Pastor Russell Founded the Bible Students, Not the Jehovah’s Witnesses

The picture is clear. The historical data reveals beyond a doubt that the Bible Students founded by Pastor Russell and Jehovah’s Witnesses founded by Judge Rutherford are two separate movements.

Pastor Russell founded the Bible Students. The movement had its beginning in 1872 at Allegheny, Pennsylvania, where a newly formed Bible Class selected Charles Taze Russell as its Pastor. At that time other earnest Christians were forming independent Bible classes for in-depth Bible study to meet the then rising wave of infidelity. While many clung blindly to the creeds that originated in the “Dark Ages,” the Bible Students emerged to challenge intelligent unbelief and unintelligent belief.

Pastor Russell became a leader of thought and activity among these congregations. In 1879 Zion’s Watch Tower was formed, later known as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (not to be mistaken with Jehovah’s Witnesses). This society did not become the central authority of the Bible Student movement. It could not because all cooperating congregations of Bible Students held strictly to congregational self-government. The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society was basically a publishing house and lecture bureau that constantly employed Bible lecturers who traveled throughout the Western Hemisphere—some to the far reaches of the world.

Read more by clicking below:

Bible Students not Jehovah Witnesses.pdf final

30 comments to Pastor Russell Founded the Bible Students, Not the Jehovah’s Witnesses

  • TedR (Bible Student)

    Is it any wonder that the majority of the original Bible Students left the organization and that there was severe persecution of JW’s in the USA
    I found this on JW Facts
    Totally opposite of what Russell and the Bible Students believed!

    The Declaration of Facts was reprinted in the Yearbook 1934. It went on in part to state:

    “It is falsely charged by our enemies that we have received financial support for our work from the Jews. Nothing is farther from the truth. Up to this hour there never has been the slightest bit of money contributed to our work by Jews. We are the faithful followers of Christ Jesus and believe upon Him as the Savior of the world, whereas the Jews entirely reject Jesus Christ and emphatically deny that he is the Savior of the world sent of God for man’s good. This of itself should be sufficient proof to show that we receive no support from Jews and that therefore the charges against us are maliciously false and could proceed only from Satan, our great enemy. The greatest and the most oppressive empire on earth is the Anglo-American empire. By that is meant the British Empire, of which the United States of America forms a part. It has been the commercial Jews of the British-American empire that have built up and carried on Big Business as a means of exploiting and oppressing the peoples of many nations. This fact particularly applies to the cities of London and New York, the stronghold of Big Business. This fact is so manifest in America that there is a proverb concerning the city of New York which says: The Jews own it, the Irish Catholics rule it, and the Americans pay the bills.

    The present government of Germany has declared emphatically against Big Business oppressors and in opposition to the wrongful religious influence in the political affairs of the nations. Such is exactly our position.

    Instead of being against the principles advocated by the government of Germany, we stand squarely for such principles, and point out that Jehovah God through Christ Jesus will bring about the full realization of these principles and will give to the people peace and prosperity and the greatest desire of every honest heart.

    • ChrisJ

      Rutherford created the “persecution” complex that they experienced. Not all of it I get it. He knew full well that they could sell their books but he made them not get permits which in turn made them get arrested for selling their books door-to-door. That wasn’t persecution they weren’t following the law. That would be like me wanting to go to the flea market but I don’t want to pay a fee to have a table in there with all the Jehovah’s Witnesses literature and then when I get kicked out or arrested for not paying I’m going to scream persecution. That’s not persecution of prosecution. Read gthe book “30 Years a Watchtower Slave”. This man went through the Bible Students then to The JWs afterwards and explains the changes and what happened when Rutherford took over.

      • just Stay Sweet and Good

        Chris……..All of what is called “Peace Churches” can’t help but have a feelings of being ostracized because their young men refuse to step over the line and be soldiers when called into the draft office. That being said, the question is to what extent do consecrated Christians defie other man made laws, especially when Romans 13 says Christians are to be law abiding? The conclusion I have come to is based on the sanctity of life issues. Genesis 9:6 in a unilateral covenant Jehovah God made with ALL of mankind and he will hold us ALL to account if we disregard it in the name of nationalism. The other issue is Matthew 28:19. Jesus Christ gave his anointed followers a very specific order. When the lawyer for Jehovah’s Witnesses stood up in the Supreme Court and defended their position on preaching door to door, in a case in around 2000 (a villiage in Pennslyvania vs WTBS) he said “It is unthinkable not to do what Jesus Christ told us to do” We really can’t have it both ways in this world. Christians will be persecuted. Billy Graham once said he was always puzzled why he never received any persecution in his life. Playing it safe all the time is not what Christians are to do. Jesus said we are the “light of the the world” Leadership has responsiblitys. Anytime you raise your head above the crowd you have to get ready for the tomatoes. Fence sitters don’t get a pass.

        • Chris J

          Just stay Sweet and Good,
          I don’t know if your comment was agreeing with mine or disagreeing with mine but I have a feeling that it was disagreeing. When you talked about “peace churches” you do realize that making someone get a permit to sell their books door-to-door is not in violation of any Biblical standard. So by making the Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to get a permit to sell their books they are in essence creating a self-fulfilling persecution complex. So you can’t claim that they’re not stepping over the line for Christ and trying to be a peace church when you are not following the laws of the land the Bible tells us to. I repeat there is nothing that says that you do not have to follow the laws of the land when they are not in conflict of your believes. So for example what was non-biblical about making the Jehovah’s Witnesses purchase a permit to sell their bookstore door? If everyone must purchase a permit in order to sell something door-to-door what makes a difference for Jehovah’s Witnesses? They were selling the books. They weren’t giving them away. So that’s not the same thing as being told they can’t preach they were just told you need to buy a permit. And there is nothing on biblical about that it was just fair for everyone including Jehovah’s Witnesses. Like in Russia they are crying about persecution. No they are being prosecuted for Jehovah but their own faults. Read the book “30 years a watch tower slave”. It explains this whole concept

          • Just Stay Sweet and Good

            Chris……..I read Scnells book in 1955. He was a personal friend of my husbands. His MO was a big gripe he had with brother Knorr about printing tracts in his printing company. In those days the invitations to the public talks on Sunday were printed locally. He wrote a couple of tracts and printed them brother Knorr said he couldnt do it. SO they were a laugerheads. Not much different today when someone decides to do something that somebody doesn’t agree with. Thats the flesh and what it causes. My point was, if we are being persecuted for righteousness then we have to agree it is a cause worth standing with. If we are being persecuted for wrongdoing we pretty much get what we deserve. The problem with a lot of people is they are just there for the cookies and the milk. But, just you watch when the heat really is turned up they crumble. To make footstep followers of Jesus was what Jesus told us to do. Plain and simple. If we get into trouble doing that, then so be it. Going door to door these days has really gotten quite scary. People just don’t want to answer the door because of crime. If someone is in a neighborhood that dosen’t live there they are suspect. The Mormons have totally droped it now. Also, in my opinion I don’t like the young sisters going to known pedophiles homes in the territory to preach to them. I’ve seen it here on my street and have warned them quite sternly about how stupid that it. Oh, of course the JW’s don’t like anyone butting in on their business.

            • ChrisJ

              Well again I don’t think that asking everyone to buy a permit to sell books is wrong. Or conflicts with bible standards. They weren’t following the law as everyone who wanted to sell things door to door had to do. They can’t claim persecution over that. Now they don’t need a permit because they aren’t selling anything. They weren’t being told they can’t preach. They weren’t being told they couldn’t share their message. That tube would constitute persecution to throw them in jail for doing what God asked them to do. It was not violating biblical principals to ask EVERYONE while sold books door to door to buy a permit. Jesus didn’t sell books so they can’t claim it was what Jesus did. That’s not persecution. Many churches in Christendom have taken to the allowing homosexual marriage to allow people to get through the doors. JWs aren’t being persecuted for being righteous. They hide pedophiles and are being NOT being persecuted for being Christians. So the whole argruement about not getting a permit is being persecuted for righteousness sake doesn’t apply to them. They were being persecuted for not followIng the law. And this law was not in conflict with bible standards nor Jehovah. Romans 13.

            • ChrisJ

              I don’t think you get what I’m saying. The Bible Says they should obey the laws of the land unless the conflict with the Laws of God. Asking them to buy a permit to sell books door to door is not in violation of the Bible. Everyone was told they had to have a permit. Not just them. I don’t think you get what it means to be persecuted for righteousness sake. They weren’t (in the book selling case) being persecuted for being followers of Christ. They were asked like everyone else to have a permit. Nothing unbiblical for that. They could share the message door to door. But when it comes to selling books (which wasn’t done in the Bible so we can’t claim they are doing as the early Christian did) they had to have a permit like a vacuum salesman would have to. I can’t sneak into a plane to go to china to preach the news and not pay for the ticket and when I get thrown in jail for not having a ticket and then claim persecution. That’s not being persecuted for Christ. That’s not complying with the laws of the land.

              • just Stay Sweet and Good

                Chris……I wasn’t disagree with your point that they were selling books. I was pointing out somethings a Christian can expect to be persecuted for. The situation in Russia is also the same as in other countries when it comes to the draft. I have checked with the Quakers and Mennonites in Russia and they all say they are not persecuted because the Russian government makes provision for consciencious objectors to do alternate service. SO that means they are not being persecuted for that. It is their unyealding stand on blood and overt proselytizing that the Russian Orthadox Church can’t abide. This is a direct command for Christians and cannot be sidestepped just because the heat is on.

                • TedR (Bible Student)

                  The whole point of the article is not whether a person would go to war or to what extent we should obey Caesars laws. The point is that Rutherford voiced support of the Nazi party and Hitlers regime and came out openly anti-Semitic,and made very derogatory comments against the Jewish people, a complete turn around of what Pastor Russell taught. He thus was condoning the slaughter of thousands of Jews and was instrumental in fueling the persecution of the Bible Students in Germany. Keep in mind that Jehovah’s Witness were still called Bible Students when WWII started. This was just one more nail in the coffin when it comes to why the Bible Students refused to go along with Rutherford’s hate filled organization hiding under the guise of a religious organization. Rutherford turned his back on the very foundation of Pastor Russell’s teachings of the Ransom, Zionism, and Christian freedom! Take time to read the full article on JW Facts that I linked to earlier. A true Christian who is walking in Christ’s footsteps would never express the kind of biased, prejudicial comments made by Rutherford. This alone tells me that Jesus would never have selected that organization as his “Faithful and Discreet Slave” and mouth piece here on Earth.

                  • just Stay Sweet and Good

                    Ted……I’m glad you expressed it that way. It made me go back in my mind when I was first married and found among my new husband’s things the booklet “The Protocols of Zion”. I was horrified and wanted to know where he got it. He said the brother who assigned him his talk gave it to him, which was on the subject of Zionism, that he could use the information in his talk. Those were the days when you could pretty much design your own one hour public talks with no preassigned outline from the society. I was horrified because I knew it was an antisemitic pamphlet. We did a lot a research at that time and found out I was right. This was information we just kind of sat on as young people until we finally had enough and began to be nonconformist in our association with WBTS. Then we were pretty much ignored from then on. What a blessing to be ignored and have the “freedom to make the truth your own”!!!

                    • Nubby Tope

                      Hi SSAG,

                      Was THE PROTOCOLS OF ZION published by WT or something they used/borrowed from somewhere else and do you remember who it was written by?

            • Chris J

              Anyways. Have a great night not gonna argue about it.

    • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

      Wow TedR, what an eye opener! Complicit in hatred of the Jews. Such support gave Hitler power to think he was a God.
      Politics is a bed Christians should stay out of because we see in this case the man became a dictator and killed over 6 million humans of Jewery and others. I saw another letter once that he wrote.I have had conversations with Bible students even on saying a man is fulfilling God’s will because he won the presidency and is a racist. Men in government are not a part of the kingdom of God. This is just a powerful example of what getting in that bed will do. 10 million people died in the Process. History is there for us to learn and This Ted is just a tough one for me before coffee. I am going to learn from this reminder you have shared and reject any support of rising anti Christ systems. They tend to even fool the ‘holy ones.
      Thank you for posting. This is a perfect example of making the post long and informative.One must bow to Jesus after reading this.

  • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

    I found this on jwfacts, a nice read.

  • Chuck Russell Jr

    Not to idolize Brother Russell, but he was, by a longshot, the greatest preacher since the Apostle Paul as far as driven work.

    But it’s not done, yet.

    JW org goes down soon, as Daniel 8:13-14. The GB will be destroyed on CNN for ALL to watch.

    • BANE

      Oh… goes down soon on CNN huh? You said this in 2010…looks like you are the false prophet now Chuckie boy.

      • Ted R (Bible Student)

        There is a big difference in expressing opinion based on current events and making predictions and prophesying in Jehovah’s name. One can even overlook failed predictions to a point but when a person can be disfellowshipped for disagreeing that position and lose their family and friends it goes beyond prediction and speculation. The truth is no one knows the day nor the hour. We know that Gods Kingdom will soon be established on earth as in Heaven. If you want to continue to stay a JW, no one here wants to change you, that is your choice. We simply want the right to disagree and worship Jehovah in our own way without the loss of family! I was JW for 50 years, I have seen a lot. I was around when 1975 failed despite the strong inferences at assemblies, in the WT, and talks from the platform. I know what was said and find it disconcerting when I hear the Society trying to play down those expectations that they themselves cultivated. Take time to study the true history of JW’s and the Bible Students. Much information can be found on this site. We are not apostates, we love Jehovah and Christ Jesus. Many of our core beliefs are the same. We just disagree on certain issues. As far as pointing out wrongs on the part of the Society, even the Scriptures were candid about the wrongs of David, Solomon and others. Why not admit your mistakes, apologize and be willing to make restitution? Stop shunning those who have honest disagreements. Work to be truly more Christlike in showing love for others even those who because of their imperfection may have engaged in wrong doing. Instead of shunning these lost sheep, be as the fine shepherd and help them overcome their problem. By showing true compassion and love, admitting your mistakes and taking steps to correct them you will be able to reduce the criticism and silence your adversaries.


    hello friends, in fact, there are many things that Rutherford introduced the writings of Russell to change the institution name to Jehovah’s Witnesses, which gives the impression that Russell has been a mentor to so many changes.

  • Vanderhoven7

    Hi Peter,

    Small world, isn’t it!

    I attended Camp Blessing, but in Vermont, so I doubt we have met. I’ve appreciated messages given by Andrew Polychronis at various conventions. He must be getting on now.

    I’d be glad to email you the essay. Drop me a note at and I’ll send you a copy in Word format.

  • Vanderhoven7

    Hi Peter,
    I used to attend the Grove City Conferences as a young Christian and know some of the brethren from there. Larry Urbaniak was one of these. I co-authored a paper “Lazarus and the Rich Man as Satire” with him. I have been getting “The Berean News” for years and Jim’s name comes up regularly for prayer (heart problems) and so I incorrectly assumed he was still attending.

    Although they do not believe in the Trinity or Eternal Torment, it seems from their statement of faith, that both Pastor Russell and 1914 hold little or no spiritual significance for them.


    • Peter K. (admin)

      Vander – Is it possible that we ever met at a camp blessing in the State of Washington? I used to go there as a teenager. My brother used to go to Grove City and my cousins are the Polychronis families. I know Larry Urbaniak. He is a good brother. We had lunch together the last time my brother was out visiting. I also get the Berean News. I heard good things about your “Lazarus and Rich man as Satire.” I would love to read it, if you have it in electronic format and want to email it to me.

  • Vanderhoven7

    Hi Peter,

    A personal note here.

    My roots are in the Bible Student Movement.

    Have you heard of, “The Berean Bible Students Church, 535 East Maple Street, Lombard, Illinois ?
    Jim Penton, author of “Apocalypse Delayed” has been a member there for years.


    • Peter K. (admin)

      Vander, I met Jim Penton many years ago. He has not really been to the Lombard Church for many years, but I do have many friends there and I hope your experience with the brethren at the Lombard Church was a blessing.

  • Anonymous

    The Pyramid Teaching and it’s claim to 1914 as “God’s Stone Witness” taught by Russell, based upon measurements within the Great Pyramid but rejected by Rutherford around 1927 onward as coming from Satan is one. Russell passed away believing this teaching and Rutherford continued with it until he finally rejected it and claimed it came from Satan. Thus in saying such a thing he in effect was saying Russell was not the “Faithful Steward” but was under influence from Satan. Thus do Jehovah’s Witnesses realise that what Rutherford in effect said about their so called Founder? IT may shock some, but sadly it’s true as Rutherford authorised this view in writing’s later.

    The way in which Rutherford ousted Russell’s Will appointments in 1917 and appointed his own directly was in opposition to what Russell had taught in his last Studies in the Scriptures book “The New Creation” as the most recent book Russell wrote whereby Rutherford’s actions where in direct violation of what was written in that book of how matters are settled in matters of “Dispute” which JW’S current “Disfellowshipping and Shunning” also is. A CD entitled “The Pastor Russell Anthology” put out by Research Applications International with a web site includes a vast array of Russell’s Writings including a PDF copy of the above book. Another CD from same source has “Rutherford’s Rainbow’s” which gives most of the books that Rutherford either wrote or authorized. By getting both these you should be able to research what both taught and do cross references in answer!

  • Mrs.Researcher

    Here is an example of a JW version of their origins in which no mention is made about Judge Rutherford or that he was the one to name the JWs or that 3/4 of Bible Students
    did not become JWs. They even mention in detail C.T. Russell’s Studies in The Scriptures but not what they contained that was refuted later by Judge Rutherford.

    Does anybody know which were the doctrines that Rutherford rejected from Russell’s teachings?

  • Neon Bible

    Zion’s Watchtower has continued to this day as the Watchtower. The corporations and physical property continued being used from what Charles Russell formed and the torch was passed(taken by force against the Will left by C.T.R.) over to Joseph Rutherford’s control at this turning point. He was responsible for the re-branding, doctrine changes and the name “Jehovahs Witnesses. Bible students were disunited by the Rutherford’s tyrannical, Iron fisted house cleaning that many left the on those terms. Bible students that follow Russell’s original teachings still exist, although they are not very organized or well known still meet.

    To be honest from a legal standpoint of Inheritance it is fair to say that in fact it is one movement although Rutherford got “new light” and changed things. It is also fair to say if a current JW had the same false beliefs that were considered new light and current truths that Russell and Rutherford taught, they would be disfellowshipped today for spreading those apostate doctrines by todays JW standards.

    It seams the writer is just trying to state that since the names have changed and the presidents and Governing Body’s and teachings have changed that they are not the same now and denying their own history. History clearly shows that C.T. Russell founded the Watchtower bible and tract society and publishing company that is used to this day by the Jehovahs Witnesses and its sister corporations any many branches.

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