Jehovah’s Witnesses – Summary of History and Key Teachings


“International Bible Students” – started by Charles Taze Russell, 1872, ~ age 20 in Pennsylvania

He was attracted to the Adventist movement, which developed from the Millerite movement. Russell studied Pyramidology, disavowed eternal hell-fire, the trinity, the deity of Christ, and the personality of the Holy Spirit.

He [ublished a magazine that he ultimately named the Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom; founded Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society., now headquartered in Brooklyn, NY. The publishing house produces about over 100,000 booklets per year. (The Watchtower, Awake!)

Russell published many articles, ultimately naming the compilation Studies in the Scriptures.

Predicted Christ’s “invisible” return in 1874

Russell and his successors predicted the end of the world by Armaggedon, changing the date each time it passed without fulfillment: 1914, 1915, 1918, 1925, 1975

Russell was followed after his death by “Judge” Joseph F Rutherford, 1916, who changed the group’s name to The Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Rutherford changed by-laws to give himself exceptional authority

He wrote The Finished Mystery, supposedly a post-humously published Russell work. Russell gave the speech with the famous line: Millions Now Living Will Never Die (1920)

Rutherford predicted the 1925 return of the Old Testament “Princes” Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob. He built a palatial mansion called Beth Sarim in San Diego, supposedly to house resurrected OT saints, where he lived for several years.

Subsequent presidents: Nathan Knorr, Frederick William Franz; Milton George Henschel, Don A Adams.


There is only one true God, and only one divine person is the one true God. They deny the teaching of the trinity.

Jehovah is God’s proper name, and using it is of supreme importance in worshipping the true God.

Jehovah is the Almighty God; Jesus is the mighty God.

Only the Father is Jehovah, the almighty God.

Jesus is not Almighty God.

Jesus is a created being.

Jesus was archangel Michael in heaven prior to becoming Jesus on earth.

Jesus was killed on a torture stake; a single, straight pole with hands above his head.

Jesus was not raised bodily, but his body was dissolved into its constituent parts and he was raised a spirit being.

Jesus is back in heaven as Michael.

Salvation is mediated through Watchtower Society, and received through learning about God and doing WTS service.

144,000 anointed ones will reign with Jesus from heaven. These are referred to as “the little flock”. It is believed that this number is now fulfilled.

The rest of the faithful will live in paradise on earth after Armageddon, and are referred to as “the other sheep”.

A memorial service is held once a year, on 14 Nisan, to commemorate Christ’s death. Only the 144,000 are permitted to receive the bread and wine symbolizing Christ’s death. Because that 144,000 is believed to now be ruling from heaven, the bread and wine are passed at the service, but no one takes it.

All Christian denominations are false, teachings from the devil.

God will destroy the earth and all who are unfaithful (outside of the WTS organization) with fire and brimstone at Armageddon.

Death means the complete cessation of existence; the eternally damned are not eternally punished, but are completely destroyed.

All knowledge must be filtered through Watchtower Society; studying the Bible without the use of their study materials will result in apostasy by the end of two years, according to the Watchtower.

Must not profess allegiance to anything other than WTO & its Christ; Jehovah’s Witnesses may not pledge allegiance to any country, flag, or monarch, may not participate in military service.

Blood transfusions are considered sin, equivalent to the eating of blood prohibited in the Bible.

Jehovah’s Witnesses must not celebrate holidays, birthdays, anniversaries; all are considered “pagan”

The organization requires members to attend meetings as instructed, studies, must do so many hours of door-to-door calling, and must do service work at kingdom hall.

Those who leave the organization are apostates, and are disfellowshipped & disowned.

The Organization replaced Russell as the “faithful and discrete slave” commissioned by God to distribute “meat” to the members. Presently, the 144,000 are believed to be that “slave” responsible to give out the teachings to the members.

The millennium was supposed to have begun in various years: 1874, 1914, 1920 (JJR), 1975

God would destroy the churches and their members in 1918, and all earthly governments would be destroyed in 1920.

New World Translation is the JW Bible commissioned by Knorr ~1950, completed 1961.

The Presidency was replaced by the governing body 1976.


Recommended resources:  Witnesses of Jehovah – Chretien

                                             Knowledge that Leads to Everlasting Life – WTBTS

                                             What Does the Bible Really Teach? – WTBTS

                                             Witness at Your Door

                                             Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Real Jesus