The truth about JW “Bible Studies”

June 7th, 2009

You hear a knock at your door. When you answer, you find one or more Jehovah’s Witnesses standing there.  Oh yes, you remember them; they were the nice people who you spoke to a couple of weeks ago when they came by and left a free Watchtower and Awake! magazine with you. You were polite to them during that visit, so they have marked your address down for a “go-back” (revisit).

“Hello. We just wanted to stop by and drop off the latest issues of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines for you to read,” says a JW. “There are some really good articles in them announcing God’s kingdom that will soon rule the Earth.”

You reach out to accept the magazines and thank them. The JW continues, “We’d very much like to offer you the opportunity to have a free weekly Bible study in your home. This will be your opportunity to learn about all the great things that are promised to mankind within our lifetimes. You do have a Bible don’t you?”

After confirming that you do have a Bible somewhere around the house, but admit that you have hardly ever read it, you think about it and then respond that having a Bible study might be a good thing.

JW makes arrangements to come back in a few days to begin the Bible study sessions with you.  You will be given a copy of a Watchtower study book and maybe a copy of The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, the Watchtower’s own version of the Bible written in modern English.

As you study though, you find that the process has a certain pace to it and an unnatural feeling will come over you.  When the JW comes to your home to conduct the “Bible study,” you will spend one hour a week reading through one of the Watchtower’s basic training books.  Their book will be your only guide and the Bible will be rarely opened, and when it is, JW only reads one or two verses at a time.

“Why don’t you read the first paragraph in the study book?” JW asks. You do. Then JW reads the question at the bottom of the page and asks you to answer it from the paragraph that you just read.

JW might also suggest that you highlight that answer with a marking pen or underline it with a pencil.  But the answer is seems so obvious that you wonder, “Why should I mark it? After all I can always find it again by simply reading the short paragraph.”

Then JW reads a paragraph. After asking you the next question, JW may add comments to expand on the information.  But why? The paragraph supposedly says it all and it wasn’t that long to begin with. This procedure goes on and on for the rest of the hour.

But wait a minute! Wasn’t this going to be a “Bible study.”  Yes, both you and JW had your Bibles handy and read a half-dozen verses from them during the hour, but you really didn’t “study the Bible,” did you?

After four to six weekly studies, the JW will invite you to come to the Kingdom Hall, to listen to the Sunday “public talk” and sit in on the Watchtower study. JW will tell you that the speaker will provide new information during the talk that will answer your questions about why “this system of things must come to an end and be replaced by Jehovah’s new heavens and a paradise new earth.”

If you go to the Kingdom Hall, you will hear a well-dressed gentleman give a 30-45 minute sermon that will explain that all men die because of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden; that Jesus Christ came to Earth after being an archangel in heaven to die on a wooden stake as a sacrifice to remove Adam’s curse on man. Then he tells you that we are living in the “time of the end,” a period that started in 1914 and is soon to end with the great Battle of Armageddon. Every wicked person (that means those who are not faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses and you, if you don’t convert and become a Witness) is destroyed by God during Armageddon. Jehovah God will take a thousand years to beautify the Earth and turn it back into a Edenic paradise where Jehovah’s Witnesses will live forever along with resurrected faithful men of ancient times like Moses and David. Jehovah’s Witnesses and others who were faithful to “Jehovah’s organization” unto death will also be resurrected and given new, perfect bodies. Everyone will live forever in peace under the rule of Jesus Christ and 144,000 super-faithful anointed Christians who live in Heaven.

If you manage to get through that and the Watchtower magazine study that follows, you will pretty much know everything basic about the teachings of the Watchtower Society and how the Witnesses present them. If you go again the next week, you will hear a different sermon with a different title, but the basic information and flow will be exactly the same. The outlines for the 6-10 public talks all follow the same general teaching format with almost the same subject lists. They change a few words and add a few things to make them all sound a little different – but I can assure you that they are all the same. You hear one, you’ve heard all. “Rinse and repeat.”

What most new converts or those studying with the Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t realize is that what they have just experienced is pretty much what their lives will be like as long as they are Jehovah’s Witnesses.  They will find that the same material is rehashed over and over in exactly the same way: question, answers, read the paragraph – “rinse and repeat” so to speak.

Even though nothing really new is ever presented (except possibly at summer conventions), every JW is still expected to study the magazine or book the night before a meeting, highlight or underline the answers, and then dress up and come to the meetings to go over it all again word for word.

If someone actually volunteers a comment that expands upon the information being read, they will be often cut off in mid-sentence by the conductor and will get pulled to the side after the meeting and counseled not to do that again by one of the elders.

If you have not committed to being baptized, or at least regularly attend the Kingdom Hall meetings on your own after six months,  the JW will let you know that the Bible study can not continue unless you promise to commit to becoming one of Jehovah’s Witnesses very soon.

This could be your last real opportunity to show JW the door and get your life and freedom back, so take it.  You might get a couple more visits from JW (usually accompanied by one of the elders) trying to encourage you to make the choice to become a Witness and be a member of the local Kingdom Hall congregation. But consider your options very carefully because becoming a Jehovah’s Witness will change your life forever.

Trust me on this: You will never regret ending your association with Jehovah’s Witnesses before you commit to baptism. Once you commit to baptism, you will regret your decision for the rest of your life. You have locked yourself and your family into a life of boring, cultish practices and behavior.

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  1. Morgan MacIntosh

    I was a JW for 8 years. Sometimes it seems like a much longer time. You are quite correct Sally about how Bible studies are conducted. Part of the problem is the JW mindset. They honestly believe that everything that is published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is the unadulterated inspired word of God, even though many teachings have changed over the years. It’s some sort of mass amnesia taking place with it comes to pointing out the changes that have occurred over the many years. One would expect that if they were truly being led by God, then the teachings would remain the same from the first printing of Zion’s Herald to the present day Watchtower magazine. I challenge any JW to show me in the Bible where God laid down commandments and then later changed his mind, completely reversing himself on any teaching and then teaching the original material once again. It never happened. So how does a thinking Christian solve this problem. They can only conclude that JW are not being led by men. The Governing Body (the ones who actually run everything) says they are led by God’s Holy Spirit to direct God’s earthly organization here on Earth. Where in the Bible does it say this? It doesn’t. They manipulate scripture, take things out of context and gamble on the “trust” of their followers not to do independent research.
    Instead of going into a lot of detail, I’ll simply post a link to an information website. It’s not a forum to post and leave comments, just an information page. You can try to double check the information you find there in any Kingdom Hall from their own publications, but I doubt you will be allowed to do so. Often the older publications are simply there for display, you won’t actually be allowed to read them. If you do an Elder will quickly try to ascertain why. You might wonder what all the fuss is about. Do they have something to hide or be ashamed of?
    Here’s the link: http://www.quotes-watchtower.co.uk/new_light_doctrine.html

  2. Morgan MacIntosh

    A slight correction and a link to answer your question a little more fully.
    The Watchtower magazine used to be called “Zion’s Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence” , not Zion’s Herald.
    Oh and here is a link to why JW’s discourage verifying their religion.
    http://www.quotes-watchtower.co.uk/religion_-_do_not_verify_.html

    One of the things I want to point out for Thinking Christians. Many active JW’s come here and say mean and nasty things about this site and the people who run it, calling them apostates or being in league with Satan. However not a one of them, when confronted with evidence from their own magazines and books can refute the information. They use Bible verses (which can also be applied back to the Watchtower teachings) to “prove” we’re mean nasty people who are only bent on “taking” them away from God. No one can take you away from God except yourself. Also it must be noted that historically the Jews in the Bible were God’s people, yet Jesus and the Apostles were considered Apostates because of their teachings. Oddly enough their teachings didn’t refute Judaism or seek to overthrow them, but rather the teachings of Jesus showed that the leaders of the religion “had made the Law of their God invalid because of their tradition”. The same thing has happened with the JW’s. They look to men rather than the Holy Spirit for guidance. In the 10 years I have been out of the organization I have learned more about my Bible than at any time I was a JW. It is one thing to be told what a Bible verse means and a very different thing to know for yourself through the Holy Spirit what a Bible verse means. JW’s have yet to learn this lesson.

  3. Kurt

    I had a so called “Bible” study and it was the most tedious things I ever experienced. It was actually a study from the “Bible Teach” book. I noticed a certain pattern with the writing. It starts out with a paragraph making an assertion that checks out okay as being accurate compared to the cited scripture. Going through the chapter, the written material gets a bit farther from matching scripture, and more speculative. Eventually there are statements made that have very little connection to the cited scripture. This is all throughout the book!
    Another thing I noticed about the questions was that they were not real questions. They were really pseudo questions that would be answered by parroting what was written in the paragraph. When I would give real answers to the questions, as explained in scripture, the study conductor would get mad. Sometimes I would ask real questions that were not in the printed material and get elaborate explanations about something that had little to do with what I asked. Material that I could read and study in minutes by myself would take hours to go over, and they had the gall to criticize me for not making progress.
    Many times I would ask where in scripture it says something they had told me and they could find none. They would instead ask me to go along with their human “reasoning” on the matter, which was unacceptable to me as I have no desire to follow after men. I would want scriptural support for their claims, and many times was met with either silence, or some scripture of no relevance to what I asked. One example was when I asked what scripture instructs me to have a religion. I could never get a scripture chapter and verse as an answer, but was instead showed a dictionary description of religion.
    I found many changes and flip flops in their doctrine, as I got everything I could find going way back to Russell. I was pretty tolerant about old errors, but one thing I could not stand was current literature would have outright lies about the past. The Bible Teach book had a lie about the events of 1914 and I showed them what the literature actually said about the events of the time, and they got mad.
    Many times it would come down to me disagreeing with some assertion that had no scriptural support. I would then be subject to attack about my motives and character. Often it would be in the form of one of them talking to the other about me in a negative way as if I were not there. I do not know if this was just his own corrupt practice or if he was actually trained to be that manipulative and offensive by the society.
    One thing they considered to be fun was to constantly bash on Christians. They love to bash on how evil and corrupt Christians are, while boasting about how enlightened and truthful they are. It reached a sickening depth when they boasted about preaching to the entire world and I noticed the numbers from their yearbook said they had no preaching in China. I pointed out that there were some 65 million Christians in China, and if they were not preaching to them I wanted to know where they got the faith. He was dismissive of them, said they were with Satan’s organization. He actually claimed that 65 million Christians that he never met personally were with Satan!
    The greatest irony in this was how the study ended. They kept badgering me to go to meetings. I went to several devivals, district devivals and circuit devivals. (I call them devivals because they like being opposite of Christians and their revivals) I said I would start going as soon as they cleared up my unanswered questions. They wondered if they were wasting their time with me. I answered them, “It is your time, so only you can say if you are wasting it or not. I never consider it a waste of my time to learn about God’s word.”
    So one day when they were pitching the meetings, I asked why they assumed I did not go to meetings. They wondered what kingdom hall I had gone to. I said I had not been to a kingdom hall, but had studied the Bible with some Christians. They got really mad about that, and terminated the study that day.
    I found their claim to run a Bible study is a false one as you would expect them to be delighted that I was going deeper into the Bible with the Christians. I found out the truth about their “truth” is that it is really just a recruiting tool

  4. Editor

    @Kurt,

    Thank you for your comments. All this website is trying to do is to explain to someone who is unfamiliar with how the Watchtower Society works or what Jehovah’s Witnesses really believe, that what they are told about having a Bible study with JWs, may not really match reality.

    JWs get so excited whenever they start a new Bible study with a potential convert. As long as the study moves along at the pace they determine and the “study” doesn’t ask too many pointed or embarrassing questions, then everything is just “rosey.” The minute they are faced with some resistance or unpleasant facts from the Watchtower’s past they get all flustered and look for ways to give up quickly. JWs do not really enjoy confrontation.

    I remember, before I became a JW, that as a child I would go to Sunday School at local Protestant churches. All of us kids would get a little book to read, and we would hear the teacher tell us Bible stories. We just assumed that the teacher was telling us the truth. We’d go to Sunday School while we were kids and at some point in the future we’d be baptized and become Baptists or Methodists, or something. We never asked questions – never argued with the teacher. Never looked things up to see if we were being told the truth. We just accepted what we were told at face value.

    That’s the way that Jehovah’s Witnesses want to conduct “Bible” book studies with adults. Don’t ask questions. Don’t do research. Just look at the pretty pictures and accept what they say at face value.

    Adults don’t like to be treated that way, not if they have adult level intelligence. We like to ask questions. We want to dig deeper. We want to explore contradictions or gaps in logic.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses will bail out on anyone who really makes them work at conducting a real intense Bible study. You found that out and so have a couple of others who have commented on the above article.

  5. JEHOVAH'S SERVANT

    Well to be honest I have never read such a pile of crock. Any one who answers in the Watch tower study is free to say what they want as long as it is in line with the matter of the topic. No one is talked to by the Elders for doing so, that would defeat the purpose of the whole thing, to learn and take in knowledge and to hear the points of view of the other Brothers and Sisters.
    Many people benefit from the Bible study program, we have many here in my City who just wish to have a study to find out what the Bible is really teaching us and many of them have no intention what so ever of converting or even getting baptised.
    For Apostate ramblings and misinformation i must say that you get the GOLD award….

  6. Editor

    Current and former Jehovah’s Witnesses who read this article will instantly know which one of us is presenting “a pile of crock.” Many years ago the Watchtower was open for more comprehensive and expanded commentary from the audience. But that was a while back. The whole point of the Watchtower study, and for that matter the book studies as well, is to simply pull answers directly from each paragraph and then move on to the next one. They just want to get the material covered within the limited time allotted.

    You may be fortunate to belong to a Kingdom Hall that has a more liberal body of elders. There are many congregations out there with excellent leaders who are more flexible in their use of Watchtower Society guidelines. By far the majority, I am sad to say, tend to take a more conservative approach to study meetings and do not want a lot of embellishment by either the Watchtower study conductor or those in the audience who answer the questions. The study meetings have become a joke in most congregations.

    The public talks have become so strictly outlined by the Watchtower that most brothers do little more than read the outline itself and only those Bible scriptures that the outline insists on being read.

    JWs who insist on expanding their responses or modify any of the talk outlines will soon find themselves in a meeting with a local committee. This is not to say they will actually be punished for sharing their own thoughts, but they will find their participation restricted. Elders who expand or modify public talk outlines will quickly lose that privilege.

    The result is that most study meetings, even at 45 minutes, will seem to go on forever and be dull as stale toast.

    I invite anyone reading this article to actually go to a local Kingdom Hall and sit through a Sunday meeting set of public talk and Watchtower study. See for yourself who is telling the truth. In fact, go to two or three Kingdom Halls in your area and see how the meetings are conducted. After that, feel free to submit your comments to this article page and let us know the results. Who really tells the truth about this matter? The editor of this website? Or the writer identified as “Jehovah’s Servant”?

    Maybe things are different in the UK where “Jehovah’s Servant” resides, but I doubt it. The editor can only describe the current situation in USA Kingdom Halls. Maybe the UK and Europe are far more liberal. If so, please share that information with us. If anyone wants to share an address of a Kingdom Hall where answering at the Watchtower study is wide open to additional commentary or questions, please do so. We’d love to know where those liberal Kingdom Halls are.

    Unfortunately, so would the Watchtower Society…

  7. Inside Us

    @JEHOVAH’S SERVANT
    I became a JW and after baptism I learned about the JW’s from a different perspective and regret the baptism, I love Jehovah, always have and always will. But I no longer want to be a “JW” all I wanted to do was love Jehovah and Jesus and learn more about them. I feel like I’ve been dragged into something I didn’t bargain for..I loved the people and wish things didn’t get so ugly when you realize you made a decision and now you’re having second thoughts.When you try to make your own decisions the beauty offered turns to ashes. That’s how I feel currently. I feel there is no gray areas as a JW things are black or white. It hurts my heart. Your life is no longer your own and I just can’t live this way, it doesn’t feel right to me? Shaky Now.

  8. Jay Gum

    I am totally taken aback with all the negative comments. Not everyone is perfect not even Jehovah’s people, and i can not speak for all those who had negative experiences and am sure they were treated in the manner they clear indicated here. No matter, how you play down the witnesses, they injected a new hope in my life. For the first time, the bible makes so much sense, most of my burning question were answered, and three years on, I am growing spiritually. I love the fact that they answer questions by using the bible as a point of reference, it is not down to opinions. Before I became a witness I went to different churches loads of them. They all operate differently and some hardly use the bible enough to call it a church.

    There are plenty of people who love and adore being part of the JW organisation. There are loads of people who have served as witnesses all their lives and others were willing to die for this faith in the past and even today some are willing to be imprisoned for taking a bold stand.

    It is a shame you went to such length to be heard, I do pray it gives you healing. After all we do all possess the gift of free will to choose what is right or wrong. Jehovah who is Almighty still helps us to come to our own decision, why do you want to take a burden that is not yours to find fault were others don’t. It did not work for you, it does not mean it isn’t working for others, always remember that. Plenty of people want their questions answered, and in my experience we are happy with bible and non bible studies and accept that not everyone will be receptive to the word of God. Our goal is to reach people who want to know the truth.

  9. jo p

    I currently study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses and was raised in the religion as a child. Although I am not yet baptized. Never was I asked to accept everything the paragraphs say, or follow the ideas of my study conductor. I was actually encouraged to be like the Beoreans mentioned Acts 17:11. not to take anything at face value, but to examine the scriptures for myself daily, to figure out if what I’m learning is true. And when you have your Bible study, scriptures are read and you are more than welcome to use your own copy of the Bible. I do my Bible research online, using books from the Watchtower Society, encyclopedias, and several Bibles including the king James version. And there is nothing that I have been taught that isn’t in the Bible. Unlike the Catholic religion (which I have studied also). For example, where is the word trinity in the Bible? Jesus told his
    followers (1 Corinthians 11:2) to commemorate his
    death. But did he ever once tell us to celebrate his birthday? After he died, did any of the apostles write about celebrating Christmas? Everyone bashes the JW’s but

  10. Jean

    @Catalina Flores@Richard – It would appear that there is inconsistentency where JW’s are concerened-which is not the way of the JW’s. Because you people are not supposed to be on here…but here you are. What other things are you doing that you’re not supposed to…but let one person in your congregation get caught doing something they’re not suppose to and you’ll stand there with the rest of the gang and stone em!

  11. OrganicGirl

    I feel like JW prey upon the weak, like why on earth would you want to just show up, uninvited to strangers home? Aren’t they afraid to get shot? I just feel like it’s a crock of bull that they can’t back up. And I think they’re vampires! cult all in one. They get energized by feeding off of the weak. But only the strong survive 😉

  12. Tina

    Looks like you spent equal time writing about your life with these folks
    I mean youll never get back that part of your life back . Right ? (the time you spent learning) thank goodness you shared the info about what they push on us (why Christ had to die for ALL us siners)

    Yeah we all have choices folks …
    No disrepect intened
    I just went thru a year long devorice and i was joyous that i walked walked out of it with slightly little more than the cloths on my back. Why you say ? well I spoke out loud about the God my Sister worships about how he will provide confidently. I may have only received $726 dollars in cash that day but that was all i needed to move into a apartment.
    You cant beleive my excite ment
    You were given a gift of knowledge girlly and it will be with you ALWAYS
    Thanks for sharing :))

  13. john newsome

    There is no one that can bring reproach to Jehovah’s name. A person can bring reproach to himself or the congregation , but there can be no reproach to Jehovah’s name.So I wish the watchtower would get off that nonsense of trying to keep the kingdom hall clean, and not bring reproach to Jehovah’s name.There is no such thing.

  14. Sonya

    2 John 1

    …9Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 10If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 11for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.

    Also I want to state the letter J is no more than 500 yrs old so the name Jehovah is not even correct. It is Yah!
    Farther more the JW bible took out words and changed things more than just the word God.
    Hebrews root bible is the closest you will get to the original bible.
    Satan has people walking blindly in false religions everywhere. After satan crafted music and TV to win souls over. He now uses religion to gain even more.
    Search for truth and you will find it, please PLEASE DO NOT walk blindly into hell.

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