The Kingdom – Why JWs Say it Began in 1914, rather than 33 CE or Later

THE TEACHING

The 1914 doctrine teaches that 1914 is the date when Christ Jesus finally sits upon the throne of David. This section discusses whether the Kingdom started around 33 CE, in 1914 or will start at a later date.

When Michael the Archangel (see Daniel 12:1) “stands up” for his people, this is also the time when Jesus was to have “sat down” upon the throne of David and turned his attention toward the earth. JWs teach that this happened in 1914.

When Revelation 12 speaks of Jesus (as Michael) and Satan being cast down from heaven, this was also to have happened in 1914, so that a voice from heaven could cry out. “I heard a loud voice in heaven say:“Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God!“ (Rev 12:10)

One of the most repeated prophetic fulfillments in the Christian Greek Scriptures is the repetition of Psalm 110:1-2 which says:

Jehovah declared to my Lord:“Sit at my right hand Until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.”  Jehovah will extend the scepter of your power out of Zion, saying:“Go subduing in the midst of your enemies.” (NWT)

THE QUESTIONS

Q. Why does the Bible speak of Jesus as King of Kings (ruler of the kings of the earth) in the first century?

Q. Why does Paul’s letter to the Colossians say that Christians in the first century are already being transferred into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (“kingdom of God’s beloved Son”)?  (also see NWTR)

Q. Why is Jesus spoken of as having all authority immediately after his resurrection, if he does not yet have the authority of the Messianic King? (Matt 28:19,20)

Q. Why is Jesus’ resurrection spoken of as the time when he was given a name  above every other name, whether they be principalities, lordships. (Phil 2:8-11, Eph 1:20,21)

Q. If he is both King and Priest, when did Jesus priesthood begin? Why does the book of Hebrews show that he is already a priest as of the first century after Jesus’ resurrection?

Q. The explanation for Psalm 110 is that Jesus waits on God’s right hand, seated, but waiting to stand up. However, when a king “sits” on a throne he is usually considered to also be ruling. Why do JWs consider Jesus as a king only when he stands up from his seat at God’s right hand?

Q. Why does Paul reference Psalm 110 and replace the word “sit at God’s right hand” with “rule as king”. Would this not mean that Christ has been ruling as king from the time he sat at God’s right hand?

WATCHTOWER REFERENCES:

REGARDING THE KINGDOM MENTIONED IN COLOSSIANS 1:13 

*** w10 9/15 pp. 22-23 “Your Leader Is One, the Christ” ***
Overseer of the Christian Congregation
7 Shortly before ascending to heaven, the resurrected Jesus told his disciples: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.” (Matt. 28:18) Jehovah had Jesus pass on holy spirit to strengthen his disciples in Christian truth. (John 15:26) Jesus poured out this spirit upon the early Christians at Pentecost 33 C.E. (Acts 2:33) That outpouring of the holy spirit marked the founding of the Christian congregation. Jehovah invested his Son with the heavenly leadership of the congregation on earth. (Read Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:13, 18.) Jesus guides the Christian congregation by means of Jehovah’s holy spirit, and he has at his service angels who were “made subject to him.”—1 Pet. 3:22.

Others would point out that this paragraph appears to purposely avoid the idea of kingship here and replace with the ideas of “overseer,” “leader,” and “guide.” Yet the reference from Matt. 28 is not just about the congregation but about “all authority in heaven and on earth“. How much more authority would he receive in 1914 if he had already received “all” of it? Also, Acts 2:33 is not just about pouring out the holy spirit on the congregation but is followed with the idea that Jesus is now already fulfilling the Messianic promises of the Davidic Kingdom from the right hand of God.

Acts 2: 33  Therefore, because he was exalted to the right hand of God and received the promised holy spirit from the Father, he has poured out what you see and hear. 34  For David did not ascend to the heavens, but he himself says, ‘Jehovah* said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand 35  until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.”’ 36  Therefore, let all the house of Israel know for a certainty that God made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you executed on a stake.”

Both Ephesians 1:22 and Colossians 1:13 are referenced here where the congregation is included but the context goes far beyond. The same goes for 1 Peter 3:22, where his power clearly is shown to  extend well beyond just the congregation. Note:

1 Peter 3:22  He is at God’s right hand, for he went to heaven, and angels and authorities and powers were made subject to him.

For several years, this teaching was given a lot of emphasis with a specific differentiation made between this kingdom over the congregation of “spirit-anointed Christians] and the rulership over the peoples of the world.

*** w02 10/1 p. 18 Cultivate Obedience as the End Draws Near ***
Jesus’ First Kingdom
3 When Jesus ascended to heaven, he did not immediately take up the scepter of rulership over the peoples of the world. (Psalm 110:1) However, he did receive a “kingdom” with subjects that obeyed him. The apostle Paul identified that kingdom when he wrote: “[God] delivered us [spirit-anointed Christians] from the authority of the darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of his love.” (Colossians 1:13) This deliverance began at Pentecost 33 C.E. when holy spirit was poured out on Jesus’ faithful followers.—Acts 2:1-4; 1 Peter 2:9.

The italics, which are now bolded and underlined above, are not added here, those italics are in the original article where only two phrases in the whole article are italicized. The other is shown below where the quote from the “Obedience” article picks up again.

Note that the the updated NWT, 2013 edition, changes “kingdom of the Son of his love” to “kingdom of his beloved Son.” This is a great improvement, because the awkwardness of the former expression gave the appearance of some Kingdom that had a special name and was therefore easily thought of as different from “Christ’s Kingdom.” The NWT is now more closely aligned with other modern translations, and this might end up allowing the verse to reveal it’s meaning. Most long-time JWs have at least heard expressions to that effect from the platform: “Notice that this isn’t the same as the Kingdom by Christ Jesus it’s the ‘kingdom of the Son of his love’ which refers to his authority over the congregation.” That argument will be much harder to make now.

*** w02 10/1 p. 19 Cultivate Obedience as the End Draws Near ***

Shiloh Becomes Earth’s Rightful Ruler
8 Jacob’s prophecy foretold that Shiloh would command “the obedience of the peoples.” Clearly, Christ’s rulership would extend beyond spiritual Israel. What would it embrace? Revelation 11:15 answers: “The kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king forever and ever.” The Bible reveals that Jesus received that authority at the end of the prophetic “seven times”—“the appointed times of the nations”—in 1914. (Daniel 4:16, 17; Luke 21:24) In that year, Christ’s invisible “presence” as Messianic King began, as did his time to “go subduing in the midst of [his] enemies.”—Matthew 24:3; Psalm 110:2.

Clearly, the idea is that “the kingdom of God’s beloved Son” is not the same as the “kingdom of the world” even though the “kingdom of the world” also becomes “the kingdom of his Christ.” The problem with the Watch Tower’s explanation is that their writers have minimized Christ’s authority to the point of contradicting Scriptures. Here are the primary two examples:

REGARDING MATTHEW 28:19,20 “ALL AUTHORITY”

*** w04 7/1 pp. 8-9 ‘Go and Make Disciples’ ***
“All Authority Has Been Given Me”
3 First, why should we obey the command to make disciples? Jesus stated: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth. Go therefore and make disciples.” The word “therefore” points to a major reason why we should obey this command. It is because Jesus, the one who issued the command, has “all authority.” How extensive is his authority?
4 Jesus has authority over his congregation, and since 1914 he has had authority over God’s newly established Kingdom. (Colossians 1:13; Revelation 11:15) He is the archangel and as such commands a heavenly army of hundreds of millions of angels. (1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Peter 3:22; Revelation 19:14-16) He has been empowered by his Father to bring to nothing “all government and all authority and power” that oppose righteous principles. (1 Corinthians 15:24-26; Ephesians 1:20-23) Jesus’ authority is not limited to the living. He is also “judge of the living and the dead” and has God-given power to resurrect those who have fallen asleep in death. (Acts 10:42; John 5:26-28) Surely a command given by the One vested with such vast authority should be viewed as of the highest importance. Therefore, we respectfully and willingly obey Christ’s command to ‘go and make disciples.’

In this case the logic evidently is that while Jesus said he had “all authority” in 33 CE, the Watch Tower can accept that he only has “all authority” since 1914, and that the verse in Colossians 1:13 can somehow indicate that the authority in 33 CE was only with respect to the congregation. The word “all” must be minimized by making it mean “some.”

This idea that he is only king with respect to the congregation and not the kingdoms of the world contradicts 1 Peter 3:22  quoted further above. But more directly it contradicts 1 Timothy 6:14,15:

(1 Timothy 6:14-16) 14 to observe the commandment in a spotless and irreprehensible way until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which the happy and only Potentate will show in its own appointed times. He is the King of those who rule as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords, 16 the one alone having immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal might. Amen.

One might expect the Watch Tower writers to notice that if this verse applies to Jesus, then it completely unravels the Watch Tower’s theory that Jesus was not yet King of those who rule as kings. Why not just apply this verse to Jehovah and not Jesus himself? It certainly appears possible that the Potentate could mean the Father, rather than Jesus Christ. Yet notice what the September 5, 2008 Watchtower says:

*** w08 9/15 p. 31 par. 2 Highlights From the Letters to the Thessalonians and to Timothy ***
6:15, 16—Do these words apply to Jehovah God or to Jesus Christ? These words apply to the one whose manifestation they describe, namely, Jesus Christ. (1 Tim. 6:14) In comparison with humans who rule as kings and as lords, Jesus is the “only Potentate,” and he alone has immortality. (Dan. 7:14; Rom. 6:9) Since his ascension to the invisible heavens, no man on earth “can see” him with literal eyes.

The reference Bible gives some clues why Jesus is identified as the Potentate. In addition to the verses referenced in the 2008 article, the references in the Bible margins include the following linked to the title “king of kings” and “dwells in unapproachable light.”

(Revelation 17:14) 14 These will battle with the Lamb, but because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lamb will conquer them. Also, those with him who are called and chosen and faithful will do so.”

(Revelation 19:15, 16) . . .. 16 On his outer garment, yes, on his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

(Hebrews 7:15, 16) 15 And this becomes even clearer when another priest arises who is like Mel·chizʹe·dek, 16 who has become such, not by the legal requirement that depends on fleshly descent, but by the power of an indestructible life.

(Revelation 1:12-16) 12 I turned to see who was speaking with me, and when I turned, I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands someone like a son of man, . . .14 . . . and his eyes were like a fiery flame, 15 and his feet were like fine copper when glowing in a furnace . . . . 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars, . . . and his countenance was like the sun when it shines at its brightest.

Surely the Watch Tower writers have noticed the problem, or they would not bring up this very question and answer on multiple occasions. Note another place where the contradiction becomes apparent:

*** w05 9/1 p. 27 Questions From Readers ***
Yes, compared to them, Jesus is the “only Potentate.” Jesus has been given “rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him.” (Daniel 7:14) . . .
The context makes it evident that Paul is comparing Jesus with human rulers. Jesus truly is, as Paul wrote, “King of those [humans] who rule as kings and Lord of those [humans] who rule as lords.” Yes, compared to them, Jesus is the “only Potentate.” Jesus has been given “rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him.” (Daniel 7:14) No human potentate can make that claim!
What about the phrase “the one alone having immortality”? Again, a comparison is being drawn between Jesus and human kings. No earthly rulers can claim to have been granted immortality, but Jesus can. Paul wrote: “We know that Christ, now that he has been raised up from the dead, dies no more; death is master over him no more.” (Romans 6:9) Thus, Jesus is the first one to be described in the Bible as receiving the gift of immortality. Indeed, at the time of Paul’s writing, Jesus was the only one who had attained indestructible life.
It should also be kept in mind that it would have been wrong for Paul to say that Jehovah God alone had immortality, since Jesus too was immortal when Paul wrote those words. But Paul could say that Jesus alone was immortal in comparison with earthly rulers.

Note that the argument is necessary because it is easier to explain that Jesus is being referenced here from the perspective of being in a class that includes “kings” and therefore “other human kings.” Otherwise, the contradiction would be even more glaring, because it would be saying that only Jehovah God, the Father, has immortality, when Jesus has been given immortality. And statements to this effect had been explicitly given elsewhere. (Saying that this referred to Jehovah would be giving ammunition to Trinitarians.)

But note especially that the arguments are about Jesus during the time “when Paul wrote those words.” In other words, immediately upon his ascension to heaven in 33 C.E.

It’s always possible to look at portions of Revelation and interpret them to mean a time future from the time that John wrote the book. In fact, the Watch Tower writers claim that it is when John uses the term “By inspiration I came to be in the Lord’s day” that he supposedly refers to being swept into our own time frame around 1914 and thereafter. (Yes, that’s exactly how the Watch Tower writers attempt to avoid the chronological problem here.) There is no evidence for this claim, but even if it true, that happens in Revelation 1:10.

It’s true that the place where Jesus is spoken of as dwelling in unapproachable light is after that point in Revelation 1:12-16, partially quoted above. Yet notice what John says in the introduction to Revelation, before he is in the “Lord’s day:”

4 John to the seven congregations that are in the province of Asia:
May you have undeserved kindness and peace from “the One who is and who was and who is coming,” and from the seven spirits that are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, “the Faithful Witness,” “the firstborn from the dead,” and “the Ruler of the kings of the earth.”

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