[This article has been republished with the author’s permission from his own web site.]

Jehovah’s Witness doctrine about the application of Jesus’ teaching of the Sheep and the Goats in chapter 25 of Matthew has some similarity with the Roman Catholicism’s teaching about gaining entry into heaven by the treasury of merits.

Whilst not identical, the basic requirements for Salvation are as follows:

  1. For a number of people, the shed blood of Jesus Christ alone cannot impart full salvation in God’s eyes.
  2. Merit for salvation in God’s eyes for an individual can be attributed from works toward; or from a limited group of persons other than Jesus Christ.

Addressing point 2 the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society publication of 2015 entitled ‘Jesus the way the truth and the life’ teaches the doctrine of merit for works toward a select group when speaking about Jesus teaching on the judgment of the Sheep and Goats of Matthew chapter 25:31-46.

This judgment is merited because the goats failed to treat Christ’s brothers on earth kindly, as they should have done[1].

Two questions for review at the end of the same publication ask:

  • Why will the sheep be judged as meriting Jesus’ favor?
  • On what basis will some people be judged as goats, and what future will the sheep and the goats have?[2]

In the study article the teaching point brought out is that Jesus is teaching that eternal destruction is dependent on works toward his brothers. So, who are Christ’s brothers?

The Watchtower of March 15, 2015 discussed who Christ’s brothers were, and identified these people as those Christians who are anointed by God with his holy spirit since the days of Jesus’ apostles and whose number is limited to 144000.

Doctrine of infallible requirements

The teaching until just prior to Armageddon when Jesus judges on merit, that people have a limited time to listen to the Jehovah’s Witness teaching of the ‘Kingdom Message’ rests on a very problematic issue.

  1. First, due to the claim that doctrine of the Governing Body (note: Governing Body (GB) are capitalised as this is the noun they have given themselves) of Jehovah’s Witnesses is fallible (prone to error), and
  2. Second the claim that people must accept the teaching of the same GB at any point in time when presented the Kingdom Message would put the onus on the Governing Body to produce infallible doctrine:
  3. Third, if anyone were to reject the Kingdom Message on the basis of a doctrine that was subsequently changed at a later stage, who would bear the guilt when Jesus came to separate the Sheep and the Goats if they were not associated with the said ? For example; in the Watchtower (WT) January 1st1972 on pages 31-32[3] the Governing Body’s response to a question from readers:

“Do homosexual acts on the part of a married person constitute a Scriptural ground for divorce, freeing the innocent mate to remarry?—U.S.A.”

Taught the doctrine:

“While both homosexuality and bestiality are disgusting perversions, in the case of neither one is the marriage tie broken. It is broken only by acts that make an individual “one flesh” with a person of the opposite sex other than his or her legal marriage mate.”


  1. What are the consequences for someone who heard the Kingdom Message on 1 May 1972 but rejected the message due to the doctrinal teaching of Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9 from the Watchtower 1 January 1972? Would they be eternally destroyed as they could not thereby gain merit by treating Christ’s brothers well?


  1. Who bears the blood guilt when the doctrine on Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9 was changed:
  2. the person rejecting the doctrine? or
  3. the Governing Body teaching such a false doctrine only corrected publicly in the Watchtower of 15 December 1972 pages 766 – 768[4] ?

Shifting Blame

As the Governing Body is responsible for publications produced by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the 2019 publication Pure Worship of Jehovah – Restored at Last! Says on page 128:

“After the Kingdom was established, Jesus appointed a small group of men to serve as the faithful slave. (Matt. 24:45-47) Since then, the faithful slave, now known as the Governing Body, has done the work of a watchman. It takes the lead not only in warning of “the day of vengeance” but also in proclaiming “the year of Jehovah’s goodwill.”—Isa. 61:2; see also 2 Corinthians 6:1, 2.

While the faithful slave takes the lead in the watchman work, Jesus assigned “all” of his followers to “keep on the watch.” (Mark 13:33-37) We obey that command by remaining spiritually awake, loyally supporting the modern-day watchman. We prove that we are awake by fulfilling our responsibility to preach. (2 Tim. 4:2) What motivates us? In part, it is our desire to save lives. (1 Tim. 4:16) Soon multitudes will lose their lives because they ignored the warning call of the modern-day watchman. (Ezek. 3:19)”

And what if the modern day watchman’s teachings were false at the time of being taught? Well according to the Governing Body, they have done the work of a watchman.

The May 2019 Watchtower made clear on page 23 paragraph 9 says:

“We are also thankful that Jehovah provides timely spiritual food to help us resist adopting the wisdom of this world regarding morality.”

Not sure how they explain 1 January 1972 doctrine on morality was timely, but Jesus never said the Faithful Slave / Governing Body / Anointed would produce perfect spiritual food. Remember their teaching is based on meritorious works towards Christ’s brothers, of whom produce the imperfect spiritual food.

I hear Johann Tetzel saying, “Indulgences anyone?”

Image credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2c/Johann-tetzel-1.jpg/330px-Johann-tetzel-1.jpg


[1] Reference: Page ‘Jesus the way the truth and the life’ – 2015 Watchtower Bible and Tract Society

[2] Reference: https://www.jw.org/en/publications/books/jesus/final-ministry/judges-sheep-goats/#?insight[search_id]=1b8944c6-990d-4296-8a92-78d8745a5eb3&insight[search_result_index]=0 retrieved 26 June 2019 17:33 (+ 10 GMT)

[3] https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1972005#h=9

[4] https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1972927


Meleti Vivlon

Articles by Meleti Vivlon.
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