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Matthew 24. Is the INVISIBLE PAROUSIA doctrine based on less likely, special definitions of SIGN, PAROUSIA, CONCLUSION, LIGHTNING, GENERATION, and "GENTILE TIMES"?

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There seems to be be several ways to read Matthew 24 (and parallel accounts in Mark 13 and Luke 21). This has been noted by many Bible commentaries through the years, and even C. T. Russell admits some things about Matthew 24 that might surprise a lot of Witnesses today.

The primary discussions about Matthew 24 revolve around the question of whether it was ONLY about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., or primarily about the final Great Tribulation on the whole earth, or was it about BOTH judgment events.  (Even if this were primarily about 70 C.E., of course, it would still provide principles to guide Christians in every era and generation, especially about the expectation of the judgment event. -- 2 Tim 3:16; 1 Cor 10:11)

Over the years, the Watchtower has proposed slightly different ways to read Matthew 24, including splitting it up into two and sometimes three parts, where the first part referred pretty much equally to both a "minor" fulfillment on the first-century generation and a "major" fulfillment on the "final" generation that sees the final judgment event. Then, a middle portion of the chapter was often said to be primarily for the first century without direct application to the "final" generation. Then, later parts of the chapter were said to be meant primarily or sometimes ONLY for the final judgment event on the whole world. None of the differences in these variations was very significant in the overall picture, because in general the Watchtower has seen the greater "major" important fulfillment of almost all of Matthew 24 to be tied to the final generation that sees that "parousia" or "presence."

If we assume that the primarily fulfillment of Matthew 24 was intended for the final generation, then the secondary discussion is about whether we have correctly understood what Jesus meant with respect to the sign, the parousia, the conclusion, the generation, etc. So, that's the basic discussion being proposed here: that we look carefully at Matthew 24 and see if we have not perhaps tried to fit unlikely definitions of words so that we could make our specific doctrine fit.

Of course, it is quite proper to look at unlikely definitions of words if the meaning derived becomes the only possible way to understand a passage and the only way in which it properly fits the context and related scriptures. But what if the more likely definitions of each of the words also produces an overall meaning that fits just as well with the context and other scripture? What if accepting the more likely definitions of words in the chapter resulted in an even BETTER fit overall for the rest of the scriptures? What if it were seen that trying to make a doctrine out of the unlikely definitions actually created scriptural contradictions?

What I'd propose is that we try to let scripture explain scripture wherever possible and then try to give an honest appraisal of whether or not our "special definitions" we have infused into the meaning of several words in the chapter really makes more sense than the more common definitions of these words.  We could start with general ideas that we can all agree on (hopefully) and then check those ideas as either more or less likely to fit the ideas created from other parts of the chapter that depend on special definitions. I think this will help us evaluate whether we have built a doctrine upon the more likely or the less likely meaning of the words that Jesus used.

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Sure, I'll be happy to start out. :D

By the end of this discussion we should be able to go through the whole chapter and give a kind of evaluation score to whether we think we have a more likely doctrine or a less likely doctrine. This isn't about whether the meaning we have given a certain idea is impossible, just a way of measuring if the idea is more or less likely.

I'd propose that we have currently been driven to accept a LESS LIKELY definition of the word GENERATION. (Example: "the 1914 generation refers to two groups, where the first group included those whose lifespans overlapped with a second group quite possibly around a point in 1992 or even later, such that we can now add the lifespan of the oldest persons in the second group to the 1914 generation until they might die off in the near future, or perhaps much later, such that the 1914 generation can now include a reference to people born, say in the 1970's or later, living nearly until the year 2050, or even closer to the year 2100.") This has already been discussed elsewhere.

I don't think the definition we give it in the latest Watchtower articles and JW Broadcasting videos is impossible, but it seems very  unlikely. In my experience very few WItnesses will attempt to defend it Biblically. The ones who do make the attempt, have offered scriptures that actually make a much better fit the more common definitions of "generation."  (Exodus 1:6, Genesis 50:23; etc)

Without belaboring the possibility that the current understanding is somehow POSSIBLE, I think almost everyone in the world would agree that it is a LESS LIKELY definition that we are using, than any of the common definitions. (Especially since it can be found in no Bibles, no Bible dictionaries, and no dictionaries.)

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I'll propose one more of the terms to evaluate that we have given a special definition to. It's the term "LIGHTNING."


In the development of the "Invisible parousia" doctrine, the Watchtower has offered several different explanations of the meaning of "lightning" in Jesus phrase:

(Matthew 24:27) 27 For just as the lightning comes out of the east and shines over to the west, so the presence [parousia] of the Son of man will be.

(Luke 17:24) 24 For just as lightning flashes from one part of heaven to another part of heaven, so the Son of man will be in his day.

Lightning is one of the most strikingly SUDDEN & VISIBLE phenomenon known to man, and the context of the verse is about how SUDDEN and UNEXPECTED the "parousia" could surprise people.

But early in the years of developing the doctrine of an INVISIBLE PAROUSIA, Bible Students like N H Barbour, B W Keith, and later, C T Russell, knew that none of them had recognized the parousia when it began. No one suddenly understood when it had started. No one spotted it like a flash of lightning when it began. That's because there was an expectation of a sudden, bright and shining event that would start in 1874, but they were confused when it didn't happen. And it may have been a year or more later before it finally dawned on them that maybe they weren't wrong after all, maybe the PAROUSIA really did start in 1874, but it was invisible.

The problem is that they would have to change the meaning of this verse. Here's how C.T.Russell promoted a change in meaning:

1897: Studies in the Scriptures, The Battle of Armageddon, was one of several places that changed it from "lightning" to "the Sun" which fit the theme of "millennial dawn" a little better. The bracketed words are in the original:

"The Sun of Righteousness Shall Arise"

"Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: or behold he is in the secret chamber; believe it not. For as the bright-shiner [the Sun] cometh out of the East and shineth even unto the West, so shall also the presence [Greek parousia] of the Son of Man be." Matt. 24:26,27. 

Here's how this was explained in the Watch Tower, in May 1914, p.5656 reprints, "Messiah's Kingdom To Be Invisible"

"As the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, and shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of Man be in His Day."

This astounding statement is better understood when we translate the Greek noun astrape as "shining" instead of "lightning"; for evidently it refers to the sun, which rises in the east and sets in the west, shining out of the one part of the heaven even unto the other. But how will this represent the Son of Man in His Day? How will He be like the sun? We answer that the Day of Christ is a thousand-year Day, the Millennium; and our Lord's statement was one of the "dark sayings" of which Jesus said, "I have many things to tell you, but ye cannot bear them now," and promised that in due time the Holy Spirit would grant them an enlightenment, that all of His words might be clearly understood. This portion, now due to be understood, is therefore becoming clear to those of spiritual discernment. Then, that they might gradually learn that these things belonged to a distant time . . .

So by changing the meaning of the word, they didn't really have to explain why it took them so long for their spiritual insight to allow them to see, only after the fact,  that the parousia really had begun in 1874.

In answer to a letter from 1949, the Watchtower explained that this was changed (actual change was in 1934, but this in 1950 added an additional idea) as follows:

*** w50 8/1 p. 239 Letters ***
The book “The Time Is at Hand”, published in 1889, explained the Greek word “astrapé” in Matthew 24:27 to mean the sun as the ‘bright shiner’, because there Jesus mentioned the “astrapé” as coming out of the east and shining even to the west. (See said book at pages 155-157.) However, never in sacred Scripture nor in classical Greek literature is “astrapé” used to refer to the sun of our solar system. At Luke 17:24 Jesus makes a parallel statement, but does not designate any particular direction from which the lightning flashes, saying: “As the lightning [astrapé], that lighteneth [verb astrápto] out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.” Notice that expression “under heaven”, which befits lightning which occurs under the sun in the heavens obscured by the clouds.

The Sun was an extremely unlikely translation of the word for lightning, and this article admitted further down that it was wrong and had no basis. The part quoted above also shows that Russell had forgotten to consider parallel verses in Luke and several other scriptures. The parallel in Luke will also be impportant for another reason. Note from above, near the beginning of this post, that the expression in Matthew "parousia of the Son of man" is paralleled with "the Son of man in his day." It's just another of many indicators that the parousia is less likely to refer to the entire "generation" of "last days" but that it more likely refers to the final judgment event.

Note that for a time, the idea of associating "lightning" with clouds so that it could be associated with "INVISIBILITY" was attempted.

In the Watchtower, August 15, 1940, p.241 the explanation was also a bit convoluted, because Jesus was still "present" since 1874, but had "come" in 1918, and both anointed and their companions still look to the future for the "manifestation" of his presence:

Jesus' words cannot mean that zigzag lightning comes
always out of the east and shines unto the west and that
this represents his coming. What his words really mean is
that the lightnings come or appear in one part of the heavens
and are seen by persons at different points and that therefore
the lightning is not confined to a local place. It is seen
by those who are watching. The"statement recorded by Luke
concerning the same thing supports this view: "For as the
lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven,
shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the
Son of man be in his day."-Luke l.tf: 24.
Lightning originates with Jehovah, says Jeremiah
10: 13. Just so all light upon the divine purpose originates
with Jehovah. When he reveals his light to his anointed
church he does so through the Head of his organization,
Christ Jesus. No human is able to make lightning. Likewise
no human is able to point to the fact that Christ Jesus is at
some local spot on earth. His presence is revealed to those
of God's anointed remnant and their earthly companions
of good will, all of whom look for the manifestation of his
presence. In Matthew 24: 27, "coming'' specifically refers
to his coming to the temple [in 1918] and his presence there for judgment
of the "house of God", which house is composed of
God's anointed and faithful ones and is not a material house
of brick, wood or stone.

Of the more current explanations given, the most common is based on this idea below:

*** w74 12/15 p. 750 Who Will See “the Sign of the Son of Man”? ***
When Christ would return in an invisible presence he would not come as a man on earth. Therefore Christians should not look for him “in the wilderness,” so that they could train with him in some out-of-the-way place for a revolution. Nor would he be in some secret “inner chambers,” where he could conspire against world governments with his followers. No, his presence was to be like lightning, not in its being instantaneous and unexpected, but in its being seen over a wide area, in the open, for everyone to behold. (Luke 17:24; compare Psalm 97:4.) His followers would not keep their knowledge of his invisible presence secret, but would give it widespread proclamation.—Matt. 10:26, 27.

*** ka chap. 16 pp. 321-322 pars. 61-62 Completion of the Foretold “Sign” Nears ***
61 His presence or parousia was to resemble the lightning as to its effects. His parousia was to be like the lightning, not in flashing suddenly, unexpectedly and in the fraction of a second. The emphasis here is not on the lightning’s striking instantaneously unannounced, but on its shining over a broad area, from eastern parts to western parts. (Luke 17:24) The lightning’s illuminative power is like that described in Psalm 97:4: “His lightnings lighted up the productive land; the earth saw and came to be in severe pains.” So, too, the inhabitants of the earth were not to be left in darkness respecting the parousia of the Son of man. From horizon to horizon all the people were to be enlightened concerning his regal parousia. It was to be made as public as is a flash of lightning by its illuminative power, its far-extended shining. To Christ’s disciples today, who are acquainted with his invisible parousia, his words to his apostles nineteen centuries ago apply:
62 “Therefore do not fear them; for there is nothing covered over that will not become uncovered, and secret that will not become known. What I tell you in the darkness, say in the light; and what you hear whispered, preach from the housetops.”—Matthew 10:26, 27.

So the current explanation continues to work with the idea that Jesus did NOT mention lightning because it is sudden and unexpected. Consider how likely this is when considering the further context. In a recent discussion on Matthew 24 note what someone (Gnosis Pithos) said about the very next paragraph in context:


On 7/26/2017 at 8:49 PM, Gnosis Pithos said:

And as in Noah’s time, Jesus judgment will appear as a sudden event in Judgement.

(KJV) Matthew 24:37-39

37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,

39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so, shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

The moral of the story is, People should have been well aware in Noah’s time the purpose of Noah building the ARK just as people today know the purpose of Jesus preaching the gospel of the good news of his impending righteous kingdom, and future judgment. The ONLY similarities between these two events are in “judgment”, it came and will come as a surprise.

It's not impossible that the meaning of "lightning" here refers to the fact that lightning isn't just in one place, but it shines over extended areas. But it's also impossible to avoid the idea of suddenness and surprise in several places throughout the chapter. And it's also impossible to avoid the fact that Jesus had just spoken about those who claimed that Jesus had returned, but that you just couldn't see him. They would say he had returned, but that he wasn't visible at the moment because he was far off somewhere else, or hidden in a room somewhere.

Our current Watchtower explanation is that the "illumination" is given to those with spiritual insight who can then spread the word of his invisible parousia over a wide area. But the previous verses were about claims by those without spiritual insight, and this was the answer to their claims. In other words, the answer to the claim that Jesus might have returned but that he was just not visible was that Jesus parousia would be as visible as lightning. Claims of an invisible presence were therefore going to be false. It would also be bright and sudden and unmistakable as lightning. It would be like the kind of lightning that is visible from one horizon all the way to the other. 

How likely would it be that Jesus was saying that an INVISIBLE PAROUSIA would be just like something as VISIBLE as lightning that covers the entire sky?

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So, we have these six words or terms from Matthew 24 (Mark 13 & Luke 21) for which we are trying to evaluate whether we have chosen a more likely meaning of the term, or a less likely meaning in order to arrive at the INVISIBLE PAROUSIA doctrine. It might even be possible to trace how some of the terms were apparently forced into their special meaning after the decision was made to declare that the PAROUSIA had indeed already begun.


Most of the persons who set dates for the visible return of Christ in the 19th century just stopped setting them as soon as a date didn't pan out. But some had invested so much time and effort into it that this was apparently impossible. Hundreds of thousands paid close attention to the 1843 date set initially by William Miller. When it failed another 1843 date was set, then an 1844 date, and Miller quit setting dates. (Russell would later claim that this showed that Miller was one of the 'foolish virgins whose lamp ran out of oil,' because Miller had given up on setting dates.)

But others who had invested their life and reputation on it waited right up to the last day of 1844. Then, of course, new "adjustments" were discovered that put Jesus return in the 1850's, then the 1860's. But by now there were only tens of thousands paying attention. The typical thing to do was to show your faith by focusing on the very next date, but N H Barbour, after some study and decisions in 1859, decided to skip all those expectations for the mid-1860's and go straight to his 1873 date. (He did not settle on 1874 until 1873 failed.) 

This means that when the 1860's dates failed, Barbour was already set to gain a following for the 1873 date. Less people were setting dates, there were less to choose from that were still based on the Millerite foundation. (Miller himself had mentioned the possibility of the 1870's date, half a century earlier.) When it failed in 1873, Barbour had spent as much of his life as Miller had on these dates. He changed it to 1874, and when that failed he was truly depressed. One of his contributors, B W Keith, went back to some teachings that had been promoted in the 1820's about a two-stage parousia. The first stage would be invisible, and Benjamin Wilson who also believed in a two-stage parousia had published the "Diaglott" as an aid to supporting this idea. (Later the Watch Tower Society--Russell--bought the rights to reprint Benjamin Wilson's Diaglott so that most available copies today have the Watch Tower's name in them.)

Barbour credited Keith with the two-stage idea in his tract ("magazine") and it got Barbour back on track. Barbour spoke about possibly picking up an extra 5,000 of the Second Adventists each month as new subscribers. He fully expected at least 20,000 of the current number of Second Adventists to subscribe. In 1877, Barbour convinced Russell of the urgency of this chronology, because just 3.5 years after the presence had begun, they expected Christ's bride to be changed and to have gone up to heaven in 1878 while "lesser" Christians awaited heaven at a later date. So the Russells sold off most of the assets of their largest company so that Barbour could distribute his tracts and booklets more widely.

When 1878 failed, subscribers dropped, and trouble also broke out between Barbour and Russell. Barbour blamed it on disagreements with Russell about money. Russell blamed it on a doctrinal disagreement. (Russell had "crazy" views about the ransom that are no longer considered valid, and Barbour had his own "crazy" view.)

By mid-1879 Russell had convinced three major contributors to Barbour to come over to his own new magazine. Russell also sent out an offer to all the Barbour subscribers to switch over to the Watch Tower. And it was also timed to pick up the current subscribers of a Second Adventist magazine from California as that magazine was just running out of money and discontinuing. So Russell printed up 8,000 copies of the first July 1879 issue. In 1879, there was still an urgency again for the next major date, because Russell expected the Bride of Christ to be changed in October 1881. (3.5 years plus 3.5 years from October 1874.) Lesser Christians would remain on earth until around 1914, when the Harvest would be complete.

Because of the failure of 1881, the number of subscribers remained low. (8,000 had been an overestimate.) But the book series, Divine Plan of the Ages (1886), The Time is at Hand (1889), and Thy Kingdom Come (1891), were extremely popular, "proving" the 1874 chronology with charts containing pyramids and diagrams, and pointing to great expectations between then and up to 1914.

Everything was invested into this idea of a two-stage parousia that started invisibly in 1874 and would manifest itself most visibly in the years just prior to 1914 (later adjusted to the year and months just following 1914).


Most people here are probably already generally aware of this background information, but it is difficult to understand why parts of the 1874 chronology lasted nearly 70 years -- until 1943/1944 without this background. (My father remembers believing in 1874, but says they were mostly calling it 1878 just before he was baptized.) It also can help explain why it was easy to just transfer the explanation of Matthew 24 from an 1874 chronology over to a 1914 chronology when that became necessary. It still remained a "two-stage Parousia" in every case.

Will pick up on another one of the terms in the next post.

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Yes, I was about to go straight to the word PAROUSIA as the next term to discuss, and to me this is an easy one. But it is so ingrained as the basis for related teachings that I will save it for later. So, instead:


The NWT and WT now refer to this term as "Appointed Times of the Nations." based on Luke 21:24. Comparing the KJV and the NWT, the verse read as follows:

Luke 21:24 King James Version (KJV)

24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

NWT (Luke 21:24) 24 And they will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.

This discussion probably won't deal so much with Daniel 4 directly, however, there are numerous Biblical problems with using a type/antitype fulfillment that uses a wicked, pagan, Gentile king Nebuchadnezzar and has him stand in for the Jewish Messianic kingdom under Jesus Christ. The beast-like humiliation of Nebuchadnezzar as a lesson for his haughtiness lasts for "seven times" until he is restored to his throne. That moment when he is restored after seven times is supposed to represent how Jesus restored the Messianic kingdom by sitting back down on the throne after seven times. Of course, the beast-like humiliation of a pagan Gentile king as a lesson for haughtiness makes no sense when applied to Jesus' Messianic kingdom. 

But the 1874 chronology that included a 40 year harvest ending in 1914 had failed. For a while the emphasis shifted to a 40 year harvest from 1878 to 1918, but that was not to last either. The Watch Tower Society finally dropped every vestige of the 1874 chronology and went back to this secondary method of reaching the date 1914. They simply noticed that if you work backwards and count 2,520 years from 1914 you will reach 606 BC, so this date 606 became the new date for the fall of the Jewish Messianic kingdom. It didn't matter that there was absolutely ZERO evidence for Jerusalem being destroyed in that year, but it appeared to be only about 20 years off, so that was considered close enough. It had already been one of the evidences that Barbour had used prior to Russell, although both of them considered other evidence to be better. In 1876, Russell had used Leviticus as the primary scripture for claiming the Gentiles would chastise the Jews for seven times, and he tied the mention of 7 times in Daniel 4 as a support of the scripture in Leviticus:

(Leviticus 26:28) . . .and I myself will have to chastise you seven times for your sins. . .

Later it was noticed that this verse in Leviticus wasn't really about seven periods of time, so the WTS now pinned everything on Daniel 4 (without Leviticus) and it became the new primary support for 1914. We simply said that the 7 times means 7 years, and that 7 years are made up of 2,520 "prophetic" days using 360 days to a year, and 2,520 "prophetic" days must  be thought of as 2,520 solar years (of 365.25 days each). We then say Nebuchadnezzar represented the Messianic kingdom. And, of course, we also needed to start a pseudo-chronology that pretended it was possible to move Jerusalem's destruction by Nebuchadnezzar back 20 years from where all the evidence pointed, so that 2,520 years would land on 1914.

The WTS once claimed that there were about 10 different threads of evidence that all pointed to 1914, and all but one of these came through the date 1874 and added 40 years. The date 1914 now hangs by only this one single thread now based solely on a dream about Nebuchadnezzar's 7 time periods of insanity.


The above is worded truthfully, but clearly in a way that makes it seem unlikely to have been correct. But I'm not trying to say it is impossible. This is just an exercise to see if we have assigned the most likely meaning to it. So is there any way to check ourselves against other scriptures and see if we picked the most likely time period?

Turns out there are at least two scriptures to help here.

One is the verse itself. Note that Luke 21:24 says that they "WILL FALL by the edge of the sword and Jerusalem WILL BE TRAMPLED on by the nations UNTIL the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled."

Note that this action of Jerusalem falling by the edge of the sword is is in the future, and it is directly connected to the trampling that is also placed in the future. We know from history that Jerusalem fell by the edge of the sword in 70 CE, and that Jerusalem was therefore and thereby trampled on by the nations.

The Watch Tower publications have a different view of this scripture. It is understood by the WTS to mean that Jerusalem will continue to be trampled on by the nations from 676 years prior to 70 CE and for another 1844 years after 70 (until 1914). But, if that was true --and important-- why didn't Jesus use the proper tense. Both Aramaic and koine Greek have tenses that cover ongoing action as opposed to simple future action.

Discussions of specific language and tense cannot be definitive, however. There may always be more than one way to read something, and our only goal here is to find evidence for what is likely.

There is another verse however that gives us an indication of an actual time period to attach to these "appointed times of the nations."

When Jesus said "and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled" it would have been nice if he replaced those "times" with an actual amount of time. That would surely get us on the right track. In other words what if Jesus had said

: "the nations, they will trample on Jerusalem until seven times are fulfilled."

or since "seven times" are the same as "seven years" and therefore 2,520 days, we would even accept:

"the nations, they will trample on Jerusalem, the holy city, until 2,520 days are fulfilled"

Or since 2520 days is the same as 84 months of 30 days each, we would accept:

"the nations, they will trample on the holy city for 84 months."

Well, as most of already know, Jesus actually did say something like that when he gave the Revelation to John, and this should clear up why we attach a length of "seven times" to the "times of the nations." In Revelation 11:2, Jesus says:

(Revelation 11:2) . . .the nations, and they will trample the holy city underfoot for 42 months.

Imagine the joy that the Watchtower Society must have felt when it was discovered that Jesus himself had attached a time period to the Gentile Times, and thus cleared up any question about the whether or not it was "likely" that the Gentile Times were actually 84 months long as the Watchtower claims! (84 x 30 = 2520)

In fact, this scripture was the basis for so many Bible chronologists attaching a length of 42 months, or 1,260 days to the Gentile Times. Many of those commentators, especially the ones in the 19th century, therefore attached a period of 1,260 years to the Gentile Times. This included John Aquila Brown, about whom the Watch Tower publications said the following:

*** jv chap. 10 p. 134 Growing in Accurate Knowledge of the Truth ***
As early as 1823, John A. Brown, whose work was published in London, England, calculated the “seven times” of Daniel chapter 4 to be 2,520 years in length. But he did not clearly discern the date with which the prophetic time period began or when it would end. He did, however, connect these “seven times” with the Gentile Times of Luke 21:24. In 1844, E. B. Elliott, a British clergyman, drew attention to 1914 as a possible date for the end of the “seven times” of Daniel, but he also set out an alternate view that pointed to the time of the French Revolution. Robert Seeley, of London, in 1849, handled the matter in a similar manner. At least by 1870, a publication edited by Joseph Seiss and associates and printed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was setting out calculations that pointed to 1914 as a significant date, even though the reasoning it contained was based on chronology that C. T. Russell later rejected.

These statements contain some misleading and false ideas buried within them. For example, John Aquila Brown did not clearly discern the date with which the prophetic time period began or when it ended. Did Russell clearly discern the beginning and end dates of the period? Russell vacillated between 606 and 607 and finally decided it must be 606 for the beginning --- even though he was about 20 years off from the evidence. Russell vacillated between 1914 and 1915 for the end date, then even indicated that he was willing to dismiss the whole chronology as potentially laughable for a time, and finally came back to 1914 and 1915 after he saw the Great War begin in 1914.

The Proclaimer's book also says that "He [Brown] did, however, connect these "seven times" with the Gentile Times of Luke 21:24."

That statement is absolutely false. Brown always denied any connection between the "seven times" of Daniel with the "Gentile Times" of Luke 21:24. And that's at least partially based on the fact that he knew that Revelation 11:2 had already attached a different time period to the Gentile Times of Luke 21:24.

There are a lot of other funny or ironic claims and ideas to look into from this section of the book. This happens whenever someone tries to present a partially cleaned up history of their own chronology beliefs that already failed in the past.

Even the very definition given to the term "Gentile Times" failed in 1914. And that's the main point of what this discussion is looking for. It was the very meaning that the Watch Tower publications had given to the term Gentile Times that was tied to all the expectations that 1914 and 1915 would bring. All 100% of those expectations failed, and therefore the definition given to term "Gentile Times" must also be considered unlikely.

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I think a debate about this does not serve any purpose because there are many other scriptures in the bible that supports an invisible rule from heaven.  Why would we need SIGNS if it were visible?  The signs are an indication that something has happened that we have not seen but has had an effect on earth.  REV 12: 7-12 gives a good indication that the Kingdom was established in heaven (invisible to human eyes) and authority was given to Christ.  There is a war and Satan and his demons cast out.  We cannot see demons can we?   They are cast out to the earth and it laments the effects this event will have on the earth which will be a clear sign that we are in the final days of human rule. "Short time left" indicates this.

The illustration of a pregnant lady puts it clearly..... we can see the signs that she is pregnant (big bump) and we know the birth is eminent .... close ...... but we do not know the hour.     Similar to the 'signs' on earth....we are in the ninth month -  but the day and hour will come suddenly. 

In the past the governing body have gone into great detail to explain every little nuance - but we have heard so many times in the past few years that they are sticking to the broader lines of each illustration.  Similarly - we need to read all the scriptures connected to this time together and let them explain each other.  I do not think that going in the past history of the governing body and the detailed versions ( which was part of those historical times) to cloud our vision at this time.  I do not care about the word "Parousia" there are enough other scriptures in the  bible which indicates that it will be invisible.  

Jesus said there will be many false Christs appearing or rumors of this.  Why?  because Muslim and Christendom are expecting Jesus/Isa to come in the flesh as a ruler or fight with a sword..... " If possible to corrupt the true disciples."....Jesus will not come in the flesh and his armies will be the angels - not humans.  Humans will physically kill each other and certain "signs" will appear to indicate that Armageddon is here!  The heavenly angels will then finish the job of removing the wicked.   I believe that the time of end will be like the time when israel left Egypt - Jehovah will "prove to be"  by his deeds and signs just like he used Moses - he will again use faithful servants to bring the message and support his people in this time to do the job. Noah was a preacher until the end.   This preaching work in the entire world is part of the 'sign' of the time of the end.  The appearance of a slave who gives spiritual food to the nations 'free' is a sign of the end.  And it asks the question - who is he?  So we must be able to recognize the slave....

Our ruler will be 'invisible' from heaven and the principles which will unite the world (all nations) as one, are principles that are practical and workable (a peaceable ideology- I call Social Studies 101). But only if all in the new world citizens willingly agree to follow these principles and leave their egos behind. No man is to control another or even tell them what to do.... each person to care more for another than for themselves so we all care for each other collectively and the wellbeing of others in respect and principled love.  We do not need a physical ruler if we all follow these principles.  The ruler is already ruling invisibly.... Those who like to lord it over others will NOT be kept alive!  Our shepherds will be loving shepherds.... who care and only provide help and guidance.... no domination whatsoever or "lording" it over others because this trait is a trait out of Satan's book!  All forms of control or dominion has its origins in the ego and will disappear.  Satan had a ego and wanted more attention from humans than he deserved.  

So these Social studies 101 tells me that we will have direct rule from God and his chosen representative in heaven and like a shepherd tends to flocks the "princes" will be humble shepherds who fall under the same invisible rulership.  There are more than enough other scriptures to indicate that Jesus will start ruling amidst his enemies.... 

The time line of the bible is given to us as an indication of how far we are in the stream of time and the purposes of Jehovah to come in fulfillment - like 1914.   The entire bible is a "restoration project of the earth." and Jehovah has been silently working to come to the point where his legal ruler will start ruling and bring his purposes to fulfillment.  Each individual can choose if they want to be part of it - or NOT.

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Thanks @Arauna for the comments. I agree that the SIGN is an important part of this discussion, and as you say there may be evidence for INVISIBILITY that we haven't considered here yet. I think all of this is important so that we can have a comprehensive view and understanding of our own beliefs : (1 Peter 3:15) ". . .always ready to make a defense before everyone who demands of you a reason . . . ."

I'd love to get to those other points you made right away, especially the topic of "the SIGN."  Just before that, I hoped to cover the term:

CONCLUSION (pt. 1 of 2)

The NWT uses the word "conclusion" to translate the Greek word: "SYNTELEIA" as the way to distinguish it from "TELOS" which means "END."

(Matthew 24:3) While he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately, saying: “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion [synteleia] of the system of things?”

However, technically, TELOS can also be translated as "conclusion" not just "end:"

Strong's #5056: telos (pronounced tel'-os) from a primary tello (to set out for a definite point or goal); properly, the point aimed at as a limit, i.e. (by implication) the conclusion of an act or state

and SYNTELEIA can also be translated as "end" not just "conclusion:"

Strong's #4930 syntéleiaσυντέλεια (pronounced soon-tel'-i-ah); entire completion, i.e. consummation (of a dispensation):—end. (http://biblehub.com/greek/4930.htm https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=nasb&strongs=g4930and other online sources.) 

Many translations of the Bible translate the word SYNTELEIA as END rather than "conclusion." Does it make a difference? The Bible Hub source includes the following note:

[The KJV is misleading by rendering 4930 (syntéleia) as "the end of the world" (i.e. when it occurs with aiōn, "age/epoch"). This expression actually means "at the "consummation of the age," i.e. when it reaches its intended climax (consummated conclusion).]

Initially, when the 1950 NWT came out, SYNTELEIA was translated "consummation".

(Matthew 24:3, NW 1950) “What will be the sign of your presence and of the consummation of the system of things?”

Since "presence" already covered the potentially long period, it was not that much of a concern to prove whether "consummation" referred to just the final end or ran completely parallel with the "presence."

And of course, the WTS later chose the word "conclusion" in support of the potentially long time period, as opposed to a "final end" which the WTS concludes that only "TELOS" refers to. Here are the current Watch Tower's study notes on Matthew 24:3. Note that the NWT "renders" the word from a meaning that does not specifically focus on a drawn-out conclusion.

*** nwtsty Matthew Study Notes—Chapter 24 ***
conclusion: Rendered from the Greek word syn·teʹlei·a, meaning “joint end; combination end; ending together.” (Mt 13:39, 40, 49; 28:20; Heb 9:26) This refers to a time period during which a combination of events would lead to the complete “end” mentioned at Mt 24:6, 14, where a different Greek word, teʹlos, is used.—See study notes on Mt 24:6, 14 and Glossary, “Conclusion of the system of things.”

And a 2008 Watchtower on the subject adds this:

*** w08 2/15 p. 21 par. 2 Christ’s Presence—What Does It Mean to You? ***
2 To take the second expression first, consider the term “conclusion,” the translation of the Greek word syn·teʹlei·a. In the New World Translation, this word is consistently rendered “conclusion,” whereas a related Greek word, te’los, is translated “end.” The difference in the meaning of these two words can be illustrated by describing a talk given at the Kingdom Hall. The conclusion of the talk is the last section, in which the speaker spends a little time reminding the audience of what he has been discussing and then shows how that information applies to them. The end of the talk is when the speaker walks off the platform. In a similar way, Biblically speaking, the term “the conclusion of the system of things” refers to the period of time leading up to and including its end.

In common speech, of course, there is sometimes a bit of overlap and interchangeability in the use of these two words, as in:

  • "At the conclusion of his talk, he walked off the stage." "At the end of his talk, he walked off the stage."
  • "The book starts to get really exciting at the end." "The book starts to get really exciting at the conclusion."
  • "This is an end-of-year sales event." "This is a conclusion-of-year sales event."

But it's still true that the temporal sense of the English words "end" and "conclusion" usually do match the idea in the 2008 Watchtower. So does this mean that we have made use of the most likely meaning of "synteleia"? Just because we have made a proper illustration of the difference between the English words, does not mean we have translated correctly from the koine Greek in Matthew 24. 

Remember that the Watchtower has long proposed that "PAROUSIA" is not a judgment event but a time period that lasts longer than 100 years, possibly even as much as 150 or 200 years. And because this idea of a long time period already makes sense to us, then translating SYNTELEIA as "conclusion" also makes sense. After PAROUSIA was re-defined away from the traditional definitions, we really seemed to have no choice but to also re-define SYNTELEIA away from the traditional definitions.

*** w08 2/15 p. 22 par. 3 Christ’s Presence—What Does It Mean to You? ***
It could be said that the period constituting “the conclusion of the system of things” (syn·teʹlei·a) corresponds to or runs parallel with the period called Christ’s presence (pa·rou·siʹa).

But here's the problem. (Actually the bigger problem is that it's very easy to show that Parousia refers to a final judgment event, but we have put off that discussion until later.) The problem in front of us now, is that both the Greek word parousia and the Greek word synteleia were BOTH being used as terms that referred to a final judgment event, rather than a long time period.

Not only that, but the term SYNTELEIA might have been an even more consistent reference to a final, system-consummating "END EVENT" than the word "TELOS."

(1 Peter 1:20) . . .True, he was foreknown before the founding of the world, but he was made manifest at the end [telos] of the times for the sake of you.

Not that TELOS should ever generally refer to a long drawn-out period of time either, but that even if TELOS refers to the final end part of the conclusion of the system, SYN-TELOS (synteleia) could be an even more emphatic reference to the END event, especially in the context of Matthew 24.

If SYNTELEIA can mean "ending together" or "end of all things together" as a way to emphasize the TELOS it could be the reason that 1 Peter uses the phrase:

(1 Peter 4:7) 7 But the end of all things has drawn close.. . . [uses TELOS]

In the context of Matthew 24, it's not hard to understand why the disciples are depicted as using the idea of SYNTELEIA.

Remember that the disciples could not have been asking for a sign of an INVISIBLE presence because they were only asking about a sign to warn them in time for something visible: the event that would knock down all the stones of the Temple. The Watchtower admits this idea, too:

*** w96 8/15 p. 13 par. 19 Jesus’ Coming or Jesus’ Presence—Which? ***
Even if the apostles had in mind simply the idea of Jesus’ future arrival, Christ may have used bi·ʼahʹ to allow for more than what they were thinking.

*** w92 10/1 p. 16 par. 8 The Messiah’s Presence and His Rule ***
He gave one such illustration as part of his answer to his apostles’ question about when his pa·rou·siʹa would begin; another he gave because “they were imagining that the kingdom of God was going to display itself instantly.”

If they thought it would DISPLAY ITSELF instantly, then they could only use an advance warning sign, not a set of ongoing signs to help them identify when they were in the middle of an invisible presence. Signs like that wouldn't tell them anything about when the Temple would be destroyed.

*** w64 9/15 p. 575 Questions From Readers ***
At Matthew 24:3, when Jesus’ disciples asked him about the “sign” of his presence, what did they have in mind, since later events show that they did not at that time understand that it would be an invisible presence? . . . [Answer]. . . But not yet having received holy spirit, they did not appreciate that he would not sit on an earthly throne; they had no idea that he would rule as a glorious spirit from the heavens and therefore did not know that his second presence would be invisible

If they had no idea about an invisible presence, or a long drawn out period of time, then why does the WTS conclude that they must have used words that contained this meaning. Why do we point out that both of these words referred to an extended period of time?

*** w08 2/15 p. 22 par. 4 Christ’s Presence—What Does It Mean to You? ***
The fact that the word pa·rou·siʹa refers to an extended period of time harmonizes with what Jesus said with regard to his presence.

In fact, it's easy to show that it was not only illogical, but very unlikely that the disciples chose terms that referred to an extended period of time. But this post is a bit long already, so this topic will be split into two parts.


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Very interesting so far JWInsider. Enjoying reading your analysis.

I got into a discussion once with a "Bible Student" and he wanted to know the difference between Christ's coming (to execute final judgement) and his parousia (the invisible extended period of time prior to that). He said it was one and the same thing. It does get kind of confusing when Jesus apparently "came" in 1918...

I'm sure you are aware of the July 2013 WT, where the writers attempted to explain the new understanding.  (I realise this is bringing another element into the equation, namely the faithful and discreet slave)

16 Regarding the faithful and discreet slave, Jesus says: “Happy is that slave if his master on arriving [“having come,” ftn.] finds him doing so.” In the parable of the virgins, Jesus states: “While they were going off to buy, the bridegroom arrived [“came,” Kingdom Interlinear].” In the parable of the talents, Jesus relates: “After a long time the master of those slaves came.” In the same parable, the master says: “On my arrival [“having come,” Int] I would be receiving what is mine.” (Matt. 24:46; 25:10, 19, 27) To what time do these four instances of Jesus’ coming refer?

17 In the past, we have stated in our publications that these last four references apply to Jesus’ arriving, or coming, in 1918. As an example, take Jesus’ statement about “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Read Matthew 24:45-47.) We understood that the “arriving” mentioned in verse 46 was linked to the time when Jesus came to inspect the spiritual condition of the anointed in 1918 and that the appointment of the slave over all the Master’s belongings occurred in 1919. (Mal. 3:1) However, a further consideration of Jesus’ prophecy indicates that an adjustment in our understanding of the timing of certain aspects of Jesus’ prophecy is needed. Why so?

 18 In the verses that lead up to Matthew 24:46, the word “coming” refers consistently to the time when Jesus comes to pronounce and execute judgment during the great tribulation. (Matt. 24:30, 42, 44) Also, as we considered in  paragraph 12, Jesus’ ‘arriving’ mentioned at Matthew 25:31 refers to that same future time of judgment. So it is reasonable to conclude that Jesus’ arrival to appoint the faithful slave over all his belongings, mentioned at Matthew 24:46, 47, also applies to his future coming, during the great tribulation. * Indeed, a consideration of Jesus’ prophecy in its entirety makes it clear that each of these eight references to his coming applies to the future time of judgment during the great tribulation.


I am looking forward to what your final conclusion is, summarized in just a few paragraphs I hope! xD9_9

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CONCLUSION (pt. 2 of 2)

In part one of this post, it should have already been made clear that the Greek word "SYNTELEIA" might mean more than just a "conclusion" in the common sense of the word. But we haven't really tried to prove it yet. The rendering of "conclusion" was based on the accepted meaning: “joint end; combination end; ending together.”  In that first post, it was claimed that the Greek word parousia and the Greek word synteleia were BOTH used as terms that actually referred to a final judgment event. The Watchtower has commonly claimed that the words do not refer to events so much as the extended period of time of the PAROUSIA which is inferred when they are translated, respectively, as "presence" and "conclusion," as opposed to:

  • parousia: advent/arrival/coming/royal visitation
  • synteleia: consummation/end/ending altogether/final end

So in this part 2 of the post, we'll look at the evidence for claiming that SYNTELEIA refers to more than just a conclusion.

First we should admit that there was a range of use of the word, but we should also point out that the word is RARE in the Greek Scriptures. Except for a single use in Hebrews, all of the other 5 uses are in Matthew, and all of them are in reference to the PAROUSIA, the final judgment event, or the final "return" of Jesus at the end of the system of things. In the Bible, it is NOT a common word that's found in the usual places for just any type of "conclusion." It's used outside the Bible too, and except for a meaning that deals with "taxation" or "taxable dependency" the meanings come much closer to the the idea of a final end than a long drawn-out conclusion. But even in non-religious usage the word had a similar meaning

Note: Here's a quote from Thebes and Boeotia in the Fourth Century B.C., Authors: S.C.Bakhuizen, Source: Phoenix, Vol 48 No 4 (Winter 1994), pp. 307-330.

"The words syntelein and synteleia had a fairly wide range of meanings: as a verb "to finish," "to complete," as a noun "accomplishment," "completion." In a narrow sense they could be accountancy terms. . . "

In my opinion, it fits closer to the idea presented here:

But, while sitting on the Mount of Olives the disciples came to him in a private spot, asking: “Tell us, when will this occur?1 {MK13:4 and the sign when all this will be fulfilled?2} And, what will be the sign3 of your Arrival4 [Daniel 7:22; 12:2] and the complete end5 of the Age?”6 [Daniel 9:26, 27] {LK21:7 “When will this all occur?”7}


Complete end: Here the Greek is a heightened form of TELOS (= end), SYNTELEIAS (= with + end). The disciples likely assumed that the destruction of the Temple meant the Return (Presence) or Arrival of Christ and therefore “the end of the world” as they knew it. . . . This is a word that only occurred once before in the Nazarene’s parable of wheat and tares at Matthew 13:40. However, note this word occurs in the Jewish Greek Bible (LXX) at Daniel 9:27 in the context of Jerusalem’s foretold ‘desolation.’ Compare also Hebrews 9:26 where SYNTELEIA is used with regard to the First Coming of Christ in the “last days” of the Jewish Age (Hebrews 1:1; Acts 2:17; Jude 18; 1 Corinthians 10:11). Judging from Jesus’ admission that he does not ‘know the day and hour’ (Matthew 24:36) there is no way the Nazarene could tell his disciples about the date of “the complete end” or SYNTELEIAS.


To see if this idea is true, we should know the range of possible meanings in the Biblical contexts, and we should look at how it was used in as many related sources as we can. Obviously the Bible book of Matthew itself is important, along with Biblical contexts such as the translation of the OT in the LXX, and how it was used in Jewish religious literature known at the time, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and various apocalyptic writings.

The Bible's use of the word in Matthew is as follows: (Matthew is the only gospel account to use the word synteleia, and also the only gospel to use the word parousia.)

(Matthew 13:39-43,49) 39 . . . The harvest is a conclusion [synteleia] of a system of things, and the reapers are angels. 40 Therefore, just as the weeds are collected and burned with fire, so it will be in the conclusion [synteleia] of the system of things. 41 The Son of man will send his angels, and they will collect out from his Kingdom all things that cause stumbling and people who practice lawlessness, 42 and they will pitch them into the fiery furnace. There is where their weeping and the gnashing of their teeth will be. 43 At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.. . .49 That is how it will be in the conclusion [synteleia] of the system of things. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from among the righteous 50 and will cast them into the fiery furnace.

In the Watch Tower publications, the "harvest" is often referred to as an extended period of time, a process that has been occurring over the last 100-plus years and may go on for another 50 to 100 years based on the current definitions presented in the Watchtower. The harvest, per our publications, has continued even while seed-planting and growing continue to occur over these same 100-plus years. But those who have ever actually harvested a field of wheat know that this is more of an event. No one continues to plant and water during the harvest.  Yet, this is how the WTS must describe it:

*** kr chap. 9 p. 88 par. 6 Results of Preaching—“The Fields . . . Are White for Harvesting” ***
“The harvest is a conclusion of a system of things.” Thus, the harvest season and the conclusion of this system of things began at the same time—in 1914.

Paying close attention to the wording in Matthew 13, we actually find terms applied to the synteleia and parousia that the Watchtower typically applies to the "manifestation" or "revelation" of Jesus Christ, but we'll get to that under the topic of parousia. Another place where a similar point is made is in James, and we'll include it here because we have just seen how Jesus says that the "harvest" is a SYNTELEIA:

(James 5:7, 8) 7 Be patient then, brothers, until the presence [PAROUSIA] of the Lord. Look! The farmer keeps waiting for the precious fruit of the earth, exercising patience over it until the early rain and the late rain arrive. 8 You too exercise patience; make your hearts firm, because the presence [PAROUSIA] of the Lord has drawn close.

Notice, that in James, the PAROUSIA hadn't started yet. Christians, however, live with the imminence of the PAROUSIA always in mind. But it had drawn close, not because of any SIGNS James had seen, but because this is how Christians in all ages should live. The point here is that in the analogy of the harvest, patience is needed during the growing season, and there was no need for patience after the parousia, but only UNTIL the parousia. We need patience because the "presence" has drawn close, but do not need patience when the parousia is here. 

In fact, Matthew's only other use of "SYNTELEIA" produces the same kind of problem for the Watch Tower publications that James produces:

(Matthew 28:20) . . .And look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion [SYNTELEIA] of the system of things.”

These are the last words of the entire book of Matthew. (And outside of Matthew, the term SYNTELEIA is only used in one other place, which we'll get to later.) The resurrected Jesus, here says that he will be present from that point in 33 CE until the SYNTELEIA. If the synteleia began in 1914, then Jesus would only be present with his disciples from 33 CE and until 1914.


Keener's Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew points out three commentaries that attempt a distinction between synteleia and telos, in which the synteleia can include the great tribulation for example, and telos refers to the final end. But he gives reasons to conclude the following on page 563:

Grammatically the coming and close of the age are linked by the single sign and represent a single question. . . . But despite the intentional connection between 24:6 and 14, synteleia and telos are interchangeable in this discourse.

NON-CANONICAL books of Jewish Literature

Jewish apocalyptic literature, in Greek, was common and well-known among Jewish people, and became especially salient as Rome continued pushing its own agenda through mean-spirited governors, collaborating kings (Herod), compromising Jewish sects (Sadducees), and the Jewish revolutionaries endangering all of them by standing up to Rome.

For example, 2 Baruch speaks of the 12 good and bad [rivers of] waters that flowed through Zion and he finally reaches the discussion of the 11th water which was their current time period after Babylon had destroyed, and awaiting the 12th which is the age to come (Example: the "bright" 8th water was the good King Hezekiah standing up to Sennacherib, the "black" 9th water was the time of wicked King Manasseh, the "bright" 10th water was good King Josiah.) Under the heading of the 11th waters 2 Baruch says:

67: . . .That Zion was so delivered up, And that lo! the Gentiles boast in their hearts, And assemble before their idols and say, "She is trodden down. . ." . . .  Yet after these things shall the dispersed among the Gentiles be taken hold of by tribulation, . . .

[Note that If Jesus had alluded to this, then his listeners might have been reminded that the time of the Gentiles trodding down Zion actually could have started back in 587 BCE +-20yrs. Luke offers no support for this idea however. ]

About the 12th waters, 2 Baruch says, in chapters 68-74, that the SYNTELEIA comes after all the expected SIGNS:

68: 2 For after these things time will come when your people shall fall into distress, so that they shall all run the risk of perishing together. 3 Nevertheless, they will be saved, . . .  4 And they will have in (due) time much joy. . . .  7 But it will come to pass after these things that there will be the fall of many nations. . . . 70 . . .2 Behold! the days come, and it shall be when the time of the age has ripened, And the harvest of its evil and good seeds has come, That the Mighty One will bring upon the earth and its inhabitants and upon its rulers perturbation of spirit and stupor of heart. And they shall hate one another, And provoke one another to fight, . . .6  And when those things which were predicted have come to pass, Then shall confusion fall upon all men, And some of them shall fall in battle, And some of them shall perish in anguish, 7 And some of them shall be destroyed by their own. Then the Most High peoples whom He has prepared before,

And they shall come and make war with the leaders that shall then be left.

8        And it shall come to pass that whoever gets safe out of the war shall die in the earthquake,

And whoever gets safe out of the earthquake shall be burned by the fire,

And whoever gets safe out of the fire shall be destroyed by famine.

9 [And it shall come to pass that whoever of the victors and the vanquished gets safe out of and escapes all these things aforesaid will be delivered into the hands of My servant Messiah.] . . . 71 1 And the holy land shall have mercy on its own, And it shall protect its inhabitants at that time. . . 72 'Hear now also regarding the bright lightning which is to come at the consummation [SYNTELEIA] after these . . . 2 After the signs have come, of which you were told before, when the nations become turbulent, and the time of My Messiah is come, he shall both summon all the nations, and some of them he shall spare, and some of them he shall slay. . . . 4 Every nation, which knows not Israel and has not trodden down the seed of Jacob, shall indeed be spared. . . . 73 1 And it shall come to pass, when He has brought low everything that is in the world,   And has sat down in peace for the age on the throne of His kingdom, That joy shall then be revealed, And rest shall appear. . . . And anxiety and anguish and lamentation pass from amongst men, And gladness proceed through the whole earth. . . .  And asps and dragons shall come forth from their holes to submit themselves to a little child.  7 And women shall no longer then have pain when they bear, Nor shall they suffer torment when they yield the fruit of the womb. 74 1 And it shall come to pass in those days that the reapers shall not grow weary, Nor those that build be toil-worn; For the works shall of themselves speedily advance Together with those who do them in much tranquility. 2 For that time is the consummation [SYNTELEIA] of that which is corruptible, And the beginning of that which is not corruptible.

There are others, but I already quoted this one with too much length for context.

Also, we have the LXX which gives us several examples of the types of phrases and contexts where the translators thought it appropriate to translate certain Hebrew words with the Greek word SYNTELEIA.

An overview of the uses of SYNTELEIA that we are interested in is found in the following work, also partially available on Google Books at the link given.

Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: Abridged in One Volume edited by Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, page 1163:



  1. Outside the Bible this word means “common accomplishment” (also “taxes”), “cooperation,” “execution,” “completion,” “conclusion”.
  2. In the LXX it has such varied senses as “execution,” “totality,” “satiety,” “fulfillment,” “conclusion,” “cessation” and “destruction.”
  3. In Daniel LXX it is a technical term for the eschatological “end” (cf. 11:35, 12:4), though it may also mean “end” in a more general sense (9:26). It is a technical apocalyptic term in the Testaments of the Twelve, sometimes with the thought of “completion”.
  4. Qumram [Dead Sea Scrolls] has a reference to the “end” of time.
  5. The NT uses the term only in eschatological sayings….In Matthew the phrase “end of the age”  . . . refers to events that have yet to take place, including the judgment.
  6. Of the apostolic fathers, only Hermas uses synteleia (the “end”). The apologist Tatian uses it in the context of resurrection and judgment.

Another evidence for SYNTELEIA meaning a "final end" is the verb form of the word SYNTELEO, which is always used in the Greek Scriptures in the sense of "final completion," including the LXX.

Strong's Dictionary indicates the following definitions: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=G4931&t=KJV

  1. to end together or at the same time

  2. to end completely

    1. bring to an end, finish, complete

  3. to accomplish, bring to fulfilment

    1. to come to pass

  4. to effect, make, (conclude)

  5. to finish

    1. to make an end of

    2. to bring to an end

    3. destroy


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    • By JW Insider
      Even before C.T.Russell was born, commentaries on Bible prophecy included  dozens of potential dates. Nearly 200 years ago, a couple of them even included 1914 as potentially significant time period. The "1914 presence" doctrine, however, is only about 75 years old.
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      Besides, for most of the years of teaching this doctrine, we have had the flexibility of extending the "1914 generation" from a possible 40 years, up to 70, then 75, then 80 years. And this has been applied to teenagers who saw 1914, 10-year-olds who saw 1914, then even newborns who saw 1914. With every one of these options already tried and stretched to their limits, we finally were forced to convert the meaning of generation from its most common meanings and give it a new "strained" meaning that has no other Biblical parallel. (See Exodus 1:6; Matthew 1:17; 16:4; 23:36; Luke 11:50)
      But that flexibility is still seen as the last reason for hope that the Watch Tower Society might have still been correct in hanging on to 1914. Since the Bible says that a lifespan is 70 or 80 years and 1914 + 80 = 1994, the "generation" doctrine in its original form (1943) could remain stable until about 1994. Of course, a lifespan could technically reach to 120 years or more, and Gen 6:3 even gives vague support to the idea that the "1914 generation" could last 120 years, until 2034.
      The current alternative solution is to make the generation out of the length of two lifespans, which technically could be double 120 years, or nearly 240 years from 1914. That would have had the potential to reach to the year 2154 (1914+240) except for the caveat that it can, by its new definition, only refer to anointed persons who discerned the sign in 1914 and whose lives overlapped (technically, by as little as one second) with the lifespan of another anointed person representing the second group. If persons from each group don't really discern their own "anointing" until age 20, for example, this would effectively remove 40 years from the overall maximum. 1914+120-20+120-20 = 2114. We could also assume a possible lifespan of more than 120 years, but otherwise, the new two-lifespan generation could potentially make the generation last 200 years. This "technical maximum" is not promoted currently, because for now we look at examples like Fred Franz who was part of that original generation already anointed and who saw the sign, and the typical example of an anointed brother who was apparently "anointed" prior to Franz' death in 1992 would be someone like Governing Body member, Brother Sanderson, who was born in 1965, baptized in 1975, and was already a "special pioneer" in 1991. His is currently 52.
      However, the generation problem is just one more problem now which we can add onto the list of all the other points that make up the 1914 doctrine. Here are several points related to 1914 that appear problematic from a Scriptural point of view:
      All evidence shows the 1914 date is wrong when trying to base it on the destruction of Jerusalem. (Daniel 1:1; 2 Chron 36:1-22; Jer 25:8-12; Zech 1:12, 7:4; Ezra 3:10-13) Paul said that Jesus sat at God's right hand in the first century and that he already began ruling as king at that time. (1 Cor 15:25) Jesus said not to be fooled by the idea that wars and rumors of wars would be the start of a "sign" (Matt 24:4,5) Jesus said that the "parousia" would be as visible as lightning (Matt 24:27). He spoke against people who might say he had returned but was currently not visible. (Matt 24:23-26) Jesus said that his "parousia" would come as a surprise to the faithful, not that they would discern the time of the parousia decades in advance. (Matt 24:36-42) Jesus said that the kingdom would not be indicated by "signs" (Luke 17:20, almost any translation except NWT in this case) The "synteleia" (end of all things together) refers to a concluding event, not an extended period of time (Matt 28:20) Jesus was already called ruler, King and even "King of Kings" in the first century. (1 Tim 6:15, Heb 7:2,17; Rev 1:5; 17:14) Wicked, beastly King Nebuchadnezzar's insanity and humiliation does not represent Jesus as the "lowliest one of mankind." (Heb 1:5,6; 2:10,11; Daniel 4:23-25; cf. Heb 2:7; 1 Pet 3:17,18) The demise of a Gentile kingdom cannot rightly represent the time of the rise of the Gentile kingdoms (Daniel 4:26,27) The Gentile kings did not meet their demise in 1914. (Rev 2:25,26) The time assigned to the Gentile Times that Jesus spoke about in Luke 21:24 is already given as 3.5 times, not 7 times (Revelation 11:2,3) The Devil was already brought down from "heaven" in the first century. (1 John 2:14,15; 1 Pet 5:8; Luke 10:18; Heb 2:14) The Bible says that the "last days" began in the first century. (Acts 2:14-20; 2 Tim 3:1-17; 1 Peter 3:3-5; Heb 1:2, almost any translation except NWT in this case.)
    • By Jack Ryan
      Luke 2:1 says: "Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus for all the inhabited earth to be registered." . Okay so this is interpreted to mean within the Roman empire..seems legit.
      Yet at Matt 24:14, it says: " And this good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." And from this we have the impetus for the grand prophetic fulfillment / worldwide preaching campaign that JW's think will be accomplished before Armageddon.
    • By Edward J
      Good Day friends 
      I've recently received a voice note of a brother giving a talk and mentioned that the governing body feels that the prophecy in Matt 24:14 has been fulfilled.
      I'll try to attach the file
      Please let me know what you think
      Thanks in advance my dear brothers and sisters
    • By Anna
      Has anyone wondered about this?
      God’s Kingdom Rules! Page 230, par.19 & 20  says:
      How to Prepare Ourselves
      19  How can we prepare ourselves for the earthshaking
      events that are to come? The Watchtower stated some years
      ago: “Survival will depend on obedience.” Why is that so?
      The answer is found in a warning from Jehovah to the captive
      Jews living in ancient Babylon. Jehovah foretold that
      Babylon would be conquered, but what were God’s people
      to do to prepare themselves for that event? Jehovah stated:
      “Go, my people, enter your inner rooms, and shut your
      doors behind you. Hide yourself for a brief moment until
      the wrath has passed by.” (Isa. 26:20) Note the verbs in this
      verse: “go,” “enter,” “shut,” “hide”—all are in the imperative
      mood; they are commands. The Jews who heeded those
      commands would have stayed in their houses, away from
      the conquering soldiers out in the streets. Hence, their survival
      depended on obeying Jehovah’s instructions.[2]
      20  What is the lesson for us? As in the case of those ancient
      servants of God, our survival of coming events will
      depend on our obedience to Jehovah’s instructions. (Isa.
      30:21) Such instructions come to us through the congregation
      arrangement. Therefore, we want to develop heartfelt
      obedience to the guidance we are receiving. (1 John 5:3)
      If we do so today, we will be more inclined to obey willingly
      in the future and thus receive the protection of our Father,
      Jehovah, and our King, Jesus. (Zeph. 2:3) That divine
      protection will allow us to witness firsthand how God’s
      Kingdom will completely remove its enemies. What an unforgettable
      event that will be!
      Prior to those paragraphs, and in harmony with Matthew 24, it was made clear that the sheep and the goats will have already been judged, the sheep being marked for survival. Why would there be further need to follow some other instructions in order to survive? Matthew 24 does not indicate anything about additional instructions as a criterion for survival. In fact it says “then two men will be in the field; one will be taken along and the other abandoned.  Two women will be grinding at the hand mill; one will be taken along and the other abandoned.” This indicates that people will be in ordinary situations, when they are “saved”. The rest of the gospels focus on doing God’s will and following in Christ’s footsteps as the criterion for gaining salvation. "For this is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome" 1John 5:3. None of the Greek scriptures talk about any special instructions that will have to be obeyed during the great tribulation and Armageddon.  It is only Isaiah that mentions this in relation to surviving the overthrow of Babylon, with similar references to the Passover in Egypt and perhaps also Noah entering the Ark.
      I wonder why the Slave thinks that the same pattern will be followed when the ultimate destruction comes, as if Jehovah is not capable of saving individuals wherever they may be. Looking at it from a practical point of view, not everyone will be physically able to “go” or “shut” or “hide”. Think of the old and infirm.  The scripture in Zepheniah 2:3 talks about doing specific things well before  the day of Jehovah's anger. “Seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth, Who observe his righteous decrees, seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably you will be concealed on the day of Jehovah’s anger”.
      The paragraph that follows,  (Par. 20) talks about us learning to obey the Slave now, so that when the time comes we will “obey” the Slave then, because our salvation depends on it.  But the scriptures clearly show our salvation depends on lots of other things, one of them being enduring faithfully to the end.  This was the symposium at this year’s Do not Give up convention as well. This included practical steps to “Run With Endurance”
      ·         Run to Win! (1 Corinthians 9:24)
      ·         Train Diligently (1 Corinthians 9:25-27)
      ·         Let Go of Unnecessary Burdens (Hebrews 12:1)
      ·         Imitate Good Examples (Hebrews 12:2, 3)
      ·         Eat Nutritious Food (Hebrews 5:12-14)
      ·         Drink Plenty of Water (Revelation 22:17)
      ·         Obey the Rules of the Contest (2 Timothy 2:5)
      ·         Be Confident of Gaining the Prize (Romans 15:13)
      That pertains to everything we do now. And those are the things we will be judged on. That’s how we prepare ourselves surely? Not by obeying some last minute instructions as if Jehovah is not capable of saving each individual Witness wherever they may be, since the whole performance is going to involve supernatural powers anyway....Plus, it has been speculated that some may die at Armageddon, not by Jehovah's hand, but by other extenuating circumstances, even by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
      I will do some more research on this....
    • By The Librarian
      And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
      2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
      3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
      4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
      5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
      6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
      7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
      8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
      9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
      10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
      11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
      12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
      13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
      14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
      15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
      16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
      17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
      18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
      19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
      20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
      21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
      22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
      23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
      24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
      25 Behold, I have told you before.
      26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
      27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
      28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
      29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
      30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
      31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
      32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
      33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
      34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
      35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
      36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
      37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
      38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
      39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
      40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
      41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
      42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
      43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
      44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
      45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
      46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
      47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
      48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
      49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
      50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
      51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
    • By Jack Ryan
      What is our official definition of "parousia" found in Matthew 24:3?
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    • I don't know if anyone provided an update to this story, but the "brother" finally pled guilty, and was sentenced to five years, for three felony counts of child rape with two different victims. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/man-who-raped-jehovah-s-witness-girls-sentenced-5-years-n1082136 Elihu Rodriguez, 32, of Yakima, Washington, was given five years, the maximum sentence prosecutors had asked for, after Rodriguez pleaded guilty to three felony counts of child rape in the third degree in September. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender. Both of his victims attended the sentencing, which took place Friday at the King County Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, Washington. I believe this was the case I was told something about in 2018, which is why I mentioned then that I couldn't say much because it was an upcoming court case. If it's the same one, then someone (parent?) convinced her not to report it because it was just a matter that this 25-year-old was in love with her, and so they told her it was actually multiple acts of fornication, not child abuse or child rape. She agreed not to report on the basis that she would be considered guilty of fornication, too. So the family moved to another congregation, and within months, she got to a point where she decided she needed to report it to the elders. (I don't think it was because she learned about another girl being raped/abused by the man, even though this would make sense.) When she did report it to her new congregation's elders in 2013, they actually called the legal department just as they were supposed to, but evidently someone thought it was going to be possible to treat this as "consensual" and the elders tried to get her to say it was consensual. She refused to agree with the elders that it was consensual, and took it to the authorities. When I heard about this case (or perhaps another one just like it) I was only told the general area of the US, and some circumstances, but no names. I was only told that this was disturbing that someone would try to turn a child molestation case of a "16 year old girl" into a consensual case in spite of the young age. (I was not told that she was actually 14/15.) Years earlier, J R Brown, as a spokesmen for the Society, had tried to minimize a lot of these cases by saying that a lot of them are like cases of an 18 year old boy with a 16 year old girl, which sounded a bit like the old "boys will be boys" excuse. 
    • The point was that Jehovah is organized, the evidence is all around us. This leads us to believe that His visible favored people would be organized in doing His will. Moving forward we can consider WHO HE is about to sanction based on Matthew 13:36-43, John 4:23,24,Revelation 18:4 and a few more.......
    • Just as the WT knows how to work the global market by investing their money in hedge funds, they know how to manipulate a developing mind with persuasion techniques.  I perceive the downplay of higher education as a safeguard from losing members.  While the organization warns these young ones of Satan’s worldly traps when pursuing higher education, in reality it appears to me that it’s all about keeping JWs captive to the organization’s “empty philosophy”.  Col 2:8  Knowing how the young mind develops sheds light on the org's use of persistent warnings not to pursue higher education.  “Developmental Tasks and Attributes of Late Adolescence/Young Adulthood (Ages 18-24 years) http://www.amchp.org/programsandtopics/AdolescentHealth/projects/Documents/SAHRC AYADevelopment LateAdolescentYoungAdulthood.pdf This is a time of life when very little is normative. It is a period of frequent change and exploration that covers many aspects of their life: home, family, work, school, resources, and role. Develop and apply abstract thinking skills Adolescents experience significant changes in their capacity to think. In changing from concrete to abstract thought they are increasingly able to understand and grapple with abstract ideas, think about possibilities, think ahead, think about thinking, and “put themselves in another person’s shoes.” In general, this changes their ability to think about themselves, others and the world around them. This is a gradual process that spans adolescence and young adulthood. For example, early in the process youth are limited in their ability to hold more than one point of view – understanding something from one perspective but not another. ·        Capacity for abstract thought becomes established; can think abstractly and hypothetically; can discern the underlying principles and apply them to new situations; and can think about the future, considering many possibilities and logical outcomes of possible events. ·       Able to hold and manipulate clusters of abstract ideas and create systems for organizing abstract thoughts. ·       Greater ability to consider different points of view at the same time can result in increased empathy and concern for others, and new interest in societal issues for many. It also allows youth to better value the diversity of people (and their perspectives) and appreciate that there may be many right answers to a problem. Adopt A Personal Value System Adolescents develop a more complex understanding of moral behavior and underlying principles of justice. They question and assess beliefs from childhood and restructure these beliefs into a personal ideology (e.g. more personally meaningful values, religious views, and belief systems to guide decisions and behavior). ·        Decisions and values are less influenced by peers. ·       Able to see multiple viewpoints, value the diversity of people and perspectives and appreciate that there can be many right answers to a problem. ·        Identify values and viewpoints that work for oneself while respecting viewpoints/values of others I would imagine there is a high risk of young JWs entering a college or university after high school, with the same age group, and going through the same mental development stages ...leaving the Watchtower altogether.  
    • John 17:14-16 The comments in the study Bible on John 17:15 say: "Jehovah...could even separate his people physically from the rest of the world and place them in a a safe and peaceful environment. However, regarding his disciples, Jesus prayed to his heavenly Father: "I request you, not to take them out of the world, but to watch over them because of the wicked one." Jehovah has chosen not to take us "out of the world." Rather, it is his will that we live among the general population of this world in order to proclaim his message of hope and comfort to others. (Rom. 10:13-15) But, as Jesus implied in his prayer, by living in this world, we are exposed to "the wicked one." Disobedient mankind and wicked spirit forces cause much pain and anguish, and Christians are not immune to distress." 1 Peter 5:9 So while we recognize we have to live in a world under Satan's control, it doesn't mean we should go out of our way to expose ourselves to potentially dangerous influences and bad association. There are of course necessary things we must do to survive and provide for our families - such as employment, which as you correctly pointed out, can mean rubbing shoulders with worldly people and attitudes whatever level of education we choose. But even on that, we are selective so as to minimize our exposure to potentially harmful influences. It may include being selective as to what type of work we are willing to accept, or whom we work with/for. Many caring parents know they can't completely eliminate bad influences at school for instance (since kids have to have some type of schooling and it is beneficial), but they may choose to be selective as to whom they allow their kids to spend their extra time with. So living in the world, we recognize there are certain things we must do whether we like it or not. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't exercise caution and be selective as to what we choose to involve ourselves in. I could rationalize that I need a job to support myself and my family - a legitimate and necessary need,  but would I choose to work for the mafia to do so? No, I would be selective and cautious.  I agree with you. I often have the same problem on both phone and tablet. Fortunately I've recently discovered that we can edit and make corrections. I wish I had known that earlier before "auto-correct" ran roughshod over my posts.  As for my level of education, I provide as little information as possible to identify me. As a "whistleblower" on some things, there would be an opportunity for "blowback" from men in authority who have something to hide. I don't even post what country I'm from. So when I have written that at times there are men in authority who act as wickedly as people in the world and hide behind their authority, I know exactly what I'm talking about. That's why I don't buy into the "Jesus is in full control of everything..." stuff, because I know some of the stuff that goes on is about as unChristlike as you can get. He doesn't cause/control it just because he allows it for a time. I also question some of the decisions men (not Jesus) have made when I am in possession of all the facts - especially when removal or disfellowshipping has as it's objective to silence whistleblowers who expose their corruption. I have never been DF'd, but I know if they thought I was spilling the beens on them, that's exactly what would happen. So I don't mention any names either that would tip them off. Just letting people know that you can still maintain your faith and relationship with God despite the evil that (some) men do - and get away with for now.  Sorry if this rant is off topic.
    • Perhaps it can be as you said. And perhaps this can be true with many other similar "stories".   What I see as important in this "story", is fine moral message and inspirational, motivating injection that in this materialistic and superficial everyday life offers a spiritual upgrade.... said with different order of words. 
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