How do JWs know that less than 150,000 Christians existed before the 20th Century?

by Vanderhoven7 43 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Journeyman

    For me, I can see the point that all of the 144,000 have not yet been sealed, otherwise the end would have come by now, but that does not mean that there were never many faithful Christians between the Apostles and the Bible Students, as the org has claimed in the past. They confuse the number of believers with the number of ones bought from the earth to rule in heaven. The two numbers are clearly not the same and never have been.

    The GB, while claiming to leave "matters to Jehovah", are still presumptuous about who they believe goes to heaven. They assume, firstly, that all their 'anointed' definitely will, but are much more coy about the possibility that any others from history will, or have done. For example, they often extol individuals from history who were 'martyrs' for Bible truths, like Wycliffe or Tyndale, etc, yet they are very hesitant to say those ones may have a heavenly resting place, yet they are adamant that their own organisation's leaders definitely do!

    But scripturally speaking, that gift is not for men to decide, but only the Father.

    To me, it's perfectly possible for there to have been hundreds of thousands of faithful Christians through history (by that I mean, honest-hearted though not worshipping correctly), yet only some of those selected by God to form part of the 144,000, because he's not just looking for being "faithful", but for more than that. And besides, it's His decision, not ours. Only he can read the entirety of a person's character, faith and so on, and he knows the best individuals to take to heaven to rule.

    It may well be, for example, that the list of characteristics given of those ones in Revelation are literal - that they are virgins (never having had a mate means they were fully attentive on God all the time, without distraction - like Jesus) and they were executed or martyred for their faith (to surrender your life for your love of Christ would be the ultimate sacrifice, just as Jesus himself gave for us), possibly even that they are all male and are ultimately descendants of the 12 tribes of Israel (not that they would all be Jewish, but their lineage would eventually trace back that far).

    After all, Revelation makes it clear these ones who become heavenly kings have these characteristics, and all attempts to explain symbolic versions of those qualities often appear forced, whereas to literally fill those characteristics would be completely in keeping with scriptural history, rather as Jesus fitted the foretold Messiah both symbolically and in terms of behaviour and heredity.

    Individuals are invited to heaven not just for being 'faithful', so it's impossible to claim there were never more than a handful of 'acceptable' Christians before 1914. No human has the right to assert that - that's entirely in God's hands to determine. One of the reasons for the resurrection and Thousand Year reign is to enable previously "honest-hearted" ones to be restored to life and grow to full knowledge and perfection, so how can the org know that there may not be thousands - maybe even millions - from history who identified as Christians who God will allow to live again in Paradise because their faith was genuine, even if it wasn't all "according to accurate knowledge"? (And even today, how do we know whose faith is entirely "according to accurate knowledge"?)

  • Vanderhoven7


    How in the world does the GB of Jehovah's Witnesses presume know that less than 1% of the millions of those martyred for the name of Christ from Pentecost to the start of the 20th century were real Christians?


    How do JWs know that less than 150,000 Christians existed before the 20th Century?

    That answer’s easy. Jesus told them back in 1914 or 1919 or whatever date that he inspected all of the churches and found that the WTS were the only ones doing Gods work. Not only that, but being a JW means you’re not going to die. And for the cherry on top, you’ll be part of the largest publisher in the world….in the past anyway
  • Listener

    They only presume to know because they assume that the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation is both a literal number and is the amount of anointed since 33CE.

    The other problem is that they got rid of their teaching that there was a second class of Christians bound for heaven and this class was only identified around 1935 as staying on earth and use the feelings of some JWs who at the time, felt they had an earthly hope.

    Revelation it's grand climax Chapter 20 states

    Worldly commentators have interpreted this great crowd to be fleshly non-Jews converted to Christianity or to be heaven-bound Christian martyrs. Even the Bible Students in the past regarded them as a secondary heavenly class, as noted in 1886 in Volume I of Studies in the Scriptures, The Divine Plan of the Ages: “They lose the prize of the throne and the divine nature, but will finally reach birth as spirit beings of an order lower than the divine nature. Though these are truly consecrated, they are overcome by the worldly spirit to such an extent that they fail to render their lives in sacrifice.” And as late as 1930, the thought was expressed in Light, Book One: “Those who make up this great crowd fail to respond to the invitation to become the zealous witnesses for the Lord.” They were described as a self-righteous group that had a knowledge of the truth but did little about preaching it. They were to get to heaven as a secondary class that would not share in reigning with Christ.

    Prior to the mid 1930s, from what I can gather, their teaching had been that their were two classes of Christians going to heaven. One being the 144,000 who qualified by their preaching work and a lower, second class. The rest of mankind were going to be resurrected to earth.

    By ridding themselves of this second, Christian, heavenly class meant that all Christians prior to 1935 were going to heaven.

    Wiki gives a bit of information as to some of the older teachings. I've tried to extract the relevant information from the article.

    1877 Book published in which Russell's concept of "restitution" — that all humankind since Adam would be resurrected to the earth and given the opportunity for eternal perfect human life.
    Russell advertised for 1,000 preachers in 1881,[44] and encouraged all who were members of "the body of Christ" to go forth as "colporteurs" or evangelizers and preach to their neighbors in order to gather the remainder of the "little flock" of saints before they were called to heaven.
    By 1904, Russell's doctrinal development was almost complete. His sixth and final part of "Studies in the Scriptures", The New Creation, established that Revelation 7 spoke of two heavenly classes of Christians — 144,000 who would serve as a royal priesthood with Christ and a Great Company who would be brought to perfection on a lesser plane, similar to that of angels, serving the 144,000.[
    The earthly part of God's kingdom would be administered from Jerusalem in a re-established nation of Israel and under the control of the resurrected ancient Jewish prophets. All of mankind would over time be resurrected to earth in reverse order of death, Adam and Eve being the last, ..
    n 1928 Russell's teaching that the natural Jews would be restored to Palestine and hold a prominent place in the earthly part of God's kingdom was dropped..
    In 1935 a new interpretation of the "great company" of Revelation 7 placed them on earth as survivors of Armageddon rather than in heaven[156] and from that point converts to the movement were generally identified as those who, if worthy, would qualify for life on a paradise earth.
  • nicolaou

    <pedantry> Fewer than not less than.</pedantry>

    On the topic though;

  • Vanderhoven7

    Wow! Finally got the Bumps.

    Nicolaou wrote:

    "The Society have taught for many years that only 144,000 individuals will have embraced true worship from the time when Jesus (and presumably John the Baptist six months before him) began his ministry in about 30 C.E. all the way down through to about 1935 C.E. when the Great Crowd began to be drawn in.

    However, even a casual reading of the book of Acts shows the phenomenal growth of Christianity during the time of the Apostles. In Colossians Ch1 Paul even makes the comment that the Good News had at that point been preached to all creation that was under heaven.

    In 64 C.E, there were so many Christians in Rome already that Nero felt he could easily blame them for the destructive fire which had swept through the city. Of the fourteen districts of Rome only two survived unscathed, these were the lower class districts in the 'swampy' regions of Rome where the Christians lived! [see Carcopino's 'Daily Life in Ancient Rome']
    The city housed, even by conservative estimates, over 1,000,000 people in the 1st century. It seems that almost as many as one in seven of these may have been Christian, that's over 140,000 already!
    And what about Jerusalem, Athens, Antioch not to mention the congregations of Asia, Egypt and the whole region of the Decapolis.

    If, as the Society state in the Proclaimers book, about 60,000 of the anointed have existed since the time of C T Russell then that would mean that there could have been no more than about 85,000 Christians throughout 'all creation under heaven' in the 1st century. (This incidentally would make Russell a more successfull preacher than Christ!)

    C'mon now! You're not still buying into this whole 144'000 thing . . . . . . . . are you?

  • Acluetofindtheuser

    Nobody is part of the 144,000 in revelation unless you are single and can master that special song, that includes most if not all of the JW's that ever existed. That song mastery detail is very cryptic, If I remember right the morning stars sang together when the created universe was completed as per Job. So maybe when one of these chosen ones dies they poof into a star in the Milkyway galaxy and start resonating.

  • Diogenesister
    But that would mean the ‘apostasy’ was itself a ‘punishment’, but without any actual reason to warrant punishment in the first place.

    Oh boy another massive hole in Watchtower theology. Good catch!

  • slimboyfat

    It’s simple: Christendom was punished for its apostasy by undergoing the apostasy it was punished for. Do keep up. 🙄

  • Diogenesister
    How in the world does the GB of Jehovah's Witnesses presume know that less than 1% of the millions of those martyred for the name of Christ from Pentecost to the start of the 20th century were real Christians?

    Because they require a basis for their absolute authority. A way of being "brothers" without actually being equal? Watchtower is a religious apartheid organisation. The rulers and the ruled.

    Watchtower is a legalistic organisation that changes over time not with well thought out, reasoned principals in order to make the lives of it's adherents - and the world - better, but in a reactive way. In order to patch up the gaping holes that appear in their patchwork of ideas with the passing of time.

    Example: only 144,000 will go to heaven. Initially a way for his followers to feel 'special' when the end didn't arrive in 1914 (or 1897, 1899, 1925, 1975 etc etc) and Russell passed away, Rutherford as his heir required an explanation for the increase in numbers and - most importantly - something that gave him the authority the founder had. Thus The Filthful Slavebugger The faithful slave was born.

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