ANOINTED ONES
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According to the Watchtower Society's doctrine, only “spiritually anointed” individuals will enter God's Kingdom in Heaven. This will number only 144,000 people (a.k.a “the remnant,” a.k.a. the “chosen ones”); all other faithful ones (a.k.a. “the great crowd”) will be privileged to live on a paradise Earth. (The Watchtower, March 1, 2012, Public Edition, p.17). Because this doctrine is so interwoven with so many other threads of doctrine we will break it down into its essential elements:

 

THE 144,000

According to the Watchtower Society, only those who are of the 144,000 are considered to be spiritually anointed with the Holy Spirit (The Watchtower, April 1, 2009, p.9). They parallel this spiritual anointing with the biblical anointing of the Jewish High Priest, Aaron: Just as Aaron's anointing covered all the other priests, likewise they connect Christ's anointing with Holy Spirit as also covering all those chosen ones (Insight On the Scriptures, 1988, Vol. 1, p.114). In contrast to these anointed with the Heavenly hope, the Watchtower Society clearly states that those with the “Earthly hope,” (a.k.a. the great crowd, who is not going to Heaven), are neither spiritually anointed members of the Body of Christ nor in the New Covenant (The Watchtower, February 15, 2006, p.24, para. 13). Therefore, in this teaching, since only the 144,000 are in the New Covenant, only the 144,000 are allowed to take of the communion bread and cup; and such ones are counted as “partakers.” Their annual observance of communion is known as “The Memorial”, or alternatively, “The Lord's Evening Meal.”

According to the Watchtower Society's book: Reasoning From the Scriptures (1989), pp.267-268, subheading “Who Is to Partake of the Bread and Wine,” Jesus stated that only a “little flock” would receive the Heavenly Kingdom as a reward (Luke 12:32), and the total number of this “little flock” would be 144,000 individuals, which they deduce from the passages at Revelation 7:1-9 and 14:1-3 – which lists divisions from twelve tribes of spiritual Israel (who are not literal Jews, pp.166-167). This same book also teaches that these 144,000 are the only Christians who are truly “Born Again” (p.76, definition at top of page).

It is their teaching that this number of 144,000 is a literal tally of individuals, and that it must be literal in order to have meaning in contrast to the innumerable “great crowd” mentioned in Revelation 7:9. They further support this claim by stating that Jesus' words at Matthew 22:14 (“many invited but few chosen...”) agrees with this supposition (Reasoning From The Scriptures, 1989, p.167 para. 3-4). Interestingly, even though they consider this number to be a literal count, they do not consider the description of these individuals to be literal. Specifically, the verse at Revelation 14:4 describes these 144,000 chosen ones as male virgins. Although considering the sum to be literal, they view the description as symbolic, with the symbolism referring to those who have not defiled themselves with false teachings (Insight On the Scriptures, 1988, Vol. 2, p.1199; The Watchtower, Feb.15, 2009, p.24, para.2). They also consider this “literal” number as coming from a tally of symbolic tribes (Reasoning From the Scriptures, 1989, pp.166-167). Interestingly, the Watchtower Society also accepts that the number “twelve” can symbolically represent completeness, emphasis, and balance (Insight On the Scriptures, 1988, Vol. 2, p.513, subheading “Twelve”; Revelation, 1988 (2006 edition), p.19 and p.178 para.5-6). And, this number of 144,000 is a multiple of twelve, specifically: 12,000 times 12,000.

Their understanding of this view seems to be flawed: Since the list of “Tribes” from which this number comes is symbolic (Reasoning From the Scriptures, 1989, p.166, para.5), and the description of these same ones is symbolic (“male virgins”), then this should mean that the numbers themselves are equally symbolic; you cannot have a symbolic list with a symbolic number and a symbolic description that magically tallies into a literal number. Regardless of this, though, the Watchtower Society teaches this to be a literal number and will not consider the error of their logic. The Watchtower Society teaches that this choosing of the 144,000 began in 33 C.E. during Pentecost, as described in Acts Chapter 2 (Revelation Climax, 2006 edition, p.115, para.8). This is in contrast with Scripture, which actually states that this choosing does not begin until at least the Great Tribulation occurs:

Revelation 7:1-4
(1) After this [the descriptions of the Great Tribulation in Chapter 6]I saw four angels standing upon the four corners of the earth, holding tight the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow upon the earth or upon the sea or upon any tree. (2) And I saw another angel ascending from the sunrising, having a seal of [the] living God; and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, (3) saying: “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until after we have sealed the slaves of our God in their foreheads.” (4) And I heard the number of those who were sealed, a hundred and forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel...

Although the Watchtower Society teaches that the completion of the Sealing happens towards the end of the Great Tribulation, the above passage shows that the“angel ascending from the sunrising” doesn't even begin the Sealing until towards the end of the Great Tribulation. There is no place in Scripture showing this Sealing happening any earlier than this. This means that the Sealing could not have begun during Pentecost in 33 C.E.

A Jehovah's Witness may argue:
But the Scripture in Ephesians 1:13-14 says “But YOU also hoped in him after YOU heard the word of truth, the good news about YOUR salvation. By means of him also, after YOU believed, YOU were sealed with the promised holy spirit, which is a token in advance of our inheritance, for the purpose of releasing by a ransom [God’s] own possession, to his glorious praise.” This shows that the Sealing was already underway at that time.

The Rebuttal:
This assumption is based on the teaching that only 144,000 receive the Holy Spirit, which is a mistake because nowhere in Scripture does it state that only the 144,000 receive Holy Spirit: Remember, Jesus commanded that all believers be baptized in the name of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19), and that whomever asks for Holy Spirit will receive It (Luke 11:13). This can only mean that all true believers can receive the Holy Spirit, not just a select chosen group. AND, if you notice, the passage at Ephesians 1:13-14 goes on to state this sealing of Holy Spirit is related to our release by ransom; since all believers are covered by the ransom, (1 Timothy 2:5-6), clearly this Scripture is speaking in regard to every true believer, not just an elite chosen few. Aside from that, the sealing mentioned in Revelation is performed by an angel, not the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the sealing with Holy Spirit and the Sealing of the 144,000 are two unrelated events.

 

 

MEDIATION

According to the Watchtower Society's doctrine, these 144,000 individuals are the only ones for whom Christ is mediator for; Christ does not mediate for the “great crowd”. They explain that, since only those 144,000 are the only ones actually in the "New Covenant" with Jesus (according to them, anyway), then they are the only ones for whom He mediates. They go on to explain how Christ is solely a legal mediator for them, not a "mediator" in the broader sense, and thus He serves to mediate for only the chosen anointed ones. HOWEVER...they also explain that the great crowd (a.k.a. "other sheep") still benefits from Christ's death because they must approach God in prayer through Christ's name, and because they can still benefit from His death for forgiveness (The Watchtower, August 15, 1989 pp.30-31).

Many completely disagree with their viewpoint regarding “mediation”: According to the renowned Black's Law Dictionary, (second edition) legal mediation is defined as:

The act of a third person who interferes between two contending parties with a view to reconcile them or persuade them to adjust or settle their dispute.

In other words, the Watchtower Society claims that Jesus is a legal mediator, and as we can see, by definition a legal mediator is one who reconciles two opposing parties to create peace and communication between the two of them. In our case, it is humankind and God who are the opposing parties because we have been at odds with God due to our sinful nature (Isaiah 59:2-3); sin is not allowed to enter into Holiness (Isaiah 35:8-10, Revelation 21:27). In order to cleanse us of our sinful nature, blood must be shed (Hebrews 9:22), and this is why the ancient Israelites were required to make animal sacrifices to atone for their sins. But the animals weren't perfect sacrifices; they only covered one sin at a time, so the people had to continually make sacrifices as they continually sinned (Hebrews 9:18-22; 10:1-4). Christ changed this: Because only sinful people deserve to die (Romans 6:7,23), and Christ was sinless (Hebrews 9:14), He did not deserve death. Therefore, His death served to cover over all of our sins because no amount of our sinning can "use up" the undeserved death that He suffered. In this way, we have been washed clean of our sins in His blood (Revelation 1:5) rendering us spiritually clean enough to be reconciled with God (Colossians 1:20, Hebrews 9:15-17), so long as we believe in this act of mediation (John 3:16-18). In this way, Christ reconciled us to God because He reconciled the division that existed between us filthy sinners and the pure, Holy God (1 Peter 3:18). Because He facilitated this reconciliation, He is the legal mediator for all believers, not just a few; and being our mediator, we must go through His name in order to communicate with (pray to) God (John 14:13-14; 16:23-24).

 

WORLD WIDE NUMBERS

It is the Watchtower Society's teaching that this choosing of anointed ones had all but finished by the mid 1930's. Thus, any newly anointed ones who continue to appear are likely replacements for some still-living anointed ones who had become unfaithful (The Watchtower, January 15, 2008, pp. 22-23, para. 13-16; The Watchtower, May 1, 2007, pp.31-32). Since this anointing is said to have ended in the 1930's, this would mean that only a handful of these chosen ones should be remaining on the Earth at this time, since most of them would have become deceased by now.

Although you would think that this would mean the number of anointed ones should decrease over time, according to the Watchtower Society's published records it seems that the number of these ones is actually increasing. For example, in 2005 the sum of Memorial partakers world wide numbered 8,524. The following year, in 2006, they tallied an increase to 8,758 partakers. In 2007 the number went up again to 9,105. In 2008 the number rose to 9,986. In 2010, the number of partakers grew to 11,202. In 2011 the number rose again to the tune of 11,824 partakers. And, now in 2013, they have tallied a total of 12,604 partakers worldwide (Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, 2006, p.31; 2007 p.31; 2008, p. 31; 2009, p.31; Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, 2011, p.51; Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, 2012, p.55, Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, 2013, p.178 respectively), This is an increase of exactly 4,080 partakers over eight years! (and, haven't some of the elderly ones passed away during this time?). AND...in spite of the Watchtower Society publishing these ever-increasing numbers, they have declared that the number has been decreasing over the years! (The Watchtower, February 15, 2009, pp. 27-28, para.14)

In order to explain this problem, the Watchtower Society recently stated "A number of factors — including past religious beliefs or even mental or emotional imbalance — might cause some to assume mistakenly that they have the Heavenly calling. We thus have no way of knowing the exact number of anointed ones on Earth; nor do we need to know" (The Watchtower, August 15, 2011, p.22).

In essence, they are saying the numbers are climbing only because some of the partakers are apparently mentally ill or clinging to past religious beliefs. However, since they cannot determine who are the mistaken ones and who are not, they count them all anyway, even though it is obviously not an accurate number.

 

THE NEW COVENANT

As stated earlier, the Watchtower Society teaches that only the group of 144,000 is in the New Covenant with Jesus Christ. They explain that during the last Passover meal, when Jesus ate with His chosen apostles, He told them that He was establishing a New Covenant with them by means of His blood (Luke 22:20). Since Jesus also promised these chosen apostles that they would "sit on thrones" with Him (Luke 22:28-30), and since it was only these men who were with Him when He spoke about this covenant, it is taught that only those of the chosen ones are in this covenant, along with the "Kingdom Covenant" that Christ also mentioned on this occasion. Thus, the Watchtower Society teaches that the partaking of the bread and wine of the New Covenant is only applicable towards the 144,000 chosen ones slated to be received into Heaven (Luke 22:29) (Insight On the Scriptures, 1988, Vol. 1, pp.524-525 subheadings "New Covenant," "Jesus' Covenant With His Followers" see also: What Does the Bible Really Teach, 2005, pp. 207-208).

What does the Bible really say regarding the New Covenant?

According to Scripture, we are all sons of God through our faith in Jesus Christ (John 1:12, Galatians 3:26), because all who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Matthew 28:19*, Galatians 3:27). Since Christ is the son of God (Mark 3:11, John 1:34), and we are spiritual sons of God through our faith, this would make us spiritual brothers to Christ. Connecting this further, Scripture states God would declare the people of the nations righteous due to faith. This is why God told Abraham "By means of you all the nations will be blessed"; this is because those who adhere to the faith are considered sons of Abraham and are being blessed accordingly (Galatians 3:7-9).

*As of this writing, the two baptismal questions asked of Jehovah's Witnesses are: 1) On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will? And 2) Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization? (The Watchtower, April 1, 2006, p.22)

 

According to biblical history, the members of the physical nation of Israel were the sons of Abraham (Genesis 17:19, 21:12, 25:21-26, 32:28). Likewise, we who are sons of God, (Christ's brothers), are spiritual "Israel" since we are spiritual "sons" of Abraham as well. This blessing of Abraham was to be accomplished through Christ for the nations that we might receive the promised Spirit through our faith (Galatians 3:14) Along with this, the Bible tells us that Christ is Abraham's "seed" (Galatians 3:16) and all who belong to Christ are also the "seed" of Abraham, heirs with reference to a promise (Galatians 3:29).

According to prophecy, the covenant to be made with spiritual Israel is this: God would put His law within them and their hearts; He will become their God and they will become His people, and all will know God and He will forgive their sins (Jeremiah 31:33-34, Hebrews 8:10). Knowing that covenants must be inaugurated by blood (Hebrews 9:18, 20-22), Christ said that this New Covenant was to be inaugurated through His own blood, which was symbolized by the wine at the Last Supper (Luke 22:19-20). We know that Christ's death is the inauguration of the New Covenant because he said "This cup means the New Covenant by virtue of my blood." (Luke 22:20).

Therefore, Christ pouring out His blood for us was the beginning of the New Covenant. Paralleling this is the passage at 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, which states that eating the bread and drinking the wine is symbolic of proclaiming Christ's death for us until He returns. The shedding of His blood makes Christ the mediator of this New Covenant (Hebrews 12:23-24), and this makes Christ the sole mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5-6). And thus, all believers are in the New Covenant, not just a select few.

Christ needed to mediate the New Covenant in order to release people from sin so that a Kingdom Covenant with Judah could be carried out. (The Kingdom Covenant is addressed under the next subheading) The New Covenant was necessary in order to cleanse us from sin, otherwise there would be nobody spiritually clean enough to be chosen for the Kingdom Covenant made with the House of Judah. Only after this cleansing occurs can anyone be chosen for Judah, which is pointed out at Hebrews 9:15. The New Covenant releases us from the old Law Covenant that the ancient Israelites were bound under, and allows those who are called into the House of Judah to receive the Kingdom (Hebrews 9:15-22). This means that, since we are all under this New Covenant, then we are all under Christ's mediation and through His blood for forgiveness of sin. This New Covenant makes the old Law Covenant obsolete (Hebrews 8:13).

Christ introduced the New Covenant with the passing around of bread and wine, and commanded that it be done "in remembrance" of Him (Luke 22:19-20). Today, most churches commemorate this occasion and call it "Communion," "The Eucharist," "The Lord's Supper, or "The Lord's Table." At Luke 22:19-20 Christ states that the bread symbolized His body that He was about to sacrifice for us. This unleavened bread was to replace the Passover lamb, for under the Old Covenant the Passover lamb symbolized Christ's body (compare Exodus 12:1-11 with John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:7).

Under the old Law Covenant, the entire nation of Israel was expected to eat of the Passover lamb, which symbolized their future expectation of Christ's sacrifice (Exodus 12:3-5) In parallel, the entire body of Christians under the New Covenant is expected to eat of the Communion supper because it signifies that Christ died for all, not just a few (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). The only real difference between the Passover of the Old Covenant and the Lord's Supper of the New Covenant, is that the Passover was observed in expectation of His sacrifice (which, at that time, was a future event), and the Lord's Supper is observed for the remembrance of that sacrifice (which is now a past event).

There are some Christian groups who believe Communion must be observed with unleavened bread because "leaven" is Scripturally symbolic of sin and corruption (Matthew 16:6, 1 Corinthians 5:6-8), whereas Christ died without sin or corruption (1 Peter 2:21-22); therefore,only unleavened bread should apply to the occasion. Other Christian groups, however, accept leavened bread for the occasion because, since the bread symbolizes Christ's body (Luke 22:19), and Christ's body bore our sins at Calvary (1 Peter 2:24), they reason the use of leavened bread is an equally appropriate symbol. Many believe that either view is acceptable because they each have valid, biblical points. In essence, such ones believe it is the symbolic taking of Christ's body in remembrance of the New Covenant that is the point of the matter; not the bread recipe. If the occasion puts this recollection into your mind, then it has served its purpose.

Next, Jesus took the cup of wine and passed it around the table stating that it symbolized His blood that He was about to pour out for the cleansing of our sins. He specifically mentions that this is in relation to the New Covenant. Note that this includes anyone who is of Spiritual Israel, for according to God all people can be cleansed of sin through Christ's blood. This is supported at Acts 10:28, 45, and Ephesians 3:6. Again, there are some Christian groups who believe Communion must be observed with wine because that was the beverage originally used for the occasion. Other Christian groups, however, allow for the use of red grape juice instead, primarily for two reasons: 1) So as not to stumble a recovering alcoholic (alcohol-removed wine still contains trace amounts of alcohol), and 2) In case a participant is under the legal age for alcohol consumption. And again, many believe that if the occasion puts the recollection of salvation through Christ's blood into your mind, then the occasion has served its purpose regardless of wine or juice.

 

THE KINGDOM COVENANT

The Kingdom Covenant was the special covenant that Jesus made with the spiritual "House of Judah" in order for them to gain the Kingdom inheritance as prophesied at Micah 5:2 and Matthew 2:6. According to Biblical prophecy, the spiritual House of Judah will rule over the spiritual House of Israel (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:6). According to Biblical history, Judah was a male descendant of Israel (Genesis 32:28, 29:35) and was one of the ancestors of the Israelite kings (Matthew 1:1-16). Notice, Jesus was also in this royal lineage of kings (Matthew 1:16). Since Jesus was born through the line of Judah, many tend to view this spiritual "House of Judah" as being the spiritual House of Christ. The same night in which Christ revealed the New Covenant to his apostles during the Last Supper, He also spoke to them regarding the Covenant of the Kingdom. In essence, He told them that they would sit on thrones to judge the twelve "tribes" of Israel when the Kingdom of God returns (Matthew 19:28, Luke 22:28-30). The Watchtower Society teaches that the New Covenant is blended with this Kingdom Covenant in reference only to the 144,000 chosen ones (The Watchtower, February 15, 2006, pp.22-23, para. 6-10; February 1, 2005 pp.12-13, para.18). According to the Watchtower Society's doctrine, the "tribes" of "Israel" they rule over aren't the 144,000 members of their spiritual Israel (else they would only be ruling themselves), but is symbolic of the entirety of mankind to remains on Earth under the Kingdom of God (Insight On the Scriptures, 1988, Vol. 2, p.1125). Is the Watchtower Society correct in their assessment of this blending of covenants?

No. Because this Kingdom Covenant was spoken of after the revealing of the New Covenant, after the bread and wine was consumed, and after other conversation, we know that this Kingdom Covenant is a separate thing from the New Covenant. Supporting this is the fact that Christ, the Son, states it is He that is making this Kingdom Covenant with them (Luke 22:29-30), whereas the New Covenant was originated from Jehovah, the Father (Jeremiah 31:31), showing these are two separate covenants.

A Jehovah's Witness may argue:
But the Scripture at Jeremiah 31:31 has Jehovah saying "I will conclude with the house of Israel and the house of Judah a new covenant..." Since this mentions Israel and Judah, his would mean that the two covenants join together.

The Rebuttal:
This passage only mentions the New Covenant, it says nothing of the Kingdom Covenant. Ergo, both "Israel" and "Judah" are in the New Covenant, but only "Judah" is in the Kingdom Covenant, as shown in the prophets mentioned earlier in this subheading.

So then, who are the ones chosen for the Kingdom Covenant? As far as we could find, it was only the apostles whom Christ mentioned this too. Scripture doesn't speak of anyone else being included in this particular covenant (though we are still looking into this, just to be sure).

 

COMMUNION

The Watchtower Society teaches that a Memorial service is to be held once per year to commemorate the Lord's Supper. This is the Jehovah's Witness equivalent of a communion service and is always planned to coincide with the Jewish calendar date of Nisan 14th each year, after sundown. The Watchtower Society teaches that the event must coincide with the same Jewish calendar date in which Jesus Christ Himself ate this last meal (The Watchtower, April 1, 2008, p.29). This Memorial event is considered to be the most holy night of the year, and thus Jehovah's Witnesses actively invite non-members to observe this event (The Watchtower, April 1, 2008, p.29). According to the Watchtower Society's teaching, the elements (which they refer to as "emblems") must be unleavened bread and red wine, in keeping with the Biblical description of the original event (The Watchtower, March 1, 2009, p.32; The Watchtower, February 15, 2003, p.14, para.14-15).

Although the entire membership of Jehovah's Witnesses and their non-member invitees are gathered to this occasion, it is only the members of the 144,000 who are expected to actually partake of these emblems (The Watchtower, January 15, 2009, pp.28-29, para.15-16). Everyone else is merely there to observe this ritual. As shown earlier, the Watchtower Society recognized only 11,824 partakers in 2011. Being that there are currently more than 7 million members world wide, this means that only a very few of the membership, (only about 0.16%), actually partake of the emblems.

Notably, Christ stated that we were to "Keep doing this [Communion] in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19), showing that this was to be a repeated occurrence. The Apostle Paul elaborated on this further, stating that “For as often as YOU eat this loaf and drink this cup, YOU keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives.”(1 Corinthians 11:26). According to the Watchtower Society, when Paul made this statement he was referencing the time of Christ's return and the receiving of the anointed through their resurrection to heaven during the time of His presence (Insight On the Scriptures, 1988, Vol. 2, p.269).

 

IN CONCLUSION

As we've seen previously, the Watchtower Society teaches that Jesus has already returned. It is also notable that they teach that the anointed ones who have suffered death since His return are immediately resurrected to Heaven at the moment of death (Insight On the Scriptures, Vol. 2, 1988, p.787). This, therefore, begs the unanswered question: If the Jehovah's Witnesses truly believe that Christ has already arrived, and Paul stated that this ritual would occur only until He arrived, then why do they continue to observe this event every year? Either Christ has returned, or He has not; there is no halfway with this.

Editor's Note:

In my experience growing up as a Jehovah's Witness, my congregation had three members who claimed to be of the anointed: Two females and one male; and thus they were the only ones to partake. As for the remainder of us, we would simply pass the bread plate and the wine glass from one to another, row by row, without partaking. Although the Watchtower Society does not promote an attitude of celebrity towards the “anointed ones,” the general atmosphere in the congregation was one of high reverence for these individuals.