We have shown irrefutably that the WBTS claimed to be prophets (no matter how they tried to hide this truth) and clearly said that the statements by their leaders concerning these prophecies were 'the word of God', claimed that their 'eyes of understanding should discern clearly the Battle of the Great Day of God Almighty now in progress" (The Watchtower, September 1, 1916, p265) and claimed this is confirmed by 'verifying Bible chronology'.
Awake!, August 6, 1986, p9 - the WBTS wrote:
"God has on earth a people, all of whom are prophets, or witnesses for God … Jehovah's Witnesses."
Does any person seriously want to be called a false prophet - which is what the WBTS called all Jehovah's Witnesses?
By lumping everyone studying with them in with the Governing Body who delivered these false prophecies to be published to the world, they hope the average Jehovah's Witness will be cowed into remaining an unquestioning slave to the organization!
But they also touch on the other important factor when we examine false prophets - their 'whole body of truth' is in fact a massive tissue of lies - as we will prove in another place when we examine their doctrinal errors and colossal number of 'flip-flops' over their heretical doctrines.
You can search the whole of Scripture and you will never find one word that allows anyone to falsely prophesy and escape the judgement of God. He is very clear about that in the verses warning about false prophets!
What do we find when we summarize the claims made by C.T. Russell concerning the '1914 date'?
These are some of the recent quotations that have appeared in WBTS literature and reveal the present-day attitude to 1914:
Consider, too, the fact that Jehovah's organization alone, in all the earth, is directed by God's holy spirit ...To it alone God's Sacred Word, 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'! Direction by God's spirit enables Jehovah's servants to have divine light... For instance, long ago they understood that 1914 CE would mark the end of the Gentile Times or 'appointed times of the nations' ... Zion's Watch Tower of March 1880 had declared: "The Times of the Gentiles" extent to 1914, and the heavenly kingdom will not have full sway till then' (The Watchtower, 1 July 1973, p402).
From the outset, the Watch Tower showed that at Christ's second coming his parousia would be an invisible presence as a mighty spirit person ... this journal's early issues (March and June 1880) pointed to 1914 CE as a climactic year. It was to mark the close of the 2,520-year-long Gentile Times, during which non-Jewish nations would rule the earth without interference by any kingdom of God (The Watchtower, 1 July 1979, p5).
By the date of October 1 of 1914 World War I had been raging for more than two months... So, first of all, we will ask: Who were the ones that, many years beforehand, pointed out to the whole world that 'the Times of the Gentiles' would end in the latter half of 1914? It was the International Bible Students ... Today they are known worldwide as Jehovah's Witnesses. Have world events vindicated them? Yes! ... have those opposers who far outnumber Jehovah's Witnesses won the hot dispute concerning the setting up of God's Kingdom by Christ in the heavens in 1914 CE? ... No! (The Watchtower, 1 January 1983, pp10-11).
To summarize, the WBTS now make the following claims concerning their past 'prophetic' statements:
1. With their supposed 'Divine Light', they pointed to 1914 as a special year, more so than any other year they named.
2. The 'Gentile Times' would end on 1 October 1914.
3. Christ's kingdom would be a heavenly one.
4. Christ's kingdom would start in 1914.
5. Christ's coming would be an invisible one.
Since 1914 is such a corner-stone to Watchtower 'theology', and since they claim that for the 100+ years of their existence they have always spoken consistently about 1914 and the related events, we need to check the record.
This is what C. T. Russell actually said in the early publications of the WBTS (CAPITALS emphasis in the original - our emphasis and underlining):
But, 'If I go away, I will come again,' cannot refer to a spiritual coming again, because, spiritually, He never went away, as He said, 'Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world,' [age]. Therefore, Jesus taught His second PERSONAL coming (Zion's Watch Tower Reprints, July 1879, p4).
'The Times of the Gentiles' extend to 1914, and the heavenly Kingdom will not have full sway till then, BUT as a 'Stone' the kingdom of God is set up 'in the days of these (ten Gentile) kings,' and by consuming them it becomes a universal kingdom - a 'great mountain and FILLS THE WHOLE EARTH' (Zion's Watch Tower Reprints, March 1880, p82).
The presence (of the Bridegroom)... began in the fall of 1874 (Zion's Watch Tower Reprints, April 1880, p87).
True, it is expecting great things to claim, as we do, that within the coming twenty-six years all present governments will be overthrown and dissolved ... In view of this strong Bible evidence ... 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 AD (The Time Is At Hand, WBTS, 1889, pp98-99).
It is not only possible but highly probable that not only Anarchists and the Seventh Day Adventists and ourselves, but others of God's children ... will be hindered in the spread of the truth ... it will not at all surprise us if this condition of things may come to pass by the year 1900 - OR SOONER (Zion's Watch Tower Reprints, March 1890, p1198).
Note: the WBTS ally themselves with 'Anarchists and the Seventh Day Adventists and ourselves [with] others of God's children'! Naming two un-Biblical outright cults as those who share the 'the truth' with the WBTS makes it obvious, to anyone conversant with the Bible, that they share heretical views and should be avoided!
The date of the CLOSE of that 'battle' is definitely marked in Scripture as October, 1914. It is already in progress, its beginning dating from October, 1874 (Zion's Watch Tower Reprints, 15 January 1892, p1355).
... the final overthrow of present governments will be at the same time as the fall of ecclesiasticism, and will be followed by FROM FIVE TO SEVEN YEARS of socialism and anarchy, TO END WITH 1914 by the establishment of Christ's Millennial government (Zion's Watch Tower Reprints, 1 August 1892, p1434).
The question comes from many quarters; 'Brother Russell, are you not possibly mistaken ... that the great trouble will ALL BE OVER BY AD 1914, and that in its severity it will probably not reach us before AD 1906 to 1908? ... We answer, No (Zion's Watch Tower Reprints, 1 and 15 September 1893, p1581).
The CULMINATION OF THE TROUBLE in October, 1914 is clearly marked in the Scriptures; and we are bound therefore to expect a beginning of that severe trouble NOT LATER THAN 1910 (Zion's Watch Tower Reprints, 15 September 1901, p2876).
Universal Anarchy - just before OR AFTER October, 1914 AD (Zion's Watch Tower Reprints, 1 July 1904, p3389).
The final spasm, which WE LOOK FOR IN 1915, will give birth to the new dispensation of peace and blessing, the Millennial reign of Messiah (Zion's Watch Tower Reprints, 1 January 1908, p4111).
Finally, let us remember that we did not consecrate either to October 1914, nor to October 1915, nor to any other date, but 'unto death' (The Watch Tower Reprints [various editions], 1 December 1912, p5142).
Indeed, as respects the date 1914, which we have emphasized, and respecting which we have repeatedly expressed our faith, our conviction - even respecting this date we have never knowingly spoken IN INFALLIBLE TERMS. We have always admitted that it is a matter of faith and conviction, RATHER THAN ABSOLUTE KNOWLEDGE (WTR, 1 June 1913, p5249).
Only one thing did the Editor fear in respect to the influences mentioned and the able addresses of the speakers. He fears that the dear friends in several instances were over-stimulated by TOO POSITIVE ASSURANCE that the present year will witness the 'change' of the church, establishment of the kingdom etc. With all due respect for the opinions of the brethren, we believe that the present is a time for great soberness of mind, avoidance of speculation and waiting for whatever the Lord may be pleased to bring to pass. We greatly fear that some of the dear friends will experience sharp disappointments, if some of the confident statements made on the convention platform miscarry. At no time has the Editor ever spoken or written AS POSITIVELY as some of these dear brethren are speaking now. In the books, STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, as well as in THE WATCH TOWER, we have set forth the chronology, NOT AS INFALLIBLE, but nevertheless declared our confidence in it ... In recent numbers of THE WATCH TOWER we have plainly stated that fulfilments of the prophecies, although marked and manifest, ARE NOT AS FAR DEVELOPED FOR THE TIME AS WE HAD EXPECTED (The Watch Tower Reprints [various editions], 15 July 1914, p5502).
September 20 of this year, 1914 PROBABLY marked the end of the Gentile times (The Watch Tower Reprints [various editions], 1 November 1914, p5566).
Bible students all over the world have been expecting certain things to occur; and we have been HOPING that the Lord's time is near for the setting up of the kingdom ... but if it should not come as soon as expected, we will still hold fast our confidence ... God HAS PROMISED that he will give his true children the LIGHT at the time appointed ... Even if the time of our change should not come within ten years, what more should we ask? (The Watch Tower Reprints [various editions], 15 December 1914, p5595).
We see no reason for doubting, therefore, that the Times of the Gentiles ended in October, 1914; and that A FEW MORE YEARS will witness their utter collapse and the full establishment of God's kingdom in the hands of Messiah...OUR MISTAKE WAS... that some historians put the end of the Jewish Time of Trouble as April AD 73, which would correspond to April 1918 (The Watch Tower Reprints [various editions], 1 September 1916, pp5950-51).
These statements encapsulate the early chronology of the WBTS (similar statements can be found throughout their written material but none of them excuse the continuous record of false prophesies and the attempts to blame 'some historians' and others when they failed not once or twice, but hundreds of times!).
From these we can draw the following comparisons to the modern-day claims of the WBTS:
Russell emphasized a number of years, including 1915 and 1918, and so the WBTS cannot claim that they pointed exclusively to 1914.
the record shows that the nearer 1914 came the more Russell doubted his original 'prophecies'.
Russell first said that the 'Gentile Times' ended on 20 September 1914, and later saw 'no reason for doubting' October 1914.
Russell always said that the kingdom would be an earthly one.
the WBTS teaching today concerns Christ's 'invisible reign' and has nothing to do with Russell's teaching of the end of the world's governmental systems.
Neither by December 1914, nor by his death in 1916, had Russell received the 'light' that God had promised to his true children
not once did he claim that the kingdom was set up in 1914.
The very first issue of ZION'S WATCH TOWER clearly taught Christ's personal coming and this view has been slowly modified over the years (as we have read in the previous photocopies).
Above all, Russell himself warned that these were only suggestions and not a prophetic warning concerning 1914.
Even though he was still alive some two years into World War 1, Russell never claimed any significance to it.
Yet today the WBTS claim that this was the event, above all else, 'that proves Russell's prophecies'.
So we must ask how can the WBTS be the mouthpiece of 'Jehovah' God when they:
blatantly twist the original words of their founder C.T. Russell to try and make his false prophecies into real prophecies?;
deny that he claimed to be 'the faithful & discreet slave';
deny that they wrote and printed a biography of C.T. Russell;
deny that they even indulged in 'creature worship' of C.T. Russell.
The record clearly reveals that, in seeking to prove that they are God's prophet, they have deceived and lied.
The historical record based exclusively on the WBTS written record reveals, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Jehovah's Witnesses are led by a false prophet (initially C.T. Russell, through successive 'Presidents', and then the combined errors of the organization made up of the 'Governing Body') and is not the means of communication of 'Jehovah God' to man today - or at any time in the past!
Why does the WBTS try to teach a "Spiritual" Second Coming?
The New World Bible Translation (hereafter abbreviated NWT) is widely held in contempt by genuine scholars holding credentials consistent with those long considered necessary for translators of the Word of God. We will discuss this fact further in another place.
For now, consider the way the NWT renders Matthew 24:3:
"While he was sitting upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately, saying: 'Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?'" (italics added).
Note how, in Matthew 24:3, the WBTS substitutes the word "presence" for "coming." The WBTS uses this distorted translation as a basis for teaching that Jesus returned invisibly in 1914 and has been 'spiritually present' with man ever since.
We have seen the history of how the WBTS made the "second coming" into an invisible coming in the previous photocopies. As usual, the WBTS then attempted to support their cover-up of a false prophecy by straining to find support for the 'new position'. In The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived (1991, Section 111), we read: "Humans cannot see angels in their heavenly glory. So the arrival of the Son of man, Jesus Christ, with the angels must be invisible to human eyes." This absurd conclusion can be refuted by a child in seconds by simply asking the Jehovah's Witness to read the Old Testament history of angelic appearances to men and women (e.g. read Genesis 18-19) which show clearly that angels that come to earth are obviously visible to people! Apart from any other factor, Jesus is not Michael the archangel now or ever and will return from heaven in the same glorified body that He departed in - as we easily prove.
The WBTS currently teach that Jesus was "resurrected" from the dead as a spirit creature - as the archangel Michael - and not physically raised from the dead. By this faulty reasoning the WBTS now teach that Jesus could obviously never return physically and visibly. By this kind of manipulation the WBTS have altered the real nature of the resurrection and therefore believe the nature of the Second Coming is now settled.
However, on the same elementary level that the WBTS are proven to be false prophets, we can prove that their doctrinal manipulations are just as false. One of the methods of the WBTS is known as eisegesis, where the answer that is sought is forced into the meaning of verses so that the desired result is obtained. Exegesis is the true method of interpreting Scripture and true hermeneutics (interpretation/explanation) is something that is truly alien to the WBTS. What do we mean? Look at these previous interpretations, speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ and Michael the archangel in the days of C.T. Russell, when they wrote:
Firstly, of the Lord Jesus Christ: " 'Let all the angels of God worship him' [that must include Michael, the chief angel, hence Michael is not the Son of God]." (The Watchtower, November, 1879, p48)
Then, in their fanciful interpretation of Revelation 12:7, the WBTS (in the days after C.T. Russell) declared that 'Michael is the pope of Rome' ("Who as God," the Pope - Studies in the Scriptures, The Finished Mystery, Vol. 7, 1917, p188).
Again, we are considering the ranting of a false prophet who swung from agreeing that the angels of God - including Michael - should worship Jesus, to then declaring that the pope of Rome was Michael!
Now, according to the WBTS, the last days arrived over a century ago - and Christ has been spiritually "present" since 1914. But what are some of the "signs" of being in the last days, when no single sign proves we are in the last days and only all the signs together will make this clearly evident. All the signs together make a "composite" sign which includes the following elements:
nations are rising against nations (Matt. 24:7);
there are food shortages (Matt. 24:7);
there have been great earthquakes (Luke 21:11);
there are deadly pestilences (Luke 21:11);
there is an increase in lawlessness (Matt. 24:11-12);
men are becoming "faint out of fear" of the things coming upon the earth (Luke 21:25-26);
Christ's followers are being persecuted (Matt. 24:9);
and the good news of the kingdom is being preached around the world (Matt. 24:14).
The Watchtower publication, The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived, 1991, Section 111, informs us that:
"a careful review of world events since 1914 reveals that Jesus' momentous prophecy has been undergoing its major fulfillment since that year."
In another of the WBTS works (Man's Salvation Out of World Distress At Hand!, p23) we read:
'We would be blinding ourselves to the ominous "sign" if we did not discern that the end of the global system of things is marked by such things occurring since 1914 C.E. From that never-to-be-forgotten year onward this world system of things can be impeached before all humanity for the most gory wars of all human history, for food shortages humanly induced to a large extent, for pestilences traceable to human misconduct, for increase of lawlessness, for the cooling off of the divine quality of love, for betrayal of mankind, for outright hatred and persecution in all the nations toward those Christians who were counteracting false prophets by preaching in all the inhabited earth "this good news of the kingdom" for a "witness to all the nations"!'
'Hence, since world-shattering events have followed one another in quick succession since 1914, it is clear that this is the year Christ came and began his spiritual rule' ("Let God Be True," p141).
On the basis of these claims to be 'counteracting false prophets' and pretending such things were 'clear' to them the WBTS claimed that the end of this world system 'must be very near'.
Why should we believe an organisation that has falsely prophesied for over a century in the name of Almighty God, added heretical doctrines to the Word of God by adding and subtracting from the Bible, and sinned in multiple ways while deceiving many people who were seeking the True Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His Perfect Gospel?
What is the truth about the 'coming' of the Lord Jesus Christ as predicted by Him in Matthew 24:3?
The Greek word for "coming" (parousia) has a number of nuances of meaning which include "present," "presence," "being physically present," "coming to a place," and "arriving." (William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature; Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1957, p635). More specifically, Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words says that parousia "denotes both an 'arrival' and a consequent 'presence with.' For instance, in a papyrus letter a particular lady speaks of the necessity of her parousia in a place in order to attend to matters relating to her property there.' (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, eds. W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White; Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1985, p111).
Parousia is also used to describe the physical 'presence' of Christ with His disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration (2 Peter 1:16):
'For we did not follow cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming (parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses (εποπτης epoptes - 'a looker-on, an eye-witness') of his majesty'.
Obviously, if the apostle Peter can describe the first parousia of the Lord Jesus Christ - which was literally physical - there is no reason (except that the WBTS need to try and cover-up their false prophecy) to believe that His second coming would not also be literally physical. His literal, physical, appearance is also to be observed by 'eye-witnesses' at the first and second coming!
The word parousia is used elsewhere in the New Testament with no invisibility implied or required, e.g.:
• The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 16:17: 'And I rejoice over the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus; because they have supplied what was lacking on your part.'
• Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:6-7: 'But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you.'
• In 2 Corinthians 10:10 Paul relays what some people had said about him: 'For they say, 'His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive, and his speech contemptible.''
• In Philippians 1:25-26 Paul tells them that: 'I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again'.
• In Philippians 2:12 Paul also tells them: 'So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling'. There is the clear contrast here between Paul's physical presence and physical absence!
In his Greek lexicon expert scholar Joseph Thayer defines parousia in this way: 'In the [New Testament the word is used] especially of the advent, [that is] the future, visible, return from heaven of Jesus, the Messiah, to raise the dead, hold the last judgment, and set up formally and gloriously the kingdom of God.' (J. H. Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1963), p490).
The Greek word for 'presence' in Matthew 24:3 (parousia) is also used:
• of the physical, visible coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus to the apostle Paul (1 Cor. 16:17);
• of the physical, visible coming of Titus to the apostle Paul (2 Cor. 7:6-7);
• of Paul's physical, visible presence in Corinth (2 Cor. 10:10);
• of Paul's physical, visible coming to the church at Philippi (Phil. 1:25-26);
Since Greek experts confirm that the term is to be used in the same way in Matthew 24:3, it clearly points to the physical, visible second coming of Jesus Christ and refutation of the devious attempts of the WBTS to try and cover up their false prophecy.
The WBTS would not want Jehovah's Witnesses to know that other Greek words besides parousia used to describe the second coming of Christ in the New Testament. One of these is apokalupsis, which carries the basic meaning of 'revelation,' 'visible disclosure,' 'unveiling,' and 'removing the cover' from something that is hidden. The word is also used of the act of pulling off a cover that is covering a sculpture so that everyone can visibly see it! The word (apokalupsis) is used of Christ's second coming in 1 Peter 4:13, thus making it clear that it will be a visible coming?
'But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation (apokalupsis) of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.'
The way that the inspired writers of the New Testament used apokalupsis in regard to the second coming of Christ makes it absolutely clear that it will be a visible coming that all humankind will see.
Another word used of Christ's second coming is epiphaneia (Greek: επιφανεια - meaning 'a manifestation, i.e. especially the advent of Christ [past or future], appearing, brightness), from which we get our equivalent word 'epiphany', and which obviously carries the basic meaning of 'literal appearance'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words (p32) says that this word literally means 'a shining forth' and the dictionary provides several examples from ancient literature of how the word points to a physical, visible appearance of someone. The word epiphaneia is used several times by the apostle Paul in reference to Christ's visible second coming, e.g.:
In Titus 2:13 Paul speaks of 'looking for the blessed hope and the appearing (epiphaneia) of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.'
In 1 Timothy 6:14 Paul urges Timothy to 'keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing (epiphaneia) of our Lord Jesus Christ.'
Significantly, Christ's first coming - which was both bodily and visible ('the Word become flesh') - was called an epiphaneia (2 Tim. 1:10):
'... but hath now been manifested by the appearing (epiphaneia) of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel'
In the same way, Christ's second coming will be both bodily and visible. It is the consistent testimony of Scripture - whether the word parousia, apokalupsis, or epiphaneia is used - that Christ's second coming will be visible to all humankind (cf. Matt. 16:27-28; 24:30; Dan. 7:13; Zech. 9:14; 12:10; Mark 1:2; John 1:51; 2 Tim. 4:1).
That the WBTS ignored the full testimony of Scripture in their sad attempt to cover up their false prophesy in the days of C.T. Russell is the clearest evidence that, far from having 'enjoyed spiritual enlightenment and direction' from these cult leaders, even the sincerest Jehovah's Witness has been misled in the way the Lord Jesus Christ warned (Matthew 7:9-10; cf. Luke 11:12):
'Or what man is there of you, who, if his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone; or if he shall ask for a fish, will give him a serpent?'
Jehovah's Witnesses asked to know the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel but have been fed 'another Jesus' (2 Cor. 11:4) and 'another gospel' (Gal. 1:6-9).
As already pointed out, the Word of God is perfectly clear about His Second coming, as Matthew 24:29-30 reveals:
'But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.'
Ask yourself with utmost honesty:
• Did any of the above events happen in 1914 - or 1874?
• Was the sun 'darkened'?
• Did the moon refuse to give its light during those years?
• How about the stars - did they fall from heaven?
• Were 'the powers of the heavens shaken'?
• Did all the tribes of earth mourn at that time?
• Did 'all the tribes of the earth' see the Lord Jesus Christ 'coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory'?
Note that the Greek word translated 'see' is οπτανομαι - optanomai - which means 'to gaze, i.e. with wide-open eyes, as at something remarkable! The 'Emperor's New Clothes' eisegesis (fake exegesis!) of the WBTS simply cannot cope with the precise nature of the Word of God in which He inspired His writers in the use of Greek words which are unequivocal.
Even the WBTS do not dare claim one of their leaders were able to 'optanomai' the (supposedly) INVISIBLE Lord Jesus Christ!!!
The WBTS plan was simple - to try to change the meaning of the Greek word parousia in the minds of their beguiled followers in order to explain the failure of Jesus to return visibly as Scripture dictates - and to convince the unwary that it occurred in 1914.
This is how the WBTS produced their 'reasoning' in print:
Before leaving the earth, Jesus Christ promised to return ... there is a difference between coming and presence. Thus, while a person's coming (associated with his arrival or return) occurs at a given time, his presence may thereafter extend over a period of years (Reasoning from the Scriptures, pp340-41).
According to the 'sign' that Jesus foretold and also according to certain Bible time measurements, his invisible 'presence', or parousia, began in autumn of 1914 CE (The Watchtower, 15 June 1979, p23).
Since they got away with multiple adjustments of 'prophetic' dates, historical facts, and doctrinal shifts ever since their beginning, today's WBTS thinks it can follow on in C. T. Russell's footsteps and extend Christ's invisible parousia from 1914 to whatever date they choose. But what did they believe at the outset - in 1879?:
But, 'If I go away, I will come again,' cannot refer to a spiritual coming again, because, spiritually, He never went away, as He said, 'Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world,' [age]. Therefore, Jesus taught his second PERSONAL coming (ZWTR, July 1879, p4; emphasis in the original).
It is clear that originally Russell and his followers were looking for a physical return not a spiritual, invisible, return of Jesus. Even though the WBTS changed their teaching (as shown in the previous photocopies) the argument in their 1879 magazine was correct - Jesus could not return invisibly because He never went away invisibly!
Along with a considerable number of other doctrinal 'flip flops' the WBTS can even be shown to have rejected clear, orthodox viewpoints of Scripture in order to embrace bizarre and obvious 'doctrines of demons' (1 Tim. 4:1-2):
'But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron'.
Regarding their 'flip flop' on parousia the WBTS can never explain away a number of other Scriptures which make the interpretation of the Greek word totally clear. For example, when we read The New World Translation rendering of Acts 1:9- 11:
'And after he had said these things, while they were looking on, he was lifted up and a cloud caught him up from their vision. And as they were gazing into the sky while he was on his way, also, look! two men in white garments stood alongside them, and they said: 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus who was received up from you into the sky will come thus in the same manner as you have beheld him going into the sky.'' (emphasis added)
The WBTS argue that the 'manner' of Jesus' ascent was that He disappeared from view, and his departure was observed only by his disciples while the world remained unaware of what had happened. So they attempt to argue that Acts 1:9-11 indicates that the same would be true of Christ's second coming and the world would be equally unaware of Christ's invisible coming (Reasoning from the Scriptures, p342).
Therefore they claim that the world was largely unaware of Christ's invisible coming in 1914.
As usual, the WBTS argument is merely based on a 'play on words' and they deliberately mislead by confusing the 'manner' of Jesus' departure with the 'result.' The 'manner' of Jesus' ascent was not 'disappearing from view', but the result of Jesus' ascent was 'disappearing from view.' The actual 'manner' of Jesus' ascent was visible and bodily - the disciples saw his body disappearing until, as His feet followed, they had watched Him completely 'disappearing from view'.
Logically and Scripturally, at the Second Coming, Christ will come in 'the same manner' - visibly and bodily.
The WBTS try and avoid the clear meaning that Jesus would return in the same manner that he went into heaven, which is clearly that the disciples saw Him lifted up until He was hidden by a cloud (Greek: nephele - meaning 'cloudiness, a cloud') and will therefore come from heaven - out of the cloud(s) - just as all of these following Scriptures testify:
Matthew 24:30 and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Matthew 26:64 Jesus said unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Henceforth ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.
Mark 13:26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory.
Mark 14:62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.
1 Thessalonians 4:17 then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Revelation 1:7 Behold, he cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him. Even so, Amen.
In every one of these verses the same word (Greek: nephele) for cloud, or clouds, is used and describes how more than the small group of disciples mentioned in Acts 1:9-11 will observe Jesus returning. In fact, we learn that 'all the tribes of the earth' (Matthew 24:30), the high priest and all those present at the illegal trial of Jesus (Matthew 26:64; cf. Mark 14:62) and, in fact, 'every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth' (Revelation 1:7) - even those that crucified Jesus will witness His return with the 'clouds'!
It should be noted that 'clouds' are not just used in the New Testament in association with God's visible glory, as already shown in Matt. 24:30 and Matt. 26:64, but also when Jesus was speaking on the Mount of Transfiguration:
"a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!'" (Matt. 17:5, italics added).
God's visible glory is also often seen to be related to 'clouds' in the Old Testament, e.g.:
• '... while Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud' (Exod. 16:10, italics added).
• 'Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle' (Exod. 40:34-35, italics added).
• 'When the priest withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple' (1 Kings 8:10-11, italics added).
We should notice the pattern in the New Testament: Christ's Transfiguration (Matt. 17), His Ascension to Heaven (Acts 1), and His Second Coming (Matt. 24) are three successive manifestations of Christ's divine (visible) glory to humankind. Hence, the mention of a 'cloud ' in Acts 1 points to a manifestation of Christ's visible glory at the Second Coming.
Expert Bible scholars - of which the WBTS have exactly none - recognise that the cloud at the Transfiguration, Ascension, and Second Coming is to be interpreted as the cloud of the 'Shekinah Glory'. This cloud rested above the tent of meeting in the days of Moses and was the visible token to Israel that the glory of the Lord dwelt within (Ex. 40:34). So, in the last moment that the apostles saw their Lord with outward vision [at the ascension in Acts 1], they were granted 'a theophany: Jesus is enveloped in the cloud of the divine presence.' Just as Jesus left with a visible manifestation of the glory of God, so Christ will return with a visible manifestation of the glory of God and, as we have shown, there is simply no way this verse can be twisted to mean that Christ will come again invisibly, as the WBTS attempts to teach simply to cover their failed prophecy.
The WBTS attempt to evade the clear meaning of Revelation 1:7 is transparently false. In the New World Translation of this passage we read:
"Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, and those who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief because of him. Yes, Amen."
The failures of the WBTS to answer the many questions that are asked by Revelation 1:7 do not end with the obvious: did "all the tribes of the earth beat themselves in grief" at Christ's alleged invisible second coming in 1914?
The WBTS claim that the reference to "coming with the clouds" means invisibility and, incredibly, try their usual puerile comparisons by arguing that, when an airplane is in a thick cloud, people on the ground usually cannot see it. Since Christ is coming "with the clouds," this means that human beings will not be able to see it (Reasoning from the Scriptures, p343) - and, therefore, it will be an invisible event!
If Christ's second coming is invisible, then in what sense will "every eye" see him? Well, the WBTS claim, this is obviously not to be taken literally. Jehovah's Witnesses say that people will discern from events on earth that Christ is invisibly present and is spiritually ruling (Reasoning from the Scriptures, p343). Especially when judgments are poured out on the wicked, it will be clear that these come from the hand of Christ. This will be a striking evidence of his "presence." With this in mind, the book "Let God Be True" argues:
"His return is recognized by the eyes of one's understanding, such eyes being enlightened by God's unfolding Word. Christ's arrival and presence are not discerned because of a visible bodily nearness, but by the light of his acts of judgment and the fulfillment of Bible prophecy." (Let God Be True, p198).
The WBTS argument that Christ's "coming with the clouds" means an invisible coming is a complete distortion of Scripture. As noted earlier, clouds are often used in Scripture in association with God's visible glory (Exod. 16:10; 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:10-11; Matt. 17:5; 24:30; 26:64) and, as Christ was received by a cloud in His Ascension (Acts 1:9), so He will come in the clouds of heaven (Matt. 24:30; 26:64; Mark 13:26; 14:62; Luke 21:27)." Just as Jesus left with a visible manifestation of the glory of God (clouds were present), so Christ will return with a visible manifestation of the glory of God (clouds will be present).
The WBTS's figurative twisting of the statement "every eye will see him" to mean "every eye of understanding will see him" is a complete distortion of what is being taught in this passage. A plain, unbiased reading of the text indicates that every eye on earth will see Christ coming in glory - as we have already proven. This is in perfect keeping with numerous other Scripture passages as we have shown, for example, in Matthew 24:30 which says of the Second Coming:
"And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory" (italics added).
In Revelation 1:7 the Greek word for "see" is optanomai - meaning 'to gaze, i.e. with wide-open eyes, as at something remarkable! In the context of this verse there is no possibility that the intended meaning is "see with the eyes of one's understanding, such eyes being enlightened by God's unfolding Word." A normal physical seeing with human eyes is the obvious intended meaning.
The Bible contains normal, readable, understandable words used in a cognizant, intelligent way, and it is only when normal, intelligent people have consulted WBTS literature that their understanding of obvious verses, such as Revelation 1:7, are mentally adjusted and turn the Jehovah's Witness into a brain-washed follower incapable of normal reasoning.
Another major problem with the WBTS attempt to deal with the question of 'The 1914 Generation'
The New World Translation renders Matthew 24:34:
"Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur" (italics added).
The WBTS teaches Jehovah's Witnesses that "this generation" is the 1914 generation. They claim that it is this generation that will not pass away until all these things (prophecies, including Armageddon) come to pass and we can see that they have applied this consistently for a number of years in this manner:
"Some persons living A.D. 1914 when the series of foretold events began will also be living when the series ends with Armageddon." (The Watchtower, September 1, 1952, p543 - see below):