A Return to the True God
“I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.”—John 13:34, 35.
1, 2. What should be the effects of love among true Christians?
WITH those words, Jesus established a criterion for those claiming to be his true followers. Christian love would have to transcend all racial, tribal, and national divisions. It would require that true Christians should be “no part of the world,” just as Jesus was, and is, “no part of the world.”—John 17:14, 16; Romans 12:17-21.
2 How does the Christian show himself to be “no part of the world”? For example, how should he act with regard to the turbulent politics, revolutions, and wars of our times? The Christian apostle John wrote, in harmony with Jesus’ words above: “Everyone who does not carry on righteousness does not originate with God, neither does he who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should have love for one another.” And Jesus himself explained why his disciples did not fight to deliver him, saying: “My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought . . . But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.” Even with Jesus’ life at stake, those attendants did not get involved in settling the controversy according to the warring ways of the world.—1 John 3:10-12; John 18:36.
3, 4. (a) What did Isaiah prophesy regarding “the final part of the days”? (b) What questions require an answer?
3 Over 700 years before Christ, Isaiah prophesied that people of all nations would gather to Jehovah’s true worship and would learn war no more. He said: “And it must occur in the final part of the days that the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, . . . and to it all the nations must stream. And many peoples will certainly go and say: ‘Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’ For out of Zion law will go forth, and the word of Jehovah out of Jerusalem. And he will certainly render judgment among the nations and set matters straight respecting many peoples. And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”*—Isaiah 2:2-4.
4 Which of all the religions in the world has been outstanding in meeting these requirements? Who have refused to learn war in spite of prisons, concentration camps, and death sentences?
Christian Love and Neutrality
5. What record of Christian neutrality have Jehovah’s Witnesses established as individuals, and why?
5 Jehovah’s Witnesses are known worldwide for their individual conscientious stand of Christian neutrality. They have endured prisons, concentration camps, torture, deportations, and persecution throughout the 20th century because they have refused to sacrifice their love and unity as a worldwide congregation of Christians drawn to God. In Nazi Germany during the years 1933-45, about a thousand Witnesses died and thousands were imprisoned, on account of their refusal to cooperate with Hitler’s war effort. Likewise, under Franco in formerly Fascist Spain, hundreds of young Witnesses went to prison and many spent an average of ten years each in military prisons rather than learn war. To this day in several countries, many young Witnesses of Jehovah languish in prisons because of their stand on Christian neutrality. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not interfere with the governments in their military programs. The Witnesses’ unwavering Christian neutrality in political matters has been one of the constants of their beliefs throughout all the conflicts and wars of the 20th century. It stamps them as true followers of Christ and separates them from Christendom’s religions.—John 17:16; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.
6, 7. What have Jehovah’s Witnesses come to understand regarding Christianity?
6 By holding to the Bible and to the example of Christ, Jehovah’s Witnesses demonstrate they are practicing the worship of the true God, Jehovah. They recognize God’s love as reflected in the life and sacrifice of Jesus. They understand that true Christian love results in an indivisible worldwide brotherhood—above political, racial, and national divisions. In other words, Christianity is more than international; it is supranational, transcending national boundaries, authority, or interests. It views the human race as one family with a common progenitor and with a common Creator, Jehovah God.—Acts 17:24-28; Colossians 3:9-11.
7 While nearly all other religions have been involved in wars—fratricidal and homicidal—Jehovah’s Witnesses have shown that they take to heart the prophecy of Isaiah 2:4, quoted previously. ‘But,’ you might ask, ‘where did Jehovah’s Witnesses come from? How do they function?’
God’s Long Line of Witnesses
8, 9. What invitation has God extended to mankind?
8 Over 2,700 years ago, the prophet Isaiah also uttered the following invitation: “Search for Jehovah, you people, while he may be found. Call to him while he proves to be near. Let the wicked man leave his way, and the harmful man his thoughts; and let him return to Jehovah, who will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will forgive in a large way.”—Isaiah 55:6, 7.
9 Centuries later, the Christian apostle Paul explained to those Greeks in Athens who were “given to the fear of the [mythological] deities”: “[God] made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth, and he decreed the appointed times and the set limits of the dwelling of men, for them to seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us.”—Acts 17:22-28.
10. How do we know that God was not far off from Adam and Eve and their children?
10 Certainly God was not far off from his human creations Adam and Eve. He spoke to them, communicating his commandments and wishes. Furthermore, God did not conceal himself from their sons Cain and Abel. He counseled hateful Cain when he showed envy regarding his brother’s sacrifice to God. However, rather than change his form of worship, Cain showed jealous, religious intolerance and murdered his brother Abel.—Genesis 2:15-17; 3:8-24; 4:1-16.
11. (a) What does the word “martyr” mean? (b) How did Abel become the first martyr?
11 Abel, by his faithfulness to God even to death, became the first martyr.* He was also the first witness of Jehovah and the forerunner of a long line of integrity-keeping witnesses all down through history. Thus Paul could state: “By faith Abel offered God a sacrifice of greater worth than Cain, through which faith he had witness borne to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness respecting his gifts; and through it he, although he died, yet speaks.”—Hebrews 11:4.
12. Who are further examples of Jehovah’s faithful witnesses?
12 In that same letter to the Hebrews, Paul lists a whole series of faithful men and women, such as Noah, Abraham, Sarah, and Moses, who, by their record of integrity, came to form a ‘great cloud of witnesses [Greek, mar·tyʹron]’ who have served as examples and encouragement for others wanting to know and serve the true God. They were men and women who had a relationship with Jehovah God. They had sought and found him.—Hebrews 11:1–12:1.
13. (a) Why is Jesus an outstanding manifestation of God’s love? (b) In what special way is Jesus an example to his followers?
13 Outstanding among such witnesses was the one described in the book of Revelation, “Jesus Christ, ‘the Faithful Witness.’” Jesus is yet another clear evidence of God’s love, for as John wrote: “We ourselves have beheld and are bearing witness that the Father has sent forth his Son as Savior of the world. Whoever makes the confession that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, God remains in union with such one and he in union with God. And we ourselves have come to know and have believed the love that God has in our case.” Born a Jew, Jesus was a true witness and died a martyr in faithfulness to his Father, Jehovah. Christ’s authentic followers down through the ages would likewise be witnesses of him and of the true God, Jehovah.—Revelation 1:5; 3:14; 1 John 4:14-16; Isaiah 43:10-12; Matthew 28:19, 20; Acts 1:8.
14. What question now requires an answer?
14 Isaiah’s prophecy indicated that a return to the true God, Jehovah, would be a feature of “the final part of the days,” or what other parts of the Bible term “the last days.”* In view of the religious diversity and confusion that we have described in this book, the question arises: Who in these last days in which we live have really searched for the true God, to serve him “with spirit and truth”? To answer that question, we must first turn our attention to events of the 19th century.—Isaiah 2:2-4; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; John 4:23, 24.
A Young Man in Search of God
15. (a) Who was Charles Taze Russell? (b) What were some of his religious doubts?
15 In 1870 a zealous young man, Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916), began to ask many questions about Christendom’s traditional teachings. As a youth, he worked in his father’s haberdashery in the bustling industrial city of Allegheny (now part of Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania, U.S.A. His religious background was Presbyterian and Congregational. However, he was perturbed by such teachings as predestination and eternal torment in hellfire. What were his reasons for doubting these basic doctrines of some of Christendom’s religions? He wrote: “A God that would use his power to create human beings whom he foreknew and predestinated should be eternally tormented, could be neither wise, just nor loving. His standard would be lower than that of many men.”—Jeremiah 7:31; 19:5; 32:35; 1 John 4:8, 9.
16, 17. (a) What teachings deeply interested Russell’s Bible study group? (b) What major disagreement arose, and how did Russell answer?
16 While still in his late teens, Russell started a weekly Bible study group with other young men. They began to analyze the Bible’s teachings on other subjects, such as immortality of the soul as well as Christ’s ransom sacrifice and his second coming. In 1877, at the age of 25, Russell sold his share in his father’s prospering business and began a full-time preaching career.
17 In 1878 Russell had a major disagreement with one of his collaborators, who had rejected the teaching that Christ’s death could be an atonement for sinners. In his rebuttal Russell wrote: “Christ accomplished various good things for us in his death and resurrection. He was our substitute in death; he died the just for the unjust—all were unjust. Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man. . . . He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” He continued: “To redeem is to buy back. What did Christ buy back for all men? Life. We lost it by the disobedience of the first Adam. The second Adam [Christ] bought it back with his own life.”—Mark 10:45; Romans 5:7, 8; 1 John 2:2; 4:9, 10.
18. (a) What followed the disagreement over the ransom? (b) What pattern did the Bible Students follow regarding donations?
18 Always a staunch advocate of the ransom doctrine, Russell severed all ties with this former collaborator. In July 1879, Russell started to publish Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, known worldwide today as The Watchtower—Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. In 1881 he, in association with other dedicated Christians, established a nonprofit Bible society. It was called Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society, known today as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, the legal agency that acts in behalf of Jehovah’s Witnesses. From the very beginning, Russell insisted that there would be no collections taken at congregation meetings nor contributions solicited through the Watch Tower publications. The people who joined Russell in deep Bible study became known simply as the Bible Students.
A Return to Bible Truth
19. What teachings of Christendom did the Bible Students reject?
19 As a result of their Bible study, Russell and his associates came to reject Christendom’s teachings of a mysterious “Most Holy Trinity,” an inherently immortal human soul, and eternal torment in hellfire. They also rejected the need for a separate seminary-trained clergy class. They wanted to return to the humble origins of Christianity, with spiritually qualified elders to lead the congregations without thought of a salary or remuneration.—1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9.
20. What did those Bible Students discover regarding Christ’s pa·rou·siʹa and 1914?
20 In their investigation of God’s Word, those Bible Students were keenly interested in the prophecies of the Christian Greek Scriptures related to “the end of the world” and to Christ’s “coming.” (Matthew 24:3, KJ) By turning to the Greek text, they discovered that Christ’s “coming” was, in fact, a “pa·rou·siʹa,” or invisible presence. Therefore, Christ had given his disciples information about the evidence of his invisible presence in the time of the end, not a future visible coming. Along with this study, those Bible students had a keen desire to understand the Bible’s chronology in relation to Christ’s presence. Without understanding all the details, Russell and his associates realized that 1914 would be a crucial date in human history.—Matthew 24:3-22; Luke 21:7-33, Int.
21. What responsibility did Russell and his fellow believers feel?
21 Russell knew that a great preaching work had to be done. He was conscious of the words of Jesus recorded by Matthew: “And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10) There was a sense of urgency to the activity of those Bible Students prior to 1914. They believed that their preaching activity would culminate in that year, and therefore they felt they should expend every effort to help others to know “this good news of the kingdom.” Eventually, C. T. Russell’s Bible sermons were being published in thousands of newspapers around the world.
Tests and Changes
22-24. (a) What was the reaction of most of the Bible Students when C. T. Russell died? (b) Who succeeded Russell as president of the Watch Tower Society?
22 In 1916, at the age of 64, Charles Taze Russell died suddenly in the course of a preaching tour across the United States. Now what would happen to the Bible Students? Would they fold up as if they were followers of a mere man? How would they face the tests of World War I (1914-18), in which slaughter the United States would soon be involved?
23 The reaction of most of the Bible Students was typified by the words of W. E. Van Amburgh, an official of the Watch Tower Society: “This great worldwide work is not the work of one person. It is far too great for that. It is God’s work and it changes not. God has used many servants in the past and He will doubtless use many in the future. Our consecration is not to a man, or to a man’s work, but to do the will of God, as He shall reveal it unto us through His Word and providential leadings. God is still at the helm.”—1 Corinthians 3:3-9.
24 In January 1917, Joseph F. Rutherford, a lawyer and keen student of the Bible, was elected as the second president of the Watch Tower Society. He had a dynamic personality and could not be intimidated. He knew that God’s Kingdom had to be preached.—Mark 13:10.
Renewed Zeal and a New Name
25. How did the Bible Students respond to the challenge in the years following the first world war?
25 The Watch Tower Society organized conventions in the United States in 1919 and in 1922. After the persecution of World War I in the United States, it was almost like another Pentecost for the few thousand Bible Students at that time. (Acts 2:1-4) Instead of yielding to fear of man, they took up with even more vigor the Bible call to go out and preach to the nations. In 1919 the Watch Tower Society produced a companion magazine to the Watch Tower called The Golden Age, known worldwide today as Awake! This has served as a powerful instrument to awaken people to the significance of the times in which we live and to build confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful new world.
26. (a) To what responsibility did the Bible Students give more and more emphasis? (b) What clearer understanding of the Bible did the Bible Students receive?
26 During the 1920’s and 1930’s, the Bible Students gave more and more emphasis to the early Christian method of preaching—from house to house. (Acts 20:20) Each believer had the responsibility to witness to as many people as possible regarding Christ’s Kingdom rule. They came to see clearly from the Bible that the great issue before mankind was that of universal sovereignty and that this would be settled by Jehovah God’s crushing Satan and all his ruinous works on earth. (Romans 16:20; Revelation 11:17, 18) In the context of this issue, it was appreciated that the salvation of man was secondary to the vindication of God as the rightful Sovereign. Therefore, there would have to be on earth faithful witnesses willing to testify to God’s purposes and supremacy. How was this need satisfied?—Job 1:6-12; John 8:44; 1 John 5:19, 20.
27. (a) What momentous event took place in 1931? (b) What are some of the Witnesses’ distinctive beliefs?
27 In July 1931, the Bible Students held a convention in Columbus, Ohio, during which the thousands present adopted a resolution. In it they joyfully embraced “the name which the mouth of the Lord God has named,” and they declared: “We desire to be known as and called by the name, to wit, ‘Jehovah’s witnesses.’” Ever since that date, Jehovah’s Witnesses have become known worldwide not only for their distinctive beliefs but also for their zealous house-to-house and street ministry. (See pages 356-7.)—Isaiah 43:10-12; Matthew 28:19, 20; Acts 1:8.
28. In 1935 what clearer understanding did the Witnesses receive regarding Kingdom rulership?
28 In 1935 the Witnesses came to a clearer understanding regarding the heavenly Kingdom class, who will reign with Christ, and their subjects on the earth. They already knew that the number of anointed Christians called to rule with Christ from the heavens would be only 144,000. So, what would be the hope for the rest of mankind? A government needs subjects to justify its existence. This heavenly government, the Kingdom, would also have millions of obedient subjects here on earth. These would be the “great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues,” who cry out: “Salvation we owe to our God [Jehovah], who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb [Christ Jesus].”—Revelation 7:4, 9, 10; 14:1-3; Romans 8:16, 17.
29. What challenge did the Witnesses perceive and accept?
29 This understanding about the great crowd helped Jehovah’s Witnesses to see that they had before them a tremendous challenge—to find and teach all those millions who were searching for the true God and who would form the “great crowd.” It would involve an international educational campaign. It would require trained speakers and ministers. Schools would be needed. All of this was envisioned by the next president of the Watch Tower Society.
Worldwide Search for Seekers of God
30. What events of the 1930’s and 1940’s affected the Witnesses?
30 In 1931 there were under 50,000 Witnesses in fewer than 50 lands. The events of the 1930’s and 1940’s did not make their preaching any easier. This period saw the rise of Fascism and Nazism and the outbreak of World War II. In 1942 J. F. Rutherford died. The Watch Tower Society would need vigorous leadership in order to give further impetus to the preaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
31. What began functioning in 1943 to expand the preaching of the good news?
31 In 1942, at the age of 36, Nathan H. Knorr was chosen to be the third president of the Watch Tower Society. He was an energetic organizer with clear insight into the need to promote the preaching of the good news in all the world as fast as possible, even though the nations were still embroiled in World War II. As a result, he immediately put into effect a plan for a school to train missionaries, called the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead.* The first hundred students, all full-time ministers, were enrolled in January 1943. They studied the Bible and related ministerial subjects intensively for nearly six months before being sent out to their assignments, mainly in foreign countries. Up to 1990, 89 classes have graduated, and thousands of ministers have gone out from Gilead to serve around the world.
32. What progress has been made by Jehovah’s Witnesses since 1943?
32 In 1943 there were only 126,329 Witnesses preaching in 54 countries. In spite of atrocious opposition from Nazism, Fascism, Communism, and Catholic Action as well as from the so-called democracies during World War II, by 1946 Jehovah’s Witnesses had reached a peak of over 176,000 Kingdom preachers. Forty-four years later, there were nearly four million active in over 200 lands, islands, and territories. Without a doubt, their clear identification by name and action has served to make them known worldwide. But other factors have been involved that have greatly influenced their effectiveness.—Zechariah 4:6.
A Bible Education Organization
33. Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses have Kingdom Halls?
33 Jehovah’s Witnesses hold weekly Bible study meetings in their Kingdom Halls that serve over 60,000 congregations throughout the earth. These meetings are not based on ritual or on emotion but on the gaining of accurate knowledge of God, his Word, and his purposes. Therefore, Jehovah’s Witnesses come together three times a week to increase their understanding of the Bible and to learn how to preach and teach its message to others.—Romans 12:1, 2; Philippians 1:9-11; Hebrews 10:24, 25.
34. What is the purpose of the Theocratic Ministry School?
34 For example, a midweek meeting includes the Theocratic Ministry School, in which members of the congregation may be enrolled. This school, presided over by a qualified Christian elder, serves to train men, women, and children in the art of teaching and self-expression in accordance with Bible principles. The apostle Paul stated: “Let your utterance be always with graciousness, seasoned with salt, so as to know how you ought to give an answer to each one.” In their Christian meetings, the Witnesses also learn how to express the Kingdom message “with a mild temper and deep respect.”—Colossians 4:6; 1 Peter 3:15.
35. What are some other meetings the Witnesses hold, and what are their benefits?
35 On a different day, the Witnesses also meet for a 45-minute Bible discourse followed by a one-hour congregation consideration (by means of questions and answers) of a Bible theme related to Christian teaching or conduct. Members of the congregation are free to participate. Every year the Witnesses also attend three larger meetings, assemblies and conventions of one to four days, where thousands usually gather to listen to Bible discourses. As a result of these and other free meetings, each Witness deepens his or her knowledge of God’s promises for this earth and for mankind in addition to acquiring an excellent education in Christian morals. Each one is drawn closer to the true God, Jehovah, by following the teachings and example of Christ Jesus.—John 6:44, 65; 17:3; 1 Peter 1:15, 16.
How Are the Witnesses Organized?
36. (a) Do the Witnesses have a paid clergy class? (b) Who, then, take the lead in the congregation?
36 Logically, if Jehovah’s Witnesses hold meetings and are organized to preach, they must have someone to take the lead. However, they do not have a paid clergy class nor do they have any charismatic leader on a pedestal. (Matthew 23:10) Jesus said: “You received free, give free.” (Matthew 10:8; Acts 8:18-21) In each congregation, there are spiritually qualified elders and ministerial servants, many of whom have secular employment and care for a family, who voluntarily take the lead in teaching and directing the congregation. This is precisely the model set by first-century Christians.—Acts 20:17; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-10, 12, 13.
37. How are elders and ministerial servants appointed?
37 How are these elders and ministerial servants appointed? Their appointments are made under the supervision of a governing body of anointed elders from various lands whose function is parallel to that of the body of apostles and elders in Jerusalem who took the lead in the early Christian congregation. As we saw in Chapter 11, no one apostle had the primacy over the others. They came to their decisions as a body, and these were respected by the congregations scattered throughout the ancient Roman world.—Acts 15:4-6, 22, 23, 30, 31.
38. How does the Governing Body function?
38 The same arrangement functions for the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses today. They hold weekly meetings at their world headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, and instructions are then sent from there to the Branch Committees around the world that superintend the ministerial activity in each country. By following the example of the earliest Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been able to cover vast portions of the earth with the preaching of the good news of God’s Kingdom. That work continues on a global scale.—Matthew 10:23; 1 Corinthians 15:58.
Flocking to the True God
39. (a) Why do the Witnesses take a neutral stand on political issues? (b) How have the Witnesses prospered under ban?
39 During the 20th century, Jehovah’s Witnesses have prospered throughout the earth. This has even been true in lands where they have been under ban or proscription. These bans were imposed mainly by regimes that failed to understand the neutral position of Jehovah’s Witnesses regarding the political and nationalistic allegiances of this world. (See box, page 347.) Yet, in such lands, tens of thousands of people have turned to God’s Kingdom as the only true hope for peace and security for mankind. In most nations a tremendous witness has been given, and now there are millions of active Witnesses everywhere.—See chart, page 361.
40, 41. (a) What do Jehovah’s Witnesses now await? (b) What question still must be answered?
40 With their Christian love and their hope of “a new heaven and a new earth,” Jehovah’s Witnesses are looking to the near future for world-stirring events that must soon put an end to all injustice, corruption, and unrighteousness on this earth. For that reason they will continue to visit their neighbors in a sincere effort to bring honesthearted ones nearer to the true God, Jehovah.—Revelation 21:1-4; Mark 13:10; Romans 10:11-15.
41 Meanwhile, according to Bible prophecy, what does the future hold for mankind, for religion, and for this polluted earth? Our final chapter will answer that vital question.—Isaiah 65:17-25; 2 Peter 3:11-14.
These last two sentences are found on the “Isaiah Wall” in front of the UN buildings as well as on a statue in the UN gardens, and in effect, their fulfillment is one of the aims of the UN.
The Greek word marʹtyr, from which the English word “martyr” is derived (“one who bears witness by his death,” An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine), actually means “witness” (“one who avers, or can aver, what he himself has seen or heard or knows by any other means,” A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, by J. H. Thayer).
For a detailed consideration of “the last days,” see You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1982, chapter 18.
[Box on page 347]
Christian Neutrality in Pagan Rome
In accordance with the principles of love and peace that Jesus taught, and based on their personal study of God’s Word, early Christians would not participate in wars or in training for them. Jesus had said: “My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.”—John 18:36.
At as late a date as 295 C.E., Maximilianus of Theveste, son of a Roman army veteran, was conscripted for military service. When the proconsul asked him his name, he answered: “Now, why do you want to know my name? I have a conscientious objection to military service: I am a Christian. . . . I can’t serve; I can’t sin against my conscience.” The proconsul warned him that he would lose his life if he did not obey. “I won’t serve. You may behead me, but I won’t serve the powers of This World; I will serve my God.”—An Historian’s Approach to Religion, by Arnold Toynbee.
In modern times, personal study of the Bible has led individual Witnesses of Jehovah worldwide to follow the dictates of conscience in taking a similar stand. In some countries many paid the supreme price, especially in Nazi Germany, where they were shot, hanged, and beheaded during World War II. But their worldwide unity, based on Christian love, has never been broken. No one has ever died in war at the hands of one of the Christian Witnesses of Jehovah. How different world history might have been if every professing Christian had also lived by Christ’s rule of love!—Romans 13:8-10; 1 Peter 5:8, 9.
[Box/Pictures on page 356, 357]
What Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe
Question: What is a soul?
Answer: In the Bible the soul (Hebrew, neʹphesh; Greek, psy·kheʹ) is a person or an animal or the life that a person or an animal enjoys.
“And God went on to say: ‘Let the earth put forth living souls according to their kinds, domestic animal and moving animal and wild beast of the earth according to its kind.’ And Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul.”—Genesis 1:24; 2:7.
Animals and man ARE living souls. The soul is not something with a separate existence. It can and does die. “Look! All the souls—to me they belong. As the soul of the father so likewise the soul of the son—to me they belong. The soul that is sinning—it itself will die.”—Ezekiel 18:4.
Question: Is God a Trinity?
Answer: Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jehovah is the unequaled Sovereign Lord of the universe. “Listen, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.” (Deuteronomy 6:4) Christ Jesus as the Word was a spirit creation and came to earth in obedience to his Father’s will. He is in subjection to Jehovah. “But when all things will have been subjected to him [Christ], then the Son himself will also subject himself to the One who subjected all things to him, that God may be all things to everyone.”—1 Corinthians 15:28; see also Matthew 24:36; Mark 12:29; John 1:1-3, 14-18; Colossians 1:15-20.
Question: Do Jehovah’s Witnesses worship or venerate idols?
Answer: Jehovah’s Witnesses do not practice any form of idolatry, whether it involves idols, persons, or organizations.
“We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no God but one. For even though there are those who are called ‘gods,’ whether in heaven or on earth, just as there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords,’ there is actually to us one God the Father, out of whom all things are, and we for him; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and we through him.”—1 Corinthians 8:4-6; see also Psalm 135:15-18.
Question: Do Jehovah’s Witnesses celebrate Mass or Communion?
Answer: Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in transubstantiation, a Roman Catholic teaching. They do celebrate the Lord’s Evening Meal on the date corresponding to the Jewish Nisan 14 (usually in March or April) as an annual memorial of Christ’s death. At this meeting they pass around the congregation unleavened bread and red wine in symbol of Christ’s sinless body and sacrificial blood. Only those with the hope of reigning with Christ in his heavenly Kingdom partake of the emblems.—Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:29; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Revelation 14:1-5.*
Jehovah’s Witnesses meet regularly in Kingdom Halls for Bible study
Kingdom Halls: Ichihara City, Japan (previous page), and Boituva, Brazil
For a further consideration of this subject, see Reasoning From the Scriptures, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1985, pages 261-9.
[Chart on page 361]
Some Countries Where Witnesses Preach
Country Active Witnesses
El Salvador 18,000
Germany, F. R. 129,000
Puerto Rico 24,000
South Africa 46,000
36 under ban 220,000
1989 World Figures 60,192 Congregations 3,787,000 Witnesses
[Pictures on page 346]
UN peace statue states: “We shall beat our swords into plowshares”; the “Isaiah Wall” gives the Biblical text
[Picture on page 351]
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in Christ’s ransom sacrifice for mankind’s sins
[Pictures on page 363]
Assembly Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses: Aerial view of hall in East Pennines, England
Assembly Hall, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.A., used for English, Spanish, and French programs
[Pictures on page 364]
Watch Tower Society World Headquarters, Brooklyn, New York; (from top left) offices, factories, and residences (highlighted)
[Pictures on page 365]
Watch Tower branch offices (from top left) in South Africa, Spain, and New Zealand