When were the Jehovah’s Witnesses Founded?

According to the book, “Pastor Russell – Founder of the Bible Students,” published by Bible Students Christian Classics:

Now that three quarters of the Bible Students of Pastor Russell’s era were purged and the remainder of the Bible Students submitted to the doctrinal changes, a new movement could be founded.

In 1931, fifteen years after Pastor Russell’s death, Jehovah’s Witnesses was founded.   Its founder, Joseph Rutherford, presented a startling resolution entitled “A New Name,” which was adopted at their international convention on July 26, 1931. (See Addendum #9–Jehovah’s Witnesses Founded in 1931 by Joseph Rutherford.) The resolution first observed that neither “Russellites” nor “Bible Students” were any longer appropriate names (certainly not, since over 75 percent of Bible Students from Pastor Russell’s era had already separated themselves).  Henceforth, Rutherford introduced, they would call themselves “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”  Joseph Rutherford, not Pastor Russell, founded Jehovah’s Witnesses. Pastor Russell died in 1916. Jehovah’s Witnesses was founded in 1931.  Pastor Russell founded the Bible Students who still affirm his teachings. Rutherford rejected Russell’s teachings, purged those Bible Students loyal to Russell’s ideals from his movement, rejected the name Bible Students and named his new movement “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

14 comments to When were the Jehovah’s Witnesses Founded?

  • I have noticed how the JW use the name Jehovah.

    When I was a JW I didn’t realize how sacred Gods name is. Mostly because they have it plastered on just about everything. So I honestly didn’t realize how sacred his name really is. Now I have grown to have deep respect for Gods name after leaving.

    They have this article up too:
    https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2009254

    They have changed the scripture meanings in their article to make the claim about the use of Gods name.

    These are what the scriptures actually say:

    Jesus speaks at Matthew 6:9; “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” – Hallowed means regarded as Holy and Sacred.

    Exodus 3:15-16; “And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.”

    JW say that Exodus 3:15 says quote: “This is my name for all time.”​

    The above JW article too is written very poorly and takes away that Gods name is SACRED.

    They have added Gods name in their Bible where its not suppose to be added and that also changes scripture meaning.

    JW are adding Gods name in the Bible way too many times and its making MANY scriptures lose original meaning. By doing this they are taking away at how Sacred Gods name actually is, from what I can tell. They are not teaching how sacred Gods name is. I was always told by JW the Jews just say its sacred and don’t use it properly. I believe many Jews are trying to show deep respect to the name.

    In the passage in Exodus: The Israelites were crying day and night for deliverance. God was calling Moses to help lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses asked God – what is God’s name or what should he say to the Israelites? In God’s response, He provides a promise to Israel – He would become what they would need Him to become – in this case – their deliverer. This promise found in the name of God can be extended to the world of mankind. God will become what they need Him to become – an architect for the plan of salvation that will bring them back into harmony with Him. In the case of the heavenly church, God will be all we need to make our calling and election sure.

    • greg (Bible Student)

      Sanura,

      You wrote: “When I was a JW I didn’t realize how sacred Gods name is. Mostly because they have it plastered on just about everything. So I honestly didn’t realize how sacred his name really is. Now I have grown to have deep respect for Gods name after leaving.”

      This expression is very dear to my heart. Like you and many others, I, too, became saddened by how little respect is given God’s name by the Watchtower organization who have claimed the name for their own use and distinction.

      Many years ago I became deeply grieved at how persons that claimed to be “God’s people” (both past and present) sullied the name and character of their God. It became my earnest prayer to clean up my own act, so to speak, to make sure I personally did what little I could to really and truly ensure that I was treating God’s name and character with the utmost respect it deserved, rather than by superficially sweeping things under the carpet as it appears the Governing Body and Jehovah’s Witnesses are ready and willing to do.

      I quote from Reprint R1287, page27:
      “The scribes and pharisees had much truth: they had the whole law of God and claimed to believe and teach it, but they miserably colored and distorted it by their traditions and their really ignoble though whitewashed characters. And consequently their efforts, professedly to convert men to God, resulted only in making more hypocrites like themselves.”

      If you read Matthew 23, I predict you’ll be thinking to yourself, “Wow! That sounds JUST LIKE the Governing Body and the Watchtower organization!! They’re the modern day manifestation of the Pharisees!” Read it for yourself and see what you think because, even if I tried to post snippets, I wouldn’t know what to leave out; I’d just end up posting a lengthy commentary on the whole chapter.

      Getting back to Matthew 6:9, “Hallowed be thy name,” there is much interesting reading, learning, and exploring one can do with those few words.

      Strong’s Concordance says that “Hallowed” is from the Greek word “G37 – hagiazō”,

      https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G37&t=KJV

      and “name” is from the Greek word “G3686 – onoma”

      https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3686&t=KJV

      Rather than try to present all my discoveries and appreciations, I’ll leave it to others to explore and meditate for themselves.

      Thanks for your post, Sanura. I really enjoyed your expressions.

      -greg

      • Brother Greg,

        I love all your comments on this site just so you know, they are always super helpful!

        I am actually studying just as you posted info about above!

        Matthew 23:
        Do not let yourselves be called leaders or teachers; for One is your Leader (Teacher), the Christ.11 But the greatest among you will be your servant.12 Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be raised to honor.

        When I was a JW the Governing Body is who I was suppose to look up to, I honestly don’t remember many JW telling me to look up to Christ as my teacher. Without realizing I was unconsciously loosing respect for both Jesus and God.

        I am sadly disturbed now that they use the name J-Witneness. As now Gods name is applied to legal documents, tax forms, law suits, child abuse cases, news articles slamming them and others, and the list goes on. Now Gods sacred name, which I am going to now use with deep respect, is applied to all of this. Which is slandering his very sacred name.

        When I talk to JW they love Jesus however they talk more strongly about being guided heavily and listening to men, men being the Governing Body.

        Governing Body:
        a group of people who formulate the policy and direct the affairs of an institution in partnership with the managers, especially on a voluntary or part-time basis.

        This business set up has nothing to do with scripture, nor what Jesus taught us. They are blinding their followers.

        It hurts my heart that I was a part of it when I was asleep with my eyes closed.

        I personally use the name Yahweh in personal prayer.
        Sadly to say if a JW brother were to use this Y name in prayer everyone would be confused. However its the closest name to God that we even have at this time. I was once told by a CO that saying O-M-G was perfectly fine to utter. He even used it on stage in his talk. This too I have learned not to say, as it puts Gods personal name to shame.

        Thank you very much for your kind and helpful words always! If I don’t make comments to all your comments just know, I see them all and they are all helpful!! That goes for everyone on this most helpful site! Love always.

    • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

      Br Ronald hello!! Thank you for posting your website for those here that might not know you. I will go over and take a look. Take Care my brother.

  • Bret (B.S.)

    The JW organization took the name Jehovah’s Witnesses, therefore tying themselves to the English made up name JEHOVAH and therefore ruling out the use of Yahweh or any other pronuciation of the Divine name.
    Instead of admitting that the name is probably not correct or even close to the original pronunciation the have foolishly tried to suggest that the name possibly is close to the original pronunciation. One suggestion by the JW organization was that the divine name YHWH was perhaps a three syllable name based on several bible names that poses an abreviated form of the name, and these are 3 syllable names.
    I am a member of the Bart Erhman Blog. Bart is a famous scholar who has recieved some criticism for his books such as “How Jesus became God” describing how Jesus and his early disciples never viewed him as God but the influence of the Hellenized world lead to such later thing. He also wrote “Jesus; appocalyptic prophet of the millenium”, and many others.
    I recently submitted the following question with the following answer I I would like to share with the friends here at “Friends of JW’s”

    QUESTION

    My one question is related to how many syllables there most likely were in the pronunciation of the name YHWH? The Jehovah’s Witnesses argue that many of the abbreviated names in the Bible that contain a part of the tetragramation contain 2 syllables of the divine name, indicating that YHWH possibly had 3 syllables much like Jehovah, and not 2 like Yahweh.

    RESPONSE:

    OK, this one is tricky. Here’s the short answer. The tetragrammaton literally means the “four letters,” and is a technical term used to refer to the name of God in the Hebrew Bible, YHWH. Ancient Hebrew was written without vowels. Only the consonants were represented. Readers knew how to pronounce the words by providing the appropriate vowels. But we don’t have records of their pronunciations, and so we have to reconstruct them as best we can on the basis of surviving evidence.

    Scholars have long maintained that the name YHWH was probably pronounced as a two-syllable word, Yahweh. Since this was God’s actual name, it was treated with special reverence, to the point where, eventually, it was no longer thought to be appropriate even to pronounce it. It was too holy. And so, when Jewish readers would come to the name, instead of saying it they would say the Hebrew word for “Lord,” which was Adonai.

    When early Bible translators began rendering the Hebrew Bible into English, they had to decide how to translate the tetragrammaton. And what they (some of them) did was to take the four letters of YHWH (originally a two-syllable word) and add to them the vowels of Adonai (a three-syllable word). That ended up as something like YaHoVaiH, which came into English as Jehovah. Jehovah, then, is a made up word, based on the consonants of the tetragrammaton and the vowels of Adonai, the word “Lord.”

    • Bret (B.S.)

      The JW organizations intolerance and unreasonableness to allow the Christian conscience to guide its members is well established as well as their reluctance to be yielding or humly admit and make changes.
      The Organization came up with the name back in the 1930’s when scholarly work based on an ever more available materials due to technology and new findings was just beginning.
      Because they tied their name to a made up English word they have come up with every reason in the world to stick with it. They often times will say the pronunciation is not Important since it is not known for sure how it was originaly pronounced, but is that reasonable? If they posessed a true yielding spirit they would say well lets go with what is most likely the most accurate since it is the single most important name in the world!
      They often argue names change based on language, but my brother who’s name is Jon would never change it to Juan if he moved to a latin speaking country nor would he answer to Johhan (Yo•Han) if he moved to a German speaking country in fact He wouldnt even respond to such names.
      So why not “Yahweh’s Witnesses”? I can remember the simplest argument over words among the organization and Jesus words thrown around as a weapon “He that is faithful in what is least is also faithful in what is much”
      Is the pronunciation of Gods name considered even least???

      • Anon

        They say the name Jehovah even though they are not sure how it was pronounced yet they say in the watchtower they can’t be sure of the shape of the stauros Jesus died on yet won’t say it was a cross. It’s my theory that Rutherford did away with the cross to get them to take off their cross and crown pins further distancing them from the Bible Students.

        • Bret (B.S.)

          Anon;

          I simply read the wikipedia information and my eyes were opened to what they were doing with the whole cross or steak thing. It is simply seperate themselves to stand out as different and in doing so they reject history and evidence to the contrary because even writers in the second century say it was a cross..

      • Ellis Green

        Bret, hi there!

        I’ve often wondered about all this myself. If I remember correctly, the old AID book that JWs used said in the subject of Jehovah mentions that in 1290 a Spanish monk called Martini first came up with the name Jehovah, but in Latin, which later switched to the English form. But in the INSIGHT book that paragraph is left out. I’ve wondered about Yahweh’s Witnesses being more accurate, but there’s already a sect called that, although they are now called Assemblies of Yahweh. And their HQ is in Bethel Pennsylvania! Now that’s weird!

    • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

      Hi Brett, I have more of a problem with them using the name so loosely and reproachful rather than the pronunciation. For example when a witness such as Prince and Michael did something questionable or a witness killed their family, they say ‘Jehovah’s witness did such and such. This seem to say to me that Jehovah has in some way aided in this conduct or even a goood deed when it has nothing to do with God at all.
      So my gripe is why place this name on all of these people with all kinds of human frailites even the Jews don’t call themselves Jehovah’s witnesses although God says they are.
      The Witness organization seems to be playing in to the devil. Why not drop that name? Almost everyone knows you are talking about God when you say Jehovah not all but most know if you say Jahweh, which neither is probably correct. The early Christian fathers didn’t think it so important because “GOD” is sufficient to say in my opinion. Even when he did things for the Jews he was “GOD” most of the time. He was only Jehovah when there was some other gods being put up as dominant.
      In summary I think by carrying this name on them they are disrespecting GOD and this sound more like a scheme of the devil.
      Just like they don’t really want to celebrate anything that honors JESUS, like his birthday as God did or his resurrection which if it didn’t happen his death would have been for nought.
      They should drop that name off of their pedophilia organization. That’s how I see the issue of the name. Noone knows exactly how to pronounce God’s name but most know who you are talking about with Jehovah-Jirah, Yahweh or Jehovah.

      • Bret (B.S.)

        I totaly agree with you.. I’m really not concerned with pronunciation either.. But imagine that if I as an Elder were to use Yahweh in a talk, a part in the service meeting or even a comment! What trouble that would bring me!! Ostracised is what would happen, so i was just pointing out their lack of tolerance even if your possibly in the right ifbit doesnt go along with their teachings.

  • mike junsay

    Kng pwed sana bigyan nyo po ako ng araw araw na mga speritual na mga verses… maraming salamat po….

    ——-

    From Peter K (Admin) This may be in the Filipino language. Below is the Google Tranlsation which I am struggling with. Maybe “speritual” is “spiritual.” Not sure about “pwed.” If anyone has a better translation, let us know. Thanks.

    Maybe pwed would give me an everyday speritual verses … thank you very much ….

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