Development of Jehovah's Witnesses doctrine
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The doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses have developed since publication of The Watchtower magazine began in 1879. Early doctrines were based on interpretations of the Bible by Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society founder Charles Taze Russell, then added to, altered or discarded by his successors, Joseph Rutherford and Nathan Knorr. Since 1976, doctrinal changes have been made at closed meetings of the group's Governing Body, whose decisions are described as "God's progressive revelations" to the faithful and discreet slave. These teachings are disseminated through The Watchtower, and at conventions and congregation meetings. Most members of the denomination outside the Governing Body play no role in the development of doctrines and are expected to adhere to all those decided at the Warwick, NY headquarters. Jehovah's Witnesses are taught to welcome doctrinal changes, regarding such "adjustments" as "new light" or "new understanding" from God and proving that they are on the "path of the righteous".
Method of doctrinal development
Some core beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses have remained unchanged throughout the group's history. Certain doctrines, particularly relating to biblical chronology, were based on what Russell called a "venerable tradition" that he conceded was not directly confirmed by facts or scripture, but "based on faith". Watch Tower publications claim that doctrinal changes and refinements result from a process of progressive revelation, in which God gradually reveals his will and purpose. Watch Tower literature has suggested such enlightenment results from the application of reason and study, the guidance of holy spirit, and direction from Jesus Christ and angels. Rutherford spoke of spiritual "lightning flashes in the temple"; the Society claims its doctrine of the "great crowd" and "other sheep" were "revealed" to "God's earthly servants" in 1935, and Witness literature has also described sudden changes in doctrines as "flashes of light" given by God through his holy spirit. A 1930 publication claimed God used "invisible deputies" and "invisible angels" to pass his "messages" to The Watchtower, although The Watchtower told Witnesses it was not necessary for them to understand how this took place. A 1973 policy change to disfellowship tobacco users was explained as a decision that "Jehovah has brought to the attention of his 'holy' people".
Watch Tower publications often cite Proverbs 4:18, "The path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established" (NWT) when explaining the need to change doctrines. The organization's earlier literature has included claims that its predictions about dates such as 1925 were "indisputable", "absolutely and unqualifiedly correct" and bearing "the stamp of approval of Almighty God", but the Governing Body which was established later says its teachings are neither infallible nor divinely inspired.
Robert Crompton, author of a book on Watch Tower eschatology, has noted that it is difficult to trace the development of doctrines because explicit changes are often not identified in Jehovah's Witness literature, leaving readers to assume which details have been superseded. Edmund C. Gruss, a critic of the group, found that a 1943 Watch Tower Society publication that established a new creation chronology, changing the date of Adam's creation by 100 years, made no mention of the old time reckoning, which had previously been said to be "correct beyond a doubt".
Watch Tower Society founding doctrines
From the first issue of Zion's Watch Tower in July 1879, Russell began publicising a number of doctrines, many of them drawn from Adventist teachings, including the atonement, resurrection, the soul, the invisible parousia (or return) of Christ and God's "plan of the ages". Russell taught that mankind was to be redeemed not from torment but from the death penalty that had been imposed on Adam and subsequently passed on to all his descendants. He wrote that Christ's "ransom for all" mentioned in 1 Timothy 2:5 would be applied to all humankind rather than just the righteously inclined. Christ's death provided the ransom payment to free humans from death. He believed an elect few would be resurrected to serve as a heavenly priesthood and all humans who had died would be resurrected to earth, which would be restored to Edenic perfection.
The dominant and central theme of Russell's teachings concerned the timing, nature and purpose of Christ's second coming. His beliefs on the timing of Christ's Advent and God's overarching plan for humans had gained their first exposure in Three Worlds and the Harvest of This World, a book he paid Millerite Adventist Nelson H. Barbour to write in 1877. Russell and Barbour parted company in 1879 and from 1886 Russell began writing his own books that further developed his Millennialist beliefs.
Russell's doctrines on the Millennium followed a tradition of interpretation of Scripture that had begun in the 1st century, when Jewish rabbis sought to identify the due time for the appearance of the Messiah by interpreting the prophecy of the 70 weeks of years of Daniel 9:24–27. Their approach to prophetic interpretation was based on the Day-year principle, drawn from Ezekiel 4 and Numbers 14, in which one day in prophecy represents one year in fulfillment. Such teachings were revived and popularised in the early 19th century by American Adventist preacher William Miller.
Russell also incorporated Miller's teaching of types and antitypes, in which an actual historical situation (the type) prefigures a corresponding situation (the antitype), as well as a modified version of John Nelson Darby's teachings on dispensationalism. Russell modified Darby's teachings to create his own doctrine of parallel dispensations, in which the timing of certain events in the Jewish age are a prophetic indication of corresponding events at the close of the Gospel age. He believed the internal harmony of his "plan of the ages" proved its validity beyond reasonable doubt, noting that a change of just one year would destroy the parallelisms, and found further confirmation in internal measurements of the Great Pyramid of Giza, which he viewed as a divinely built supporting witness to the Bible.
The main points of his doctrines on Bible chronology were:
- Seventy weeks of years: Russell believed the Adventist interpretation of the prophecy of the 70 weeks "until Messiah the Prince" at Daniel 9:24–27 could be used to demonstrate the validity of the year-for-a-day rule. He took 454 BCE as the date of Artaxerxes' decree to rebuild Jerusalem, and by converting 69 weeks of seven days (483 days) to 483 years arrived at 29 CE as the beginning of Jesus' ministry. Christ's crucifixion took place at the midpoint of the 70th week; the covenant with the Jewish nation remained in force another "week" (seven years) from the beginning of his ministry and its end was signified by the conversion of Cornelius in 36, when the Gospel was taken to the Gentiles.
- Times of the Gentiles: Using the year-for-a-day rule, Russell adopted and adjusted the teachings of Miller and Englishman John Aquila Brown, who both taught that the chastisement of the Israelites "seven times" for their sins (at Leviticus 26) indicated a period of 2520 years—seven prophetic years of 360 days each. In Russell's chronology system the period began with the deposing of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, an event that marked the end of the typical Kingdom of God and beginning of the consequent lease of earthly dominion to Gentile governments, as foretold in Ezekiel 21:25–27. Russell calculated that Zedekiah's removal occurred in 606 BCE, and therefore claimed the "times of the Gentiles" ran from that date until 1914, when the kingdom would be re-established on earth under Jewish leadership. The end of the Gentile times would be marked by a return of the Jews to Palestine. Russell believed the period was also one of degradation for mankind in general, which he believed was prefigured by the account in Daniel 4 of Nebuchadnezzar's dream of a great tree being cut down and restrained from growth for seven years.
- The time of the end: Miller had formulated doctrines drawn from Daniel 12:4,9 on the "time of the end", when the meaning of certain prophecies would be finally revealed. Russell made a slight amendment to the teaching, explaining that it began in 1799 when French general Berthier entered Rome, abolished papal government and established the Republic of Italy. The "time of the end" would last 115 years to 1914. The 1799 date, in turn, had been established by linking the 1260 days of Revelation 11:3 with time periods mentioned in Daniel 2, 7, and 12. Using the year-day principle, the period indicated 1260 years from 539 (when Justinian I recognised the pope as universal bishop) to 1799.
- Great Jubilee: Russell adopted and amended Miller's teaching of a secondary indicator of the due date for the Millennium. The ancient Jewish law provided for a series of sabbaths, each culminating in the Jubilee year in the 50th year, when slaves were released and leased property returned to its rightful owners. Like Miller, Russell believed the arrangement foreshadowed the release of humans from the debt of sin and bondage through the intervention of Christ. He taught that the Millennium was the antitypical Great Jubilee (the 50th 50-year jubilee) and marked the beginning of the second presence of Christ. Using his calculations of the date of the last jubilee before the Jewish exile, he added 2500 years (50 x 50) and calculated it had begun at the end of 1874.
- The greath sabbath: Russell embraced Miller's view that because "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years", the seventh thousand-year period after creation would be a 1000-year-long sabbath "day". But whereas Miller had believed 1843 was 6000 years after creation, Russell believed Adam was created in 4129 BC and calculated 1872 as the end of 6000 years. He thought it reasonable that Adam and Eve had lived two years in Eden before sinning, and thus calculated the 6000 years ran from the time sin entered the world to October 1874, when Christ had returned and the times of restitution began.
- Parallel dispensations: Russell expanded Darby's doctrine of dispensationalism, explaining that events that befell the Jewish nation were prophetic counterparts of events during the Gospel age, with the timing of those events also having prophetic significance. He argued that the Jews had enjoyed 1845 years of favor from the death of Jacob to 33 CE (the Jewish Age) and they would have to endure the same length of time in God's disfavor—thus from 33 to 1878 (the Gospel Age).  The Jews' fall from favour was gradual, spanning 37 years from 33 to 70, when Jerusalem was destroyed, and that period corresponded to a gradual restoration of God's favour to them between 1878 and 1914. But although the Jewish nation's fall began in 33, God's favor towards individual Jews continued another 3½ years from Pentecost, during which time the gospel call was limited to Jews. That typified a 3½-year opportunity from 1878 until 1881 when the "high calling" or invitation to become joint heirs with Christ closed. The 3½-year period between Christ's anointing as Messiah and his riding into Jerusalem on an ass, being acclaimed as king and cleansing the temple of money-changers typified the period between his parousia (1874) and his assuming kingly power and rejection of "nominal church systems" (1878). The 40-year "harvest" of the Jewish Age from 29–69 typified a 40-year harvest of the Gospel Age from 1874 to 1914. The Jews' expectation of the Messiah's arrival at the time of Jesus' birth, 30 years before his anointing, was correlated with the Great Disappointment, the failure of Miller's prediction of the second coming of Christ in 1844, 30 years before the date indicated by Russell's system.
Timeline of doctrinal changes
Doctrines unchanged since 1879
- Biblical infallibility. Early copies of Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence made reference to the Bible as God's "infallible Word".
- God's name is Jehovah. Watch Tower Society founder Charles Taze Russell used the name "Jehovah" occasionally, but not consistently, when referring to God.
- Jesus Christ gave his human life as a ransom sacrifice; belief in Jesus necessary for salvation. Russell believed that God's design for mankind was a restitution or restoration to the perfection and glory lost in Eden. This depended on God providing a ransom for all mankind to release them from the inevitability of death. Christ became that ransom sacrifice.
- The timing of Christ's Second Coming, or "presence", can be calculated through Bible chronology.
- Christ's return to earth was invisible. Russell claimed the Greek word parousia (Matthew 24:37) referred to a period of time, rendered more accurately as "presence" than "coming".
- Paradise to be restored, humans to live forever.
- Evolution is a teaching contrary to the Bible and denies the need of redemption by Christ.
- Humans created as living souls.
- The dead are unconscious, awaiting resurrection.
- Individuals who go to heaven are resurrected with spirit bodies.
- God's Kingdom is an organized heavenly government over earth, ruled by Jesus and the anointed.
- 1880: Clergy–laity distinction viewed as unscriptural.
- 1881: Rejection of the Trinity doctrine. Russell claimed the Trinity doctrine had "not a word of Scripture" to support it. He explained: "We understand the Scriptures to teach that the holy Spirit is not a separate and distinct person, but that it is the divine mind or influence—the motive power of Divinity exercised everywhere and for any purpose, at His pleasure." In 1877 N. H. Barbour had criticized the anti-Trinitarian view of the Christadelphians; an 1880 book by Zion's Watch Tower writer J. H. Paton emphasised that the Holy Spirit was a person and early Watch Tower issues referred to the Holy Spirit as "he" and part of the "Divine Three".
- 1881: Faith alone is not enough for someone's becoming a joint-heir with Christ in heaven, but also a life of "self-sacrifice in the service of the truth" is required.
- 1882: No hellfire. According to Russell, most references to "hell" in the New Testament were more accurately translated as "tomb".
- 1887: The New Covenant, which Russell had claimed since 1880 would be inaugurated only after the last of the 144,000 anointed Christians had been taken to heaven, was said to be "now in force".
- 1890: The "Time of the End" of Daniel 12:4 is identified as beginning in October 1799—when Napoleon invaded Egypt and ended the power of the papacy—and closing in 1914, at which point violent worldwide revolution would mark the end of the old world order and the beginning of a new one.
- 1891: Biblical rapture is not a sudden event. The anointed are changed into spirit form, throughout the whole period of Christ's presence, at the time of each one's physical death.
- 1897: "This generation" of Matthew 23:36 defined as "people living contemporaneously."
- 1904: Worldwide descent into anarchy and disintegration of human rule, previously predicted to occur in October 1914, changed to "after October 1914".
- 1904: 144,000 "elect" to go to heaven. Russell believed God had chosen a "fixed and limited ... number who should constitute the New Creation of God". God had not foreordained individuals, but those who met his "moral qualities and heart measurements" would be chosen to go to heaven.
- 1904: "Great Company" of Revelation 7:9, 14 identified as a secondary spiritual class who have "insufficient zeal for the Lord, the Truth and the brethren" who are granted heavenly life, but on a lower spiritual plane. In heaven they serve as servants rather than kings and priests.
- 1907: The inauguration of the New Covenant described as belonging "exclusively to the coming age." Russell began to teach that the "church" (144,000 anointed Christians) had no mediator, but itself joined Christ as a joint messiah and mediator during the millennium.
- 1914: Length of each creative 'day' of Genesis defined as precisely 7000 years.
- 1914: Russell "by no means confident" 1914 would bring the upheaval he had predicted.
- 1916: Timing of Armageddon, previously claimed to have begun in 1874 and to culminate in 1914, changed to have begun in 1914.
- 1919: Preaching work displaces "character development" as the "chief concern" of Bible Students. Russell had taught that Christians should embark on the gradual process of "sanctification" and personality improvement to fight sinful inclinations. In 1919 The Watch Tower declared that the primary concern for Bible Students was to labor with God to find members of the elect class.
- 1919: The seven angels, or "messengers", of Revelation chapters 1 and 2 are identified "for the first time in the history of the church" as St Paul, St John, Arius, Peter Waldo, John Wycliffe, Martin Luther and Charles Taze Russell.
- 1920: Jesus Christ's crowning as king of God's kingdom, previously 1878, changed to 1914.
- 1920: The preaching of the gospel of the kingdom "in all the world for a witness unto all nations", (Matthew 24:14), previously claimed to have already been completed, identified as a work for modern-day anointed Christians.
- 1922: Establishment of God's kingdom over earth, previously expected to result in the destruction of human governments and a "new rule of righteousness" by the end of 1914 changed to an invisible event in heaven in 1914.
- 1923: "Sheep class", mentioned at Matthew 25:31–46 defined as those who do good to "elect" class and are rewarded by surviving Armageddon and gaining life under Christ's thousand-year reign. Russell had previously applied the parable to the work of dividing the people in the Millennial Age.
- 1923: Limitations placed on extent of Christ's ransom and resurrection hope. Russell had taught that Christ had provided a ransom for all; a 1923 Watch Tower article asserted that clergymen would not be resurrected and benefit from the ransom; later articles claimed that benefits of the ransom would also be denied to Adam and Eve; those who died in the Noachian flood; those who died at Sodom and Gomorrah; both the falls of Jerusalem and those who will die at Armageddon.
- 1925: Armageddon identified as a battle between God and Satan, resulting in the overthrow of human governments and false religion. Armageddon had previously been understood to mean a "melee between contending forces of mankind", resulting in social revolution and political anarchy.
- 1925: Michael, the dragon and the man-child in Revelation chapter 12, previously defined as the Pope, the Roman Empire and the papacy, redefined as Jesus, Satan and the New Nation (or Kingdom), respectively.
- 1926: Use of name Jehovah, previously used sparingly at assemblies and in public preaching, given new emphasis. Announced on January 1, 1926 issue of The Watchtower.
- 1926: "Satan's organization" defined as the rulers of politics, commerce and religion and all their followers.
- 1927: "First resurrection" of "sleeping saints", previously 1878, changed to 1918.
- 1927: "Faithful and wise servant" of Matthew 24:45–47, previously defined as Russell since 1897, changed to a "class" comprising all remaining "anointed" Christians.
- 1927: "This generation" of Matthew 23:36, previously defined as "people living contemporaneously" changed to a remnant of the "anointed" on earth during Armageddon.
- 1928: Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, previously regarded as a testimony to the Bible and its chronology, declared to have no prophetic significance and built under the direction of Satan.
- 1928: Celebration of Christmas, previously embraced as a "tribute of respect" to Christ, discontinued because of its "pagan origin".
- 1929: Honoring of God's name described as "the outstanding issue facing all intelligent creation".
- 1929: "Superior authorities" of Romans 13:1 to whom Christians had to show subjection and obedience, previously defined as governmental authorities, redefined as God and Christ only. Secular state then regarded as demonic and almost without redeeming features.
- 1929: The "time of the end" of Daniel 12:4, previously defined as a 115-year period from 1799 to 1914, redefined as a period of unspecified length starting in 1914.
- 1930: Christ's parousia—his second coming or invisible "presence"—previously established as 1874 and reaffirmed as late as 1929, changed to 1914.
- 1931: Adoption of the name "Jehovah's witnesses".
- 1932: Assertion that God's Holy Spirit ceased operating on his people when "[Jesus] the Lord came to his temple, in 1918", at which point Jesus 'took charge of feeding the flock'.
- 1932: The "Jews" who will be restored to their homeland, previously defined as literal Jews, redefined as the Christian congregation.
- 1932: Identification of "Jonadabs", a "sheep" class of people who take a stand for righteousness and who are to be preserved by God through Armageddon to gain everlasting life on earth. The term was drawn from the account at 2 Kings 10. In 1920 Rutherford had written that it was "unreasonable" to think God was developing any class other than the little flock (the 144,000 to attain heavenly kingship) and the "great company" (second spiritual class also with a heavenly hope). In 1934 the Watchtower explained that the "Jonadabs" survive Armageddon by living in the figurative "City of refuge", represented by remaining affiliated with the Watch Tower Society.
- 1932: Watch Tower Society adherents with an earthly hope should join the worldwide preaching work. In 1927 The Watchtower had directed that only anointed Christians were "entitled" to take part in the ministry.
- 1934: Vindication of God's name becomes central doctrine. Rutherford noted that God had provided Jesus Christ's sacrifice as the redemption price for sinful humankind, but wrote that this was "secondary to the vindication of Jehovah's name".
- 1934: The 1917 teaching that Russell was exercising strong influence from heaven on the "harvesting" of anointed Christians described as "foolish".
- 1935: "Great crowd" of Revelation 7 defined as the "sheep" of Matthew 25, resulting in a redirection of proselytizing efforts from gathering the "elect" (remnant of the 144,000 with a heavenly destiny) to gathering an indeterminate number of people who could survive Armageddon and receive everlasting life on earth. Previously, the "great crowd" was believed to have a heavenly hope.
- 1935: Tobacco use "unclean" and prohibited for Bethel (branch office) staff and traveling overseers.
- 1935: Vaccines, described since 1921 as "devilish" and "an outrage", condemned as a violation of God's law.
- 1936: Device on which Jesus was killed, previously defined as a wooden cross, redefined as a "tree". An image of the cross appeared on the front page of The Watch Tower until October 1931.
- 1937: Jehovah's Witnesses with an earthly hope could be described as "Christian". In 1930 the Watchtower had asserted that the term "Christian" could be applied only to anointed followers of Christ.
- 1938: God's mandate to "be fruitful and multiply" said to apply only after the start of the millennium. The Watchtower said the mandate had never been carried out under righteous conditions, and so had failed to be fulfilled according to God's will. Rutherford urged Witnesses to delay marriage and the bearing of children until after Armageddon.
- 1939: Witnesses required to demonstrate complete neutrality in worldly affairs.
- 1942: Tobacco prohibition applied to all appointed positions, such as congregation overseers and servants.
- 1943: Destruction of Jerusalem moved from 606 BCE to 607 BCE, when the Watch Tower Society realised there was no year zero between 1 BCE and 1 CE, in order to maintain calculations regarding 1914; return of the Jews from Babylon to Jerusalem moved from 536 BCE to 537 BCE to maintain 70 years after 607 BCE.
- 1943: Adam's creation, previously 4129 BCE or 4128 BCE, moved forward 100 years to 4028 BCE. The shift in dates also moved the termination point of 6,000 years of human history from October 1872 to 1972.
- 1944: The "governing body" identified as synonymous with the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society.
- 1944: Responsibility for administering discipline, including disfellowshipping, of dissident members passed from entire congregation to congregational judicial committees. Russell had recommended in a 1904 publication that a congregation "committee" investigate a congregant's serious "error or sin", but the entire congregation voted whether "to withdraw from him its fellowship".
- 1944: Adam's creation, previously 4028 BCE, changed to 4026 BCE.
- 1945: Blood transfusions forbidden. Russell had viewed the prohibition on eating blood in Acts 15:19–29 as a 'suggestion' to gentile Christians in order to "guard against stumbling themselves or becoming stumbling blocks to others" and ensure peace within the early church.
- 1951: "This generation" of Matthew 23:36, previously defined as a remnant of the "anointed" on earth during Armageddon changed to "a 'generation' in the ordinary sense" who were alive in 1914.
- 1951: Celebration of birthdays considered "objectionable" because celebrations are "steeped in false worship" and exalt humans.
- 1952: Vaccines, previously condemned, considered acceptable.
- 1953: Adam's creation, previously 4026 BCE, changed to 4025 BCE. End of God's 6,000-year "rest day" ending in northern hemisphere autumn 1976.
- 1954: Worship of Jesus, previously considered appropriate and necessary, deemed inappropriate, with the New World Translation translating proskyne′ō as "do obeisance to" rather than "worship" (King James Version).
- 1955: Operation of Holy Spirit, asserted in 1932 to have ceased in 1918, stated as having been still operative after 1918.
- 1958: Various changes to the interpretation of the 'kings of the north and south' of Daniel 11:17–19 and 11:27–45, previously more closely resembling earlier Adventist interpretations. The 'king of the north' redefined as Antiochus III (verses 17–19); the German Empire (27–30); Adolf Hitler (30–31) and post-World War II Soviet Union (32–45). The 'king of the south' redefined as Ptolemy V (verses 17–19) and Anglo-America (27–45).
- 1961: Acceptance of blood transfusion deemed a disfellowshipping offence. Acceptance of human organ transplant stipulated a personal matter to be decided without criticism.
- 1962: "Superior authorities" of Romans 13:1 redefined as earthly governments, reverting the 1929 change to Russell's 1886 teaching. A year earlier, Russell's view was considered to have made the Watch Tower Bible Students unclean in God's eyes.
- 1963: Adam's creation changed back to 4026 BCE. End of 6,000 years of human history due in northern hemisphere autumn 1975.
- 1967: Human organ transplants equated with cannibalism, "a practice abhorrent to all civilized people", and said to be a procedure not permitted by God. The Watchtower article announcing the view is interpreted by commentators as a prohibition. In a 1972 article, Jehovah's Witnesses are described as having taken a "stand" against organ transplants, saving them from the consequences of such operations, on the basis of the description of the procedure as "a form of cannibalism".
- 1968: Interval between Adam's creation and the close of the sixth creative "day", previously "quite some time", changed to "a comparatively short period of time" that "may involve only a difference of weeks or months, not years." The change led to expectations that Christ's 1,000 year reign could begin in 1975.
- 1971: The "governing body" identified as not synonymous with the Board of Directors of the Watch Tower Society.
- 1973: Tobacco use banned. Tobacco users not to be accepted for baptism and baptized Witnesses to be disfellowshipped if they continue to smoke after "a reasonable period of time, such as six months".
- 1980: Acceptance of human organ transplants stipulated as a matter of personal choice not warranting congregational discipline. View of transplants as cannibalism now said to be held only by "some Christians". The Watchtower article is regarded by commentators as a reversal of Society's 1967 position that the procedure is not permitted by God.
- 1981: Members who formally resign membership of the group (disassociate) are to be shunned in the same manner as disfellowshipped Witnesses.
- 1983: Martial arts and carrying "firearms for protection against humans" disqualify a Witness from "special privileges in the congregation", such as appointment as elder.
- 1988: Length of creative 'days' in Genesis, previously defined as exactly 7,000 years each, changed to "at least thousands of years in length" [emphasis added]
- 1990: Interval between Adam's creation and the close of the sixth creative "day" changed to "some time", employing a 1963 reference rather than the 1968 change.
- 1992: The "modern-day Nethinim", previously defined as synonymous with the "other sheep", redefined as a subset of the "other sheep" who serve in positions of authority within the organization as "helpers" to the Governing Body.
- 1995: "This generation" at Matthew 23:36, previously defined as a typical human lifespan since Jesus' parousia in 1914, redefined as a class of people displaying certain characteristics for an indefinite period of time.
- 1995: Fulfillment of Jesus' parable of the separating of sheep and goats, previously considered to have been ongoing since 1914, changed to after the start of the 'Great Tribulation'.
- 1995: The expression "vindication of Jehovah's name" declared unnecessary, with emphasis on "vindicating his sovereignty" and "sanctifying his name" as being more accurate. The former expression had not appeared in any Watch Tower Society publication since 1991.
- 1999: The 'king of the north' of Daniel 11:44–45, previously identified as the Soviet Union, considered to be uncertain since 1991 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
- 2007: Selection of the 144,000 "anointed", previously considered to have ended in 1935, changed to an indefinite period.
- 2008: "This generation" redefined as "anointed" believers, who will "not pass away" before the great tribulation begins. This was a return to the belief held in 1927.
- 2010: "This generation" redefined to include "other anointed ones who would see the start of the great tribulation", whose lives "overlap" with "the anointed who were on hand when the sign began to become evident in 1914".
- 2012: "Faithful and discreet slave", previously defined as synonymous with the "anointed" and represented by the Governing Body, redefined to refer to the Governing Body only. The "domestics", previously defined as each member of the "anointed" individually, redefined as including all members of the "anointed" and the "great crowd". The "evil slave" of Matthew 24:48, previously defined as former "anointed" members who reject Jesus, redefined as a hypothetical warning to the "faithful slave".
- 2014: "Gog of Magog", previously identified as Satan, redefined as an unspecified "coalition of nations".
- 2015: The 'arrival of the bridegroom' of Matthew 25:10, previously considered to refer to 1919, changed to a future time of judgment. The 'foolish virgins' of Matthew 25:8–9, previously considered to refer to Bible Students who rejected the Watch Tower Society in 1919, changed to hypothetical unfaithful 'anointed' individuals who would be replaced by other faithful 'anointed' individuals prior to the Great Tribulation.
- 2016: The 'man with the inkhorn' in Ezekiel chapter 9, previously understood as members of the 'anointed' symbolically marking people by preaching, redefined as Jesus judging individuals during the Great Tribulation.
- 2016: The 'dry bones' in Ezekiel chapter 37, previously understood as persecution of the 'anointed' in 1918 followed by a 'revival' in 1919, reinterpreted as "spiritual captivity" from the second century until 1919.
- 2016: The joining of the 'two sticks' in Ezekiel chapter 37, previously associated with reunification of the 'anointed' following a Watch Tower Society leadership dispute, redefined as the 'anointed' being joined by the 'great crowd'.
- 2018: The temple vision in Ezekiel, previously likened to the tent in the Epistle to the Hebrews (which Jehovah's Witnesses call a "spiritual temple"), redefined as a more general representation of God's standards for worship.
- 2018: The 'king of the north' of Daniel 11:44–45, previously stated to have been uncertain since 1991, re-identified as "Russia and its allies".
- 2020: The 'king of the north' of Daniel 11:25–26, previously identified as Aurelian, redefined as the German Empire. The 'king of the south' for the same verses, previously identified as Zenobia, redefined as "Britain".
Former Governing Body member Raymond Franz and Sociology lecturer Andrew Holden have pointed out that doctrines—including those relating to sexual behaviour in marriage and the "superior authorities" of Romans 13:4—have sometimes been altered, only to revert to those held decades earlier. Holden, author of an ethnographic study on Jehovah's Witnesses, commented: "It could be that many Witnesses have not yet been in the organisation long enough to realise that 'new lights' have a habit of growing dimmer, while old ones are switched back on!" In his study of the Witnesses and their history, Tony Wills has suggested that when third president Nathan H. Knorr altered major doctrines established by his predecessor, J. F. Rutherford, he was returning the Witnesses to many of Russell's teachings. He asked: "How can the Society harmonize this circular development with the claimed progressive development?"
In testimony at a 1954 court case in Scotland, senior Watch Tower Society figures admitted that although doctrines were subject to change if they were later regarded as erroneous, all Witnesses were required to accept current teachings or risk expulsion. Under cross-examination, Fred Franz, then vice president of the Watch Tower Society, conceded a Witness could be disfellowshipped and shunned for "causing trouble" over a belief they held that was contrary to Society teaching but subsequently embraced by the group. Society lawyer Hayden G. Covington told the court that although the Society had for decades published a "false prophecy ... a false statement" about the date of Christ's Second Coming, members had been required to accept it and any who had rejected it would have been expelled. He explained: "You must understand we must have unity, we cannot have disunity with a lot of people going every way."
- Eschatology of Jehovah's Witnesses
- Faithful and discreet slave
- Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses
- History of Jehovah's Witnesses
- Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs
- Unfulfilled Watch Tower Society predictions
- Franz 2002, p. 106
- "Jehovah, the God of Progressive Revelation". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. June 15, 1964. p. 365.
The abundance of spiritual food and the amazing details of Jehovah's purposes that have been revealed to Jehovah's anointed witnesses are clear evidence that they are the ones mentioned by Jesus when he foretold a 'faithful and discreet slave' class that would be used to dispense God's progressive revelations in these last days ... How thankful we should be for the provision God has made of this slave class, the modern spiritual remnant, as they faithfully dispense the revealed truths of Jehovah! ... Jehovah's faithful witnesses have been progressively brought to an understanding of Jehovah's purposes, which are clearer now than ever before in history.
- "Seek God's guidance in all things". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. April 15, 2008. p. 11.
- "How the Governing Body Is Organized". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. May 15, 2008. p. 29.
- Franz 2007, pp. 152–164
- Holden 2002, pp. 22, 10, 158, 163
- "The Godly Qualities of Love and Hate". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. 15 July 1974.
Christians have implicit trust in their heavenly Father; they do not question what he tells them through his written Word and organization.
- "Jehovah's Theocratic Organization Today". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. February 1, 1952. p. 79.
Are we assigned as individuals to bring forth the food for the spiritual table? No? Then let us not try to take over the slave's duties. We should eat and digest and assimilate what is set before us, without shying away from parts of the food because it may not suit the fancy of our mental taste. The truths we are to publish are the ones provided through the discreet-slave organization, not some personal opinions contrary to what the slave has provided as timely food. Jehovah and Christ direct and correct the slave as needed, not we as individuals. If we do not see a point at first we should keep trying to grasp it, rather than opposing and rejecting it and presumptuously taking the position that we are more likely to be right than the discreet slave. We should meekly go along with the Lord's theocratic organization and wait for further clarification ... Theocratic ones will appreciate the Lord's visible organization and not be so foolish as to pit against Jehovah's channel their own human reasoning and sentiment and personal feelings.
- Osamu Muramoto (August 1998). "Bioethics of the refusal of blood by Jehovah's Witnesses, part 1". Journal of Medical Ethics. 24 (4): 223–230.
- "The Path of the Righteous Does Keep Getting Brighter". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. December 1, 1981. pp. 26–31.
- Charles Taze Russell (1891). Studies in the Scriptures. 2. Watch Tower Society. p. B39.
And though the Bible contains no direct statement that the seventh thousand will be the epoch of Christ's reign, the great Sabbath Day of restitution to the world, yet the venerable tradition is not without a reasonable foundation.
- "Knowledge and Faith Regarding Chronology". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. October 1, 1907. p. 294.
Can we feel absolutely sure that the Chronology set forth in the DAWN-STUDIES is correct? ...we have never claimed our calculations to be infallibly correct; we have never claimed that they were knowledge, nor based upon indisputable evidence, facts, knowledge; our claim has always been that they are based on faith. We have set forth the evidences as plainly as possible and stated the conclusions of faith we draw from them, and have invited others to accept as much or as little of them as their hearts and heads could endorse. ...Possibly some who have read the DAWNS have presented our conclusions more strongly than we; but if so that is their own responsibility."
- "Impart God's Progressive Revelation to Mankind". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. March 1, 1965. pp. 158–159.
- Penton 1997, pp. 165–171
- "Flashes of Light—Great and Small". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. May 15, 1995. p. 15.
- Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society 1993, p. 709
- Penton 1997, p. 165
- J. F. Rutherford (1933). Preparation. Watch Tower Society. pp. 64, 67.
Enlightenment proceeds from Jehovah by and through Christ Jesus and is given to the faithful anointed on earth at the temple, and brings great peace and consolation to them. Again Zechariah talked with the angel of the Lord, which shows that the remnant are instructed by the angels of the Lord. The remnant do not hear audible sounds, because such is not necessary. Jehovah has provided his own good way to convey thoughts to the minds of his anointed ones ... Those of the remnant, being honest and true, must say, We do not know; and the Lord enlightens them, sending his angels for that very purpose.
- "Jehovah's Honor/The New King Begins His Rule". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. February 15, 1933. pp. 53, 62. As cited by M. James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, University of Toronto Press, page 165.
- Life Everlasting in Freedom in the Sons of God. Watch Tower Society. 1966. p. 149. As cited by M. James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, University of Toronto Press, page 165.
- "The Things Revealed Belong to Us". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. May 15, 1986. pp. 10–15.
In 1925 God's earthly servants became possessors of an accurate understanding... In 1932 their understanding was deepened still further. Jehovah revealed that the prophecies related ...to spiritual Israel, the Christian congregation. (Romans 2:28, 29) Then, in 1935 a corrected understanding of John's vision of the "great crowd" in Revelation chapter 7 opened the eyes of anointed ones to the huge gathering work that still lay ahead of them.
- "Flashes of Light—Great and Small". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. May 15, 1995. pp. 17, 18.
- Rutherford 1930, p. 64
- Rutherford 1930, p. 106
- "His Organization". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. December 1, 1933. p. 364.
Without doubt these angels are delegated by the Lord to convey his instructions to the members of his organization on earth. Just how this is done is not necessary for us to understand.
- "You Must Be Holy Because Jehovah Is Holy". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. February 15, 1976. p. 123.
- "Keep in Step With Jehovah's Organization". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. January 15, 2001. p. 18.
- "Who is Wise?". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. November 1, 1922. As cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, page 228.
- "The Strong Cable of Chronology". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. July 15, 1922. As cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, page 226.
- "To Whom Shall We Go but Jesus Christ?". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. March 1, 1979. pp. 23–24.
- "Questions From Readers". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. October 15, 1954. p. 638.
- "Name and Purpose of The Watchtower". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. August 15, 1950. p. 263.
- Crompton 1996, p. 115
- Edmund C. Gruss (1972). The Jehovah's Witnesses and Prophetic Speculation. Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co. p. 64.. Gruss based his comments on The Truth Shall Make You Free, 1943, pages 141–152.
- "The Sign of His Presence". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. May 1880.
- Penton 1997, p. 26
- Wills 2006, p. 5
- "If Death Ends All". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. July 1879.
- "Why Did Christ Die?". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. November 1879.
- "The Royal Priesthood/If Death Ends All". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. July 1879.
- Rogerson 1969, p. 17
- Wills 2006, p. 9
- Crompton 1996, p. 17
- Crompton 1996, p. 21
- Crompton 1996, pp. 43–48, 144
- Russell 1889, pp. 243–244
- Wills 2006, p. 47
- Russell 1891, pp. 313–376
- Crompton 1996, pp. 36–37
- Russell 1889, pp. 74–102
- Crompton 1996, pp. 37–39
- Miller's chronology pinpointed the start in 1798. Crompton 1996, p. 23
- Russell 1891, pp. 23–60
- Crompton 1996, p. 23
- Russell 1891, p. 69
- Crompton 1996, p. 25
- Russell 1889, p. 177
- Crompton 1996, pp. 39–41
- Russell 1889, p. 53
- Russell 1891, p. 127,128
- Russell 1889, p. 213
- Russell 1889, p. 218
- Russell 1889, p. 221
- Russell 1889, p. 235
- Russell 1889, pp. 105, 150, 222, 234
- Crompton 1996, p. 47
- "Views From the Watch Tower" (PDF). Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. January 1, 1908. p. 2.
- Franz 2007, p. 492
- Russell 1886, pp. 149–172
- C. T. Russell (July 15, 1906). "Harvest Gatherings and Siftings". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. p. 229.
- Rogerson 1969, pp. 17–23
- Barbour 1877, pp. 67–77
- Penton 1997, p. 20
- Russell 1889, pp. 38, 39
- "How Will Christ Come?". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. August 1879. p. 3.
- C. T. Russell (1877). The Object and Manner of Our Lord's Return. Watch Tower Society.
- "In Re "The Last Trump"". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. July 1, 1879. p. 7.
- "Speak the Pure Language and Live Forever!". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. May 1, 1991. p. 17.
In 1879 ... a small Bible-study group led by Charles Taze Russell was meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. They had become certain that Jesus' second coming...would restore Paradise on earth, with eternal life for obedient humans.
- Russell, Charles (1 March 1906). "Views From the Watch Tower". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. pp. 68–69.
Then came the suggestion that all the larger forms of being were mere evolutions from lower to higher. With this thought the learned of this world have been wrestling for the past fifty years, shaking the foundations of faith in the Bible for millions. For if the Bible be true this theory is false as respects man's origin. Instead of further evolution being our salvation the Bible points us to our fall, to the redemption accomplished for the world by the Son of God, and to the coming deliverance of the groaning creation from sin and its death penalty. Only those who trust the Bible record are safe from the blighting influence of this evolution error.
- C. T. Russell (1886). Studies in the Scriptures. 1. Watch Tower Society. p. 172.
These things are clearly taught in the Scriptures, from beginning to end, and are in direct opposition to the Evolution theory; or, rather, such "babblings of science, falsely so called," are in violent and irreconcilable conflict with the Word of God.
- Barbour 1877, pp. 6, 42
- Barbour 1877, p. 42
- Barbour 1877, p. 165
- Barbour 1877, p. 48,49
- "Dialogue". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. January 1880. p. 2.
- "New Version of the N. T.". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. April 1881. p. 7.
And why did they thus keep the people in ignorance? Because they feared that if people knew this, the only text which gives even a shadow of support to the doctrine of the TRINITY, to be an interpolation to support a papal error, they might renounce the error.
- "Revelation XX:5". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. September 1881. p. 132.
As to the motives and errors which may have led to these unwarranted interpolations of the [Bible] text, we may be able to offer a suggestion, viz., the last mentioned (1 John 5:7,8) was probably intended to give authority and sanction to the doctrine of the "Trinity."
- "A Short Sermon From a Familiar Text". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. October 1881. p. 4.
"He gave his only begotten Son." This phraseology brings us into conflict with an old Babylonian theory, viz.: Trinitarianism. If that doctrine is true, how could there be any Son to give? A begotten Son, too? Impossible. If these three are one, did God send himself? And how could Jesus say: "My Father is greater than I." John 14:28. [emphasis retained from original]
- ""Hear, O Israel! Jehovah Our God Is One—Jehovah"". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. July 1882. p. 3.
- Penton, M. J. (1997). Apocalypse Delayed (2nd ed.). University of Toronto Press. p. 343, note 64.
Barbour and Paton were trinitarians ... although Henry Grew and George Stetson, two others who had influenced him, were non–trinitarians, Russell did not take a stand on the matter, at least publicly, until after his split with Paton."
- "10". Jehovah's Witnesses—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom. Watch Tower Society. 1993. p. 120.
- N. H. Barbour, C. T. Russell (1877). The Three Worlds. p. 57.
I am beginning to think Age-to-come people, and many others among pre-millennialists, do not believe in anything of a spiritual nature, or have the most remote comprehension of things of that order; either that the saint is raised 'a spiritual body,' or in the existence of spiritual beings, or even of the Holy Spirit itself. I know one class of age-to-come believers, the Christadelphians, do not. The Holy Spirit, say they, is but a principle, or element of power, and not an intelligence. It is nothing more nor less than 'electricity;' is taught in one of their books, now before me. What wonder they discern only a fleshly future.
- J. H. Paton (1880). Day Dawn. A. D. Jones. pp. 225, 229.
The work of the Holy Spirit is one of the most important elements in the plan of revelation and salvation. He is always spoken of by the Saviour as a Person, and is called the "Spirit of truth." We will follow the Saviour's example in this, though we do not propose to deal with the philosophy of that fact. He being the Spirit of truth, it is His mission to make known the truth.
- "Will the Spirit Be Withdrawn?". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. July 1880. p. 8.
But the Spirit cannot resign his work until it is complete.
- ""To Communicate Forget Not"". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. August 1880. p. 4.
Then let the Spirit use his sword upon others as he may see fit to humble them, strip them of pride, and bring them to the rock that is higher than they.
- "Isaac and Rebecca". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. November 1880. p. 8.
The Spirit is still our leader and instructor. He is now telling us of Him who comes by way of unseen presence that He is here present.
- "Number Three—Part 1". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. March 1881. p. 5.
The number three is surprisingly prominent, as the subject opens before us ... We would first call attention to the Divine Three—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—often mentioned in the Bible.
- Charles Taze Russell (July 15, 1906). "Harvest Gatherings and Siftings". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. p. 234.
- "Questions and Answers". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. May 1882. p. 8.
- "Questions and Answers". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. September 1882. p. 4.
- "The Three Great Covenants". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. March 1880.
- "The New Covenant vs the Law Covenant". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. September 1887.
- Wills 2006, pp. 63–68
- Russell 1891, pp. 38, 47–59
- Russell 1891, pp. 239–242
- Charles Taze Russell (July 15, 1906). "Harvest Gatherings and Siftings". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. p. 232.
- Studies in the Scriptures. 4. Watch Tower Society. pp. 602–603.
- Russell 1889, p. 78
- "The Outlook—War & Prosperity". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. September 15, 1901. p. 292.
- "Universal Anarchy". Zion's Watch Tower. July 1, 1904. p. 197.
- Studies in the Scriptures. 6. Watch Tower Society. 1904. p. 179.
We have every reason to believe that the definite, fixed number of the elect [chosen anointed ones] is that several times stated in Revelation (7:4; 14:1); namely, 144,000 'redeemed from amongst men.
- "The Great Company". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. October 15, 1904.
- Studies in the Scriptures. 6. Watch Tower Society. 1904. p. 168–170.
- Wills 2006, pp. 57, 58
- "The Rank of the Ancient Worthies/The Great Company". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. October 15, 1904. pp. 312–313.
- "Our Advocate, the World's Mediator". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. January 1, 1907.
- "The Word Mediator Used Differently". Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. January 1909. p. 11.
- Scenario of the Photo-Drama of Creation. International Bible Students Association. 1914. p. 3.
- "Views from the Watch Tower". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. January 1, 1914. p. 3.
- Russell 1889, p. 101
- "Overcome With Wine". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. January 15, 1892. p. 27.
- "What Smiting of the Waters May Mean". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. February 1, 1916. p. 38.
- "The Burning of the Tares". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. September 1, 1916. p. 265.
- "The Two Parts of Sanctification". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. October 1, 1913. pp. 291–295.
- "How Are We Sanctified?". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. April 1, 1916. pp. 98–99.
- "Let Brotherly Love Continue". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. December 15, 1919. p. 375.
- "The Table of the Great King". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. April 1, 1919. As cited by James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, page 181.
- Russell 1889, p. 233
- "Gospel of the Kingdom". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. July 1, 1920. p. 196.
- C. T. Russell (1897). Studies in the Scriptures. 4. Watch Tower Society. p. 568.
- "Gospel of the Kingdom". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. July 1, 1920. pp. 199–200.
- "View from the Tower". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. January 15, 1892. p. 19.
- New Heavens and a New Earth. Watch Tower Society. 1953. p. 225.
- "Discourse By Brother J. F. Rutherford". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. November 1, 1922. pp. 332–337.
- Penton 1997, p. 72
- "The Keys of the Kingdom and the Great Crowd". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. October 1, 1979. p. 14.
- "The Parable of the sheep and goats". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. October 15, 1923. pp. 307–314.
- Wills 2006, p. 113
- "The Parable Of The Sheep and the Goats". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. October 15, 1923. pp. 307–314.
- Wills 2006, pp. 141, 142
- "Work for the Anointed". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. January 1, 1925. pp. 3–10.
- Rutherford 1930, p. 134
- Rutherford 1930, p. 223
- Rutherford 1930, p. 251
- The Finished Mystery. Watch Tower Society. 1917. pp. 256–258.
- "Birth of the Nation". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. March 1, 1925. p. 69.
- The Finished Mystery. Watch Tower Society. 1918. p. 188.
12:7. And there was war In heaven.—Between the two ecclesiastical powers, Pagan Rome and Papal Rome. Michael.—"Who as God," the Pope.—B275; C62. And his angels.—The Bishops.
- "Restoration of True Religion". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. March 1, 1954. p. 150.
- J. F. Rutherford (1926). Deliverance. Watch Tower Society. pp. 268, 269.
- Russell 1891, p. 306
- "The First Resurrection". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. June 1, 1927. p. 163.
- Rutherford 1930, p. 226
- C. T. Russell (1897). Studies in the Scriptures. 4. Watch Tower Society. p. 613.
- ""All the Way My Savior Leads Me"". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. July 15, 1906. p. 215.
- Franz 2002, pp. 78–79
- "Loyalty the Test". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. March 1, 1923. pp. 68 and 71. As cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, Commentary Press, 2007, page 63.
- "Servant—Good and Evil". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. February 1927. pp. 51–7. As cited by Penton, Apocalypse Delayed.
- "Interesting Questions". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. February 15, 1927. p. 62.
- "Seventy Years' Desolation—Part II". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. June 15, 1922. p. 187., as reproduced by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, pages 225, 226.
- "The Altar in Egypt". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. November 15 – December 1, 1928. pp. 339–345, 355–362. As cited by M. James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, University of Toronto Press, page 170.
- "The Prince of Peace". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. December 1, 1904. p. 364.
- "Religion and Philosophy". The Golden Age. Watch Tower Society. December 24, 1919. p. 215.
Christmas is regarded by many people as the date of the birth of the babe Jesus in a manger at Bethlehem. Whether the date is correct or not is of small importance, but the event was and is of the greatest importance.
- 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. Watch Tower Society. p. 146.
- Jehovah's Witnesses—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom. Watch Tower Society. 1993. p. 152.
- Franz 2007, p. 484
- "The Higher Powers". The Watch Tower. June 1929. pp. 163–169, 179–185.
- Penton 1997, p. 65
- Russell 1891, p. 23
- J. F. Rutherford (1927). "12". Creation. Watch Tower Society. p. 314.
- J. F. Rutherford (1928). The Harp of God. Watch Tower Society. p. 233.
- "Locating the Time". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. December 1, 1929. pp. 355–357. As cited by Edmond C. Gruss, The Four Presidents of the Watch Tower Society, page 117 and Tony Wills, A People For His name, page 48.
- J. F. Rutherford (1929). "4". Prophecy. Watch Tower Society. p. 65.
- "Question and Answer". The Golden Age. Watch Tower Society. April 30, 1930. pp. 503–504.
If it is true that Jesus has been present since the year 1914, then it must be admitted that nobody has seen Him with his natural eyes ... thus, for over sixteen years, Christ has been present, unseen by men, but plainly revealed to those who are students of the Bible and looking for the evidences which Jesus said would be a proof of His presence.
- Penton 1997, p. 62
- J. F. Rutherford (1932). Preservation. Watch Tower Society. p. 103–194.
- "Jehovah's House Desired". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. October 1, 1932. p. 294.
- J. F. Rutherford (1933). Preparation. Watch Tower Society. p. 196.
- "The Year of the Jubilee". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. February 15, 1925. p. 57.
We know the work of restitution must come to the Jews first, and through them to the rest of the world. As the Scriptures state that Jerusalem is to be the capital of the world and that the ancient worthies are to be princes in all the earth, we are warranted in expecting that the kingdom work will begin at Jerusalem.
- J. F. Rutherford (1932). Vindication. 2. Watch Tower Society. pp. 258, 269, 295.
- J. F. Rutherford (1932). Vindication. 3. Watch Tower Society. p. 333.
- Jehovah's Witnesses – Proclaimers of God's Kingdom. Watch Tower Society. 1993. p. 165.
- "His Kindness—Part 2". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. August 15, 1934. pp. 243–251. As cited by Tony Wills, A People For His Name, pages 192–193.
- J. F. Rutherford. Vindication. 3. Watch Tower Society. pp. 83–84.
- "Sharing the Good News". The Watch Tower. January 15, 1927. pp. 26, 27.
He who is called to be a minister of God must be a new creature, begotten of God's holy spirit; none other can have a share. In this ministry only those who are new creatures in Jesus Christ are entitled to share.As cited by Tony Wills, A People For His Name (2007), page 194.
- Penton 1997, p. 69
- J. F. Rutherford (1934). Jehovah. Watch Tower Society. p. 320.
- "A Tribute to the Seventh Messenger". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. November 1, 1917. p. 325.
- J. F. Rutherford (1934). Jehovah. Watch Tower Society. p. 191.
- Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose. Watch Tower Society. 1959. p. 140.
- "Questions". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. March 1, 1935. p. 77.
- "Vaccination a Failure". The Golden Age. Watch Tower Society. October 12, 1921. p. 17.
Vaccination never prevented anything and never will, and is the most barbarous practice ... We are in the last days; and the devil is slowly losing his hold, making a strenuous effort meanwhile to do all the damage he can, and to his credit can such evils be placed ... Use your rights as American citizens to forever abolish the devilish practice of vaccinations.
- "Vaccination". The Golden Age. Watch Tower Society. May 1, 1929. p. 502.
Thinking people would rather have smallpox than vaccination, because the latter sows seeds of syphilis, cancers, eczema, erysipelas, scrofula, consumption, even leprosy and many other loathsome affections. Hence the practice of vaccinations is a crime, an outrage, and a delusion.
- ""True Christian Heard in Court"". The Golden Age. Watch Tower Society. April 2, 1935. p. 465.
As vaccination is a direct injection of animal matter in the blood stream, vaccination is a direct violation of the law of Jehovah God.
- J. F. Rutherford (1936). Riches. Watch Tower Society. p. 27.
- Franz 2007, p. 150
- "Rebellious". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. November 1, 1937. p. 336. As cited by Tony Wills, A People For His Name, page 195.
- "Jehovah's Royal House". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. March 1, 1930. p. 71.
Since "Christ' means the anointed of God, it is manifestly true that no one can properly be termed a Christian who is not in Christ and who has not received the anointing.
- ""Fill the Earth"". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. October 15, 1938. p. 307., "Righteous World". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. November 15, 1938. p. 323, 346. As cited by Tony Wills, A People for His Name, pages 186–187.
- Jehovah's Witnesses—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom. Watch Tower Society. 1993. p. 193., citing The Watchtower, November 1, 1939.
- "Everything For the Issue". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. July 1, 1942. pp. 205–206.
- "Questions from Readers". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. February 1, 1955. p. 94.
Jehovah's witnesses from 1877 up to and including the publishing of "The Truth Shall Make You Free" of 1943 considered 536 B.C. as the year for the return of the Jews to Palestine
- "Determining the Year by Fact and Bible". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. May 1, 1952. pp. 271–2.
Concerning the first error, Russell and others considered 1 B.C. to A.D. 1 as being two years whereas in fact this is only one year because, as has been said above, there is no "zero" year in the B.C.-A.D. system for counting years.
- Russell 1889, p. 54
- "True Bible Chronology Stated A. M." Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. May 15, 1896. p. 112.
- N. H. Barbour and C. T. Russell (1877). The Three Worlds. pp. 67, 186. As cited by Edmund Gruss, The Jehovah's Witnesses and Prophetic Speculation, 1972, pages=62–63.
- "11". The Truth Shall Make You Free. Watch Tower Society. 1943. p. 151.
- Gruss, Edmond C. (1972). The Jehovah's Witnesses and Prophetic Speculation. Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co. pp. 68–69. ISBN 0-87552-306-4.
- "Ordination and the American Courts". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. January 15, 1944. p. 30.
The "Society" of God's anointed witnesses and servants throughout the world use as their legal publishing agency and governing body the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, of New York city.
- "A Governing Body as Different from a Legal Corporation". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. December 15, 1971. p. 758.
According to the apostolic example of the first century C.E., these dedicated, baptized Christians known today as Jehovah's witnesses have a governing body, as specifically noted from the year 1944 onward. This governing body has through the years been associated with the publishers of the Watch Tower magazine and the Board of Directors of the legal religious corporation now known as Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.
- Penton 1997, p. 89
- "Unity For the New World". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. May 15, 1944. pp. 147–156.
- Studies in the Scriptures. 6. Watch Tower Society. 1904. pp. 289–290.
The administration of discipline is not the function of the elders only, but of the entire [congregation]. ... If the reproved one fails to clear himself, and continues in the error or sin, then two or three brethren without previous prejudice should be asked to hear the matter and advise the disputants. (Elders they may or may not be, but their eldership would add no force or authority in the case except as their judgment might be the riper and their influence the more potent.) If this committee decide unanimously with either party, the other should acquiesce and the matter be wholly at an end—correction, or restitution, so far as possible, being promptly made. If either of the original disputants still persists in the wrong course, the [accuser, a committee member] or, preferably, all of these together, may then (but not sooner) exercise their privilege of bringing the matter before the [congregation]. Thus it is evident that the Elders were in no sense to be judges of the members—hearing and judgment were left to the [congregation]. The two preliminary steps (above mentioned) having been taken, the facts being certified to the elders, it would be their duty to call a general meeting of the [congregation], as a court—to hear the case in all of its particulars, and in the name and reverence of its Head to render a decision. ... if the transgressor refuse to hear (obey) the decision of the entire [congregation], ... the [congregation] is to withdraw from him its fellowship and any and all signs or manifestations of brotherhood. [emphasis retained from original]
- "Questions From Readers". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. 1 February 1955. pp. 94–95.
- Penton 1997, p. 153
- "Immovable For the Right Worship". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. July 1, 1945. pp. 195–204.
- "The Apostolic Council". Zion's Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. November 15, 1892. p. 351.
- "Settling Doctrinal Differences". The Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. April 15, 1909. pp. 116–117.
These prohibitions had never come to the Gentiles, because they had never been under the Law Covenant; but so deeply rooted were the Jewish ideas on this subject that it was necessary to the peace of the Church that the Gentiles should observe this matter also ... these items thus superadded to the Law of Love should be observed by all spiritual Israelites as representing the Divine will.
- "Vision of the "Time of the End"". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. July 1, 1951. p. 404.
- "Questions From Readers". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. October 1, 1951.
- "Questions From Readers". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. December 15, 1952.
- "Questions From Readers". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. September 15, 1958.
Q: Are we to consider the injection of serums such as diphtheria toxin antitoxin and blood fractions such as gamma globulin into the blood stream, for the purpose of building up resistance to disease by means of antibodies, the same as the drinking of blood or the taking of blood or blood plasma by means of transfusion? A: No, it does not seem necessary that we put the two in the same category, although we have done so in times past.
- "Questions From Readers". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. 1 February 1955. p. 95.
- "Interesting Queries". Watch Tower. Watch Tower Society. July 15, 1898. p. 216.
- "Snares". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. November 15, 1939. p. 339.
Jehovah God commands all to worship Christ Jesus because Christ Jesus is the express image of his Father, Jehovah
- ""Jehovah Hath Become King!"". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. October 15, 1945. p. 313.
Since Jehovah God now reigns as King by means of his capital organization Zion, then whosoever would worship Him must also worship and bow down to Jehovah's Chief One in that capital organization, namely, Christ Jesus.
- "Questions From Readers". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. January 1, 1954. p. 30.
- "Modern Restoration of True Worship (1919–1932)". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. May 15, 1955. p. 296.
Jesus—then to expand on a global scale—so now in the spring of 1919 there was an outpouring of Jehovah's holy spirit organizationally upon the Christian remnant.
- "Your Will Be Done on Earth". Watch Tower Society. 1958. pp. 264–307.
- "Questions From Readers". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. January 15, 1961. p. 63.
- "Questions From Readers". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. August 1, 1961. p. 480.
- "Subjection to "Superior Authorities"—Why?". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. November 15, 1962.
- C. T. Russell (1886). Studies in the Scriptures. 1. Watch Tower Society. p. 266.
They taught the Church to obey the laws, and to respect those in authority because of their office, even if they were not personally worthy of esteem; to pay their appointed taxes, and, except where they conflicted with God's laws (Acts 4: 19; 5: 29), to offer no resistance to any established law. (Rom. 13:1–7)
- "The Congregation in the Time of the End". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. March 1, 1961. p. 146.
- All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial. Watch Tower Society. 1963. p. 286.
- "The Removal of Mankind's Chief Disturber". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. 15 July 1967. pp. 446–447.
- "Christian witnesses of Jehovah,... consider all transplants between humans as cannibalism". Awake!. Watch Tower Society. June 8, 1968. p. 21.
- "Questions From Readers". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. November 15, 1967. pp. 702–704.
- Osamu Muramoto (August 1998). "Bioethics of the refusal of blood by Jehovah's Witnesses, Part 1". Journal of Medical Ethics. 24 (4): 223.
They called vaccination "a crime, an outrage, a delusion' and 'the most barbarous practice', and prohibited organ transplants as 'cannibalism', only quietly to reverse those positions as those practices became standard medical care. Most JWs accepted this reversal without questioning whatever tragedies were caused by the misguided doctrines.
- Penton, M. J. (1997). Apocalypse Delayed. University of Toronto Press. pp. 165–171.
In 1967 the society suddenly decided that what had been permissible no longer was. Organ transplants suddenly became a form of human cannibalism ... Yet after many faithful Jehovah's Witnesses had suffered for their faith by giving up transplants which in some cases could have made their lives more pleasant and comfortable and by saving them from early death in others, the society again reversed itself.
- "Keep Abstaining from ... Blood". Awake!. Watch Tower Society. July 8, 1972. p. 28.
The stand of the Christian witnesses of Jehovah—that such transplants are in effect a form of cannibalism—proved a safeguard. How so? In that it spared them much frustration, grief and anxiety, which were experienced not only by the patients and their relatives but even by many of the assisting medical personnel.
- "Questions From Readers". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. February 1, 1955. p. 95.
However, from our present chronology (which is admitted imperfect) at best the fall of the year 1976 would be the end of 6,000 years of human history for mankind... Obviously, whatever amount of Adam's 930 years was lived before the beginning of that seventh-day rest of Jehovah, that unknown amount would have to be added to the 1976 date.
- C. T. Russell (1889). Studies in the Scriptures. 3. Watch Tower Society. pp. 127–128.; "long enough [for Adam] to realize his lack of a companion", and an additional "two years would not be an improbable estimate" to have passed between Adam's creation and Edenic expulsion (beginning the seventh creative day).
- "Why Are You Looking Forward to 1975?". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. August 15, 1968. p. 499–500.
- "Keeping God's Congregation Clean in the Time of His Judgment". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. June 1, 1973. p. 340.
- "Questions From Readers". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. March 15, 1980. p. 31.
- John Dart (January 30, 1982). "Defectors Feel Witnesses' Wrath". Los Angeles Times. p. 4.
The Sept. 15 Watchtower magazine told members that anyone who has written a letter of resignation should be shunned as if he had been 'disfellowshipped', or expelled ... 'This is a hardening, a tightening, of our policy,' confirmed William Van De Wall, a headquarters spokesman for the Watchtower Society. Denying any great membership losses, Van De Wall said the new directive was to counteract 'disgruntled' ex-members.
- "Seek Peace and Pursue It". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. July 15, 1983. p. 25.
- "Questions From Readers". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. January 1, 1987. p. 30.
A study of the fulfillment of Bible prophecy and of our location in the stream of time strongly indicate that each of the creative days is 7,000 years long. It is understood that Christ's reign of a thousand years will bring to a close God's 7,000-year 'rest day,' the last 'day' of the creative week. Based on this reasoning, the entire creative week would be 49,000 years long.
- Insight. 1. Watch Tower Society. 1988. p. 545.
Since the seventh day has been continuing for thousands of years, it may reasonably be concluded that each of the six creative periods, or days, was at least thousands of years in length ... Ascribing not just 24 hours but a longer period of time, thousands of years, to each of the creative days better harmonizes with the evidence found in the earth itself.
- All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial. Watch Tower Society. 1990. p. 286.
- "9". Man's Salvation Out of World Distress at Hand!. Watch Tower Society. 1975. pp. 167–168.
- "Jehovah's Provision, the "Given Ones"". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. April 15, 1992. pp. 12–17.
- "A Time to Keep Awake". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. November 1, 1995. p. 20.
- "Questions From Readers". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. June 1, 1997. p. 28.
The recent information in The Watchtower about "this generation" did not change our understanding of what occurred in 1914. But it did give us a clearer grasp of Jesus' use of the term "generation," helping us to see that his usage was no basis for calculating-counting from 1914 – how close to the end we are.
- Joel P. Engardio (December 18, 1995). "Apocalypse Later". Newsweek. Watch Tower Society.
- Penton 1997, p. 317
- John Dart (November 4, 1995). "Jehovah's Witnesses Abandon Key Tenet". Los Angeles Times.
- "What Future for the Sheep and the Goats?". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. October 15, 1995. pp. 23–28.
- Penton 1997, p. 316
- "Part 2—Flashes of Light—Great and Small". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. May 15, 1995. p. 25.
- "24". The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived. Watch Tower Society. 1991.
Jesus came to earth particularly to preach about God's Kingdom, which will vindicate his Father's name.
- "16". Pay Attention to Daniel's Prophecy!. Watch Tower Society. 1999. pp. 280–281.
- ""Have No Fear, Little Flock"". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. February 15, 1995. p. 19.
- "Questions From Readers". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. May 1, 2007. pp. 30–31.
Thus, it appears that we cannot set a specific date for when the calling of Christians to the heavenly hope ends.
- "Christ's Presence—What Does It Mean to You?"". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. February 15, 2008. pp. 23–24.
On the other hand, Christ's faithful anointed brothers, the modern-day John class, have recognized this sign as if it were a flash of lightning and have understood its true meaning. As a class, these anointed ones make up the modern-day "generation" of contemporaries that will not pass away "until all these things occur."* This suggests that some who are Christ's anointed brothers will still be alive on earth when the foretold great tribulation begins.
- "Holy Spirit's Role in the Outworking of Jehovah's Purposes". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. 15 April 2010. p. 10.
- "Your Leader Is One, the Christ". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. September 15, 2010. p. 23.
- "Annual Meeting Report". Watch Tower Society. 2012.
- "Who Really Is the Faithful and Discreet Slave?". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. July 15, 2013. pp. 20–25.
- "2014 Annual Meeting of Jehovah's Witnesses". Watch Tower Society. 2014.
- "Seeing the "Sign" With Understanding". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. February 1, 1985. p. 17.
- "Will You "Keep on the Watch"?". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. March 15, 2015. pp. 13–14.
- "You Know Neither the Day Nor the Hour". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. September 15, 2012. p. 25.
- "Will You "Keep on the Watch"?". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. March 15, 2015. pp. 15–16.
- "Questions From Readers". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. June 2016. p. 16.
- "Questions From Readers". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. March 2016. p. 29.
- "18". "The Nations Shall Know That I Am Jehovah"—How?. Watch Tower Society. 1971. p. 346.
- "Questions from Readers". The Watchtower. Watch Tower Society. July 2016. p. 32.
- "13". Pure Worship of Jehovah—Restored at Last!. Watch Tower Society. 2018. p. 141.
- Annual Meeting 2018—Talks and Announcements. Watch Tower Society. 2018. Event occurs at 53:15.
- ""The King of the North" in the Time of the End". The Watchtower (Study Edition). Watch Tower Society. May 2020. pp. 3, 5.
- Franz 2007, pp. 480–488
- Holden 2002, p. 32
- Wills 2006, p. 253
- Transcript, Lord Strachan vs. Douglas Walsh|year=1954|page=119 Archived 2008-10-29 at the Wayback Machine
- Barbour, N. H. (1877). Three Worlds, and the Harvest of This World (PDF). N. H. Barbour, C. T. Russell.
- Crompton, Robert (1996). Counting the Days to Armageddon. Cambridge: James Clarke & Co. ISBN 0-227-67939-3.
- Franz, Raymond (2002). Crisis of Conscience. Commentary Press, Fourth edition. ISBN 0-914675-23-0.
- Franz, Raymond (2007). In Search of Christian Freedom. Commentary Press. ISBN 978-0-914675-17-4.
- Holden, Andrew (2002). Jehovah's Witnesses: Portrait of a Contemporary Religious Movement. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26610-6.
- Penton, M. James (1997). Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah's Witnesses (2nd ed.). University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-7973-3.
- Rogerson, Alan (1969). Millions Now Living Will Never Die: A Study of Jehovah's Witnesses. Constable & Co, London. ISBN 978-0-09-455940-0.
- Russell, C. T. (1886). The Divine Plan of the Ages. Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society.
- Russell, C. T. (1889). The Time Is At Hand. Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society.
- Russell, C. T. (1891). Thy Kingdom Come. Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society.
- Rutherford, J. F. (1930). Light, Book 1. Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society.
- Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society (1993). Jehovah's Witnesses—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom. Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society.
- Wills, Tony (2006). A People For His Name. Lulu Enterprises. ISBN 978-1-4303-0100-4.