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AwakeMagazine logo.png
Cover of Awake! (No. 5, 2017)
PublisherWatch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
First issueOctober 1, 1919 (as The Golden Age)
CompanyJehovah's Witnesses
CountryUnited States
Based inWarwick, New York, United States
Language224 languages

Awake! is an illustrated religious magazine published every four months by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. It is considered to be a companion magazine of The Watchtower,[1] and is distributed by Jehovah's Witnesses. The Watch Tower Society reports worldwide circulation of over 68 million copies per issue in 224 languages.[2]


The Golden Age magazine, November 21, 1934

The magazine was originally published bimonthly from October 1, 1919, under the title The Golden Age. It was founded for use in the Bible Students' new door-to-door ministry,[3] though the founder of the movement, Charles Taze Russell, had indicated in his will that the Watch Tower Society would not publish any periodicals other than The Watch Tower.[4][5] Clayton J. Woodworth was editor of the magazine,[6] and later went on to serve on the boards of several corporations of Jehovah's Witnesses.[7] On October 6, 1937, the magazine was renamed Consolation and continued to be published biweekly until July 31, 1946.

On August 22, 1946, the magazine was renamed Awake!,[8][9] drawing its new title from Romans 13:11 (ASV): "... it is time for you to awake out of sleep: for now is salvation nearer to us than when we first believed".[10] The magazine's editorship then became anonymous. (Autobiographical articles credited to individual members about their experiences and circumstances occasionally appear.)

Consolation magazine, December 14, 1938

From 1982 to 1995, each issue of the magazine included a mission statement which stated, "this magazine builds confidence in the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new order before the generation that saw 1914 passes away".[11] When Jehovah's Witnesses' belief regarding the "generation" of 1914 was changed to a less literal sense, the aim was restated as, "this magazine builds confidence in the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new world that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things".[12]

Until 2005, Awake! was published semimonthly in major languages (on the 8th and 22nd), monthly in many languages, and quarterly in a few languages. As of January 2006, the magazine was published monthly, and as of 2016 it was published every second month. As of early 2018, it is published every four months, in March, July, and November of each year.[13]


The Golden Age outlined its primary aim in its first issue, stating, "we will point the people to the clear and indisputable evidence in the light of present-day events, disclosing the divinely expressed remedy for the reconstruction of human affairs that will bring the desire of all nations, assuring to the people life, liberty and happiness."[14] The magazine also contained articles about "social, political, and economic issue and was not confined to purely religious matters".[15] Georges D. Chryssides notes that some articles "were opposed to orthodox medicine",[16] particularly against vaccinations,[17] theories about germs and the use of aluminum cooking utensils,[18] "and recommended alternative methods of health care and remedies".[16]

Awake! contains articles on general interest topics such as nature, geography, family life, and also the Bible and biblical history,[19] and is overseen by the Writing Committee of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses.[20] It has presented opinions of various medical conditions, including dementia,[21] stroke,[22] infectious diseases,[23] bipolar disorder,[24] and postpartum depression.[25] Many issues claim that mankind is living in the end times.


The magazine is printed in nineteen countries.[26] Awake! has a worldwide circulation of 41,000,000 copies of each issue[27] and is available, in selected languages, online in various digital formats.[28]

The magazine is distributed by Jehovah's Witnesses in the course of their public ministry including door-to-door canvassing, approaching people in public places, given informally to acquaintances and professionals, or left as reading material in waiting areas.[29]


The Golden Age was initially available for $1.50 (equivalent to $22 in 2020) per year on a subscription basis.[30][31] Until March 1990, Awake! was available for a small charge that varied over time and in different countries. For example, in the United States, the suggested donation per issue was $0.05 in 1950,[32] gradually increasing to $0.25 in 1989.[33] On January 17, 1990, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Jimmy Swaggart that sales of religious literature were subject to taxation, which introduced ambiguity into the formerly tax-free practice of suggesting a particular donation in exchange for the magazines. The Watch Tower Society supported Swaggart in the case, arguing that the perceived sale of religious literature should be exempt from taxation.[34]

From March 1, 1990, the magazines were made available at no cost, on a freewill donation basis in the United States, with the stated purpose of simplifying their Bible educational work and distinguishing themselves from those who commercialize religion.[35] An article in the May 1990 issue of Our Kingdom Ministry—a newsletter provided to members—stated that "there are growing pressures against all religious elements" and went on to say that their main concern was to move ahead in the worldwide preaching work, "without hindrance".[35]

The sale of Jehovah's Witnesses' literature was gradually phased out in other countries, and Awake! has been distributed free of charge worldwide since early 2000, its printing being funded by voluntary donations from Jehovah's Witnesses and members of the public.[36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Melton 2019.
  2. ^ Awake! No. 1 2021 issue, page 2
  3. ^ Zoé Knox (2018). Jehovah's Witnesses and the Secular World: From the 1870s to the Present. Palgrave Macmillan Inc. p. 37.
  4. ^ James Penton (1985). Apocalypse Delayed. University of Toronto Press. p. 56.
  5. ^ "Will and Testament of Charles Taze Russell". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. December 1, 1916. p. 358.
  6. ^ Chryssides 2008, pp. 140.
  7. ^ "Announcements". The Watchtower. February 15, 1952. p. 128.
  8. ^ Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand, pages 146–147
  9. ^ Watch Tower Publications, Watchtower Publications Index, 2008
  10. ^ Chryssides 2008, pp. 12.
  11. ^ "Why Awake! Is Published". Awake!. Watch Tower Society. October 8, 1995. p. 4.
  12. ^ "Why Awake! Is Published". Awake!. Watch Tower Society. November 8, 1995. p. 4.
  13. ^ Our Kingdom Ministry, March 2005, published by the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, "beginning with its January 2006 issue, Awake! will be published as a monthly magazine. This will result in considerable simplification in the preparation, translation, and shipping of our literature. This change will affect about 40 percent of the languages in which Awake! is published. In most languages, Awake! is already a monthly or a quarterly publication."
  14. ^ "Salutatory". The Golden Age. October 1, 1919. p. 4.
  15. ^ Knox 2018, pp. 37.
  16. ^ a b George D. Chryssides (2008). Historical Dictionary of Jehovah's Witnesses. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 70.
  17. ^ George D. Chryssides (2008). Historical Dictionary of Jehovah's Witnesses. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 133.
  18. ^ George D. Chryssides (2008). Historical Dictionary of Jehovah's Witnesses. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 141.
  19. ^ "Awake!" October 2010 page.4
  20. ^ ""Do Not Tire Out"". The Watchtower. April 15, 2013. p. 30.
  21. ^ Awake!, September 22, 1998
  22. ^ Awake!, February 8, 1998
  23. ^ Awake!, July 22, 1999
  24. ^ Awake!, September 8, 2001
  25. ^ Awake!, March 8, 2003
  26. ^ The Watchtower, November 1, 2005, page 27
  27. ^ "The Watchtower—No Other Magazine Comes Close". JW.ORG. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  28. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses website — Audio recordings and digital formats of magazines
  29. ^ "Question Box". Our Kingdom Ministry. March 1988. p. 4. Perhaps some back issues of the magazines could be distributed free when visiting nursing homes and hospitals. They could be left at Laundromats or in the lobbies of residential buildings where our work is restricted. However, good judgment should be exercised as to how many and how often magazines are left at one place.
  30. ^ "Announcing the Kingdom". The Watchtower. September 15, 1919. p. 4.
  31. ^ Tony Wills (2007). A People for His Name: A History of Jehovah's Witnesses and an Evaluation. p. 110.
  32. ^ "Publication details". The Watchtower. May 15, 1950. p. 4.
  33. ^ "Announcements". Our Kingdom Ministry. October 1989. p. 2.
  34. ^ Edmond C. Gruss (2003). The Four Presidents of the Watch Tower Society (Jehovah's Witnesses). Xulon Press. pp. 72–73.
  35. ^ a b "Use Our Literature Wisely". Our Kingdom Ministry. May 1990. p. 7. At the end of February 1990, it was explained that magazines and literature will be provided to publishers and to the interested public on a complete donation basis, that is, without asking or suggesting that a specific contribution be made as a precondition to receiving an item.
  36. ^ 2001 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. p. 18. Another factor in reaching more people with the good news has been the simplified literature distribution arrangement. ... The voluntary donation arrangement is explained to people, but no charge is made for the literature. As of January 2000, that arrangement was extended to all lands where it was not already in operation.


External links[edit]