(Investigator 169, 2016 July)

What war is He speaking about? Why, the fast-approaching war of Armageddon, “the war of the
great day of God the Almighty,” which is now so very near. (The Watchtower 1961 7/15 430)


Suppose your great grandfather was told that Armageddon is near and that to avoid death he had to preach door to door. He preached but he still died. Suppose the same happened to your grandfather and your father.

For example, Awake! magazine (1969 April 22 page 19) says:

1914 began “the last days” of this system. The generation of mankind that witnessed those events of nearly 55 year ago is now getting old. This means that time is fast running out! This system and the churches that have long supported it, are rapidly nearing their end... That destruction is near! Therefore, do not hesitate!


Suppose you've grown old and you still hear that "Armageddon is near" — should you believe it?


The Watchtower Library CD (2007) has most of the Jehovah's Witness (JW) publications from 1950 to 2007. The main omissions are Awake! magazine prior to 1970 and the monthly meeting guide called Kingdom Ministry prior to 1970.

The Watchtower Library (2007) search function lists 11,463 occurrences of the words "near", “nearing” and “nears” in JW publications. Not all occurrences are in an Armageddon context since "near" can also refer to emotional nearness, or a travel destination, or a scheduled secular event. But many of the 11,463 instances do refer to Armageddon or allied events such as the annihilation of other religions, the future paradise on Earth, the removal of Satan the Devil, or the resurrection of the dead.    

Sometimes these events are alleged to be "very near", "so near", "now near" or "so very near".


In the 19th century and into the 1920s the Watchtower Society's publications used the word "near" in reference to Armageddon sparingly. This was because the sect that became Jehovah's Witnesses focused on specific dates such 1874, 1878, 1881, 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920 and 1925, and this made reminders of "near" unnecessary.

By 1930 the leaders realized that although false prophecies for specific dates "bring in the sheep", many "sheep" are lost when the predictions fail.

Therefore they reduced the emphasis on specific calendar years and brought the word "near" into regular use as well as its synonyms such as "shortly", "short time", "about to", "close", "imminent", "soon", "impending", "time is fast running out", "at hand" and "fast approaching".

Here are some "near" examples from The Watchtower magazine of 1930:

1. the near future that “old serpent”, called the “Devil” and “Satan”, is to be bound for a thousand years... (w1930 2/1 13)

2.    It is the anointed of God, and these only who continue thus faithfully to serve unto the end, that will be permitted to stand with the King of kings in that great battle and victory that is near. (w1930 3/15 87)

3.    The kingdom of Christ is soon to be fully established on earth, and all men will be aware of that fact in the very near future. (w1930 4/15 122)

4.    According to Bible chronology, "signs of the times," and the physical facts, “the last days” began in 1914 and will end in the very near future in what the Bible calls "the battle of that great day of God Almighty", otherwise called "the battle of Armageddon".   (w1930 5/1 141)

5.    Satan’s kingdom is doomed to a complete destruction in the near future. (w1930 6/1 171)

6.    To keep his kingdom intact, Satan is trying to organize a league of nations, a federation of churches, and giant mergers of big business. His object in forming these unions is self-preservation and the preservation of his kingdom on earth. Of course, all these three elements hate those who are announcing their doom, and so are united in their opposition to the message that proclaims Armageddon near. (w1930 6/15 219)

7.    But peace is coming, and it lies in the very near future. (w1930 8/1 234)

8.    If any of the Lord’s people lack the courage to thus take a stand for the Lord, they are laying up in store for themselves a terrible tribulation, in the near future, which will punish them for their lack of faith and confidence in the Lord... (w1930 10/1 302)

The second and eighth quotes threaten sect-members living in 1930 with punishment by God if they neglect door-to-door activity. This warning is regularly repeated through successive generations.


Many of the occurrences of "near" listed on Watchtower Library (2007) are qualified with "very", "now" or "so" or other words that imply the "near" period is well-advanced. We get for example:
•    very near 286
•    so near 186
•    now so near 50
•    now so very near 4

Hear are some examples of "very near":

1.    The day of Jehovah is far spent and the night of Armageddon is very near. (w1950 4/1 108)

2.    Armageddon, the battle of the great day of God Almighty, is very near... (w1950 8/1 237)

3.    Whether the enemy chooses to attack or run and hide, nothing will prevent Jehovah's Executioner, Christ Jesus, from blotting them out. (Amos 9:1-4) Today their end is very near. (w1951 9/1 528)

4.    Only those who keep on taking in the right kind of knowledge and make a change in their lives can hope to be spared from the expression of God's wrath at Armageddon, which fulfillment of Bible prophecy is very near at hand. (w1958 9/15 548)

5.    God's Word clearly shows that His toleration of man's wickedness is very near its end. (Awake! 1973 4/8 16)

6.    What an exciting message they proclaimed—"Millions now living will never die!" Brother Rutherford had given a discourse on this subject in 1918. It was also the title of a 128-page booklet published in 1920… And it expressed the conviction that the time for the realization of that hope was very near. (JWs Proclaimers of God's Kingdom 1993, 425)

7.    Jehovah's witnesses also believe that the end of this wicked system of things is very near, and so they are busily engaged in warning people of this fact... Jehovah's witnesses want people to know that God is going to bring an end to wicked conditions in the earth and replace them with righteousness by means of his perfect, heavenly Kingdom government. The time for that to happen is very near; it is to occur in this generation. (w1970 4/15 445)

8.    God's time to destroy wicked people is very near. (Learn From The Great Teacher 2003, 66)

The "day of Jehovah" in the first quote referred to the period since 1914. This interpretation has since been revised and "day of Jehovah" is now synonymous with Armageddon.

The sixth quote says that the Millions Now Living Will Never Die message "expressed the conviction that the time for the realization of that hope was very near". That message, however, did not merely predict "very near", but predicted 1925:

As we have heretofore stated, the great jubilee cycle is due to begin in 1925. At that time the earthly phase of the kingdom shall be recognized. The Apostle Paul in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews names a long list of faithful men who died before the crucifixion of the Lord and before the beginning of the selection of the church. These can never be a part of the heavenly class; they had no heavenly hopes; but God has in store something good for them. They are to be resurrected as perfect men and constitute the princes or rulers in the earth, according to his promise. (Psalm 45:16; Isaiah 32: 1; Matthew 8: 11) Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old... (pp 89-90)

The sixth quote further calls the Millions message "exciting". The JW Governing Body may think false prophecy is "exciting", but the Bible calls false prophecy, "appalling and horrible". (Jeremiah 5:30-31)

The seventh quote, published in 1970, links "very near" with "this generation". Until 1995 JWs predicted that the people who experienced 1914 would live long enough to experience Armageddon. Therefore, "very near" in 1970 meant at most several decades and was another false prediction.


"Ominously near" occurs only once on Watchtower Library 2007:

We know that we are in the "time of the end” as regards the political nations of this world and that the destruction of them in the approaching "great tribulation” upon the whole world is ominously near. (w1971 12/15 754)

In 1971 the emphasis was on 1975 for Armageddon to occur — hence "ominously near".

JWs today deny that 1975 was a definite prediction because their main theologian at the time, Frederick W. Franz (1893-1992), said: "Don't any of you be specific."

So how definite was 1975 as the date for Armageddon?

According to JW doctrine Armageddon would occur at the completion of 6000 years of evil on Earth, and Adam was created in 4026 BC. Since there was no year "0" this comes to 1975. The reason for being non-specific was that evil began after Eve was created, but the Bible does not state how long Adam was alone.

However, on at least three occasions JW publications stated or implied that Adam and Eve were created in the same year — thus confirming Armageddon for 1975 (or possibly 1976). The three references are:

•    The Watchtower 1968 5/1 271
•    Awake! 1968 10/8 14
•    Aid to Bible Understanding (1971) page 538

In late 1975, with no Armageddon in sight and prophetic failure looming, The Watchtower denied that Adam and Eve were created in the same year, putting it like this:

Whether that period [between Adam and Eve's creation] amounted to weeks or months or years, we do not know. (w1975 10/1 579)

We are now 41 years past 1975 which means JWs believe that Adam lived alone for at least 41 years!


The 11,463 occurrences of "near", "nears" and "nearing" on Watchtower Library include 57 of the phrase "The time is near".

Regarding "the time is near" Jesus said:

"Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say … 'The time is near!' Do not go after them." (Luke 21:8)


The cult that became JWs predicted magical events for 1874, 1878, 1881, 1914, 1915, 1918 and 1925 but was wrong every time and its members died disappointed.

In 1971 Armageddon was "ominously near" because it was due in 1975. Those JWs too were disappointed and about half of them have died and hundreds of thousands left the sect.

There were other dates such as 1942, the "generation of 1914", and "within our twentieth century". Most JWs of 1942 have died, the generation of 1914 has died out, and the 20th century is gone.

Armageddon clearly had not been "near" despite thousands of repetitions that it was.

Spurred by prophecy many JWs deserted their careers, dropped out of high school, sold homes, and even avoided marriage to preach "The time is near". They ignored Jeremiah who called false prophecy "horrible", and Jesus who said "Beware that you are not led astray..."

How truthful and educational is the so-called "Bible truth" and "Bible education" of the JWs?
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