In 1964 I wrote a series of articles on the history and doctrine of the religious system called “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” These articles have been reprinted in at least two gospel papers since that time. They are now printed here as one article, with some minor changes. I have this commendation for members of this cult: they are zealous for what they claim to believe.
Any religious system that originates with man cannot be of God; any religious teaching that does not originate with God is not true and cannot save the lost, no matter how devout the persons involved are. Be it understood from the very beginning of this study that I am not just criticizing the individuals in this religious system, but the system itself. Of course, the individuals connected with it must suffer the consequences of its teaching.
Any study of a religious movement originating with man must first consider the founder, his (or her) background, the reasons for promoting the system, and the consequences of the doctrine. We shall, therefore, begin with the study of the founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses and a few certified facts of his life.
Charles Taze Russell
Charles Taze Russell was born February 16, 1852 in Pittsburgh, Pa., to Joseph L. and Anna Eliza Russell, Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. He was fanatically religious even in childhood, and had a fear of the judgment and especially the fires of hell. At the age of 15 he became a member of the Congregational Church and the Y.M.C.A. The Calvinistic doctrine of hell tormented him. Shortly thereafter he came under the influence of an infidel and became an agnostic. This lasted but a short time before he came in contact with some of the writings of Ellen G. White, who had developed the system known as Seventh-Day Adventists. Many of the ideas of Ellen White fascinated him, especially the idea of soul-sleeping and the annihilation of the wicked. He began to formulate a doctrine of his own, beginning with the idea that “hell” meant only the grave. This was the beginning of Russell’s doctrine.
Russell, like Ellen G. White, Mary Baker Eddy and Joseph Smith, first conceived the idea of his system and then set about to formulate arguments from perverted scriptures to substantiate the system. His system is an ungodly mixture of Infidelity, Adventism, Universalism, Unitarianism, and Materialism.
At the age of 18 he organized a “Bible Class” in 1870 in Pittsburgh, Pa. His efforts were to restudy the Bible with a view of eliminating the idea of eternal punishment for the wicked. Six years later, in 1876, this “Bible Class” elected Russell “Pastor,” a title which he wore to his death. At the age of 25 he was manager of several men’s clothing stores. He was a clever business man, which enabled him in the development of his religious system known at first as The Dawn Bible Students.
“Pastor” Russell worked as assistant editor of a small Magazine published monthly in Rochester, New York, from 1876 to 1878. Walter R. Martin in his book, Jehovah Of The Watch Tower, page11, says that Russell resigned ”when a controversy arose over Russell’s counter arguments on ‘the atonement’ of Christ.”
The “Pastor” began publishing a pamphlet called Food For Thinking Christians and distributed it everywhere. It professed to be a new way to study the Bible. In 1879 Russell founded Zion’s Watch Tower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. He promptly condemned all churches and preachers as being of the Devil, and declared himself to be the servant of Christ with the “New Light” or “Present Truth.”
In 1884, five years after beginning Zion’s Watch Tower, he selected six others to form a corporate charter in Allegheny County, Pa. It was known as The Watchtower Tract Society, and in 1889 it was renamed The Watchtower Bible And Tract Society, Inc. (There is some discrepancy in dates here between historians. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle gives this latter date as 1881). This chief publication of Jehovah’s Witnesses was spelled two ways: Watchtower Bible And Tract Society, Inc. and Watch Tower Bible And Tract Society. Both names appear on the opening page of Let God Be True, a much used publication of Jehovah’s Witnesses. These volumes are seldom seen except in used bookstores. I have all of them in my library.
“Pastor” Russell wrote six volumes known as Millennial Dawn, later republished as Studies In The Scriptures. His first volume was published in 1886 entitled, The Divine Plan Of The Ages. The second in 1889 entitled, The Time Is At Hand. The third in 1891 entitled, Thy Kingdom Come. The fourth in 1897 entitled, The Day Of Vengeance. The fifth in 1899 entitled, The At-One-Ment Between God And Man. The sixth and last one Russell wrote was in 1904 entitled, The New Creation. The seventh was written one year after Russell’s death in 1917 by J. F. Rutherford, his successor, entitled, The Finished Mystery.
Russell was the master of The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc. and accumulated a large fortune through the sale of his books. His writings drew heavily on the works of Ellen G. White, but he never gave credit to anyone for his works.
Charles T. Russell died on a train near Pampa, Texas on October31, 1916 (the very day I was born in Kentucky, HEP). His image remains in The Watchtower Bible And Tract Society. Jehovah’s Witnesses owe their existence to Charles Taze Russell.
Who Are Jehovah’s Witnesses?
The religious group known as Jehovah’s Witnesses resent being called “Russellites” largely because of the shady character of Russell. It is not right to call people religious names which they disavow. Jehovah’s Witnesses deny following the teachings of Russell, but their writings today are filled with his quotations and ideas. In the April 8, 1951 issue of Wake it denied following Russell’s teaching, yet they continue to echo the doctrine which he established.
The history of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Cult is written in the court records. Russell was involved in several law suits instigated by him against those who opposed his teaching and prophecies. He sued The Brooklyn Daily Eagle for false statements about him, but lost the case.
In Jehovah Of The Watchtower, by Martin and Klann, page 14, a quotation from the Obituary Column, November 1, 1916 of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the day following the death of Russell, tells something of the trials in court by Russell: “There was much litigation then that was quite undesirable from the ‘Pastor’s’ point of view regarding alimony for his wife, but it was settled in 1909 by the payment of $6,036 to Mrs. Russell. The litigation revealed that ‘Pastor’ Russell’s activities in the religious field were carried on through several subsidiary societies and that all of the wealth which flowed into him through these societies was under the control of a holding company in which the ‘Pastor’ held $990 of the $1,000 capital and two of his followers the other $10.00”
“After the ‘work’ had been well started here, ‘Pastor’ Russell’s Watchtower Publication advertised wheat seed for sale at $1.00 a pound. It was styled ‘Miracle Wheat,’ and it was asserted that it would grow five times as much as any other brand of wheat.”
“The Eagle first made public the facts about this new venture of the Russellites and it published a cartoon picturing the ‘Pastor’ and his ‘Miracle Wheat’ in such a way that ‘Pastor’ Russell brought suit for libel, asking $100,000 damages. Government departments investigated the wheat for which $1.00 a pound was asked, and agents of the Government were important witnesses at the trial of the libel suit in January 1913. The ‘Miracle Wheat’ was low in the Government tests, they said. The Eagle won the suit.”
The separation and divorce filed by his wife were on the grounds of gross immorality and familiarity with other women. The court records in Pennsylvania show him as saying at the trial: “I am like a jelly-fish; I float around here and there; I touch this one and that one, and if she responds, I take her to me; and if not, I float to others.”
He filed suit for “defamatory libel” against a Baptist preacher by the name of J. J. Ross of Hamilton, Ontario because Ross wrote a booklet denouncing Russell’s theology and personal life. The Brooklyn Eagle of January 11, 1913 gave the account of the suit. Russell had for his attorney a man by the name of J. F. Rutherford, later to succeed him as head of The Watchtower Bible And Tract Society.
J. J. Ross wrote his booklet in June 1912 and Russell filed suit at once in an effort to silence the Baptist preacher. He charged that Russell knew nothing of theology, philosophy, or the dead languages (Hebrew and Greek). Russell lost his suit against Ross in the Higher Court in Ontario, March 1913(?). It cannot be denied by Jehovah’s Witnesses that Russell was a liar and cheat. It was proven again and again in the courts.
On page 20 of Jehovah Of The Watchtower by Martin and Klann a quote is taken from a second pamphlet by Ross after the trial, entitled: Some Facts And More Facts About The Self-Styled Pastor – Charles T. Russell: “But now what are the facts as they were brought out by the examination on March 17, 1913(?) As to his scholastic standing, he (Russell) had sworn that what was said about it was not true. Under the examination, he admitted that at most he had attended school only seven years of his life at the public school, and that he had left school when he was about fourteen years of age. . . . ”
Under oath Russell answered the cross-examination of Attorney Staunton for Ross by saying, “Oh, yes” to the question: “Do you know the Greek alphabet?” He was handed a Westcott and Hort Lexicon and Staunton asked: “Would you tell me the names of those on top of page, page 447 I have got here?” Of course, Russell could not read them. Again, Staunton asked: “Are you familiar with the Greek language?” Russell answered, “No.” Lying seemed easy for Russell. He employed this evil to promote his religious system and him.
The Beginning Of Jehovah’s Witnesses
Charles Taze Russell, founder of the cult known as Jehovah’s Witnesses, made some claims for himself equaled only by Joseph Smith of Mormonism, Ellen G. White of Seventh Day Adventism, and Mary Baker Eddy of Christian Science. These are as different as can be, except for the materialism of Adventism, Mormonism, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, yet they all make the same claim to a direct revelation from God. None of these systems are from God.
One of the claims made by Russell was that he alone was the true prophet of God in his day. In Watch Tower, July 1, 1899, page 208, we read: “If any man does not hear that prophet he shall be cut off from among the peoples.” This was said of Charles Russell. By 1912 Russell was called that “faithful and wise servant” of Matthew 24:45. This he accepted willingly. In Studies In The Scriptures, Vol. 7 (after Russell’s death) the statement is found: “If you do not hear the prophet, Mr. Russell, then woe be upon you.”
Of course, Rutherford and those who contributed to volume 7 of Studies In The Scriptures wrote what was taught and accepted by Russell before his death. In Vol. 7, page 377: “In 1878 the stewardship of the things of God, the teaching of the Bible truths were taken from the clergy, unfaithful to their age-long stewardship, and given to Pastor Russell.” This meant all the “things of God” including the “teaching of the Bible truths.”
Russell condemned all organized churches as the “devil’s” organizations. He claimed again and again that he was sent by God to show the world the truth. He taught that it was God’s time for men to understand the Bible, and that he was sent to uncover the mystery of the Bible. He claimed that no man had understood the book of Revelation until he was sent by God to “reveal” its true meaning. And grown men and women believe that!
Russell claimed to have some special knowledge of the “times of the Gentiles.” In 1872 he developed the doctrine of the “second chance.” He prophesied that Christ and the apostles would come to earth in October 1874 and “The Consummation Of The Ages” would come in 1914. When Christ did not come in 1874, his followers were disappointed as was Russell.
In 1876 he obtained the services of a man by the name of Barbour of Philadelphia to help him revise his prophecies. They decided that Christ and the apostles DID COME in 1874, but were invisible to all but the “faithful.” This is the idea that finally developed the term Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1931. An interesting point is that Russell later charged Barbour with unfaithfulness and kicked him out.
In Studies In The Scriptures, Vol. 2, pages 76-77 Russell said: “In this chapter we present the Bible evidence proving that the full end of the times of the Gentiles— i.e., the full end of their lease of dominion—will be reached in A.D. 1914; and that date will be the farthest limit of the rule of imperfect men.” Russell called this “the Consummation of the Ages.” The end did not come in 1914 and Russell never recovered from this blow. He died two years later, October 31, 1916. Immediately upon his death a self-appointed successor, C. J. Woodworth (this was before J. F. Rutherford took the rule) and a George H. Fisher, tried to patch up Russell’s prophecy by saying that he had made a slight error in time and that it would come in 1917. The seventh and last volume of Studies In The Scriptures: ”The Finished Mystery” was written in 1917 and they claimed that the time would be in 1918 instead of 1914 (Vol. 7, pages 58-62).
Russell’s writings are to Jehovah’s Witnesses what Tradition is to the Catholic Church, the Book Of Mormon is to Mormonism, Great Controversy and other writings of Ellen G. White are to Seventh Day Adventism, and Key To The Scripture is to Christian Science. They are all built upon the same sort of false claims to revelation.
“Judge” Rutherford took the place of Russell upon his death. This cult began with a “Pastor,” followed by a “Judge” and now has a “President.”
Joseph Franklin Rutherford
From 1870 when Charles Taze Russell organized a Bible Study group in Pittsburgh, Pa., and 1879 when he created the Watch Tower Magazine, later the Watch Tower Bible And Tract Society, until his death aboard a transcontinental train near Pampa, Texas, October 31, 1916, he ruled what was called ”Russellism,” ”International Bible Students,” and “Dawnism” with an iron hand. Upon his death J. F. Rutherford took the helm and directed the organization toward its present state.
In Jehovah’s Witnesses, pages 12-13, Walter R. Martin gives this account: “With the death of Russell the Watch Tower Board of Directors scrambled for control of the now vacant throne and various splits ensued as the result of the ‘election’ of Judge J. F. Rutherford as successor to the ‘Pastor.'”
“Joseph Franklin Rutherford took over the organization bequeathed to him by ‘Pastor’ Russell and with marvelous-business acumen, tremendous vitality, and an insatiable drive for accomplishment pyramided the ‘Pastor’s’ heretofore limited operation into a multi-million dollar cult of zealous people who spend most of their time negating the beliefs of others and openly attacking the sacred truths of historic Christianity.” Rutherford ”preached the funeral” of Russell, and despite the doctrine of both Russell and Rutherford that the dead are unconscious in “sleep,” he is quoted, as saying, “Our dear brother sleeps not in death, but was instantly changed from the human to the divine nature, and is now forever with the Lord.” This was a special privilege granted to Russell that the rest of the dead do not enjoy. Rutherford became the president of The Watch Tower Bible And Tract Society on January 6, 1917, just two months and 6 days after the death of Russell.
Joseph Franklin Rutherford was born on a farm in Morgan County, Missouri, on November 8, 1869. His father wanted him to become a farmer, but he wanted to attend college. At age sixteen he borrowed the money and took the regular college course plus law. He spent two years studying under Judge E. L. Edwards, a noted Missouri Judge. He became a court reporter at age twenty, and was admitted to the bar at age twenty-two and began practice in Boonville, Missouri with the firm of Draffen and Wright. He acquired the title “Judge” because he served occasionally as a special judge in the 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Missouri.
Rutherford had read some of Russell’s books and was acquainted with some of his teaching. They met about the beginning of the twentieth century in a Kansas City hotel. Russell asked Rutherford to write a book on “God’s Plan From A Lawyer’s Viewpoint.” Writing this book changed the course of Rutherford’s life. In 1907 Russell invited Rutherford to become a lecturer for him. By 1910 he was traveling all over country teaching the doctrine of Russell.
Russell used Rutherford as his attorney in a number of lawsuits in the courts. Rutherford was a fearless man who thrived on court cases; this helped him in gaining publicity for his cause. When the lives of the two men were finished, Rutherford wrote more than Russell.
In 1920, three years after becoming president of Watch Tower, he wrote a book called Millions Now Living Will Never Die. (I have this book in my library, together with many others works of Jehovah’s Witnesses). On page 97 he said: “Heretofore set forth the old order of things, the old world is ending and is therefore passing away, that the new order is coming in, and that 1925 marks the resurrection of the faithful, worthy of old.” This book was later taken off the market, and you can understand why. In 1926 he wrote a book on theology called Deliverance. During the twenty-five years he reigned as head of this cult he wrote about 100 books and pamphlets, translated into eighty languages. His broadcasts went out over the greatest radio networks of his day. He made a series of phonograph records which were used by the Witnesses in their door-to-door calls. This practice was discontinued under the reign of the president that followed Rutherford, Nathan H. Knorr.
In the late twenties a group who held fast to the prophecies of Russell, broke off to form the “Dawn Bible Students.” Rutherford denounced the “Pyramid” prophecies which caused this splinter group. He reigned over the entire Board of Directors of Watch Tower with an iron hand. To defy him was equal to defying Jehovah Himself.
Rutherford died of cancer on January 8, 1942, in his mansion, “Beth Sarim,” in San Diego, California at the age of 72. Walter R. Martin says in Jehovah’s Witnesses, page 14: “It is an easily verifiable fact that the Witnesses have heeded the counsel of the Judge who termed all religions ‘a snare and a racket,’ despite the fact that he occupied a mansion (Beth Sarim) outside San Diego, California (allegedly appraised at $60,000) for some years and justified his occupancy of that palatial edifice on the grounds that he was taking care of the premises until Abraham, Isaac, David, etc., returned to earth to commence the millennial reign.”
Nathan H. Knorr
The Watch Tower Bible And Tract Society of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion was started by “Pastor” Russell, who was succeeded by “Judge” Rutherford in 1917, and upon his death in 1942, “President” Nathan H. Knorr.
Nathan Homer Knorr was born in Bethlehem, Pa., on April 23, 1905. He first came in contact with Russell’s and Rutherford’s teaching at the age of sixteen while attending high school in Allentown, Pa. His family had obtained some Watch Tower literature and had accepted the “Home Book Study” group in their home. Knorr was a member of the Reformed Church, from which he withdrew to become a “Witness” for Watch Tower as a full time worker. He soon became a member of the “working family” at Bethel in Brooklyn, New York. This is the headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Society. It had been moved here from Pittsburgh, Pa. in 1908.
Nathan Knorr began as shipping clerk in the Society’s Printing Plant. Within nine years after entering the Watch Tower Society, in 1932 he was promoted to general manager of the printing office and plant at the age of twenty-seven. He soon became a director and within a year was elected Vice President. Upon Rutherford’s death he was unanimously elected President. He directed the policies of Watch Tower Bible And Tract Society and supervised and edited all publications. He directed all the missionary policies and work.
Max Stilson says in How To Deal With Jehovah’s Witnesses, pages 14-15: “Mr. Knorr added a doctrine to the Jehovah’s Witnesses list of errors which has caused the cult a great deal of trouble with the courts. He decided that several Old Testament verses which he picked out of context proved that it was unscriptural to allow blood transfusions, even to save life. This ‘finding’ of President Knorr’s was presented to the Jehovah’s Witnesses on July 1, 1945, in an article in Awake entitled, ‘Sanctity of Blood.’
“Mr. Knorr claims that his new doctrine is based upon the Bible, but human blood transfusions were unknown in Biblical times. If this is a Bible doctrine, why didn’t someone see it before 1945?”
“Another accomplishment under President Knorr’s ‘reign’ has been the introduction of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Bible. The New World Translation Of Christian Greek Scriptures (New Testament) was completed in 1950. The Old Testament was completed ten years later. The Witnesses have added articles and changed the punctuation marks in many verses to conform to their teaching. Until 1950 they used the King James Version.”
Watch Tower Is Powerful
The majority of people today thinks of the Watch Tower Bible And Tract Society as a small and insignificant organization, and Jehovah’s Witnesses as a small, harmless group of fanatics. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are one of the most dangerous groups to the truth that exists today because they are more aggressive. Like Mormonism, Seventh-Day Adventism, and Unity, Jehovah’s Witnesses have an American origin. They were sparked into existence by the fanaticism of materialism and “prophecies” of the second coming of Christ.
The Watch Tower Society is not just a printing plant. It is the “Vatican” of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ cult. It is the final authority in all matters: translations, interpretations, organizations, etc. It forbids and directs the activities of its members. It is like Catholicism in that it requires its workers to work for nothing.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are very zealous. They stand on street corners selling Awake, The Watchtower, The Golden Age, etc. They go from house to house selling and giving away their literature and trying to convert people to Russell’s ideas. They thrive on the fleshly appeal to a material existence on this earth during the ”reign of Christ on earth.” They use the Bible as if they really believe it, but they are trained experts at perverting passages and taking them out of context. They have a system of brainwashing the uninformed in the Scriptures by attacking translations, faith in the Bible, and religion in general. They then build upon Watch Tower as a faithful witness.
Nathan H. Knorr followed closely the doctrines of Russell and Rutherford. He was a great organizer and under his rule Jehovah’s Witnesses have grown more than 400 percent. In 1950 they were listed as “America’s fastest growing religion.” The Watch Tower Bible And Tract Society operates Radio Station WBBR in Staten Island, New York, with a power of 5,000 watts. Knorr created the Gilead Bible School at South Lansing, New York in 1943. They have sent out thousands of “missionaries” from this school. Watch Tower publishes and distributes millions of books and tracts each year in more than 60 languages and sells them at amazingly low prices. Every Jehovah’s Witness is a worker and distributes literature. This is one of the keys to their rapid growth.
The Name Jehovah’s Witnesses
The name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” was suggested by J. F. Rutherford and adopted in 1931 at a convention in Columbus, Ohio. “In 1931 their representatives from many countries, assembled in a convention in America, resolved that they ‘desire to be known as and called by the name which the mouth of the Lord God has named, to wit, Jehovah’s Witnesses’: ‘Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah.’ (Isaiah 43:10; 44:8, ASV)” (Let God Be True, page 213).
The passages in Isaiah were spoken of Israel and do not refer to the name which God would give to His people (Isaiah 62:2; Acts 11:26; 26:27-28; 1 Peter 4:16). The name “Christian” is the one authorized in the New Testament for God’s people. The only witnesses in this dispensation are the apostles of Christ (Acts 1:8,21-22; 10:39-42).
Jehovah’s Witnesses On The Godhead
Some Holiness groups teach that there is only ONE God and He is Jesus alone. They deny any idea that there are three persons in the “Godhead.” They have great difficulty in explaining the many passages that show a Father-Son relationship. Jehovah’s Witnesses contend that there is only ONE God and He is Jehovah God. Christ is simply “a god” and the Holy Spirit is only the spirit (power) of Jehovah God.
Following are a few quotes from Watch Tower publications to show their belief on the Godhead:
“Jesus is a god, but not Jehovah God.” (Studies In The Scriptures, Vol. V, page 84).
“Verily, if it were not for the fact that this trinitarian nonsense was drilled into us from our earliest infancy . . . nobody would give it a moment’s serious consideration.” (Studies In The Scriptures, Vol. V, page 166).
“The origin of the ‘trinity’ doctrine is traced back to the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians, and other ancient mythologists . . . It follows, then, that God was not the author of this doctrine . . . The obvious conclusion, therefore, is that Satan is the originator of the ‘trinity’ doctrine.” (Let God Be True, page 82).
“Jesus Christ does not address his heavenly Father as a mystifying ‘triune’ God, but as ‘The only true God’; and he speaks of himself as the inferior one, the Son whom the Father sent forth from heaven.” (This Means Everlasting Life, page 11).
“Jesus and Jehovah God are not the same person, nor is Jesus equal to God. Jehovah alone is supreme.” (This Good News Of The Kingdom, page 6).
“The doctrine of the trinity is a false doctrine and is promulgated by Satan for the purpose of defaming Jehovah’s name” (Rutherford in Uncovered, 1937, page 48).
“Only the religious trinitarians are presumptuous enough to claim, without Scripture basis, that two other persons are equal with Jehovah God; but Jesus does not himself claim to be one of such persons.” (The Kingdom Is At Hand, page 50).
What The Bible Teaches
We must be as brief as possible to get this information in this paper. The following passages prove that there are three divine persons in the Godhead:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word was made flesh . . . ” (John 1:1,14). Very clearly this says Christ, “the Logos,” was God. But Jehovah’s Witnesses will not have it so, hence, they look until they find some translation that will give assistance to their doctrine. They go to ”the interlinear reading of The Emphatic Diaglott” which says, “and a god was the Word.” But they did not tell that this translation renders the phrase: “and the Logos was God.” This passage still says, “AND THE WORD WAS GOD.”
Jesus said this of himself: “Before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58). This same expression is used of the Father (Exodus 3:14). In Isaiah 9:6 Jesus was the “Son” that was given and “his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” The Son was to be called The mighty God, The everlasting Father.
Jesus commissioned his apostles to teach and baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28:19). In Matthew 3:16-17 all three persons are present: Christ was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove, and the voice of the Father sounded from heaven.
In Hebrews 1:8 the Father speaks: “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever . . . ” This is from Psalms 45:6. The Father called the Son, “O God.” Is it possible that the Father did not know His Son was not God?
In Matthew 1:23, speaking of Jesus, ” . . . they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” This name as applied to Christ calls him God. Yes, Christ is equal to God in nature – he is divine. (Philippians 2:6).
The Holy Spirit Is Not A Person
Watch Tower Society teaches that the Holy Spirit is not a person. Russell said: “But nothing in connection with this narrative in any sense of the word necessitates the thought of a personal Holy Spirit, separate from the Father and the Son . . . The Holy Spirit is not a person, but an influence of God exerted by a person” (Studies In The Scriptures, Vol. 5, page 210).
“When a man has the spirit of God upon him it means he has been authorized by God to do a certain work, whatever that work may be. The holy spirit is the invisible active force of Almighty God that moves his servants to do his will” (Let God Be True, page 89).
In speaking of Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4-5, Watch Tower says: “Such language by Jesus gives us to understand that the Spirit is a power, and not a person. It is God’s holy active force of which he is the inexhaustible source . . . It is not a trinitarian person coequal with God and Jesus” (This Means Everlasting Life, pages 165-166).
What The Bible Teaches
When Ananias kept back a part of the price of a possession he had sold, pretending to give it all, Peter said to him, “Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost . . . why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou has not lied unto men, but unto God” (Acts 5:3-4). If language means anything at all, Ananias lied unto God when he lied to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God. Many passages clearly describe the Holy Spirit as a person. These actions could not be applied to an impersonal force, but only to a person. Let us notice a few of them. Note the pronoun “he” and “him” as it refers to the Holy Spirit, and note also the things which “he” is capable of doing. These actions can only be applied to persons.
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26). “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:13). “For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say” (Luke 12:12).
“While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee” (Acts 10:1-9). “Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me” (Acts 20:23). “And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:27). ” …for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10). “Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual words” (1 Corinthians 2:13). “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me” (Romans 15:30). ”Now the Spirit speaketh expressly . . . ” (1 Timothy 4:1).
The New Testament ascribes to the Holy Spirit the same personal attributes that belong to the Father and the Son. The passages just read give attributes that can only belong to a person. He can teach, testify of Christ, guide into all truth, speak, hear, show, bear witness, has a mind, can make intercession for others, search the deep things of God, love, and speak expressly. One can do despite unto the Spirit (Hebrews 10:29). One can quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
The Spirit is identified by various terms in the Bible. He is called “the Comforter,” “Holy Spirit,” “Spirit,” “Spirit of God,” “Spirit of the Lord,” “Spirit of Truth, “Holy Spirit” and “Spirit of Jehovah.”
H. Leo Boles says in his book, The Holy Spirit, page 33: “A person, then, is the indivisible self which is and acts as a self-conscious being and free moral agent; his personality is that which makes him a person rather than a brute or a thing; his nature is the sum total of the traits of mind and heart which the self possesses and expresses more or less perfectly, consciously and unconsciously. Personality in God is the sum total of the infinite attributes resident in the inmost depths of his one divine nature; the three persons in the Godhead are the three individualities, the three personal centers of consciousness, the three separate self-conscious and self-determining persons or selves.”
The three persons of the Godhead are spoken of together in several passages. For example: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen” (2 Corinthians 13:14).