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The Jehovah’s Witness view of being “Born Again” & the doctrine of the “144,000” by Jason Wright

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The Jehovah’s Witness view of being “Born Again” & the doctrine of the“144,000”

By Jason Wright

In this essay we will examine the Watchtowers interpretation and teachings on being “born again” and the doctrine of the “144,000”. If you have ever discussed either of these subjects with a JW you will know how debates can quickly become a frustrating game of Bible Ping-Pong. What I believe is a better approach is to understand the historical development of these doctrines from embryonic form to solidified doctrine.

Hence I will present not just what the current WT doctrine is on these subjects but how and why these doctrines were developed. Hence we must engage in a Historical survey. Only by unraveling the paper trail of doctrinal development can we truly equip ourselves to help modern Watchtower adherents.

To begin with let us remind ourselves of the pericope under discussion. Firstly the text which refer to being “born again”:

John 3:3-7  “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”

1Pe 1:3-5  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. “

1Pe 1:23  “…since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God”

And secondly the text which refer to the 144,000:

Rev 7:4-8  “And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: 12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed, 12,000 from the tribe of Reuben, 12,000 from the tribe of Gad, 12,000 from the tribe of Asher, 12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali, 12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh,12,000 from the tribe of Simeon, 12,000 from the tribe of Levi, 12,000 from the tribe of Issachar, 12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun, 12,000 from the tribe of Joseph, 12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.”

Rev 14:1-3  “Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.”

THE 144,000.

We will begin our Historical survey by examining the doctrine of the 144,000. The first mention[1] of the 144,000 is found in the June 1880 edition of “Zion’s Watchtower & Herald of Christ’s Presence” Under the heading “Casting away and receiving” which is a brief discussion of Romans 11:15 by B.W.K.[2] We read:

“Bible students of the past, as well as those of the present day, have noticed that the dispersion, and ultimate restoration of the Jewish nation–literal Israel–is the subject of considerable portions of both old and new testament prophecies… various attempts have been made, by those who discard the millennial reign of the kingdom of God,[3] to show that these prophecies would never have a literal, but a mystical fulfillment. Some have taken the position that they were conditional, and that the conditions have not been met; and others affirming that they were all fulfilled at the restoration from the Babylonian captivity.” (Page 4)

Having explained his position the writer concludes:

“When such a vast amount of prophecy becomes a fact, it will prove the scriptures true; and when they are proved true by fulfillment, it can but be a terrible blow to skepticism and infidelity. Jesus said: I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he- -John 13:19… that the return of the Jews, and the time of trouble are becoming apparent facts; and it is believed that the two facts will be the means, in the next 35 years, of the conversion of the 144,000 Jews, and the great multitude of all nations, who will come up out of or after the great tribulation, with their robes washed white in the blood of the Lamb–Rev. 7.” (page 5).

Please note that a literal interpretation of Revelation chapter 7 was preferred over the mystical interpretation, consequently the expectation was of 144,000 literal Jews who would become believers and go through the Great tribulation on earth. Like so many predictions the restoration of Israel within 35 year failed! [4]

Over subsequent years the position changed wherein the literal interpretation was discarded for a spiritualization of the 144,000. The April 1st 1899 issue of “Tabernacle Shadows of the better sacrifice” under the heading “Blessing God and Cursing Men” reads:

“the “twelve tribes” of Israel had promises made to them which apply not merely to themselves, but also and specially to Spiritual Israel, whom they typified; while the original election or predestination of God, respecting the Abrahamic seed, that it should be 144,000, or 12,000 from each tribe, still stands; and consequently that each one accepted from amongst the Gentiles, and engrafted into this root of Abrahamic promise, is counted as taking the place of one of these broken-off branches of the various tribes. By the time the Gospel age shall have finished its work, a Spiritual Israel will have been found--“a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people,” (Page 67).

Under the heading the “Great Company” Russell further clarified the WT position:

“At the first advent spiritual Israel was started with those of each tribe who were Israelites indeed in whom there was no guile. There were not enough of these to fill the elect number, 144,000, and hence the Gospel call was extended to the Gentiles to bring in from the Gentiles a sufficient number to complete 12,000 to each tribe.”[5]

Incredibly Russell takes His literal interpretation relating to the sealing of 144,000 Jews, then spiritualises the number by claiming God could not locate enough faithful Jews and thus the shortfall was to be made up by Gentiles. This gathering of the “remnant” is a predominate feature of early WT theology. Russell’s adherents viewed him as the Laodicean messenger “calling” the remnant Church out from Christendom.

Herein we trace the WT theological development of the “144,000” starting from early literal formulations in 1880 to the codification of the doctrine which persists to the present. In summary the WT teaches:

1)   The 144,000 are a literal number of elite Christians.

2)   The 144,000 are made up of Jew & Gentile.

3)   The 144,000 are chosen from earth to form a heavenly “Government” to rule over earth’s inhabitants[6] in the “Kingdom of God”.

4)   The 144,000 are synonymous with the “little flock” (Luke 12:32).

5)   Only the 144,000 are spirit anointed or “born again”

In Russell’s soteriology only 144,000 are predestined to salvation. We may well ask is this salvation secure? Russell explains:

“He [God] clearly intimates that unfaithfulness will cause that the crown set apart for the faithful [144,000] will, if he prove unfaithful, be given to another.Rev. 3:5,11.”[7]

“The faithful class is pictured to us in Revelation 7:3,4 and 14:1-5. These are the 144,000 who have the Father’s name in their foreheads. They sing the new song, which none can sing but these 144,000. Oh, we long to be among them! We cannot afford to be anywhere else. The outcome is all in our own hands whether we succeed or fail, after God has given us His Holy Spirit. It will be our own fault if we miss the Kingdom.”[8]

Thus each member of the 1444,000 must prove themselves worthy by works. How then could such ones be eternally predestined and eternally saved? They cannot and are not. This notion plays into the hands of the WT leadership in that any of the 144,000 who leave the organization, just like unfaithful Jews of the past, need replacing. Hence even today young people are still partaking of the emblems claiming they are replacements for a previously unfaithful 144,000 member!

This works oriented salvation promoted by the Watchtower emphatically denies the biblical doctrine of salvation by faith alone. Paul actually declared:

For by grace you have[9] been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. (ESV).

The natural consequence of creating an elite class of 144,000 heavenly Christians is to separate mankind into two classes, heavenly class and earthly class. In turn this limited view of salvation paints “nominal Christians[10] outside of the Watchtower organization as false:

“Christendom” today–the vast, vast majority of professed followers of Christ are strangers to the truth, but thoroughly familiar with the fictions of human invention –“traditions of the elders,” which “make void the Word of God.” It is in full accord with this that the angel declares to the Revelator that no man can learn to sing this song except the elect–the 144,000, the “little flock.” (Rev. 14:3.)”[11]

Russell like so many false teachers suggests that he alone has the “truth” and all other views are “fictions of human invention”.  We can see here how Russell percieves himself and his followers as the only ones who can “sing the song of the 144,000”.  Russell’s insistence that planet “earth” will exist forever plays into the hands of his elitist heavenly ideology. For if earth remains forever, inhabited by adamic humans then naturally a ruling class must exist – hey presto the 144,000! – and guess what Russell is one of them!

However, Russell died in 1916. Up to his death he believed that mankind had entered the Great tribulation and that the Millennium was soon to be established. However with the passing of time beyond 1918, history itself plainly testifies that Russell’s forty years of prophetic speculations amounted to naught. Russell’s “Divine plan” had miserably failed. Honest, Godly reflection should have brought deep repentance and contrition from the WT leadership, however, honest assessment of failures are not a trait of the WT society – they have a different agenda.

As the decades passed the second president J.F. Rutherford decided to move the prophetic goal posts[12]. In his historic book “Salvation[13] a “textbook for the Jonadab’s” Rutherford expanded on the idea of an earthly company of “good people” who, while not destined to rule in heaven, were being called to make up a “new earth”. It was thus perceived that the end had not come in 1914 because the ingathering of the Jonadab class was still future. Obviously this gave impetuous to the WT evangelists who now moved their attention from gathering the remnant 144,000 to gathering the Jonadab’s who incidentaly are without number.

By the 1930’s the WBTS was heralded as the “City of refuge” the “Mother Organization”. In the book “Salvation” Rutherford uses various types and antitypes to drive home his views. He wrote:

The “other sheep”…the Jonadab’s the people of goodwill…have fled to the city of refuge the Lord Jesus and his capital organization…the direct command to the Jonadab’s to take up the glad message of the Kingdom and join the remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses” [144,000] [14]

Thus Rutherford postulated that the Great Crowd or Jonadab’s made up the “other sheep” class who were to be gathered to help the “144,000 – little flock” thus playing a supportive role to the remnant “anointed” class. Their reward for loyalty and obedience would be salvation from annihilation at Armageddon and the opportunity[15] for “life everlasting” in the New World order.

The modern WT publication “Organized to do Jehovah’s will” highlights further the development of this two-fold system which over time has resulted in a totalitarian control of members by the enigmatic “144,000” also known as the “faithful slave”.

“The faithful steward/slave…must symbolise the composite body of Christ’s spirit anointed footstep followers who live on earth at any given time…the [faithful] slave serves as God’s instrument to gather into association with the congregation “a great crowd”…who will survive the great tribulation”[16]

Interestingly the WT taught that only members of the “144,000” could serve in the highest echelons of their ecclesiastical system. However over time this requirement has been dropped and today members of the “other sheep” or “Great Crowd” serve as close “helpers” to the Governing Body. The WT explains:

“The year 1992 saw still another refinement, one that is comparable to what happened after the Israelites and others returned from exile in Babylon. Back at that time, there were not a sufficient number of Levites to care for temple service. So non-Israelite Nethinim were given more to do in helping the Levites. Accordingly, to assist the faithful and discreet slave class in caring for its increasing earthly interests, in 1992 some of the “other sheep” received added service responsibilities. They were appointed as helpers to the Governing Body committees.” (Watchtower article “Walking in the path of increasing light” February 15th 2006).

This is an ironic move as the whole point of limiting the inner circle to members of the 144,000 was because they were supposedly in closer relationship with Jesus viz.  being part of the New covenant. The rhetorical excuse is that Jehovah is training “other sheep” to replace the “anointed class” ready for world domination. The WT is riddled with similar inconsistency’s, which are brushed aside, by spin-doctors and clever rhetoric.

Interestingly in the May 1st 2007 WT the publishers blur the differences between the “Great Crowd” and the “Anointed” – Quote: “They (the anointed) do not believe that their being of the anointed gives them special “insights,” beyond what even some experienced members of the great crowd may have. They do not believe that they necessarily have more holy spirit than their companions of the other sheep have; nor do they expect special treatment or claim that their partaking of the emblems places them above the appointed elders in the congregation.”

What a curious statement? The “Anointed” have no more “Holy Spirit” than some of the “experienced, Great Crowd” class. Could this be a way of slowly slipping members of the Great Crowd class into ever higher positions of authority? After all once all the anointed have died off who replaces them? On the other hand according to the May 1st 2007 WT article there will always be new “anointed” ones appearing to replace unfaithful “anointed ones” – a convenient loophole to maintain absolute power at the top.

In JW circles to meet a person who belongs to the 144,000/anointed Class is a great honor and privilege. By “anointed” I mean a person who is genuinely believed by fellow JW’s to be of the heavenly calling. They are normally elderly people who have served the society faithfully for decades. Many times I have heard stories about how “spiritual” these “anointed” are, which for me raises the question of idolatry? Contrastingly younger people who claim to be of this class are usually marginalised as deluded. Why? Because young people claiming to be anointed does not comply with WT policy. 

Sadly, for the average JW member the highest hope they have is to, maybe, if they are faithful, survive Armageddon. Never is a JW presented the hope of heaven. Newly interested ones are told early in their studies that the 144,000 Class is sealed and the door was closed back in the 1930’s. However over time it became necessary to revise this “closed door” statement. Today the WT teaches that anointed ones will continue to appear. Why? – to replace formally unrepentant unfaithful anointed ones (see May 1st 2007 WT). However generally speaking new members are naturally seen as part of the earthly class (that’s why young members who claim to be of the 144,000 are dissuaded from that position). The seeds of dissuasion are sown early. Those teaching new students allude to the fact they can never be “born again” after all its the wrong time in History!  I recall when I asked the question “how do I know if I’m born-again“? – I was told I would “just know at baptism“. I expected great things on the day of my JW Baptism!  but all I got was wet, I felt nothing, thus I concluded I was not “born-again” and resigned myself to life on earth – if I was good enough.

The terrible result is that when a JW reads the NT documents he/she interprets these as having been written primarily for the 144,000 NOT for them personaly. Only in a secondary way does the NT relate to those of the “Great crowd” and interpretation is seen to be the sole privilege of the 144,000, or more precisely those at the very top of the power structure i.e the “Governing Body”. Independent study is frowned upon and oftentimes tantamount to heresy. This keeps all nominal members in check as they each tow the party line.

This cosmic chasm between the 144,000 and “Great crowd” classes can be highlighted during the annual celebration of the last supper, known to JW’s as “Memorial” – or in church language communion. During the ceremony both the bread and wine are passed from member to member without any participation. No member of the “Great crowd” partakes of the emblems; they are not seen to be in the new covenant. Can you believe that millions of JW’s each year “let Jesus pass bye” – they just pass him bye. Thank the LORD that we are seeing more and more witnesses get free of this jejune hoax.

Please note the disparity between the elite 144,00 and those on earth. The WT teaches that the 144,000 become immortal “divine spirit creatures” at death, whereas those destined to a life on earth inherit through obedience “everlasting life”. This “everlasting life” is not immortality and thus not eternally secure. Rather everlasting life on earth is dependent on everlasting obedience. While witnesses believe they can attain to human perfection this is gradual process accomplished at the end of the Millennium. That means 1,000 years of walking on egg shells! No slip-ups or “Zap” your annihilated! The most distressing thing of all is that according to this teaching those who live eternally on earth will never see the face of their savior, the earthly class are eternally cut off from the Lord Jesus, they have no personal relationship with him, they will never see him “face to face”. What a tragic and diabolical consequence of false teaching.

WHO ARE BORN AGAIN?

This really leads us to the question of “being born again” Is this spiritual rebirth limited to the 144,000 “anointed” class as Russell and his subsequent followers claim? Are the 144,000 predestined to rule over an everlasting earth inhabited by perfect but mortal humans? Is this Gods great plan of redemption?

Let us go back to Jesus words to Nicodemus.

John 3:3-7  “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.‘”

My focus here is on the term “born again”. I don’t want to get bogged down here with terminology. Christians reading this essay will differ in eschatological perspective. Therefore some Christians will understand the Kingdom to be fully realized in the present age, while others will view the Kingdom as inaugurated but yet future.  Whichever view you take does not really matter because ALL Christians agree on the mechanism for salvation and all Christians agree that the number called is unspecified. This is at odds with the Watchtowers teaching so we need to examine the pericope to ascertain who is right.

Nicodemus was told he could not see, let alone enter the Kingdom, unless he was “Born again”.  The JW’s will emphasize the Kingdom is heavenly and thus limited to the 144,000.  They would argue that God’s plan is to restore the earth and fill it with faithful humans thus earth needs rulers and these rulers are limited in number to the 144,000. Notice the logic of the argument. They have already laid out their presuppositions, namely that God’s plan is to restore the earth, and therefore logic determines their theological conclusions. A two-tier system is the only solution and this interpretation fits into the Watchtowers historical meta-narrative acting as a self-affirming illusion.

Let us quickly debunk this argument. The Bible is clear that Adamic sin has entered the human race (Romans 5:12) and the result is death. Redemption from Sin is offered to all humans who put faith in Jesus Christ. In other words not only was Jesus showing Nicodemus he must be born again, but that all who claim to follow Jesus must be born again.

That begs the question; Are the so-called anointed class of 144,000 truly “born-again”? I do not hesitate to conclude they are not. How can I be so sure? Because they simply do not know Jesus. If they were truly born of the Spirit then the Holy Spirit would confirm in their hearts Jesus deity, they would proclaim him as LORD (YHWH) yet they deny this fundamental truth. Secondly we would see true fruit both morally and spiritually. The reality is those of the 144,000 still need salvation! They are still as Paul put it “living in the flesh”. The 144,000 may partake of the emblems once a year but in affect they are worshipping a false “Jehovah” – they are as Walter Martin once said “serving Jehovah of the Watchtower” not the Jehovah of the Bible.

Let us remind ourselves of Jesus invitation;

John 3:15-18  “that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

Joh 3:36  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

Whoever believes has eternal life! Who are the “whoever’s”? Are the “Whoever’s” limited to 144,000? The Greek word Jesus uses is: πᾶς: ‘any, anyone, anything.[17] The language in no way limits the invitation of heavenly life to 144,000. Rather Jesus tells all who will put faith in Him:

John 6:47  “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever (: πᾶς: ‘any, anyone, anything) believes has eternal life.”

Likewise Paul never limits salvation to 144,000, nor does he teach about two classes of believers. Rather Paul explains that all who believe are justified by faith.

Romans 3:22-24  “through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”

Notice Paul said there is “no distinction” surely this suggests that no distinction exists between a heavenly and earthly class? Rather, salvation is a gift of grace secured by Jesus death, burial and resurrection for all who would believe.

1Timothy 4:9-10  “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

Paul also makes clear that pseudo-Christians will rise up as enemies of the cross. He warns that such false teachers will have their hearts and minds set on the earth, whereas those who are truly born-again look to glorification and immortality as a citizens of heaven:

Philippians 3:18-21  “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

So to be born-again is to receive by faith the glorious free gift of eternal life. Re-birth takes us from darkness to light; we are immediately transferred into the Kingdom of God. Calvin called this “unio mystica” or a mystical union. Our union is with Christ through the Holy Spirit. This union furnishes the basis for union with all believers who form part of the family of God. No earthly organization or false doctrine can dislocate us from this union, for Christ unites us supernaturally with himself. Every true believer is part of the New covenant.

Rom 8:1-9; 15-17  “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God[18]. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

Hallelujah! Thank you Lord for this truth, which slays the erroneous teachings of the Watchtower!

WHO ARE THE 144,000?

But how are we to understand the 144,000? Who are they? Well we can categorically say they are NOT a élite heavenly class. The interpretive options are two-fold and depend on your hermeneutical approach and theological presuppositions.

If your hermeneutical approach is to read the pericope literally then the 144,000 are literal Jews who make up a literal restoration of Israel at the eschaton (cf. Genesis 13:15, Matt 19:28, Acts 1:6-8, Romans chapter 11). Or if your hermeneutical approach to the pericope is allegorical then the 144,000 can be interpreted as representative of the complete universal “Church” or “Spiritual Israel”. Whichever view you hold the point to remember is that the 144,000 are NOT a élite heavenly class as taught by the Watchtower.

Finally what of the Watchtowers syllogism – the claim that God’s divine plan involves preserving planet earth forever? The orthodox understanding from scripture is that both the earth and the cosmos will be “burnt up” giving way to “New heavens & a New earth”.

2 Peter 3:10, 12-14  “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.”

Rev 21:1  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more”

How exactly this will play out in the divine drama remains to be seen. The point to remember is that God’s plan is to reconcile his lost children to himself through his son. God wants fellowship restored with his children!  In stark contrast the Watchtower by shifting the emphasis from heaven to earth actually teaches a type of eternal separation from Jesus not in Hell but on planet earth! How pathetic is this “strange doctrine” which would attempt to separate us from our beloved Jesus.

So to summarize the scriptural position:

1)   To be “born-again” into the Family of God is not limited to 144,000 people but encompasses an unspecified number which God alone knows. Rebirth is a supernatural transaction between God and the individual Christian and is not dependent on works. (John 3:3-7; 1 Peter 1:3-5, 23; Romans 8)

2)   The Bible does not teach a two-tier salvation where the majority live on earth eternally.  According to scripture the current cosmos will give way to a “New Heavens & a New Earth” at the end of the age. (Isaiah 34:4, 51:6; Revelation 6:14, 21:1; 2 Peter 3:10-14)

3)   Whoever “believes” in Jesus as Lord and Savior receives the free gift of eternal life in heaven, indeed wherever Jesus resides, is where his saints will be gathered. (John 3:15-18, 36, 6:47; Romans 3:22-24; Philippians 3:18-21; Colossians 3:1-4; Hebrews 3:1, 12:22-24; Ephesians 2:18-22)

4)   The 144,000 can be exegeted as 144,000 literal Jews or symbolic of the universal Church (Spiritual Israel). (Revelation 7:4-8, 14:1-3)

I hope you have found this survey helpful. I have only really scratched the surface and I would encourage you to plumb the depths further.

Brethren let us pray for the equipping of the saints in the battle for the mind, hearts and souls of the lost, in particular Jehovah’s Witnesses. May the LORD empower us by his Spirit to help us engage the lost with the true Gospel. May we collectively pray for the LORDS guiding hand and for his will to be done.

Lord we pray that those trapped in the Watchtower each receive a divine touch from you the King of glory – that alone sets one free unto salvation. Amen, Amen.

God bless – Shalom – Jason Wright


[1] This is the earliest reference I could find but their maybe earlier ones?

[2] I could not locate a name, only the initials of the writer. However this article is a good example of how interactive and open the early WT magazines were to theological discussion among the “Bible students”.

[3] Amillennialism.

[4] This interpretation is not dissimilar to the theological position of dispensational Christians, however it should be noted that Russell’s theology is derived from formulations made by William Miller as opposed to Nelson Darby. C.T Russell also believed that fleshly Israel would be restored to Palestine in 1914 after 2,520 years of punishment, Jerusalem being the capital of the millennial age. Note also the early watchtowers were entitled “Zions Watchtower” hinting at Russell’s Zionist position.

[5] SEMI-MONTHLY. VOL. XXV. OCTOBER 15, 1904 No. 20. Page 314.

[6] Russell’s soteriology asserted that Jesus as the second Adam had purchased, through his ransom sacrifice, the opportunity of everlasting life. He called this the “trial for life” In other words the Millennial age would give opportunity to both Armageddon survivors and the resurrected dead to prove by works their worthiness to receive everlasting life.

[7] VOL. XXI. FEBRUARY 1, 1900. No. 3. “The New Song of Moses and the Lamb” Page 37.

[8]VOL. XXXVII JULY 15 No. 14 1916 “Careless ones unfit for the Kingdom” Page 213.

[9] Second person plural present indicative of G1510; ye are: – be, have been, belong. Thus, the work of salvation is completed by God, not ourselves.

[10] Herein lies a warning for all Christians to be very careful not to fall into the trap of accusing brethren of being “unsaved”. Sectarianism is to be avoided in the body of Christ. Saved Christians in my opinion are spread throughout the body of Christ and are representative in all denominations. No one group represents the “true Church” for the true Church is a spiritual entity.

[11] Ibid., Page 37.

[12] Much of Russell 1800’s chronology was abandoned including zionism. The date of Jesus invisible return was moved from 1874 to 1914, and the terminus date for Armageddon i.e 1914 was now heralded as beginning the last days. Emphasis thus shifted to collecting from the nations the “Jonadab’s” or “great crowd” The end had not come because more work was yet to be done!

[13]“Salvation” by J F Rutherford, 1939.

[14] Ibid., page 167-168.

[15] Russell termed this opportunity the “Trial for life” thus everlasting life was dependent on abject obedience in contrast to salvation by faith alone.

[16] Organized to do God’s will, WBTS 2005, page 16.

[17] Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (596). New York: United Bible Societies.

[18] Jehovah’s Witness remain unsaved walking in the “Flesh”

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  1. Hi Jason

    “Interestingly the WT taught that only members of the “144,000” could serve on the Governing body (highest level ecclesiastical board) but over time this requirement has been dropped and today members of the “other sheep” or “Great Crowd” serve on the Governing Body”.

    Do you have a reference for this statement? As far as I am aware members of the GB must be one of the 144,000. Members of the “other sheep” are involved in the production of published material which the GB then approves.

    “Newly interested ones are told early in their studies that the 144,000 Class is sealed and the door was closed back in the 1930′s”

    This situation changed in 2007 when it was admitted that the door was not closed in 1935 as previously taught. Questions From Readers in the May 1st WT, 2007 dealt with the issue to quote:-

    When does the calling of Christians to a heavenly hope cease?
    The Bible does not reveal a precise answer to that question. We do know that the anointing of Jesus’ disciples with a view to their heavenly inheritance began in 33 C.E. (Acts 2:1-4) We also know that after the death of the apostles, genuine anointed Christian “wheat” came to “grow together” with counterfeit Christians, “weeds.” (Matthew 13:24-30) Then, starting in the late 1800’s, anointed Christians were again prominently active. In 1919 “the harvest of the earth,” including the gathering of the final ones of the anointed, began to be reaped.—Revelation 14:15, 16.
    From the late 1800’s until 1931, the main thrust of the preaching work was the gathering of the remaining members of the body of Christ. In 1931 the Bible Students took the Bible-based name Jehovah’s Witnesses, and in the November 15, 1933, issue of The Watchtower, the thought was expressed that this unique name was the “denarius” referred to in Jesus’ parable recorded at Matthew 20:1-16. The 12 hours mentioned in the parable were thought to correspond to the 12 years from 1919 to 1931. For many years after that, it was believed that the call to the heavenly Kingdom had ended in 1931 and that those called to be joint heirs with Christ in 1930 and 1931 were “the last” called. (Matthew 20:6-8) However, in 1966 an adjusted understanding of that parable was presented, and it became clear that it had nothing to do with the end of the calling of the anointed.
    In 1935 the “great crowd” of Revelation 7:9-15 was understood to be made up of “other sheep,” Christians with an earthly hope, who would appear on the world scene in “the last days” and who as a group would survive Armageddon. (John 10:16; 2 Timothy 3:1; Revelation 21:3, 4) After that year, the thrust of the disciple-making work turned to the gathering in of the great crowd. Hence, especially after 1966 it was believed that the heavenly call ceased in 1935. This seemed to be confirmed when almost all who were baptized after 1935 felt that they had the earthly hope. Thereafter, any called to the heavenly hope were believed to be replacements for anointed Christians who had proved unfaithful.
    Without a doubt, if one of the anointed unrepentantly falls away, Jehovah does call another individual to take his place. (Romans 11:17-22) However, the number of genuine anointed ones who have become unfaithful is likely not large. On the other hand, as time has gone by, some Christians baptized after 1935 have had witness borne to them that they have the heavenly hope. (Romans 8:16, 17) Thus, it appears that we cannot set a specific date for when the calling of Christians to the heavenly hope ends.
    How should a person be viewed who has determined in his heart that he is now anointed and begins to partake of the emblems at the Memorial? He should not be judged. The matter is between him and Jehovah. (Romans 14:12) However, genuine anointed Christians do not demand special attention. They do not believe that their being of the anointed gives them special “insights,” beyond what even some experienced members of the great crowd may have. They do not believe that they necessarily have more holy spirit than their companions of the other sheep have; nor do they expect special treatment or claim that their partaking of the emblems places them above the appointed elders in the congregation. They humbly remember that some anointed men in the first century did not qualify to serve as elders or ministerial servants. (1 Timothy 3:1-10, 12, 13; Titus 1:5-9; James 3:1) Some anointed Christians were even spiritually weak. (1 Thessalonians 5:14) And sisters, although anointed, did not teach in the congregation.—1 Timothy 2:11, 12.
    Hence, anointed Christians along with their other sheep companions strive to stay spiritually strong, cultivating the fruitage of the spirit and working for the peace of the congregation. All Christians, whether anointed or of the other sheep, work hard at preaching the good news and making disciples under the direction of the Governing Body. Anointed Christians are content to do this for as long as it is God’s will that they remain on earth as Jehovah’s servants.

    Good to meet you on Saturday, enjoyed your historical survey.

    Best wishes
    MN

    • Hello, many thanks for your message. My remark concerning members of the great crowd class joining the Governing body are taken from memory. I threw all my watchtowers away when I left the organisation – silly mistake really – would now come in handy.

      When I was an active JW I recall speaking at length with my local elders about a change of policy wherein anointed members of the Governing body who died, would be replaced by Great crowd members. This change was called for in order to prepare the Great Crowd class for administrative work after Armageddon. In other words train and appoint Great Crowd members so they have the ability to take over from the anointed class once they are all gone. I was pretty sure this had been print, but I may be getting mixed up with the “helpers” article – I will revise this section of my article as without a primary source the statement is questionable. Thank you for highlighting this to me. I will get this amended.

      Your second point concerning the “closing of the door to the 144,000 in the 1930’s” is also a valid comment. For me personally it’s not the “new light” that should be focused on, but the former so-called truths from WT history that discredit later changes. Thus the “closing of the door” in the 1930’s was a truism for that generation – so why would Jehovah change one of his truths? The fact is (as you have pointed out) later changes were necessary to cover-up failed doctrinal statements. However the 2007 changes are important so I will add a link to the article so that readers can understand the current status quo.

      Finally when you begin to explore the ages of those on the Governing body, the youngest being Mark Sanderson (age 49) you have to wonder how many more “young” anointed one’s will appear. On the one hand their is a discrediting of those new JW’s claiming to be of the anointed class, yet on the other hand they need a new crop of anointed ones IF they are to maintain a fully operational “anointed” Governing body. Quite a situation! I guess further revision of former doctrine must in time take place because Armageddon – at least in the way JW’s describe – will never come.

      It was interesting to read in the 2007 article that: “genuine anointed Christians do not demand special attention. They do not believe that their being of the anointed gives them special “insights,” beyond what even some experienced members of the great crowd may have. They do not believe that they necessarily have more holy spirit than their companions of the other sheep have; nor do they expect special treatment or claim that their partaking of the emblems places them above the appointed elders in the congregation.”

      Interesting statement, the anointed have no more “Holy Spirit” than the “Great Crowd” members? Could that be a window to introduce members of the Great Crowd to the Governing body? We will wait and see!

      I did find many of the statements in the 2007 article disturbing. For example: “Without a doubt, if one of the anointed unrepentantly falls away, Jehovah does call another individual to take his place, (Romans 11:17-22)” This is a convenient loophole for WT policy makers, but for me the statement is not only terrible exegesis but a defamatory statement against the GRACE of our LORD JESUS. The proof text provided (Romans 11:17-22) has absolutely nothing to do with replacing a so-called unrepentant anointed JW but discusses how God’s ancient people the Jews have been for a time “blinded” to Messiah until the full number of Gentile converts have been called in – or to use Paul’s analogy “grafted into the Olive tree”. Paul asks in Romans 11:11 “have they (Israel) stumbled with the result that they have permanently fallen away?” – Paul’s answer “Heaven forbid!” – rather as Paul later explains in Romans 11:29 “For God’s free gifts and his calling are irrevocable”. This is specifically in relation to Israel, but I believe also confirms our own eternal security. A read of Romans 11 brings wonderful revelation of Gods eternal promises. Thus in the true light of scripture what utter nonsense the Watchtower Society waffles!

      Thank you once again for your helpful insights. God bless
      Jason

      • Hi Jason, Thanks for your reply. I finally gave my life to Christ on July 2nd and sent in a letter of disassociation on July 11 after 40 years of association with JW’s. I now worship with the Holywell Free Church in Loughborough http://www.holywellchurch.org.uk/index.html May Jesus Christ continue to bless your ministry. Michael

  2. Praise the LORD. I checked out Hollywell Free Church. Looks sound enough. What a journey of freedom in Christ you are now on. Hallelujah! You are in our prayers. I’ll contact you via e-mail. God bless – Jason

  3. Jason, you’ve provided another great article , and hopefully Jw’s will read and ponder it . I noticed the Watchtower magazine you posted a picture of had on the cover these words :

    ” Born Again — What does it mean?”

    That is such a crucial question because it relates to one’s relationship with God and salvation.
    So the big question is can we trust the Watchtower to provide the correct answer ? Is the Watchtower a reliable guide in providing correct interpretation of the scriptures ? They claim to offer such guidance :

    ” Only this organization functions for Jehovah’s purpose and to His praise . To it alone the Bible is not a sealed book …. How very much true christians appreciate associating with the only organization on earth that understands the ‘ deep things of God ‘ !” [ w.t. 7-1-1973 p 402]

    ” All who want to understand the Bible should appreciate that the ‘ greatly diversified wisdom of God can become known only through Jehovah’s channel of communication , the faithful and discreet slave …” [ w.t. 10-1-1994 p 8 ] .

    ” No human creature is entitled to any credit for what appears in The Watchtower . All honor and credit is due to the Lord . Jehovah God and Christ Jesus are our teachers and every one who reads the Watchtower rejoices in the fact that the Lord is pleaded to use that magazine to aid his people in understanding the truth .” [ 1936 Yearbook of JW’s p 63 ]

    ” ….Jehovah God caused the Bible to be written in such a way that one needs to come in touch with His human channel before one can fully and accurately understand it .” [ w.t 2-15-1981 p17 ] .

    ” The Watchtower fulfills that need . Since 1879 it has been published regularly for the benefit of sincere students of the Bible . Over that extended period of time The Watchtower has consistently proved itself dependable . ” [ NWT 1950 ed , p 793 ] .

    So have Watchtower leaders provided the correct meaning of ” Born Again ” ? Fact of the matter is that a person can’t afford to trust the today’s Watchtower’s interpretation of what born again means simply because they have exhibited confusion about this :

    For many years it was taught that born again meant to be a resurrected invisible spirit creature — see the w.t. Mar. 1886 , p.6 ; w.t. 4-15-1946 , p 116-117
    But then it was changed to mean ” a spiritual son of God ” at the time of baptism by the begetting of holy spirit — see the Watchtower book , New Heavens and a New Earth ” 1953 , p162-163 .

    [ This information comes from the book ” Another Jesus ” vol 1 p 333 by Duane Magnani . photo copy documentation included ]

    This is important to know because Watchtower leaders simply have not been a very reliable source for knowledge about some important teachings in the Bible . What they have claimed to provide is not wholesome spiritual food from Jehovah but rather only man made teachings .
    They could very well again change their interpretation of the meaning of ” Born Again ” next week. See Eph 4:14 .

    • Astute reasoning. EVERYONE as Jesus told Nicodemus “Must be born again to even SEE the Kingdom of God”. A WT doctrine that compounds the “born-again” error is the Watchtowers dualistic division of earth and heaven wherein one group rules over the other. If only they could understand that the Kingdom of God is not simply expressed “on earth” at some future eschaton, but rather the Kingdom of God encompasses God’s sovereign rule which includes everything; past, present and future!

      Even now the Kingdom has been inaugurated through Jesus first Advent and he invites people the world over to enter his Kingdom. Therefore there is no two class system in NT soteriology. WHOSOEVER BELEVIES can and must be born again to enter the Kingdom of God the fullness of which will encompass planet earth at Jesus second Advent. Amen!

      God bless
      Jason

  4. Joh 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but then wrath of God remains on him.”

    Hi Jason,

    In quite a few scriptures you quoted there is reference to a belief in or believing in Jesus our Lord. If asked a JW will respond by saying they do believe in Jesus, and believe he is the Messiah. However with regard to believing in Jesus the Greek word used is Pisteuo. Thayers Greek lexicon says of pisteuo with regard to belief in Jesus “to give oneself up to Jesus, to commit oneself trustfully to the name.” We know this entails surrendering our life to Jesus, knowing him and been known by him John 17:3b. As you know JW’s do not do this and as a result are not “born again” and do not receive the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:38, 39. Interestingly there is no numerical limitation in verse 39. I suspect that those JW’s who claim to be “spirit anointed” have not truly received the Spirit. I never ever heard a conversation among JW’s discussing having “come” to Christ Jesus, it was all about when they “came into the truth.”

    • Absolutely those who do not confess Jesus as LORD – that is as JEHOVAH come in the flesh remain blind to the full revelation of God. We are indeed called to worship (pisteuo) Jesus because as John clearly states:

      Joh 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
      Joh 1:16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
      Joh 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
      Joh 1:18 No one has ever seen God [the Father]; the only God [Jesus], who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
      Joh 20:28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

      Therefore I do not believe ANY JW wether so-called anointed or not are truly born again. If they were spirit filled they would instantly recognise their error and be led into “all truth” – JW’s claiming a heavenly calling are simply deluded.

Trackbacks

  1. My thoughts on being a EX JW | Eclectic Avenue =^..^= Cryominute's Galvanic Jumpings
  2. The Jehovah’s Witness view of the New Heavens and New Earth. | Watchtower Investigated UK

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