A Counterfeit Kingdom … or Not?
by June Hunt
“They go door to door, proclaiming a curious message of doom, in hope that their hard work will earn them eternal life on earth.”
—Joe Hewitt (former Jehovah’s Witness)
A. What Is the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
• The Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses is a religious organization that witnesses to others by distributing Watchtower publications door to door and by evangelizing with three primary messages …
—that Jehovah alone is God, not the Trinity
—that governments and other organized religions are corrupt
—that the end of the world is imminent
• This religion was founded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by its first President, Charles Taze Russell, whose followers were called “Russellites.”
• It was incorporated in 1884 and operated under the name Zion’s Watch Tower Society until 1931, at which time Watchtower Bible and Tract Society became the official title. (Since 1931, followers are referred to as Jehovah’s Witnesses.)
• From 1955 to 2000, the main legal entity of the corporation was the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. In 2000 the Society completely reorganized its operations into three related nonprofit organizations: The Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Religious Order of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Kingdom Support Services, Inc. Since 1931, the society has adopted the name Jehovah’s Witnesses for their followers. With headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, the movement is seen as the only organization on earth through which God works and speaks.6
B. Who Was the Founding Father?
• The founding father of the Jehovah’s Witnesses was Charles Taze Russell (1852–1916).
— He was an uneducated Congregationalist who rejected the biblical doctrine of hell and eternal punishment.
— He became associated with Second Adventists but rejected the biblical doctrine of Christ’s visible return.
— He became “Pastor” of a Bible study group although he was never ordained.
— He was seen by his followers as God’s sole dispenser of truth.
— He “above all others” was given the sole position of the “wise and faithful servant” of Matthew 24:45.
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.”
The Founding Father’s Controversies in Court
• In 1879 Charles Russell married Maria Ackley, who was for years a devoted Watchtower worker. But in 1897, she separated from him. After much litigation, Mrs. Russell’s claims for alimony were settled in 1909 with the payment of $6,036.
• Charles Russell sold “miracle wheat seeds,” claiming they produced five times more than any other seeds. When this claim was challenged, he sued the Brooklyn Daily Eagle for libel. In January, 1913, not only did he lose the libel suit, but his miracle wheat also was proven inferior—not five times superior.
• A Canadian pastor published a pamphlet against Charles Russell and his deviant doctrines. As a result, Russell sued Reverend J. J. Ross for libel. On the witness stand, Russell testified to knowing the Greek alphabet. Under further cross-examination, Russell admitted that he “might make a mistake on some of them” and then finally testified that he was not familiar with the Greek language (Russell v. Ross, 1913).
All the moral and legal rulings against the founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses cast a dark shadow on the credibility of Charles Russell and his new religion. This founder in no way meets the biblical standards of a church leader as “above reproach.”
“The overseer must be above reproach … self-controlled, respectable … not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well.… (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) … He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace.”
(1 Timothy 3:2–7)
C. What Are Their Publications?
• Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence—first published in 1879 by Charles Taze Russell and later became known as The Watchtower
• The Watchtower—a magazine used to instruct the public in Jehovah’s Witnesses doctrines
• Awake!—a periodical used to introduce Jehovah’s Witnesses to the public
• The New World Translation—the Watchtower’s own translation of the Bible, containing numerous mistranslations to support the Society’s doctrines
For example, sincere Jehovah’s Witnesses seek to explain John 1:1 by saying that the correct translation is found in the New World Translation: “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” This is an inaccurate translation based on a misunderstanding of Greek grammar.
D. What Terminology Is Used by Jehovah’s Witnesses?
|Disfellowshipping or Shunning
|Punishment for disobedience of Watchtower rules and regulations resulting in excommunication. Baptized members who are disfellowshipped are no longer allowed to talk with current members—including in most cases even family members.
|Faithful and Wise Servant (Matthew 24:45)
|Originally referring to Charles Taze Russell, now referring to the remnant of the 144,000 or “anointed class”/“Little Flock” including the “Governing Body” of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
|Faithful and Discreet Slave
|Another term for the “Faithful and Wise Servant.”
|The great crowd are the non-anointed faithful, including those who survive Armageddon. These are also known as the “other sheep,” and they make up the vast majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses who will not live in heaven but hope to be able to inhabit the restored “Paradise Earth.”
|A group of fewer than 25 men of the anointed class or “Faithful and Discreet Slave” who historically established the Watchtower’s policies and beliefs and direct its publications.
|The only true name for God. (The Trinity is considered a false doctrine.)
|The local meeting place where Jehovah’s Witnesses receive instruction.
|“Little Flock” Anointed Class Heavenly Class
|The elite group of 144,000 who will live in heaven and reign with Christ. This group is believed to be the Spiritual Israel as the prophecies of the Old and New Testaments are being fulfilled through them.
|One large, annual meeting scheduled at Passover time (Nisan 14 of the Jewish calendar), which is the only time the Lord’s Supper is observed. Only the remnant of the 144,000 “anointed” can partake of the bread and wine—currently fewer than 9,000.
|The informal name Jehovah’s Witnesses use for the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WTBS), which is directed by the “Governing Body.”
|Knowledge available only to Jehovah’s Witnesses and learned only through The Watchtower.
|All of the 144,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Heavenly Class, which first began among Jesus’ disciples. That number was completed in the 1930s. The acting president announced that the enlightenment he received from Jehovah was that “other sheep” that were “not of this fold” would be candidates to inherit “Paradise Earth,” provided they remain faithful and “come to Jehovah’s organization for salvation.”
A. Doctrinal Beliefs That Vary from Orthodox Christianity
“The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
Jehovah’s Witnesses admit that Jesus was born of a virgin, but maintain He is not God. Jesus was born by God’s holy power. (They believe that the Holy Spirit is an active force, not a member of the Trinity.)
“It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9)
Jehovah’s Witnesses admit the penalty for sin was paid by Christ’s blood, but salvation is not by grace alone. It must be accompanied by good works, Bible study, witnessing, and association with the Watchtower. “A person’s final salvation is not determined at the moment that he begins to put faith in Jesus.”20
“Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” (Luke 24:39)
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that Jesus was raised from the dead in His physical body. He was recreated as a spirit that appeared to the disciples in a number of bodily forms. He continued to maintain His original identity, Michael the Archangel.22
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father’? Or again, ‘I will be his Father, and he will be my Son’?” (Hebrews 1:1–5)
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that Jesus is God. Instead, He was a created being who is actually Michael the Archangel.
“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30)
Since its inception, this organization has taught that Armageddon has always been imminent—just around the corner. Although many prophetic dates were announced, these dates have come and gone with the years. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that Jesus will return in bodily form, but that He already returned in 1914 in invisible form and is ruling as King on earth through the Watchtower Society. They do not believe in the existence of an eternal hell. At death, every person is annihilated, except for the 144,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses who go to heaven and the other obedient sheep who remain in “soul sleep” until they inhabit “Paradise Earth.” Non-Jehovah’s Witnesses and the disloyal Jehovah’s Witnesses will be annihilated into eternal, unconscious soul sleep.25
“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Revelation 22:18–19)
Jehovah’s Witnesses admit that the Bible is the Word of God, but they claim all orthodox translations are distorted. Thus, they have their own Bible, the New World Translation of Holy Scripture, which they declare to be the only reliable version. It contains approximately 300 mistranslations to support their doctrine. They do not believe the Bible is a sufficient source of authority for Christian doctrine and practice apart from the Watchtower publications.27
B. Forbidden Practices Based on Beliefs
• Viewed as idolatrous …
— belonging to any political party
— holding an elected office
— pledging allegiance to the flag
— serving jury duty
— serving in the military
— singing the national anthem
— voting in elections
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that when Satan offered Jesus control of the governments of the world, he had authority over those governments. Yet Romans chapter 13 states that the governing authorities have been established by God Himself.
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”
• Viewed as corrupt …
— associating with disfellowshipped Jehovah’s Witnesses, even close relatives
— attending church services not conducted by Jehovah’s Witnesses
— joining the YMCA/YWCA
— close associations with Christians or other false worshippers except for the purpose of winning them over
• Viewed as pagan …
— celebrating birthdays
— celebrating holidays (for instance, Christmas, New Year’s Day)
— celebrating Mother’s or Father’s Day
• Viewed as eating blood …
— giving or receiving blood transfusions
Question: “What would cause people to be attracted to the Jehovah’s Witnesses?”
Answer: Their appeal is made to the fear that is in the human heart!
Jehovah’s Witnesses are living under the cloud of impending doom and destruction. According to their history, they predicted the end of the world would occur in 1914, in 1918, in 1925, and in 1975.
Only the Jehovah’s Witnesses have “The Truth,” and only those in right relationship to the organization will be permitted to have eternal life.
Eternal life is not a free gift of God’s grace, but must be earned through faith and good works.
Jehovah’s Witnesses seem to have authoritative answers to life’s problems, and their zealous desire for evangelism gains the admiration of those who are searching for truth.
A. Root Cause
“My only hope of attaining eternal security on ‘Paradise Earth’ is by diligently obeying the teachings and doctrines of the Watchtower organization.”
My heavenly hope is eternally secure through my personal relationship with Jesus Christ … God, the Son.
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
“Thomas said to him [Jesus], ‘My Lord and my God!’ ”
IV. Steps to Solution
A. Key Verse to Memorize
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
(1 John 5:13)
B. Key Passage to Read and Reread
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.”
C. Is Jesus God?
Most critics assume that Jesus never claimed to be God. They also assume that the New Testament writers never claimed that Jesus is God. For accurate interpretation, a student of the Bible must look at the whole counsel of God—at Scripture in context of the whole. For example, the first words in Genesis state, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Since God was the Creator and since Colossians 1:15–17 presents that Christ created all things, the relationship between God and Jesus must be that of equality. Jesus Christ must be God.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
What Different People and Books of the Bible Say
• Paul refers to Jesus as “God” and “Savior.”
“We wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13)
• Peter refers to Jesus as “God” and “Savior.”
“Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours.” (2 Peter 1:1)
• Thomas refers to Jesus as “My Lord and my God.”
“Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ ” (John 20:28)
• John refers to Jesus as “the Word” and as “God.”
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)
• Jesus even says that He and God the Father are one.
“I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)
• In Hebrews, Jesus is called “God.”
“But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.’ ” (Hebrews 1:8)
• In the Epistle of 1 John, Jesus is called “the true God and eternal life.”
“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)
• In Philippians, Jesus is described as “in very nature God.”
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” (Philippians 2:5–6)
• In Colossians, Jesus is fully God with “all the fullness of Diety.”
“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” (Colossians 2:9–10)
• In the Gospel of John, Jesus is called the great “I AM.” (See Exodus 3:14.)
“ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’ ” (John 8:58)
• In Romans, Jesus is called “God over all.”
“Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised!” (Romans 9:5)
D. Corrections for Their Claims
Jesus is not God.
The apostle Thomas (known as “doubting Thomas”) called Jesus “God.”
“The other disciples told him [Thomas], ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.’ … He [Jesus] said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ ” (John 20:25–28)
The Holy Spirit is not God.
The apostle Peter called the Holy Spirit “God.”
“Peter said, ‘Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.’ ” (Acts 5:3–4)
The word Trinity isn’t found in the Bible.
That is correct … neither are words such as discipleship, missions, rapture, and the Old and New Testaments. Likewise, important Jehovah’s Witness terms like Theocratic, Pioneer, Governing Body, and Disfellowship are not found in the Bible—including the New World Translation. The lack of these specific words in the Bible doesn’t necessarily mean that they are unbiblical. For example, the Trinity is presumed in Matthew 28:19.
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)
Jesus is less than the Father according to the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:3, “The head of Christ is God.”
When on earth, Jesus submitted to the Father. When in heaven, Jesus was equal to the Father. Jesus is equal to God the Father in nature, glory, and honor. The apostle Paul also said,
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” (Philippians 2:5–6)
Jesus did not rise bodily from the grave; instead He was a vapor.
Jesus Christ was raised bodily from the grave.
“Look at my hands and my feet. It is I [Jesus] myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” (Luke 24:39)
For the unrighteous who reject Jehovah, no eternal torment in hell exists, only physical annihilation.
The doctrine of eternal punishment in hell is clearly taught in numerous places throughout the Bible. In the story of Lazarus and the rich man, Jesus clearly states,
“In hell, where he [the rich man] was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ ” (Luke 16:23–24)
Jesus is not to be worshiped.
Jesus was worshiped and is to be worshiped.
“On coming to the house, they [the Magi] saw the child [Jesus] with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11)
Having just seen Jesus empower Peter to walk on water, the disciples who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying,
“Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:33)
E. What Is the Truth about the Trinity?
Jehovah’s Witnesses mistakenly believe that the doctrine of the trinity is actually the worship of three gods (tri-theism). The truth is that the Bible proclaims in many passages that there is only one true God (monotheism).
“We maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.”
If, indeed, there is only one God, then why was the Trinitarian position such a bedrock belief in the early church? And why has the doctrine of the Trinity been tenaciously taught throughout the centuries within churches that hold to Biblical inerrancy?
• Consider this: The Bible teaches that within the one true God, three coequal, coeternal persons exist: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
— The Father is called God.
“There is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” (1 Corinthians 8:6)
— The Son is called God.
“But about the Son he [God] says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.’ ” (Hebrews 1:8)
— The Holy Spirit is called God.
“Then Peter said, ‘Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.’ ” (Acts 5:3–4)
• Consider this: The Bible presents the attributes of deity for each person of the Trinity—attributes that can be assigned only to God.
— Omnipotence (all-powerful)
a. The Father
“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17)
b. The Son
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power.” (John 13:3)
c. The Holy Spirit
“The power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.” (Romans 15:19)
— Omniscience (all-knowing)
a. The Father
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33)
b. The Son
“Now we can see that you [Jesus] know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions.” (John 16:30)
c. The Holy Spirit
“God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:10)
— Omnipresence (everywhere present)
a. The Father
“ ‘Am I only a God nearby,’ declares the Lord, ‘and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ declares the Lord. ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:23–24)
b. The Son
“Surely I [Jesus] am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
c. The Holy Spirit
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” (Psalm 139:7–8)
Question: “How can the Trinity be illustrated?”
Answer: An analogy describing daylight could be used. Scientifically, light is comprised of the three primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. Each color is separate, but when blended together they make “white light” or daylight, and they function as one. Similarly, each person of the Trinity is a separate and distinct person, but together they constitute the Trinity and function as One.
F. The ABC’s of Witnessing to the Witnesses!
Assume they are sincere.
“For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.” (Romans 10:2)
Be compassionate and loving.
“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.” (Mark 6:34)
Call them by name.
“The lips of the righteous know what is fitting.” (Proverbs 10:32)
Don’t slam the door in their faces.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Explain how you know that you have received eternal life through Christ.
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)
Focus on the prophecies that discredit the Watchtower as a “False Prophet.” (See next page.)
“But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.… If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken.” (Deuteronomy 18:20, 22)
Give them copies of their own materials that document the errors.
“Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 2:25)
“It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” (Proverbs 19:2)
Have appropriate tracts available for them.
“In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)
Impart pertinent Scripture but be prepared for them to change the meaning.
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
To show that Jesus is Jehovah, the Lord Almighty
• “Who is referred to in Isaiah 44:6?”
(The Lord Almighty is the first and the last.)
• “And who is referred to in Revelation 1:5–8?”
(Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.)
• “Do you see that the truth of God’s Holy Word clearly shows Jesus is the Lord Almighty?”
“Who is to be worshiped?”
“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” ’ ” (Luke 4:8)
“And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’ ” (Hebrews 1:6)
Join in agreement with them whenever possible.
“And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” (2 Timothy 2:24)
Keep praying for wisdom and for their eyes to be opened.
“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:18)
Learn all you can about answering doctrinal differences because TRUTH alone will set Jehovah’s Witnesses FREE.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
G. Watching the Watchtower
A Timeline of Jehovah’s Witnesses Predictions
1874 Christ returned invisibly, and Armageddon began! (Zion’s Watch Tower, January 15, 1892, 22)
1889 Battle of Armageddon will end in 1914. (Studies in Scriptures, Vol. 2, 76–7, 99, 101)
1914 THE WORLD DOES NOT END WITH ARMAGEDDON! (See prediction in 1889.). The Society later changes the prediction. They began to predict that 1914 began the “Last Generation” and that some of those alive in 1914 would live long enough to survive Armageddon and live forever on a paradise earth. (The Watchtower, May 1, 1967, 262)
1917 God will destroy “the churches wholesale and church members by millions” in 1918. (Studies in Scriptures, Vol. 7, 485)
1918 CHURCHES ARE NOT DESTROYED! (See prediction in 1917.)
1920 Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the faithful prophets of old.…” (Millions Now Living Will Never Die, 89–90)
1924 “The year 1925 is a date definitely and clearly marked in the Scriptures.…” (The Watchtower, July 15, 1924, 211)
1925 ABRAHAM, ISAAC, AND JACOB DO NOT RETURN! (See prediction in 1920.)
1938 Because the end is so near, Jehovah’s Witnesses are advised to wait until after Armageddon to marry and rear children. (The Watchtower, November 1, 1938, 323–4)
1941 Armageddon is said to be only months away. (The Watchtower, September 15, 1941, 288)
1942 Abraham and “those faithful men of old may be expected back from the dead any day now.” (The New World, 104)
1943 The end of “Six Thousand Years of Human History” is mathematically shown to be 1972. (The Truth Shall Make You Free, 152)
1966 “Six Thousand years from man’s creation will end in 1975 …” followed by the millennial reign of Christ. (Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God, 29–30)
1972 SIX THOUSAND YEARS OF HUMAN EXISTENCE DOES NOT END! (See prediction in 1943.)
1975 SIX THOUSAND YEARS OF HUMAN EXISTENCE DOES NOT END! (See prediction in 1966.)
1988 Jehovah’s Witnesses are reminded “Most of the generation of 1914 has passed away.” The generation will not pass all away until the end! (Awake!, April 8, 1988, 14) (See prediction in 1914.)
1989 The year 2000 marks the completion of Christian missionary work and the beginning of the thousand-year reign of Christ. “The apostle Paul was spearheading the Christian missionary activity. He was also laying a foundation for a work that would be completed in our 20th century.” (The Watchtower, January 1, 1989, 12)
Note: this was quietly altered in the bound volume and CD-ROM editions to read “in our day.”
1995 The Watchtower changes the “Creator’s promise.” The word “generation” is no longer based on a human life span. (Compare Awake! mastheads before October 22, 1995, 4 and after November 8, 1995, 4 to see how the “Creator’s promise” was altered. See also The Watchtower November 1, 1995, 16–20.) (See prediction 1914.)
The Great Tribulation is now declared to be Imminent. (The Watchtower, November 1, 1995, p. 19 par. 12 and p. 20 par. 15)
2000 THE CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY WORK WAS NOT COMPLETED BY THE END OF THE 20TH CENTURY. (See prediction 1989.)
2007 The Anointed Class now declared to be open to any Jehovah’s Witness who “has determined in his heart that he is now anointed and begins to partake of the emblems at the Memorial. (“Questions from Readers,” The Watchtower, May 1, 2007, 30–31)
The number 144,000 is no longer taken literally, but symbolically for all those who claim to be “anointed ones.”
2008 The time of the Great Tribulation is declared to be Indeterminate. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jehovah%27s_Witnesses#_ref-55, 4 [Accessed January 4, 2008])
H. Historical Timeline
1852 Charles Taze Russell is born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.
1868 By age 16 Russell becomes so disturbed over the biblical doctrine of hell that he becomes a skeptic.
1869 Russell hears a sermon by the Second Adventist preacher Jonas Wendell. Russell’s trust in the Bible is restored since this Adventist group teaches that there is no eternal punishment in hell.
Russell continues to study the Bible under Adventist teachers.
1870 At age 18 Russell organizes a small Bible class. Six years later the class votes to call him “Pastor.”
1876 Russell accepts the view of Adventist teacher N. H. Barbour that Jesus Christ returned invisibly in 1874.
1877 At age 25, Russell and Barbour publish a book called Three Worlds or Plan of Redemption. This book proclaims that three years prior, in 1874, the second coming of Christ occurred invisibly. From that time a 40 year harvest period would occur, culminating in 1914 with the Battle of Armageddon.
1879 At age 27, having parted company with Barbour over theological grounds, Russell founds his new publication, Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.
Thirty congregations exist in several states, each calling Russell “Pastor.”
1884 At age 32 Russell incorporates his new religious order in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It operates for 47 years as Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society.
1886 At age 34 Russell writes the first volume of his commentary on the Bible, Studies in the Scriptures.
1916 At age 64, Charles Taze Russell dies.
Joseph Franklin Rutherford becomes president of the Society. Under Rutherford’s leadership, the Society takes most authority away from the local congregations and becomes God’s sole dispenser of truth, making all policy decisions.
1931 The official title of the organization becomes the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, headquartered in Brooklyn, New York.
The Society adopts the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
1942 Rutherford dies. Nathan Knorr becomes president of the Society.
Under Knorr’s leadership the Society increases from 115,000 to over 2 million members. The Governing Body is established under Knorr’s leadership. The Watchtower begins to publish all Jehovah’s Witnesses literature anonymously, unlike in Russell and Rutherford’s days.
1961 The Watchtower publishes the first edition of its own English version of the Bible, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.
1975 The failed Watchtower prediction that the 6,000 years of human existence would end in 1975 shakes the faith of many Jehovah’s Witnesses.
1977 Knorr dies. Frederich Franz becomes the fourth president. Franz was the primary Watchtower theologian while Knorr was president.
1980 While Franz is president, several prominent Watchtower leaders are removed on the charge of disloyalty, including Franz’s nephew Raymond Franz.
1992 Franz dies. Milton G. Henschel replaces Franz as the next president.
|If you were to ask, “Do you know you have eternal life?”
—a Jehovah’s Witness would say, “No one can know that for sure!”
Yet, 1 John 5:13 says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
The most significant word in sharing with a Witness is peace—the peace you have because you know your salvation is secure. The power of your peace can draw a Witness to the Prince of Peace, the living Lord Jesus.
With grateful appreciation for editorial review by Watchman Fellowship, Inc. http://www.watchman.org
Note: Jehovah’s Witness literature consulted for the Biblical Counseling Keys are not listed in the bibliography.
Please see the endnotes for source information on the Jehovah’s Witness literature.
Ankerberg, John, and John Weldon. The Facts on Jehovah’s Witnesses. Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1988.
Bowman, Robert M., Jr. Jehovah’s Witnesses. Zondervan Guide to Cults & Religious Movements, ed. Alan W. Gnomes. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995.
Bowman, Robert M., Jr. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of John. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989.
Bowman, Robert M., Jr. Why You Should Believe in the Trinity: An Answer to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989.
Branch, Rick, James Walker, and Timothy Oliver. “New Light on Watchtower History.” The Watchman Expositor 14, no. 4 (1997): 6–22.
Cetnar, Bill, and Joan Cetnar. Questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Kunkletown, PA: William I. Cetnar, 1996.
Chretien, Leonard, and Marjorie Chretien. Witnesses of Jehovah: A Shocking Expose of What Jehovah’s Witnesses Really Believe. Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1988.
Countess, Robert H. The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New Testament. 2nd ed. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1987.
Erickson, Millard J. Making Sense of the Trinity. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000.
Franz, Raymond. Crisis of Conscience. Atlanta, GA: Commentary, 1983.
Hewitt, Joe. I Was Raised a Jehovah’s Witness. Denver: Accent, 1979.
Hunt, June. Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.
Hunt, June. How to Forgive … When You Don’t Feel Like It. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.
Hunt, June. How to Handle Your Emotions. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.
Hunt, June. Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008
“Jehovah’s Witnesses Reorganize the Watchtower Society.” Watchman Fellowship, 2000. http://www.watchman.org/jw/jwreorg.htm.
Martin, Walter. The Jehovah of the Watchtower. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1953.
Martin, Walter. The Kingdom of the Cults. Revised and expanded ed. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1985.
Morey, Robert A. How to Answer a Jehovah’s Witness. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1980.
Reed, David A. Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses Subject by Subject. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996.
Reed, David A. Blood on the Altar. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 1996.
Reed, David A. How to Rescue Your Loved One from the Watchtower. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989.
Reed, David A. Jehovah Talk: The Mind-Control Language of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1997.
Reed, David A. Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1986.
Reed, David A., ed. Index of Watchtower Errors 1879 to 1989. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990.
Rhodes, Ron. Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1993.
Walker, James. The New World Translation: Is it the Word of God? Arlington, TX: Watchman Fellowship, 1999.
Walker, James. Watchtower Doctrines unto Destruction. Arlington, TX: Watchman Fellowship, 2000.
Walker, James, and John Whaley. Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Dating Game. Arlington, TX: Watchman Fellowship, 2000.
Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.
 Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Jehovah’s Witnesses: A Counterfeit Kingdom … or Not? (1–20). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.