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I would be interested in having some clarification on this topic. I once had a poster displayed in my house with the text, "The coming of the Lord draws near." James 5:8. Two very sincere and concerned Jehovah Witnesses knocked on my door and explained you can't say that (James 5:8) as it already happened in 1914. I am informed that this is a doctrine that has now been abandoned or revised. I am curious as to which is true?

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    Who told you this was abandoned or revised? What they said sounds right, and our beliefs on 1914 haven't changed. JWs believe Jesus began ruling over God's Kingdom from heaven in 1914. – 4castle Nov 14 '17 at 20:59
  • Did you understand the JW's to have meant that Jesus physically returned to earth in 1914? – Kris Nov 14 '17 at 22:05
  • I was never too sure if it was meant literally or figuratively or otherwise, so I kind of assumed it was literally, for a select few, (probably JW elders) and no one else really knew about it. Obviously not something which can be understood from scripture as the bible teaches that every eye shall see Him. – user38924 Nov 15 '17 at 9:37
  • No Jehovah's witnesses do not believe Jesus came to earth in 1914 – Kris Nov 16 '17 at 0:50
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Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe Jesus returned to Earth in 1914. Rather, they believe Jesus began ruling from Heaven in 1914. There haven't been any adjustments regarding 1914 in recent years.

The significance of 1914 is pretty well known among all JWs. It marks the beginning of Jesus' kingship in heaven over God's Kingdom. The book, What Does the Bible Really Teach? says:

At that time, “the appointed times of the nations” ended, and Jesus Christ was installed as God’s heavenly King. —Psalm 2:1-6; Daniel 7:13, 14.

Just as Jesus predicted, his “presence” as heavenly King has been marked by dramatic world developments​—war, famine, earthquakes, pestilences. (Matthew 24:3-8; Luke 21:11) Such developments bear powerful testimony to the fact that 1914 indeed marked the birth of God’s heavenly Kingdom and the beginning of “the last days” of this present wicked system of things.​—2 Timothy 3:1-5.

This book is used very commonly to aid in conducting Bible studies, so you can be sure that these are the current beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses.

In regard to James 5:8, this "coming" is discussed in more detail at Matthew 24:3-14. It's clear from this scripture that it represents a period of time, not a single event. The word translated as "coming" is also commonly translated as "presence".

In regard to your comment which mentions that "every eye shall see him" (Revelation 1:7), Jehovah's Witnesses believe there will be a supernatural sign of Jesus' presence as well. It's described in Matthew 24:30 as an event that will occur very shortly before Armageddon. This is an event that didn't occur in 1914. It's still in the future.

For more information see: What Is the Coming of Christ?

  • Seems a fair answer, though as I say, I have heard from various sources that the teaching is no longer current doctrine, I will try to remember where I heard it. – user38924 Nov 15 '17 at 19:31
  • All changes to the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses are listed by year in this article: Beliefs Clarified. The most recent change I see listed regarding 1914 happened in 1925. – 4castle Nov 15 '17 at 19:48
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    What events in 1914 led them to conclude that “war, famine, earthquakes, pestilences” refers to then? I’m guessing World War I starting, but were there any major earthquakes they thought were abnormal that year? – Thunderforge Nov 16 '17 at 3:35
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    @Thunderforge Other than WWI, most of the statistics cited are about conditions since 1914. Here's a statistic about the increase in earthquakes. There's also this article and this article which go into detail about the other signs. – 4castle Nov 16 '17 at 4:13
  • ehovahs Witnesses do not preach 1914 as a pivotal year in bible chronology simply because there was an earthquake or a war. PROPHECIES IN THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES PINPOINT THE YEAR the Messiah would begin ruling. Jesus gave the COMPOSITE sign of EVENTS that would indicate his presence. This link explains the composite sign: wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2015323?q=matt+24%3A8&p=par – 1982 Nov 16 '17 at 5:41

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