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Apostasy? Who is an Apostate?

The concept of the apostasy as a “falling away” is clearly defined in the Scriptures.  The prophetic and historic “apostasy” of the Christian Age has been the Papacy (2 Thessalonians 2:3-8).

The Historic Apostasy—and Many Apostasies.

As the “mystery of evil [lawlessness],” the apostasy was already fomenting in the Apostles’ day with “elders” emerging as “lords over God’s heritage” (1 Peter 5:3).  But it became “antichrist” (instead of Christ) by not only replacing Christ’s sacrifice with an “abomination that maketh desolate”—the mass (Daniel 12:11)—but also supposedly setting up the Kingdom of Christ’s rule before Christ returned!

However, the Apostle John warned the Church that although “antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists” (1 John 2:18). So in principle, there have been many who have fallen away from the faith throughout the Age as well as during the end of the Age.

The First Apostate—and Apostates in the Early Church.

Lucifer was actually the first to fall way in a rebellion against God.  Satan, the first apostate—through the serpent—then deceived Eve of the consequences of sinning. So she then sinned against Jehovah.  Because Adam had “greater affection” for his wife than God (Matthew 10:37), he also disobeyed. And then both became apostates!

Those in the early Church who deviated from the Truth saying “the resurrection is past,” subverted the faith of some (2 Timothy 2:16).  This certainly was an apostasy.  Apostle Paul also warned of those who teach “other doctrine” than “those of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 6:3).  Although the Protestant Reformation recovered some of the teachings of Jesus from the Dark Ages, the apostate church remained the “mother of [daughter] harlots.”

Faithful Founder of the Watchtower Did Not Delay Jesus’ Return.

One of the signs Jesus told his disciples would be an evidence of his return was that he would appoint a “servant” to give his household “meat in due season” (Matthew 24:45-51)—Bible Truth at the appropriate time.  Charles Taze Russell, who founded the Watchtower, on the basis of Bible signs, time prophecies, chronology and corroborated by Biblical types, concluded and taught that Jesus returned invisibly in 1874.  It was a call to freedom from denominational bondage.  Although his full expectations for the consummation of the Age in 1914 seemed to “tarry” (Habakkuk 2:3), he did not then “delay,” that is, postpone the date of 1874 to a later time. Consequently, he did not “say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming and begin to smite his fellowservants…” (vss. 48, 49).  Brother Russell passed this prophesied test of waiting even while the full establishment of the Kingdom seemed to tarry!

If anyone claimed to postpone the return of Jesus Christ, it was Judge Rutherford, who postponed it to 1914.  He also imposed a centralized administrative structure on Bible Students worldwide—which he later called a theocracy, while to others it was a ruthless takeover..  Anyone who disagreed with him was thrown out of Bethel and/or disfellowshipped.

He also mandated door-to-door preaching and required reports of activity, and meeting places to be called “Kingdom Halls.”  Rutherford changed other doctrines that had been established as Watchtower teachings for over 40 years, including the Heavenly Call, the Great Crowd, the return of Jews to Israel and the necessity of character development (Rom 12;1,2; Gal 5:22,23).

C.T. Russell’s Will directed that no President would replace him.  He identified by name an editorial committee of five to take over the article writing duties at the Watchtower.

Today, the JW Organization says that Apostasy is leaving the doctrine of present truths taught by the GB and the faithful and discreet slave (GB). They say talking about the difference in doctrine constitutes apostasy.  Based on today’s standards, do you think Bible Students at the time C.T. Russell died should have considered J.F. Rutherford to be a usurper and an Apostate leader?

“The Shining Light, that Shineth More until the Perfect Day”—and Apostasy

Jesus was “the light of the world” at his first advent (John 8:12).  However, soon after the death of the Apostles, the Gospel light became mixed with error and darkness. But when Jesus returned, he gave his “household. . .meat in due season” (Matthew 24:45; Luke 12:42). The light of Truth became brighter. Especially unique was the recovery of the light of truth of the “Kingdom…in earth” being established for the whole unsaved world of mankind (Matthew 6:9, 10).

All peoples of the nations—which God had judged and condemned—would have an opportunity to be recovered.  Specifically, Jehovah Himself judged and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. But He has also planned that they will be “daughters” to a restored Israel under a better and New Covenant in Christ’s Kingdom (Ezekiel 16:55-61).

Would it be an “apostasy” against “increasing light” to say that Sodom and Gomorrah would not be restored?  And then would it be still more increasing light to say Sodom and Gomorrah would be restored—and then again, not restored?

After Brother Russell had consistently taught the recovery opportunity of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Watchtower went back and forth with its position on this teaching.

Resurrected or

NOT Resurrected




Publication Date


NOT Resurrected


NOT Resurrected


NOT Resurrected







Watchtower,Oct. 15(p. 367)

Watchtower  Feb.1

Watchtower, March 1

Watchtower, July 1

Watchtower, Oct. 8

Watchtower, April 15

Jesus’ Guidelines for Judging an Apostate.

In any case, who has the right to judge anyone as “apostate”—and then shun his or her fellowship?  Jesus clearly laid down the guidelines for disfellowshipping. First of all, the purpose of calling anybody on sin is to regain and win back our brother or sister!  To begin with, Jesus said we go to him or her first privately.  If that does not help, then we take two or three others with us to confirm our concerns. Then finally, if that does not bring repentance, we take the issue—not even to the elders—but to the whole congregation.

Matthew 18:15-20 -“And if your brother sins, [1] go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 [2] “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.  17 “And [3] if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer. 18 “Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst.”  NAS

The whole congregation decides who is to be disfellowshiped and treated as a “Gentile” and a “tax gatherer”—in other words no longer privileged to have  the special warm fellowship of our brotherhood. Just as we may allow strangers to our faith to come and listen at our meetings, but we would not have the same bond of fellowship with them. After all, even Jesus allowed “publicans and sinners” to come and hear him (Matthew 5:46, 47; 9:10,11; 21:31, 32; Mark 2:15, 16; Luke 3:12; 5:29, 30; 15:1; 19:2, etc.)

Of course, those anointed who have been “enlightened…partakers of the holy Spirit” who have willfully “fallen away” cannot be recovered (Hebrews 6:4-7).  But again, only Jehovah can judge this degree of serious responsibility.

Apostles’ Authority to Judge.

However, the Apostles had a unique authority—not ever to be duplicated even by Popes—to judge certain cases of heresy. More specifically, Apostle Paul warned about Hymenaeus and Philetus who “have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place” (2 Timothy 2:16-18).  That doctrinal deviation would certainly be very serious, as Paul taught that Jesus gave his life “a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6). That apostasy would destroy the whole point of the Kingdom paradise on earth!

As mentioned, in another letter to Timothy, Paul said, “If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing…” (1 Timothy 6:3, 4 NAS). In that context he is talking about treatment of widows, elders and slaves—not what is usually labeled “doctrinal issues.”  Following this general admonition, he warned about the danger of loving money and advocated contentment instead (vss. 6-10).

Did Jesus Tell his Followers to Cast Off Family to Follow Him?

No, but he certainly warned that “members of his household” could be divided by the “sword” of truth and reject his followers.  Yet faithful followers are to love Jesus even more than father, mother, son or daughter. Those who lose their precious family “life” for the sake of the Gospel will be compensated with a spiritual family life (Matthew 10:34-39).

But Jesus never told his disciples to cast off their Jewish parents or children who would not become Christian.  He merely warned them that divisions could come within a household—and family members might reject those who have decided to follow Jesus!

Apostle Paul—Gentle with Issues in the Early Church.

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the brethren at Thessalonica, he expressed himself as “gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children” (1 Thess 2:7). Even though he had to correct the Church at Thessalonica for believing falsely that already “the day of the Lord has come” (2 Thessalonians 2:2). (They were centuries off in their thinking. . .)

Yes, Apostle Paul called the Galatians “foolish” and asked, “who has bewitched you” for believing they were justified by works of the Law (Galatians 3:1-3). But he tenderly closed out his letter to them, “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ. . . . And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Galatians 6:1, 9, 10).

When the Corinthian Church tolerated one in their midst who committed fornication with his father’s wife—he rebuked the “church of Christ which is at Corinth” as a congregation for not taking responsibility for appropriate action (1 Corinthians 1:2; 5:1). “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves” (vs. 13). He did not address only the elders to take action.  But he addressed  the whole congregation as responsible to take action removing this person as one who was an apostate from the faith.

On the prevailing, on-going issue of circumcision and certain Jewish customs in the early Church, Paul rebuked Peter—as well as Barnabas. “I withstood him to the face because he was to be blamed” (Galatians 2:11-13). But Apostle Paul did not disfellowship either or call them “apostate.” Much later, Apostle Peter even commends Apostle Paul, “. . .our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you” (2 Peter 3:15)

Satan and Apostate System to be Destroyed—Those Blinded given Opportunity to be Saved.

In conclusion, yes, the Apostate Church of Rome, “the mother of harlots,” is judged and will be destroyed by those who formerly supported her (Revelation 17:15, 16). And, yes, the very first Apostate – Satan – will be ultimately destroyed in second death (Revelation 20:10).

However, those now “blinded” by Satan, “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) will have an opportunity to “learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9) on the “highway of holiness” where there will be “no lion” (Isaiah 35).

Of course, Adam being perfect, he could only sin willfully when he plunged his whole posterity under the death penalty.  But Jesus being the perfect Man, laid down his life a Ransom as a corresponding price specifically for Adam. Thus Adam himself—as well as all his posterity which also fell away into apostasy—will come back in the resurrection. “As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).



35 comments to Apostasy? Who is an Apostate?

  • Gasa

    An apostate is Diatrophes listed in the letter of John who as a teacher and overseer in the local congregation ruled this congregation and expelled all whom he felt were not following him. Satan is the ultermate apostate. An apostate must seek to have followers follow themselves and be leaders within the Christian congregation. JW have expanded this definition beyond this wrongly. Also adopting the expelling program called disfellowship is wrong. Our dear Creator has permitted this at the present time as He permits many wrongs in this world mislead by Satan. One question do any of you believe God planned for Adams fall and that Father Adam is one who will return in the resserection?
    I have noticed a lot of bitterness towards Jehovah’s witnesses and these claims that they are an invention by Brother Rutherford. These Christians claim they follow Brother Russel but only follow his teachings that they wish too. Brother Russel never preached only for the Elect only he mentions the great multitude/crowd as well but never claims these have the same hope as the elect in fact he clearly say that the basic fault with Christendom is they will only accept one destination heaven. He clearly says they are a little flock of special ones who act as kings and priests for all resserected. And as for the claim that Christian need not preach for other other than the elect and that the stones and Angels will do the preaching. What laziness, Jehovah’s people are busy doing what Christ has ordered to all, Jesus said Mth 28:19 ‘make disciples of people of all nations until I come”.

    • Chris Johns

      Thanks for your comment. I don’t agree with the statement that we only pick and choose what we teach. We are not as harh and don’t shun people. We can vote to remove them from the ecclesia but we don’t shun. We do believe in the Great Multitude (Crowd). We don’t believe there are TWO CALLS in this present world. We don’t believe that in the Christian church there are those that are full followers of Christ that are of a seperate earthly class. We believe that the earth is for those who come back in the ressurection. If we follow Christ now then we have thre opportunity of becoming part of the Bride. We believe that as the bible says that there is only ONE CALL in this present time and that call is for the high calling. Those who don’t make the 144,000 will fall into the Great Company and fail to sit with Christ on his throne but will serve Christ before the throne. Russell and Rutherford (until 1935) believed that the Great Multitude will be a spiritual class. So we don’t ignore the class we just don’t agree with the JW view of it. Why do you think the JW’s say “The New Testament is mainly written for the anointed.” Because if you read through Jesus’ words we don’t see a second class with a sperate hope that followe Christ. The Bible never gives instructions for observing the memorial as watchers and not partakers. Jesus never preached an earhtly hope for his followers but a heavenly one. There is no call to the great company class.

      Eph 4:4
      “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to ONE HOPE when you were called.”

      One hope not two.
      Jesus and his apostles never made a distinction between earthly and heavenly hope in thier messages. Everyone at Pentecost was anointed. We believe the earth is foer those who loved before the high calling and the world of mankind. Jesus promised the divine nature to his followers now in the Gospel age. Not an earthly.

  • Marjo

    I had this experience today in a store. There was some witnesses I knew, and that man said to his wife: “Wasnt she one of those apostates?”. I have never heard them to speak directly like that. I felt that as an attack. They have always ran away or showed their angry face, but calling for apostate was something new. Maybe they have had topics in their meetings how to speak for those whom have left. I don’t know. But that I know for sure, Jesus didn’t teach his followers to speak like that. He told them to go and search lost sheeps.

  • Daz

    Hi everyone, well it seems that my family & I are now being shunned & I guess that I am being classed as an apostate now because I have called into question some of the doctrines & stances that the Governing body play within the organization. I did not set out for this to happen BUT I felt I had to try & reason & bring certain issues to light to a few of our (until recently) Jw friends. Their love is so very conditional, unless you are in subjection to everything the organization requires of you & teaches you then you cannont remain as any part of it which includes your friendships. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you have real deep love & faith in Jehovah & Jesus Christ & want to serve them, it seems to make no difference to them at all unless ALL your beliefs & faith are directed & controlled by the Watchtower org. Even my young teenage son has been personally affected as his best friend (a son of one of our Jw friends) said to my son that he will die at Armageddon unless he comes to meetings! What an earth are these people teaching their kids! What a horrid thing to say!
    All I can say is that I would not behave in such a manner & neither would my wife & kids, this is certainly not how I think a Christian should behave. As I mentioned in a previous post a while back, I have been critized & judged by the way I look (fifties style hair style with sideburns) & because I sing & entertain for a living it was said to my wife that Jesus would not do a job like that & wouldn’t be around wordly people as that’s what my job involves. I tried to find other work but it just didn’t seem to happen, I prayed about constantly but still the only work that came in was for my singing etc. I know that sometimes I would be around people who may have had a bit too much to drink etc but I DO NOT get involved with them, I just entertain. Most of the time the venues I do aren’t full of people like that. Then I was again critized because I have so many female fans! Well that is something I do not control but I also have many male fans too! Performing is all I know & all I am really good at, it’s like any job as there are good & bad points to it, it has been my means of supporting my family for many years.
    Anyway I am disgusted that people we thought were our friends can treat us like in this way. What happend to “judge not lest thee be judged” (Mattherw 7:1). I was going to confront them over this but once I had calmed down & reasoned on what to do I felt it is better to just let it go & let God deal with it as sees fit. All I wanted was the truth, plain & simple but I feel that they do not pocess the the truth for Jesus IS the WAY the TRUTH & the LIFE!

    Warm & loving regards,

    • Peter K. (admin)

      Daz – Was Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five and their family criticized by the JWs? Weren’t they Jehovah’s Witnesses? Maybe Sr. Jacqueline knows something about this. As far as I know, much of the family are still JWs. Maybe someone else has more info.

      1 Peter 4:12 (NASV) “12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”

      Our prayers will be with you and your family. The Apostles were more gentle with the brethren.

      1 Peter 4 (NASV) “1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”

      Daz – As I recall, you are in England. Isn’t that right? There is a wonderful European, English speaking, call in study lead by Br. Allen Springer. He does a wonderful job. There are some study participants with a JW background. If you are interested, I could provide you will information.

      • Daz

        Hi there Peter, thankyou so much for your kind words of support & the scriptual references you gave, it was a very encouraging indeed. Yes M.J is a very good example, it was ok for him & his bros to be a Jws just as it’s ok for Hank Marvin, George Benson & apparently Prince.
        Yes I am from Englad & yes I would very much like some info regarding Br. Allen Springer, that would be great. Thankyou!

        Warm & loving regards,

        • Jacqueline

          Daz, I have traveled with some of the biggest names in music as a psychotherapist on long drawn out tours. I have been with Prince, George, and Michael’s mentor from LA and Michael’s beother and I talked on the phone on a few occasions. Many think Michael disassociated himself because of thriller announced on our TV) but I heard in the circle that it was over the Quincy Jones affair. (long story, another blog lol). It is alledged that he in the early years kept the society afloat with his donations and when he was about to go into a venue that would take these donations away, it is alledged they turned on him and he turned back on them. His mentor also tried to show me the things I see now but I was braindead. I actually came to know Christ as I toured in the RV along with the entertainers. I would have from Sunday to that next thursday to rest and really prayed and got into the bible. I would be on the road for weeks at a time and visit different Kingdom Halls and came across a string of them that had left with ownership of their Halls but would change words in the kingdom ministry leaflet or words in the watchtower that they didn’t agree with. There were about 21 of them in Florida and Texas. Now I know who the society was talking to when they said don’t copy their literature.
          The society holds stock in an company producing war implements. (left to them by a sister). They are still it is reported a member (NGO) of the United Nations. They hold their conventions in the Catholic stadiums with flag hanging overhead.They hire non witness lawyers to fight against their own members. What I am saying is they get income from these singers so how can they condemn. I think the people in your congregation might have a jealousy thing going on. I traveled with RAPPERS, but they respected me and put Mrs in front of my name. I had more close association with persons when I worked a conventional job. So I understand that you are working a job, many can’t realize fan or not the entertainers are working a job and I often had to help pick up the pieces as they wanted to be home for a graduation or a sick child or be with their wife etc. They were more real than people clocking in on a nine to five. A job is a job. More affairs go on in the nine to five workplace than in the entertainment arena as they are under a microscope.
          All love between most J Witnesses is conditional on whether or not you accept the governingbody and most witnesses will tell you this so there is not contesting that. I am so glad you will now be free from their harrassment.
          Your son, how awful. Get him some new friends please, this little boy is dangerous to the mental health of your son. He is really bad association for your child and this is not shunning it is called protecting your young. Take Care.

          • Daz

            Hi Jacqueline, thankyou very much indeed for sharing with me your own experiences with regards to my present experiences, it is so greatly appreciated. It’s comforting to read what you have expressed here as many cannot really understand my position in this matter. You once again along with Peter have been a pillar of encouragement. It is so interesting reading about your life’s jouneys, I hope one day to meet you & talk with you face to face, that would be awesome!
            Thankyou again Jacqueline x

            Warm & loving regards,

    • Daz

      Just an update:
      Things seem to be looking alot brighter with regards to having contact with some Jw friends. I saw a good Jw friend of mine today, he was with his wife in the same store as me, He made a point of approaching me & chatting with me as did his wife. It was was lovely seeing & chatting them both, nothing was mentioned about meetings etc. It was even more lovely that they were not in the mind set of ignoring me because of my fading from the organization.

      • Jacqueline

        Daz the conventions going on now have a full program on encouraging and getting those that have left back. My family is more relaxed now and sending me kingdom hall songs even. I try to be gracious but I have lost touch with most of them now and moved on.

  • Jacqueline

    This is an actual talk given in May from Salem, Mass. I often wondered why adults have to be told what they shouldn’t do. To be informed hurts no one. I now know what some were trying to tell us.
    I don’t condone picketing meetings or disrupting any services, that is why I am glad for the internet where I can learn more. I am not as weak minded as I was led to believe.

    On that page is a Salem witch hunt documentary and it is much like being in a Judicial committee. I was shocked at some of the similarities. The confessions whether true or not is forced out of many in the Judicial committees. Elders have behaved not quite so dramatic but nearly so especially in the 1979 hunts at Bethel.
    Anything odd was seen as witchcraft or in JW language Apostasy.

  • Ernesto

    Here’s whatcha gotta do.
    This year the Jehovah’s Witnesses are getting a serious wake-up call.
    Never before in the history of apostasy has there been a plan like this. Apostates are going to dress up clean shaven and in suit and tie pretending to be JWs outside of district conventions ( regional assemblies,etc.- whatever they are called now) everywhere this year, facing worldly passersby and vehemently defending the Watchtower against any “worldly” people that may get in our face as we hold up our signs.
    The signs I like best are the ones that say “Blood transfusions are the work of Satan! Anybody that receives a blood transfusion will not inherit Jehovah’s Kingdom!” and “Jehovah’s day of wrath is imminent! He will kill you and the buzzards will eat your flesh unless you become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” We will also carry watchtower publications that back up these statements. For example from the Watchtower publication, Worldwide Security under the Prince of Peace p 159 we read:
    “those slaughtered at Armageddon will not be laid in graves with markers to memorialize them.
    Birds of every sort and beasts of the field will share in the benefits of God’s triumph and at the same time ,help cleanse the earth of the many carcasses that will lie strewed upon the ground like fertilizer, unlamented, unburied, abhorred by the survivors’
    The bottom line is Jehovah’s Witnesses really believe these things. I recall on plenty of occasions when going from door to door with pioneers, a householder would be opposed and upon returning to the car, the pioneer would say , “that person is buzzard bait”. You see, JWs like to sugar coat Watchtower doctrine to newly associating ones. Becoming a JW is a persuasive process that requires time. If the doctrine was offered in the raw to everyone they meet, there would be a shock factor and fewer would join.
    This is what we plan to do – offer the world JW doctrine in the raw. Give the shock factor. There is nothing dishonest about this. Unlike the laughable attempts by apostates in the past, this plan will have the desired effect. With an organization that takes vain pride in itself and its appearance, this will not be taken lightly by the Watchtower. Ask yourself- Has the Watchtower ever tried to put a stop to evangelists or apostates attempting to engage with JWs outside of conventions? Of course not!. The presence of opposers at the conventions actually fires up the JW persecution complex and strengthens the JWs resolve that they have the truth. Will the Watchtower try to thwart our efforts? You betcha! No doubt, the Watchtower already knows about our plan, and is taking action against it, but if we remain diligent this will be a success! With help from JW insiders we are hoping to soon have copies of this years convention badges. This will make us look authentic. We welcome all Ex-witnesses everywhere to participate in this plan whether in groups or independently and encourage you to make your own catchy signs just as long as they are neat and have actual offensive JW doctrine. Make sure to dress neatly in suit and tie and be well groomed. Remember, we’re not going to attack or argue with JWs. We are going to act like we are JWs!
    ALSO, holding these signs directed at worldly passersby is bound to stir up angry emotions from the worldly ones against JWs and the Watchtower. We are expecting that! So if any worldly person gets in our face, we are going to verbally defend the Watchtower as the one and only true religion and shout right back at them! This is gonna be a load of fun…spread the word…be there!

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