The Jehovah’s Witnesses / Watchtower’s Scriptural Distortions By Walter Martin

The Watchtower’s Scriptural DistortionsWalter_Ralston_Martin_ca_1983

Walter Martin

(1) The first major perversion that Jehovah’s Witnesses attempt to foist upon the minds of the average reader is that it has remained for them as “God’s true Witnesses” to restore the divine Old Testament name Jehovah to the text of the Greek New Testament. But let us observe this pretext as they stated it in their own words.

The evidence is, therefore, that the original text of the Christian Greek Scriptures has been tampered with, the same as the text of the LXX [the Septuagint—a Greek translation of the Old Testament] has been. And, at least from the third century A.D. onward, the divine name in tetragrammaton [the Hebrew consonants , usually rendered “Jehovah”] form has been eliminated from the text by copyists. In place of it they substituted the words (usually translated “the Lord”) and , meaning “God” (p. 18).

The “evidence” that the Witnesses refer to is a papyrus roll of the LXX, which contains the second half of the book of Deuteronomy and which does have the tetragrammaton throughout. Further than this, the Witnesses refer to Aquila (A.D. 128) and Origen (ca. A.D. 250), who both utilized the tetragrammaton in their respective Version and Hexapla. Jerome, in the fourth century, also mentioned the tetragrammaton as appearing in certain Greek volumes even in his day. On the basis of this small collection of fragmentary “evidence,” Jehovah’s Witnesses conclude their argument:

It proves that the original LXX did contain the divine name wherever it occurred in the Hebrew original. Considering it a sacrilege to use some substitute such as or , the scribes inserted the tetragrammaton at its proper place in the Greek version text (p. 12).

The whole case the Witnesses try to prove is that the original LXX and the New Testament autographs all used the tetragrammaton (p. 18), but owing to “tampering” all these were changed; hence, their responsibility to restore the divine name. Such is the argument, and a seemingly plausible one to those not familiar with the history of manuscripts and the Witnesses’ subtle use of terms.

To explode this latest Watchtower pretension of scholarship completely is an elementary task. It can be shown from literally thousands of copies of the Greek New Testament that not once does the tetragrammaton appear, not even in Matthew, which was possibly written in Hebrew or Aramaic originally, therefore making it more prone than all the rest to have traces of the divine name in it—yet it does not! Beyond this, the roll of papyrus (LXX) that contains the latter part of Deuteronomy and the divine name only proves that one copy did have the divine name, whereas all other existing copies use and , which the Witnesses claim are “substitutes.” The testimonies of Aquila, Origen, and Jerome, in turn, only show that sometimes the divine name was used, but the general truth upheld by all scholars is that the Septuagint, with minor exceptions, always uses and in place of the tetragrammaton, and the New Testament never uses it at all. Relative to the nineteen “sources” the Watchtower uses (pp. 30–33) for restoring the tetragrammaton to the New Testament, it should be noted that they are all translations from Greek (which uses and , not the tetragrammaton) back into Hebrew, the earliest of which is A.D. 1385, and therefore they are of no value as evidence.
These cold logical facts unmask once and for all the shallow scholarship of Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose arrogant pretension that they have a sound basis for restoring the divine name (Jehovah) to the Scriptures while inferring that orthodoxy suppressed it centuries ago is revealed to be a hollow scholastic fraud. The Watchtower itself admits, “But apart from [the use of “Jah” in “Hallelujah” in the book of Revelation], no ancient Greek manuscript that we possess today of the books from Matthew to Revelation contains God’s name [the tetragrammaton] in full.”

No reasonable scholar, of course, objects to the use of the term Jehovah in the Bible. But since only the Hebrew consonants appear without vowels, pronunciation is at best uncertain, and dogmatically to settle on Jehovah is straining at the bounds of good linguistics. When the Witnesses arrogantly claim then to have “restored” the divine name (Jehovah), it is almost pathetic. All students of Hebrew know that any vowel can be inserted between the consonants ( or ), so that theoretically the divine name could be any combination from JoHeVaH to JiHiViH without doing violence to the grammar of the language in the slightest degree.
(2) Colossians 1:16. “By means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities”(NWT).

In this particular rendering, Jehovah’s Witnesses attempt one of the most clever perversions of the New Testament texts that the author has ever seen. Knowing full well that the word other does not occur in this text, or for that matter in any of the three verses (16, 17, 19) where it has been added, albeit in brackets, the Witnesses deliberately insert it into the translation in a vain attempt to make Christ a creature and one of the “things” He is spoken of as having created.
Attempting to justify this unheard-of travesty upon the Greek language and also upon simple honesty, the New World Bible translation committee enclosed each added “other” in brackets, which are said by them to “enclose words inserted to complete or clarify the sense in the English text.” Far from clarifying God’s Word here, these unwarranted additions serve only to further the erroneous presupposition of the Watchtower that our Lord Jesus Christ is a creature rather than the Eternal Creator.
The entire context of Colossians 1:15–22 is filled with superlatives in its description of the Lord Jesus as the “image of the invisible God, the first begetter [or ‘original bringer forth’—Erasmus] of every creature.” The apostle Paul lauds the Son of God as Creator of all things (v. 16) and describes Him as existing “before all things” and as the one by whom “all things consist” (v. 17). This is in perfect harmony with the entire picture Scripture paints of the eternal Word of God (John 1:1) who was made flesh (John 1:14) and of whom it was written: “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). The writer of the book of Hebrews also pointed out that God’s Son “[upholds] all things by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3) and that He is Deity in all its fullness, even as Paul wrote to the Colossians: “For in him should all fulness [of God] dwell” (Colossians 1:19).
The Scriptures, therefore, bear unmistakable testimony to the creative activity of God’s Son, distinguishing Him from among the “things” created, as the Creator and Sustainer of “all things.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses, therefore, have no conceivable ground for this dishonest rendering of Colossians 1:16–17 and 19 by the insertion of the word “other,” since they are supported by no grammatical authorities, nor do they dare to dispute their perversions with competent scholars lest they further parade their obvious ignorance of Greek exegesis.

(3) Matthew 27:50. “Again Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and yielded up his breath” (NWT). Luke 23:46. “And Jesus called with a loud voice and said: Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit” (NWT).

For many years the Watchtower has been fighting a vain battle to redefine biblical terms to suit their own peculiar theological interpretations. They have had some measure of success in this attempt in that they have taught the rank and file a new meaning for tried and true biblical terms, and it is this trait of their deceptive system that we analyze now in connection with the above quoted verses.

The interested student of Scripture will note from Matthew 27:50 and Luke 23:46 that they are parallel passages describing the same event, namely, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In Matthew’s account, the Witnesses had no difficulty substituting the word “breath” for the Greek “spirit”, for in their vocabulary this word has many meanings, none of them having any hearing upon the general usage of the term, i.e., that of an immaterial, cognizant nature, inherent in man by definition and descriptive of angels through Creation. Jehovah’s Witnesses reject this immaterial nature in man and call it “breath,” “life,” “mental disposition,” or “something windlike.” In fact, they will call it anything but what God’s Word says it is, an invisible nature, eternal by Creation, a spirit, made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Sometimes, and in various contexts, spirit can mean some of the things the Witnesses hold, but context determines translation, along with grammar, and their translations quite often do not remain true to either.

Having forced the word “breath” into Matthew’s account of the crucifixion to make it appear that Jesus only stopped breathing and did not yield up His invisible nature upon dying, the Witnesses plod on to Luke’s account, only to be caught in their own trap. Luke, learned scholar and master of Greek that he was, forces the Witnesses to render his account of Christ’s words using the correct term “spirit”, instead of “breath” as in Matthew 27:50. Thus in one fell swoop the entire Watchtower fabric of manufactured terminology collapses, because Jesus would hardly have said: “Father, into thy hands I commit my breath”—yet if the Witnesses are consistent, which they seldom are, why did they not render the identical Greek term as “breath” both times, for it is a parallel account of the same scene!

The solution to this question is quite elementary, as all can clearly see. The Witnesses could not render it “breath” in Luke and get away with it, so they used it where they could and hoped nobody would notice either it or the different rendering in Matthew. The very fact that Christ dismissed His spirit proves the survival of the human spirit beyond the grave, or as Solomon so wisely put it: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

(4) Philippians 1:21–23. “For in my case to live is Christ, and to die, gain. Now if it be to live on in the flesh, this is a fruitage of my work—and yet which thing to select I do not know. I am under pressure from these two things; but what I do desire is the releasing and the being with Christ, for this, to be sure, is far better”(NWT).

In common with other cults that teach soul-sleep after the death of the body, Jehovah’s Witnesses translate texts contradicting this view to suit their own ends, a prime example of which is their rendering of Philippians 1:21–23. To anyone possessing even a cursory knowledge of Greek grammar the translation “but what I do desire is the releasing” (v. 23) signifies either a woeful ignorance of the rudiments of the language or a deliberate, calculated perversion of terminology for a purpose or purposes most questionable.

It is no coincidence that this text is a great “proof” passage for the expectation of every true Christian who after death goes to be with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). Jehovah’s Witnesses realize that if this text goes unchanged or unchallenged it utterly destroys their Russellite teaching that the soul becomes extinct at the death of the body. This being the case, and since they could not challenge the text without exploding the myth of their acceptance of the Bible as the final authority, the Watchtower committee chose to alter the passage in question, give it a new interpretation, and remove this threat to their theology.

The rendering, “but what I do desire is the releasing,” particularly the last word, is an imposition on the principles of sound Greek exegesis. The NWT renders the infinitive form of the verb as a substantive. In the context of this particular passage, to translate it “the releasing” would require the use of the participle construction, which when used with the word “wish” or “desire” denotes “a great longing” or “purpose” and must be rendered “to depart” or “to unloose.” (See Thayer; Liddell and Scott; Strong, Young, and A. T. Robertson.)
Quite frankly, it may appear that I have gone to a great deal of trouble simply to refute the wrong usage of a Greek form, but in truth this “simple” switching of terms is used by the Witnesses in an attempt to teach that Paul meant something entirely different than what he wrote to the Philippians. To see how the Watchtower manages this, I quote from their own appendix to the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures (780–781):

The verb is used as a verbal noun here. It occurs only once more in the Christian Greek Scriptures, and that is at Luke 12:36, where it refers to Christ’s return. The related noun occurs but once, at 2 Timothy 4:6, where the apostle says: “The due time for my releasing is imminent.” But here at Philippians 1:23 we have not rendered the verb as “returning” or “departing,” but as “releasing.” The reason is, that the word may convey two thoughts, the apostle’s own releasing to be with Christ at his return and also the Lord’s releasing himself from the heavenly restraints and returning as he promised.

In no way is the apostle here saying that immediately at his death he would be changed into spirit and would be with Christ forever. It is to this return of Christ and the apostle’s releasing to be always with the Lord that Paul refers at Philippians 1:23. He says there that two things are immediately possible for him, namely, (1) to live on in the flesh and (2) to die. Because of the circumstances to be considered, he expressed himself as being under pressure from these two things, not knowing which thing to choose as proper. Then he suggests a third thing, and this thing he really desires. There is no question about his desire for this thing as preferable, namely, the releasing, for it means his being with Christ.
The expression , or the releasing cannot therefore be applied to the apostle’s death as a human creature and his departing thus from this life. It must refer to the events at the time of Christ’s return and second presence, that is to say, his second coming and the rising of all those dead in Christ to be with him forevermore.

Here, after much grammatical intrigue, we have the key as to why the Witnesses went to so much trouble to render “depart” as “releasing.” By slipping in this grammatical error, the Watchtower hoped to “prove” that Paul wasn’t really discussing his impending death and subsequent reunion with Christ at all (a fact every major biblical scholar and translator in history has affirmed ), but a third thing, namely, “the events at the time of Christ’s return and second presence.” With breathtaking dogmatism, the Witnesses claim that “the releasing cannot therefore be applied to the apostle’s death. It must refer to the events at the time of Christ’s return.”

Words fail when confronted with this classic example of unparalleled deceit, which finds no support in any Greek text or exegetical grammatical authority. Contrary to the Watchtower’s statement that “the word may convey two thoughts, the apostle’s own releasing to be with Christ at his return and also the Lord’s releasing himself from the heavenly restraints and returning as he promised,” as a matter of plain exegetical fact, Christ’s return is not even the subject of discussion—rather it is the apostle’s death and his concern for the Philippians that are here portrayed. That Paul never expected to “sleep” in his grave until the resurrection as Jehovah’s Witnesses maintain is evident by the twenty-first verse of the chapter, literally: “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” There would be no gain in dying if men slept till the resurrection, for “[God] is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living” (Mark 12:27). Clearly, Paul was speaking of but two things: his possible death and subsequent presence with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8), and also the possibility of his continuing on in the body, the latter being “more needful” for the Philippian Christians. His choice, in his own words, was between these two (1:23), and Jehovah’s Witnesses have gone to great trouble for nothing; the Greek text still records faithfully what the inspired apostle said—not what the Watchtower maintains he said, all their deliberate trickery to the contrary.
Concluding our comments upon these verses in Philippians, we feel constrained to point out a final example of Watchtower dishonesty relative to Greek translation.

On page 781 of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, it will be recalled that the committee wrote: “The expression , or the releasing cannot therefore be applied to the apostle’s death as a human creature and his departing thus from this life.”

If the interested reader will turn to page 626 of the same Watchtower translation, he will observe that in 2 Timothy 4:6 the Witnesses once more use the term “releasing”, where all translators are agreed that it refers to Paul’s impending death. The Revised Standard Version, often appealed to by Jehovah’s Witnesses, puts it this way: “For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come.” (See also An American Translation [Goodspeed]; Authorized Version; J. N. Darby’s Version; James Moffatt’s Version; J. B. Rotherham’s Version; Douay Version [Roman Catholic]; etc.)
Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves render the text: “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the due time for my releasing is imminent” (2 Timothy 4:6, NWT).
Now, since it is admitted by the Witnesses, under the pressure of every translator’s rendering of his text, that this verse refers to Paul’s death, and further, since the noun form of the Greek word is here used and translated “releasing,” why is it that they claim on page 781 that this expression “the releasing” (—Philippians 1:23) “cannot therefore be applied to the apostle’s death as a human creature and his departing thus from this life”? The question becomes more embarrassing when it is realized that Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves admit that these two forms ( and ) are “related” (p. 781). Hence they have no excuse for maintaining in one place (Philippians 1:23) that “the releasing” cannot refer to the apostle’s death, and in another place (2 Timothy 4:6) using a form of the same word and allowing that it does refer to his death. This one illustration alone should serve to warn all honest people of the blatant deception employed in the Watchtower’s “translations,” a term not worthy of application in many, many places.

(5) Matthew 24:3. “While he was sitting upon the mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately, saying: ‘Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?’ ”(NWT).

Since the days of “Pastor” Russell and Judge Rutherford, one of the favorite dogmas of the Watchtower has been that of the , the second coming or “presence” of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jehovah’s Witnesses, loyal Russellites that they are, have tenaciously clung to the “pastor’s” theology in this respect and maintain that in the year A.D. 1914, when the “times of the Gentiles” ended (according to Russell), the “second presence” of Christ began. (See Make Sure of All Things, 319.)
From the year 1914 onward, the Witnesses maintain,

Christ has turned his attention toward earth’s affairs and is dividing the peoples and educating the true Christians in preparation for their survival during the great storm of Armageddon, when all unfaithful mankind will be destroyed from the face of the earth (p. 319).

For Jehovah’s Witnesses, it appears, Christ is not coming; He is here! (A.D. 1914)—only invisibly—and He is directing His activities through His theocratic organization in Brooklyn, New York. In view of this claim, it might be well to hearken unto the voice of Matthew who wrote:

Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be (Matthew 24:23–27).

Jehovah’s Witnesses, on page 780 of their New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, list the twenty-four occurrences of the Greek word , which they translate each time as “presence.” They give the following defense found on page 779:

The tendency of many translators is to render it here “coming” or “arrival.” But throughout the 24 occurrences of the Greek word we have consistently rendered it “presence.” From the comparison of the of the Son of man with the days of Noah at Matthew 24:37–39, it is very evident that the meaning of the word is as we have rendered it. And from the contrast that is made between the presence and the absence of the apostle both at 2 Corinthians 10:10–11 and at Philippians 2:12, the meaning of is so plain that it is beyond dispute by other translators.

Following this gigantic claim, namely, that their translation of the word is “beyond dispute by other translators,” the “theocratic authorities” proceed to list the verses in question.

Now, the main issue is not the translation of as “presence,” because in some contexts it is certainly allowable (see 1 Corinthians 16:17; 2 Corinthians 7:6–7; 10:10; and Philippians 1:26; 2:12). But there are other contexts where it cannot be allowed in the way Jehovah’s Witnesses use it, because it not only violates the contextual meaning of the word but the entire meaning of the passages as always held by the Christian church.

Jehovah’s Witnesses claim scholarship for this blanket translation of , yet not one great scholar in the history of Greek exegesis and translation has ever held this view. Since 1871, when “Pastor” Russell produced this concept, it has been denounced by every competent scholar upon examination.
The reason this Russellite rendering is so dangerous is that it attempts to prove that in regard to Christ’s second advent really means that His return or “presence” was to be invisible and unknown to all but “the faithful” (Russellites, of course). (See Make Sure of All Things, 319–323.)

The New World translators, therefore, on the basis of those texts where it is acceptable to render “presence,” conclude that it must be acceptable in all texts. But while it appears to be acceptable grammatically, no one but Jehovah’s Witnesses or their sympathizers accept the New World Translation’s blanket use of “presence,” be the translators Christian or not. It simply is not good grammar, and it will not stand up under comparative exegesis as will be shown. To conclude that “presence” necessarily implies invisibility is also another flaw in the Watchtower’s argument, for in numerous places where they render “presence” the persons spoken of were hardly invisible. (See again 1 Corinthians 16:17; 2 Corinthians 7:6–7 and 10:10; Philippians 1:26 and 2:12.)

If the Watchtower were to admit for one moment that can be translated “coming” or “arrival” in the passages that speak of Christ’s return the way all scholarly translators render it, then “Pastor” Russell’s “invisible presence” of Christ would explode in their faces. Hence, their determination to deny what all recognized Greek authorities have established.

The late Dr. Joseph H. Thayer, a Unitarian scholar, translator/editor of one of the best lexicons of the Greek New Testament (and who, incidentally, denied the visible second coming of Christ), said on page 490 of that work, when speaking of : “a return (Philippians 1:26). In the New Testament, especially of the Advent, i.e., the future visible return from heaven of Jesus, the Messiah, to raise the dead, hold the last judgment, and set up formally and gloriously the Kingdom of God.” (For further references, see Liddell and Scott, Strong, and any other reputable authority.)

Dr. Thayer, it might be mentioned, was honest enough to say what the New Testament Greek taught, even though he didn’t believe it. One could wish that Jehovah’s Witnesses were at least that honest, but they are not.
In concluding this discussion of the misuse of , we shall discuss the verses Jehovah’s Witnesses use to “prove” that Christ’s return was to be an invisible “presence” instead of a visible, glorious, verifiable event.
The following references and their headings were taken from the book Make Sure of All Things, published by the Watchtower as an official guide to their doctrine.

(1) “Angels Testified at Jesus’ Ascension as a Spirit that Christ Would Return in Like Manner, Quiet, Unobserved by the Public” (p. 320).

And after he had said these things while they [only the disciples] were looking on, he was lifted up and a cloud caught him up from their vision. “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus who was received up from you into the sky will come thus in the same manner as you have beheld him going into the sky” (Acts 1:9, 11, NWT).

It is quite unnecessary to refute in detail this open perversion of a clear biblical teaching because, as John 20:27 clearly shows, Christ was not a spirit and did not ascend as one. The very text they quote shows that the disciples were “looking on” and saw him “lifted up and a cloud caught him up from their vision”(v. 9). They could hardly have been looking at a spirit, which by definition is incorporeal, not with human eyes at least, and Christ had told them once before, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).

So it remains for Christ himself to denounce the Russellite error that He “ascended as a spirit.” Moreover, since He left the earth visibly from the Mount of Olives it is certain that He will return visibly even as the Scriptures teach (see Matthew 26:63–64; Daniel 7:13–14; Revelation 1:7–8; Matthew 24:7–8, 30).

Recently the Jehovah’s Witnesses “reinterpreted” their prophetic scheme to downplay the significance of 1914. As the Watchtower Society approaches the new millennium, it must somehow account for the fact that the Battle of Armageddon has not yet occurred, even though, according to the Society’s interpretation, it was supposed to occur at least within the lifetime of those born by 1914.

For decades the Awake! masthead contained the statement, “Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away.” However, the November 8, 1995 issue (as well as all subsequent issues) states, “Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world that is about to replace the present wicked lawless system of things.” This is but the latest in a multitude of reinterpretations by the Watchtower to extend their erroneous end times scenario into successive decades as their “prophetic” prowess fails. Following is a chart that shows the successive replacement teachings of the Watchtower over the years.

Teaching

Statement

Source

“Beginning of the End” in 1799 (later changed to 1914).

“1799 definitely marks the beginning of ‘the time of the end.’ ‘The time of the end’ embraces a period from A.D. 1799, as above indicated, to the time of the complete overthrow of Satan’s empire. We have been in ‘the time of the end’ since 1799.”

The Harp of God (1928 ed.): 235–236, 239.

Christ’s “Invisible Presence” begins in 1874 (later changed to 1914).

“The time of the Lord’s second presence dates from 1874. From 1874 forward is the latter part of the period of ‘the time of the end.’ From 1874 is the time of the Lord’s second presence.”

The Harp of God, 236, 239–240.

The Battle of Armageddon ends in 1914 (later changed to “still future”).

“The ‘battle of the great day of God Almighty’ (Rev. 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth’s present rulership, is already commenced.”

Charles Taze Russell, The Time Is at Hand, 101.

The Battle of Armageddon will end shortly after 1914.

“In the year 1918, when God destroys the churches wholesale and the church members by millions, it shall be that any that escape shall come to the works of Pastor Russell to learn the meaning of the downfall of ‘Christianity.’”

Charles Taze Russell, The Finished Mystery (1917 ed.), 485.

The Battle of Armageddon will come around 1925.

“The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures because it is fixed by the law God gave to Israel. Viewing the present situation in Europe, one wonders how it will be possible to hold back the explosion much longer; and that even before 1925 the great crisis will be reached and probably passed.”

The Watch Tower (July 15, 1924): 211.

1914 is the starting date for the last generation before the Battle of Armageddon.

“The thirty-six intervening years since 1914, instead of postponing Armageddon, have only made it nearer than most people think. Do not forget: ‘This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled’ ” (Matt. 24:34).

The Watchtower (November 1, 1950): 419.

People who were present and understood the events of 1914 will live to see the Battle of Armageddon.

“Jesus said, ‘This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.’ Which generation is this, and how long is it? The ‘generation’ logically would not apply to babies born during World War I. It applies to Christ’s followers and others who were able to observe that war and the other things that have occurred in fulfillment of Jesus’ composite ‘sign.’ Some of such persons ‘will by no means pass away until’ all of what Christ prophesied occurs, including the end of the present wicked system.”

The Watchtower (October 1, 1978): 31.

Anyone born by 1914 will live to see Armageddon.

“If Jesus used ‘generation’ in that sense and we apply it to 1914, then the babies of that generation are now seventy years old or older. And others alive in 1914 are in their eighties or nineties, a few even having reached one hundred. There are still many millions of that generation alive. Some of them ‘will by no means pass away until all things occur’ ” (Luke 21:32).

The Watchtower (May 14, 1984): 5.

Anyone who sees the events signaling the End, regardless of any relationship to 1914, will see the Battle of Armageddon.

“Eager to see the end of this evil system, Jehovah’s People have at times speculated about the time when the ‘great tribulation’ would break out, even tying this to calculations of what is the lifetime of a generation since 1914. However we ‘bring a heart of wisdom in’ not by speculating about how many years or days make up a generation. ‘This generation’ apparently refers to the peoples of earth who see the sign of Christ’s presence but fail to mend their ways.”

The Watchtower (November 1, 1995): 17–20.

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society still has not learned to refrain from prophesying falsely. In the January 1, 1997 Watchtower (p. 11), it once again raises expectations among its followers that the Battle of Armageddon is just around the corner:

In the early 1920s, a featured public talk presented by Jehovah’s Witnesses was entitled “Millions Now Living Will Never Die.” This may have reflected over-optimism at that time. But today that statement can be made with full confidence. Both the increasing light on Bible prophecy and the anarchy of this dying world cry out that the end of Satan’s system is very, very near!

(2) “Christ’s Return Invisible, as He Testified That Man Would Not See Him Again in Human Form” (p. 321).

A little longer and the world will behold me no more (John 14:19, NWT).
For I say to you, You will by no means see me from henceforth until you say, “Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah’s name!” (Matthew 23:39, NWT).

These two passages in their respective contexts give no support to the Russellite doctrine of an invisible “presence” of Christ for two very excellent reasons:

(a) John 14:19 refers to Christ’s anticipated death and resurrection—the “yet a little while” He made reference to could only have referred to His resurrection and subsequent ascension (Acts 1:9–11), before which time and during the period following His resurrection He appeared only to believers, not the world (or unbelievers), hence the clear meaning of His words. Jesus never said that no one would ever “see Him again in human form” as the Watchtower likes to make out. Rather, in the same chapter (John 14) He promised to “come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (v. 3). The Bible also is quite clear in telling us that one day by His grace alone “we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). So the Watchtower once more is forced into silence by the voice of the Holy Spirit.
(b) This second text, Matthew 23:39, really proves nothing at all for the Watchtower’s faltering arguments except that Jerusalem will never see Christ again until it blesses Him in repentance as the Anointed of God. Actually the text hurts the Russellite position, for it teaches that Christ will be visible at His coming, else they could not see Him to bless Him in the name of the Lord. Christ also qualified the statement with the word “until,” a definite reference to His visible second advent (Matthew 24:30).

(3) “Early Christians Expected Christ’s Return to Be Invisible. Paul Argued There Was Insufficient Evidence in Their Day” (p. 321).

However, brothers, respecting the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we request of you not to be quickly shaken from your reason nor to be excited either through an inspired expression or through a verbal message or through a letter as though from us, to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here. Let no one seduce you in any manner, because it will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed, the son of destruction (2 Thessalonians 2:1–3, NWT).

This final example from Second Thessalonians most vividly portrays the Witnesses at their crafty best, as they desperately attempt to make Paul teach what in all his writings he most emphatically denied, namely, that Christ would come invisibly for His saints.
In his epistle to Titus, Paul stressed the importance of “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (2:13), something he would not have been looking for if it was to be a secret, invisible or “presence.”
Paul, contrary to the claims of Jehovah’s Witnesses, never believed in an invisible return, nor did any bona fide member of the Christian church up until the fantasies of Charles Taze Russell and his nightmare, as a careful look at Paul’s first epistle to the Thessalonians plainly reveals. Said the inspired apostle:

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven [visible] with a shout [audible], with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first (4:15–16, bracketed mine).

Here we see that in perfect accord with Matthew 26 and Revelation 1, Christ is pictured as coming visibly, and in this context no reputable Greek scholar alive will allow the use of “presence”; it must be “coming.” (See also 2 Thessalonians 2:8.)
For further information relative to this subject, consult any standard concordance or Greek lexicon available, and trace Paul’s use of the word “coming.” This will convince any fair-minded person that Paul never entertained the Watchtower’s fantastic view of Christ’s return.
These things being clearly understood, the interested reader should give careful attention to those verses in the New Testament which do not use the word but are instead forms of the verb and those related to the word (see Thayer, 250ff) and which refer to the Lord’s coming as a visible manifestation. These various texts cannot be twisted to fit the Russellite pattern of “presence,” since means “to come,” “to appear,” “to arrive,” etc., in the most definite sense of the term. (For reference, check Matthew 24:30 in conjunction with Matthew 26:64—; also John 14:3—; and Revelation 1:7—.)
Once it is perceived that Jehovah’s Witnesses are only interested in what they can make the Scriptures say, and not in what the Holy Spirit has already perfectly revealed, then the careful student will reject entirely Jehovah’s Witnesses and their Watchtower “translation.” These are as “blind leaders of the blind” (Matthew 15:14), “turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). Further, that they wrest the Scriptures unto their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16), the foregoing evidence has thoroughly revealed for all to judge.

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4 Responses to The Jehovah’s Witnesses / Watchtower’s Scriptural Distortions By Walter Martin

  1. Patricia says:

    The battle of Armageddon is a Plague event.

    Trumpet events follow Seal events followed by Plague events.

    Seal events have not yet concluded.

    At the Sixth Plague the way is PREPARED for the soon coming battle of Armageddon, and the Dragon and the beast and the false prophet, and their armies are gathered together (by Spiritual forces) into “a place” for the battle (Re.16:12-16, Jer 51:36, Jer.51:49, Isa.63:2-3).

    After the Seventh, and final, PLAGUE, after the great city Babylon comes into remembrance before God, after the fall of that great city Babylon (Re.16:17-21, Revelation chapter 18), the battle of Armageddon will be fought.

    The battle will be fought after the marriage of the Lamb has taken place in heaven. The church (1 Cor.10:32) throughout all ages (His wife) has made herself ready (Re.19:17) and are the armies of the Lord that accompanies Him to the battle (Re.19:14).

    The end of the battle of Armageddon will mark the beginning of the Millennium.

    Directly after the battle of Armageddon (Re.19:11-21) is fought, and after the beast and the false prophet are taken in the battle and cast into the lake of fire (Re.19:20), the Lord will stand upon the mount of Olives (Zech.14:4).

    Saints of the most High (Dan.7:22), the Lamb’s wife, will live AND reign with Him throughout the Millennium, the thousand years (Re.20:4).

    After the Millennium the battle of Gog and Magog is fought.

    Patricia © Bible Prophecy on the Web

  2. Daniel7 says:

    Mr. Martin,
    In regard to the use of the tetragrammaton in The New Testiment, we can clear this up with a few short questions:

    Did The Divine Name appear in the origanial Hebrew text?
    Yes.

    What happened to it?
    Judaism/Christendom have deleted it from their bibles.

    Did Jesus quote from The Hebrew Text?
    Yes.

    How does Jehovah feel about having his word desecrated?

    Revelation 22:18-19  “I am bearing witness to everyone that hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone makes an addition to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this scroll; and if anyone takes anything away from the words of the scroll of this prophecy, God will take his portion away from the trees of life and out of the holy city, things which are written about in this scroll.

    If I were you I’d start putting Gods name back in.

  3. Start by Daniel 7:
    Mr. Martin,

    In regard to the use of the tetragrammaton in The New Testiment, we can clear this up with a few short questions:

    Answer by Defend the word: You should pay attention Dr Martin is dead now, but lets clear it up.

    Question 1 by Daniel 7: Did The Divine Name appear in the original Hebrew text?
    Yes.

    Answer by Defend the Word: Have you got the original text to show me? And how do you prove what is Original, have you heard about the Textual Criticism study? I guess you check that before you make any more comments. It may help us all in understanding this subject better.

    Question and Proposition by Daniel 7: What happened to it?
    Judaism/Christendom have deleted it from their bibles.

    Answer by Defend the Word: No that is not true, in Jewish community you are not suppose to say it but it was OK to be recorded in the written format. You will find plenty of Bibles that will give you both commentaries and explanations on Name of God. You should look into using either study Bible or check E-sward.com its free Bible software that contains loads of free study material.

    Question by Daniel 7: Did Jesus quote from The Hebrew Text?
    Yes.

    Answer by Defend the Word: So how does that prove your point??? You try to lead the reader to the conclusion where there is no conclusion to be made.

    Question and Recommendation by Daniel 7: How does Jehovah feel about having his word desecrated?

    Revelation 22:18-19 “I am bearing witness to everyone that hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone makes an addition to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this scroll; and if anyone takes anything away from the words of the scroll of this prophecy, God will take his portion away from the trees of life and out of the holy city, things which are written about in this scroll.

    If I were you I’d start putting Gods name back in.

    Answer by Defend the word: Thanks for the advice, I don’t think anyone would like to remove Gods name from his word. If you carefully read what was said you will realise that, neither did Dr Martin.

    Kind regards

    Defend the word

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