(Investigator 149, 2012 March)


Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) believe they are led by a prophet appointed by Jehovah i.e. God in 1919 as his "mouthpiece" on Earth.

This prophet is a composite or collective prophet composed of a subsection of JWs known as "the remnant of the 144,000".

A letter (Investigator 144) by one Brenton Hepburn who defends JWs on a website called "All Experts" requested a "right of reply" to the Investigator website.

Hepburn wrote "a lot of what I read certainly was not the truth but half truths… I would especially like to address the so called prophecies because I will show NO Prophecies (in the Biblical sense) were uttered."

Hepburn was invited to write but hasn't — therefore the following is presented.


The book The Nations Shall Know That I Am Jehovah"—How? (1971) was authored by Frederick W. Franz (1893-1992) who was ranked second in the JW Governing Body and was the main theologian and ideologue.

In 1972 JWs worldwide studied the "Know Jehovah" book in their "book study" meetings. They gathered weekly in small groups, mostly in private homes, and studied the book paragraph by paragraph.

"Know Jehovah" gave the latest JW interpretation of the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a prophet around 600 BC who foretold the desolation of Judah and its capital Jerusalem.  

"Know Jehovah" teaches that Ezekiel has a second, i.e. 20th century, fulfillment in which Judah and its capital Jerusalem correspond to Christendom i.e. all Christian denominations (p. 127), and the prophet Ezekiel corresponds to the JW "remnant" of the 144,000.

[In JW theology only 144,000 go to heaven. These were chosen by God throughout the centuries with a final "remnant" chosen from 1870 to 1935, all being JWs.]


Chapter 2 of "Know Jehovah" is titled "Commissioned To Speak In The Divine Name". It quotes Ezekiel 2:3-5 where Ezekiel is appointed as a prophet "commissioned to speak in the divine name". (p. 56)

Pages 53 and 58 introduce the modern-day Ezekiel:
As regards our twentieth century, the prophet Ezekiel well pictures the anointed remnant of Jehovah's Christian witnesses since the year 1919 C.E… (p. 53)

Who is Ezekiel's present day counterpart, whose message and conduct correspond with that of that ancient prophet of Jehovah? Of whom today was he a "sign" or "portent"? Not of some individual man, but of a group of people. Being made up of a unified company of persons, the modern Ezekiel is a composite personage, made up of many members… (p. 58)

Ezekiel's modern counterpart:
Ezekiel was "...a true inspired prophet of Jehovah." (p. 277)  Since the JW prophet preaches Ezekiel's modern fulfilment as his counterpart we expect his predictions to be equally "inspired". Indeed we're told that the prophecy "will not fail":
That ancient type will not fail of fulfillment upon its modern, antitypical counterpart. Christendom will be uprooted from where she has been deeply entrenched for sixteen centuries. Her realm will be desolated, without her hypocritically Christian clergymen and church institutions. (p. 122)
The Watchtower magazine, on the same topic of modern-day "Ezekiel", states the prophecy won't fail because it's from God Almighty: "And since no word or work of Jehovah can fail, for he is God Almighty, the nations will see the fulfillment of what these witnesses say as directed from heaven." (1972, April 1, p. 200)


Franz supplements his double-fulfillment interpretation with abundant criticism, almost invective, of "Christendom". For example:
 Labels such as "false", "hypocritical", "Babylonish", "apostate", "harlot", "rebellious" and "unfaithful" in "Know Jehovah" number several hundred. Also only JWs are Christian, these being "Jehovah's Christian witnesses", "Christian witnesses of Jehovah" and "true Christianity" — about 55 reminders. Other denominations are "so-called Christians".

With such intensive indoctrination many JWs must have finished the weekly "study" fuming with self-righteous hatred of other religions.

With JW religion blameless and other religions entirely bad we'd expect JW prophecies to be completely accurate:


Shortly, within our twentieth century, the "battle in the day of Jehovah" will begin
against the modern antitype of Jerusalem, Christendom. (Know Jehovah, 1971, p. 216)

"Know Jehovah" draws attention to the "twentieth century" 25 times including some almost as clear as p. 216 these being pages 33-34; 113; 141; 255.

What is the "Day of Jehovah"? This phrase is common in JW writings. The "Watchtower Library 2007" (a CD of recent JW publications) lists over 1400 occurrences.

The article Who Will Survive the Day of Jehovah? (The Watchtower 1995, September 15) states that this "Day" is:
To JWs the "Day of Jehovah" is Armageddon, when the entire world's population except JWs is violently exterminated.

"Know Jehovah" as noted above, says that the prediction will come true. The book also implies that if it doesn't come true then the "Ezekiel class" will be a "false prophet":
What a thrilling moment it will be when, during the coming "great tribulation" on this present system of things, the authentic news comes from all around the earth that the antitypical Jerusalem, Christendom, has fallen at the hands of Jehovah's executional forces! This will be a vindication of the modern-day Ezekiel class, to authenticate that they have not been a false prophet… (p. 286)
Having specified the "twentieth century", and this prediction proving false, the "modern-day Ezekiel class" by its own criterion is a "false prophet".

Other JW publications in the 1960s and early 1970s pinpointed Armageddon for the mid 1970s. (See Investigator #51) Therefore suggestive statements as follows were published regularly:
The fact that fifty-four years of the period called the "last days" have already gone by is highly significant. It means that only a few years, at most, remain before the corrupt system of things dominating the earth is destroyed by God. (Awake! 1968, October 8, p. 13)


A previous detailed JW interpretation of Ezekiel was published in three volumes titled Vindication I (1931), Vindication II (1932), Vindication III (1932).

The doctrine of a "composite prophet" composed of thousands of individuals was unclear back then. But Vindication does state, "Ezekiel foreshadowed…the remnant now on the earth." (Volume III p. 131), and "The entire remnant collectively is designated "the watchman"." (Volume II, p. 207)

Vindication like "Know Jehovah" also set a time limit, this being "millions now living will never die" (Volume III, p. 192) and "It seems certain that there are millions now living that will never die." (p. 331)

Since only JWs will survive Armageddon and very few JWs from 1932 are still alive — certainly not "millions" — that prediction too has failed.


Prior to the Vindication volumes the JWs — then known as "Russellites" and "Millennial Dawn" — believed that God's prophet was one man, Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916). For example:
Truly there lived among us in these last days a Prophet of the Lord; and although now he has passed from human sight, his works remain an enduring witness to his wisdom and his faithfulness! (The Watch Tower 1917, June 1, page 6091)
Here is a sample of that prophet's prophecies:
Be not surprised then, when in subsequent chapters we present proofs that the setting up of the Kingdom of God is already begun, that it is due to begin the exercise of power in A.D. 1878, and that the ‘battle of the great day of God Almighty' (Rev. 16:14) which will end in A.D. 1915, with the complete overthrow of earth's present rulership, is already commenced. (Studies in the Scriptures, Volume II, 1889, p. 101)

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, p. 153)


The earliest JW attempt to interpret Ezekiel was in The Finished Mystery (1917). This book was the "posthumous publication of Pastor Russell" (Preface p. 5) and "of the Lord—prepared under his guidance". (p. 126)

It predicted Christendom's destruction in 1918 and the rest of the world after that:
In one short year, 1917-1918, the vast and complicated system of sectarianism reaches its zenith of power, only to be suddenly dashed into oblivion. (p. 285)

The three days in which Pharoah's host pursued the Israelites into the wilderness represented the three years from 1917 to 1920 at which time all of Pharoah's messengers will be swallowed up in the sea of anarchy. (p. 258)
The Finished Mystery's interpretation of Ezekiel 2:3-5 where Ezekiel becomes a prophet to Jerusalem is not a "collective remnant" but one man:
A like work was to be accomplished in Spiritual Israel, Christendom, after the Lord's Second Advent in 1874. The man raised up…was Pastor Russell." (p. 377)

With a voice of many waters…spoke Pastor Russell; and ere long "they shall know that there hath been a Prophet [preacher] among them." (p. 378)


As noted above "Know Jehovah" has many comments about "Christendom" comparable to invective. Why?

JWs present themselves as the only genuine Christians, followers of Jehovah's prophet who alone understands the Bible. Yet all their prophetic dates have failed and numerous doctrines been revised, and it shocks their minds when pastors of "Christendom" expose it all.

[Investigator 85 presented a calculation that The Finished Mystery — just one book and not counting others — has about 1300  interpretations that JWs later changed!]

Rather than feel humility the JW leaders express a terrible rage. They've even called theologians "dumb dogs" and ministers "swine class".


JW theology, as shown above, teaches that the "remnant" is a "composite prophet". This doctrine, however, is theoretical; it is not true in practice.

In practice most official JW books until the 1970s were written by one man without consulting the thousands who constitute "the remnant".

Until 1916 the one man was Russell. Until 1942 the one man was Joseph F Rutherford the second president of their Watchtower Society. After that the main writer was Frederick Franz.

A "governing body" was instituted in 1944 and for some books such as the New World Translation of the Bible several of these worked together. But Frederick Franz was the sole exponent of prophecy; any JW who challenged his theology was excommunicated.


Mr Hepburn claims "NO Prophecies (in the Biblical sense) were uttered."

Possibly Hepburn has in mind Watchtower articles that state JWs are neither "inspired" nor "infallible" whereas the Bible's prophets were "inspired". Being non-inspired, however, would not relieve anyone who makes false predictions of responsibility. All false prophets mentioned in the Bible were non-inspired but accountable!

The JW "prophet" denies interpreting the Bible — God interprets and "reveals it":
He merely uses the servant class to publish the interpretation after the Supreme Court [i.e. Jehovah] by Christ Jesus reveals it. (Watchtower 1943 pages 202-203)

As fast as the superior authorities Jehovah and Jesus Christ reveal the interpretations through their provided channel that fast do God's people publish them… (Watchtower 1952, page 253)
Such statements imply infallibility since God is said to be infallible.

The JW prophet is, we learned above, "commissioned to speak in the divine name" and "no word or work of Jehovah can fail". He corresponds to Ezekiel, predicted Armageddon "within our twentieth century", and implied that if this failed he would be a "false prophet" — which he therefore is.


JWs have prophets who correspond to Ezekiel.

Their prophet from the 1870s was Charles Taze Russell whose predictions were false.

Afterwards the "remnant of the 144,000" became a "composite prophet" claiming to dispense Jehovah's "interpretations" and "speak in the divine name" but whose predictions were false.


The Watchtower does not permit the "right of reply" but this website does because it seeks the truth:

Dictionary of Jehovah's Witnesses at: