As my wife and I were driving home from mass today, we passed the local JW Kingdom Hall and started discussing our JW “neighbors”. During our discussion, my wife raised an interesting question about them…
If we’re not mistaken; they believe only 144,000 people will be saved at the end of the world, right? And if THAT’S true… why do they spend so much time and energy evangelizing? Aren’t some of them afraid that a new convert might take “their” spot in heaven?
What’s the deal?
JWs and former JWs are especially welcome to respond.
From what I understand about JW teaching, the 144,000 in heaven include only those who were born before the year 1935…everyone else can’t get to heaven - they can only get to “paradise earth”. So, the JW’s nowadays aren’t even shooting for heaven…only “paradise earth”. We need to pray for them that they come to see that God has so much more in store for his children than “paradise earth”, namely a sharing in the divine Sonship of Christ.
From where I am, even Paradise Earth is looking good. We must pray that all good men and women acting in compliance with their conscience will be offered the opportunity Jesus came to guarantee - that all may be saved.
I always welcome the JW that come to the door. They have courage in their faith that we all should have. We should respect them even in their flawed understanding of Christ.
That is correct, they have a two-class Salvation system:
*]Upper-class, the “little flock”, the 144,000: Have hope of resurrection to heaven
*]Lower class, the “great crowd”, all others: Have hope of resurrection to a paradise earth under the rulership of God and the 144,000.
There’s been a lot of “new light” lately in the JW world but from when I was a member the 144,000 are the chosen ones to rule with Christ after Armageddon during His 1,000 year rule. The survivors of Armageddon and those resurrected from the grave (remember that there is no eternal hellfire with them) just live on Paradise Earth.
I was a former Jehovah’s Witness in my teens and 20s before returning to the Catholic Church wherein I was baptized and originally raised.
The official teaching of the JWs is that only 144,000 people have been chosen by God through the Holy Spirit to have a heavenly hope–and can expect to live in heaven with God and rule with Christ over the world to come.
The reason for this belief is due to their literal interpretation of the number 144,000 in the book of Revelation. (Revelation 7:4; 14:1) They support their belief that this number has to be literal because of what Christ said at Luke 12:32:
Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.
Since those the Father will give the kingdom are described as a “little flock,” they reason that those who will be saved to receive heavenly life are greatly limited.
Why Preach If Only A Limited Number…?
Up until very recently, the teaching was that Christ began to choose who would be of the 144,000 from the time of the apostles onward. Since the Witnesses grew to almost 90,000 by the 1930s the then president of the Watchtower Society, J.F. Rutherford, claimed to be enlightened by God to proclaim that the door to heaven had been shut in 1935. Since then all new members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses could only hope to live on earth after Armageddon had passed.
New converts are told to believe exclusively in living on a Paradise earth for eternity under the rule of Christ and his 144,000. While often claiming that hope in living on a paradise earth is a doctrine unique to their religion, it is actually borrowed from the Catholic Church’s 2000-year-old doctrine on the future transformation of the physical universe.–For more information see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1042, “The Hope of the New Heaven and the New Earth.”
For almost 100 years the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been preaching in order to gather people for life on a paradise earth, mainly because they believe that at about 6000 years after the creation of Adam society as we know it will be destroyed by God. Only those siding with the religion of the Jehovah’s Witnesses will survive the slaughter. Their preaching is two-fold, they claim, not only to make converts but to warn those who are likely to refuse their “life-saving” message.
Problems and Current Changes
The problem is that the Witnesses have set several dates for this “end of 6,000 years,” most notably in 1975 and then later before the 20th century was over. They have also used the dwindling number of those among them who claim to have the heavenly hope–only around 8000 when I left in 1989–as an indicator that the end was near. According to them the yearly decreasing remnant number of the “little flock” (with no more being added to their number) is “proof positive” that Armageddon will be visited on “this generation” (a claim they have been making since the 1870s).
But after the year 2000 the number of the “little flock” has increased by almost 5,000! Instead of dwindling the number now stands at 13,204. The current Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses has claimed to receive “new light” from Heaven instructing them to dismiss J.F. Rutherford’s claim that 1935 was the year that the hope to heavenly life was closed.
A Powerplay Ensuing
There does seem to be some fear that newer ones will take the spot of those who in the past claimed to be of the 144,000 among their number, so much so that a couple of years ago the Governing Body changed a major teaching that their religion held for about a century. The official doctrine had been that the “little flock” were those to whom God had specifically written the Bible to. Having this special knowledge they in turn acted as a teaching class to others, especially those who were being gathered to the hope of life in an earthly paradise.
With the number of those claiming to have a heavenly hope increasing (a hope that is decided personally, by the way), the Governing Body has just recently claimed “new light” from Heaven revealing that only they, the Governing Body, are the only members of the special teaching class to whom spiritual enlightenment is granted. They also teach that any who claimed to have the heavenly hope after 1935 (even though that year no longer means anything) are subject to disbelief, with pride and even mental instability a likelihood basis for their claim.
It should be noted that simple calculations puts the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses who throughout their religion’s history have claimed to be of the limited 144,000 at about 103,000. Since they claim that the apostles and first century Christians (and many others through the centuries up until the 1800s) were of this number, their current interpretations are proving to be more of a thorn in their side than a hope.
The concept of their 144,000 and who is included in that is one of the many threads that are coming undone in recent years. I was surprised to learn that it was wrong to challenge someone’s statement that they were part of the anointed class and if someone partakes of the emblems that is not believed to be part of the anointed, well, if you can’t challenge their statement then basically anyone can partake of the bread and the wine and say all they want that they are part of the anointed. I’ve heard of many newcomers to the faith say that they are anointed, that they have heard Jehovah calling them. :shrug::rolleyes:
Great post Delson, once again shining light into the dark recesses of error.
Something that has always intrigued me is how do you quantify the word “Little” when it is used by the entity that created the universe and all that exists?
Again mark up their error to basing their understanding on a forced Anglicanized reading of the text (reading the expression “little flock” as if the English reading gives the actual sense).
The actual expression for “little flock” in the Greek text is what is known as a double diminutive and cannot be expressed in English in such a way to capture the actual meaning.
The expression “little” (Greek,* mikros*) as used here doesn’t mean “few” but “teeny-tiny,” “poor little,” “dear little,” “sweet itty-bitty.” It is a term of endearment, such as when a person calls their loved one “poor sweet baby,” even though the individual may be rich and an adult. The modern small measurement “micro” comes from this word.
This shows that a so-called “literal” reading is often subject to the understanding of the one doing reading: do they read the text constantly aware that the words were originally Greek translations of Hebrew/Aramaic expressions or do they read it as if Western English definition has the final say? This is quite a challenge, for even the most learned readers must fight to avoid a narrow understanding of Holy Writ.
Also, only members of the 144,000 can receive the “emblem” of bread and wine at their memorials. Which poses an interesting question. If only those born or baptized before 1935 can be a member of the 144K, and only those members receive the emblems, at some point they will run out of those that can receive as then will all be dead. So they will either need to change the teaching (aka New Light) to allow others to receive, or they will be rejecting Jesus’ command to “do this in memory of me”, as no one will be doing it.
Indeed, what a foreseeable thing. At least to us “worldly people”. And yet, they will all believe it. I understand the Watchtower is already slowly moving into position to change this. Most recently (not more than 2 years ago, I think) they have changed their teaching on who the “Faithful and Discreet Slave” is exactly, to now mean their Governing Body. Interestingly, that very teaching was once believed to be heretical.
And re-creates them at the “resurrection”. As He supposedly did with Jesus. Charles Russell, their founder, once said that “the man Jesus Christ is dead forever” (or similar wording) which serves to illustrate that they don’t actually believe in the Resurrection as historic Christianity (and the Bible…) teaches it.
I understand what you’re saying - in the recent past I would actually wish JW well in their efforts.
But as I’ve come to understand their religion (primarily from sources here on CAF) , I have a different reaction to their efforts - though I see the as otherwise goodly people, I no longer treat what they say as an awkward form of American Christianity but as a wholesale corruption of God’s promise to us.
In short, I welcome them to my home as an opportunity to present Christ and Him crucified in hope of their salvation.
Their ideology is ever-changing, what it was 20 something years ago when I left is definitely not what it is now from what I hear from my active JW sister. Some of the things that I have read from their recent publications has me very concerned to be honest. The Governing Body is truly not showing them the way to God’s Salvation :frighten: