Resurrection WhenAlthough Christians believe that people have souls that survive physical death, this is not the resurrection. The resurrection will be a reuniting of soul and body that will take place in the end times.

So far as we know, no one other than Jesus Christ has been resurrected yet.

The Watchtower disagrees.

The Watchtower teaches that a resurrection in spirit form began in 1918[1] or 1919[2] for an “anointed”, heaven-bound group of 144,000 witnesses of Jehovah. Now, whenever one of the “anointed” class dies after proving worthy, he or she is immediately resurrected in spirit form and taken to heaven.

Ask Jehovah’s Witnesses to show you where these dates are given in the Bible, They aren’t there. Ask them for proof that such a resurrection began in 1918 or 1919. If they tell you that the Watchtower says it’s true, ask how the Watchtower knows it is true, given that the dates are not in the Bible and given that such a resurrection by its very nature would have occurred invisibly.

Sometimes, they will quote 2 Corinthians 5:1: “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, should be torn down, we are to have a building from God, a house not made with hands, everlasting in the heavens.” If so, ask them where anything is said regarding 1918 or 1919.

In fact, point out that this is one of the verses that leads you to believe that whenever a Christian dies—before or after 1918—he or she immediately goes to heaven in spirit form. This is not the resurrection, however. It is an intermediate state between death and the resurrection of the body.

In its online article, “What is the Resurrection (located under the tab “Bible Teachings” on the Watchtower’s website,, the Watchtower states: “Some people are resurrected to life in heaven to rule as kings with Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:1; Revelation 5:9, 10) The Bible calls this ‘the first resurrection’ and ‘the earlier resurrection,’ both expressions implying that there is another resurrection to follow. (Revelation 20:6; Philippians 3:11) This later resurrection will be to life on earth, which the vast majority of those brought back to life will enjoy.—Psalm 37:29.”

According to this article, everyone other than Jesus and the 144,000 who will be resurrected will be resurrected in physical form suited for life on the earth. This resurrection has not yet begun. Rather, “The resurrection to life on earth will occur during the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ, when the earth will be transformed into a paradise.—Luke 23:43; Revelation 20: 6, 12, 13.” They believe that these people will be resurrected at various stages during the thousand years.[3]

Now, it’s true that Revelation 20 speaks of two resurrections, but it is the resurrection of believers and the resurrection of unbelievers, not the resurrection of 144,000 and the resurrection of a “great crowd” of “other sheep.”

In fact, Revelation 20:5 indicates that with regard to unbelievers, “the rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were ended.” So this second resurrection is not (as the Watchtower teaches) a resurrection that will occur at various times during the millennium for the purpose of giving people a chance to learn God’s ways and progress to moral perfection.


Your turn:                        

Does this discussion give you a better understanding of what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe about the timing of the resurrection? Do you believe this information will be of help to you when you discuss the resurrection with them?

Share your thoughts in the comments.


[1] Revelation: It’s Grand Climax at Hand! (1988), p. 103

[2] Ibid., p. 209

[3] Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy (1999, 2006 printing), p. 316