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I have heard somewhere that at various times in the past, the Jehovah's Witnesses (Watchtower Bible & Tract Society) have predicted when the end of the world would be and perhaps when Jesus would return to earth.

What are the specifics about these prophecies, and when exactly is the end of the world or Christ's return supposed to occur?

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I believe they have for 1914 & 1925, but I may be missing some years.

Adding some info from the below source per request;

1899 "...the 'battle of the great day of God Almighty' (Revelation 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth's present rulership, is already commenced," (The Time Is at Hand, 1908 edition, p. 101).

1918 "Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the Apostle in Hebrews 11, to the condition of human perfection," (Millions Now Living Will Never Die, p. 89).

1922 "The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures than 1914," (Watchtower, Sept. 1, 1922, p. 262).

1923 "Our thought is, that 1925 is definitely settled by the Scriptures. As to Noah, the Christian now has much more upon which to base his faith than Noah had upon which to base his faith in a coming deluge," (Watchtower, Apr. 1, 1923, p. 106).

Below indicate the claim to be prophets;

"So does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come? These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet?...This "prophet" was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was the small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah's Christian Witnesses...Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a 'prophet' of God. It is another thing to prove it," (Watchtower, Apr. 1, 1972, p. 197). (See Deut. 18:21.)

All taken from this Source

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    Correct answer: mutiple times, many (if not all) have come and passed.
    – Jason
    Feb 26 '13 at 5:03
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Yes The History Channel mentioned 9 dates for the end of the world.... Needless to say, all of them failed which makes the Watchtower Society the biggest false prophet in the history of mankind. I have 44 pages of quotes of false prophesies by the Watchtower. As a former Witness I can confirm they are all ligit. Feel free to write me for that PDF at. Iamicarus@me.com

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    If the PDF is within your copyright privilege, edit it into your answer. You should be able to select the text and just copy and paste it. That would be pretty darn cool. Being 44 pages, maybe just select about a page or two worth of the best ones. I'll be emailing you.
    – fгedsbend
    Dec 3 '14 at 6:21
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    Welcome to the site. We are glad you decided to participate. Please see What this site is about and How this site is different to help you learn how the site works. I hope to see you post again soon.
    – fгedsbend
    Dec 3 '14 at 6:22
  • WS may have a habit of jumping to many conclusions but to say they're the biggest false prophet in the history of mankind is a little harsh. They're a denomination of hopers constantly disappointed, but ultimately the religion as a whole is not a hoarder of materials or personal gain. There are so many other religions out there that use "prophecy" to mold doctrine in as many ways as they can to collect endlessly, fund egregious temples and cities, and sell themselves as the one true religion. They're all guilty of false prophecy. WS included. But WS is not sneaky the way many others are.
    – Bubbles
    Apr 16 '15 at 1:27
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List of dates predicted for apocalyptic events:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dates_predicted_for_apocalyptic_events

Jehovah's Witnesses & Incorrect End Dates

Now that we have left December 21, 2012 behind us...the topic remains intriguing. Have Jehovah's Witnesses given incorrect dates for the end? The answer is given in the Watchtower issue of January 1, 2013.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hcUaHJGZJo0

George D. Chryssides of Birmingham University, has written a helpful, scholarly journal arguing against the much of the rhetoric spewed by Ex-Witness and 'Christian' critics.

"I aim to show that, although there have been some unrealized expectations, changes in Watch Tower chronology are attributable more to changed chronological schemes, rather than to failed predictions. --- Contrary to popular belief, the Watch Tower Society has not repeatedly set dates for the world's end, found its expectations disappointed, rescheduled the eschatological timetable, and repeated this sequence each time expectations have been frustrated." (p. 29 of pdf)

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    Hi! any chance you could link to the PDF you reference? even just a link to abstract would be fine. Thanks for your contributions, I'd like to see another paragraph or two of your words here (particularly some background on why the wikipedia link is relevant) and a bit on why the quote is relevant. But this is an improvement.
    – wax eagle
    Feb 25 '13 at 17:52
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As a former Jehovah's Witness I can advise that they have settled on the date 1914 as the year Jesus Christ returned. Their eschatology is very confused because of this. While the Bible clearly states that Christ's return is visible (Matthew 24:30; Hebrews 9:28; Revelation 1:7), the Jehovah's Witnesses state that it's invisible, and that he took up his earthly rule from heaven in 1914. It's goes without saying that there are many scriptures that conflict with this teaching. Right now the Watchtower Society is having to alter it's past reasoning in regards to the generation mentioned by Christ in Matthew 24:34 as they have all died off.

In relation to when to expect Christ's return and the end of this current world system, Matthew 24 provides an all inclusive outline of the events that end with Christ’s return and the sheep and goats judgement. Paul also builds on this in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2. There are no specific dates but clear prophetic signs.

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Below is a list of dates used by some Anti-Witness writes, claiming that Jehovah's Witnesses made false predictions. Many anti-Witness books and articles leave out a lot of pertinent information, and do not quote everything in context. I have responded to many posts calling Jehovah's Witnesses false prophets, even though that is not the case. A scholar, Professor George D. Chryssides agrees that JWs are not false prophets, and has written at least 2 scholarly articles on the subject (see https://www.cesnur.org/2010/to-chryssides.htm).

A recent book by JW apologist called ARE JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES FALSE PROPHETS - A Thorough Investigation With Rebuttal, makes a strong case defending JW's and includes extensive research on groups that made predictions in the past. So sources will give you accurate information regarding JW's and prophecy.

Charles Taze Russell, the founder of the Watchtower Society, wrote that the writers of the Watchtower publications do not have "the gift of prophesy" and that errors may be made when it comes to computing biblical chronology. See below for past WT publications, which sheds a better light on how prophecy was viewed since the early history of the WT Society. Below is a list of quotes I have posted in the past in other sites:

1874: It should be noted that ‘The Watchtower’ was not published until 1879 and Russell himself did not become aware of the 1874 date until 1876! So it was hardly a matter of a failed prediction.

1880s: “We have not the gift of prophecy.” (Zion’s Watch Tower, January 1883, page 425.)

1914: : "We are not prophesying; we are merely giving our surmises . . . We do not even aver that there is no mistake in our interpretation of prophecy and our calculations of chronology. We have merely laid these before you, leaving it for each to exercise his own faith or doubt in respect to them" (emphasis mine - Zion's Watch Tower, January 1, 1908 (reprint) page 4110)

“[We] have never claimed our calculations to be infallibly correct…suppose that A.D.1915 should pass with the world’s affairs all serene and with evidence that the “very elect” had not all been “changed” and without the restoration of natural Israel to favor under the New Covenant. (Rom. 11:12,15) What then? Would that not prove our chronology wrong? Yes, surely! And would that not prove a keen disappointment? Indeed it would! It would work irreparable wreck to the parallel dispensations and Israel’s double, and to the Jubilee calculations, and to the prophecy of the 2,300 days of Daniel, and to the epoch called “Gentile Times,”…We could still worship a God so great and grand that none other could compare with him. We should still see the grandeur of his salvation in Christ Jesus – “a ransom for all” [“Knowledge and Faith Regarding Chronology,” Oct. 1907, reprint page 4067].

1920s: “Many students have made the grievous mistake of thinking that God has inspired men to interpret prophecy. The holy prophets of the Old Testament were inspired by Jehovah to write as his power moved upon them. The writers of the New Testament were clothed with certain power and authority to write as the Lord directed them. However, since the days of the apostles no man on earth has been inspired to write prophecy, nor has any man been inspired to interpret prophecy”.( Prophecy (Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1929), pages - 61-620

1925: "The year 1925 is here. With great expectation Christians have looked forward to this year. Many have confidently expected that all members of the body of Christ will be changed to heavenly glory during this year. This may be accomplished. It may not be. In his own due time God will accomplish his purposes concerning his people. Christians should not be so deeply concerned about what may transpire this year." (The Watch Tower, January 1, 1925, page 3).

1975: ‘What about the year 1975? What is it going to mean, dear friends?’ asked Brother Franz. ‘Does it mean that Armageddon is going to be finished, with Satan bound, by 1975? It could! It could! All things are possible with God. Does it mean that Babylon the Great is going to go down by 1975? It could. Does it mean that the attack of Gog of Magog is going to be made on Jehovah’s witnesses to wipe them out, then Gog himself will be put out of action? It could. But we are not saying. All things are possible with God. But we are not saying. And don’t any of you be specific in saying anything that is going to happen between now and 1975.” (The Watchtower, 15 October 1966, page 631)

“Our chronology, however, ... is reasonably accurate (but admittedly not infallible) – (The Watchtower, 15 August 1968, page 499)

"Does this mean that the above evidence postively points to 1975 as the time for the complete end of this system of things? SINCE THE BIBLE DOES NOT SPECIFICALLY STATE THIS, NO MAN CAN SAY.” (Awake! October 8th, 1968, page 14 – emphasis added)

8 Does this mean that the year 1975 will bring the battle of Armageddon? No one can say with certainty what any particular year will bring. Jesus said: "Concerning that day or the hour nobody knows." (Mark 13:32) Sufficient is it for God's servants to know for a certainty that, for this system under Satan, time is running out rapidly. How foolish a person would be not to be awake and alert to the limited time remaining, to the earthshaking events soon to take place, and to the need to work out one's salvation! (WT – May 1st 1968 - paragraph 8 (pages 271-273)

"The publications of Jehovah's Witnesses have shown that, according to Bible chronology, it appears that 6,000 years of man's existence will be completed in the mid-1970's. But these publications HAVE NEVER SAID THAT THE WORLD'S END WOULD COME THEN. Nevertheless, there has been considerable individual speculation on the matter. So the assembly presentation "Why We Have Not Been Told ‘That Day and Hour'" was very timely. It emphasized that we do not know the exact time when God will bring the end."--w74 10/15 p. 635

Notice this sentence in the "Purpose" statement that appeared in EVERY issue of the Watchtower up to the mid- 70's:

"No, The Watchtower is no inspired prophet, but it follows and explains a Book of prophecy..."

The publishing arm of Jehovah’s Witnesses have in fact stated multiple times in their publications that the are not inspired nor do they have the gift of prophecy. Since the 1870’s they have cited Prov. 4:18 saying that our understanding of the truth will get brighter the closer we get to the end. Charles Taze Russell, the first president of the Watchtower stated that “We do not object to changing our opinions on any subject, or discarding former applications of prophecy, or any other scripture, when we see a good reason for the change,—in fact, it is important that we should be willing to unlearn errors and mere traditions, as to learn truth.... It is our duty to ‘prove all things.’—by the unerring Word,—‘and hold fast to that which is good.’ ” (Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence October 1879 (reprint) p.38 "The Ten Virgins")

In 1883 the Watchtower bluntly claimed “We [do] not have the gift of prophecy.” (Zion’s Watch Tower, January 1883, page 425.) Regarding what is to be expected in 1914 that Watchtower “However, we should not denounce those who in a proper spirit express their dissent in respect to the date mentioned [1914] and what may there be expected . . . We must admit that there are possibilities of our having made a mistake in respect to the chronology, even though we do not see where any mistake has been made in calculating the seven times of the Gentiles as expiring about October 1, 1914.” (The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence, 15 November 1913, reprint. 5348). So they clearly stated that there may be mistakes regarding what was going to happen in 1914, since they are not an inspired prophet. Rutherford, the 2nd president of the Watchtower Society agreed. In a book he wrote in 1929 he said “Many students have made the grievous mistake of thinking that God has inspired men to interpret prophecy. The holy prophets of the Old Testament were inspired by Jehovah to write as his power moved upon them. The writers of the New Testament were clothed with certain power and authority to write as the Lord directed them. However, since the days of the apostles no man on earth has been inspired to write prophecy, nor has any man been inspired to interpret prophecy.” (Prophecy Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1929, pages 61-62).

“We may not read the time features with the same absolute certainty as doctrinal features; for time is not so definitely stated in the Scriptures as are the basic doctrines. We are still walking by faith and not by sight. We are, however, not faithless and unbelieving, but faithful and waiting. If later it should be demonstrated that the Church is not glorified by October, 1914, we shall try to feel content with whatever the Lord's will may be. We believe that very many who are running the race for the prize will be able to thank God for the chronology, even if it should prove not accurate to the year, or even out of the way several years. We believe that the chronology is a blessing. If it should wake us a few minutes earlier or a few hours earlier in the Morning than we would otherwise have waked, well and good! It is those who are awake who get the blessing.

If 1915 should go by without the passage of the Church, without the Time of Trouble, etc., it would seem to some to be a great calamity. It would not be so with ourself. We shall be as glad as any one if we shall all experience our change from earthly to spirit conditions before 1915, and THIS IS OUR EXPECTATION; but if this should not be the Lord's will, then it would not be our will. If in the Lord's providence the time should come twenty-five years later, then that would be our will. This would not change the fact that the Son of God was sent by the Father, and that the Son is the Redeemer of our race; that He died for our sins; that He is selecting the Church for His Bride; and that the next thing now in order is the establishment of the glorious Kingdom at the hands of this great Mediator, who during His Mediatorial Reign will bless all the families of the earth. These facts remain the same. The difference would be merely that of a few years in the time of the establishment of the Kingdom.

If October, 1915, should pass, and we should find ourselves still here and matters going on very much as they are at present, and the world apparently making progress in the way of settling disputes, and there were no time of trouble in sight, and the nominal Church were not yet [R5374 : page 5] federated, etc., we would say that evidently we have been out somewhere in our reckoning. In that event we would look over the prophecies further, to see if we could find an error. And then we would think, Have we been expecting the wrong thing at the right time? The Lord's will might permit this. Our expectation as a Church is that our change is near. Nothing of Restitution blessings can come to the world until after the Church has been glorified.

Another thing to be considered, should our hopes not be so soon realized as we expect, would be as to whether we were surely of the elect class. But we are not worrying ourself at all. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/bsl/Library/Russell/Towers/Zwt1914/WTJan14.PDF http://www.biblestudents.com/htdbv5/r5374.htm

http://www.ctrussell.us/ctrussell/ctrussell.nsf/3e8bddb381ab8aff862566bd000abc73/69e40f9d460e987e862564610081577c?OpenDocument

“Finally, let us remember that we did not consecrate either to October, 1914, nor to October, 1915, or to any other date, but "unto death." If for any reason the Lord has permitted us to miscalculate the prophecies, the signs of the times assure us that the miscalculations cannot be very great. And if the Lord's grace and peace be with us in the future as in the past, according to His promise, we shall rejoice equally to go or to remain at any time, and to be in His service, either on this side the veil or on the other side, as may please our Master best.” WT- 12/1/1912 - http://www.ctrussell.us/ctrussell/ctrussell.nsf/3e8bddb381ab8aff862566bd000abc73/d68c04e28227c3f5862564610081520f?OpenDocument&Highlight=0,consecrate

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