A couple of months ago, I was curious to explore more on the Jehovah’s Witness religious sect after interacting with some members on an online interdenominational forum.
Due to their unique beliefs, I wanted to dig deeper into their origin. I had indeed studied about them in my Theology major, but I realized I did not have sufficient information about their origin.
Thus, I traveled to Pittsburgh, the cradle of the Jehovah’s Witness faction. I began researching extensively from various scholarly and Christian records at a local library.
I also engaged with various Jehovah’s Witnesses to attain first-hand information. Inspired by my findings, I decided to curate this article to explain the origin of Jehovah’s Witness.
According to the Watch Tower Society, the origin of Jehovah’s Witnesses began in the 1870s when a movement of Bible study students in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, commenced an organized exploration of the Bible. They compared the doctrines instructed in churches with the teachings of the Bible. They began publishing their findings in the journal known as The Watchtower to announce Jehovah’s kingdom.
Keep reading this article as I take you through the rich history of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I will explain who they are, where they came from, and their founder, among other interesting topics.
Who are Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Jehovah’s Witnesses refer to members of a millennialist and restorationist Christian denomination. The organization is directed by a council of elders in Warwick, New York.
It is identified as the governing federation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which establishes all doctrines founded on its Biblical understandings.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the annihilation of the current world system at Armageddon is forthcoming. In addition, they believe that the formation of Jehovah’s kingdom on Earth is the only answer to all of humanity’s challenges.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are famous for their door-to-door evangelism. They equally disseminate manuscripts such as The Watchtower and Awake.
Likewise, they prohibit blood transfusions and military service.
They consider the use of Jehovah’s name essential for true worship. They also reject the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the integral immortality of a person’s soul, and hell, as they consider them unscriptural canons.
As of 2022, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have a recorded estimation of 8.5 million participants involved in evangelism.
Where did Jehovah’s Witness come from?
Jehovah’s Witness came from within the Adventist movement that originated in the 19th century in the United States.
According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, the name Jehovah is the personal name of their deity. as found in the Bible. Similarly, a witness refers to an individual who asserts the viewpoints or truths of his conviction.
Therefore, Jehovah’s Witnesses designate them as a denomination of believers who assert the truth about Jehovah all over the world.
Who founded Jehovah’s Witness?
Charles Taze Russell founded Jehovah’s Witness. He was an American of Scottish and Irish descent and was considered a Christian restorationist minister.
He was also deemed an early Christian Zionist and worked in the Congregational Church. He began the Bible Study movement alongside various Bible study students who formed the International Bible Students Association in 1910 as a global community of Bible Study groups.
He also published monthly religious magazines such as Zion’s Watch Tower and co-founded Zion’s Watch Tower Tract to harness the Jehovah’s Witness movement.
How has the organization developed over the years?
The Jehovah’s Witness organization has developed over the years since its inception with changes in leadership and organizational structures.
In 1881, two Jehovah’s Witness missionaries were dispatched to England. Foreign branches were established in 1900 in London, 1903 in Germany, and 1904 in Switzerland and Australia. In 1908, the headquarters of the Watch Tower Society was moved to Brooklyn, New York. 1917 Joseph Franklin Rutherford succeeded Charles Taze Russell at the organization’s annual general meeting.
The organization’s legal counsel established new by-laws to affirm the president’s authority. Nonetheless, within several months, several directors in the organization claimed that he acted without consultations with the board members.
Additionally, they described his leadership as authoritarian, rigid, and not transparent.
From 1976 to the present day, the leadership structure of the Jehovah’s Witness organization was streamlined. The power of the executive was handed to the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In addition, six committees were established to manage various tasks such as publishing Watch Tower Society publications, teaching, and performing evangelism.
Since 2004, numerous Watch Tower Society merchandise in New York has been sold.
This was done to prepare for the institutionalization of a new world headquarters in New York, which was finalized in 2016.
How has Jehovah’s Witness’ doctrines changed over the years?
The Jehovah’s Witness doctrines have changed over the years based on the Watch Tower Society and its provisions to its adherents.
For instance, from 1879 to 1953, Jehovah’s Witnesses premised that Jesus should be worshipped. However, from 1945 to the present day, they changed their doctrine not to worship Jesus.
Similarly, from 1879 to 1935, they believed that Jesus died on the cross. Nonetheless, from 1936 to the present day, they believe that Jesus died on a torture stake.
In 1879, Jehovah’s Witnesses believed in the doctrine that Archangel Michael was not Jesus. In 1917, they changed that Archangel Michael was the Pope.
From 1920 to the present day, they argue that Archangel Michael is Jesus. Equally, from 1967 to 1979, Jehovah’s Witnesses prohibited organ transplants because they affiliated the practice with cannibalism.
However, from 1980 to the present day, they permit organ transplants. In addition, from 1879 to 1926, Jehovah’s Witnesses allowed the celebration of Christmas, Easter, and birthdays.
Nevertheless, from 1927 to the present day, they forbid the celebration of Christmas, Easter, and birthdays.
On the identity of the superior authorities, Jehovah’s Witnesses premised that it was human government from 1879 to 1929. From 1929 to 1962, they changed the superior authorities to Jehovah and Jesus Christ.
From 1963 to the present day, they later changed it back to refer to the human government. Likewise, they supported war and politics from 1879 to 1935, but from 1936 to the present day, they neither support war nor politics.
In addition, they believed that the Great Pyramid in Egypt represented the foundation of God’s Witness from 1879 to 1927.
Nonetheless, they later changed it to represent the foundation of Satan’s Bible from 1928 to the present day.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.