The Watchtower Society claims that it is Jehovah’s sole channel of communication, His ‘faithful and discrete slave’ as ‘prophesied’ in the parable from Matthew 24 :45. They claim He chose them in 1919 due to the ‘proper food’ they were offering ’at the proper time’ (NWT)1.
Of course there are many ways to point out the fallacy of this claim, but let’s look at what the Watchtower Society was in fact teaching at that time, this supposed ‘proper food’. If you should bring up these points to a JW they will simply claim that Jehovah has given them ‘new light’ since then (Proverbs 4:18) and that the society has been cleansed and progressed. But what they fail to understand or recognise is that the Watchtower Society claims it was appointed because of what it was teaching in 19192, not what it would be teaching in future years. So their claim really stands or falls on what was happening in 1919
There are, in fact, very few doctrines that were being taught in 1919 that are still taught today by the Watchtower Society, and those that are can be found in other sects/cults such as the Seventh day Adventists from whose early adherents Charles Taze Russell (CTR) (the founder of the JWs) took his lead.
Last Days Began in 1799
According to The Finished Mystery in 19163 and on up to 1927 when the book Creation4 was published, the beginning of ‘the time of the end’ was ‘definitely marked’ as 1799. This was calculated from Daniel’s vision recorded in Daniel 12 v 5-7. Three and a half times being calculated as 3 ½ 360 day years, being 1260 days and using the ‘rule’ of ‘a day for a year’ in Ezekiel 4:6 this means 1260 years.
They use the date of 539AD as the date for the setting up of the ‘abomination of desolation’, though neither books referenced above clarify why this date.There are scant details on the date of 539AD, but it is believed that CTR took this as the official start of the Catholic Church; what he took to be the ‘abomination of desolation’. Hence 539 + 1260 = 1799 AD as the beginning of the ‘Time of the end’. It is left up to the reader to decide for themselves the validity of these calculations.
More recently the Watchtower Society has claimed that the ‘End Times’ or ‘The Last Days’ commenced in 1914 when Jesus returned, not in 1799. This is stated on their website jw.org under “What Is the Sign of ‘the Last Days,’ or ‘End Times’”, where they state5;
“World conditions as well as Bible chronology indicate that the last days began in 1914.”
This view is repeated in many publications including the Jan 1973 Awake magazine where it deceptively states 6;
“Jehovah’s witnesses pointed to the year 1914, decades in advance, as marking the start of “the conclusion of the system of things”.
At that time CTR was declaring that 1914 was actually the date for the end of the Time of Trouble, and specifically not its beginning.
“But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble” 7 (emphasis in the original)
Jesus Kingdom Presence Commenced in 1874
The Watchtower Society translates the Greek word parousia (παρουσια), traditionally understood to mean ‘coming’, simply as ‘presence’ and Jesus’ second ‘presence’ would initially be invisible except to those with an eye to see. CTR calculated that this presence would start in 1874. This date is once again calculated from Daniel’s visions in Daniel 12:12 where 1335 days are converted to 1335 years (the ‘rule’ in Ezekiel 4:6) and added to the date of 539AD to come up with 1874AD8,9.
“Applying the same rule, of a day for a year, 1335 days after 539 A.D. brings us to 1874 A.D., at which time. According to Biblical chronology, the Lord’s second presence was due”
This teaching actually continued until the 1930s when cracks began to appear in their convictions, but the date was not formally revoked until 194310. Nowadays, as any student of the WTS can hardly fail to be aware, the year of 1914 is taught as the date for Christ’s second presence and His installation as God’s heavenly king, and taught with great fervour. There are hundreds of references which could be used to show this date as being today’s teaching, but here are just two (note too the deception of the ‘consistent presentation’ of evidence!)
“The Watchtower has consistently presented evidence to honest hearted students of Bible prophecy that Jesus’ presence in heavenly Kingdom power began in 1914.”11
“The period ended in October 1914. At that time, “the appointed times of the nations” ended, and Jesus Christ was installed as God’s heavenly King”12
Jesus Began Ruling in 1878
Despite Jesus’ presence starting in 1874 CTR decided that He didn’t actually start ruling over His kingdom until 3 ½ years later in 187813.
“The year A.D. 1878, being the parallel of his assuming power and authority in the type, clearly marks the time for the actual assuming of power as King of kings, by our present, spiritual, invisible Lord…” (Emphasis in the original).
Nowadays, of course, the date for Christ’s assumption as ruler over His kingdom is taken as 191412.
The End Would Come in 1925
In 1918, after he took control of the Bible Students in 1916, ‘Judge’ Rutherford started preaching that the end of the world would come in 1925 and that (famously) ‘Millions Now Living Will Never Die’. This message was later released as a booklet of that name in 192014 and in numerous subsequent publications. Clearly this prophecy failed and is no longer taught by the WTS15.
Many ‘Princes’ Were to be Resurrected Before 1925
Whilst declaring that 1925 was to see the end of the world Rutherford also declared that the ‘princes’ of old (named in Hebrews 11) would be resurrected before that date. In his book ‘Millions Now Living Will Never Die’ he states;
“…we may confidently expect 1925 to witness the return of those faithful men of Israel from the condition of death, being fully resurrected and fully restored to perfect humanity and made the visible, legal representatives of the new order of things on earth” 16
Despite the failure of this prophecy in 1929 Rutherford actually had a property built called Beth Sarim (House of the Princes)17 in San Diego, California, supposedly for these ‘princes’ to inhabit once they returned. Of course such resurrections never occurred and the property was later quietly sold and the Watchtower Society later stated that the property was built simply for Judge Rutherford due to his health18.
Jesus Should be Worshipped
While Jesus was never taught by the Watchtower Society as being part of the trinity in 1918/19 the WTS did teach that He should be worshipped19 right up until 1954 when it finally became disallowed20. The Articles of Incorporation of the Watchtower and Bible Tract Society actually had the following statement included in a 1945 amendment21;
“The purposes of this Society are…public worship of Almighty God and Christ Jesus…”
In some later literature where this is quoted, before its official removal, deceptive measures were used to hide this embarrassing fact. In the 15 Dec 1971 WT where the charter is quoted the offending paragraph is modified with the addition of the word through in brackets and the removal of the word and to give the following;
“The purposes of this Society are…public worship of Almighty God [through] Christ Jesus…”22
The words ‘and Christ Jesus’ are removed and replaced with ellipsis (…).
Today worship of Christ is expressly forbidden, as is praying to Christ23
Christmas Should be Celebrated
Christmas was celebrated at Bethel, the Watchtower Society headquarters, during Russell’s time. The incorrectness of the date was acknowledged but the 1 Dec 1904 WT informs us that;
‘…it is not necessary for us to quibble particularly about the date.”24
In 1914 members were exhorted to purchase recordings of dramas as ‘a Christmas gift’25. Today, Christmas is banned as a pagan holiday causing much distress for JW children the world over26!
Jesus Died on a Cross, Not a Stake and the Cross Could be Used as a Christian Symbol
All references to a cross in the NWT have been replaced with the term ‘torture stake’, for the cross is portrayed as a pagan symbol27. However, right up until the 1 October 1931 WT28 edition the cross was given pride of place on the front of the magazine, but the 15 October edition had it removed, replaced with the ubiquitous watchtower image. Rutherford had renamed the Bible Students as Jehovah’s Witnesses (from Isaiah 43:12) in that July and subsequently focus was taken away from Christ and concentrated on Jehovah almost solely.
Pyramidology was Promoted by the WT and Used to Help Determine the 1914 Date.
The length of various passages within the Great Pyramid of Giza were used to support various WTS prophetic dates29 and even up to 192530 the pyramid was purported to have been designed by Jehovah and was named as ‘the Bible in Stone’. When the dates Russell predicted changed the lengths previously measured in the pyramid magically changed too31. However, from 1929 onwards the pyramid at Giza (Gizeh) suddenly became built at the ‘dictation of Satan’ and was called ‘Satan’s bible’32, as is the condition today.
The Faithful and Discrete Slave (FDS) was Charles Taze Russell (CTR).
Despite the fact that the Watchtower Society now claims that Jesus did not finally choose His ‘slave’ until 1918/191933 at the time, and until 1927, CTR was declared as being the ‘slave’34, 35. CTR died in 1916 but no clear statement as to who was now the ‘slave’ on earth appeared until 1927 when they went back to CTR’s original idea that it consisted of all the anointed (144,000) on earth at any point36. There have been a number of ‘adjustments’ to who the slave is and it now resides with only the members of the Governing Body in New York, but only when they meet as a group37
As can be seen, if the Faithful and Discreet Slave was indeed dispensing good spiritual food in due season in 1919 then it is not doing so today. If it was not doing so then why did Jesus choose them? The vast majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses will not know of these teachings, or even that this was when the WTS was chosen, delving in to such history is not encouraged in the Watchtower Society for obvious reasons.
- WT Simplified edition Aug 14 2014 page 27
- WT 15 Jan 2008 page 24 Counted to be worthy to be Guided to Fountains of Waters of Life
- The Finished Mystery Rev 2 (1916) page 60
- Creation (1927) page 294
- jw.org under What Is the Sign of “the Last Days,” or “End Times”
- 22 Jan 1973 Awake magazine, page 8
- WT 1894 July 15 edition pages 226-231 (reprints);
- The Finished Mystery pages 60 and 68
- Creation page 298.
- The Truth Shall Make You Free page 239 1943
- WT 15 Jan 1993 page 5
- What does the Bible Really Teach, Appendix (see also jw.org 1914 – A Significant Year in Bible Prophecy);
- The Time is at Hand (1911) page 239;
- Millions Now Living Will Never Die (1920)
- Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, (1993) page 425.
- Millions Now Living Will Never Die (1920) Pages 89-90
- Salvation (1939) p.311
- Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom (1993) p.76
- WT 1 Jan 1906 pages14-15 (reprints page 3703)
- WT 1 Jan 1954 page 31
- State of Pennsylvania County of Allegheny Charter of Articles of Amendment to the Articles of Incorporation of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society dated 27 Feb 1945
- WT 15 Dec 1971 page 760
- Awake 8 Apr 2000 page 27
- WT 1 Dec 1904 page 363-365 (reprints page 3468)
- WT 15 Nov 1914 page 338-342 (reprints page 5575)
- WT Issue 6 2017 Public Edition page 15 (see also jw.org “Is Christmas for Christians?”
- Jw.org article “Did Jesus Die on a Cross?”
- WT 1 October 1931 front cover
- Studies in the Scriptures – The Divine Plan of the Ages 1913 Edition
- The Way to Paradise (1925) p158,
- Cf Thy Kingdom Come p.342 1891 Edition with Thy Kingdom Come p.342
- WT Nov 15 1928 pages 339-344
- WT 15 Jan 2008 page 24
- WT 1 Dec 1916 page 356-386 (reprints page 5998)
- WT 15 Feb 1917 page 63-68 (reprints page 6049)
- WT 15 Feb 1927 page 53 paragraph 22
- WT 15 July 2013 page 22