At theology school, I became deeply interested in understanding the Christian Doctrines the Jehovah’s Witnesses are guided by. I became particularly enthralled by their doctrines about salvation and the afterlife and their thoughts about heaven. During my research, I visited several of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ churches, spoke to their leaders and believers, and pored through multiple texts and articles. Last month, my college theology students asked me for an explanation about the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ belief system about heaven. Most heard that this group believed heaven had space for only 144,000 people and wanted to know if this was true. Based on my years of research, I could answer their questions comprehensively. So, will Jehovah’s Witnesses go to heaven?
According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ teachings, only the little flock from the church will make it to heaven. They believe in the existence of three classes of believers, with the little flock residing in heaven after death, the great crowd staying on Earth, and the rest who will be non-existent. So, only the 144,000 truly born-again God’s children will make it to heaven, where they will become the spiritual sons of God, becoming gods like Jesus Christ, whom they regard as a god.
In this post, I’ll share more insights into the belief systems of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and who among these believers goes to heaven. So, let’s dive in!
What do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe about salvation?
The Jehovah Witnesses believe salvation is possible only through the ransom sacrifice made by Jesus Christ. According to their teachings, individuals will only be saved after they repent of all their sins and proclaim the name of God (Jehovah).
Additionally, they believe that salvation is a gift given to humankind by God, but at the same time, they believe that salvation would be unattainable without the individual pitting in work and doing the good works in faith. So, while salvation is one of the gifts that God gives humankind, they believe that it’s also part of God’s special organization and so attainable by belonging to this organization and trusting God’s sacrifice entirely. That said, they do not believe in eternal security from salvation or the idea of predestination.
They also believe that the Bible teaches them that God is the main source of salvation for all of humankind, which is why the Jehovah’s Witnesses refer to God as ‘Savior’ – Isaiah 43:11, Jude 25, and Titus 2:10.
One of the things that they place importance on for their salvation is preaching, and their members are all encouraged to preach to all of humanity for them to gain salvation. Additionally, the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that for salvation, they have to conform to the moral requirements set out for them in the Bible.
Acts of obedience allow them to prove that their faith is strong and alive, and this is the most important and the best way to their salvation – James 2:24;26. Note, however, that the Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe that salvation is earned – to them, it is a gift as written in Ephesians 2:8-9. They also believe that someone can lose salvation if they stop believing, and so, for them to keep their salvation, they have to keep working hard at it and obeying the commandments – Philippians 2:12, Jude 3.
It’s also worth noting that the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that only a few people will be saved and not multitudes, which they believe is the teaching offered in Luke 13:23-24.
What do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe about the afterlife?
Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in the afterlife; instead, they believe that when someone dies, that’s the end, and they cease to exist altogether. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe that the souls or the spirits of the dead remain conscious after death, and neither do they believe in the existence of heaven, hell, or purgatory. Ecclesiastes 9:5;10.
That said, they believe the dead will be resurrected and live in a paradise based on Earth, while only 144,000 will rule in heaven with God after their resurrection.
Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that only 144000 people will go to heaven?
The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that only 144,000 people will go to heaven and become gods like Jesus Christ. These individuals are referred to as the little flock and are made up of individuals who are truly born again as the children of God. They believe these 144,000 people will become the spiritual sons of God and gods just like Jesus Christ.
One of the Core beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses in their Watchtower Doctrine is that only 144,000 individuals will make it to heaven. Unfortunately, this is considered a misinterpretation of the scripture in Revelation 7.
What happens to everyone else, according to Jehovah’s Witness believers?
They believe the individuals who don’t reach heaven will be among the great crowd that will ultimately reside permanently on Earth. In contrast, the rest who don’t fall in the little flock or the great crowd will disappear or become completely non-existent. Jehovah’s Witnesses’ doctrines teach that the rest of the people or the great crowd will live on Earth, serving as subjects for the little flock.
What do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe happens after death?
The Jehovah Witness believe that people cease to exist when they die. They don’t believe that there is any kind of consciousness left for people after death, so conscious eternal punishment that would otherwise apply to non-believers doesn’t exist. That said, they believe in wicked people getting consumed in annihilation and judgment. To them, hell is non-existent, and Satan made it up.
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.