How to Understand Jehovah's Witnesses

Опубликовал Admin
19-10-2016, 03:10
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Jehovah's Witnesses are well known for their public door-to-door ministry. Jehovah's Witnesses are a Christian denomination, yet several of their beliefs and practices are unique. Jehovah's Witnesses can be found in 239 lands worldwide. If you have friends, family or acquaintances who are Jehovah's Witnesses this wikiHow will outline some steps to help you understand their faith.


  1. Understand that Jehovah's Witnesses have many critics. This is primarily due to their worldwide evangelizing work, their "non negotiable" adherence to their specific Bible standards (predicated on their own translation), shunning ex members, and the fact that their teachings on certain subjects are "different" then what is taught in many "main stream" churches. The main differences are the belief that Jesus is equivalent to the Archangel Michael and that the translation of the Bible in English differs from the greek. As such, anyone who truly wants to understand Jehovah's Witnesses and their teachings has to do thorough research and make a clear distinction between facts, hearsay or outright lies.
  2. Be patient with them and yourself. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that they have gone back to the pattern of worship of the first century Christians. They point to many beliefs, practices and traditions common in Christendom today and say that these have over time crept in from non Christian sources and have nothing to do with Christianity. As a result, they feel that over time the real message and true doctrines of the Bible have been lost. As such, their body of doctrine has undergone development since the 1870s and has been refined since then to exclude non Christian teachings and to try to match the beliefs, doctrines and values of early Christians. Therefore, it will take time to research and understand this faith.
  3. Seek to understand...
    • Similarities with Christian views. For example, the Witnesses believe in salvation through ransom by means of Jesus Christ which is similar to the Christian view although, at its deepest level, very different. Like many other Christians they believe (that their translation of) the Bible is the literal word of God.
    • Differences with nominal Christian views. For example, the Witnesses do not believe in hell fire, the trinity, heavenly life for most Christians or that Jesus died on a cross but rather a simple wooden stake (in the original Koine Greek "stauros"). When it comes to the teaching of hell, the Witnesses believe that "God is love" and He, as a loving Father, would never do such a thing to his earthly children. They claim (contrary to the majority of theologians) that it is a historical fact, that this teaching was grafted on to Christianity over 300 years after the death of Jesus and is apostles by devious church leaders who wanted to control people. The Witnesses also reject the Trinity as a non-Christian teaching which cannot be supported by the Bible even though this is incorrect. And just like the hell doctrine, they claim it was "forcibly injected" into Christianity at the Council of Nicaea around AD 325 even though the Early Church Fathers clearly believed in it from their writings. Conversely, the Witnesses believe that when a person dies they are dead and await a resurrection by Jesus, and that he is the ultimate judge as to who will be resurrected or not. They cite Scriptures such as Acts 24:15, 1 Corinthians 15:12-21, Revelation 20:12,13 and many others as proof that the Bible teaches about a resurrection. They further reason that if there is no resurrection and all good people go to heaven, and all bad people go to hell, then who are all these mentioned in these Scriptures who will be resurrected? The Witnesses believe in the paradise earth which is mentioned in the Scriptures, for example in Revelation 21:1-5, that will soon replace the current system of things. Only about 11,500 of the current 7.9 million members believe they will go to heaven. The rest, they believe, will live on a paradise earth. The Witnesses believe that the whole message of "God's Kingdom" has been almost completely lost in the churches of Christendom over time. They cite the Lord's Prayer and Scriptures such as Luke 4:43, 16:16, Matthew 9:35, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and many others as proof and they teach that Jesus' whole life and ministry was centered around the proclamation of God's Kingdom and teaching people what it will do for humankind in the future. The Witnesses feel that God's Kingdom (Jehovah's' Kingdom) is God's ultimate solution for all the problems in this world and as such the Kingdom is one of the central doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses. They are well known, and at times maligned, for declaring this message worldwide.
    • Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. The legal and administrative side of Jehovah's Witnesses is headquartered in New York. The main goal of their non-profit societies is the publishing and distribution of religious literature, of which The Watchtower and Awake! magazines are most well known. Witnesses see their faith as closely associated with these organizations. Thus Witnesses will at times refer to themselves as "publishers". This term refers to their public preaching in general, as well as the literal distribution of religious literature. Witnesses will often use the term "the Society" or "faithful slave" when commenting on the administrative or religious direction received from headquarters.
    • Funding. The whole Jehovah's Witness organization and local Kingdom Halls are totally funded by voluntary contributions both from Witnesses and non Witnesses who appreciate their worldwide work. They do not pass around a plate or envelope during their meetings. There is a contribution box usually in a corner somewhere and if anyone is inclined they can contribute something anonymously. Volunteers print the literature, volunteers deliver the literature and volunteers go from door to door to place the literature with those who are interested. They cite Jesus who in Matthew 10:8 said “you received free, give free”. While the Witnesses do not charge for any of their literature they do accept voluntary contributions. It is reported that much of the funding which is collected in affluent countries is redistributed to poorer parts of the world to print literature and build Kingdom Halls. This way the Witnesses, without discrimination, offer all, even those in the poorest countries, the ability learn about God and have the same regular "spiritual food" that all Witnesses worldwide have.
    • View of other religions. The Witnesses believe all religion outside their own, including the rest of Christendom, have drifted away from God and His word the Bible. As such, these religions are part of a larger world-wide group of false religion the Bible calls "Babylon the Great." They cite such Scriptures as Revelation 14:8, 16:19, 17:5, 18:2,10,21 as proof.
    • View of most holidays. Since the 1920s the Witnesses have rejected, as pagan, the celebration of Christmas. Witnesses also do not celebrate birthdays, Easter, Mothers day, Fathers day, Valentine's Day and most other holidays due to the pagan roots of these holidays. Witnesses do however commemorate the last supper of Jesus, that occurs around the time of the Jewish Passover. The celebration of a wedding anniversary, bridal and baby shower is common in most Witness households.
    • Emphasis on "Jehovah", which is the personal name of God. The fact is that the Divine Name "Jehovah" does not appear in the original manuscripts of the Bible. In the JW Bible the name Jehovah is only used for Almighty God who is the Father and Creator of all things. The Son of God is called Jesus. This emphasis of God's name and distinction between Father and Son explains, in part, their rejection of the trinity doctrine as unscriptural.
    • View of the time of the end. From their start as International Bible Students led by Charles Taze Russell, the Witnesses focused on end-time prophesy. Originally identifying the period from 1874 to 1914 as the last days. Modern day Witnesses reject 1874 as significant but have retained 1914 as a marked year in both history and Scripture. Learning how their views on eschatology have changed over time and how they have continually searched for Bible understanding can help you understand this faith.
    • Unique terminology. For example, the Witnesses refer to their places of worship as Kingdom Halls, not Churches. Witnesses refer to each other as "brother" and "sister." They colloquially refer to their faith as "the truth."
    • What critics say and what Witness reply. Critics point out there is no dignified resignation from the faith that does not imply a person leaving is making a grave mistake and likely morally weak or wicked. Witnesses reply that any member can leave at any time or simply stop coming to their meetings. The Witnesses add that they have a responsibility to keep the congregation Scripturally clean and undefiled by the low moral standards for today's world. Critics further say those who are disfellowshipped (excommunicated) are shunned by those who remain in the faith. The Witnesses reply that such shunning is to help the disfellowshipped person to "come to their senses". Statistics show that actually many do come back and that a high percentage of those who are disfellowshipped are teenagers who "think they know better". The Witnesses add that rarely is anyone disfellowshipped for what they do. Rather the primary reason a Witness would be disfellowshipped is for their attitude about what they did. Other critics have pointed to loss of life for some Witnesses, including teens, who have refused medical treatment involving blood. Witnesses reply that there is no medical evidence which proves that refusing blood causes death or harm. Conversely, the Witnesses point to hundreds of studies which show blood transfusions lead to many complications and even death. In addition, they point out that ultimately all Witnesses (adults and teens) have to make their own personal decisions regarding refusal to take blood and are responsible to God about their decision.
    • View of those outside the faith. The Witnesses believe the whole world is actually ruled by Satan, citing Bible verses such as 2 Corinthians 4:4 and Revelation 12:9. However, they are quick to point out that God has allowed this only for a short time due to the rebellion of both humans beings and certain spirit beings very early in human history and the challenge that this presented to God's rulership. That issue involves all sentient beings everywhere. Bible verses such as James 4:4 tend to cause Witnesses to limit their close association with those outside the faith, viewing them as "in the world" that is at "enmity with God."
    • View of science. Where, in the eyes of many, science is in conflict with the Bible, the Witnesses will always side with the Bible. For example, the Witnesses accept the earth is billions of years old, but reject the theory of evolution as being flawed, inconsistent and actually unsupported by the fossil evidence. Witnesses believe the first Homo sapiens were Adam and Eve and that the whole world was flooded in 2370 BCE.
    • View of blood. Based on Bible verses such as Acts 15:29 that command Christians to "abstain from blood" Jehovah's Witnesses refuse blood transfusions and medical treatments that involve the use of whole blood, red cells, white cells, platelets or plasma. Other fractions of blood have been designated as a "conscience matter." When Jehovah's Witnesses refuse blood transfusions, it would be incorrect to assume the average Witness sees this as a life and death choice. Nearly all published material by the Witnesses on the subject highlight the risks of blood transfusions while pointing out the benefits of non-blood alternatives. Thus when someone outside the faith reads an account of a Witness dying after refusing a blood transfusion they may be shocked and may assume that it was due to a lack of a transfusion. However, there are now a significant amount of studies which show that in most instances this is not the case. Those studies show that other factors were likely involved or that the case was hopeless to start with. The Witnesses are used to news media coverage which is bias against the faith. But in a surprising turn of evens, when it comes to transfusions, there is a growing body of evidence which actually suggests that the Witnesses are right in not accepting blood transfusions. All kinds of studies done around the world point to the same conclusion. It may be hard to believe by some, but there are now many hospitals worldwide which have already gone "bloodless" and many more will soon follow. And that is whole hospitals not just a few departments. Not only that but leading surgeons and specialists from around the world are touting "bloodless" operations, trauma care (even extreme trauma) and other treatments as the "gold standard" treatment of the future due to significantly lower mortality rates, faster recovery and much lower chance of infection. One of the leaders in this new approach to medical treatment is the famous John Hopkins institute in the USA.
    • Updates to their doctrine. Witnesses feel that the true light from the Bible was almost extinguished in the middle ages (dark ages). Witnesses by and large are proud of the fact that their doctrine has changed and developed over time and is relevant based on an ever clearer understanding of Scripture. Witnesses are usually the first ones to admit that occasionally minor changes are made to their doctrine. They claim that this is done to have the clearest possible understanding of Scripture based on continued research and study of the Bible. This in itself is not canonical versus conventional Christianity.
  4. Research common misconceptions about the Witnesses.
    • There are many Kingdom Halls with windows, despite what some have claimed. If they do not have windows it is usually due to vandalism or being situated in a rough neighborhood.
    • The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures is a Bible produced and used most often by the Witnesses. Critics have pointed to aspects of apparent anti-Divinity of Christ in this translation and other differences from translations such as the King James Version and other versions. However, some scholars have praised the translation for overcoming centuries of accumulated layers of church sponsored bias (forcing the translation to support certain church doctrines) and for sticking closely to the meaning of the original languages the Bible was written in. This is contrary to the canonical view of the majority of biblical scholars today.
    • Witnesses are not taught salvation can be earned by preaching. They believe, like most other Christians, salvation is a free gift bestowed upon the faithful.
    • Witnesses do believe that only 144,000 from earth will gain heavenly life to be "kings and priests of God", but this does not imply that millions of Witnesses feel they are all vying for this opportunity. Instead most Witnesses view their reward as everlasting life on a paradise earth. They cite Scriptures such as Psalms 37:11 and Matthew 5:5 as proof that the majority of faithful servants of God will inherit life on earth.
    • Witnesses accept modern medicine and they work hard to get the best possible medical treatment.


  • Do not assume that what they teach is wrong. Have a good understanding of what your own faith teaches and then compare that to what the Witnesses preach. Such an open minded approach may open the way for interesting discussions and personal growth.
  • Be kind and courteous, when dealing with the Witnesses, after all it is important to remember that all of them are non-paid volunteers which do what they do out of genuine concern for their neighbors and fellow man. They do their work in all kinds of weather and under various political and economic conditions. Unless retired, almost all Witnesses work for a living and all of them cover their own costs in gas, time and expenses needed to preach their message to others.
  • The message that Jehovah's Witnesses present appeal to people from all sorts of religious backgrounds who are dissatisfied with what their own religion is doing or teaching. They also appeal to many who have, in one way or another, given up on religion. But perhaps more importantly, the Bible teachings they follow and preach about have managed to cut through the various barriers that separate people today. Jehovah's Witnesses consider themselves one global brotherhood and can be found in virtually every country in the world.
  • The translation that Jehovah's Witnesses use is a very poor one. This is because a more correct translation of the Greek texts leads one to disagree with their essential doctrines. The most obvious one is John Chapter 1. When encountering them it should be understood that their translation is not strong.
  • The Watchtower and Awake! magazines, published by Jehovah's Witnesses, are the most widely circulated and read magazines in the world. Love them or hate them, it is a fact that each issue of the Watchtower is printed in about 206 languages with an average of almost 45,000,000 copies per month and the Awake! has a monthly printing of around 43,500,000 copies in 99 languages. Obviously, more than just Witness are reading them. The magazines have broad appeal, cover timely issues, are intelligently written and are politically neutral. Some articles cover religious matters but many others are about important issues of the day. Incidentally, the combined monthly printing of 88,500,000 or so issues of both the Watchtower and Awake!, as far as can be understood, does not include what they call their "study editions" of the Watchtower which are primarily distributed internally and used by Witnesses worldwide in their meetings and for personal Bible study.
  • Jehovah's Witnesses have no hidden agenda when it comes to their preaching. Their door-to-door evangelizing work is a result of what Jesus commanded his followers to do at Matthew 28:19.
  • Be honest with them. Tell them if you do not want to listen to their message or read their literature and the reasons for such. This is usually more than enough.


  • Some critics have pointed to the use of the phrase "Theocratic Warfare" in older issues of The Watchtower to suggest Jehovah's Witnesses are taught to be deceptive about their faith. However, in all fairness, with just a little further investigation it can be seen that this accusation is rather baseless and refers to a "Spiritual Warfare" that Jehovah's Witnesses feel they have with what they consider to the "wicked forces of this corrupt world". This refers to today's popular culture and "anything goes" mindset which according to the Bible, Witnesses feel go contrary to God's righteous principles and commandments. As such, it would be incorrect to say in general Witnesses are taught to be deceptive about their faith. Rather, quite opposite, Witness are taught to be extremely honest and believe they are "in the truth" and teachers of "the truth." That being the case, if a Witness is asked a question that he or she knows will needlessly cause harm or death to another individual, rather than lying they will refuse to offer the information, even if it means that they will suffer harm themselves.
  • Websites, reading materials and comments by ex-Witnesses will most likely not give you an accurate picture of Jehovah's Witnesses and what their teachings really are.
  • Not all Jehovah's Witnesses are on the same "spiritual level". Some of them have been members for many years, or perhaps their whole life, and are more knowledgeable and mature in their faith. Others are just new and starting out and may require a little more patience from your side.
  • Asking one of Jehovah's Witnesses to explain their faith can be a good way to learn. Most Witnesses will view such an inquiry as an opportunity to share their beliefs with you, or what they call "give a witness" or "share the truth" with you.

Things You'll Need

  • Your own Bible. (optional)
  • Any publications from your own religion. (optional)
  • An open mind. (preferred)
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