In my last article “Overcoming Obstacles in Our Preaching by Introducing The Father and Family”, I mentioned that discussing the teaching of the “great crowd” could help Jehovah’s Witnesses in understanding the Bible better and thereby draw closer to our Heavenly Father.
This one will look to examine the “great crowd” teaching and help those who are willing to listen and reason. The teaching principles that Jesus used and discussed previously are just as important in considering this teaching.
Reminders on Giving a Witness
There is an important point to keep in mind, found in the parable in Mark’s account:
“So he went on to say: ‘In this way the Kingdom of God is just as when a man casts seeds on the ground. 27 He sleeps at night and rises up by day, and the seeds sprout and grow tall—just how, he does not know. 28 On its own the ground bears fruit gradually, first the stalk, then the head, finally the full grain in the head. 29 But as soon as the crop permits it, he thrusts in the sickle, because the harvest time has come.’” (Mark 4:26-29)
There is a point in verse 27 where the sower is not responsible for the growth but there is a preordained process as shown in verse 28. This means that we should not expect to convince people of the truth because of our own ability or efforts. The Word of God and the holy spirit will do the work without impinging on the gift of free will granted to everyone.
This is a lesson in life that I learned the hard way. Many years ago when I became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I spoke with enthusiasm and zeal to a large part of my Catholic family—immediate and extended—about what I had learnt. My approach was naïve and insensitive, as I expected that all would see matters in the same light. Unfortunately, my zeal and enthusiasm was misplaced, and resulted in damage to those relationships. It took a considerable period of time and effort to repair many of these relationships. After a great deal of reflection, I realised that people do not necessarily make decisions based on facts and logic. It can be difficult or almost impossible for some to admit their religious belief system is incorrect. Resistance to the idea also comes when the effect such a change will have on relationships and one’s worldview is folded into the mix. Over time, I came to realise that God’s Word, holy spirit, and my own conduct was a far more powerful witness than any clever lines of logic and reason.
The key thoughts before we proceed are as follows:
- Only use the NWT and Watchtower literature as these are viewed as acceptable.
- Do not look to destroy their faith or worldview but offer a positive Bible-based hope.
- Be prepared to reason and ensure that the one you are looking to help has prepared on the topic.
- Do not force the issue; and if matters get heated, be like our Lord and Saviour Jesus by always keeping the following two scriptures in mind.
“Let your words always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6)
“But sanctify the Christ as Lord in your hearts, always ready to make a defense before everyone who demands of you a reason for the hope you have, but doing so with a mild temper and deep respect. 16 Maintain a good conscience, so that in whatever way you are spoken against, those who speak against you may be put to shame because of your good conduct as followers of Christ.” (1 Peter 3:15, 16)
Context of the “Great Crowd” Teaching
We all need hope, and the Bible discusses the true hope in many places. As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the hope that is mentioned in the literature and the meetings is that this system will end soon and an earthly paradise will follow, where all can live in eternal bliss. Much of the literature has artistic depictions of a world of plenty. The hope is a very materialistic one, where all are eternally young and healthy, and enjoy an abundance of diverse food, dream homes, global peace and harmony. All of these are perfectly normal desires, but it all misses the point of John 17:3.
“This means everlasting life, their coming to know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.”
In this final prayer, Jesus highlights that a personal and intimate relationship with the true God and his Son Jesus is what each of us can and must develop. As they are both eternal, each of us is given everlasting life to carry on with this relationship. All the paradisiac conditions are a gift from a generous, merciful, and good Father.
Since 1935, this perfect life on earth has been the main thrust of JW preaching, involving a reinterpretation of Revelation 7:9-15 and John 10:16: the “great crowd of other sheep.” A review of the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses will reveal that the connection between the “great crowd” and the “other sheep” depends on an interpretation of where the “great crowd” is pictured as standing in Revelation 7:15. The teaching began with the publication of the August 1st and 15th, 1935 edition of The Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence magazine, with the two-part article titled “The Great Multitude”. This two-part article gave a new impetus for the teaching work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. (I must highlight that Judge Rutherford’s style of writing is rather dense.)
Reasoning on These Scriptures
First, I will state that I do not bring up the subject on my own for discussion, as it could seriously affect the faith of a Witness, and to have faith in a belief destroyed is not upbuilding. Normally, people approach me and want to know why I partook of the emblems or why I no longer attend meetings. My response is that my study of the Bible and the WTBTS literature has made me reach conclusions that my conscience cannot ignore. I tell them that I do not want to upset their faith and that it is best to let sleeping dogs lie. Quite a few insist that they would like to know and that their faith is very strong. After more dialogue, I will say we can do this if they agree to doing some pre-study and preparation on the subject of the “great crowd”. They agree and I ask them to read Revelation – Its Grand Climax is at Hand!, chapter 20, “A Multitudinous Great Crowd”. This deals with Revelation 7: 9-15 where the term “great crowd” occurs. In addition, I ask that they refresh themselves on the teaching of “the great spiritual temple”, as this is used to underpin the “great crowd” teaching. I also recommend that they read the following Watchtower articles: “Jehovah’s Great Spiritual Temple” (w96 7/1 pp. 14-19) and “The Triumph of True Worship Draws Near” (w96 7/1 pp. 19-24).
Once they have completed this, we arrange a meeting. At this point I repeat that my recommendation is not to have this discussion, but those who have come this far have carried on.
We now start the session with prayer and get straight down to the discussion. I ask them to state who and what they understand by the “great crowd”. The answer tends to be textbook, and I probe a little deeper on where they understand the “great crowd” to be located. The response is on earth and that they are different from the 144,000 mentioned in the earlier verses of Revelation, chapter 7.
We open the Bible and read Revelation 7:9-15 to be clear where the term occurs. The verses read:
“After this I saw, and look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands. 10 And they keep shouting with a loud voice, saying: “Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell facedown before the throne and worshipped God, 12 saying: “Amen! Let the praise and the glory and the wisdom and the thanksgiving and the honor and the power and the strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” 13 In response one of the elders said to me: “These who are dressed in the white robes, who are they and where did they come from?” 14 So right away I said to him: “My lord, you are the one who knows.” And he said to me: “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 That is why they are before the throne of God, and they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple; and the One seated on the throne will spread his tent over them.”
I encourage them to open Revelation – Its Grand Climax is at Hand! and read chapter 20: “A Multitudinous Great Crowd”. We focus on paragraphs 12-14 and normally read it together. The key point is in paragraph 14 where the Greek word is discussed. I have copied it below:
In Heaven or on Earth?
12 How do we know that “standing before the throne” does not mean that the great crowd is in heaven? There is much clear evidence on this point. For example, the Greek word here translated “before” (e·noʹpi·on) literally means “in [the] sight [of]” and is used several times of humans on earth who are “before” or “in the sight of” Jehovah. (1 Timothy 5:21; 2 Timothy 2:14; Romans 14:22; Galatians 1:20) On one occasion when the Israelites were in the wilderness, Moses said to Aaron: “Say to the entire assembly of the sons of Israel, ‘Come near before Jehovah, because he has heard your murmurings.’” (Exodus 16:9) The Israelites did not have to be transported to heaven in order to stand before Jehovah on that occasion. (Compare Leviticus 24:8.) Rather, right there in the wilderness they stood in Jehovah’s view, and his attention was on them.
13 Additionally, we read: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory . . . all the nations will be gathered before him.” The whole human race will not be in heaven when this prophecy is fulfilled. Certainly, those who “depart into everlasting cutting-off” will not be in heaven. (Matthew 25:31-33, 41, 46) Instead, mankind stands on earth in Jesus’ view, and he turns his attention to judging them. Similarly, the great crowd is “before the throne and before the Lamb” in that it stands in the view of Jehovah and his King, Christ Jesus, from whom it receives a favorable judgment.
14 The 24 elders and the anointed group of 144,000 are described as being “round about the throne” of Jehovah and “upon the [heavenly] Mount Zion.” (Revelation 4:4; 14:1) The great crowd is not a priestly class and does not attain to that exalted position. True, it is later described at Revelation 7:15 as serving God “in his temple.” But this temple does not refer to the inner sanctuary, the Most Holy. Rather, it is the earthly courtyard of God’s spiritual temple. The Greek word na·osʹ, here translated “temple,” often conveys the broad sense of the entire edifice erected for Jehovah’s worship. Today, this is a spiritual structure that embraces both heaven and earth.—Compare Matthew 26:61; 27:5, 39, 40; Mark 15:29, 30; John 2:19-21, New World Translation Reference Bible, footnote.
Basically, the whole teaching rests on our understanding of the antitypical spiritual temple. The tabernacle constructed by Moses in the Wilderness and the Jerusalem temple built by Solomon had an inner sanctuary (in Greek, naos) and only the priests and High Priest could enter. The outer courtyards and the entire temple structure (in Greek, hieron) are where the rest of the people congregated.
In the above explanation, we got it completely the wrong way around. This was an error that went back to an article “The “Great Crowd” Renders Sacred Service, Where?” (w80 8/15 pp. 14-20) This was the first time the “great crowd” was discussed in depth since 1935. The above error on the meaning of the word was made in this article as well, and if you read paragraphs 3-13, you will see it in a fuller version. The Revelation Book was released in 1988 and as you can see from the above, reaffirms the same erroneous understanding. Why can I say this?
Please read “Questions from Readers” in the 1st May, 2002 The Watchtower, pp. 30, 31 (I’ve highlighted all the key elements). If you go to the fifth reason, you will see that the correct meaning of the word naos is now given.
When John saw the “great crowd” rendering sacred service in Jehovah’s temple, in which part of the temple were they doing this? —Revelation 7:9-15.
It is reasonable to say that the great crowd worships Jehovah in one of the earthly courtyards of his great spiritual temple, specifically the one that corresponds with the outer courtyard of Solomon’s temple.
In times past, it has been said that the great crowd is in a spiritual equivalent, or an antitype, of the Court of the Gentiles that existed in Jesus’ day. However, further research has revealed at least five reasons why that is not so. First, not all features of Herod’s temple have an antitype in Jehovah’s great spiritual temple. For example, Herod’s temple had a Court of the Women and a Court of Israel. Both men and women could enter the Court of the Women, but only men were allowed into the Court of Israel. In the earthly courtyards of Jehovah’s great spiritual temple, men and women are not separated in their worship. (Galatians 3:28, 29) Hence, there is no equivalent of the Court of the Women and the Court of Israel in the spiritual temple.
Second, there was no Court of the Gentiles in the divinely provided architectural plans of Solomon’s temple or Ezekiel’s visionary temple; nor was there one in the temple rebuilt by Zerubbabel. Hence, there is no reason to suggest that a Court of the Gentiles needs to play a part in Jehovah’s great spiritual temple arrangement for worship, especially when the following point is considered.
Third, the Court of the Gentiles was built by the Edomite King Herod to glorify himself and to curry favor with Rome. Herod set about renovating Zerubbabel’s temple perhaps in 18 or 17 B.C.E. The Anchor Bible Dictionary explains: “The classical tastes of the imperial power to the West [Rome] . . . mandated a temple larger than those of comparable eastern cities.” However, the dimensions of the temple proper were already established. The dictionary explains: “While the Temple itself would have to have the same dimensions as its predecessors [Solomon’s and Zerubbabel’s], the Temple Mount was not restricted in its potential size.” Hence, Herod expanded the temple area by adding on what in modern times has been called the Court of the Gentiles. Why would a construction with such a background have an antitype in Jehovah’s spiritual temple arrangement?
Fourth, almost anyone—the blind, the lame, and uncircumcised Gentiles—could enter the Court of the Gentiles. (Matthew 21:14, 15) True, the court served a purpose for many uncircumcised Gentiles who wished to make offerings to God. And it was there that Jesus sometimes addressed the crowds and twice expelled the money changers and merchants, saying that they had dishonored the house of his Father. (Matthew 21:12, 13; John 2:14-16) Still, The Jewish Encyclopedia says: “This outer court was, strictly speaking, not a part of the Temple. Its soil was not sacred, and it might be entered by any one.”
Fifth, the Greek word (hi·e·ron’) translated “temple” that is used with reference to the Court of the Gentiles “refers to the entire complex, rather than specifically to the Temple building itself,” says A Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew, by Barclay M. Newman and Philip C. Stine. In contrast, the Greek word (na·os’) translated “temple” in John’s vision of the great crowd is more specific. In the context of the Jerusalem temple, it usually refers to the Holy of Holies, the temple building, or the temple precincts. It is sometimes rendered “sanctuary.”—Matthew 27:5, 51; Luke 1:9, 21; John 2:20.
Members of the great crowd exercise faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. They are spiritually clean, having “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Hence, they are declared righteous with a view to becoming friends of God and of surviving the great tribulation. (James 2:23, 25) In many ways, they are like proselytes in Israel who submitted to the Law covenant and worshiped along with the Israelites.
Of course, those proselytes did not serve in the inner courtyard, where the priests performed their duties. And members of the great crowd are not in the inner courtyard of Jehovah’s great spiritual temple, which courtyard represents the condition of perfect, righteous human sonship of the members of Jehovah’s “holy priesthood” while they are on earth. (1 Peter 2:5) But as the heavenly elder said to John, the great crowd really is in the temple, not outside the temple area in a kind of spiritual Court of the Gentiles. What a privilege that is! And how it highlights the need for each one to maintain spiritual and moral purity at all times!
Strangely, while correcting the meaning of naos, the following two paragraphs contradict that understanding and make a statement that cannot be scripturally sustained. If naos is the sanctuary area, then in the Spiritual Temple it signifies heaven, and not earth. So the “great crowd” is standing in heaven.
Interestingly, in 1960, they already had the correct understanding of naos and ‘hieron’.
“The Temple of the Apostles’ Time” (w60 8/15)
Paragraph 2: It may well be asked, What kind of building could this be that had room for all this traffic? The fact is that this temple was not just one building but a series of structures of which the temple sanctuary was the center. In the original tongue this is made quite clear, the Scripture writers distinguishing between the two by the use of the words hierón and naós. Hierón referred to the entire temple grounds, whereas naós applied to the temple structure itself, the successor of the tabernacle in the wilderness. Thus John tells that Jesus found all this traffic in the hieŕon. But when Jesus likened his body to a temple he used the word naós, meaning the temple “sanctuary,” as noted in the footnote of the New World Translation.
Paragraph 17: The floor of the temple sanctuary (naós) was twelve steps higher than the Court of the Priests, the main part of which was ninety feet high and ninety feet wide. Even as with Solomon’s temple, there were chambers on the sides, and in the center of it was the Holy Place, thirty feet wide and sixty high and long, and the Holy of Holies, a thirty-foot cube. The three stories of chambers around the sides and “attics” above account for the difference between the interior of the Holy and Most Holy and the outside measurements.
The first question I am asked at this point is, “Who are the great crowd and are you saying there is no earthly resurrection?”
My response is that I do not claim that I know who the “great crowd” represent. I am only going on the WTBTS understanding. Therefore, the obvious conclusion is that they have to be in heaven. This does not mean that there is no earthly resurrection, but it cannot apply to this group who are standing in heaven.
It is important at this stage not to provide an explanation or alternative interpretation as they need time to realise that there is no apostasy here but just someone honestly lost for answers.
Up to this point, I have used only WTBTS references. At this point, I show my own research into the two Greek words to check to see where else the word naos occurs. I found it 40+ times in the Christian Greek Scriptures. I have created a table and consulted with six biblical dictionaries and about seven different commentaries. It is always the inner sanctuary of the temple on earth or in a heavenly setting in Revelation. In the Bible book of Revelation, the word occurs 14 times (in addition to Revelation 7) and always means heaven.
Download Chart of Use of the word Naos and Hieron in the NT
I then explain how I decided to go back and study the teaching from the 1935 Watchtowers and also found the two August 1st and 15th, 1934 Watchtowers with the “His Kindness” articles. I offer to share the articles and my notes on the teachings in it.
Then, I provide a summary of the various teachings that were used to support this understanding of the “great crowd”. There are basically four building blocks. The fourth one is also erroneous but the WTBTS has not admitted to it yet, and I don’t really say anything unless they ask about it. In that case, I get them to read John 10 in context and look at Ephesians 2:11-19. I make it clear that this is a possibility but am happy to listen to other perspectives.
Here are the four fundamental elements upon which the teaching of the “great crowd” is based.
- Where do they stand in the temple? (See Revelation 7:15) Naos means the inner sanctuary as based on the 1st May WT 2002 “Question from Readers”. This means that the “great crowd” location needs to be revisited based on the revised understanding of the Spiritual temple (see w72 12/1 pp. 709-716 “The One True Temple at Which to Worship”, w96 7/1 pp. 14-19 Jehovah’s Great Spiritual Temple and w96 7/1 pp. 19-24 The Triumph of True Worship Draws Near). The point was corrected in the 2002 “Question from Readers”.
- Jehu and Jonadab of type and antitype based on the 1934 WT 1st August on “His Kindness” no longer applies based on the Governing Body’s rule that only antitypes applied in Scripture can be accepted. It is not explicitly stated that Jehu and Jonadab have a prophetic antitypical representation, so the 1934 interpretation must be rejected based on the official position of the Organization.
- Cities of Refuge teaching of type and antitype teachings based on the 15th August 1934 “His Kindness Part 2” is no longer valid. This is an explicit statement as we can see in the November, 2017, The Watchtower study edition. The article in question is, “Are you taking Refuge in jehovah?” A box in the article states the following:
Lessons or Antitypes?
Beginning in the late 19th century, The Watch Tower drew attention to the prophetic significance of the cities of refuge. “This feature of the typical Mosaic law strongly foreshadowed the refuge which the sinner may find in Christ,” stated the September 1, 1895, issue. “Seeking refuge in him by faith, there is protection.” A century later, The Watchtower identified the antitypical city of refuge as “God’s provision for protecting us from death for violating his commandment about the sanctity of blood.”
However, the March 15, 2015, issue of The Watchtower explained why our recent publications seldom mention prophetic types and antitypes: “Where the Scriptures teach that an individual, an event, or an object is typical of something else, we accept it as such. Otherwise, we ought to be reluctant to assign an antitypical application to a certain person or account if there is no specific Scriptural basis for doing so.” Because the Scriptures are silent regarding any antitypical significance of the cities of refuge, this article and the next one emphasize instead the lessons Christians can learn from this arrangement.
- The teaching of John 10:16 is the only one remaining and that application is disproved contextually, as well as scripturally by Ephesians 2:11-19.
Therefore, three out of four points have now been shown to be in error. The 4th point can be reasoned contextually and also disproved.
In addition, in the 1st May 2007, The Watchtower (pages 30, 31), there is a “Question from Readers” titled, “When does the calling of Christians to a heavenly hope cease?” This article clearly states at the end of the fourth paragraph, “Thus, it appears that we cannot set a specific date for when the calling of Christians to the heavenly hope ends.”
This raises an additional question as to why this calling is not taught to those studying the Bible. A scriptural explanation of how this calling would work is not clearly outlined other than to say that a person has a feeling and the hope becomes sure.
In conclusion, the current teaching on the “great crowd” cannot be sustained scripturally and even the WTBTS publications no longer support it scripturally. No further revisions have been made since The Watchtower of 1st May, 2002. To date, most people have left asking questions and many have followed up with me checking on possible solutions. Some have asked why I don’t write to the Society. I provide the October 2011, The Watchtower reference where we are told not to write in as they do not have any further information if it is not already in the publications. I explain that we should respect that request.
Finally, I highlight that I have only used the NWT, WTBTS literature and only went to dictionaries and commentaries for studying the Greek words in more detail. This study confirmed the “Question from Readers” in 2002. This then establishes that my issues are sincere, and I have nothing against the WTB TS but cannot in good conscience teach this hope. I then share the relationship that I have with my heavenly Father on the basis of his Son’s sacrifice and how I am looking to “live in the Christ”. This is something I offer to discuss with them in a future meeting.
 All scriptural references are from the New World Translation (NWT) 2013 edition unless otherwise stated. This translation is the work of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WTBTS).
 For more details please see The Watchtower articles of August 1st and 15th 1935 with articles titled “The Great Multitude” Parts 1 and 2 respectively. The preferred translation used by the WTBTS at the time was the King James Translation and the term used is “the Great Multitude”. In addition, The Watchtower articles of August 1st and 15th 1934 included articles titled “His Kindness Parts 1 and 2” respectively and laid the groundwork for the teaching by setting up the type and antitype teaching of “Jehu and Jonadab” as two classes of Christians, one that would go to heaven to become a co-ruler with Jesus Christ, and the other that would form part of the earthly subjects of the kingdom. The “Cities of Refuge” are also viewed as types for Christians to escape from the Avenger of Blood, Jesus Christ. These teachings were meant to have their antitypical fulfillment after the setting up of the Messianic Kingdom in 1914. Most of the teachings in these magazines are no longer held by the WTBTS, yet the resultant theology is still accepted.
 These are Revelation 3:12, 7:15, 11:1-2, 19, 14:15, 17, 15:5-8, 16:1, 17 and 21:22.
 It is interesting to see how the NWT renders it in all the Revelation verses as 3:12 and 21:22 are self-explanatory. Why is the word sanctuary is missing in 7:15 when it occurs in chapters 11, 14, 15, and 16?
5 See the March 15, 2015, The Watchtower (pages 17,18) “Question from Readers”: “In the past, our publications often mentioned types and antitypes, but in recent years they have seldom done so. Why is that?”
Also in the same edition, there is a study article titled “This is the Way You Approved”. Paragraph 10 states: “As we might expect, over the years Jehovah has helped “the faithful and discreet slave” to become steadily more discreet. Discretion has led to greater caution when it comes to calling a Bible account a prophetic drama unless there is a clear Scriptural basis for doing so. Additionally, it has been found that some of the older explanations about types and antitypes are unduly difficult for many to grasp. The details of such teachings—who pictures whom and why—can be hard to keep straight, to remember, and to apply. Of even greater concern, though, is that the moral and practical lessons of the Bible accounts under examination may be obscured or lost in all the scrutiny of possible antitypical fulfillments. Thus, we find that our literature today focuses more on the simple, practical lessons about faith, endurance, godly devotion, and other vital qualities that we learn about from Bible accounts. (Boldface and italics added)
 See 15th October, 2011 The Watchtower, page 32, “Question from Readers”: “What should I do when I have a question about something I read in the Bible or when I need advice about a personal problem?”
In paragraph 3, it states “Of course, there are some topics and scriptures that our publications have not specifically addressed. And even where we have commented on a particular Bible text, we may not have dealt with the specific question that you have in mind. Also, some Bible accounts raise questions because not all the details are spelled out in the Scriptures. Thus, we cannot find immediate answers to every question that arises. In such a case, we should avoid speculating about things that simply cannot be answered, lest we get involved in debating “questions for research rather than a dispensing of anything by God in connection with faith.” (1 Tim. 1:4; 2 Tim. 2:23; Titus 3:9) Neither the branch office nor world headquarters is in a position to analyze and answer all such questions that have not been considered in our literature. We can be satisfied that the Bible provides sufficient information to guide us through life but also omits enough details so as to require us to have strong faith in its divine Author. —See pages 185 to 187 of the book Draw Close to Jehovah.”
[…] of “Bride of Christ” was completed and the focus of the ministry was gathering in the “Great Multitude or Other Sheep” of Revelation […]
Thaddeus, I haven’t seen the agm yet. I was told that there is a revised understanding of the temple but it was to do with Ezekiel’s temple. From what I was told they were using it to support 1919. They have previously misapplied the two sticks and I assume it is all to build a new paradigm and to call it new light. I cannot comment on this adjustment as I only have ‘hearsay’. The issue is the current understanding of the great crowd collapsed in 2002 in question from readers. The change on types and anti types was just… Read more »
Hi Eleasar , I appreciate your reasoning style, and most importantly I appreciate that you want to completely avoid destroying ones faith with a fatal blow. I appreciate that you endeavor to be up building, even when sharing your Bible understanding. You state: “In addition, I ask that they refresh themselves on the teaching of “the great spiritual temple”, as this is used to underpin the “great crowd” teaching. I also recommend that they read the following Watchtower articles: “Jehovah’s Great Spiritual Temple” (w96 7/1 pp. 14-19) and “The Triumph of True Worship Draws Near” (w96 7/1 pp. 19-24).” I… Read more »
Thaddeus, I can’t really bear to watch JW videos, so I would not have known this about the Annual Meeting if you hadn’t mentioned it; thanks. So, all JWs are inside the temple, eh? How interesting … I would really like to hear the response of other readers here as to what they think of this concept, and whether they agree with it. Suppose WT is right. What then? Seems to me that this takes the idea of the non-anointed being mere “friends” of God and blows it to bits. As some may know, I have felt that no one… Read more »
Thanks for this insight Thaddeus, it really is quite incredible!
Hi Robert, I think I understand what you mean, although I can’t help feeling that to dispute whether or not we go to heaven is a bit like arguing whether or not we go to tomorrow, or tomorrow comes to us.
Hope this makes sense 🙂
Greeting brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! First I would like to say that I can attest to how vital it is that we are careful not to damage faith but through prayer for holy spirit and divine wisdom, edify faith and spirituality of our potential brothers in Christ. I too have been successful satisfying and stimulating inquisitive minds in a similar manner. It is encouraging to hear of those that are in a position to reach some hearts and minds. My wife and I were studying this very fine article yesterday and mused over a possible… Read more »
I mentioned earlier that the “The Great Crowd” could also be of the resurrected ones, I haven’t heard anything back on that as of yet. (Lu 20:35,36,37,38) compare (Is 51:11) (Mt 8:11) and then in Rev 7:9 the first two or three words of the scripture depending on which translation you use are very meaningful.
Just to add a little more support to the theory above in case anyone is interested, Rev 7:9 mentions palms or palm “branches” in their hands symbolically representing the triumph and victory over the last enemy Death.
If the tribulation from which they exit victoriously is that which is visited upon all Christians who ‘take up their torture stake (or cross) and follow the Christ continuously’, then the Great Crowd would certainly have to include resurrected ones. (Mt 16:24)
Whenever we decide that our own particular views are “right”, the idea of being right can consume us, to the point of being an obsession. (Believe me, I am sure about this). It is a failing that has manifested itself among persons of faith seemingly since the dawn of time. We must constantly remind ourselves (and, at times, others) that the truth of the Bible is more important than the “rightness” of any one individual. And, just as important, we must never forget an extremely important fact: we could be wrong, even if we strongly believe we’re not wrong. We… Read more »
Very encouraging comment Robert!
Those above comments are clothed with humility. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
I just wanted to man-up and apologize to anyone I may have offended with some earlier comments. Also I wanted to apologize to this website and the authors and administrators for the hurtful words implied by me. This is a respectful and dignified site and I accept that wholeheartedly! I also know that there is a Wealth of knowledge here and commend each and everyone of you respectfully. So with that being said I’ll be 10-10 listening in. (Pr 10:10)!
Thank you Worldling. Much appreciated and please know you are welcome here.
Thank you Worldling. Look forward to your comments.
No, thank you and Meleti and Eleazer for the warm brotherhood guidance received. I was in a hostile frame of mind and overcame it with a few kind words of encouragement endowed by the grace of God but coming from you and Meleti and Eleazer, with my thoughts directed to everyone here as a group as well! I must be honest with myself and realize that to be out of Babylon the Great I cast myself into the world because there is no other place to go unless I get beamed up to another galaxy.(still waiting on that ride, no… Read more »
We all face many pressures and have our own and others imperfections to add to the mix. That is why we encouraged to keep on living in the Christ and at our normal address. I think the issue is not that you felt hostile but how you have reflected and was willing to move forward.
Personally, I was not offended as I have been in similar frames of mind often and realise that I need to be more Christlike. I definitely need encouragement and your words and actions have been encouraging. Thank you.
You shouldn’t have removed the comment, IMHO, Brain. I thought it was spot on reasoning. If you don’t have it anymore and would like to restore it, I’ll do so from my copy, but I’ll respect your wishes either way.
Good Morning everyone! I just got back from dropping my 16 year old Great niece off at the Kingdom Hall she is going out in service today (unbaptized publisher btw). She looked very nice, shin length dress, no over whelming make-up. I asked her if she had any hot leads and she said no. So I told her to hang in there it’ll happen. I also told her that if each Witness could get just one person to start up the faith then the numbers could double over night. She looked at me with a puzzled look. She asked me… Read more »
Hi Worldling, I have been reading your posts for a while now and I am somewhat confused by some of them. You state above that you dropped off your great niece to the meeting for field service at the KH. In an earlier post, you say that you were disfellowshipped 32 years ago. That in itself is rather puzzling to me. Why is your believing family having you take her to service? Perhaps just a logistics or convenience issue? Not really any of my business per se, but you publicly posted it, so I think it is a valid question,… Read more »
Thanks WS now I feel like a brother! Anyway, I’ve been awake for so long I’m about to go back to sleep. My Family loves me and I love them. I don’t usually get involved with their activities but on occasion they need me and I’m there for them. I disfellowshiped myself the day I turned 21 (Aug. 23, 1985). We don’t argue or fuss about silly things that could damage our Blood relationship. And yes I am a challenging person. When your life is at stake or the cross for that matter, I think everyone should be.(2 Tim 1:7)… Read more »
Thank you for your kind response. Your family situation is definitely the exception to the JW rule, as it were. Good for you.
Nice to make contact.
I started to read your article with the idea earlier today of just sort of scanning it, but your article is so fascinating.
It is a topic close to my heart and I have been reading and re-reading it, then reading the comments that have been generated.
I have been stimulated to do more reading and meditating on this. It is a topic that cannot be dealt with just intellectually. It needs tiring thinking about.
Dajo, Initially I was planning on writing it on the bible study section. I decided that this is a more jw centred discussion and switched my approach. My aim was to share with others one way of helping jws by not attacking their belief system. We need jws to start asking questions and thinking about scriptures. The best way is to do the following: 1. Demonstrate how the loss of faith and confusion that the wtbts literature has created for me. 2. Go through using nothing but wtbts literature and the nwt to highlight the teaching no longer makes sense.… Read more »
Thank you for the excellent article Eleasar. So important to use only WTBTS information at first. This will help me greatly!
Keep up the good work.
Glad to be of service.
” It has more of an application today to those who leave the JW religion , and come to jesus instead”
Thats why it came to mind ?
Hi brain, That is nothing. Reading the 1934/35 wt is hard work. They are dense written, no images, about 40 paragraphs. I just wonder if anyone really studied this stuff back then or just accepted it at face value. Rutherford’s writing is so dense and never gets to the point. He regularly states, it is evident, the matter is proven etc. All assertions with no scriptural evidence and weak or non existent argumententation. I cannot believe he was a lawyer. Russell’s work is readable and he clearly states from scripture and arguments can be seen even if you don’t agree.… Read more »
Eleasar you stated that y’all began the session with prayer. Was that a typical Jehovah’s Witnesses prayer? Making them feel comfortable and you uncomfortable? or Was it a prayer to the Lord and savior Jesus Christ the Messiah? Making you feel comfortable and them uncomfortable? Just how did that work out for you??
I am not aware of ‘typical’ prayers. I approach my father and ask for his wisdom to be on us. I also request that we learn with joy in our hearts and peace in our minds. I request that he pours out his Holy Spirit to give us the above. The prayer is always in the precious name of my lord and his son who is my mediator, high priest and helper. I am very happy and so are the ones who have spoken to me. Sometimes, I request that the other person open in prayer and ask them to… Read more »
I appreciate your sincere answer,however I have been around long enough been to enough meetings, memorials, gatherings, family dinners,dis-fellowshipings,assemblies and conventions and maybe a few other events that I can’t recall to know a typical JW prayer when I hear one!! You just stated that the prayer is always in the name of your Lord and his Son.Could you elaborate? Are you still praying to the name of Jehovah thru his son’s name Jesus Christ?? Or are you using some other name of the Almighty? Or maybe a generic term? I’m trying to figure out where you are in your… Read more »
Dear Worldy one,
you probably – like many here- to QUOTE YOU ” have been around long enough been to enough meetings, memorials, gatherings, family dinners,dis-fellowshipings,assemblies and conventions and maybe a few other events..”
However, what is your point? (I have used 1 question (mark) here.
This is a dignified and respectable place. Could you please help us to keep it like that.
That’s funny dajo trying to coerce people out of their beliefs doesn’t seem too dignified and respectable to me. Intentionally misspelling my name isn’t respectable. I asked four questions to one person and that wasn’t you, let Eleaser answer them if he’s awake enough! I can take it can you?
“trying to coerce people out of their beliefs doesn’t seem too dignified and respectable to me” [Worldling]
Worldling, you misrepresent the words of our brothers and sisters on this forum. Reasoning from Scripture with a view to unmasking falsehood is not coersion. It is the technique that our Lord Jesus used. Please choose your words carefully so as not to offend, but to build up.
“Let YOUR utterance be always with graciousness, seasoned with salt, so as to know how YOU ought to give an answer to each one.” (Col 4:6)
(1 Tim 5:20) and (1 Tim 5:21) also come to mind (1 Tim 6:20) and (1 Tim 6:21) as well.
You state, “I’m trying to figure out where you are in your state of awakening”.
Where are you?
with all due respect you have asked four questions. If you wish to ask questions could you please use the site here:
Or could you say something encouraging..please?
Rutherford also called himself “Judge”. He only filled-in very briefly in that capacity if my memory serves. Super humble man….
I really can’t believe how bad this translation on this site butchers the true written Word of God. Any Botanist can tell you that a palm tree doesn’t have branches, it has fronds or leaves only.(Rev 7:9) A lot of visitors commenting here are worried about Greek words when it seems as though they couldn’t care less about their own English words. In the authorized version it does not add the word branches to palm.(Rev 22:18).
Hello worldly one.
You asked a lot of questions in your earlier remarks.
Did you get answers?
I want to help you if I can so please request my private email if you wish.
It seems that you might benefit by discussing some things.
This one came to mind:
36A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; 38and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.…
Its a tribulation which every christian has to face.
Often, one of the most difficult.
Great scripture (Matt 10:38). Most here I would say are still on the fence about the Cross, but no less still have to come to terms with it. Probably one of the most difficult decisions one has to Cross-over to. Cross reference (Col 2:14)! Thanks for pointing that out Willy.
I’ve known many who have left the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses who end up in therapy. The Witnesses love to claim that the evil apostates are persecuting them. But a true apostate as described by John (2 John 1:6-11) does not go to a psychiatrist for help. Witnesses who label anyone who disagrees with them as an apostate and then shun such a one are engaging in persecution just as the Scribes and Pharisees did in the first century.
Please correct your stated scripture Meleti, honest mistake I assume.
Done. The plugin that looks up scriptures doesn’t handle notation for books that have no chapters, so I have to make allowance for that. Thanks, Worldling for catching that.
Spot on Brain!
Hi Eleasar. I looked up the references you gave and agree we must be very careful how we approach others on this subject (something I do not always find easy). Once we get the correct meaning on Naos and Hieron, it becomes hard to prove the great Crowd are being pictured on earth. Most on this site will be well aware of how John 10:16 does not link up scripturally to the Great Crowd, as Jesus was talking to Jews at the time. However, it leaves us with trying to understand correctly the Great Tribulation. When John wrote the tribulation… Read more »
Back in 2011, I suggested that the “great tribulation” refers to the tribulation all Christians face. (See here.)
The link is not there for great tribulation
Sorry. I just fixed the link.
Hi Leonardo, The focus of the article is to establish where the great crowd are located. My article focused on the jw theology and how it developed. It also showed the errors they made based on their literature and how they corrected the meaning of the word. My addition is the chart exploring the meaning of naos and Hierón that confirms the 2002 wt. I avoided discussing who the great crowd are, the word enopion which is a red herring and tribulation. The reason is we can get into arguments rather than stimulating thinking in the person. In my experience… Read more »
The word “naos” I used frequently when speaking publicly and in the ministry to “prove” the “great crowd” was on earth. Reason? Because according to the Yellow book “Gods kingdom of a thousand years has approached”. Now.. CONVENIENTLY disappeared …
Anyway this book and other articles “proved” that the so called GC (great crowd) were in the OUTER courtyards of the “symbolic temple”.
The entire book was explaining TYPES and antiTYPES.
In the Authorized King James @ Rev 7:9 it uses the word kindred instead of tribes. Kindred meaning: A persons relatives by Blood- A family, clan or other group related by Blood. (Hence the Blood of the lamb). Tribe meaning: A group of people, often a primitive people, having a leader and usually sharing the same customs. (nothing mentioned about Blood). So that being said, you can get a better idea of who the great crowd really is. I’m going with the Kindred and “The Blood of the Lamb”. No doubt. And could also mean resurrected ones that have gone… Read more »
Well .. thanks for that Worldly one . . appreciate your logic and factual layout.
That is not totally accurate, Worldling. It uses the plural–kindreds.
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;” (Re 7:9 KJB)
So the Great Multitude or Crowd are derived from all the various nations, tribes, kindreds, people, and tongues. A very ethnically diverse group.
Hello Eleasar, Great job on the article! Thank you for all the references and the chart. I know you put a lot of work into all of this. Hopefully I will be able to use this to help others. I too completely agree with you that we should give them every out so that we do not damage their faith. But if they are persistent, that seems to say they are ready. To realize that we are God’s children makes our relationship with our Father so much more intimate and meaningful. What a privilege that will be, to be able… Read more »
Thanks Eleasar. That’s a well structured analysis of where we’re at. The term “great crowd” (ὄχλου πολλοῦ) is only found here in Rev 7 and also in Rev 19:1,6 where it explicitly states that the “loud voice” of the “great crowd” is in heaven. Combined with the points you’ve made about naos/hieron I feel it’s hard to escape the clear implication unless doctrine obliges someone to force these passages apart. I haven’t looked it up recently, but I believe that the WBTS response to this is to seize upon “was as a voice”, as if “was as a” somehow implies… Read more »
Hi Apollos, I think we should avoid getting deflected on the two occurrences of the great crowd in revelation. Instead the focus should be a contextual analysis of the account and the theology that was developed. 1. Context is 144000 and great crowd. There are many variations on understandings. JW clearly defines the two groups as separate and gives the second as on earth. 2. Jw theology spends time on ‘enopion’ and this is a red herring. The location is derived from who stands where in the great spiritual temple. The word ‘naos’ settles this based on any dictionary or… Read more »
Sure thing. It was just an additional thought. Take it with a grain of salt by all means. I completely agree that tracking the doctrine itself is most revealing. All the best to you.
Hi Eleasar, I don’t think Apollos’ was getting deflected. He was making a different point. Nevertheless, your point is well taken.
Allowing the scriptures to explain themselves. What a concept. If JWs truly have an open mind in discussing this subject, then directing them to Rev.19 has to be obvious and natural as part of any explanation of where the great crowd is located. The Greek words for “great crowd” are the same in both Rev.7 and Rev.19. Then the Naos and hereon discussion fall into place subsequently. Most JWs will have never read the Rev 19 account at all, or with any comprehension of what this scripture is clearly telling us. Why beat around the bush? If they’re that sensitive… Read more »
While I agree for the most part with what you said, we have to remember that when our JW brethren are starting to “awake”, we can’t just pull out the rug from under them right away. It is true that the Scriptures should be plain and persuasive on their own, but Witnesses have been indoctrinated (some for their whole lives) with Org teachings.
We have to be patient in our approach lest they just “shut down”.
I think we need to develop the following qualities when we have discussions. They are compassion (Greek Splagchnizesthai), mildness (meekness or gentleness Greek- Praus) and patience (Greek Makrothumia)William Barclay in his “New Testament Words” discuss all these meanings and applications. They are divine qualities and part of the challenge for each of us to become Christlike is to develop these qualities in our dealings with our brothers and sisters.
It takes longer but gives Jesus the opportunity to work on their hearts.
Truth seeker, The Greek terms for great crowd can also be seen in Luke 19:37-38 where it clearly states disciples, John 12:12-13 where it is a crowd at the festival in Jerusalem along with occurrences in Revelation 19:1,6. In this article, I didn’t want to muddy the discussion as there are varying interpretations on the link between revelation 7 and 19 for the great crowd. I was using wtbts theology to demonstrate the one point of location based on the word naos. This is then added to where they stand in regards to the spiritual temple. I believe this is… Read more »
I agree with the comments here on being understanding and patient etc. with those JWs still inside,who we want to help see the light of truth. And I have family members that I am helping along that road. I would not want to start such a process with this particular topic with them, but our brother has related his experience to us. With regard to Rev.7 and it’s connection to Rev.19, yes,the WT wishes to muddy the waters and have a different interpretation. Of course how convenient, this has to be the case otherwise JW theology falls apart here. As… Read more »
Hi Jerome, I think enopion and the analysis of its meaning is a red herring. Knowing the meaning of naos and what it signifies in the anti typical temple puts an end to standing on the earth thought. Interestingly, the 1935 article gets this wrong. This means that Rutherford didn’t even check the word etc. They get it right in 1960, wrong again 1980, 1988 and finally right again in 2002. In addition, when you check the NWT translation in Revelation, why do they leave the word ‘sanctuary’ out in 7:15? In Revelation 3 and 22 it is self explanatory.… Read more »
Excellent reasoning Eleasar. I read everything that you suggested carefully prior to following your article to get the full effect. Well done! I appreciate very much the way you stir curiosity by discouraging, at first, delving into the topic. There is one thing I would like to add. In their first argument in support of the Great Crowd being on the earth, The Revelation book points to the Greek word enopion meaning literally “in sight of”. This is a possibility for them being on earth but is not conclusive proof since the same word is used in Revelation 7:11 when… Read more »