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What is the Gospel According to the Watchtower?[1]

What is the Gospel According to the Bible?

[Quotes from the Watchtower, including their New World Translation, are in blue.]


The Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, was written over a span of 1500 years by forty different authors on three continents (Africa, Asia and Europe) in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) on hundreds of subjects.  And yet there is one consistent, non-contradictory theme that runs through it all:  God’s  redemption of mankind

We call this central theme The Gospel, which means “Good News”.  Jehovah’s Witnesses, [representing The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society], go from door to door throughout the world claiming to bring the “Good News of the Kingdom”, the Gospel, but when we test their “gospel” with the Bible’s Gospel we find it to be very different, a counterfeit of the True Gospel.  Let’s compare the two:


The Watchtower’s gospel

The gospel has to do with eternal life and according to the WT works are the means of attaining it.  The Watchtower (WT) lays down the following four requirements for eternal life[2]:

1  Taking in knowledge of  the Father and Jesus Christ.

2  Obeying God’s laws.

3  Being associated with God’s channel, his organization.

4  Loyally advertising his Kingdom rule to others.

We will focus on number two, “Obeying God’s laws.”  The WT teaches that to have eternal life one must obey God’s laws.  A WT article entitled, “Working Hard for the Reward of Eternal Life[3]” states:  “It is for the reward of eternal life that every last person on earth should now be working… [Jehovah’s Witnesses] are working hard now for the reward of eternal life… making themselves eligible to receive the reward of eternal life.”  

It is clear that for the WT works are the means to attaining eternal life.  In Scripture the prevalent word is “gift”, but only once does the word “gift” occur in this 7-page article and then it is connected with “exercising faith”[4]

In another WT article presumably given to defining the gospel,“ What Really Is the Gospel?[5]”, the word “gift” is conspicuous by its absence.  It is clear from these publications that for Jehovah’s Witnesses human works are the means by which one attains eternal life.  There is no declaration of the Good News as the Apostle Paul defined it.


The Gospel According to the Bible

The word “Gospel” means “Good News”.  In Acts 20:24 Paul calls it “the gospel (good news) of God’s grace.”

Paul defined and prioritized the Gospel this way:  “For I handed on to you, among the first things, that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, yes, that he has been raised up the third day according to the Scriptures.”  (1Cor. 15:1-4; NWT[6])  This is the Gospel, according to Paul.  

Another very clear expression of the content of the Gospel is given in John 3:14-18:  “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of man must be lifted up, that everyone believing in him may have everlasting life. For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.  For God sent forth his Son into the world, not for him to judge the world, but for the world to be saved through him.  He that exercises faith in him is not to be judged.  He that does not exercise faith has been judged already, because he has not exercised faith in the name of the only-begotten Son of God (NWT).” The gospel is about what God has done for us in Christ.  There in nothing that we can do to earn it; we are simply called to believe it.

The following Scriptures will further establish the gospel of God’s grace through faith alone.  [Again we use the Watchtower’s translation only to prove that this truth is even available in their own translation.]

Romans 1:16:  “For I am not ashamed of the good news; it is, in fact, God’s power for salvation to everyone having faith.. (NWT)”

Romans 6:23:  “For the wages sin pays is death, but the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.  (NWT)”

John 5:24:  “Most truly I say to you, He that hears my word and believes him that sent me has everlasting life, and he does not come into judgment but has passed over from death to life.  (NWT)”

Romans 11:6:  “Now if it is by undeserved kindness, it is no longer due to works; otherwise, the undeserved kindness no longer proves to be undeserved kindness.  (NWT)”

Romans 9:30-33:  “What shall we say, then?  That people of the nations, although not pursuing righteousness, caught up with righteousness, the righteousness that results from faith; but Israel, although pursuing a law of righteousness, did not attain to the law.  For what reason?  Because he pursued it, not by faith, but as by works.  They stumbled on the ‘stone of stumbling’; as it is written:  Look!  I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock-mass of offense, but he that rests his faith on it [Greek: “him”] will not come to disappointment.’  NWT” 

Galations 2:16:  “knowing as we do that a man is declared righteous, not due to works of law, but only through faith toward Christ Jesus, even we have put our faith in Christ Jesus, that we may be declared righteous due to faith toward Christ, and not due to works of law, because due to works of law no flesh will be declared righteous.  (NWT)”

Galations 5:4:  “You are parted from Christ, whoever you are that try to be declared righteous by means of law; you have fallen away from his undeserved kindness.  (NWT)”

I John 5:11-13:  “And this is the witness given, that God gave us everlasting life, and this life is in his Son.  He that has the Son has this life; he that does not have the Son of God does not have this life.  I write you these things that you may know that you have life everlasting, you who put your faith in the name of the Son of God.  (NWT)”

Romans 4:4,5:  “Now to the man that works the pay is counted, not as an undeserved kindness, but as a debt.  On the other hand, to the man that does not work but puts faith in him who declares the ungodly one righteous, his faith is counted as righteousness.  Just as David also speaks of the happiness of the man to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:  ‘Happy are those whose lawless deeds have been pardoned and whose sins have been covered; happy is the man whose sin Jehovah will by no means take into account.  (NWT)”

I John 2:2:  “(Jesus Christ) is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s.  (NWT)” 

This sacrifice was for you; it is not limited in scope or number.

This is the Good News!  This is the Gospel!  Eternal life is a gift, by grace alone, through faith alone.  The WT’s “gospel” of works is refuted, even in their own translation.


What are the consequences for the WT?

Those who commit themselves to obeying the Law as a means to salvation, as Jehovah’s Witnesses do, have to recognize that no partial or half-hearted measure will suffice as Galations 3:10,11 declares:  “For all those who depend upon works of law are under a curse; for it is written: ‘Cursed is every one that does not continue in all the things written in the scroll of the Law in order to do them.  (NWT)’” The Law of God, then, is not a “do the best you can” proposal; it is, rather, “do it or die”.  That is bad news for those trying to attain salvation that way!  Since no human outside of Christ can obey God’s Law perfectly the consequence is death, as Romans 6:23 states, “the wages sin pays is death.  (NWT)”

The gospel that the WT teaches is not the same gospel as the Bible teaches.  It is another gospel

(2 Corinthians 11:3,4; Galatians 1:6-9).  This other gospel, if believed, nullifies the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  Paul recognizes this problem when he says, “If, now, the good news we declare is in fact veiled, it is veiled among those who are perishing, among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.”  2 Corinthians 4:3,4 (NWT). Those who follow the WT are “unbelievers” when it comes to the gospel of God’s grace.



Against the clear words of the Scriptures the Watchtower is leading millions of followers into death, eternal separation from God, by teaching that one can earn eternal life through one’s own merits or works. It is presumptuous to try to add to what God has done for us in Christ.  It is to treat his death and resurrection as incomplete and insufficient!  Paul says, “I do not shove aside the undeserved kindness of God; for if righteousness is through law, Christ actually died for nothing.” Galations 2:21 (NWT)

(Emphases added in the Scripture verses.)

Jesus Christ has paid your penalty on the cross.  Please contact us if we can be of help in the Scriptures on this very important point.

Written by Greta Olsoe

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[1] The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society; hereafter WT.  It’s adherents are known as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

[2] WT, Feb. 15, 1983 article, You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth - But How?

[3] WT, Aug. 15, 1972

[4] Regarding the WT’s addition of the word “exercising” please consult the left-hand column of the WT’s The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures at John 3:16,18,36 and similar Scriptures.  The Greek word is “believing”.  The word “exercising” has been added by the WT.

[5] WT, Dec. 15, 1992

[6] We use the New World Translation only because it is the WT’s approved version and not because we endorse it.  This translation has many serious errors and lacks the support of reputable Greek scholars.