Sunday, November 13, 2016

Did Russell Change the End of the Gentile Times to 1915?

Russell wrote an article which was published in The Watch Tower of December 1912, entitled, "The Ending of the Gentile Times". In that article Russell discussed the idea that some of the Bible Students had that the Gentile Times were to end in 1915, not 1914; Russell presented the arguments used for this conclusion. Some quote portions of this article as proof that Russell had changed the ending of the Gentiles from 1914 to 1915. Actually Russell had discussed this theory long before 1912; it was not something new in 1912. Although he presented this theory, and he allowed for the possibility that this theory could be right, he never adopted this theory as being correct. We know that he continued to believe that the Gentile Times were to end in 1914.
First, we should note that Brother Russell discussed 1915 from at least three different standpoints:
1) That the Jewish year 1915 began in October of 1914. Thus, throughout writings before 1914, one can find references to the Gentile Times ending in 1915, but he explained this as meaning the beginning of Jewish year 1915, which was actually October of 1914.
2) The second way Russell sometimes referred to 1915 was related to the view that some held to that the time of trouble begins in October of 1914 and that it last for one year, that is, from October of 1914 to 1915. Russell discussed this view several times, but he never actually condoned it. His statement regarding this view in 1904 was:
We find that some have concluded that because anarchy destroyed the Jewish nation in the one year following their "harvest," therefore we should expect that the one year, from October 1914 to October 1915, following the Gospel age "harvest," would measure the period of universal anarchy coming. We cannot agree to this conclusion, because the type or parallel goes no further than the end of the forty years' "harvest" in both cases -- October 69, where the year A.D. 70 began, and October 1914, where the year 1915 A.D. will begin (Jewish reckoning). The anarchy period lies entirely outside of any dates or reckonings furnished us. It may be one year or more. -- The Watch Tower, August 1, 1904, page 230.
3) The third way was related to the view that some of the Bible Students held that the Gentile Times would end in October of 1915, not October of 1914. This is the view that Russell was discussing in the article quoted from The Watch Tower of December 1912.
However, it is often claimed by many that because of the alleged failure of 1914, Russell changed the ending of the Gentile Times to 1915. Did Russell, after 1914, change the ending of Gentile Times to 1915, as some have claimed (often misusing some quotes taken from the Scripture Studies and claiming that the changes were made due to an alleged failure of 1914)? We have discussed this matter in some earlier research related to Russell's "changes" in the Studies in the Scriptures.
What we are presenting here are quotes from Russell that prove that he had not changed 1914 to 1915. He continued to regard 1914 as being the end of the Gentile Times until he died in 1916.
Quotes taken from the pages of the Watch Tower:
Watch Tower, February 15, 1915, page 53:
For a wise purpose He permits this reign of lawlessness, this condition which evokes universal odium. Our thought is that we should look for still further evidences day by day that the Gentile Times have ended, and that God's Kingdom has begun its work.
Watch Tower, February 15, 1915, page 53:
We believe that the Times of the Gentiles ended just on time, as shown in Volume II. of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES.
Watch Tower, February 15, 1915, page 55:
The Times of the Gentiles have ended, and the nations are now disintegrating.
Russell certainly believed, in February of 1915, that the Gentile Times had already ended. He had not changed the date to October of 1915. Russell, however, by his various statements from 1911 to 1916, seemed to be unaware that of the changes that had appeared in the 1911 editions of his STUDIES. This provides evidence that he was never aware that the dates had been changed in the 1911 editions of his books.
Watch Tower April 15, 1915, page 127:
We believe that the dates have proven to be quite right. We believe that Gentile Times have ended, and that God is now allowing the Gentile Governments to destroy themselves, in order to prepare the way for Messiah's Kingdom.
Rather than saying that 1914 was the wrong date, Russell states that he still believed that the dates had proven to be quite correct. Thus, in April of 1915, Russell had not changed the date 1914 to 1915.
Watch Tower June 1, 1915, page 166:
We do not think that the Gospel Age fully ended in September 1914, but merely the Times of the Gentiles.
Again, this shows that in June of 1915, Russell still believed that the Gentile Times had already ended in 1914; he was not looking for them to end in October of 1915.
Watch Tower, July 15, 1915, page 215:
As we leave here today, we do so with the thought that we may meet again as a Convention, or perhaps we may not meet again. It is not for you or for me to be dictatorial. The Bible indicates that the Gentile Times have ended. Their kings have had their day.
The above was taken from a discourse that Russell gave in Oakland in June of 1915. It shows that in June of 1915 he was still holding to the belief that the Gentile Times had already ended. It also shows that he had not set forth any date for the time of trouble to end.
Watch Tower September 1, 1915, page 286:
Many Bible students are thoroughly convinced that the 2520 years from Zedekiah's day to October, 1914, ended there-that that date marked the end of God's lease of world power to the Gentile nations.
In September of 1915 Russell was still pointing to the 1914 as the end of the Gentiles; he did not mention any expectation that they were to end a month later.
Watch Tower January 1, 1916, page 4
We have seen, too, that when Elijah's time for translation came, he was sent from Gilgal to Bethel, from Bethel to Jericho and from Jericho to Jordan; and that these different points were measurably disappointing; yet that Elijah and Elisha were not discouraged, but went on-Jordan representing the end of the Times of the Gentiles, 1915.
Here Russell does refer to the end of the Time of the Gentiles as being 1915. Does this mean that he had changed his view, and that he was saying that the Gentile Times had not ended in 1914? No, because his usage of 1915 is the same as found in the very first editions of his STUDIES, as referring to the Jewish year corresponding to 1915 as beginning in October of 1914. See the first edition of The Time Is At Hand (1889) page 232, where he spoke of A.D. 1915 as "the closing of the Gentile Times." The chronology that Russell used was "whole years" or "full years" running from October to October, thus the end of 1914 A.D. in October would be the beginning of 1915 A.D. Indeed, he often referred to the Gentile Times as ending in 1915 as meaning the beginning of the Jewish year in October of 1914.
Watch Tower February 1, 1916, page 38.
Did the Times of the Gentiles end by October 1st, 1914? It certainly looks very much as if they did.
Russell, in February 1916, was still holding to the belief that the Gentile Times had ended in October of 1914. He had not changed 1914 to 1915.
Watch Tower September 1, 1916, page 264.
It still seems clear to us that the prophetic period known as the Times of the Gentiles ended chronologically in October, 1914.
In September of 1916, just before his death, he was still holding to the belief that the Gentile Times had ended in 1914. He still had not changed it to 1915.
Just before his death, Brother Russell presented new Author Forewards for the Studies in the Scriptures. Surely, if he had changed the ending of the Gentile Times to 1915, he would have stated such in those forewards. But what did he state?
In the Author's Foreward of "The Time is At Hand", he made no mention of 1915, but he did state:
This Volume sets forth, what its author has been preaching for over forty years, that the "Times of the Gentiles" chronologically ended in the fall of A.D. 1914. The expression, "Times of the Gentiles," in Bible usage signifies the years, or period of time, in which the Gentile nations of the world were to be permitted to have control, following the taking away of the typical kingdom from natural Israel, and filling the hiatus between that event and the establishment of God's Kingdom in the hands of Messiah-- "whose right it is." Ezekiel 21:27
We could not, of course, know in 1889, whether the date 1914, so clearly marked in the Bible as the end of the Gentile lease of power or permission to rule the world, would mean that they would be fully out of power at that time, or whether, their lease expiring, their eviction would begin. The latter we perceive to be the Lord's program; and promptly in August, 1914, the Gentile kingdoms referred to in the prophecy began the present great struggle, which, according to the Bible, will culminate in the complete overthrow of all human government, opening the way for the full establishment of the Kingdom of God's dear Son.
The above reflects bascially the same view he had held from 1904, that the Armageddon struggle was to begin in 1914 when the Gentile Times end. We believe that the Armageddon struggle did begin in 1914, and that it still continues to this day.
Some claim that he changed 1914 to 1915 a few years before 1914; is this true? What is the evidence from what Russell said in the years before 1914? Evidence that Russell, from 1911 to 1914, was still teaching that the Gentile Times would end in 1914" from the pages of the Watch Tower:
May 15, 1911, page 156:
Our readers know that for some years we have been expecting this Age to close with an awful time of trouble, and we expect it to break out with suddenness and force not long after October, 1914, which, so far as we can understand the Scriptures, is the date at which the Times of the Gentiles -- the lease of earth's dominions to the Gentiles -- will expire.
August 1, 1911, page 238:
In other words, during the same period that Israel would be having "seven times" of tribulation and subjection, the Gentiles would be having "seven times" of prosperity, and both will terminate at the same time -- in 2,520 years from B.C. 606 -- October, A.D. 1914, the close of the Gentile Times.
July 1, 1912, page 223:
Many know our expectations respecting October, 1914 -- that thereabouts the Time of Trouble will gain full headway and sweep the social structure as a besom of destruction.
October 15, 1912, page 327:
We fully believe that the year 1914 will see the end of the Gentile Times, for we cannot find even one flaw in our Bible chronology.
January 15, 1913, page 27:
We fully believe, however, that it will be filled before the close of "the Times of the Gentiles," which we think will end with October, 1914.
June 1, 1913, page 167:
We understand that the Gentile Times will close in October 1914.
November 15, 1913, page 342:
We do not see where any mistake has been made in calculating the Seven Times of the Gentiles as expiring about October 1, 1914.
January 1, 1914, page 3:
The Year 1914 is the last one of what the Bible terms "Gentile Times" -- the period in which God has allowed the nations of the earth to do their best to rule the world.
November 1, 1914, page 327:
This leads us to expect that the remaining prophetic periods will have a similar fulfilment, and that September 20 of this year, 1914, probably marked the end of the Gentile Times.
We are given the following quote, evidently with the thought that in some unexplained way this proves that Russell had changed 1914 to 1915 some time before 1914:
We remind the readers, however, that nothing in the Scriptures says definitely that the trouble upon the Gentiles will be accomplished before the close of the Times of the Gentiles, whether that be October, 1914, or October, 1915. -- Watch Tower, December 1, 1912, pp. 377.
This quote actually corroborates what we have said elsewhere, and is in harmony with Russell's change of view of 1904, that is, that the time of trouble was to begin, not end, when times of the Gentiles end. However, this is one of the places that Brother Russell acknowledges the theory of some who believed that the Gentile Times would end in October of 1915 rather than October of 1914. It is quoted from the same article referenced before, that "The Ending of the Gentile Times".
This article is online at:
http://www.mostholyfaith.com/bible/reprints/Z1912DEC.asp#Z377:1
As best as we can determine, Russell first presented this idea in 1904, in the sermon entitled, "Times of the Gentiles Nearly Run Out." This sermon was given before Russell had changed his viewpoint concerning the "time of trouble" (which change of view was presented a few months later, in the July 1, 1904, issue of the Watch Tower), and thus it does not reflect that change of viewpoint. In that sermon he, evidently laying aside his usual reasoning of "whole years", reasoned that 606 would really be 605 1/4 years BC and that 2520 years later 1914 3/4 years later which would be October of 1915. This was the argument that some Bible Students were using, evidently with the claim that 606 BC to 1914 AD would have to add a year "zero" between BC 1 to AD 1 to make it 2520 years. Their argument, however, disregarded the fact that the chronology used was desginated in whole years from October to October, thus, from the beginning of 606 BC to the end of 1914 AD and the beginning of 1915 AD would be 2520 whole years
Actually as P. S. L. Johnson pointed out in a letter to Russell in 1916 just before Russell died, the whole year chronology that Russell had been using (which had been adopted from Barbour) would make the October beginning of 606 to be 606 1/4 years BC (actually 607 BC); 2520 years later would be 1913 3/4 years AD, with is actually October of 1914. Russell died before he had chance to respond to Johnson's letter. That letter is found in Appendix Note 1 of the LHMM edition of "The Time Is At Hand", beginning on page 367.
See this sermon "Times of the Gentiles Nearly Run Out" online at:
http://www.mostholyfaith.com/bible/newspaper_sermons/NS01.asp#NS24:2
Did Russell, by his sermon in 1904, change the date 1914 to 1915? Evidently, he was simply offering that as a suggestion, not that he was changing the date of the end of the Gentile Times to 1915. This can be seen in his many statements regarding 1914 between the years of 1904 up to an including 1914, including the article in which he announced his change of viewpoint concerning the "time of trouble" as beginning, not ending, in 1914, in the July 1, 1904 issue of the Watch Tower.
In November of 1904, Russell quote a newspaper article, and wrote as related to that article, wherein Russell shows that he had NOT CHANGED the ending of the Gentile Times to 1915:
It so closely coincides with our expectations, based on the divine Word -- regarding the ending of "Gentile Times" in October, 1914, when will follow the "time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation;" -- the anarchous period which will in divine providence be followed by the Kingdom rule of everlasting righteousness." -- Watch Tower, November 1, 1904, page 324.
In October 1904, Brother Russell wrote in response to a letter regarding the article that had appeared in the June 1, 1904 issue of the Watch Tower, in which he again plainly shows that he HAD NOT changed the ending of the Gentile Times to 1915:
The brother errs in supposing that we have changed our view of "Gentile Times." Those "times" or years are 2520, with a definite beginning in B.C. 606, and a definite ending, A.D. 1914. We know of no reason for changing a figure: to do so would spoil the harmonies and parallels so conspicuous between the Jewish and Gospel ages. -- Watch Tower, October 1, 1904, page 296.
This shows that he had not, by his earlier statements in his sermon, meant that to be viewed as changing 1914 to 1915.
In 1906, Russell further showed that he had not changed in the ending of the Gentile Times to 1915:
Thus, in their due time, matters are shaping around for the termination of Gentile rule in anarchy by the appointed time -- by October, 1914, when their lease or permit will expire. -- Watch Tower, December 1, 1906, page 371.
In 1909, Russell, in response to a question put before, definitely states that he had not changed his view that the Gentile Times would end in 1915 rather than 1914:
QUESTION (1909)--5--If the "Times of the Gentiles" began in October, 606 B.C., will they not end in October, 1915, instead of October, 1914? [Q76]
ANSWER.--We think not. If the brother or sister who wrote the question will go over the chronology, they will find that these Times will end in October, 1914. You should remember that in figuring chronology you count backward from A.D. for the 606, and forward from A.D. for the 1914.-- What Pastor Russell Said, pages 75,76.
This shows that Brother Russell had not, in 1909, replaced 1914 with 1915. Russell's answer above, however, assumes whole years counted from October to October, and does not add any "year zero" between BC 1 and AD 1.
One can find many more quotes between 1904 up to 1912 in which Russell continues to speak of the Gentile Times as ending in October of 1914, thus he, himself, had not meant his statement in 1904 to be viewed as changing when the Gentile Times were to end.
Thus, the overwhelming evidence (despite some changes found in the 1911 editions) is that from 1904 on up to his death in October of 1916, Russell never changed the ending of the Gentile Times to 1915, although he did acknowledge a few times that those who held this view could be right.
Please note that in none of Russell's statements was Russell claiming to be a prophet, or as having authority over the church, etc. He did not demand that everyone had to agree with his conclusions as does the JW leadership.

Other Research Related to the Idea that Russell Changed 1914 to 1915:

For quotes regarding the time of trouble beginning -- not ending -- in 1914, see:
Beginning of the Time of Trouble – Quotes From Russell
The JW Organization, Armageddon, 1914, and Russell -- Discusses some of the "changes" found in the 1912 edition of the Studies in the Scriptures.
Russell’s Changes to the Scripture Studies -- Discusses general changes known to be authorized by Russell as well as some changes that he may not have authorized.
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Originally published May 31, 2014; updated and republished June 13, 2014; June 15, 2014.

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