1935: Increasing Memorial Partakers?

Contributed by jwfacts.com (original article linked here)

Increasing Memorial Partakers

The Watchtower has long said the anointed class was closed in 1935. Since then, the number of anointed Jehovah’s Witnesses began decreasing. In 2007, it was admitted there is no Scriptural basis for 1935, and since that time memorial partakers have been on the increase.

An important doctrine for Jehovah’s Witnesses is that of the 144,000. This small number represents the total number of humans that will be allowed into heaven. Those of the 144,000 that remain on earth today are referred to as the Remnant.[1]

The Remnant are the only ones that are allowed to partake of the bread and wine at the memorial.[2] This is in flagrant disregard of Jesus, who said that everlasting life is contingent on partaking of the emblems in remembrance of him.

John 6:53-57 “Accordingly Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to YOU, Unless YOU eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, YOU have no life in yourselves. He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I shall resurrect him at the last day; for my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him. Just as the living Father sent me forth and I live because of the Father, he also that feeds on me, even that one will live because of me.”

The decreasing number of the remnant has long been see as a proof that the end is about to occur.

“Six Convincing Lines of Evidence” that we are in the Last Days.
Sixth, the number of genuine anointed disciples of Christ is dwindling, though some will evidently still be on earth when the great tribulation begins. Most of the remnant are quite elderly, and over the years the number of those who are truly anointed has been getting smaller.” Watchtower 2000 Jan 15 p.13

“Over the past seven years, from 1974 to 1980 inclusive, Jehovah’s Witnesses have made steady progress. Their growth is healthy. Only as to Memorial partakers has there been a gradual decline, which is in accord with Scriptural expectations.” Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses 1981 p.31

Is this what has been happening with the number of anointed partakers over the years? The accompanying graphs show otherwise.

2000 8661
2001 8730
2002 8760
2003 8565
2004 8570
2005 8524
2006 8758
2007 9105
2008 9986
2009 10857
2010 11202
2011 11824
2012 12604
2013 13204

Quite contrary to the expectation and teachings of the Governing Body, after an initial rapid decrease, the number of partakers remained constant for almost 40 years. Since 2007, there has been a surge in partakers. This followed the removal of the 1935 close for the calling, with the statement, “we cannot set a specific date for when the calling of Christians to the heavenly hope ends.” (w07 May 1 p.31)

This is despite the Watchtower questioning the number of newly anointed and their legitimacy, and describing them as potentially emotionally troubled.

“Memorial partakers. This is the number of baptized individuals who partake of the emblems at the Memorial worldwide. Does this total represent the number of anointed ones on earth? Not necessarily. A number of factors — including past religious beliefs or even mental or emotional imbalance — might cause some to assume mistakenly that they have the heavenly calling. We thus have no way of knowing the exact number of anointed ones on earth; nor do we need to know.” Watchtower 2011 Aug 15 p.22

“Over the years some, even ones newly baptized, have suddenly begun to partake. In a number of cases, after a while they acknowledged that this was an error. Some have recognized that they partook as an emotional response to perhaps physical or mental strain. But they came to see that they really were not called to heavenly life. There is every reason to believe that the number of anointed ones will continue to decline as advanced age and unforeseen occurrences end their earthly lives.” Watchtower 1996 Aug 15 p.31

It has long been held that the 144,000 were fully assigned by 1935.

“Logically, the calling of the little flock would draw to a close when the number was nearing completion, and the evidence is that the general gathering of these specially blessed ones ended in 1935.” Watchtower 1995 Feb 15 p.19

If anyone since 1935 rightfully claimed to be anointed it was as a replacement of a sinful remnant, no longer worthy of heaven.

“For 19 centuries there was only the one calling, the heavenly one, with Jehovah being very selective as to who would serve with his Son to make up the Kingdom government. Many would be invited but only a precious few chosen. (Matthew 22:2, 14) In time the prescribed but limited number of 144,000 would be reached. After this no more would be anointed by holy spirit as witness that they had the heavenly hope, unless, in a rare occurrence, the unfaithfulness of one of the remaining ‘chosen ones’ made a replacement necessary.” Watchtower 1982 Feb 15 p.30

As of 2010, it is 75 years since the calling was said to have closed. Since a person does not become anointed until their baptism, the youngest of the 1935 anointed would have been around 16 at the time, and so the youngest anointed from 1935 are now already 90. There are only a small number of these still alive, and so most of the 10,000 partakers are replacements.

There are a number of holes it the idea that the heavenly call closed in 1935. To start with, there is absolutely no Scriptural basis that the calling would close, let alone specifically in 1935 or any other year. Some on the Governing Body, such as Geoffrey Jackson, had not even been born in 1935. Furthermore, there has been no decrease in partakers in over 35 years. This has led to the Watchtower finally admitting that this doctrine never had any basis.

“When does the calling of Christians to a heavenly hope cease?
On the other hand, as time has gone by, some Christians baptized after 1935 have had witness borne to them that they have the heavenly hope. (Romans 8:16, 17) Thus, it appears that we cannot set a specific date for when the calling of Christians to the heavenly hope ends.
How should a person be viewed who has determined in his heart that he is now anointed and begins to partake of the emblems at the Memorial? He should not be judged. The matter is between him and Jehovah. ” Watchtower 2007 May 1 p.31

The May edition of the Watchtower is released prior to the memorial, and so this statement was in time to have a relevant affect on partakers for the 2007 memorial.

Yet despite all of the above, the Watchtower still made the claim in 2009 that:

“… the number of anointed ones on the earth has decreased over the decades … ”
Watchtower Feb 15 2009 par.14 page 27 & page 28

In light of the graphs above, what exactly do they mean by this dubious statement? Whilst admitting that the calling did not close in 1935, the Watchtower seems determined to encourage members that the end is very close by saying the number of anointed are decreasing, even though partakers have not “decreased over the decades”.

It is only a matter of time before the doctrines of the Great Crowd and 144,000 remnant are overhauled. As discussed at 144,000, the concept that only 144,000 go to heaven is flawed. To say that in the 2000 years since Jesus death there were only 144,000 true Christians, of which a third were followers of the Watchtower Society, is conceited at best. Likewise, the Watchtower doctrine regarding the great crowd and the other sheep is also unscriptural. The large number of Witnesses leaving and the increasing number of memorial partakers is indication that members are no longer confident in Watchtower doctrine.

It is logical that the number claiming to be anointed would rise once the restriction on new partakers was somewhat lifted. Jesus set the example of drinking wine and eating bread as observance of his sacrifice and said for his followers to “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:15-19) Some Witnesses have felt distressed that refusing to partake of the emblems during Jesus memorial is akin to rejection of the Ransom sacrifice. Furthermore, the New Testament shows that a follower of Jesus needs to be anointed or born again to enter the kingdom.

John 3:3 – “Unless anyone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Although the Watchtower tries to dismiss such requirement on the basis that most modern day Christians belong to an earthly Great Crowd, this doctrine is based on a shaky foundation that collapses with the minimal examination.


[1] “Today, only a remnant of the 144,000 are on earth.” Worship the Only True God p.129

[2] “Since sharing in the bread and wine passed during the Memorial involves all of this, it would obviously be inappropriate for those having an earthly hope to partake. Were they to partake of the emblems, it would signify something that is not true with respect to them. Thus, they do not partake, though they do attend the Memorial as respectful observers.” Watchtower 2006 Feb 15 p. 24

“So, then, at the celebration of the memorial of Christ’s death, only those who make up “the Israel of God” should partake of the emblems of bread and wine. This body of spiritual Israelites will number 144,000, who will rule with Christ in his heavenly Kingdom. (Revelation 14:1) On the other hand, the vast international company of “other sheep,” who do not partake, will enjoy everlasting life on the Paradise earth, receiving the benefits of the Kingdom rule.” Watchtower 1983 Mar 15 p.9

creative commons copyright    Paul Grundy  2005 – 2014

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