What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe?
As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we strive to adhere to the form of Christianity that Jesus taught and that his apostles practiced. This article summarizes our basic beliefs.
God. We worship the one true and Almighty God, the Creator, whose name is Jehovah. (Psalm 83:18; Revelation 4:11) He is the God of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.—Exodus 3:6; 32:11; John 20:17.
Bible. We recognize the Bible as God’s inspired message to humans. (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16) We base our beliefs on all 66 of its books, which include both the “Old Testament” and the “New Testament.” Professor Jason D. BeDuhn aptly described it when he wrote that Jehovah’s Witnesses built “their system of belief and practice from the raw material of the Bible without predetermining what was to be found there.” a
While we accept the entire Bible, we are not fundamentalists. We recognize that parts of the Bible are written in figurative or symbolic language and are not to be understood literally.—Revelation 1:1.
Jesus. We follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ and honor him as our Savior and as the Son of God. (Matthew 20:28; Acts 5:31) Thus, we are Christians. (Acts 11:26) However, we have learned from the Bible that Jesus is not Almighty God and that there is no Scriptural basis for the Trinity doctrine.—John 14:28.
The Kingdom of God. This is a real government in heaven, not a condition in the hearts of Christians. It will replace human governments and accomplish God’s purpose for the earth. (Daniel 2:44; Matthew 6:9, 10) It will take these actions soon, for Bible prophecy indicates that we are living in “the last days.”—2 Timothy 3:1-5; Matthew 24:3-14.
Jesus is the King of God’s Kingdom in heaven. He began ruling in 1914.—Revelation 11:15.
Salvation. Deliverance from sin and death is possible through the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. (Matthew 20:28; Acts 4:12) To benefit from that sacrifice, people must not only exercise faith in Jesus but also change their course of life and get baptized. (Matthew 28:19, 20; John 3:16; Acts 3:19, 20) A person’s works prove that his faith is alive. (James 2:24, 26) However, salvation cannot be earned—it comes through “the undeserved kindness of God.”—Galatians 2:16, 21.
Heaven. Jehovah God, Jesus Christ, and the faithful angels reside in the spirit realm. b (Psalm 103:19-21; Acts 7:55) A relatively small number of people—144,000—will be resurrected to life in heaven to rule with Jesus in the Kingdom.—Daniel 7:27; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 5:9, 10; 14:1, 3.
Earth. God created the earth to be mankind’s eternal home. (Psalm 104:5; 115:16; Ecclesiastes 1:4) God will bless obedient people with perfect health and everlasting life in an earthly paradise.—Psalm 37:11, 34.
Evil and suffering. These began when one of God’s angels rebelled. (John 8:44) This angel, who after his rebellion was called “Satan” and “Devil,” persuaded the first human couple to join him, and the consequences have been disastrous for their descendants. (Genesis 3:1-6; Romans 5:12) In order to settle the moral issues raised by Satan, God has allowed evil and suffering, but He will not permit them to continue forever.
Death. People who die pass out of existence. (Psalm 146:4; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10) They do not suffer in a fiery hell of torment.
God will bring billions back from death by means of a resurrection. (Acts 24:15) However, those who refuse to learn God’s ways after being raised to life will be destroyed forever with no hope of a resurrection.—Revelation 20:14, 15.
Family. We adhere to God’s original standard of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, with sexual immorality being the only valid basis for divorce. (Matthew 19:4-9) We are convinced that the wisdom found in the Bible helps families to succeed.—Ephesians 5:22–6:1.
Our worship. We do not venerate the cross or any other images. (Deuteronomy 4:15-19; 1 John 5:21) Key aspects of our worship include the following:
Praying to God.—Philippians 4:6.
Reading and studying the Bible.—Psalm 1:1-3.
Meditating on what we learn from the Bible.—Psalm 77:12.
Meeting together to pray, study the Bible, sing, express our faith, and encourage fellow Witnesses and others.—Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 10:23-25.
Preaching the “good news of the Kingdom.”—Matthew 24:14.
Constructing and maintaining Kingdom Halls and other facilities used to further our worldwide Bible educational work.—Psalm 127:1.
Sharing in disaster relief.—Acts 11:27-30.
Our organization. We are organized into congregations, each of which is overseen by a body of elders. However, the elders do not form a clergy class, and they are unsalaried. (Matthew 10:8; 23:8) We do not practice tithing, and no collections are ever taken at our meetings. (2 Corinthians 9:7) All our activities are supported by anonymous donations.
The Governing Body, a small group of mature Christians who serve at our world headquarters, provides direction for Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide.—Matthew 24:45.
Our unity. We are globally united in our beliefs. (1 Corinthians 1:10) We also work hard to have no social, ethnic, racial, or class divisions. (Acts 10:34, 35; James 2:4) Our unity allows for personal choice, though. Each Witness makes decisions in harmony with his or her own Bible-trained conscience.—Romans 14:1-4; Hebrews 5:14.
Our conduct. We strive to show unselfish love in all our actions. (John 13:34, 35) We avoid practices that displease God, including the misuse of blood by taking blood transfusions. (Acts 15:28, 29; Galatians 5:19-21) We are peaceful and do not participate in warfare. (Matthew 5:9; Isaiah 2:4) We respect the government where we live and obey its laws as long as these do not call on us to disobey God’s laws.—Matthew 22:21; Acts 5:29.
Our relationships with others. Jesus commanded: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” He also said that Christians “are no part of the world.” (Matthew 22:39; John 17:16) So we try to “work what is good toward all,” yet we remain strictly neutral in political affairs and avoid affiliation with other religions. (Galatians 6:10; 2 Corinthians 6:14) However, we respect the choices that others make in such matters.—Romans 14:12.
If you have further questions about the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you can read more about us on our website, contact one of our offices, attend a meeting at a Kingdom Hall near you, or speak to one of the Witnesses in your area.
a See Truth in Translation, page 165.
b Wicked angels have been cast out of heaven, although they continue to exist in the spirit realm.—Revelation 12:7-9.