellowshipping, and it shows that the whole disfellowshipping system created by the Governing Body is nonbiblical and violates a number of biblical principles.

In some respects, the Governing Body has imitated the actions of Diotrephes, whom John mentions in his third letter, verses 9 and 10:

 I wrote something to the congregation, but Di·otʹre·phes, who likes to have the first place among them, does not accept anything from us with respect. 10  That is why if I come, I will call attention to the works he is doing in spreading malicious talk about us. Not being content with this, he refuses to welcome the brothers with respect; and those who want to welcome them, he tries to hinder and to throw out of the congregation.

The word filoprōteuō has the meaning “to like or love to be first in rank or position; ‘to desire to be first; to desire to order others.”[2] And Diotrephes “liked to have the first place” in the congregation. As I have shown above, the members of the Governing Body have elevated themselves to the highest position in Jehovah’s organization.

Louw and Nida refer to the following meanings of the Greek word ekballō: “to cause to go out or leave, often, but not always, involving force; to send away, to drive out, to expel.’” Diotrephes was disfellowshipping members of the congregation for reasons that he himself had made up and invented. The Governing Body has followed exactly the same course, for example, by disfellowshipping anyone who does not agree with every interpretation they make.

The book for elders “Shepherd The Flock Of God” lists 46 actions that are disfellowshipping offenses. I show in the mentioned chapter that only 11 of these are disfellowshipping offenses according to the Christian Greek Scriptures and the other 35 are human commandments made up and invented by the Governing Body.

The words “malicious talk”  are translated from the three words logois (words”), ponerois (“wicked; evil”), and flyarōn (present participle of the verb “to slander; talk nonsense”). Diotrephes was spreading malicious talk about the apostle John and his fellow elders, who were experienced Christians. Today, we have a similar situation, and the local elders, because they follow the direction of the Governing Body, as written in the Shepherd book, are spreading malicious talk about some persons who have been disfellowshipped.

I know where I stand because I worship Jehovah. And I do not react negatively and become sad if someone is spreading malicious talk about me. This is what we must expect in an autocratic organization. But I can observe it, and I see it in the light of the actions of Diotrephes. I have pointed out a number of things where the members of the Governing Body violate biblical principles. The elders considered this to be “causing divisions” in the Biblical sense, and so they disfellowshipped me.

What do they now say about me? They say that I am an apostate and that I have turned against Jehovah and his organization. If I do not admit that I am wrong, I will be eternally destroyed by God. This is malicious talk because it is not true. I defend Jehovah and his organization. But I disagree with some of the actions and viewpoints of the members of the Governing Body, actions and viewpoints serious enough that I cannot quietly go along with them, and I do this on the basis of what the Bible says. Diotrephes used malicious talk about John and his fellow elders because they did not agree with him, and the elders use malicious talk regarding me and a great number of others who are in the same situation because we disagree with the Governing Body.

John wrote:

he [Diotrephes] refuses to welcome the brothers with respect; and those who want to welcome them, he tries to hinder and to throw out of the congregation.

How do the members of the Governing Body imitate Diotrephes in this respect? Programs at congregation meetings and at assemblies warn against having anything to do with disfellowshipped persons, even to the point of refusing to answer a phone call from one of them. In this way, the organization tries to hinder this contact. And if a Witness continues to welcome a disfellowshipped person into his home, he himself will be thrown out of the congregation, exactly as Diotrephes did.[3]

There are, of course, several differences between Diotrephes and the members of the Governing Body, but there are also several parallels, particularly the way both Diotrephes and the Governing Body used and use disfellowshipping contrary to the laws and principles of the Bible.

Last year, about 80,000 Witnesses were disfellowshipped, and more than one million Witnesses have been disfellowshipped during the 21st century. Because of the lack of instruction provided to judicial committees and their resulting lack of competence, and because so many disfellowshipping offenses are man-made, I assess that more than 900,000 of these should not have been disfellowshipped. We can only imagine all the suffering and agony the human commandments of the Governing Body have caused for all these Witnesses. The members of the Governing Body have a great responsibility because their unbiblical actions have ruined the lives of hundreds of thousands of Witnesses

My homepage,, contains detailed discussions of all the 46 disfellowshipping offenses that are found in the Shepherd book, and of two other man-made disfellowshipping offenses that are not found in that book.

Diminishing the resurrection and the ransom sacrifice

One of the most basic doctrines for the Bible Students and for Jehovah’s Witnesses is the doctrine about the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. Defending the sacrifice of Jesus was the basic reason why Russell started to publish the new magazine Zion’s Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence in 1879. During the following 120 years, the Watchtower literature has discussed and defended the ransom sacrifice. One fine presentation is found in the chapter  “Jehovah provides a ransom in exchange for many.” in the book Draw Close to Jehovah (2014), pages 138-147.

The number of those who will be resurrected

The most fantastic application of the ransom sacrifice is the resurrection of humans that have died in the past. In The Watchtower of 1965, five articles with deep analyzes of scriptures dealing with the resurrection appeared.[4] The conclusion of these articles was that most of the humans who lived in the past, including righteous and unrighteous persons, would have a resurrection and get the opportunity during the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ to accept or reject his ransom sacrifice.

In Norway, there was a large group of my acquaintances who were engaged in deep Bible study. When we came together, we used to discuss topics from the Bible and questions that had arisen from our Bible study. All of us were thrilled by the articles on the resurrection in 1965 because the ransom sacrifice gave so many people the opportunity to learn about Jehovah and his son Jesus Christ. In the last part of the 20th century, we used the book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life in teaching interested persons.

On page 185, the book shows that only those “who willfully sinned against God’s holy spirit” ‘will be everlastingly destroyed without any hope of a resurrection. And on page 186, we read that “billions of ‘the unrighteous’ are released from the bonds of death!” And these include “most of mankind” because “they never had a chance to know Jehovah.” During almost 30  years after the five exciting articles about the resurrection were published, we preached that billions of unrighteous persons will get a resurrection.

But then there was a change that we wondered about and discussed. My acquaintances and I had already studied The Watchtower of June 1, 1988, which limits the number of those who will get a resurrection. And several brothers questioned the conclusions of this magazine. But now, the consequences of these conclusions were seen, as the three quotations below show. The first is from The Watchtower of May 15, 1997, page 4. The second is from the brochure What Happens to Us When We Die?, page 25, and the third is from The Watchtower of April 1, 1999, page 14.

But millions who have died without knowing God have the prospect of being awakened in such a peaceful new world, for the Bible promises: “There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.”—Acts 24:15; Luke 23:43.

But millions of other people have died without showing whether they should comply  with God’s righteous standards… These too are in God’s memory and thus will be resurrected,  for the Bible promises: “There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.”—Acts 24.15.

Yet millions of other people have died without showing whether they would comply with God’s righteous standards… These others too are in God’s memory and thus will be resurrected, for the Bible promises: “There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.”—Acts 24.15.

I discussed these quotations with several brothers, and we realized that the Governing Body had a different view of the resurrection compared with the view that was presented in the articles in 1965. Now we had to expect only millions of “unrighteous” persons to receive a resurrection instead of the billions that we previously had expected.

In the Watchtower literature from the 21st century, I count 12 examples of the word “billions” used in connection with the resurrection, as in The Watchtower of December 2020, page 13, where we read about “the resurrection of billions of people who died in the past.” However, the magazine does not specify whether most of these billions are referring mainly to “righteous” persons or to all persons who have died, “both the righteous and the unrighteous,” with the exception of those who have “willfully sinned against God’s holy spirit,” as mentioned in the Knowledge book quoted above.

Of the 12 places where the number “billions” is mentioned, I count only four places where the word is connected with those who did not know God before their resurrection (The Watchtower of February 15, 2001, page 28; August 1, 2015, pages 5, 6; the study edition of February 2017, pages 9-13; and Awake! of September 2009, pages 10, 11). So it seems to me, all things considered, that the present view is that only millions of unrighteous persons, rather than billions will get a resurrection.

Rejecting the words of Jesus about the resurrection on Judgment Day

Regarding the inhabitants of Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, Sodom, and Gomorrah, Jesus said according to Matthew 10:14-15; 11:20-24 (NWT13):

14 Wherever anyone does not receive you or listen to your words, on going out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I say to you, it will be more endurable for the land of Sodʹom and Go·morʹrah on Judgment Day than for that city.

20 Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his powerful works had taken place, for they did not repent: 21 “Woe to you, Cho·raʹzin! Woe to you, Beth·saʹi·da! because if the powerful works that took place in you had taken place in Tyre and Siʹdon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say to you, it will be more endurable for Tyre and Siʹdon on Judgment Day than for you. 23 And you, Ca·perʹna·um, will you perhaps be exalted to heaven? Down to the Grave you will come;c because if the powerful works that took place in you had taken place in Sodʹom, it would have remained until this very day. 24 But I say to you, it will be more endurable for the land of Sodʹom on Judgment Day than for you.”

Please note the words Jesus addressed to the people of Capernaum:

Down to the Grave you will come; because if the powerful works that took place in you had taken place in Sodʹom, it would have remained until this very day. 

In Genesis chapter 18, Abraham is pleading with Jehovah. Verse 26 says:

Then Jehovah said: “If I find in Sodʹom 50 righteous men in the city, I will pardon the whole place for their sake.”

Abraham continues his pleading, and mentions the possibility that there are ten righteous persons in Sodom. We read in verse 23:

 Finally he said: “Jehovah, please, do not become hot with anger, but let me speak just once more: Suppose only ten are found there.” He answered: “I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.” 

Sodom was destroyed, which indicates that there were not ten righteous persons in that city. However, Jesus says that if the miracles he did in Capernaum had been done in Sodom, the city would not have been destroyed. This means that in this case, at least ten of the inhabitants of Sodom would have repented and could be judged as righteous persons. So, an unknown number of the inhabitants of Sodom would have repented if they got the right chance. They did not get this chance, and the members of the Governing Body say that they never will get this chance because they have been eternally annihilated. This is a monstrous claim that is contradicting both the ransom sacrifice of Jesus and the righteousness of Jehovah.

The five articles in The Watchtower of 1965, that are mentioned above, took the words of Jesus at face value, and argued that the inhabitants of the five cities would get a resurrection and on Judgment Day and get a chance to accept the ransom sacrifice. However, The Watchtower of  June 1, 1988, presented a new view of who will get a resurrection, and without any evidence, the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:14-15: 11:20- 24 were explained away as a hyperbole (exaggeration).

The articles “Deliberately Spreading teachings contrary to Bible truth” and  “Participating in interfaith activities” in the Category “Apostasy” show in detail that the Governing Body are spreading false teachings regarding the resurrection and the ransom sacrifice of Jesus.

The revised On-line version of Insight on the Scriptures (2015), page 137, presents a new understanding of the words of Jesus regarding the resurrection on Judgment Day:

Resurrection is involved. When using the expression “Judgment Day,” Jesus brought into the picture a resurrection of the dead. He mentioned that a city might reject the apostles and their message, and said: “It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than for that city.” (Mt 10:15) Although he was evidently using a hyperbole (because Sodom and Gomorrah had undergone everlasting destruction), his statement did point to a future judgment for at least some from such a first-century Jewish city.

These words still represent false teaching because Jesus said that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah will be present on Judgment Day. And that will also be the case with the people of Chorazin, Capernaum, and Betsaida, and not only “some” from these cities.[1]

[1]. For a detailed discussion of the words of Jesus, see the article, “The members of the Governing Body do not believe in the full inspiration of the Bible,” in the category, “The Governing Body.”

The Watchtower of August 15, 2014 presented a new view of the words of Jesus in Luke 20:34-38. The article argues that the resurrection where men and women will not marry or be given in marriage refers to the heavenly resurrection. The website article “Resurrection and Marriage — Luke 20:34-38” in the Category “Bible Study” points out the weaknesses of the new view. It also shows that there are strong arguments in favor of the old view, that Jesus speaks about the earthly resurrection on Judgment Day.

Paul mentioned that Hymenaeus and Alexander were “saying that the resurrection had already occurred,” (2 Timothy 2:18) and because of this, Paul called them false teachers. In a similar way, the present members of the Governing Body have argued in favor of new views regarding the resurrection, views that diminish both the ransom sacrifice and the resurrection from the dead.

How to react to the sectarian decisions and actions of the Governing Body

The words “sect” and “cult” are defined in different ways from a religious, sociological, and political point of view. As I have shown, the Greek word hairesis has the meaning “sect” or “party,” and from the view of the Christian Greek Scriptures, it refers to a group that deviates from the truth found in the Bible.

One important sectarian trait that is seen in the letters to the congregation in Corinth is the focus on humans; some were looking to Paul, others at Apollos, and others at Cephas as leaders (1 Corinthians 1:11, 12). Some persons in the congregation had elevated themselves to the position of apostles, and Paul calls these the “superfine apostles.”

The characteristics of these are seen in the four points above. Hymenaeus and Alexander were disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation because they taught that the resurrection had already occurred (2 Timotheus 2:17, 18), and this teaching subverted the faith of some; and by this, it could cause divisions resulting in the formation of sects. In the congregation of Rome, there were some persons who “caused divisions and occasions for stumbling,” and “they seduced the hearts of guileless ones.” (Romans 16:17)

There are three main points in connection with those who deviated from the truth, 1)  Some elevated themselves, 2) Some looked up to persons as leaders, and 3) some introduced false teachings that seduced members of the congregations.

We have seen that making a sect, i.e., a group that has broken away from the true religion is a disfellowshipping offense. However, if the true religion itself has been polluted, causing a division, or being a disruption, in order to point out and reject the polluted part of the true religion is justified in the Christian Greek Scriptures. One example is the “superfine apostles.” The disruptive consequences of opposing the “superfine apostles” would have been justified. In a similar way, the disruptive or divisive consequences of opposing the false teachings of the present members of the Governing Body would also be the justifiable byproduct of doing so.

However, 1 Corinthians 10:23 (NLT) says: “I am allowed to do anything—but not everything is good for you.” While rejecting and speaking out against the polluted part of the true religion and even causing divisions, or being a disruption, is biblically justified, that should never be the objective. Also, instead of breaking away from the congregation in Corinth, and making a group, or sect, with separate meetings and separated discussions of the Scriptures, because of the “superfine apostles,” the congregation members should remain in their congregation, following the truth taught by Paul and disregarding the false teachings of the “superfine apostles.”

This is also my standpoint today. Because all the basic doctrines of Jehovah’s Witnesses are based on the Bible, and the Witnesses are the only ones that preach the good news of the Kingdom worldwide, this is Jehovah’s organization. All congregation members should remain in their congregations and work together in unity. Most of what is occurring in the congregations is just and good, but we should not accept the pollution of certain aspects of the true religion caused by the present eight members of the Governing Body. In connection with the pollution of false teachings, each one must say, “I belong to Christ, and I believe in the Holy Scriptures. I do not belong to the Governing Body, and I do not believe in the Governing Body’s false interpretations.”

The basic point of this discussion is that making a sect is a disfellowshipping offense according to the Christian Greek Scriptures. However, because causing divisions can be justified in order to separate oneself from congregation members who violate Christian doctrines, each case must be carefully scrutinized by the elders before they summarily disfellowship a member of the congregation for “causing divisions”.

[1]. The Superior Court of the State of California in and for the County of San Mateo. Case No. CIV508137, February 2012, page 4.

[2]. J.P. Louw and E. Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains.

[3]. The Shepherd book 12: 17 (1) shows that association with a disfellowshipped person may lead to disfellowshipping. Four articles in the Category “Shunning not based on the Bible” on this website shows that the custom of shunning disfellowshipped persons is a human commandment that violates several Bible principles.

[4]. Five articles dealing with the resurrection appeared in The Watchtower of 1965: “Death and Hades to Give Up the Dead”; “The Dead Who Are in Line for Resurrection”; “For Whom There Are Resurrection Hopes”; “Who Will be Resurrected from the Dead?”; “Who Will be Resurrected—Why?” in The Watchtower of  January 15, February 1, February 15, March 1, and March 15, 1965. These articles contain deep analytical and interactive Bible study at its very best.


A sect in the biblical sense of the word is a group that deviates from the Christian faith that is found in the Bible. Making a sect is a disfellowshipping offense, according to Titus 3:10.

However, there can be situations where “causing divisions” is biblically justified. In the congregation in Corinth, some persons were making sects by saying that they belonged to Paul, others to Apollos, and others to Cephas. True Christians had to make a spectacle of themselves by becoming dissenters against such false teachings. So, in this case, Christians had to cause divisions in order to separate themselves from the false teachers. They did this by clinging to the ‘truth that they had learned,’ by insisting that they belonged to Christ. Some elders had elevated themselves as apostles, and they were called the “superfine apostles.” True Christians had to also separate themselves from these “superfine apostles.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses are Jehovah’s organization. To understand the Bible, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek must be understood, a detailed knowledge of world history and of the story of the people of God in modern times is also necessary, and this knowledge exists only among Jehovah’s Witnesses. One important reason for making this organization is that the truth about God can only be found here. Another reason is that those sincere persons who seek God can get support inside this organization against the world that is governed by Satan. A third reason is that the good news of the Kingdom must be preached all over the world. When truth-seekers come to this organization, they are sent out to preach in support of the scriptural mandate that the good news must be preached in all the world.

The members of the Governing Body have in many cases deviated from the truth found in the Bible, and they have created and inserted sectarian teachings inside the true religion:

  • They have elevated themselves to a supreme position where they have all power.
  • They have rejected the full inspiration of the Bible.
  • They have created 37 disfellowshipping offenses that have no basis in the Bible in addition to the 11 that are based on the Bible.
  • They have diminished the ransom sacrifice and the resurrection by claiming that fewer persons than the Bible says will be resurrected to get the chance of accepting the ransom sacrifice.

Witnesses who serve God must reject the false actions and teachings of the members of the present Governing Body. But because this is Jehovah’s organization, and most of the doctrines and actions in the congregations are just and good and based on the Bible, each Witness should stick to his or her congregation and not leave it.

Because creating a sect is a disfellowshipping offense, and yet causing divisions can be justified if the motive is to separate oneself from false teachings or actions, a judicial committee must carefully scrutinize the situation before summarily disfellowshipping someone for “causing divisions”.

Rolf Furuli

Author Rolf Furuli

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