More than 144,000 by end of 1st Century? Reference sought.

by Open mind 19 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Open mind
    Open mind

    The search function here isn't what it used to be.

    Can anyone direct me to a reference that shows Christianity grew to more than 144,000 converts by 98 CE?

    Intuitively it seems like a no-brainer, but something better than gut instinct would be helpful.


  • wha happened?
    wha happened?

    1951 9/1 WT

    Brief respite followed the death of Nero, but by the latter years of the first century the second great persecution, under Emperor Domitian, flared up. It is said that in the year 95 alone some 40,000 suffered martyrdom. Like Nero, Domitian is found of demented traits. Earlier he had slain his own brother and a number of Roman senators. One of his decrees commanded the death of all of the lineage of David. In this ruler’s persecution a number of prominent Christians suffered, including, according to Blanchard in his Book of Martyrs, the Timothy to whom Paul wrote two canonical letters. Also, it was in this period that John, last living of the twelve apostles, was exiled to the isle of Patmos, from where he recorded the inspired Bible book of Revelation about A.D. 96.

    Ok so There's a 1/3 in one year who were killed. How many dies before that and how many lived? I'm sure quite many more than 144k.....

  • TheOldHippie

    Line of thinking would be that just because 40,000 were butchered in one year, that does not mean each and every one of them were "true Christians", as that dreaded APOSTACY had already started taking its toll. So if a million were tortured to death at the amusement parks of the day, perhaps 10 % of them were unaffected by apostacy and thus belonging to the 144,000.

  • passwordprotected

    I was told that just because they died for their faith doesn't mean that they'd died faithfully....which is incredible logic when think about it. What more do you need to do for the Governing Body before they decide you're worthy of life?

  • wobble

    You cannot defeat the doctrines of the WBT$ in the mind of a Dub by using logic,reasoning,critical thinking or good old fashioned horse sense,they will always come back with some stoooopid answer ,as Password rightly says.

    Common sense tells us that 144.000 was reached 2000 years ago, reading Revelation with an open mind says the 144.000 figure cannot be literal.all this does not puncture a Dubs "loyalty"

    I really don't know how to get through to them,but the drip-drip of this kind of stuff makes the eventual chance of a"wake-up" moment more likely, I hope.



    p.s I got back into my old a/c, as you can see P.W ,thanks again.

  • moggy lover
    moggy lover

    There is simply no way that we can give anything more than a vague estimate of Christian numbers by the end of the 1C AD. At least one ancient document in our possession tells of the growth in numbers of Christians, and this was written some years before the end of the century by Pliny the Younger the Governor of the Roman province of Bithynia to Emperor Trajan.

    "Many of every age and social class and even of both sexes are being called to trial. Not just the cities but villages and even rural areas have been invaded by the infection of their superstition" [Epistulae 10.96] Although he does not report any numbers, his reference to the presence of Christians throughout the Province implies a recognizable status given to this persecuted minority. It must also be remembered that Bithynia was one of the more remote provinces of Empire, and is therefore suggestive of growth in even greater numbers elsewhere. Although as the NT shows Christianity started as an urban phenomenon, it soon grew by increments and missionary activity to the countryside and involved all sections of society.

    Dr Samuele Bacchiocchi writing in the Andrews University historical site has estimated that by the end of the 1C AD the population of Christians had grown to about 1% of the population of the Empire, which was in the region of 100M-180M. This would place the numbers of Christians living then to about 1M. The World Christian Encyclopedia [published in 1982] confirmed this number by suggesting a more precise percentage of .6% of the Empire's population.

    The phenomenal growth of Christianity, which as we have seen has been attested to by at least one contemporary historian of the 1C AD, can probably be attributed to two factors, one of which is not acknowledged by the academic community. The first of these was, of course persecution, including the one by Domitian toward the end of the C AD which, incidentally, caused John's exile to Patmos. The other is the role of the Holy Spirit whose Divine Providence oversaw the growth of believers in Christ.

    By Acts chap 3 the numbers of believers had grown from 120 to 3000 [what is that? 450% increase?] Then, just one chapter later, in Acts 4:4 we are told of a further 5000 men who were baptised. We would need to factor in at least the same number of women who are not named, making some extra 10 000 in this short time. This means that within the passage of days of the founding of the Christian community we are having to deal with at least 13 000 people who became believers. To suggest, as the Watchtower suggests that somehow this miraculous growth ceased at this time and numbers were more prosaic, is to misread the authority of the Holy Spirit. And it is to manipulate not just the miraculous in the early years of Christianity, which the Watchtower supposedly recognizes, but is also a deliberate attempt at fiddling with figures merely to prop up a doctrinal aberration.

    According to the Watchtower's own ignorant theology an "apostasy" developed at the turn of the first century leading to countless people having given their lives in vain during monstrous persecutions of extreme brutality. Only an estimated 10% of those torn asunder by wild animals and gladiators is suggested to be a true number of real believers. This is but a barbaric reaction to the memory of people whose blood has stained the pages of history, and reflects the same monstrous attitude that was manifest by the bloodthirsty spectators who had no sensitivity to the death of others. Whatever the Cause, giving one's life for it makes one a True Believer.

    Countless Muslims have been killed by Hindus, and countless more Hindus have been slain by countless other Muslims all in the name of Belief. Whether we acknowledge the verity of such belief or not, acknowledgment must be made at the absolute commitment of belief, of those who permit their blood to be poured out. No amount of idiotic gainsaying, in the name of dogmatic bigotry can erase that depth of commitment.

    For the Watchtower, the figures simply do not add up.

  • slimboyfat

    Sociologist Rodney Stark estimates there were just 7,434 Christians in 100 CE. (Rodney Stark, Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome, page 67)

  • glenster

    Different people give different numbers for what weould have to be an estimate. Preferably, they give their reasons and you can ponder each of them.

    The World Christian Encyclopedia estimates that by 100 AD there were 1 mil-
    lion Christians in the Roman Empire out of a population of 181 million. David B. Barrett estimates there were 800,000 Christians by that time. (David
    B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnson, World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2200, Pasadena,
    CA: William Carey Library, 2001, 19),M1 By the JW leaders' idea of a great apostasy and restoration of the original
    Christianity, the JWs leaders' alleged 144,000 would have included some of the
    earliest Christians yet the 144,000 is still open to new membership in 2007.
    The earliest ones would have diminished to a very small minority or disappeared
    very early.

  • glenster

    Sorry to double post (and off topic at that), but how do you edit one of your posts?

    v Thanks!

  • Steve_C
    Sorry to double post (and off topic at that), but how do you edit one of your posts?

    At the top of your post, on the right hand side, after the date, there should be a pencil icon

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