(Investigator 204, 2022 May)

The leaders of Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) instill a sense of urgency into their followers with the idea that this world has only a "few years" until its destruction. 

The leaders also employ a host of other motivating phrases such as "rapidly approaching", "at the brink", "at the threshold", "an early date", "this generation", "immediately ahead", "no further delay" and "time is fast running out".

Sometimes the hierarchy sets specific deadlines such as 1878, 1915, 1920, 1925, 1940s, 1975, "this generation", and the "twentieth century"! 

The aim is to "spur" the followers to do more preaching and volunteer work for the sect by convincing them that "the end" is too close to do anything else truly meaningful.

Therefore the followers are also encouraged to give up careers, drop out of high school (at the legal minimum age) and avoid tertiary studies.

Here is a list of quotes that mention a "few years":

A few more years will wind up the present order of things, and then the chastened world will stand face to face with the actual conditions of the established kingdom of God.
(The Watchtower Reprints 1894, February 15, page 1622)

Let us ... daily, hourly, glorify God in our bodies, continuing our sacrifice even unto the end whether that end be a few weeks off or a few months or a few years.
(The Watchtower Reprints 1916, September 1, page 5949)

But admitting that even so great a work could be accomplished under the Lord’s blessing and direction in a very short time, we could still not expect the results in less than about three years... We are merely giving our surmise—that a great work is before us, and that we cannot see how it could be accomplished in much less than three years...

We see no reason for doubting, therefore, that the Times of the Gentiles ended in October, 1914; and that a few more years will witness their utter collapse and the full establishment of God's kingdom in the hands of the Messiah.
(The Watchtower Reprints 1916,  September 1, page  5950)

The proof cited herein shows that the old world (the Devil's organization) ended and began to pass away in 1914, and that this will be completed in a few years and righteousness fully established.
(The Harp of God 1921, page 333)

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the other faithful prophets described by the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 11 are promised a better resurrection... Hence these faithful men may be expected on earth within the next few years. They will constitute the legal representatives of the Christ in the earth.
(The Harp of God 1921, pages 339-340)

Seeing, then, that we have come to the end of the gospel dispensation and that the time for the exaltation of the church is at hand, and that there are probably only a few remaining months or years at best, before the last one is glorified, we do well to take a view of the divine arrangement and diligently to put forth honest endeavors to comply with it, to the end that we may quickly grow up into the full stature of a man in Christ Jesus, that the Lord Jehovah may be pleased to exalt us to the position to which he has called us.
(The Watchtower May 1, 1921, May 1, page 133)

Now the decisive battle is on, and the victory is certain; for it is only a matter of a few short years until Satan will be bound.
(The Watchtower 1922,  November 1, page 347)

It is a special pleasure to announce that the next few years will witness the full establishment of that kingdom which is to be the desire of all nations.
(The Watchtower1929, October 1, page 302)

All these scriptures, and all the facts now well known to exist, prove that the downfall of Satan's organization and the beginning of restoration are only a few years away at most.
(Health and Life 1932, page 28)

Those Jonadabs who now contemplate marriage, it would seem, would do better if they wait a few years, until the fiery storm of Armageddon is gone, and to then enter the marital relationship... (Face the Facts 1938, pages 47 & 50)

As the last student returned to his seat, a resolution was presented by one of the student body and unanimously adopted. It expressed in a forceful way their resolve to show faithfulness during the few remaining years until the new world is established...
(The Watchtower 1950, April 15, page 128)

Is the work finished as far as preaching the good news is concerned? Certainly not! Because if 16,000 came in during this year, how many more thousands can come into the truth in the remaining few years?
(Yearbook of JWs 1951, pages 62-63)

Already forty years of this generation that is doomed to feel the wrath of Jehovah’s day have passed. Only a few years remain. In the most urgent sense, then, "the day of Jehovah is near upon all the nations."
(The Watchtower 1954, October 15, page 615)

...the destruction of Babylon the Great will not be delayed for centuries but only for a few short years, as Jesus intimated...
(The Watchtower 1965, October 1, page 603)

Just as right association helped to keep the Jewish nation and early Christians close to Jehovah, so it will serve the same purpose for God’s people today in these few and all-important years before Armageddon.
(The Watchtower 1966, January 15, page 42)

It is to come within the generation that has already seen two world wars and is only a few short years ahead of us.
(The Watchtower 1967, April 15, page 244)

What all this means is that we are fast approaching the end of this lawless system of things. There remain very few years before Jehovah God exercises his right to take over all control of earth's affairs and eliminate lawlessness.
(Awake! 1968, January 8, page 19)

a few years, at most, remain
(Awake!1968, October 8, page 13)

Within a few years at most the final parts of Bible prophecy relative to these "last days" will undergo fulfillment, resulting in the liberation of surviving mankind into Christ's glorious 1,000-year reign. What difficult days, but, at the same time, what grand days are just ahead!
(The Watchtower 1968, May 1, page 272)


At the time of the first-listed "few years" quote (1894) the official doctrine was that Armageddon would finish in 1914 with all human opposition to God destroyed and worldwide peace getting started. Therefore "few years" meant 20 or less:

And with the end of A.D. 1914, what God calls Babylon, and which men call Christendom, will have passed away, as already shown from prophecy.
(Studies in the Scriptures Volume III, 1891, page 153)

In 1920 the resurrection of the "ancient worthies" was predicted for 1925-1926. The "few years" in The Harp of God book, which was published in 1921, therefore meant 4 or 5 years. That is what a "few years" ordinarily means — a small number.

The "very few years" in Awake! magazine (1968) were "very few" because of the belief at that time that Armageddon would occur in the mid 1970s. The subsequent paragraphs state:

Until God acts shortly, men and demons will continue to be more vicious, more degraded and more immoral as this system speeds to its end. (2 Tim. 3:13) It is just as a former United States Secretary of State noted in the June 13, 1960, issue of U.S. & World Report. He declared that our time is "a period of unequaled instability, unequaled violence," and warned: "I know enough of what is going on to assure you that, in 15 years from today, this world is going to be too dangerous to live in."

Fifteen years from 1960 brings us to 1975. He predicted that by 1975 this world would be too dangerous! Interestingly, this date is also the one indicated by the most reliable Bible research as marking the end of 6,000 years of rebellion of men and demons against God. (Awake!1968, January 8, page 19)


The prediction that Armageddon and/or the "new world" would come in a "few years" was false every time. To preach this fantasy many sect members gave up education and other goals. They wasted their lives and never received compensation or an apology.

Investigator 207, 2022 November


Investigator #204 listed quotes from Jehovah's Witnesses publications which predicted that Armageddon (or events associated with Armageddon) would take place within a "few years". The list was not meant to be final or complete. Here, therefore, is another quote:

Whether they recognize it or not the Gentile nations rule today only by God's toleration. Jehovah permits their continuance for a few more years so that sheeplike persons from all nations may come out of this system of things before its Armageddon end. (w1969 5/15 302)

By human reckoning a few years is a "few" compared to the expected 70-years lifespan, therefore refers to a small number such as two, three, four or five. Certainly 128 years, which is the oldest quote of this kind so far discovered (published in 1894), is much more than a "few".


Dictionary of Jehovah's Witnesses at: