As I’m sure you know, the Watchtower has an affinity with dates. Often, dates are most associated with the arrival of Armageddon for those who are not in the organization. The date 1914 had a special significance given that is when, according to Watchtower theology, Jesus was enthroned as king even though he had all authority established post resurrection as is stated in Matthew 28:18 (New World Translation)-Jesus approached and spoke to them, saying: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.” That was the year 33 A.D. With that information in mind, we are going to turn our sights to another dated prediction, that of the First Resurrection.
The First Resurrection is nothing more than raising up from the dead of believers (partial agreement with the mainstream Christian viewpoint). As you know, nothing with the Watchtower is ever that easy to figure out. Based on the information I present from Watchtower Bible and Tract Society quotes, it is apparent that the organization’s first resurrection is for those who are of the anointed class. Being of the anointed as you may or may not know, gives special privileges and this one is no different either. This is a holdover in terms of eligibility from the days of Pastor Charles Taze Russell. Let’s begin:
We start just after the first year when the Watchtower started getting printed (1879) to find our first quote:
We have no hesitation in saying that it is indispensable, and that no one will have a part in the "little flock" or be of "The bride, the Lamb's wife" who has not been baptized. Further, we have scriptural proof that all who are baptized shall be saved, that all such shall be in the "first resurrection.”
Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. September 1880 p. 132
Here we already have a bit of an irony between the Bible and what Pastor Russell espoused. However, remember, he taught (and the Bible Students still believe) is that only 144,000 people would be eligible for salvation. To the present day Jehovah’s Witness who would see this, since it says “all who are baptized shall be saved” would mean that those who are of the Great Crowd should be eligible but again remember the Great Crowd didn’t exist until 1935.
We shall now present what we adduce from the types and prophetic points as seeming to indicate the translation of the saints and closing of the door to the high calling by 1881.
Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. January 1881 Reprints p. 180
So here we go from having scriptural proof to the early organization making a prophetic statement. Put yourself back in that timeframe during 1881. You read this in January, get baptized to be saved and 11 months later, you are no longer here on earth. The verse Matthew 24:13 (NWT) But the one who has endured to the end will be saved. Comes to mind. Who couldn’t this present system of things for less than a year then be translated into heaven? When you’d read this, you’d want to tell everyone you know since you have a very short time since you want them to go as well. It would be a short period of time that you would have to make it. From the viewpoint of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, you can quickly gain new readers.
The WATCH TOWER never claimed that the body of Christ will be changed to spiritual beings during this year. There is such a change due sometime. We have not attempted to say when, but have repeatedly said that it would not take place before the fall of 1881.
Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. May 1881 Reprints p. 224
Here we have the organization making a bit of a backtrack already. It only takes four months for the organization to backtrack and state something completely different. The question is why did the Watchtower Society print in essence what is a retraction? Could it have been that people were talking so much about it and possibly receiving negative correspondence that they had to make this statement? The quote from January made a very big buzz. I’m assuming people didn’t keep much material around for months on end. So perhaps that’s why the Society figured it could get away with printing this. Let’s read on though.
And since the resurrection of the Church must occur some time during this “end” or “harvest” period (Rev. 11:18), we hold that it is a most reasonable inference, and one in perfect harmony with all the Lord’s plan, that in the spring of 1878 all the holy apostles and other “overcomers” of the Gospel age who slept in Jesus were raised spirit beings, like unto their Lord and Master.
Studies in the Scriptures III-Thy Kingdom Come. 1891 p. 234
Just a mere ten years later, the Watchtower goes back to “old light” yet again. First we had the statement of being 1881, then it goes to “never,” here we change the date and move the time from 1881 to 1878. Then we go from the fall to spring. Perhaps Russell was figuring “life” begins in spring so what better way then to just simply get translated then into a spirit being and go to heaven.
We will jump ahead to the 1990s.
Another amazing happening during Christ’s presence is the start of the heavenly resurrection. The apostle Paul indicated that those anointed Christians long asleep in their graves would be the first to be made alive and live with Christ Jesus in the spirit realm. Evidence has been presented over the years to show that this appears to have happened from 1918 onward.
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. May 1, 1993 p. 13
So now we have yet another date change. First it was 1881. Then we had to back up to 1881. Then that was not good enough. We had to discard the theology of Russell by selecting the year of 1918.
At this point, it may be helpful to consider what might be viewed as a Bible parallel. Jesus Christ was anointed as the future King of God’s Kingdom in the fall of 29 C.E. Three and a half years later, in the spring of 33 C.E., he was resurrected as a mighty spirit person. Could it, then, be reasoned that since Jesus was enthroned in the fall of 1914, the resurrection of his faithful anointed followers began three and a half years later, in the spring of 1918? That is an interesting possibility. Although this cannot be directly confirmed in the Bible, it is not out of harmony with other scriptures that indicate that the first resurrection got under way soon after Christ’s presence began.
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. January 1, 2007 p. 28
So here we are, the concept of the resurrection takes on two more twists. We go not just from some time in 1918 but we go to a specific season. We are going to then add in that the resurrection was no longer a definitive act of a one time event, it is now just an event where it is gradual. Let’s compare this to the bible.
We need to start with Revelation 20:4-6 which is where this is coming from. The New World Translation renders these verses this way: And I saw thrones, and those who sat on them were given authority to judge. Yes, I saw the souls of those executed for the witness they gave about Jesus and for speaking about God, and those who had not worshipped the wild beast or its image and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand. And they came to life and ruled as kings with the Christ for 1,000 years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and they will rule as kings with him for the 1,000 years.
What we have is a period of time that would be in the future. Here are the conditions for those in the first resurrection:
- Executed or become a martyr for Jesus and the Father.
- Did not worship the wild beast, image, or receive the mark.
- Came to life to rule.
- They are kings.
Now given that the Watchtower has said in 2007 that it started in 1918, how many Witnesses are executed for Jesus and speaking about God? Look at the 2016 Yearbook and the countries where the Witnesses aren’t, they are the places most likely to be executed for those who are considered under the “umbrella” of Christianity. This would include the countries in the Middle East, North Korea, and China. Contrast that with where Witnesses are. How many die for the Watchtower cause?
Ironically, the Watchtower Society’s anointed die without the majority most likely not being executed. Do they meet this criteria? What is the wild beast, image, or receive this mark? Given that the wild beast, image, and mark are unknown how is it possible for them to meet this criteria? Also, it says "kings." Within the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, there are women to be of the anointed. If they are, why does the bible not say "queens" in addition to kings?
Next, the Bible doesn’t delineate between the anointed and great crowd in these verses. Biblically speaking, anyone who is in the organization should be eligible. This in contrast to the organization that says just a few are to be in the first resurrection. The bigger concern is if you are of the first resurrection, you must be in the second resurrection.
Lastly, John says he saw the souls. These were to be the ones resurrected. It is implying a one time act. The organization implies a gradual resurrection. Which is going to be the correct one? The bible which is saying one resurrection or the organization that says a gradual resurrection that started in 1918 and has been occurring for the past 98 years?
As always, I suggest that you simply place the organization’s material down and simply come to Jesus. Place down the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society material and read the Bible alone.