The Evidence of Paul's Epistles
In Paul's letters we have first hand evidence of the pastoral emphases
of the great apostle himself. In the letters to the Romans, Corinthians,
Galatians, Ephesians (thought to be a general letter to the Asian churches),
Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians, we have insight into exactly
what Paul considered to be "spiritual service of worship" (Rom.12:1,
NASB). In addition to these 9 congregational letters, we have 4 pastoral
epistles from Paul's hand (Timothy, Titus and Philemon), which flesh out
the shepherding emphases we noted in Paul's address to the Ephesian elders
in Acts 20.
What do these 13 letters reveal as to the importance of witnessing in Paul's
mind? According to the Watchtower Comprehensive Concordance (1973),
Paul used the words witness, witnessed, witnesses and witnessing
a total of 32 times in his 13 epistles. The concept of "witness"
is therefore of some importance to Paul. Yet, of the 32 occurrences, the
"witnesses" are God (5 times), Paul (6 times), Christ (once),
the Spirit (once), the conscience of Paul or others (3), the Law (1), a
Cretan prophet (1), the audience for Timothy's ordination (2). 2 references
are to the general principle of the Law regarding the testimony of 2 or
3 witnesses. This leaves 9 occasions where the word "witness"
is found with we, our or an unspecied subject. Most of these
occurrences, if not all, when examined in context, will be found to refer
to the apostles. This leaves a single example where Paul undoubtedly refers
to the "witness" of the members of the congregations he founded
and served. In this single instance (1 Thess. 2:10), the local believers
are reminded of how they are witnesses to the blamelessness of the apostles.
Not once, amid the myriad instructions Paul gives to the
disciples regarding spiritual worship, does Paul ever command or
even recommend that those Christians witness.
It is instructive that when the Watchtower goes to Paul's epistles for
a prooftext for their public preaching, they usually are left with 2 Timothy
4:2. Here is the only place in Paul or any of the apostolic epistles where
we have a command to preach. However, as even the title of the epistle
gives away, it is elder Timothy, Paul's deputy in Ephesus, who is receiving
the imperative to preach. In verse 5 Paul makes his wish for Timothy explicit,
do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. We NEVER hear
Paul give such an instruction to the members of the congregations.
2 Timothy 4:2 is one of 31 occurrences of the word "preach",
"preacher", "preaches" or "preaching" in
Paul's letters (according to the NWT Comprehensive Concordance).
Of the remaining 30, 12 refer to Paul, and 8 to we or our (as with witness,
context almost always indicates the reference is to the apostles). The
other 10 occurrences do not specify the subject, but context reveals they
refer to either the apostles or Jewish or false teachers (e.g. Rom.2:21,
2 Cor.11:4). We reiterate: Not once does Paul give a congregation instructions
to preach or witness. In fact, in his last epistle, the same 2nd letter
to Timothy, Paul sums up how he considers the good news was proclaimed
in all creation under heaven in that generation (Col.1:23). Speaking
of his court case before the Roman magistrate, Paul says:
But the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me, in order that through
me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles
might hear ... (2 Tim. 4:17, NASB)
APOLOGIA: Home Mission To New Religions Inc.
Paul has reached many hundreds of millions more Gentiles through his epistles
written from prison than he ever reached by his organized
preaching tours. Little could the apostle have realized how the Lord would
use even the evil of Paul's imprisonment to praise Him. God, as Paul learned,
is NOT dependent on human plans, means and methods to get HIS work done.
Were the Apostles Really 'Jehovah's Witnesses'?
As outlandish as that question may seem, Jehovah's Witnesses
take pride in the claim that they -- and they only are imitators
of the method of evangelism practised by the early church. But did 1st
century believers -- even the apostles -- go door-to-door, or does the
book of Acts present a different picture of preaching work of the early