1874 Christ returned invisibly, and Armageddon began! (Zion’s Watch Tower, January 15, 1892, 22)
1889 Battle of Armageddon will end in 1914. (Studies in Scriptures, Vol. 2, 76–7, 99, 101)
1914 THE WORLD DOES NOT END WITH ARMAGEDDON! (See prediction in 1889.). The Society later changes the prediction. They began to predict that 1914 began the “Last Generation” and that some of those alive in 1914 would live long enough to survive Armageddon and live forever on a paradise earth. (The Watchtower, May 1, 1967, 262)
1917 God will destroy “the churches wholesale and church members by millions” in 1918. (Studies in Scriptures, Vol. 7, 485)
1918 CHURCHES ARE NOT DESTROYED! (See prediction in 1917.)
1920 Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the faithful prophets of old.…” (Millions Now Living Will Never Die, 89–90)
1924 “The year 1925 is a date definitely and clearly marked in the Scriptures.…” (The Watchtower, July 15, 1924, 211)
1925 ABRAHAM, ISAAC, AND JACOB DO NOT RETURN! (See prediction in 1920.)
1941 Armageddon is said to be only months away. (The Watchtower, September 15, 1941, 288)
1942 Abraham and “those faithful men of old may be expected back from the dead any day now.” (The New World, 104)
1943 The end of “Six Thousand Years of Human History” is mathematically shown to be 1972. (The Truth Shall Make You Free, 152)
1966 “Six Thousand years from man’s creation will end in 1975 …” followed by the millennial reign of Christ. (Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God, 29–30)
1972 SIX THOUSAND YEARS OF HUMAN EXISTENCE DOES NOT END! (See prediction in 1943.)
1975 SIX THOUSAND YEARS OF HUMAN EXISTENCE DOES NOT END! (See prediction in 1966.)
1989 The year 2000 marks the completion of Christian missionary work and the beginning of the thousand-year reign of Christ. “The apostle Paul was spearheading the Christian missionary activity. He was also laying a foundation for a work that would be completed in our 20th century.” (The Watchtower, January 1, 1989, 12)
Note: this was quietly altered in the bound volume and CD-ROM editions to read “in our day.”
1995 The Watchtower changes the “Creator’s promise.” The word “generation” is no longer based on a human life span. (Compare Awake! mastheads before October 22, 1995, 4 and after November 8, 1995, 4 to see how the “Creator’s promise” was altered. See also The Watchtower November 1, 1995, 16–20.) (See prediction 1914.)
The Great Tribulation is now declared to be Imminent. (The Watchtower, November 1, 1995, p. 19 par. 12 and p. 20 par. 15)
2000 THE CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY WORK WAS NOT COMPLETED BY THE END OF THE 20TH CENTURY. (See prediction 1989.)
2007 The Anointed Class now declared to be open to any Jehovah’s Witness who “has determined in his heart that he is now anointed and begins to partake of the emblems at the Memorial. (“Questions from Readers,” The Watchtower, May 1, 2007, 30–31)
The number 144,000 is no longer taken literally, but symbolically for all those who claim to be “anointed ones.”
2008 The time of the Great Tribulation is declared to be Indeterminate.
1852 Charles Taze Russell is born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.
1868 By age 16 Russell becomes so disturbed over the biblical doctrine of hell that he becomes a skeptic.
1869 Russell hears a sermon by the Second Adventist preacher Jonas Wendell. Russell’s trust in the Bible is restored since this Adventist group teaches that there is no eternal punishment in hell.
Russell continues to study the Bible under Adventist teachers.
1870 At age 18 Russell organizes a small Bible class. Six years later the class votes to call him “Pastor.”
1876 Russell accepts the view of Adventist teacher N. H. Barbour that Jesus Christ returned invisibly in 1874.
1877 At age 25, Russell and Barbour publish a book called Three Worlds or Plan of Redemption. This book proclaims that three years prior, in 1874, the second coming of Christ occurred invisibly. From that time a 40 year harvest period would occur, culminating in 1914 with the Battle of Armageddon.
1879 At age 27, having parted company with Barbour over theological grounds, Russell founds his new publication, Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.
Thirty congregations exist in several states, each calling Russell “Pastor.”
1884 At age 32 Russell incorporates his new religious order in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It operates for 47 years as Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society.
1886 At age 34 Russell writes the first volume of his commentary on the Bible, Studies in the Scriptures.
1916 At age 64, Charles Taze Russell dies.
Joseph Franklin Rutherford becomes president of the Society. Under Rutherford’s leadership, the Society takes most authority away from the local congregations and becomes God’s sole dispenser of truth, making all policy decisions.
1931 The official title of the organization becomes the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, headquartered in Brooklyn, New York.
1942 Rutherford dies. Nathan Knorr becomes president of the Society.
Under Knorr’s leadership the Society increases from 115,000 to over 2 million members. The Governing Body is established under Knorr’s leadership. The Watchtower begins to publish all Jehovah’s Witnesses literature anonymously, unlike in Russell and Rutherford’s days.
1961 The Watchtower publishes the first edition of its own English version of the Bible, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.
1975 The failed Watchtower prediction that the 6,000 years of human existence would end in 1975 shakes the faith of many Jehovah’s Witnesses.
1977 Knorr dies. Frederich Franz becomes the fourth president. Franz was the primary Watchtower theologian while Knorr was president.
1980 While Franz is president, several prominent Watchtower leaders are removed on the charge of disloyalty, including Franz’s nephew Raymond Franz.
1992 Franz dies. Milton G. Henschel replaces Franz as the next president.
If you were to ask, “Do you know you have eternal life?”
—a Jehovah’s Witness would say, “No one can know that for sure!”
Yet, 1 John 5:13 says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”