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The False Prophecies 

of the 

Watchtower and Bible Tract Society

Witnessing to the Jehovah’s Witnesses


Index: 

 

    False Prophet Biblical Defined

 

 

Watchtower Claims: 

 

    The Watchtower has claimed to be a Prophet

 

 

 

False Prophecies: 

 

A FALSE PROPHET: BIBLICALLY DEFINED

 

 

“But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the names of other gods, that prophet shall die.’

“You might say in your heart, How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’

“When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. . . . ” (Deut. 18:20-22; emphasis added).

 

Thus saith the LORD of hosts,

“Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you, They are leading you into futility; They speak a vision of their own imagination, Not from the mouth of the LORD. . . .

“I did not send these prophets,

But they ran.

I did not speak to them,

But they prophesied. . . .

“I heard what the prophets who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream!’

“How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsely, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, . . .

“Therefore behold, I as against the prophets,” declares the LORD, “who steal words from each other.

Behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the LORD, “who use their own tongues and declare, ‘the LORD declares. . .

“I will bring punishment upon that man and his household” (Jer. 23:16, 21, 25-26, 30-32, 34; NASB; emphasis added).

Clearly, a biblical description of a false prophet was someone that prophesied in the name of the Lord and what he prophesied did not come to pass. Further, a false prophet always taught a false God (cf. Deut. 13:1ff.; Matt. 7:15-29; 1 John 4:1ff.). The biblical definition is clear; there are no modifications or conditions. The New Testament definition of a false prophet is the same as the Old Testament. When Jesus was discussing the events that would mark the last days, He was concerned that false prophets would not deceive His church:

 

And Jesus answered and said to them, “See that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.… Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. . . . For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible even the elect” (Matt. 24:4, 11, 24).

 

Thus, what I found to be effective in witnessing to the Jehovah’s Witnesses (hereafter JWs) is to ask first, “What is a false Prophet?” They will usually admit the above definition is true, that is, someone who prophesies falsely. Even more, most agree that anyone who says, “the Lord says,” and then it does not come to pass, he or she is a false prophet. And after they clearly define what a “false prophet” is, then it is most important to demonstrate by their own material (i.e., photocopies, references, etc.) that the Watchtower (hereafter WT) is a false prophet. Again, under his or her own definition the WT is shown to be a false prophet.

Keep in mind, the main reason that the JWs do not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, the deity of Jesus Christ, justification by faith alone, and other essential doctrines of biblical Christianity is that their religious organization, their source, told them that these doctrines are false.

Therefore, you need to undermine the source first. By demonstrating that the source is unreliable, the door swings open to utilize Scripture.

Just as David killed Goliath with his own sword, the theology of the JWs can be demolished by using their own material. For that reason, it is productive to discuss first the subject of the WT’s failed prophecies. Think about it, if the WT is really a true “mouthpiece for Jehovah,” as they arrogantly assert, then what they prophesy should come to pass. Though when the JWs are confronted with the WT’s false prophecies, the common response is asserted: “We never claimed to be a prophet . . .  people can make mistakes.” But the fact is, the WT has claimed to be a prophet many times!

 

Note the examples below of statements made by the WT in its own publications:

 

So does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of the dangers to come? These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet? . . . This prophet was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was a small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses (WT, 1 April 1972, 197).

 

Who will be Jehovah’s prophet? Who will be the modern day Jeremiah? The plain facts show God has been pleased to use Jehovah’s Witnesses (ibid., 15 January 1959, 40-41).

 

God has on earth a people, all whom are prophets, or witnesses for God . . .  Jehovah’s Witnesses (Awake, 8 June 1986, 9).

 

This of course is but a few of the many times that the WT has claimed to be a prophet. Although many times when confronted on this subject the JWs will also argue that “The Apostle Peter was wrong concerning the second coming of Jesus, so we can be mistaken, we are not perfect.”

 However, it must be pointed out to them that Peter never claimed to be a prophet nor did he say, “Thus saith the Lord.”[1] However, the excuse most utilized by the JWs in their effort to defend their blundering prophetic track record is that “The light is getting brighter and brighter, we are consistently seeing new light, that is how we know that we are Jehovah’s mouthpiece on the earth.” First of all, this idea of “new light” is derived from a faulty interpretation of Proverbs 4:18 which reads:

 

But the path of the righteous ones is like a bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.

 

However, they stop at verse 18, but notice verse 19:

 

The way of the wicked ones is like the gloom; they have not known at what they keep stumbling (NWT).

 

In context and in complete opposition to their interpretation, verses 18 and 19 are contrasting “the path of the righteous” with “the way of the wicked.” Therefore, ask the JWs if they think using the concept of “new light” would have been a valid excuse for a so-called prophet in the Old Testament who promulgated false prophecies. As we seen above, God clearly defines what a false prophet is:

 

“When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. . . . ” (Deut. 18:22).

 

  

Interestingly, the WT’s own magazine said:

 

Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a ‘prophet’ of God. It is another thing to prove it. The only way that this can be done is to review the record (WT, 1 April 1972, 197).

 

But after reviewing the record, all we find is false prophecies and consistent changes in the WT’s doctrine. The fact is, according to its own statements printed in its own publications, and according to the biblical definition, the WT is clearly a false prophet of Jehovah.

 

 

WATCHTOWER FAILED PROPHECIES

 

The following are examples of false prophecies and doctrinal changes that will no doubt, be an effective way to reach out to the JWs when they come to your door. Also take into account that there are no biblical scholars or Greek grammarians involved with or in the WT. Hence, it is of no great wonder as to why the JWs undeniably lack a clear understanding of the basic rules of biblical interpretation. As with all non-Christian cults—the JWs only believe what their ultimate authority, that is, their religious organization (i.e., the WT) has taught them.

 

False Prophecies about 1874:

 

Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present since October 1874, A.D. . . . and the formal inauguration if his kingly office dates form April 1878, A.D. (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 4, 621).

 

Fall 1874 A.D. Second Advent of the Lord (ibid., vol. 7, 60).

 

the beginning of the Times of Restitution, A.D. 1874 (ibid., 64).

 

The Millennium began in 1874, with the Return of Christ (ibid., 386).

 

The second coming of the Lord therefore began in 1874. . . . (Creation, early ed., 289; and late ed., 312).

 

The Scriptural proof is that the second presence of the Lord Jesus Christ began in 1874 A.D. (Prophecy, 65).

 

Note, there are many more WT prophecies of the alleged “invisible return” of Christ in the year 1874.

  

False Prophecies about 1914:

 

the battle of the great day of God Almighty' (Revelation 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth’s present rulership, is already commenced (Studies In The Scriptures, vol. 2, 1908 ed., 101).

 

That the deliverance of the saints must take place some time before 1914 is manifest. . . . (ibid., vol. 3, 1913 ed., 228; emphasis added).

 

That the deliverance of the saints must take place very soon after 1914 is manifest. . . . (ibid., vol. 3, 1923 ed., 228; emphasis added).

 

We did not say positively that this would be the year (WT, 1 November 1914, 5565).

 

 

False Prophecies about 1918:

 

It seems conclusive that the hour of Nominal Zion’ travail is fixed for the Passover of 1918 . . . the fallen angels will invade the minds of many of the Normal Church people . . . leading their destruction at the hands of the enraged masses. . . . (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 7, 128).

 

It is the Day of Vengeance, which began in the world war of 1914 and which will break like a furious morning storm in 1918 (ibid., 404).

 

The churches will cease to be. . . . culminating in 1918, to remove it with a stroke or plague of erroneous doctrines and deeds Divinely permitted (ibid., 1917 ed., 484).

 

Note, the 1926 edition of Studies in the Scriptures removed the phrase “culminating in 1918” and replaced it with “culminating shortly.”

  

False Prophecies about 1925:

 

Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old. . . . (Millions Now Will Never Die, 89-90; note: for an original photocopy of this citation contact this ministry: Department of Christian Defense, www.christiandefense.org

 

1925 shall mark the resurrection of the faithful worthies of old. . . . (ibid., 97).

 

 

1914 ended the Gentile Times. . . . The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures … by then the great crisis will be reached and probably passed (WT, 1 September 1922, 262).

 

1925 is definitely settled by the Scripture . . . the Christian has much more upon which to base his faith than Noah had (so far as the Scriptures reveal) upon which to base his faith in a coming deluge (ibid., 1 April 1923, 106).

 

The year 1925 is a dated definitely and clearly marked in the Scriptures, even more clearly than that of 1914 (ibid., 15 July 1924, 211).

 

The year 1925 is here. With great expectation Christians have looked forward to this year. Many have confidently expected that all members of the body of Christ will be changed to heavenly glory during the year. This may be accomplished. It may not be (ibid., 1 January 1925, 3; emphasis added).

 

As the year 1925 finally arrived, the WT began to tone down this prophecy that was, a few years prior: "definitely settled by the Scripture.” Thus, the year 1925 came and left.

 

The year 1925 came and went. Jesus’ anointed followers were still on the earth as a class. The faithful men of old times-Abraham, David and others-had not been resurrected to become princes in the earth. (Ps. 45:16) So, as Anna MacDonald recalls: ‘1925 was a sad year for many brothers. Some of them were stumbled; their hopes were dashed. . . . Instead of it being considered a “probability,” they read into it that it was a “certainty,” and some prepared for their own loved ones with expectancy of their resurrection’ (1975 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 146).

 

Still, the JWs did not learn their lesson. After 1925, the JWs continued to promulgate false prophecies and fixing dates (e.g., 1975); claiming that these prophecies were definitely settled by the Scripture.”

 

 

FLIP- FLOPS

 

Again, when the JWs are questioned concerning false prophecies, the usual response is: “We know that we are the only true church because the light keeps getting brighter and brighter” (see response to this Prov. 4:18 assertion above, p. 5). However, if that is true, then, why do the JWs go back to the old light? In other words, if the “light” is getting “brighter and brighter” it would follow that at the time when the WT held to and taught the old teachings the WT was in darkness. Anything but doctrinal brightness is the WT, who after receiving the so-called “new light” returned to its old teaching on that subject—the darkness!

Many times the WT has gone back-and-forth on various teachings. Simply, if they were really Jehovah’s “mouth piece” as they claim, they would not flip-flop from old light to new light and return back again to the old light.

Keep in mind that the WT has claimed to be “a modern day Jeremiah” and the “prophet … known as Jehovah’s Witnesses” (see p. 4 above). Let us now observed some of the WT’s doctrinal flip-flops:

 

 Prophecies about the Men of Sodom:

 

The men of Sodom will be resurrected (WT, July 1879, 8).

 

The men of Sodom will not be resurrected (ibid., 1 June 1952, 338).


The men of Sodom will be resurrected (Ibid., 1 August 1965, 479).

 

The men of Sodom will not be resurrected (ibid., 1 June 1988, 31).

 

The men of Sodom will be resurrected (You Can Live Forever In Paradise On Earth, early ed. 179).

 

The men of Sodom will not be resurrected (ibid., later ed., 179).

 

The men of Sodom will be resurrected (Insight On The Scriptures, vol. 2, 985).

 

The men of Sodom will not be resurrected (Revelation- Its Grand Climax at Hand, 273).

 

In point of fact, the WT has changed its position concerning the men of Sodom no less then eight different times! As one writer said, the light is not getting brighter and brighter but rather it’s flickering on and off.

 

 

“Higher Powers” (Rom. 13:1-7)

 

The WT, as with most biblical commentators, first taught that the “higher powers” in Romans 13:1-7 were human rulers, man’s government. Before long, a decade after World War 1, the WT taught that the “higher powers” were Jehovah and Jesus (cf. The Truth Shall Make You Free, 312).

However, in 1959 they switched back to their original view (cf. Jehovah’s Witnesses In The Divine Purpose, 91). Then, soon afterward, they changed again to the teaching that the “higher powers” were Jehovah and Jesus (cf. Babylon The Great Has Fallen! 1963, 548).

Even more, and not at all surprising, 17 years later they changed it again back to the old teaching that man’s government was the “higher powers (cf. WT, 15 May 1980, 4).

  

The Generation That Will Not Pass Away

 

The WT prophecy of the “generation that will not pass away” (taken from Matt. 24:34). is the most recent of the WT’s prophetic blunders. It must be understood first, that the JWs are taught that the “1914 generation” (i.e., those who witnessed the signs of the invisible return of Christ in 1914) is part of the “anointed class.” That is, as the JWs tell us, they are included in the so-called group of the “144,000” which are the only ones that will enter into heaven.[2] The rest of the JWs, well, as they inform us, will reside on earth (i.e., “paradise”) forever. According to “Jehovah’s prophetic word” as claimed by the WT (see p. 14) the 1914 generation would not die off until Jehovah restores a peaceful new secure world (as we will see below). Nevertheless, as the years passed so did the 1914 generation.[3] Hence, this caused a serious dilemma for the WT. What was the WT to do?

Well for starters, they could say that the 1914 generation included young teenagers to buy more time. And, that’s exactly what they did.

 

So, in 1968 they defined the 1914 generation as:

 

Those who were old enough to witness with understanding what took place when the ‘last days’ began. . . Even if we presume youngsters 15 years of age would be perceptive enough to realize the import of what happened in 1914, it would still make the youngest of ‘this generation’ nearly 70 years old today. . . . Jesus said that at the end of this wicked world would come before that generation passed away in death (Awake, 8 October 1968, 13-14; emphasis added).

 

The WT made that statement above in 1968. But by 1984, many of that “generation” died. So to accommodate the decreasing numbers, they started to teach that babies were now a part of the 1914 generation! This enabled the WT to buy even more time and avoid the possibility of yet another failed prophecy. Again, they were prophesying that the earth would be restored to a “peaceful and secure new world”: before the 1914 generation dies.

Digging the hole even further, as early as 1975 the WT started claiming that the prophecy “of a new order of lasting peace and true security within our generation” was now the “Creator’s promise,” who the JWs say is Jehovah! On page 2 of the Awake magazine, January 8, 1975, the WT stated:

 

Most importantly, “Awake!” provides hope, giving you a basis for confidence in the Creator’s promise of a new order of lasting peace and true security within our generation (emphasis added).

 

Then, by 1982, the WT became even more explicit. For on the same page, they added to the former prophecy in order to make a bolder pronouncement. Now it was the “Creator’s promise” that before the 1914 generation passes away He (Jehovah) will restore the world to a “peaceful and secure new order”:

Most importantly, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s [Jehovah’s] promise of a peaceful and secure new order before the generation that saw 1914 C.E. passes away (Awake, 8 January 1982, 2).

 

The above purpose statement remained until the January issue of 1987. Then, they redesigned their statement, moving it to page 4 with a slight rewording. However the “thus saith the Lord” pronouncement: the “Creator’s promise,” that before the 1914 generation passes away there will be a new world, was still staring at all of its readers:

 

Most importantly, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away (Awake, 8 January 1987 through 8 October 1995, 4; emphasis added).

 

That the JWs say, “We never said, ‘thus saith the Lord’” or “We never spoke for Jehovah” is an assertion that is contradicted by their own Awake magazine declaration: “the Creator’s promise.” The Creator is Jehovah, and I do not think that any JW would ever disagree. Easily shown then, is that the WT was speaking for Jehovah for 13 years! (1982 through 1995). However, it was not only in the Awake magazine that the WT spoke in the name of Jehovah. We find the same speaking for Jehovah pronouncements in other WT literature:

 

From a purely human view point, it could appear that these developments could hardly take place before the generation of 1914 disappears from the scene. But the fulfillment of all the foretold events affecting the generation of 1914 does not depend on comparatively slow human action. Jehovah’s prophetic word through Christ Jesus is: ‘This generation (of 1914) will by no means pass away until all things occur.’ (Luke 21:32 And Jehovah, who is the source of inspired and unfailing prophecy, will bring about the fulfillment of his Son’s words in a relatively short time. . . . (WT, 15 May, 1984, 6-7; emphasis added).

 

Which generation is this [1914], and how long is it? . . . It applies to Christ’s followers and others who were able to observe that war and the other things that have occurred in fulfillment of Jesus’ ‘composite sign.’ Some of such persons ‘will by no means pass away until’ all of the present wicked system (ibid., 1 October 1978, 31; emphasis added).

 

 

Change of Prophecy

 

Now, we saw above how for over 13 years the WT spoke in the name of Jehovah, that is, it was the “Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away.” But that “generation” of 1914, is dying off and only a relatively few are left. Just as little children will cross their fingers behind their back and say, “it doesn’t count,” the WT totally changed the 1914 generation prophecy with no explanation whatsoever.

On page 4 of the November 8th 1995 edition of the Awake magazine, they omitted the words “before the generation that saw 1914 passes away.” Notice how the change now reads:

 

Most importantly, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things (note that all present eds. of the Awake magazine contain this reading—so far).

 

Builds confidence? In a God who cannot get it right the first time? Remember this is not some human fallible error, the WT said that it was Jehovah’s promise, His “prophetic word.” For 13 years (concerning the “generation” prophecy alone), they allowed themselves to be the Deuteronomy 18 false prophets.

Additionally, the WT’s entire doctrine of “this generation” has changed. Before 1995, the “1914 generation” was the faithful “anointed class” (i.e., part of the 144,000). Now, since November 8, 1995, the “generation” is defined as the “lawless wicked ones” that saw the signs of the invisible return of Christ in 1914 but did not change their evil ways and become JWs (cf. WT, 1 November 1995, 19). Clearly then, the WT is a false prophet that tells its devotees that Jehovah spoke to them when in fact Jehovah did not.

Along with the many false prophecies, the WT has also countless doctrinal flip-flops. They declare (as Jehovah’s mouthpiece on earth) principles and doctrines for its people. Then, years later, change it, because of the supposed “new light.” But then, after a while, they change it again back to the original teaching, as with the men of Sodom being resurrected. Jehovah’s mouthpiece?

Sadly, millions of faithful followers are told that the WT is Jehovah’s sole channel of communication:

 

Those who are convinced that The Watchtower is publishing the opinion or expression of a man should not waste time in looking at it at all. . . . Those who believe that God uses The Watchtower as a means of communication to his people, or of calling attention to his prophecies, should study The Watchtower (WT, 1 January 1942, 5; emphasis added).

 

Who is the False Prophet?

 

8 January 1982 through 8 October 1995:

 

Most importantly, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world [order] before the generation that saw the events of 1914 [C.E.] passes away (Awake, 8 January, 1982 through 8 October, 1995, 2[1982-1987], 4 [1987-1995]; emphasis added).

 

November 8, 1995 to the present:

 

Most importantly, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new world that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things (4; and in all present eds. of the Awake magazine; emphasis added).

  

 

Whom can you trust? You cannot trust the Watchtower.

 

“For I, the LORD, do not change. . . . ” (Mal. 3:6).

  © 2003 Department of Christ Defense

Back to the top 

 

APPENDIX I

Jesus is called “The God” (o qeoj, ho theos):

 

Matthew 1:23: “they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, the God [ho theos] with us.”

 

John 20:28: Thomas said to Jesus (direct address): ho kurios mou kai ho theos mou, lit. “the Lord of me and the God of me” (see the WT’s Greek interlinear: The Kingdom Interlinear Translation).

 

Titus 2:13: tou megalou theou kai sōtēros hēmōn Christou Iēsou, lit. “the great God and Savior of us Christ Jesus.” Note, in 2 Peter 1:1 is the same grammatical construction (i.e., article-noun-kai-noun [“the”-“God”-“and”-“Jesus”]): tou theou hēmōn kai sōtēros Iēsou Christou, lit. “the God of us and Savior Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Peter 1:11; 2:20; 3:2, 18; 2 Thess. 1:12; see Gk.).

 Hebrews 1:8: “But of the Son He [the Father] says, “YOUR THRONE, O GOD IS FOREVER AND EVER. . . . ” (ho thronos sou ho theos, lit. “the throne of thee the God. . . . ”).

Jesus’ Absolute claim to BE the “I AM” (egw eimi, egō eimi):

(Mark 6:50; John 8:24; 8:28; 8:58; 13:19 [cf. Isa. 43:10; LXX]; 18:5; 18:6; and 18:8)

 *Why is it important to know and teach that Jesus IS God? Besides that of John 4:24; 17:3 and 1 John 2:23, Jesus declares in John 8:24:

 “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM He [egw eimi, egō eimi], you will die in your sins” (emphasis added; note: “He” is not in the Gk., lit.: “Unless you believe that I AM you will die in your sins”; no supplied predicate).

 

*See also: John 1:18; Romans 9:5; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 2:9 (theotētos); Hebrews 1:3; 1 John 5:20; and Revelation 5:13-14. [The Trinity: One God revealed in three distinct coequal and coeternal Persons].

 



NOTES

[1] Only by way of biblical authorship (viz. 1 & 2 Peter) were Peter’s words theopneustos, “God breathed out” (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16).

[2] Specifically, the JWs are taught that in 1935 God stopped calling people to heaven (cf. WT, 15 December, 1982, 19). Thus, the total number of people that will enter into heaven is 144.000 (also called the “anointed class” and “little flock”). The JWs say that they will be “spirit creatures” (without “flesh and blood”) as Christ is. Also included in the 144.000 are the ones (viz. the 1914 generation) who witnessed the signs of the so-called invisible return of Christ in 1914. The rest (i.e., the “other sheep” or the “great crowd” which comprises the majority of JWs) will have to live on earth for eternity. It is only the 144.000 that can be “born again” (cf. WT, 1 April, 1988, 18); be justified before God (cf. Life Everlasting-in Freedom of the Sons of God, 1966, 391); and partake in communion services. Note that in WT theology, the Old Testament prophets are not even a part of the heaven bound “anointed class” rather they will live on earth forever.

[3] According to the Statistics: 2001 Report of Jehovah's Witnesses Worldwide there are only 8,730 left of the 1914 generation.