Many people think that Jehovah’s Witnesses is the name of a new religion. However, over 2,700 years ago, the servants of the only true God were described as his “witnesses.” (Isaiah 43:10-12) Until 1931, we were known as Bible Students. Why did we adopt the name Jehovah’s Witnesses?
It identifies our God. According to ancient manuscripts, God’s name, Jehovah, appears thousands of times in the Bible. In many translations this name has been replaced by titles, such as Lord or God. Yet, the true God had revealed himself to Moses by his personal name, Jehovah, saying: “This is my name forever.” (Exodus 3:15) In this way, he distinguished himself from all false gods. We are proud to bear God’s holy name.
It describes our mission. A long line of ancient people, beginning with the righteous man Abel, bore witness about their faith in Jehovah. Throughout the centuries, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, David, and others joined this “great cloud of witnesses.” (Hebrews 11:4–12:1) Just as an individual may bear witness in court in behalf of an innocent person, we are determined to make known the truth about our God.
We are imitating Jesus. The Bible calls him “the faithful and true witness.” (Revelation 3:14) Jesus himself said that he ‘made God’s name known’ and kept ‘bearing witness to the truth’ about God. (John 17:26; 18:37) Christ’s genuine followers must, therefore, bear Jehovah’s name and make it known. This is what Jehovah’s Witnesses are endeavoring to do.
Why did the Bible Students adopt the name Jehovah’s Witnesses?