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This question is about Jehovah's Witnesses understanding of Jesus words in Matthew 24:21-22:

for then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again. In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.

My question is particularly about the part "unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved".

It looks to me like Jesus was saying that the situation would be such that no flesh or life would survive, unless those days are cut short. Like as if he is referring to some severe threat to all life on earth. Unless I am misunderstanding the word "saved".

I checked the articles I found about the Great Tribulation at jw.org (such as this article titled "What Is the Great Tribulation?" and this article) but did not find an explanation as to why "no flesh would be saved".

Questions:

  1. Do Jehovah's Witnesses have an opinion on whether this passage refers to a situation in which all life on earth is threatened? (Or does the word "saved" here refer to no humans somehow being "worthy" to be saved?)
  2. If if refers to a situation in which the survival of all life is threatened, what is the cause of this threat? For example is it because of some action by mankind such as World War 3 or something like that?
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Jehovah's Witnesses believe the prophecy at Matthew 24:15-22 has a double fulfillment.

The first fulfillment came about when the Roman army surrounded Jerusalem in 66 C.E., but then the attack was cut short when the Roman army suddenly withdrew. The faithful disciples in Jerusalem and Judea recognized this as their chance to escape, while the rest of the city thought it was a victory. The Roman army then returned and destroyed the city in 70 C.E.

In parallel, the second fulfillment will come about in the Great Tribulation. At that time, there will be an initial attack on religion by the "disgusting thing ... standing in a holy place," which is the United Nations. The attack will be cut short to spare the true religion from being destroyed also.

Here's an infographic from the 2013 Watchtower article, "Tell Us, When Will These Things Be?"

Great Tribulation Infographic

In summary:

  1. The attack is against religions and their adherents.
  2. The attack is caused by the world's governments by means of the United Nations.

For a much more detailed analysis of the events leading up to Armageddon, see the book God's Kingdom Rules, chapter 21: "God's Kingdom Removes Its Enemies."


P.S. I'm impressed by how in-depth this question is. There are a lot more research tools that can help you find answers quicker in the future. One of the most useful ones is the Publications Index, where you can find publications by Scripture or by topic. (It's what I used to find information for this answer.) You can also use the search feature on https://wol.jw.org for a broader range of articles than are available on just the main site.

  • @user100487 It depends what you mean by "return". JWs believe Jesus began ruling God's Kingdom in 1914, but he won't be personally involved with fighting the nations until Armageddon. The celestial phenomena indicate Jesus will soon attack. – 4castle Feb 5 '18 at 16:34
  • @user100487 I can't find any direct statements on whether it will be visible. It sounds to me like the judgement is visible though. – 4castle Feb 5 '18 at 17:35
  • @user100487 Yes, the anointed ones are gathered after the attack on Babylon the Great and shortly before Armageddon. The second link in my answer discusses it in paragraphs 14 and 15. – 4castle Feb 5 '18 at 18:23
  • Thanks @4Castle. I moved this to chat but just realized that I do not have any other questions. The chat is here though. – user100487 Feb 5 '18 at 18:26

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