First reference to Christ's return in 1914?

by I quit! 9 Replies latest jw friends

  • I quit!
    I quit!

    Does anyone know the exact date the Watchtower first referred to Christ returning in 1914. The thread about the 1918/1919 date got me thinking about this. I think it is kind of hard to pin down because I don't think they made a big deal about the change from 1874 to 1914 they just started using it like it was common knowlege.

  • AnnOMaly

    w.38, June 15, 'Opening the Seals,' p. 189

    Jehovah spoke through his prophet, saying: "Ihave installed my king on Zion my holy mountain,let him tell my decree !" (Ps. 2: 6, Rotherham) The period of waiting ended with A.D. 1914, and there Jehovah installed his King upon his throne and directed him to begin action. (Ps. 110 : 1,2) When on earth Jesus gave his great prophecy concerning his second coming and the end of the world. (Matthew,chapter twenty-four) Chapter six of The Revelation parallels that prophecy, and is a tableau in which Christ Jesus is the chief actor.

    It is Christ Jesus who opens the "seven seals"of the book "in the right hand of him that sat on the throne", thus proving that no man can open the prophecies ; but God permits his men to understand the prophecies after the seals are opened. It does not even follow that a man would understand the prophecies as soon as the seals are open. It can now be seen that the events pictured in the first five seals were fulfilled from A.D. 1914 to 1918, but the meaning thereof man could not understand until after the coming of the Lord to his temple, in 1918. Prior thereto the faithful church had been applying the prophecy of Matthew twenty-four to the events that came to pass from A.D. 1874 to 1914. Not until after 1918 was it understood by the church that these sealed events apply after 1914; and hence the seals were not open to or discerned by the John class, that is to say, by the remnant, until after 1918, and, in fact, very little until after 1922.

    1943 - The Truth Shall Make You Free, p. 324

    The King's presence or parousia began in 1914, and then his appearing or epiphaneia at the temple came in 1918.

    w.44, April 1, 'Destroying Man's last Enemy,' p. 104

    Christ's second and invisible presence as the King in glory began in A.D. 1914.

    There were hints before, but that's when they spelled it out.

  • blondie

    It was not until Golden Age 1930 p.503 that Rutherford for the first time stated that Christ's return and "presence" were 1914, instead of 1874. This was not mentioned again until 1943. It has only been from 1943 onwards that 1914 has been consistently stated to be the start of the Last Days and the beginning of Jesus presence and rulership.


    From 1876 Charles T Russell (who founded the Watchtower Society-the publishing/legal channel of the Jehovah’s Witness sect) promoted 1874 as the date for Christ’s return and the start of Christ’s “invisible presence”.

    That Christ returned in 1874 was official doctrine until 1930. Note:

    ...the Bridegroom came in the Autumn of 1874, and he appeared to the eyes of faith-seen by the light of the lamp-the Word.
    (Zion’s Watch Tower Reprints October/November 1881 p. 289)

    Our Lord’s presence as Bridegroom and Reaper was recognized during the first three and a half years, from A.D. 1874 to A.D. 1878. Since that time it has been emphatically manifest that the time had come in A.D. 1878 when kingly judgment should begin at the house of God.
    (Studies in the Scriptures Vol. II 1889 p. 239)

    …he [Jesus] would in reality assume the kingly office, power, etc.; viz., in the spring of 1878, three and a half years after his second advent at the beginning of the harvest period, in the fall of 1874.
    (Studies in the Scriptures Volume III 1891 p. 234)

    Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present since October 1874, A.D., according to the testimony of the prophets, to those who have ears to hear it: and the formal inauguration of his kingly office dates from April 1878, A.D.
    (Studies in Scriptures Vol. IV 1897 p. 621)

    Pastor Russell...believed and taught that we are living in the time of the second presence of our Lord, and that his presence dates from 1874...
    (WT December 1, 1916 p. 5998)

    Fall 1874 A.D. Second Advent of the Lord
    (The Finished Mystery 1917 p. 60)

    Some of the Scriptures, which, when understood in their connections and significance, prove that the Lord’s Second Advent occurred in the Fall of 1874 are as follows:
    [A list of 88 interpretations followed]
    …and these are but 88 of the proofs hastily collected.
    (The Finished Mystery 1917 pp. 68, 71)

    The time of the Lord’s second presence dates from 1874...
    (The Harp of God 1921 p. 231)

    The Scriptures show that the second presence (of the Lord) was due in 1874... This proof shows that the Lord has been present since 1874...
    (WT March 1, 1923 p. 67)

    Surely there is not the slightest room for doubt that in the mind of a truly consecrated child of God that the Lord Jesus Christ is present and has been since 1874.
    (WT January 1, 1924 p. 5)

    The second coming of the Lord therefore began in 1874...
    (Creation 1927 pp. 289, 291, 297, 298, 318)

    The Scriptural proof is that the second presence of the Lord Jesus Christ began in 1874 A.D.
    (Prophecy 1929 p. 65)

    From 1874 onward is the time of the Lord’s second presence, as above stated…
    This circumstantial evidence fulfilling prophecy is what constitutes the physical facts, and is proof corroborative of the Lord’s presence since 1874…
    His presence beginning in 1874, he has carried on his harvest work from 1874 forward…
    (Our Lord’s Return 1929 pp. 27, 33, 37)


    In 1930 Christ’s return and “presence” was switched from 1874 to 1914.

    In The Golden Age magazine (1930 p.503) Joseph Rutherford, the second president of the WTS, wrote “Jesus has been present since 1914” but he gave no supporting explanation. In 1932:

    The prophecy of the Bible, fully supported by the physical facts in fulfillment thereof, shows that the second coming of Christ dates from the fall of the year 1914.
    (What is Truth? 1932)

    Until 1943 there was little further mention of this doctrinal change. Then in 1943 the WTS published The Truth Shall Make You Free which revised the WTS’s Bible chronology by bringing the date of Adam’s creation 100 years forward. This removed any remaining prophetic significance of 1874. Christ’s return in 1914 thus became the official truth for Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs).

    After switching Jesus’ “return” from 1874 to 1914 the WTS writers began to claim or imply that their early Bible Students had anticipated 1914 as the date of Christ’s “presence” from their beginnings!

    Consider some examples:


    As for the time of Christ’s second presence, Daniel’s prophecy is again the one that gives the chronology for it. (Dan. 4:16) It was figured out as pointing to A.D. 1914, and The Watchtower called notice to the significance of 1914 in the year 1879.
    (WT 1952 November 1, p. 658)

    Why, then, do the nations not realize and accept the approach of this climax of judgment? It is because they have not heeded the world wide advertising of Christ’s return and his second Presence. Since long before World War I Jehovah’s witnesses pointed to 1914 as the time for this great event to occur.
    (WT 1954 June 15 p. 370)

    Bible chronology also fixes the time for Christ’s second presence and the assuming of his right to rule as at 1914; this date was published in the Watchtower as early as 1879, 35 years before 1914.
    (Tract: Sign of Christ’s Presence 1955 p. 3)

    …history confirms that Jehovah’s witnesses were the only Christian group found awake as to 1914…
    (WT 1960 July 15 p. 433)

    As we look back over the years, we can clearly see how God’s organization in modern times has progressed in understanding. For example, it learned that Christ’s second presence was to be in the spirit, and not in the flesh as many professed Christians believe. His rule would be from the heavens. This was a new revelation of great importance to God’s people who had been anxiously awaiting his second presence toward the end of the nineteenth century.
    (WT 1965 July 15 p. 428)

    For over thirty years before that date and for half a century since, Jehovah’s witnesses have pointed to the year 1914 as the time for the end of “the appointed times of the nations” and the time in which Christ would begin his Kingdom rule. (Luke 21:24)
    (WT 1966 February 15 p. 103)

    “Do you believe in the second advent of the Lord?” I asked the young man [a WTS colporteur in 1928] who came to the door.
    “Christ’s second advent was realized in 1914” he answered.
    In astonishment, I told him that was impossible. “You should read this book,” he said, handing me The Harp of God. I was baptized the following year, March 23, 1929...
    (WT 1988 May 1 p. 22)

    [Note: Nowhere in The Harp of God (1921) is the “second advent” of Christ put in 1914. On the contrary, 1874 as the date of the “presence” of Jesus is mentioned in The Harp of God on pages 230, 231, 234, 235, 236, 237 241, 244, 271). Also “the young man” could not have known in 1928 that “Christ’s second advent” was realized in 1914” because that teaching had not been published at that time! Even the later editions of The Harp of God (1937 & 1940) retained 1874 as the date of Christ’s “presence”.]

    He [a WTS colporteur of 1921] explained to me that Jesus had been present since 1914, invisible to man. This was the most thrilling news I had ever heard... In late 1921 I was transferred back to England, and in the spring of 1922, I was discharged from the army.
    (WT l990 September 1 p. 11)
    [Note: When this purported conversation occurred in 1921 no WTS publication had mentioned 1914 as the date for the “return of Christ’’-nor for nine years afterwards!]

    The Watchtower has consistently presented evidence…that Jesus’ presence in heavenly Kingdom power began in 1914. Events since that year testify to Jesus’ presence.
    (WT 1993 January 15, p. 5)

    …a prophecy providentially caused sincere 19th-century Bible students to be in expectation. By linking the “seven times” of Daniel 4:25 with “the times of the Gentiles”, they anticipated that Christ would receive Kingdom power in 1914.
    (WT 1998 September 15 p. 15)

    This thread as some more info.

  • wobble

    As AnnOMaly's fine research shows,it wasn't really defined until the 1940's,as the 38 WT says,there was a reference in 1922 that hinted at Christs presence in some way in 1914,but did not spell out the whole sitting in kingdom Glory thing.

    Is it not passing strange that,by their own admission,they did not recognize the supposed choosing of them as the FDS in 1918/9 ?

    as this momentous event,the most important for christians since Pentecost,was not communicated to the "slave" at the time,when and how was it communicated to them afterwards ??????

    and what was the point of choosing them (for what/) in 1918/9 ??????????

    is the WT /GB claim to have any kind of God given authority the biggest load of B.S of all time ??????

    WT APOLOGISTS,Spike,Reniaa et al PLEASE ANSWER !!!



    P.s I wrote this before Blondies excellent reply,but the above questions need an answer if the WT is not to be the biggest joke on the internet.

  • blondie

    Okay I have had a quick look through secondary sources and this is what I could find from Jonssons's The Gentile Times Reconsidered:

    As of 1929 the Watch Tower Society still taught that "the second presence of the Lord Jesus Christ began in 1874 A.D." (Prophecy, Brooklyn, N.Y.: International Bible Students Association, 1929, p. 65.) The exact date for the transference of the second coming from 1874 to 1914 is difficult to pinpoint. For some time confusing statements may be found in the publications. Perhaps the first indication of a change is the statement in The Golden Age of April 30, 1930, page 503, that "Jesus has been present since the year 1914." However, The Watch Tower of October 15, 1930, somewhat vaguely states on page 309 that "the second coming occured (sic) in 1914. And in 1932 the booklet What is Truth clearly states on page 48: "The prophecy of the Bible, fully supported by the physical facts in fulfillment thereof, shows that the second coming of Christ dates from the fall of the year 1914." Carl Olof Jonsson, The Gentile Time Reconsidered (4th 2004), page 58, note 84.
  • blondie
  • I quit!
    I quit!

    Thank you for all your replies. There is a lot of interesting information here. The list showing how they have been deceitful in there claims about what they taught about 1914 will be very useful in pointing out how they lie about their history.

    As for the Watchtower apologist not commenting I'll help them out with the true story of what really happened Wobble. Christ did return in 1874 but he forgot to bring his briefcase that had all the entry forms for the World's Greatest Religion contest he was planning on holding so he had to return to heaven to get it. It took forty years round trip. When he returned in 1914 he began working on the contest and the winner was to be announced in 1919 however he forgot to inform the winner so it was years before the Watchtower realized they had won the contest. Now you know the rest of the story as Paul Harvey would have said.

  • cabasilas

    A good background on the change from 1874 to 1914 (and the WT Society's idealized history about the predictions for 1914) can be read in Thomas Daniel's Historical Idealism and Jehovah's Witnesses. It can be downloaded from:

  • AnnOMaly

    I'd forgotten that the first references dated further back to 1930 and 1932. Thanks, Blondie.

  • leaving_quietly

    Just noticed a quote in this thread referencing "Light" p. 255 in 1931.

    This was Light Book 2, and the quote can be found here: "The river of pure water is seen "proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb". That shows that the river did not begin to proceed until after God had placed his anointed One on his throne in Zion, in 1914, at the birth of the kingdom."

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