Jehovah’s Witnesses


Three key men Russell, Rutherford, Knorr.

The theology they developed originated from Seventh-day Adventism, notably their eschatology.


Charles Russell (1852-1916)

1.     Born in what is now part of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

2.     Parents were Presbyterians

3.     Russell was troubled by their teaching on predestination and eternal punishment.

4.     By the age of 17, he had become an avowed skeptic and discarded the Bible altogether.

5.     Russell wrote:

a.      “Brought up a Presbyterian, indoctrinated from the Catechism, and being naturally of an inquiring mind, I fell a ready prey to the logic of infidelity, as soon as I began to think for myself. But that which at first threatened to be the utter shipwreck of faith in God and the Bible was under God’s providence, overruled for gook, and merely wrecked my confidence in human creeds and systems of Bible misinterpretations.”

6.     At the age of 18 (1870) he went to a small group of people listening to the views of Second Adventism by Jonas Wendell

7.     Russell became engrossed in the Bible and started his own Bible study of six people. This met for the next six years (1870-1875)

8.     Russell disagreed with the Adventist view that Christ was coming again in the flesh. He believed in a spiritual, invisible return.

9.     Russell wrote a pamphlet and published 50,000 copies “The Object and Manner of the Lord’s Return

10.  In 1876 Russell joined with N. H. Barbour who himself had separated from the Adventist concerning the form of Christ’s return.

11.  Russell’s group joined with Barbour’s group and produced a magazine.

12.  In 1877 Barbour and Russell jointly published a 194 page book entitled “Three Worlds or Plan of Redemption

13.  In 1878 Russell separated from Barbour concerning over the atonement of Christ’s death. Russell had began to deny that the death of Christ was the ransom price for Adam and mankind.

14.  Russell started his own periodical called “Zion’s Watch Tower” on July 1, 1879.

15.  By 1880 there were thirty congregations in seven states.

16.  In 1886 Russell issued the first of what was to be a 7-volume series of doctrinal books.

17.  In 1891 Russell made his first trip overseas and in 1900 the first branch office opened in London.

18.  Between 1909-1914 3,000 newspapers received Russell’s sermons.

19.  Questionable:

a.     Many of these sermons were never delivered

b.     A message claimed to have been preached in Honolulu never was preached

c.     Russell advertised “Miracle Wheat” for $1 a pound that was 5x better, and sued a newspaper for mocking his claim. He lost the suit when government testing proved it to be inferior to ordinary wheat.

20.  In 1913 Russell’s wife divorced him on the grounds of “his conceit, egotism, domination, and improper conduct in relation to other women.”

21.  Russell said concerning his doctrinal books, “if (a student) lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness. On the other hand, if he had merely read the “Scripture Studies” with their references and had not read a page of the Bible as such, he would he in the light at the end of two years, because he would have the light of the Scriptures.”

22.  In June of 1912 a pastor wrote a pamphlet rejecting Russell. Russell sued the pastor. In the trial Russell was proved to be a perjurer. When asked by the Attorney whether he knew the Greek alphabet, Russell replied, “Oh, yes.” When he was asked to identify the Greek letters on top of a page of the Greek Testament he was unable to do so, finally admitting that he was not familiar with the Greek language. Also, it was proved that his claim to have been ordained was false.

23.  Russell died on October 31, 1916.


Joseph Rutherford (1869-1942)

1.     Became the societies president in 1917.

2.     Born in 1869 to a Baptist family.

3.     He practiced law and was admitted to the bar at the age of 22. He was also appointed as a judge.

4.     He joined the JW movement in 1906 and became their legal counsel in 1907

5.     On Dec. 30, 1917 a 4-page booklet was distributed entitled, “The Fall of Babylon.” It said the Catholic and Protestant religious organizations would soon pass into oblivion. This aroused such a turmoil that the government intervened. In Canada it was forbidden to possess copies of the Watchtower publications.

6.     In 1918 Rutherford and 7 others were arrested for stirring up anti war feelings and conspiring to cause insubordination and refusal of duty in US military. They were sentenced to 20 years in prison.

7.     After the war ended society members petition for the release of the Watchtower leaders. They were released in 1919.

8.     Rutherford began to write and his books began to replace Russell’s.

9.     Active outreach began to be pushed. IN 1920 members of the congregations who participated in the witnessing work turned in weekly witnessing reports.

10.  The societies emphasis switched from teaching and personal growth to outreach and literature placement.

11.  In Oct. 1922 a monthly service sheet of instructions called The Bulletin was given to all members of the society.

12.  In 1931 the members adopted a resolution that said they would be known as Jehovah’s Witnesses based on the Isaiah 43:10, “Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant who I have chosen. . .”

13.  1940 they began street distribution of the Watchtower and Consolation magazines.

14.  In 1934 they began playing phonograph records at the doors of homes. This practice was stopped in 1944 and replaced by personal presentations.

15.  When WWII came their policy of neutrality resulted in many JW’s being imprisoned for refusing to serve the armed forces.

16.  Rutherford died in 1942.







Nathan Knorr (1905- )

  1. Became president of the JW’s in 1942.
  2. At 16 he left the reformed church and joined the JW.s.
  3. He became the head of the printing operations
  4. He developed the training program.
  5. He organized the “theocratic ministry schools” in every JW congregation.
  6. He replaced the doctrinal books with a new set. This time they had several contributing authors.
  7. In 1946 the JW doctrinal summary Let God Be True was released.
  8. In 1953 a compilation of Scripture passages on 70 topics called Make Sure of All Things was released. It is used as a handy scripture reference book during home visits. In 1958 it was published in a new format entitled From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained.
  9. In 1950 the JW’s produced their own translation of the Bible called The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures. The translators names are anonymous. This translation is not objective but incorporates many features which support JW doctrine.
  10. In 1942 the JW’s were in 54 countries. By 1961 they were in 185 countries.


Source of Authority

  1. To find their statement of belief you must sift through their periodicals.
  2. Books published since 1942 are considered their authoritative doctrinal guide and replaces the writings of Russell and Rutherford.
  3. They say, “The Holly Scriptures of the Bible are the standard by which to judge all religions.”
  4. They believe God to be the author of the Bible.
  5. But, when you examine their theology they actually impose their own theological system upon the scripture and force it to comply with their beliefs.
  6. Example: They do not believe in the Holy Spirit as a divine member of the trinity. Words like God, Lord Jehovah, Rock, are capitalized. The word “spirit” is never capitalized.

“Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit.” Mat.28:19, New World Tran.

            Yet in Acts 5:3-4 (NWT) says:

Ananias, why has Satan emboldened you to play false to the holy spirit. . .You have

played false, not to men, but to God.”

  1. Their New World Translation is a biased translation in which many teachings of the Watchtower Society are smuggled into the text of the Bible itself.
  2. Their method of interpretation is to find a verse that fits what they believe and blatantly ignore verses that teach otherwise.
  3. The JW’s insist that their followers may only understand the Scriptures as these are interpreted by the leaders of the Watchtower Society. Of course, the leaders claim to only be influenced by the Bible.


Methods of Interpretation

  1. Characterized by absurd literalism.
    1. Prohibit blood transfusion based on Lev. 17:14, “Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh. . .” A blood transfusion is “feeding upon blood.” They will allow death before they will allow a blood transfusion.
    2. Forbid Christmas trees based on Jer. 10:3,4, “The customs of the peoples are vanity; for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman with the axe, They deck it with silver and with gold. . .” Jer. 10:2 says “Learn not the way of the nations.” So, this must be a reference to Christmas trees.
  2. Literalism is not consistent. They spiritualize things they can not deal with.
    1. They spiritualize the sword of Romans 13:4
    2. They spiritualize the twelve tribes of Israel in Rev. 7:4-8
    3. They spiritualize Christ’s physical resurrection
    4. They spiritualize Israel being brought back as a nation
    5. They spiritualize prophecies of Christ physical and visible return.
  1. Characterized by absurd typology.
    1. Noah’s story

                                                     i.     Noah Typified Jesus, Noah’s wife pictured the “bride of Christ”

                                                      ii.     The “bride of Christ” is the anointed 144,000 members of the Christian congregation.

                                                        iii.     Noah’s three sons and three daughters-in-law picture “the great crowd” or the JW’s who are not in anointed 144,000.

                                                       iv.     The ark pictured the new covenant

                                                      v.     The flood was the battle of Armageddon.

    1. Matthew 20:1-16, Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard

                                                     i.     12 hours stood for 12 years which elapsed from 1919 (the year Rutherford and the other seven were released from prison.)

                                                      ii.     The shilling was the new name each member of the organization received that year (1919).

  1. The “knight-jump exegesis”
    1. This is a term for the way the JW’s jump from one potion of scripture to another without any regard for context in an attempt to prove their pre-established doctrine.
    2. Since the Bible does not teach JW doctrine, they can not use it in context. They must break rules of hermeneutics in order to prove their point.
    3. To them the Bible is a box of building blocks that can be assembled anyway the builder wants to assemble them.
    4. Example- 1914 was the year when Christ’s Kingdom was established.

                                                     i.     Their theology: “Christ the Messiah did not set up “God’s kingdom at his first advent or at once after ascending to heaven.” (The Truth Shall Make You Free, p. 241)

                                                      ii.     Luke 21:24, “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.” (NWT)

                                                        iii.     607 BC Israel goes to Babylon (Paradise Lost)

                                                       iv.     Dan.7:14 says Christ will receive a kingdom never to be destroyed.

                                                      v.     Christ then receives this kingdom at the end of the times of the nations.

                                                       vi.     Dan. 4:25-26 tells us when. Nebuchadnezzar is to be reduced to a beast in “seven times.”

                                                         vii.     These seven times symbolize the length of the “time of the nations.”

                                                          viii.     How long is “seven times” then? Rev. 12:6 and 12:14 tells us “a time, times and half a time” equal 1260 days.

                                                        ix.     “A time, times and half a time” are 3 1/2 years which are 1260 days. Seven years would be twice that, or 2,520 days.

                                                      x.     But, the “seven times” are not a literal 2,520 days but instead are years. Why? Because in Ezekiel 4:6 the KJ translation says, “I have appointed thee every day for a year.”

                                                        xi.     So, 2,520 days are 2,520 years which means the “time of the nations” will be 2,520 years.

                                                         xii.     The “time of the nations” began in 607 and will end 2,520 years later. When you do the math you get the year. . . .607 BC plus 2, 520 years equals 1914!           (do not count 607 as a full year since that is when it began)

  1. “Rear-view” method of interpreting prophecy.
    1. A primitive Bible prophecy trick: First, take current or past events; Second, find some Biblical texts which can somehow be made to fit these events; Third, triumphantly point to the events as “fulfilled prophecies.”
    2. Example: Revelation 11:11-13, The two witnesses who were revived after being killed occurred in 1919 when Rutherford and other leaders of the movement were released from prison.
    3. Example: Revelation 17:3-6, shows a woman sitting on a scarlet beast. The woman is the heathen and Christian religions riding the beast of the League of Nations (now the United Nations)




Doctrine of God

  1. Jehovah is the only true God.
  2. Before creation Jehovah was alone in universal space.
  3. They say Yahweh is the correct pronunciation they prefer Jehovah.
  4. They introduce this name 237 more times into their translation.
  5. They deny the deity of Jesus. He may be called a god, but never Jehovah God.
  6. Jesus is mighty but not almighty.
  7. He was created by Jehovah as the first son. Since Jesus had a beginning he is not God and can not be part of the trinity.
  8. The holy spirit for JW’s is “the invisible active force of Almighty God which moves his servants to do his will.” “It (HS) is the impersonal, invisible active force that complish his will even at great distances, over light years of space.”
  9. JW’s are Unitarians. They believe in God in only one person.
  10. Jesus is a person but not divine. The holy spirit is neither a person nor divine.
  11. JW’s recognize the love of God but emphasize his power and justice.

The Works of God

  1. Predestination.
    1. This was rejected by Russell in the Reformed teaching of Protestant Christianity.
    2. Only Jesus Christ was predestined. Christ was used to form the heavens and earth and then to form the new creation.
    3. Those that were to become new creations and members of the new nation were not predestined individuals but their total number and the nations they come from was predestined.
    4. Rev 7:4-8 and 14:1,3 gives us the predestined number of those saved: 144,000
    5. Notice: the Bible gives a number and says they are from the 12 tribes of Israel. The JW’s take the number literally, but the tribes as figurative. Yet, it is the same verse, the same context. Half is literal, half is figurative.
    6. Others outside this predestined number may obtain everlasting life a paradise earth. This is “the great crowd that no one could number” from Revl7:9,10.
    7. How can you be in this great crowd? By hearing the voice of the Right Shepherd and coming into the New World Society and subjecting themselves to the Society’s requirements for other sheep.


Man’s State of Sin

  1. In Eden one of God’s good angels who had been placed in Eden as the overseer of humankind, rebelled against God.
  2. The penalty for this first sin was physical death – not eternal torment in hell.
  3. Quote from “The Truth Shall Make You Free, “There is not a scrap of evidence that Adam repented. He was a willful rebel and was beyond repentance, and his sentence is beyond recall. . .Adam did and went nowhere but to the dust form which he had been taken.”
  4. They declare that only the 144,000 have been and will be born again or begotten of God.
  5. No one from the Old Testament can be born again and so they are not in the 144,000 but are of the “great crowd.”
  6. The majority of JW’s are “the great crowd” that can not be born again but they do believe and can be faithful to Jehovah without regeneration.
  7. So, they teach that Adam fell and all are sinful, the 144,000 are born again, the rest are simply obedient which results in eternal life on paradise earth. So, the sin nature is conquered by man?


The Person of Christ

  1. During his prehuman state, from the time of his creation until he was born, Christ was the Logos or Word. He was not equal with God, but was his spokesperson.
  2. During his human state he laid aside his glory, but it was not the incarnation of God since Jesus is not God. It was the “personality,” “life,” or the “life pattern” of the first created being of God. Christ is not God in the flesh.
  3. Jehovah God raised Christ from the dead, “not as a human Son, but as a mighty immortal spirit Son. . . “ (Let God Be True, p.40) Christ was not raised as a man physically, but as a spirit. The logic behind this is “in order to atone for the sin of Adam, Christ had to sacrifice his human body. This means that he had to renounce it permanently and could not get it back again. Therefore God raised him as a spirit Son. (Religion for Mankind, p259) God disposed of the body of Christ like he did Moses’ body but no one knows how. (The Truth Shall Make You Free, p. 264)


The Work of Christ

  1. Adam’s sin caused all men to inherit physical death and inborn sin.
  2. Jesus Christ made atonement for us and thus removed for believers the results of Adam’s sin.
  3. The application of the word atonement means that “the human life that Jesus Christ laid down in sacrifice must be exactly equal to that life which h Adam forfeited for all his offspring; it must be a perfect human life, no more, no less.” (You May Survive Armageddon, p. 39)
  4. Adam lost perfect human life with its rights and earthly prospects, Jesus laid down his perfect earthly life to pay for Adam’s loss. Man now can be restored to Eden.
  5. God’s justice for sin is satisfied not in Christ death, but in man’s death. The sin of Adam produced death (which results in annihilation, dust to dust) in man. When men die they satisfy God’s justice. Christ who gave his perfect human life, and never got it back (since he was raised spiritually) allows men to have the perfect human condition given to Adam.




Doctrine of Salvation

  1. Who will benefit from the ransom of Christ?
  2. “By willingly laying down his human life Christ could use its right to buy back the worthy ones of Adam’s children.” (Paradise Lost, p. 143)
  3. “However, that life will not be the same for all. The Bible plainly shows that some of these, that is, 144,000, will share in heavenly glory with Christ Jesus, while the others will enjoy the blessings of life down here on earth.” (Let God Be True, p. 298)
  4. How are the 144,000 saved?
    1. First believe and repent
    2. They “must undergo the sacrifice of all human life right and hopes, even as Jesus did.” (LGBT)
    3. But, to be in position to do this they must be justified by God to be worthy of sacrificing their life. This takes place at baptism. Then they can do step “b.”
    4. When they do, God acknowledges them as spiritual sons like Jesus.
    5. They then become members of Christ’s body and are anointed.
    6. God consecrates them for a holy work.
    7. This anointing means that they are made kings and priests of God and together with Christ they will rule over the rest of mankind.
    8. To achieve this they must preach the good news of Christ’s Kingdom. If they maintain their integrity until death, they will receive immortality.
    9. But, ultimately the selection of the 144,000 depends on God’s sovereign act. It is based on worthiness and then God’s selection.
  5. How are the Other Sheep saved, the “great crowd?”
    1. They need faith in Jehovah and in Jesus Christ
    2. They must dedicate themselves to do God’s will
    3. They must carry out their dedication
    4. They must be baptized by immersion
    5. But, they do not need to sacrifice the prospect of perfect human life in the coming paradise.
    6. So, God does not need to justify them like he does the 144,000
    7. And, then, God does not need to regenerate them, in fact, they can not be born again.
    8. Neither does God need to anoint them to be priest and kings.
    9. In all this the majority of JW’s are according to their own doctrine not born again, not justified, not renewed, not anointed, not members of the universal priesthood, not members of Christ body, with out the holy spirit. But, yet they will achieve a place in an earthly paradise because they repent and change their behavior.