What Do Jehovah's Witnesses Believe?


What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe?

Independent filmmaker Joel P. Engardio wrote and narrated the PBS documentary "Knocking," which explains misunderstood aspects of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Raised as a Witness, Engardio chose not to join the faith because he disagrees with some of its positions. His film, however, explores many of the positive contributions that Witnesses have made to society. In a series of brief Beliefnet videos, Engardio answers frequently-asked questions about Witnesses.


I’m pretty certain that they don’t believe in the Trinity. And they don’t believe that Jesus died on the cross but on a stake.

Other then the fact that they read Watch Tower, I have no idea what other beliefs that they hold.


And they don’t believe that Jesus died on the cross but on a stake.

Not to be condescending in any way, but where does this idea come from?

Crucifixion was known to have been brought from the Persians to the Romans via the Macedonians/Greeks (Alexander the Great). Though some historians claim they learned it from the Carthaginians.

Regardless, it is well known and documented as a use of execution in the Roman Empire. I believe that the Jewish only had three or four acceptable forms of the death penalty, and crucifixion was not one of them.

Even the scourging prior to the crucifixion (as happened with Christ) was not unknown both before and after the Crucifixion of Christ.

I just never realised any Christian-like group denied this.


They do not believe in the Trinity. My understanding is that they believe that Jesus was an archangel, although I do not remember which one. They do not accept the Holy Spirit as a person. In the New World Transaltion of the Bible, which was done by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Holy Spirit is referred to as God’s active force. The New World Translation also mistranslates John 1:1 as “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was a god” (Ask them how many gods there are).
They believe that only 144,000 people will be taken to Heaven. The rest will be in a pardise separate from Heaven.
They believe in soul death which means that the souls of those who are not immediately taken to Heaven are obliterated. At the Second Coming, the souls of those who will live in paradise are re-created. They do not believe Jesus died on the Cross. Rather they say it was a torture stake. They believe they are the only true religion and that they must accept everything that the truth can only be received from the Watchtower and Bible Tract Society


There is no Trinity

The Holy Spirit is a force, not alive

Jehovah’s first creation was his ‘only-begotten Son’. . . was used by Jehovah in creating all other things.

Jesus was Michael the archangel who became a man.

Jesus was only a perfect man, not God in flesh.

Jesus did not rise from the dead in his physical body.

Jesus was raised “not a human creature, but a spirit.”

Jesus did not die on a cross but on a stake.

Jesus began his invisible rule over the earth in 1914.

Their church is the self-proclaimed prophet of God.

They claim to be the only channel of God’s truth.

Only their church members will be saved.

The soul ceases to exist after death.

There is no hell of fire where the wicked are punished.

Only 144,000 Jehovah’s Witness go to heaven.

Only the 144,000 may take communion.

Blood transfusions are a sin.

The Cross is a pagan symbol and should not be used.

Each of the 6 creative days of God in Genesis 1, was 7000 years long.

Therefore, Man was created toward the end of 42,000 years of earth’s preparation.

They also refuse to vote, salute the flag, sing the “Star Spangled Banner,” or celebrate Christmas or birthdays. They are not allowed to serve in the armed forces.

Satan was entrusted with the obligation and charged with the duty of overseeing the creation of the earth.


“Knocking” is a complete farce. It is a one sided propaganda film made to make JWs seem sympathetic and not cultic.

I wouldn’t waste time watching it or anything else from that filmmaker. :mad:


I think the “stake” thing is a language question, a case of synecdoche, where a part (stavros) is used to represent the whole. Stavros does literally mean stake. As you mention, the form of crucifixion is archaeologically documented. In Latin the “crux” comprised a stake (stapes) and crossbeam (patibulum). Together the two elements formed what we call a cross, but the word “cross” did not necessarily refer to the symbol as we think of it today. “Crux” was any instrument of death/torture.

Since the JW’s didn’t think this up for decades after they got rolling (and I understand Russell’s tombstone has a crucifixon it), the most likely explanation for it is that they want to do anything they can to discredit Christianity.


Here is Jehovah’s Witnesses view on the cross, with supporting references. (From the book ‘Reasoning From The Scriptures’)

The Greek word rendered “cross” in many modern Bible versions (“torture stake” in NW) is stau•ros´. In classical Greek, this word meant merely an upright stake, or pale. Later it also came to be used for an execution stake having a crosspiece. The Imperial Bible-Dictionary acknowledges this, saying: “The Greek word for cross, [stau•ros´], properly signified a stake, an upright pole, or piece of paling, on which anything might be hung, or which might be used in impaling [fencing in] a piece of ground. . . . Even amongst the Romans the crux (from which our cross is derived) appears to have been originally an upright pole.”—Edited by P. Fairbairn (London, 1874), Vol. I, p. 376.

Was that the case in connection with the execution of God’s Son? It is noteworthy that the Bible also uses the word xy´lon to identify the device used. A Greek-English Lexicon, by Liddell and Scott, defines this as meaning: “Wood cut and ready for use, firewood, timber, etc. . . . piece of wood, log, beam, post . . . cudgel, club . . . stake on which criminals were impaled . . . of live wood, tree.” It also says “in NT, of the cross,” and cites Acts 5:30 and 10:39 as examples. (Oxford, 1968, pp. 1191, 1192) However, in those verses KJ, RS, JB, and Dy translate xy´lon as “tree.” (Compare this rendering with Galatians 3:13; Deuteronomy 21:22, 23.)

The book The Non-Christian Cross, by J. D. Parsons (London, 1896), says: “There is not a single sentence in any of the numerous writings forming the New Testament, which, in the original Greek, bears even indirect evidence to the effect that the stauros used in the case of Jesus was other than an ordinary stauros; much less to the effect that it consisted, not of one piece of timber, but of two pieces nailed together in the form of a cross. . . . It is not a little misleading upon the part of our teachers to translate the word stauros as ‘cross’ when rendering the Greek documents of the Church into our native tongue, and to support that action by putting ‘cross’ in our lexicons as the meaning of stauros without carefully explaining that that was at any rate not the primary meaning of the word in the days of the Apostles, did not become its primary signification till long afterwards, and became so then, if at all, only because, despite the absence of corroborative evidence, it was for some reason or other assumed that the particular stauros upon which Jesus was executed had that particular shape.”—Pp. 23, 24; see also The Companion Bible (London, 1885), Appendix No. 162.

Thus the weight of the evidence indicates that Jesus died on an upright stake and not on the traditional cross.



What were the historical origins of Christendom’s cross?

“Various objects, dating from periods long anterior to the Christian era, have been found, marked with crosses of different designs, in almost every part of the old world. India, Syria, Persia and Egypt have all yielded numberless examples . . . The use of the cross as a religious symbol in pre-Christian times and among non-Christian peoples may probably be regarded as almost universal, and in very many cases it was connected with some form of nature worship.”—Encyclopædia Britannica (1946), Vol. 6, p. 753.

“The shape of the [two-beamed cross] had its origin in ancient Chaldea, and was used as the symbol of the god Tammuz (being in the shape of the mystic Tau, the initial of his name) in that country and in adjacent lands, including Egypt. By the middle of the 3rd cent. A.D. the churches had either departed from, or had travestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith. In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical system pagans were received into the churches apart from regeneration by faith, and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols. Hence the Tau or T, in its most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted to stand for the cross of Christ.”—An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (London, 1962), W. E. Vine, p. 256.

“It is strange, yet unquestionably a fact, that in ages long before the birth of Christ, and since then in lands untouched by the teaching of the Church, the Cross has been used as a sacred symbol. . . . The Greek Bacchus, the Tyrian Tammuz, the Chaldean Bel, and the Norse Odin, were all symbolised to their votaries by a cruciform device.”—The Cross in Ritual, Architecture, and Art (London, 1900), G. S. Tyack, p. 1.

“The cross in the form of the ‘Crux Ansata’ . . . was carried in the hands of the Egyptian priests and Pontiff kings as the symbol of their authority as priests of the Sun god and was called ‘the Sign of Life.’”—The Worship of the Dead (London, 1904), Colonel J. Garnier, p. 226.

“Various figures of crosses are found everywhere on Egyptian monuments and tombs, and are considered by many authorities as symbolical either of the phallus [a representation of the male sex organ] or of coition. . . . In Egyptian tombs the crux ansata [cross with a circle or handle on top] is found side by side with the phallus.”—A Short History of Sex-Worship (London, 1940), H. Cutner, pp. 16, 17; see also The Non-Christian Cross, p. 183.
“These crosses were used as symbols of the Babylonian sun-god, [See book], and are first seen on a coin of Julius Cæsar, 100-44 B.C., and then on a coin struck by Cæsar’s heir (Augustus), 20 B.C. On the coins of Constantine the most frequent symbol is [See book]; but the same symbol is used without the surrounding circle, and with the four equal arms vertical and horizontal; and this was the symbol specially venerated as the ‘Solar Wheel’. It should be stated that Constantine was a sun-god worshipper, and would not enter the ‘Church’ till some quarter of a century after the legend of his having seen such a cross in the heavens.”—The Companion Bible, Appendix No. 162; see also The Non-Christian Cross, pp. 133-141.


Re-reading the crucifixion accounts, I was surprised to realize that nothing in them directly indicate that Christ was crucified on a literal cross. The accounts could just as easily be interpreted as describing Christ’s death via a single, upright stake.

(I’m not saying the JWs are right, however.:D)


Well, all ancient Christians from the first century A.D. onward (many of whom knew the apostles or those taught directly by the apostles), taught that Jesus died on a two-beamed Cross. Justin Martyr goes into great detail describing the two beamed cross, and this was 200 years before “wicked old Constantine” supposedly brought the “pagan” cross into Christianity.

Also, scripture says that Pilate’s sign was placed
above Jesus’s HEAD, not above his HANDS.


Ahh…I never get tired of the “Christianity disinegrated into pagan-friendly fare by the 3rd century” myth. :rolleyes: It’s nice to see it being spouted by someone other than Woodrow, though.


I was the best JW they ever had. I was third generation, raised near Brooklyn Headquarters in the company of the ‘Governing Body’, my father was an elder and one of the annointed (who was going to heaven,) I was a pioneer—(missionary) for 15 years, I left at age 34. I literally lost everything and everyone to leave and had death threats for years afterwards from family members. Do not let them mislead you—I was on the deep inside of the cult and it is absolutely Satanic. The average JW does not have a clue what goes on behind the Watchtower walls. It is a dangerous cult and not in the slightest bit Christian. And incidentally, I was not kicked out—I walked away willingly.
A true perspective of the group is found in the book Crisis of Conscience written by Ray Franz—the nephew of the late President of WTBS Fred Franz–he was as inside as you can get and he left and is now the number one enemy. He lives near Atlanta.


yrs ago when they put up the hall there was no houses. first weekend a bunch showed up to pour the cement. then several weeks later a ton of campers and trailers showed up and raised the building in a weekend, I remember at one time there were 75 on the roof at one time.

They keep their hall very clean, there is work groups on weekends cutting grass sweeping etc. Keep the walks shoveled as they are in a corner in my neighbourhood. they meet wednesday nites and dress in suits and dresses, seem to prefer black.

Occasionally neighbour hood kids sit on front step, but never their own attendees.

When a good friend whos grandma died from lack of transfusion finally found out they were “wrong” he stopped being mad at God and accepted Christ.

My aunt was one, she had a wonderful attitude and good outlook on life. Didnt always agree with them. I think she went because they picked her up as she didnt drive. Theology is the pits but the attitude is attractive and helpfull to older people. That is something that could be learned from them. :slight_smile:


Holy cow! I cannot even begin to imagine what you must have gone through.

I enjoy dialoging with JWs though because they are so sincere, so zealous, so committed. I try not to be patronizing.






Here’s a quick primer on their beliefs:
and here’s a little more in-depth info:

I have read most of their materials, and liked the way everything was explained – no mysteries, everything rational, and wrapped up in a proper little package. The book, Catholic Answer to the Jehovah’s Witnesses really helped me to understand how their theology is flawed.

As a last-ditch effort to talk to family members who are JWs who razzed me about the clergy scandal, I asked them about Charles Taze Russell, their first president. His wife divorced him because of an affair he had with a secretary. In order not to pay alimony, he transferred all of his funds to the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society. (I don’t mean to sound like a Chick Tract here. These allegations are verifiable.)

One of my favorite Watchtower books was a small brown-covered book written in question-and-answer format. For the life of me, I can’t rememebr the name of it. It guided their “pioneers” into making conversations and answering complex questions about their faith. Ravyn, do you remember what it was called? I’d like to get another copy for my personal library.


It’s called “Reasoning From The Scriptures”

For more information about JW beliefs: www.watchtower.org



Steve, you rock my socks!!!


Here’s a summary off the JW website. Click the link on the left “What do They Believe” and Scroll down a bit to see the chart:



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