1914 – Watchtower’s failed predictions
6 Min Read Time

One of the most misleading statements in Watchtower publications is the claim they foretold 1914 as the beginning of the Last Days. They use this prediction to claim Jehovah’s backing.

The following quotes shows Watchtower made entirely different predictions for 1914 and when proven wrong lied to cover these up.

Watchtower quotes prior to 1914

Under its founder, Pastor Russell, Watchtower presented the following chronology, with 1914 to be the end.

  • The Last Days or Time of the End commenced in 1799 – Thy Kingdom Come p.23
  • Jesus invisible presence began in 1874 and he started ruling in heaven in 1878 – The Day of Vengeance p.621
  • 1874 to 1914 were described as the greatest period of trouble in human history, the period of Armageddon itself, with the end of trouble to be in 1914 – Zion’s Watch Tower 1894 Jul 15 p.226
  • Watchtower predicted “1914 as not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble.” – Zion’s Watch Tower 1894 Jul 15 p.22

Predictions prior to 1914 were very specific and also included:

  • The end of the harvest, preaching work – Thy Kingdom Come pp.149-150
  • The end of all religion, Babylon – Zion’s Watch Tower 1911 Jun 15 p.190
  • The end of all government – The Time Is At Hand p.101
  • The end of Armageddon – Zion’s Watch Tower 1892 Jan 15 pp.21-23
  • All 144,000 would be raised up to heaven – Thy Kingdom Come p.228
  • Earthly paradise and resurrection – The Day of Vengeance pp.624,625

Not one of these predictions occurred.

After 1914

After 1914, Watchtower reprinted the Studies in the Scriptures series with amendments. For Example, Thy Kingdom Come on p.228 changed the words “some time before 1914” to “soon after 1914”.

Pre 1914

Post 1914

“That the deliverance (Earthly resurrection)  of the saints must take place some time before 1914 is manifest …” 

Click here for scan of 1911 edition

“That the deliverance (Earthly resurrection) of the saints must take place very soon after 1914 is manifest,… .” 

Click here for scan of 1923 edition


Zion’s Watch Tower 1915, Mar 1 outlined a list of changes.


We call attention to a few slight changes which have been made in four pages of Vol. II. and six pages of Vol. III., “STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES.” These are all trivial and do not alter the real sense and lesson, but conform to the facts as we have them today. The pages containing these corrections are as follows: 

Vol. II., page 77, line 1, “will be the farthest limit,” reads “will see the disintegration.” 

Vol. II., page 77, line 6, “will obtain full universal control,” reads “will begin to assume control.” 

Vol. II., page 77, lines 16,17, “end of A.D. 1914,” reads “end of the overthrow.” 

Vol. II., page 81, line 9, “can date only from A.D. 1914,” reads “could not precede A.D. 1915.” 

Vol. II., page 170, line 16, “at that time they will all be overturned.”* 

*How long it will require to accomplish this overturning we are not informed, but have reason to believe the period will be short. 

Vol. II., page 221, line 25, “full favor until A.D. 1914,” reads “full favor until after 1915.” 

Vol. III., page 94, line 29, “in this end or harvest,” reads “at the end of this harvest.” 

Vol. III., page 126, line 12, “at A.D. 1914,” reads “after 1914.” 

Vol. III., page 133, line 21, “ere the harvest is fully ended.”+ 

+The end of the harvest will probably include the burning of the tares. 

Vol. III., page 228, line 11, “some time before 1914,” reads “very soon after 1914.” 

Vol. III., page 228, line 15, “just how long before,” reads “just how long after.” 

Vol. III., page 362, line 11, “some time before,” reads “some time near.” 

Vol. III., page 364, line 14, “must not only witness,” reads “may not only witness.”” 

Watchtower’s Dishonest Presentation of its’ History

Following 1914, Watchtower began to lie about the way 1914 had been viewed. The following quotes demonstrate the lies spanned decades. 

  • “Decades before 1914, Jehovah’s worshippers declared that the world would enter into an unequaled period of trouble.” Watchtower 2013 Feb 15 p.18
  • “As that “time” approached, Jehovah took steps to reveal the answer to a group of humble Bible students. They also came to realize that 1914 was the beginning of the end for this system of things.” Watchtower 2004 Feb 1 p.19
  • “Jehovah’s Witnesses have consistently shown from the Scriptures that the year 1914 marked the beginning of this world’s time of the end and that “the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men” has drawn near.” Watchtower 1993 Aug 15 p.9
  • “Jehovah’s witnesses pointed to the year 1914, decades in advance, as marking the start of “the conclusion of the system of things.” Awake! 1973 Jan 22 p.8
  • “Why, then, do the nations not realize and accept the approach of this climax of judgment? It is because they have not heeded the world wide advertising of Christ’s return and his second Presence. Since long before World War I Jehovah’s witnesses pointed to 1914 as the time for this great event to occur.” Watchtower 1954 Jun 15 p.370

In Watchtower’s 2016 documentary The Kingdom 100 Years and Counting, Governing Body member Samuel Herd makes the statement.

“At the kingdom’s birth in 1914, the Bible Students were not exactly sure what was going to happen, but they knew it would be a pivotal year.”

This is untrue. Watchtower dogma presented exactly what was going to occur in 1914. 

“In view of this strong Bible evidence concerning the Times of the Gentiles, we consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God, will be accomplished by the end of A.D. 1914.” The Time is at Hand 1911 ed. p.99

Even the date, 2nd October 1914 was specified.

“… on Friday morning, October 2. Everyone was seated when Brother Russell entered. “We were highly excited and I would not have been surprised if at that moment we had just started up, that becoming the signal to begin ascending heavenward—but of course there was nothing like that, really.”” Yearbook 1975 pp.72,73

Expectations for 1914 were forcefully presented as fact and ‘established truth’ as shown in the following quotes.

  • “They are, we believe, God’s dates, not ours.” Zion’s Watch Tower 1894 Jul 15 p.226
  • “the deliverance of the saints must take place some time before 1914 is manifest” Thy Kingdom Come p.228
  • “the Day of Vengeance … will end in October, 1914″ The Day of Vengeance p.547
  • “we present proofs that the setting up of the Kingdom of God is already begun” The Time Is At Hand p.101
  • “we consider it an established truthThe Time is at Hand p.99
  • “October, 1914, will witness the full end of Babylon” Watch Tower 1911 Jun 15 p.190 
  • “Christendom, will have passed away, as already shown in prophecy.” Thy Kingdom Come p.153

Blame the Members

After proven wrong about 1914, Watchtower said its teachings had only been inferred.

“The Lord did not say that the Church would all be glorified by 1914. We merely inferred it and, evidently, erred.” Zion’s Watch Tower 1916 Apr 15 p.121-127

“We did not say positively that this would be the year.” Zion’s Watch Tower 1914 Nov 1 pp.325-326

Instead of humbly accepting the blame, Watchtower attacked the motives of followers that left.

“Have we in the past been active merely because we hoped for our glorious change in A.D. 1914, or have we been active because of our love and loyalty to the Lord and his message and the brethren!” Watch Tower 1915 Mar 1 p.79

“If there is any reason that would lead any to let go of the Lord and His Truth and to cease sacrificing for the Lord’s Cause, then it is not merely the love of God in the heart which has prompted interest in the Lord, but something else; probably a hoping that the time was short; the consecration was only for a certain time. If so, now is a good time to let go.” Watch Tower 1914 Nov 1 p.331

What shameless arrogance. Those that stopped following Russell’s teachings did so because they came to realise he was a charlatan promoting lies. 

Watchtower has continued these personal attacks on members over the decades. 

“Some read into the Watch Tower statements that were never intended, and while it was necessary for Russell to call attention to the certainty that a great change was due at the end of the Gentile times, he still encouraged his readers to keep an open mind, especially as regards the time element.” Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose p.52

“Had some been attracted by the thought of their own early salvation rather than love for God and a strong desire to do his will?” Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom p.62


Watchtower was not guided by Jehovah. Russell took his interpretation of the Gentile Times from Second Adventists and was spectacularly shown to be wrong. Watchtower gloats over its remarkable foresight that the “Gentile Times” would end in 1914, yet the term Gentile Times never appears in the Bible, and the concept is vague and unverifiable. On the other hand, every single verifiable prediction Watchtower claimed for 1914, such as the end of religion and government and the earthly resurrection were all proven false.

Early Watchtower followers were convinced the end would be in 1914, just as Jehovah’s Witnesses are convinced Armageddon will arrive at any moment. This is because the same manipulative indoctrination techniques used prior to 1914 continue to be used in Watchtower publications.