Mistakes of Jehovah's Witnesses
by Paul K. Williams
The Christian’s attitude toward all men is one of love, so my desire for Jehovah’s Witnesses is only the best. I pray for them salvation, the forgiveness of sins, the hope of heaven.
On the other hand, the Christian’s attitude toward false doctrine is one of implacable hatred. David wrote, “From Thy precepts I get understanding Therefore I hate every false way." (Psalm 119:104) And Paul wrote, “If any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:9)
Since false doctrine condemns, the only way we can express our love toward the people who call themselves Jehovah’s Witnesses is to combat the false doctrine they hold in an attempt to deliver them unto the truth which saves. May this little paper help in that effort.
The movement which finally produced the people known as Jehovah’s Witnesses was begun by Charles Taze Russell. Born in 1852, he early rejected the Bible doctrine of eternal torment for the wicked and started a career of denunciations of “Organized Religions.” He founded the magazine, “Zion’s Watch Tower” in 1879, which is now known as “The Watch Tower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom.” The result of his revolt against organised religion was the founding of one of the most highly organised sects known.
Russell wrote six books called Scripture Studies and declared that it would be better to leave the Scriptures unread and read his books, rather than to read the Scriptures and neglect his books. In The Watch Tower, September 15, 1910, p. 298 he wrote:
“If the six volumes of Scripture Studies are practically the Bible, topically arranged with Bible proof texts given, we might not improperly name the volumes “The Bible in an Arranged Form.” That is to say, they are not mere comments on the Bible, but they are practically the Bible itself. Furthermore, not only do we find that people cannot see the divine plan in studying the Bible by itself, but we see, also, that if anyone lays the Scripture Studies aside, even after he has used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for ten years—if he then 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 be in the light at the end of two years, because he would have the light of the Scriptures.”
It remains true to this day that those who avidly and uncritically study the JW books will be Jehovah’s Witnesses, but those who lay aside those books and study only the Bible will come out from that error!
Judge Rutherford took over the movement in 1917 when there was a split. It was he who gave the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” to the people in 1931. It was he, also, who wrote in 1920 the book, Millions Now Living Shall Never Die, in which he prophesied that people then living would begin to get younger and that Abraham, Isaac and others would return to the earth in visible form in 1923.
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Incorporated, of Pennsylvania (U.S.A.) is the governing body of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is ruled by a President elected by a Board of Directors. The President holds office for life and has the general supervision and management of the business and affairs of the corporation. And it is a very strictly ruled organisation, even down to the fact that individual JW’s must turn in time sheets showing how many hours each week they spend going from house to house.
Following are some of the false doctrines and a few scriptures to refute them.
I. The Kingdom
JWs teach: that the Kingdom of God was established in heaven in 1914.
The Bible teaches: The Kingdom of God is the church, which was established when Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to the apostles a few days after He ascended back to heaven.
Daniel 2:44—Read the entire chapter to see that God tells of four world empires. First was Babylon, then history tells us of three others—the Medo-Persian Empire, the Grecian Empire, and the Roman Empire. This verse tells us that God will set up His eternal kingdom during the days of the kings of the fourth empire—the Roman kings. This was when Jesus came and set up the kingdom.
Mark 9:1—“And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power." Thus, Jesus prophesied that the kingdom would come within the lifetime of those people to whom He spoke. Note also: the kingdom was to come “with power.”
Acts 1:8—***“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” ***The power came with the Holy Ghost, and the Kingdom came with power. Therefore when Jesus sent the Holy Ghost on the apostles (Acts 2), the Kingdom began.
Colossians 1:13—“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son." Note: Paul used the past tense. The kingdom was already in existence and all Christians were in it. The kingdom is the church.
JWs teach: the wicked will not be punished eternally but will suffer nothing more than what they call “death,” that is, complete annihilation and cessation of existence.
The Bible teaches: the wicked will be conscious after death and will be tormented forever in hell (gehenna).
Matthew 25:41,46—“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." This is the picture of the judgment scene. The same Greek word is used to describe punishment as to describe life, and it means “eternal”. The Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot meet this scripture, so they have retranslated it in their New World version. They mistranslate it to say, “And these will depart into everlasting cutting off." This is typical of them. When they cannot face what the Bible says, they change the Bible to suit their doctrine. But the Greek word kolasin means punishment, not cutting-off.
Revelation 14:9-11—Describing the punishment of those who worship the beast, John says that the smoke of their torment goes up forever and they have no rest day and night. A clearer statement of eternal punishment would be hard to make.
Other passages on the subject are: Matthew 8:11,12; 13:42,50; 22:13; Luke 13:24-28; 2 Peter 2:17; Jude 13; Revelation 20:10.
Warning: There are one Hebrew word and three Greek words translated hell in the King James Version. These do not have the same meaning and are translated differently in other English translations. The only word which refers to eternal punishment is gehenna which is found only in the following passages: Matthew 5:22,29,30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15,33; Mark 9:43,45,47; Luke 12:5; and James 3:6. In most other passages the word hell translates sheol (Old Testament) or hades (New Testament), which literally means “the unseen place.” Those words refer to the place of departed spirits, not to eternal torment. If you do not understand the difference in the meaning of those words, you will get mixed up in your study.
III. The Soul
JWs teach: that man does not have a soul which continues to live after death apart from the body. They say that man IS a soul (which is true) but deny that there is any part of man which lives on apart from the body.
The Bible teaches: that man is a soul who lives in a body here upon the earth but who continues living when this body dies. The easiest way to show this is to use passages which do not use the word soul. This avoids arguing over the definition of the word. Following are four passages.
2 Corinthians 5:8-10—Paul here says that a person can be absent from the body and at home with the Lord. Verse 6 says that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. In this passage, “we” refers to the real person, the body being only the outward tabernacle we are in while on the earth. The real person can be absent from the tabernacle, which is what happens at death.
Philippians 1:21-24—Paul wanted to “depart and to be with Christ; which is far better." JWs say that Paul did not know what he was talking about. They say that it is impossible to “depart” (this means to die, as you can see from reading these verses) and be with Christ. I think Paul knew more than the JWs.
2 Peter 1:13-15—Peter calls his approaching death the putting off of his tabernacle.
Luke 16:19-31—Jesus here tells the story of the rich man and Lazarus, both of whom died and were conscious after death while life was going on for others on the earth. JWs say that this is a parable and give a fantastic interpretation of its meaning. Nothing in the Bible says that it is a parable. If it is a parable, it is not false. A parable was the use of true-to-life events to illustrate spiritual truths. Jesus did not misrepresent the state of the dead.
Judge Rutherford gave the Watch Tower people the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in 1931. It was not known to them before that time. They claim that Isaiah 43:12 authorises their name. It says, “I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord (Jehovah), that I am God." But this verse gives no name. It describes what some people were doing. If a man is a printer, “Printer” is not his name. The JWs say that Isaiah 62:2,4, which prophesies a new name (which the text says is Hephzibah), refers to “Jehovah’s Witness.” But the verse describing people as witnesses was previous to that prophecy. That prophecy had to refer to another name.
The name given to God’s people today is Christian. See Acts 11:26 and 1 Peter 4:16.
V. Blood Transfusions
In 1945 the JWs were given another new doctrine—that God forbids blood transfusions. They did not believe this doctrine before that date. This unfortunate doctrine has led to the death of many sincere Jehovah’s Witnesses and their children who might have been saved if blood transfusions had been used.
The Bible teaches that the Jews in Old Testament times were forbidden to eat the blood or fat of animals. In the New Testament, the prohibition of eating animal blood was given because it was associated with the worship of idols (See Acts 15:29). Blood transfusions are not the eating of blood, and not the eating of animal blood, are designed to give life and do not involve the taking of life. Blood transfusions are not in way connected with idolatry. Therefore, blood transfusions are not forbidden by the Bible.
The JWs have a most complex organisation, with a President of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, a Board of Directors, Company Servants, Branch Servants and many other offices which are not mentioned in the Bible. They teach that the church is made up of only 144 000 people (who only will go to heaven) and that all the rest of their followers can only be subjects of the Kingdom.
The Bible teaches that the church and the kingdom are the same (see point I of this paper). And the church has been given a definite, but very simple, organisation by her Head, Jesus Christ. He placed in the church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11-12). The apostles and prophets made up the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:20), and we build on that foundation by following what they gave in the New Testament. Evangelists are preachers with the job of preaching the word (2 Timothy 4:1-5). Pastors, (shepherds) are also called elders and bishops (Acts 20:17,28). Their job is to oversee and feed the local church (1 Peter 5:1-3) and must have the qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3:1-8 and Titus 1:5-9. Teachers are to teach the word, and deacons are servants working under the direction of the bishops. (For deacons see Philippians 1:1 and 1 Timothy 3:8-13). No other offices are given by Jesus Christ, therefore the complicated organisation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is wholly without Biblical authority.
VII. Date Setting
The JWs are notorious date setters. Charles Russell prophesied that Jesus would return and set up His kingdom in 1914. When nothing happened, he decided that the kingdom was set up in Heaven and that Jesus came in power, not in visible form. The JWs point to the outbreak of World War I in that year as proof (?) of their contentions.
In 1920, Judge Rutherford wrote Millions Now Living Shall Never Die and prophesied that Abraham and Isaac would return in visible form in the mid 1920’s. The JWs would rather not be reminded about this book.
Now (Note: This paper was written in about 1971–PKW) they are predicting the end of all things before or during the American autumn (Sep. 21-Dec. 21) of 1975. They are certain that the accepted order of things, political and economic, will be destroyed by that time and that only those who are JWs will escape death in the great tribulation which will precede that time. They look forward to living forever on the earth in peace after that date. It is this bold claim which is causing so many to work so hard at this time, and many are being converted to their religion because of the so-called imminence of this time of terror.
In setting their dates, the JWs have twisted numerous passages of the Bible. Speaking of the time when He would come again, Jesus said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." (Matthew 25:36) The JWs say they cannot predict the day or the hour, but they can predict the season of the year! This is nonsense. Jesus was saying that there will be no sign of His imminent return. All things will continue as they did in Noah’s time until He comes. The lesson is that we must be ready at all times because He will come without notice.
It is my sincere hope that God will spare this world until after 1975. Perhaps there will be many sincere Jehovah’s Witnesses who will as a result have their eyes opened to the false doctrines of that religion and will come out of it. I pray so. (Note: My prayer was answered and many Jehovah’s Witnesses left that organisation after the failure of this prophecy.—PKW)
The Church of Christ
The Jehovah’s Witness organisation is not the church which Christ built (Matthew 16:18). He is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23) which is His body. He has only one body (Ephesians 4:4), and He is the Saviour of it (Ephesians 5:23). Everyone who is saved is added to it by the Lord (Acts 2:41-47). To be saved, one must believe the gospel (Mark 16:16), repent of his sins and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). When one is baptized (immersed—Romans 6:4), his sins are washed away (Acts 22:16), he is saved (1 Peter 3:21). Then he must continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42), not the doctrines of men (Galatians 1:6-9). The members of the church are called Christians (Acts 11:26; 1 Peter 4:16), and the church is called by Christ’s name (Romans 16:16; Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 1:2). Christians do not join denominations, but continue simply to worship and work directed only by the New Testament. If you would like to know more about that church, please contact me. I hope you will.