Bible Class Curricula - Denominational Doctrines (Part 1) - Lesson #12 - The Jehovahs Witnesses Religion

  1. History of the Jehovah’s Witness Movement
    1. When did it start? December 13, 1884 
    2. Where did it start? Allegheny, Pennsylvania
    3. Where is the organization’s headquarters? It was originally located in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, but was later moved to Brooklyn, New York.
    4. Who founded the movement? Charles Taze Russell
    5. What is the religious authority used by Jehovah’s Witnesses? The Bible. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses view their translation (The New World Translation) as the only correct translation. More will be said about this at a later point.
  2. False Prophecies from Jehovah’s Witness Leaders
    1. False prophecies of Charles Taze Russell (See Deuteronomy 18:22 for information about how to treat a false prophet.)
      1. Russell published a book claiming that Christ’s Second Advent had begun (invisibly) in the fall of 1874 .1
      2. Russell claimed in 1889 that, in the coming 26 years from then, all present governments would be overthrown and dissolved.2
      3. In 1914 , Russell said that Armageddon "may begin next spring."3
      4. In view of this strong Bible evidence concerning the Times of the Gentiles, we consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God, will be accomplished by the end of 1914 .4

    2. False prophecies of Judge Joseph Franklin Rutherford (Deuteronomy 18:22)
      1. In 1920 , Rutherford predicted the resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, "and other faithful ones of old," fully restored to perfect humanity. This was to take place in 1925 .5
      2. The year 1940 is certain to be the most important year yet because Armageddon is very near. It behooves all who love righteousness to put forth every effort to advertise The Theocracy while the privileges are still open.6

  3. History of the New World Translation
    1. Not a single reputable Greek or Hebrew scholar has endorsed the NWT. (Below are many examples of scholars disagreeing, however.)
    2. David Reed, a former member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, said:

      During the 1950s, Watchtower leaders went beyond interpretation by producing their own version of the Bible, with hundreds of verses changed to fit Watchtower doctrine. And, their New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures continues to be rewritten every few years, with additional changes made to bring God’s Word into closer agreement with what the organization teaches.7

    3. Theologian Anthony Hoekema said:

      Their New World Translation is by no means an objective rendering of the sacred text into modern English, but is a biased translation in which many of the peculiar teachings of the Watchtower Society are smuggled into the text of the Bible itself.8

    4. Greek Scholar Julius Mantey said this concerning the NWT:

      I have never read any New Testament so badly translated as The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures. … It is a distortion of the New Testament. The translators used what J.B. Rotherham had translated in 1893 , in modern speech, and changed the readings in scores of passages to state what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe and teach. That is a distortion, not a translation.9

    5. One example of translation tampering in the New World Translation is John 1:1, "In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god." (Compare that to the NKJV and KJV: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.")
    6. What Greek Scholars Think About the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation of John 1:1 ("the Word was a god") – reproduced by The Christian BBS with permission from HELP Jesus, Local District, Box 2212, Station R., Kelowna, B.C., Canada, V1X 4K6
      1. J.R. Mantey (who is quoted on pages 1158–1159 of the Jehovah’s Witnesses own Kingdom Interlinear Translation): "A shocking mistranslation." "Obsolete and incorrect." "It is neither scholarly nor reasonable to translate John 1:1 "The Word was a god.""
      2. Dr. Bruce M. Metzger of Princeton (Professor of New Testament Language and Literature): "A frightful mistranslation." "Erroneous" and "pernicious," "reprehensible." "If the Jehovah’s Witnesses take this translation seriously, they are polytheists."
      3. Dr. Samuel J. Mikolaski of Zurich, Switzerland: "This anarthrous [used without the article] construction does not mean what the indefinite article "a" means in English. It is monstrous to translate the phrase "the Word was a god.""
      4. Dr. Paul L. Kaufman of Portland, Oregon: "The Jehovah’s Witnesses people evidence an abysmal ignorance of the basic tenets of Greek grammar in their mistranslation of John 1:1."
      5. Dr. Charles L. Feinberg of La Mirada, California: "I can assure you that the rendering which the Jehovah’s Witnesses give John 1:1 is not held by any reputable Greek scholar."
      6. Dr. James L. Boyer of Winona Lake, Indiana: "I have never heard of, or read of any Greek scholar who would have agreed to the interpretation of this verse insisted upon by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. … I have never encountered one of them who had any knowledge of the Greek language."
      7. Dr. Walter R. Martin (who does not teach Greek but who has studied the language): "The translation … "a god" instead of "God" is erroneous and unsupported by any good Greek scholarship, ancient or contemporary and is a translation rejected by all recognized scholars of the Greek language many of whom are not even Christians, and cannot fairly be said to be biased in favor of the orthodox contention."
      8. Dr. William Barclay of the University of Glasgow, Scotland: "The deliberate distortion of truth by this sect is seen in their New testament translations. John 1:1 is translated: "the Word was a god," a translation which is grammatically impossible. … It is abundantly clear that a sect which can translate the New Testament like that is intellectually dishonest."
      9. Dr. F.F. Bruce of the University of Manchester, England: "Much is made by Arian amateur grammarians of the omission of the definite article with "God" in the phrase "And the Word was God." Such an omission is common with nouns in a predicative construction … "a god" would be totally indefensible."
      10. [Barclay and Bruce are generally regarded as Great Britain’s leading Greek scholars. Both have New Testament translations in print!]
      11. Dr. Ernest C. Colwell of the University of Chicago: "A definite predicate nominative has the article when it follows the verb; it does not have the article when it precedes the verb … this statement cannot be regarded as strange in the prologue of the gospel which reaches its climax in the confession of Thomas. "My Lord and my God"—John 20:28."
      12. Dr. Phillip B. Harner of Heidelberg College: "Ho logos en theos, with the verb preceding an anarthrous predicate, would probably mean that the logos was "a god" or a divine being of some kind, belonging to the general category of theos, but as a distinct being from ho theos. … In … the form that John actually uses, the word theos is placed at the beginning for emphasis."
      13. Dr. J. Johnson of California State University, Long Beach: "No justification whatsoever for translating theos en ho logos as "the Word was a god." There is no syntactical parallel to Acts 28:6 where there is a statement in indirect discourse; John 1:1 is direct. … I am neither a Christian nor a trinitarian."
      14. Dr. Eugene A. Nida, head of Translations Department, American Bible Society: "With regard to John 1:1, there is of course a complication simply because the New World Translation was apparently done by persons who did not take seriously the syntax of the Greek." [Dr. Nida was responsible for the Good News Bible; the committee for that translation worked directly under him.]
      15. Dr. B.F. Wescott (whose Greek text – not the English part – is used in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation): "The predicate (God) stands emphatically first, as in IV.24. It is necessarily without the article. … No idea of inferiority of nature is suggested by the form of expression, which simply affirms the true deity of the Word … in the third clause "the Word" is declared to be "God" and so included in the unity of the Godhead."
      16. Dr. J.J. Griesbach (whose Greek text – not the English part – is used in the Emphatic Diaglott): "So numerous and clear are the arguments and testimonies of Scriptures in favour of the true Deity of Christ, that I can hardly imagine how, upon the admission of the Divine authority of Scripture, and with regard to fair rules of interpretation, this doctrine can by any man be called in doubt. Especially the passage, John 1:1-3, is so clear and so superior to all exception, that by no daring efforts of either commentators or critics can it be snatched out of the hands of the defenders of the truth."
  4. Doctrines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses
    1. Concerning the Bible As the Final Authority
      1. Charles Russell made this comment concerning his Scripture Studies:

        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.10

      2. The Bible: 2 Timothy 3:16; Revelation 22:18-19; James 1:21; Romans 1:16; Ephesians 3:4.
    2. Concerning Death As Annihilation
      1. "Death means non-existence."11 "When a man dies, he is as dead as a dog."12
      2. The Bible: Mark 12:24-27; John 11:25-26; Luke 16:19ff.
    3. Concerning the 144,000
      1. The Jehovah’s Witnesses group is seen as having exactly 144,000 in Heaven, and no more.13
      2. The Bible: If the number 144,000 should be taken literally, then these people are also literally:
        1. Jews only (Revelation 7:4)
        2. men only (Revelation 14:4)
        3. virgins only (Revelation 14:4)
    4. Concerning Jesus’ Deity
      1. "In truth, when Jesus was on earth He was a perfect man, nothing more and nothing less."14
      2. The Bible: John 1:1; John 20:28; Matthew 1:23; John 1:14; John 5:18.
    5. Concerning the Destruction of the Earth
      1. The Earth will never be destroyed.15
      2. The Bible: Matthew 24:34-36; 2 Peter 3:10-12; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
    6. Concerning Baptism
      1. Baptism has nothing to do with the remission of sins.16
      2. The Bible: Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21.
    7. Concerning Hell
      1. Hell is only the grave.17
      2. The Bible: Mark. 9:43-48; Psalm 9:17.
  5. Converting Jehovah’s Witness Through Their Own Contradictions
    1. The very verse they use to call themselves Jehovah’s Witnesses proves that their doctrine is false (Isaiah 43:10).
    2. The plan of salvation needs to be stressed (Acts 18:8).
    3. The founders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses were false prophets (Deuteronomy 18:22).
    4. Why are they called “Jehovah’s Witnesses” instead of Christians? What was to be the new name of God’s people, according to Isaiah 62:2?
    5. If the name Jehovah is so important, then why is it never used in the original Greek New Testament?
    6. If the Watchtower Society has been documented to teach error in the past, might it not be teaching error now?
    7. Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses take the Lord’s Supper just once a year?
    8. Since Jehovah’s Witnesses currently reject most of the teachings of their original founder (Charles Taze Russell, who was president of the organization from 1879 – 1916 ), and since they also reject Joseph Franklin Rutherford (who succeeded Russell as president from 1916 – 1942 ), how can we be sure that in 25 more years, Jehovah’s Witnesses will not also reject the teachings of the current president, Milton G. Henschel (1992–present)?

Study Questions

  1. Charles Taze Russell, the founder of Jehovah’s Witness doctrine, is a documented false prophet. What does Deuteronomy 18:22 say about his credibility as a spokesman from God?
  2. Judge Rutherford, also known as a founder of Jehovah’s Witness doctrine, made several false prophecies himself. List those prophecies and discuss how they relate to the origin of this denomination.
  3. How many reputable Greek scholars endorse the New World Translation? Is it evident from the sources reviewing the rendition of John 1:1 that the New World Translation is not fair to the text of the Greek New Testament?
  4. According to Anthony Hoekema and David Reed, what was the motive behind the New World Translation of Scripture? When a person has to create their own translation to match their doctrine, should you be very afraid of that group?
  5. According to Charles Russel, a person cannot understand and be enlightened by the Scriptures without using the Jehovah’s Witness study guide, Scripture Studies. What does the Bible say about this erroneous idea?
  6. What do the Scriptures teach about annihilation?
  7. What does the Bible say about the 144,000? According to Revelation 14:4 and 7:4, the 144,000 have three distinct characteristics. What are those characteristics?
  8. Do Jehovah’s Witness believe Jesus is divine? Compare their teaching with Scripture.
  9. Jehovah’s Witness believe that the earth will one day be a utopia. Does the Bible teach the earth is going to last forever and be like the Garden of Eden?
  10. Why do you think Jehovah’s Witnesses try to prove that Hell is not a real place of eternal torment?


  1. Jehovah’s Witnesses (Maurice Barnett Printing Service, Cullman, AL), p. 36.
  2. Gruss, Edmond C., The Jehovah’s Witnesses and Prophetic Speculation (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1972 ), pp. 83–84.
  3. Rutherford, J.F., Millions Now Living Will Never Die (International Bible Students Assoc., Brooklyn, NY, 1920 ), pp. 88–90.
  4. The Time Is at Hand ( 1902 edition), p. 99.
  5. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and Prophetic Speculation, p. 88.
  6. Informant ( April, 1940 ), p. 1.
  7. Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse, pp. 17–18.
  8. Hoekema, Anthony, The Four Major Cults, pp. 238–239.
  9. Mantey, Julius, Depth Exploration in The New Testament (Vantage Press, NY, 1980 ), pp. 136–137.
  10. Watch Tower ( September 15, 1910 ), p. 298.
  11. Rutherford, Reconciliation, p. 296.
  12. Rutherford, Deliverance, p. 324.
  13. Harp of God, p. 191.
  14. Rutherford, Reconciliation, p. 111.
  15. Make Sure…, p. 108.
  16. Ibid., p. 30.
  17. Let God be True, p. 91.
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