10 things to know about Jehovah's Witnesses and their beliefs

Interesting facts about Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses are a group of believers that many of us probably know little about. We may remember them as those who often come to our homes with sermons, but how much do we know about what they believe?

The following is an overview of ten facts about Jehovah's Witnesses, who separated from mainstream Christianity in the late nineteenth century. We will cover their origins, beliefs, rules and practices, and the number of followers of this faith around the world.

1. When were the Jehovah's Witnesses founded?

Jehovah's Witnesses began in 1870 when Charles Taze Russell organised Bible classes in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This movement, which emerged from the Bible students founded by Russell, became known as Jehovah's Witnesses. Russell questioned many traditional Christian doctrines, including the immortality of the soul, hellfire, predestination, the fleshly coming of Jesus Christ, the Trinity, and the burning of the world, which became the basis for their unique beliefs.

In 1876, Russell met Barbour, and together they wrote a book, The Three Worlds, which discussed themes of the restoration of things and predicted the end of time.

After Russell's death in 1916, Joseph Franklin Rutherford (1869-1942) became the leader of the movement. Born in Versailles, Missouri, and raised in a poor farming family, Rutherford was interested in law from an early age. He studied law at the University of Missouri and worked as a court stenographer, attorney, and prosecutor.

In 1894, Rutherford joined the Bible student movement. He quickly rose through the ranks of the movement and became president of the Watchtower Society in 1917. In his role he made the organisation more structured and active in spreading its teachings, introducing new doctrines, including the belief that the world would end in 1925.

Rutherford developed Russell's teachings, transforming Jehovah's Witnesses from a small group into a major international denomination with millions of followers. After his death in 1942, Nathan Homer Knorr became president.

Knorr, born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to Jehovah's Witnesses, was baptised in 1921 and began volunteering at the Watchtower Society headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, in 1923. In 1932 he became a factory manager and in 1934 a director of the People's Pulpit Association (now the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York).

As president, Knorr continued Rutherford's policies, establishing the Watchtower Bible School at Gilead (South Lansing, New York) to train missionaries and leaders, decreeing that all Society publications would be in the King James Version of the Bible, and increasing the emphasis on door-to-door preaching. He also oversaw the global expansion of the Watchtower Society.

2. Where did Jehovah's Witnesses get their name?

Jehovah's Witnesses focus on the worship of God the Father, and their name comes from the Tetragrammaton, denoted as YHWH or JHVH, pronounced Yahweh or Jehovah. The group was originally known as the Watchtower Society because the founder, Charles Taze Russell, published the Watchtower of Zion and the Herald of Christ's Presence magazines.

Their official website explains that ‘Jehovah is the personal name of God mentioned in the Bible, and a witness is a person who proclaims views or truths of which he is convinced’ (Exodus 6:3; Psalm 83:18).

3. Do Jehovah's Witnesses use the same Bible as Christians?

Jehovah's Witnesses use a translation of the Bible known as the New World Translation (NWT). Prior to its creation, they mainly used the King James Version (KJV). According to religion scholars, the New World Translation of the Bible is Jehovah's Witnesses' own translation, not used by other religious groups. Jehovah's Witnesses also rarely use other translations of the Bible.’ The NWT translators were Nathan Knorr, Albert Schroeder, George Gangas, Fred Franz, and M. Henschel.

The New World Translation of Scripture differs from other Christian translations in several key aspects:

  • Literalism and Modern Language: the NWT strives to be as literal yet easily understood a translation as possible, using more modern language than traditional versions such as the KJV. The translators believe this makes the original biblical messages more accessible to modern readers.
  • The Name ‘Jehovah’: One of the most notable features of the NWT is the use of the name ‘Jehovah’ to refer to the Tetragrammaton (YHWH). This name occurs about 7,000 times in the translation, unlike most other translations that use the words ‘Lord’ or ‘God’ in capital letters. NWT translators believe that this usage restores the divine name's rightful place in Scripture.
  • Theological beliefs: The NWT translation reflects the unique theological beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses, including their views on the nature of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the end times.
  • Textual Changes: The NWT incorporates changes to reflect Jehovah's Witnesses' interpretation. Some verses present in the traditional versions may be omitted or footnoted if they are considered late additions not included in the original manuscripts. The translation also contains extensive footnotes and appendices to provide additional doctrinal context.
  • Translators' anonymity: The translation was done by an anonymous committee whose identities have not been disclosed by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, an organisation of Jehovah's Witnesses. This was done so that the translators would not seek personal glory and would focus on the divine message.

These features make the New World Translation unique among other Bible translations, reflecting and upholding the unique doctrines and practices of Jehovah's Witnesses.

What are the names of Jehovah's Witnesses churches?

4. Do Jehovah's Witnesses believe in the Trinity?

The answer to this question is no, Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe in the Trinity. This is one of the key differences between Jehovah's Witnesses and most Christian denominations. Their unique theological position rejects the traditional Christian understanding of the Trinity as belief in one God in three persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. Instead, Jehovah's Witnesses take a unitary view of God, viewing Him as a single divine essence rather than a triune being.

Jehovah's Witnesses claim that the term ‘Trinity’ is not explicitly mentioned anywhere in the Bible. In their view, this doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and was the result of much controversy.

5. What do Jehovah's Witnesses believe about Jesus?

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus is not equal to God. They teach that Jesus was created by God rather than co-existing with Him, which is a major deviation from orthodox Christianity.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah (Christ) and that he came to earth to fulfil God's plan of redemption. However, their understanding of the atonement differs from mainstream Christianity: they do not believe that Jesus' death on the cross provides atonement for the sins of all mankind.

They believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, but not in bodily form. Jesus was raised as a spiritual being and his physical body was discarded by God.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe in the second coming of Jesus, which they call his ‘presence.’ They believe he invisibly returned in 1914 and is currently ruling in heaven as king, directing the activities of Jehovah's Witnesses on earth.

6. Do Jehovah's Witnesses celebrate holidays or birthdays?

Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas and Easter because they do not consider Jesus equal to God. They also avoid celebrating national holidays and birthdays in an effort to maintain a distance from secular traditions.

The reason for their rejection of these holidays is the belief that many of them are of pagan origin or espouse values contrary to biblical teachings. For example, they cite biblical stories where birthday celebrations are associated with negative events, such as the execution of John the Baptist, to justify their stance against such celebrations.

7. What do Jehovah's Witnesses believe politically?

Jehovah's Witnesses adhere to the principle of political neutrality, avoiding involvement in politics and military service to distance themselves from secular culture. They emphasise their citizenship in God's heavenly kingdom.

8. What do Jehovah's Witnesses believe about medical care?

Jehovah's Witnesses hold a controversial viewpoint, refusing blood transfusions even in critical life-and-death situations. This aspect of their teachings has been one of the reasons they have been banned in some countries.

Door-to-door preaching

9. How do Jehovah's Witnesses view the end times and Armageddon?

Jehovah's Witnesses hold clear and detailed beliefs about the end times and Armageddon that form the basis of their theology. According to their interpretation of Bible prophecy, the period to come is called the ‘last days’ or ‘end times.’ This period is characterised by significant global upheaval, moral decay and the fulfilment of various signs described in Scripture, which they believe heralds the coming of Armageddon. For Jehovah's Witnesses, Armageddon is not just a symbolic event, but an actual future battle in which God directly intervenes to destroy all forms of evil and corrupt governments on earth.

This apocalyptic event is seen as God's final judgement on wickedness, which will result in the total destruction of all who oppose His authority. After Armageddon, according to the belief of Jehovah's Witnesses, a new age will begin in which the earth will be transformed into paradise. The survivors and resurrected righteous will inherit this purified earth and live forever in peace, health and happiness under God's reign. This belief in imminent Armageddon strongly influences the lifestyle and evangelistic drive of Jehovah's Witnesses, as they consider it their duty to warn as many people as possible of the coming divine judgments and to give hope for survival through obedience to God.

10. How many Jehovah's Witnesses are there today?

According to the official website of Jehovah's Witnesses, the total number worldwide is about 9 million. This number includes both baptised members of the congregation and those who are not yet baptised but are actively involved in the organisation's activities.

The majority of Jehovah's Witnesses' members reside in the Americas, with the United States having the largest number. Other countries with a significant Jehovah's Witness presence include Mexico, Brazil, and the Philippines. They make extensive use of door-to-door preaching to spread their teachings and attract new followers.


Overall, Jehovah's Witnesses are a religious movement with clear doctrines and practices based on their interpretation of the Bible.

Although they often face criticism and misunderstanding from others, Jehovah's Witnesses remain an active and influential religious community, preaching their teachings and striving to preserve their religious and cultural traditions.


Q: Why do Jehovah's Witnesses go door-to-door?
A: Door-to-door preaching is an important method of evangelism for Jehovah's Witnesses, based on their biblical understanding of the need to spread God's word to all people.

Q: What happens in the Kingdom Halls of Jehovah's Witnesses?
A: Kingdom Halls are where Jehovah's Witnesses hold weekly meetings where they study the Bible, sing songs, pray, and engage in discussions.

Q: What do Jehovah's Witnesses believe about the end times and Armageddon?
A: Jehovah's Witnesses believe that we are living in the ‘last days’ before Armageddon, the final battle between God and evil. After Armageddon, according to their teachings, there will be paradise on Earth.


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