Jehovah`s Witness/Interpreting symbolism


QUESTION: Hello and welcome to the forum. I sure do hope that you are not like many JW's on here who are rude and degrading. It would sure be a relief to have more JW's who will answer questions with humility and respect.

Now, on to my question... What is the correct rule or method of determining if something is symbolic in say, the Book of Revelation? I here people say that it is a highly symolic book, which I believe that there is a lot of symoblism in it. But how do we individually determine if something is or is not symbolic?

Thanks for taking my question.



This is a very good question. There have been plenty of people that ave had the same concern. If the book of Revelations is a symbolic book, how can you tell when something is not symbolic? Whether a number  or an even in Revelation is to be taken literally or symbolically depends on its background and setting. The book of Revelation contains so much, from the (seven stars, Gods celestial throne, the star of worm wood, the woman giving birth, etc...); It would be easier for me to clear this up for you if you had a specific topic to discuss in the book of Revelations.

Warm Regards,


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello and thank you for the response.

I ask my question because it seems that some religious teachers of the Bible will act as an authority in saying that they are the only ones who can interpret scripture correctly. Not only this but I notice that some such as the JWs, will say make claims that some things are symbolic and others aren't without any rule to go by. One example is the 144,000 spoken of in Revelation 7 and 14. They say that the 144,000 is a literal number but the things spoken of to identify who the 144,000 are is all symbolic.

Most Bible scholars that I have read or heard on the subject of symbolism in the Book of Revelation say that the stuff that we know for sure is symbolism is stuff that claims it. For example, the majority of things that are symbolic in Revelation are described with the words "like" or "as". Other times, John tells us straight out what something is symbolic for. For example, the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Those two things are a rule of thumb in deciphering what is and is not symbolism in the Book of Revelation. Do you agree or disagree with them and do JW's have any other "rules of thumb" in deciphering what is or isn't symbolism?



Word such as "like" and "as" represent  simile not necessarily symbolism. The is a rule of them in the English Language. Things that are impossible to be logical represent symbolism. For example Rev 7:14 says that the members of the great crowd have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb. It is impossible to be make anything white after washing it in blood, so it stands to reason that this is symbolism.

Another good rule of thumb is if te text uses a specific number. 144,000 is mentioned repeatedly in the book of Revelations (as you've stated), so it stands to reason that this is a literal number.

We know that the Great Crowd is literal because Jesus spoke of them at John 10:16 where he stated that he has other sheep that are no of this fold. "This fold" meaning the 144,000.

Warm Regards,


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for the response. Can you give me the most accurate and clear definition of the word symbolism? I think that many people mix up symbolism and figurism also. But if you could give me that definition, that would be great.


sym·bol·ism  [sim-buh-liz-uh m]  Show IPA
1. the practice of representing things by symbols, or of investing things with a symbolic meaning or character.
3. symbolic meaning or character.

*I only included the definitions that were relevant to our conversation.

Warm regards,

Pam B

Jehovah`s Witness

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Sister Pam B


Questions about Jehovah's Witnesses and our beliefs.


Learning Bible teachings since 1975. I was baptized in 1994.

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I have a BFA in graphic design and I'm in school for my MFA in animation right now.

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