Chapter 8. Christianity, its traditions and holidays

Autor's: Włodzimierz Bednarski
Szymon Matusiak

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Chapter 8. Christianity, its traditions and holidays


Babylon the Great


What is Babylon the Great?


Christianity is Babylon the Great


It identified Catholic and Protestant religious organizations together as modern-day Babylon, which soon must fall. In support of what was said, it reproduced from The Finished Mystery commentary on prophecies expressing divine judgment against “Mystic Babylon.” On the back page was a graphic cartoon that showed a wall crumbling. (Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993 p. 647).


Babylon the Great consists of all religions


The following year, 1963, an enlarged application of “Babylon the Great” was presented. (Rev. 17:5) A review of secular and religious history pointed to the conclusion that the influence of ancient Babylon had permeated not only Christendom but every part of the earth. Babylon the Great was thus seen to be the entire world empire of false religion. (Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993 pp. 147-148).


When did Babylon the Great fall?


Year 1878


“The expression, ‘Babylon is fallen,’ indicates that at some time a sudden and utter rejection is to come upon Babylon, when all favor will forever cease, and when judgments will follow — just such a rejection as we have shown was due in 1878.” (The Finished Mystery 1917, 1926 p. 273).


Year 1881


A.D. 1881 BABYLON FALLS (The Time is at Hand 1902, 1927 p. 219).


Well do our readers know that we believe Babylon fell in 1878, not used of the Lord in any specific sense since 1881, and forsaken entirely in 1918; so we have been waiting for the fire to consume her. The knowledge of her “fall” was a matter of faith for a time, but not so any more. (The Watchtower March 15, 1923 p. 87).


Years 1914-1918


Babylon fell between 1914 and some time prior to 1918, and it was about that time that the Lord’s people were released from the captivity of Babylon. (The Watchtower May 15, 1931 p. 151).


Year 1914


Babylon began her fall when her invisible part was hurled earthward by Christ after his enthronement A.D. 1914. (The Watchtower June 1, 1952 p. 333).


Year 1919


So the restoration of spiritual Israel in 1919 to a radiant spiritual prosperity, which continues and expands to this day, stands as evidence that Babylon the Great fell in that year. (Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand! 1988, 2006 p. 206).


When Babylon the Great will be destroyed?


Year 1914


And, with the end of A. D. 1914, what God calls Babylon, and what men call Christendom, will have passed away... (Thy Kingdom Come 1908, 1923 p. 153).


Year 1918


When he called upon me I said, ‘Since the year 73 A. D. saw the complete overthrow of nominal Natural Israel in Palestine, so in the parallel year 1918, I infer we should look for the complete overthrow of nominal Spiritual Israel; i. e., the fall of Babylon. (Rev. 18.) Brother Russell replied: ‘Exactly. That is exactly the inference to draw.’ (The Finished Mystery 1917, 1926 p. 129).


Well do our readers know that we believe Babylon fell in 1878, not used of the Lord in any specific sense since 1881, and forsaken entirely in 1918; so we have been waiting for the fire to consume her. The knowledge of her “fall” was a matter of faith for a time, but not so any more. (The Watchtower March 15, 1923 p. 87).


Year 1925


The actual end of the jubilees brought the destruction of literal Babylon; and the end of the seventy cycles (as indicated by seventy jubilees), in the fall of 1925, will surely bring the deathblow to symbolic Babylon. (The Watchtower May 15, 1924 p. 159).


Year 1975


Just think where we are in the stream of time! Its importance was deeply impressed on our minds back in 1966. God’s people then received the absorbing book Life Everlasting—in Freedom of the Sons of God. It did not take long for most of them to note the chronological chart in it that identified 1975 as the “end of 6th 1,000-year day of man’s existence (in early autumn).” This certainly raised questions. Does this mean that Babylon the Great will go down by 1975? Will Armageddon be over, with Satan bound, by then? ‘It could’ acknowledged F. W. Franz, the Watch Tower Society’s vice-president… (1975 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses p. 256).


Before the generation of 1914 will pass away


Modern historians have recognized that 1914 was a turning point. Since that significant year, mankind has been living in a turbulent period of stupendous changes. (…) A day of reckoning is fast approaching. It will break out upon this generation in what Jesus described as a “great tribulation” that will see the execution of God’s judgment upon Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion of which Christendom is the principal part. (The Watchtower February 1, 1981 p. 27).


Very close


This helps us to pinpoint the timing of the day of Jehovah. It is just ahead. The Scriptures indicate that the great tribulation will destroy “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion. (Live With Jehovah’s Day in Mind 2006 p. 37).


“The great whore” (Revelation 17:1)




The judgment of the great whore. — Papacy, the “beast.” — Rev. 19:2.

That sitteth upon many waters. — The peoples of the earth. — Jer. 51:13; Rev. 17:15. (The Finished Mystery 1917, 1926 p. 259).


The whole of Christianity


“The great whore” is the Devil's religion, mislabeled “organized Christianity” or “Christendom”, and which forms a part of Satan's organization. (Light 1930, Vol. 2, p. 81).


All religions


According to John, upon a scarlet-colored wild beast—the image of the wild beast—rides a symbolic harlot, dominating it. She bears the name “Babylon the Great.” (Rev. 17:1-6) This harlot fittingly stands for all false religion, foremost of which are the churches of Christendom. (The Watchtower June 15, 2012 p. 17).


“The Man of Sin”


“The Man of Sin” is papacy


For it is the number of a man. — The Man of Sin, the Papacy. — Rev. 19:20; 2 Thes. 2:3. (The Finished Mystery 1917, 1926 p. 215).


“The Man of Sin” is the clergy of all Christian churches


“The man of sin” class was not discerned by God's people, however, until 1930. – The Watchtower, September 15, 1930, page 275. (Preparation 1933 p. 268).


Who is “the man of lawlessness,” and how will he be done away with? This composite “man” is the clergy class of Christendom. (The Watchtower September 15, 2008 p. 30).


Term “religion”


The use of the term “religion”


Jehovah established the true religion in the earth, which was and is to worship him and glorify his name. Satan established a false religion... (The Harp of God 1921 p. 53; 1928 p. 54).


Rejecting the term “religion”


The Bible Students do not practise a religion. The Association is not a religious institution or association. Religion means an outward form or ceremony by which men indicate their recognition of the existence of a supreme power. The Devil’s organization has various religions, and the people practise such. The ecclesiastics practise a religion. “Organized Christianity” so-called is a religion. (The Watchtower November 1, 1927 p. 324).


Jehovah's witnesses are not a sect, not a religious organization (Judge Rutherford Uncovers Fifth Column 1940 p. 17).


Ursula Serenco observes: “This was the time when we did not designate ‘true religion’ and ‘false religion’; all religion in totality was bad. The true we referred to as ‘worship,’ while the false was ‘religion.’” (1975 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses p. 161).


Therefore it is certain that the Holy Bible is not a book of religion. (The Watchtower March 15, 1944 p. 83).


The term “religion” used again


In 1951, advocates of true worship learned something significant about the term “religion.” Some of them could well recall 1938 when, at times, they carried the thought-provoking sign “Religion Is a Snare and a Racket.” From their standpoint then, all “religion” was unchristian, from the Devil. But The Watchtower of March 15, 1951, approved of using the adjectives “true” and “false” respecting religion. Furthermore, the absorbing book What Has Religion Done for Mankind? (published in 1951 and released during the “Clean Worship” Assembly at Wembley Stadium, London, England) had this to say: “Taken according to the way it is used, ‘religion’ in its simplest definition means a system of worship, a form of worship, without regard to whether it is true or false worship. This agrees with the meaning of the Hebrew word for it, ’a·boh·dáh, which literally means ‘service’, regardless of to whom it is rendered.” Thereafter, the expressions “false religion” and “true religion” became common among Jehovah’s witnesses. (1975 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses p. 225).


How old is the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses? According to the Bible, the line of witnesses of Jehovah reaches back to faithful Abel. (Reasoning From the Scriptures 1989 p. 202).


We are no part of Christendom and do not believe in a Trinity but worship the God of Abraham. We are especially interested in the matter of religious truth. (Reasoning From the Scriptures 1989 p.23).


Mary and the birth pangs


The lack of stand


In the years 1879-1920 the Watchtower was silent about an issue if Mary born Jesus in birth pangs.


Giving birth without pain and suffering


Doubtless while others slept, Mary was pondering in her heart the great events that had taken place during the few months past; and while she thus meditated there in the silence of that night, without pain and without suffering there was born to her Jesus, the Savior of the world. (The Harp of God 1921, 1928 p. 90).


This could not apply to Mary the Jewish virgin, for she was not in heaven when she bore the human Jesus, and he was born a perfect child, evidently without the maternal pains and agony accompanying the birth of Eve's imperfect children. (Gen 3:16) (“New Heavens and a New Earth” 1953 p. 207).


Giving birth in birth pangs


Here, of all places, her birth pangs had begun. Women everywhere can empathize with Mary. Some 4,000 years earlier, Jehovah had foretold that it would be the common lot of women to suffer pain during childbirth because of inherited sin. (Genesis 3:16) There is no evidence to suggest that Mary was any exception. (The Watchtower October 1, 2008 p. 23).


Brothers of Jesus


The brothers of Jesus were his cousins


That these four “brothers” were in reality cousins of the Lord; that their mother was Mary, a sister of the Lord's mother, and their father Cleophas (otherwise called Alphaeus), is clearly taught in the following passages: John 19:25; Mark 15:40; Luke 6:15, 16; Acts 1:13. (The Golden Age April 6, 1927 p. 428).


Later the Watchtower Society was inclined to think that “the brothers” of Jesus were the sons of Joseph from his levirate union with Mary of Cleophas (The Golden Age February 28, 1934 p. 350).


Half-brothers of Jesus


Among these were Jesus' faithful apostles, his mother Mary and her other sons, his younger half brothers. — Acts 1:14, 15. (From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained 1958 p. 147).


In time, James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas are born, and Mary and Joseph become parents to girls too. Eventually Jesus has, at the very least, six younger brothers and sisters. (The Watchtower August 1, 1985 p. 8).


The keys of Peter and his presence in Rome


The keys of Peter


Two keys of Peter


Are there more keys besides the two? (…) So only two keys were needed. Neither could Peter use the keys further, for the door was opened to both Jews and Gentiles now. In using the second key Peter did not shut the door to the Jews but merely opened up the opportunity to the Gentiles as well as Jews. (The Watchtower February 15, 1966 p. 126).


Although the Jewish Christians were unaware of it, the seventieth week of years of exclusive favor from Jehovah God to the natural Jews was running out and due to end about the close of the summer of the year 36 C.E. It then became his own appointed time for God to unlock and open the door to Kingdom activity among those Gentiles. (Dan. 9:24-27; Matt. 16:18, 19) So in behalf of fulfilling Daniel’s prophecy of the seventieth week, Jehovah God sent the apostle Peter, with the second of the “keys of the kingdom of the heavens,” to preach the Kingdom message to the first uncircumcised Gentile believers. (The Watchtower December 15, 1969 p. 751).


Three keys of Peter (teaching since 1979)


There has also been increased light on the number of symbolic keys Jesus gave to Peter. The Bible Students held that Peter received two keys that opened up the way for people to become Kingdom heirs—one for the Jews, used at Pentecost 33 C.E., and the other for the Gentiles, used first in 36 C.E. when Peter preached to Cornelius. (Acts 2:14-41; 10:34-48) In time, it was seen that there was a third group involved—the Samaritans. Peter used the second key when opening up the Kingdom opportunity to them. (Acts 8:14-17) Thus, the third key was used when Peter preached to Cornelius.—The Watchtower, October 1, 1979, pages 16-22, 26. (The Watchtower May 15, 1995 p. 24).


Peter in Rome


Peter was in Rome


That St. Peter was in Rome and that St. Paul was in Rome, I think goes without saying, but they were there suffering, not as popes. (What Pastor Russell Said. His answer to hundreds of questions 1917 p. 535).

See The Watchtower May 1, 1903 p. 3188, reprints (Peter to Babylon and Rome).


St. Peter is supposed to have been martyred in Rome in the year A. D. 68. (The Golden Age June 18, 1924 p. 604).


Peter never was in Rome


Hence there is no solid evidence, either archaeological or historical, to establish Peter’s stay in Rome. Biblical evidence is to the contrary. (The Watchtower November 1, 1972 p. 671).


Though Paul, Luke, Mark, Timothy, and other first-century Christians visited Rome (Php 1:1; Col 4:10, 14), there is no conclusive evidence that Peter was ever in Rome, as some traditions would have it. The stories about Peter’s martyrdom in Rome are based on tradition. (Insight on the Scriptures 1988, Vol. 2, p. 825).


Was Peter ever in Rome?


Even if Peter did preach in Rome, as some secular literature from the first and second centuries implies, there is no proof that he was head of the congregation there. (The Watchtower August 1, 2011 p. 25).


2011, (…) Peter in Rome (Watchtower Library 2014, Watch Tower Publications Index 1986-2014, Beliefs Clarified).


The saints of the Old and New Testaments


Saints of the New Testament


The Bible makes many references to saints, or holy ones. It refers to Christ’s 144,000 spirit-anointed followers as being such. (Reasoning From the Scriptures 1989 p. 352).


The term “saint” used until 1927


St. John, writing concerning the Logos, who later became Jesus, says… (The Harp of God 1921, 1927 p. 98).


In due time Saul of Tarsus, who afterward was named St. Paul, was illuminated and understood. (The Harp of God 1921, 1927 p. 186).


St. Paul (The Watchtower April 1, 1927 p. 105).

St. Peter (The Watchtower April 15, 1927 p. 116).


The term “saint” rejected since 1928


Editors of the 1928 version of the book The Harp of God deleted the term “saint”, and Jehovah’s Witnesses write in the same way until now:


John, writing concerning the Logos, who later became Jesus, says… (The Harp of God 1928 p. 99).


In due time Saul of Tarsus, who afterwards was named Paul, was illuminated and understood. (The Harp of God 1928 p. 190).


Saints of the Old Testament


The term “saints of the Old Testament” used until c. 1950


Polish version of the Watchtower publications generally used the term “saints of the Old Testament”, while in English original the term   “ancient worthies” was found.


His chosen people, the Jews, will God bring by the agency of the resurrected Ancient Worthies to Palestine… (The Finished Mystery 1917, 1926 p. 536).


They also thought that perhaps—just perhaps—the “ancient worthies” who would serve as princes on the earth during the millennial era would, at the end of that time, somehow be granted heavenly life. (Ps. 45:16) (Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993 p. 161).


In Polish counterpart of the book the words “ancient worthies” is followed by a passage in brackets: (known also as the “saints of the Old Testament”).


Rejection of the term “saints of the Old Testament” and “ancient worthies” about 1950


Because those revivified individuals had to die once more, whereas faithful pre-Christian witnesses of Jehovah will be resurrected on earth in God’s promised new order and never need to die again. (The Watchtower June 1, 1970 p. 331).


Similarly, pre-Christian witnesses of Jehovah were declared righteous as to friendship with God… (Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand! 1988, 2006 p. 290).

See The Watchtower November 1, 1950 p. 415 (faithful pre-Christian witnesses of Jehovah God).


The cross and the upright stake


The cross


The cross approved till the year 1936 (1937?)


That a babe was born of a virgin, Mary, at Bethlehem, grew to manhood's estate and died upon the cross at Jerusalem, both sacred and profane history abundantly testify. (Reconciliation 1928 pp. 108-109).


The ransom-price was provided at the cross. The cross of Christ is the great pivotal truth of the divine arrangement, from which radiate the hopes of men. (The Harp of God 1921, 1927 p. 141; 1928, 1937 p. 142).


When Christ Jesus died upon the cross the earth did quake… (Universal War Near 1935 p. 62).


That was the joy set before him when he was about to be crucified, and for the reason he endured the cross. (Heb. 12:2) (The Watchtower December 15, 1937 p. 376).


The cross rejected in 1936


The book Riches, published by the Society in 1936, made clear that Jesus Christ was executed, not on a cross, but on an upright pole, or stake. (The Watchtower May 15, 1995 p. 20).


Upright stake


Since 1936 the literature mentioned the tree (not the upright stake), but the word “crucifixion” still used


Why, then, was Jesus crucified? Jesus was crucified, not on a cross of wood, such as is exhibited in many images and pictures, and which images are made and exhibited by men; Jesus was crucified by nailing his body to a tree. His being put to death in this manner symbolically said: "This man is cursed of God." Dying as a sinner was an ignominious death, and being crucified upon a tree in effect said: "The one here dying is put to death as a vile sinner." Such was a provision that God had made in his law. (Deuteronomy 21: 22,23) (…) The crucifixion of Jesus upon a tree is a testimony to all creation that he willingly suffered the most ignominious death… (Riches 1936 p. 27).


On at least one occasion, likely two, he appeared in a form like that of the body in which he was crucified... (“The Truth Shall Make You Free” 1943 p. 266).

See Polish edition of 1946, p. 248.


Tribulation, a great fight of afflictions, crucifixion, the contradiction of sinners, chastening from God, temptation from the Devil, hardships and privations, wrongful suffering for conscience sake, all these are things which the Bible mentions that love will endure. (The Watchtower December 1, 1949 p. 362).


See: Fascism or Freedom 1939 p. 55 (crucified); Religion 1940 pp. 42, 108 (crucifixion), p. 69 (crucified); Fighting for Liberty on the Home Front 1943 p. 6 (crucified).




Only when in 1950 the Watchtower Society published its New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, it put its terminology in order and started to use the term impaled, instead of crucifixion or crucified. That Bible replaced the word cross with stake or with an unscriptural term torture stake.


When impaled, Jesus also felt this way. (The Watchtower May 15, 2006 p. 18).


By remaining faithful to death on the torture stake, he proved that his spirit of self-sacrifice had no limit. (The Watchtower March 15, 2014 p. 7).


Illustrations of the cross and upright stake


Illustrations of the cross


Scenario of the Photo-Drama of Creation 1914 pp. 12, 69 (p. 34 shows a serpent lifted up on the cross!).

The Harp of God 1921, 1928, 1937 p. 114.

Life 1929 p. 198.


The cross as a sign


Another change in viewpoint involved the “cross and crown” symbol, which appeared on the Watch Tower cover beginning with the issue of January 1891. In fact, for years many Bible Students wore a pin of this kind. By way of description, C. W. Barber writes: “It was a badge really, with a wreath of laurel leaves as the border and within the wreath was a crown with a cross running through it on an angle. It looked quite attractive and was our idea at that time of what it meant to take up our ‘cross’ and follow Christ Jesus in order to be able to wear the crown of victory in due time.” Concerning the wearing of “cross and crown pins,” Lily R. Parnell comments: “This to Brother Rutherford’s mind was Babylonish and should be discontinued. He told us that when we went to the people’s homes and began to talk, that was the witness in itself.” Accordingly, reflecting on the 1928 Bible Students convention in Detroit, Michigan, Brother Suiter writes: “At the assembly the cross and crown emblems were shown to be not only unnecessary but objectionable. So we discarded these items of jewelry.” Some three years thereafter, beginning with its issue of October 15, 1931, The Watchtower no longer bore the cross and crown symbol on its cover. (1975 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses p 148).


We were also making important spiritual adjustments. For instance, Jehovah’s Witnesses used to wear a pin with a cross and crown. But then we came to understand that Jesus was executed on an upright stake, not on a cross. (Acts 5:30) So wearing these pins was discontinued. It was my privilege to remove the clasps from the pins. Later the gold was melted down and sold. (The Watchtower April 1, 1996 p. 24).


An upright stake on pictures


Enemies 1937 p. 125.

Children 1941 p. 98.

What Does the Bible Really Teach? 2005 p. 52.


Pierced hands or wrists?


Pierced hands (My Book of Bible Stories 1978, 2004 chap. 100);

Pierced wrists (What Does the Bible Really Teach? 2005 p. 52).


The cross as a phallic symbol


The first mention about the cross as a phallic sign (symbol) appeared in 1948 (Awake! December 8, 1948 pp. 4-6), and later in the fifties of the 20th century:


Had God shown Constantine a sign in the heavens to represent the instrument upon which His beloved Son had been put to death, he would have shown him a simple torture stake and not a phallic cross used by the sex-worshiping heathen. In our issue of The Watchtower, November 1, 1950, much proof was given to show that Christ was hung on an upright stake without any crossbars, whereas the cross in its various forms was shown to be the emblem worshiped by all the ancient pagans as a filthy symbol of life. (The Watchtower August 1, 1951 p. 476).


How, then, must Jehovah view the use of the cross, which, as we have seen, was anciently used as a symbol in phallic worship? (Reasoning From the Scriptures 1989 p. 93).


Is it possible that during 12 years since 1936 to 1948, the organization ‘gathered’ phallic ‘arguments’ against the cross? 

Maybe at the earliest stage such phallic ‘arguments’ were hidden, because publishers could be offended by the fact that earlier, in the years 1879-1936 they believed in a “phallic cross”?


An upright stake as a phallic symbol


It has been suggested that the poles represented the female principle, whereas the pillars represented the male principle. These appendages of idolatry, likely phallic symbols, were associated with grossly immoral sex orgies, as is indicated by the reference to male prostitutes being in the land as early as Rehoboam’s reign. (1Ki 14:22-24; 2Ki 17:10) (Insight on the Scriptures 1988, Vol. 2, p. 835).


Sacred poles were likely phallic symbols. They were associated with grossly immoral sex orgies.—1 Kings 14:22-24. (The Watchtower March 15, 1997 p. 29).


King Manasseh also put into Jehovah’s temple the graven image of the sacred pole that he had made. (…) Sacred poles may have represented the female principle, and sacred pillars may have been phallic symbols. Both were used by the unfaithful inhabitants of Judah.—2 Kings 18:4; 23:14. (Isaiah’s Prophecy—Light for All Mankind II, 2001 p. 266).




Sunday as the day of Christian meetings


Approval for Sunday


THE FIRST DAY, THE LORD’S DAY (…) These four manifestations of the Lord’s resurrection marked that day in a special sense as a holy day to the early church. (The Watchtower October 15, 1920 p. 319).


Some claim that the first-day sabbath was introduced by an edict of Pope Gregory. And this is a mistake. The observance of the first day of the week had its beginning in the fact that it was on that day that our Lord arose from the dead, and that on that day and evening He met with His disciples, and expounded the Scriptures to them, until their hearts burned within them. What wonder that, without any command to do so they thereafter loved to meet together frequently on that day, to repeat the simple meal, the giving of thanks and the breaking of bread; recounting one with another the gracious promises of God through the prophets and the explanation of some of these given by the Lord Himself! For a time both days were observed by Christians; the seventh day from Jewish custom, and because it furnished the disciples their best opportunity for reaching devout Hebrews with the Gospel messages and the first day of the week in commemoration of our Lord's resurrection. (The Golden Age September 21, 1927 p. 818).


The time is at hand when all persons should have the right to worship the Lord and observe the “Lord's Day” in the way that appears most suitable to them. (The Golden Age May 11, 1932 p. 508).


Rejection of Sunday


Sunday observance is not commanded anywhere in the Bible. (The Watchtower August 15, 1939 p. 252).


But Sunday is neither Christian nor Jewish. As its name shows, it is actually a pagan holiday in celebration of the sun god. (The Watchtower November 15, 1980 p. 19).


Revelation 1:10 – the text about Sunday


Statements about Sunday in Revelation 1:10


[Rev. 1:10] On the Lord’s day: The day of his resurrection, our Sunday. (Z.’94-348) The first day of the week, typifying the Millennial age, the day of Christ. (Z.’05-168) We today are living in the early dawn of this day. (Z.’16-343)... (The Revelation of Jesus Christ – According to the Sinaitic Text 1918 p. 44).


Presumably John referred to the first day of the week now generally called Sunday. It is peculiarly to us the Lord’s day, the day on which our Lord rose from the dead… (The Watchtower February 1, 1920 p. 43).


THE FIRST DAY, THE LORD’S DAY (…) No wonder then, it became known to them as the Lord’s Day. (…) These four manifestations of the Lord’s resurrection marked that day in a special sense as a holy day to the early church. (The Watchtower October 15, 1920 p. 319).


The time is at hand when all persons should have the right to worship the Lord and observe the “Lord's Day” in the way that appears most suitable to them. (The Golden Age May 11, 1932 p. 508).


Statements about 1914 in Revelation 1:10


It was only after the death of the apostles that Sunday came to be viewed in this way and came to be called “the Lord’s day.” This was part of the apostasy foretold by Jesus and the apostles themselves. (The Watchtower April 15, 1991 p. 27).


Since the beginning of “the Lord’s day” in 1914, many of the visions seen by John have been fulfilled. (Revelation 1:10) (The Watchtower May 15, 1997 p. 11).




Celebration of Easter


Sunday, the resurrection day, with its new hopes, then comes in most appropriately – an Easter day of new hopes and impulses. (The Watchtower April 15, 1905 p. 3548, reprints).


Any memorial of our Lord’s resurrection will always be precious with his people, but to those who rightly appreciate the matter, every Sunday is an Easter Sunday, because every Sunday is a memorial commemorative of our Lord’s resurrection from the dead. (The New Creation 1909 p. 480).


Rejection of Easter in 1928


As the 1920’s and then the 1930’s progressed, more flashes of Bible understanding followed. Worldly celebrations and holidays, such as Christmas, were put away. Other practices and beliefs were also discarded when it was seen that they had God-dishonoring roots. (Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993 p. 79).


Moreover, they saw that Easter is a pagan holiday. (The Watchtower May 15, 1995 p. 18).


Is it right to celebrate Easter?


Admittedly, there is no specific prohibition in the Bible regarding the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. (Awake! April 8, 1992 p. 8).


They also viewed the day of Jesus’ resurrection as more important than that of his death. Hence, they settled on Sunday. (The Watchtower March 15, 1994 p. 4).


However, in time, people also began to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. (Awake! April 8, 1992 p. 7).


A custom (or design) might have had a false religious meaning millenniums ago or might have such today in a distant land. But without going into time-consuming investigation, ask yourself: ‘What is the common view where I live?’—Compare 1 Corinthians 10:25-29. (Awake! February 8, 1999 p. 11).




Celebration and rejection of Christmas


Celebration of Christmas


This holiday was celebrated yearly even by members of the Watch Tower Society’s headquarters staff at the Bethel Home in Brooklyn, New York. For many years they had been aware that December 25 was not the correct date, but they reasoned that the date had long been popularly associated with the birth of the Savior and that doing good for others was proper on any day. (Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993 p. 199).


Then in 1927/28, God’s people recognized that Christmas and birthday celebrations are unscriptural, and they discontinued observing such. (The Watchtower February 15, 2006 p. 29).


Shortly thereafter, a flash of light caused the Bible Students to stop celebrating Christmas. Before that time Christmas had always been celebrated by the Bible Students worldwide, and its celebration at Brooklyn headquarters was a very festive occasion. (The Watchtower May 15, 1995 p. 19).


Rejection of Christmas in 1928


If a conscientious mother saw her child pick up candy from a sewage-filled gutter, she would insist that he get rid of it immediately. The thought of his eating it—even touching it—repels her. Christmas, though sweet to many, has been picked up from unsavory places. (Awake! December 8, 1991 p. 13).


Clearly, Jehovah examined the hearts of those engaging in Israel’s festivals and rejected their observances and offerings. Similarly today, God rejects Christendom’s pagan celebrations, such as Christmas and Easter. (The Watchtower November 15, 2004 p. 22).


‘Tolerance’ on Christmas?


What should a Christian wife do if her unbelieving husband asks her to visit his family for a meal on a worldly holiday? (…) This puts a Christian wife in a difficult situation, because a number of factors come into play. (…) If, at her husband’s request, a Christian wife did go along to visit relatives on a worldly holiday, her conduct would undoubtedly make it plain that she was not celebrating the holiday. The relatives might bid welcome with a special holiday greeting, but she would not say a holiday greeting in return. They might use the visit as an occasion to give gifts, but she would not be giving gifts. In fact, she would not even share in the festive spirit of the holiday season. Thus it would be evident that her visit to have a meal was not something special on her part because of the holiday. (The Watchtower December 1, 1967 p. 634-635).


In my husband’s family it is customary for all the children and grandchildren to gather at his parents’ home for a large meal on December 25. He realizes that, as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I do not celebrate Christmas. But what about going to the meal? You personally will have to decide whether that would be best in your case. (…) Your husband might urge you to accompany him, suggesting that you view it as a normal meal without your sharing in any of the holiday aspects. That would be a possibility, for an individual could be present where others are carrying on religious activities without personally engaging in these. (Compare 2 Kings 5:17-19.) And the Bible does show that just because someone else imagines certain food to have a special meaning, that does not rule out the Christian’s eating it as normal food. (1 Cor. 8:8; 1 Tim. 4:4) (The Watchtower November 1, 1979 p. 31).


Is it right to celebrate Christmas?


So even though the Bible does not contain a specific prohibition against birthday celebrations, Jehovah’s Witnesses have long noted the Scriptural indications and have not celebrated birthdays. (The Watchtower July 15, 1980 p. 31).


Yet, at the same time, we do not object to others celebrating such holidays nor try to hinder them. (School and Jehovah’s Witnesses 1983 p. 21).


A custom (or design) might have had a false religious meaning millenniums ago or might have such today in a distant land. But without going into time-consuming investigation, ask yourself: ‘What is the common view where I live?’—Compare 1 Corinthians 10:25-29. (Awake! February 8, 1999 p. 11).


The Birthday of Jesus Christ


Two dates of conception


Jesus was not born on December 25, as is generally supposed; but his birth occurred about the first of October. (...) all the facts show that the birth of Jesus was in October, and that December 25, nine months previous, was probably the date of the annunciation. (Luke 1:30,31) (The Harp of God 1928, 1937 pp. 91-92).


Jesus was conceived in the early part of January (hence born early October) (“Make Sure of All Things” 1953, 1957 p. 167).


The Bible does not reveal the birth date of Jesus Christ


(…) the Scriptures do not reveal the birth date of the perfect man Jesus Christ… (Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life 1995 p. 126).


There is no direct statement in the Bible concerning the month or day of Jesus’ birth. (The Watchtower April 1, 2010 p. 12).


The Bible indicates the birth date of Jesus


Rather, the Scriptures indicate that Jesus was born about October 1. (The Watchtower May 15, 1995 p. 19).


Christmas tree


Christmas tree acknowledged


Mabel P. M. Philbrick remarks: “A custom that certainly would not be carried on today was the celebration of Christmas with a Christmas tree in the Bethel dining room. Brother Russell’s usual ‘Good morning, all’ was changed to ‘Merry Christmas, all.’” (1975 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses p. 147).


Christmas tree rejected


What about the introduction of the heathen Christmas tree into many Protestant churches? Does this not smack of idolatry? (The Watchtower December 15, 1984 p. 7).


Christmas tree ‘tolerated’?


What Scriptural principles guide in the training of children in homes where one parent is a dedicated Christian witness of Jehovah and the other is not? (…) According to the Scriptures the husband and father is the head of the home. (…) At the same time he ought to grant his wife freedom to worship God her own way, and she may at times insist on taking the children to her place of worship. Granting her freedom of worship may even mean letting her have a Christmas tree in one room of the house during that season, although the believing husband would not let other rooms of the house or its outside be decorated. By thus extending freedom of worship to his wife he shows that he loves her as he loves himself.—Eph. 5:28, 29. Likewise, the unbelieving father, since he is the head of the house, may dictate the religion of the children. (The Watchtower December 1, 1960 p. 735).


What should be the Christian’s position regarding work in defense plants, serving on juries, selling Christmas cards or trees, etc? (…) The Watchtower Society is organized for the purpose of preaching the good news of the Kingdom in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all nations, and it encourages and aids all to have a part in that work, freely advising as to the most effective procedures. As to other forms of activity or work the Society has no specific recommendation to make. To draw up rules for all the possible situations relative to secular work would embark us upon the compilation of a voluminous, Talmudlike set of regulations, seeking to make all the fine distinctions as to when and when not certain work becomes objectionable. The Lord has not laid that responsibility upon the Society; it is each individual’s responsibility to decide his own case. To illustrate the problem involved, consider the matter of selling Christmas cards or trees. If that is wrong, then what about the butcher that sells a turkey for a Christmas dinner, or the saleslady that sells a sweater to be used as a Christmas present? Where is the line to be drawn? Or, when does work become defense work? You do not have to be working on a tank assembly line to be making items used in warfare. As for jury duty, would you be acceptable for this service, say, in a divorce case where one might be granted on grounds other than adultery? Your Christian conscience might eliminate you, rendering you unacceptable to one or both sides of the case. The Society’s silence on these matters is not to be viewed as giving consent, nor is it to be viewed as a condemnation we do not wish to openly express. It means that we think it is the individual’s responsibility to choose, not ours. It is his conscience that must be at ease for his course, not ours. He knows all of the circumstances, not we. Jehovah’s witnesses have read their Bibles and studied the Watchtower publications that have endeavored to make plain the righteous principles and requirements of Jehovah for the guidance of Christians. Each one should now be able to determine for himself what he can conscientiously do in the way of secular work. We must remember that, while no part of the world or its schemes and hopes for continuance, we are in it and cannot separate completely from its activities. So let each one accept his own responsibility and answer to his own conscience, not criticizing others or being criticized by them, when individual consciences allow different decisions on the same matter. We should not be “judged by another person’s conscience”. “Who are you to judge the house servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls.”—Rom. 14:4; 1 Cor. 10:29, NW. (The Watchtower September 15, 1951 p. 574).


Christmas gifts and wishes


Christmas gifts and wishes accepted


In Pastor Russell’s day, Christmas was celebrated at the old Bible House in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Ora Sullivan Wakefield recalls that Brother Russell gave members of the Bible House family five- or ten-dollar gold pieces at Christmas. Mabel P. M. Philbrick remarks: “A custom that certainly would not be carried on today was the celebration of Christmas with a Christmas tree in the Bethel dining room. Brother Russell’s usual ‘Good morning, all’ was changed to ‘Merry Christmas, all.’” (1975 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses p 147).


The habit of giving little remembrances one to another at this time of year seems to us specially appropriate. God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. He is continually giving and we are continually receiving from Him; but amongst all His gifts the one of greatest importance to us is the gift of His Son to be our Redeemer. (Daily Heavenly Manna for the Household of Faith 1905, the text for December 25).


Christmas gifts rejected


The practice of Christmas gift giving is not based on what was done by the Magi. As shown above, they did not arrive at the time of Jesus’ birth. Furthermore, they gave gifts, not to one another, but to the child Jesus, in accord with what was then customary when visiting notable persons. The Encyclopedia Americana states: “During the Saturnalia . . . feasting prevailed, and gifts were exchanged.” (1977, Vol. 24, p. 299) In many instances that represents the spirit of Christmas giving—an exchanging of gifts. (Reasoning From the Scriptures 1989 pp. 177-178).


Christmas gifts and wishes ‘tolerated’?


I work for a large company that annually gives a Christmas bonus to all its employees as a gift. Should we as witnesses of Jehovah accept such gifts? (…) It would not be Scripturally wrong for a Christian to accept a present or bonus given to him by his employer during the Christmas season. Some business firms give a yearly bonus to all their employees (not to outsiders in general) and they simply choose this time of year to do it. So acceptance would not mean the recipient was celebrating Christmas, for a bonus is what is paid to an employee above his regular pay. (The Watchtower December 15, 1965 p. 768).


On my job all employees are given a Christmas bonus. Since I do not believe in Christmas, should I refuse the bonus? That depends on what the bonus actually signifies and how accepting it would be viewed. As we have often shown, Christmas and many other holidays of Christendom are not based on the facts of the Bible. Actually, they are drawn from non-Christian worship. The Bible commands Christians to keep only one religious observance, the yearly anniversary of Christ’s death.(…) Would accepting a “Christmas bonus” mean that one is sharing in that holiday? Perhaps not. It may be that the bonus is not at all understood as meaning that each recipient is celebrating Christmas. The employer may simply choose to give all his workers a share of the company’s profits at the year’s end and when many of them would especially appreciate a lump sum to use as they desire. The bonus may be an evidence of gratitude for services rendered all year long, as well as a stimulus to continued good work and smooth employer-employee relations. The employer may give it to all employees, regardless of whether some, such as Jews, Moslems or others, do not believe in Christmas. So the mere timing of the gift or the name that has come to be used for it does not necessarily rule out its acceptance by one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Also, even if the giver of a gift has a religious belief as a reason for its timing, that does not mean that the recipient is thought to share the religious view. Often a fellow worker or relative will tell one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, ‘I know that you do not celebrate Christmas (or, some other holiday), but I still want you to have this as a gift from me.’ If the Christian’s conscience would be at rest in accepting the gift, he might choose to take it and express thanks without any reference to the holiday. (…) A similar course has been followed by many a Christian when offered a gift by someone who does not know of his belief. Perhaps at another time, when there will be less likelihood of causing offense, the Christian can tactfully mention that he does not celebrate that religious holiday and can kindly, mildly explain that this is why he himself did not give any holiday gift. (…) But if a gift is given with the clear intent of showing that the Christian is not firm in his beliefs or will compromise for gain, then definitely it is best to decline. (The Watchtower November 1, 1979 pp. 31-32).

See What Does the Bible Really Teach? 2005 p. 160-161


Wise men from the East


Wise men – good people


(…) we consider it highly probable that these wise men from the East were part of “the twelve tribes scattered abroad,” who, “instantly serving God,” were hoping for and “waiting for the consolation of Israel” through the long-promised Messiah. (The Watchtower p. December 1, 1907 p. 4098, reprints).


(…) “wise men from the east”'—borrowing the expression from the Scriptures, where it was applied to a very different class—to a few devout believers in the God of Israel and in the prophets of Israel who foretold the advent of Jehovah's Anointed, and who were patiently waiting and watching for his coming, and giving no heed to the seducing spirits of worldly wisdom which knew not God. To such truly wise ones, humble though they were, God revealed his blessed message of peace and hope. (The Day of Vengeance 1898 p. 185).

See The Battle of Armageddon 1923 p. 185.


The wise men – bad people (teaching since 1920)


The Bible proof shows, however, that these three wise men were not sent by the Lord God, but that they were directed by the great adversary, the devil, in his attempt to destroy the babe. (The Harp of God 1921 p. 91).


(…) Jehovah has had to be a swift witness in exposing wrongdoing and in purifying the repentant wrongdoers. In being a swift witness against the sorcerers he has in 1920, in 1934 and in 1955 given us three powerful booklets exposing spiritism. He has also unmasked the so-called “wise men from the east” who came to visit the babe Jesus as being mere astrologers, unwitting tools used by the ruler of the demons to incite King Herod to try to kill Jesus. He has also exposed the great Pyramid of Giza as being, not “God’s stone witness” or “the Bible in stone,” but a monument of demonism to glorify belief in immortality of the soul or “survival after death.” (The Watchtower November 15, 1955 p. 697).


Acceptance of the number three in case of the wise men


The Bible proof shows, however, that these three wise men were not sent by the Lord God, but that they were directed by the great adversary, the devil, in his attempt to destroy the babe. (The Harp of God 1921 p. 91).


In the meantime three wise men, astrologers or magi, from the east were directed to Bethlehem to bring gifts to the child Jesus while there (The Watchtower September 1, 1950 p. 301).


Rejection of the number three in case of the wise men


As to the number of visitors, were there 2? 3? 30? The Bible does not say. Perhaps the traditional number of three arose from their three types of gifts. (Matthew 2:11) (The Watchtower April 1, 2010 p. 13).


Who was born on December 25?


Jesus was conceived December 25


Jesus was not born on December 25, as is generally supposed; but his birth occurred about the first of October. (...) all the facts show that the birth of Jesus was in October, and that December 25, nine months previous, was probably the date of the annunciation. (Luke 1:30,31) (The Harp of God 1928, 1937 pp. 91-92).


Nimrod and December 25


After telling us that December 25 was the traditional birthday of Nimrod, and not of Jesus, the new book What Has Religion Done for Mankind? states:... (The Watchtower October 1, 1951 p. 607).


Saturn and December 25


And on or about December 25 another big pagan celebration took place. This was the Saturnalia, held in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. (The Watchtower December 15, 1956 p. 741).


Mithras and December 25


Many professed Christians believe his birthday was December 25. Is Christ honored by this date? Encyclopedias tell us that this date is not Christian but pagan, that it was the birthday of Mithras, a false messiah. (The Watchtower December 15, 1957 p. 741).

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