Jehovah`s Witness/Invisible Presence


This question was previously addressed to Sister T who apparently chose not to answer it:

My question was:

"Please explain about Jesus' invisible presence.  If Jesus has returned invisibly, does this mean we are now experiencing the tribulation?  

According to prophesy, at what stage are we presently in?

I look forward to your answer."

and was asked on 08/16/2013

Thank you.

Greetings Jay,

EDIT 8 September

In response to the point you made in the "ADD TO ANSWER" at the bottom where you said and asked

"If the answer to my question of whether or not the long-held JW belief that Jesus returned 'invisibly' in 1914-1918 is still held as true, I failed to find it in the lengthy narrative you presented."  - That area is not for asking questions.  If you want the question please ask a new question

end edit

Thank you for your question.  The question a you have asked are very topical for JWs as a  recent Watchtower Magazine  edition that we use in our Bible studies has had serries of articles on the prophecy recorded at Matthew 24.  You can down load the complete magazine at  

In the mean time, I will post the first article that deals directly with your question.  This article give our current “explanation” or understanding of that prophecy and gives the reasons for the explanation. There are some updated thoughts as to how the prophecy will unfold. Please note.  Theses explanations are not to be considered as “hard and fast” Bible “truths”.  We actually will not know the full 100% truth of the prophecies until AFTER they have been fulfilled.  In the mean time  we can get a very good idea as to what to expect. The explanations are provides in good faith based on what the Bible has to to say


JESUS’ ministry on earth was coming to an end, and his disciples were eager to find out what the future held for them. So just a few days before his death, four of his apostles asked him: “When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” (Matt. 24:3; Mark 13:3) Jesus answered by means of an extensive prophecy, recorded in Matthew chapters 24 and 25. In that prophecy, Jesus foretold many noteworthy events. His words have profound meaning for us because we too are keenly interested in knowing what the future holds.

2 Through the years, Jehovah’s servants have prayerfully studied Jesus’ prophecy about the last days. They have sought to get a clearer understanding of the timing of the fulfillment of Jesus’ words. To illustrate how our understanding has been clarified, let us consider three “when” questions. When does the “great tribulation” begin?When does Jesus judge “the sheep” and “the goats”? When does Jesus ‘arrive,’ or come?—Matt. 24:21; 25:31-33.


3 For a number of years, we thought that the great tribulation began in 1914 with World War I and that “those days were cut short” by Jehovah in 1918 when the war ended so that the remnant would have the opportunity to preach the good news to all nations. (Matt. 24:21, 22) After the completion of that preaching work, Satan’s empire would be destroyed. Thus, the great tribulation was thought to have three phases: There would be a beginning (1914-1918), the tribulation would be interrupted (from 1918 onward), and it would conclude at Armageddon.

4 Upon further examination of Jesus’ prophecy, however, we perceived that a part of Jesus’ prophecy about the last days has two fulfillments. (Matt. 24:4- 22) There was an initial fulfillment in Judea in the first century C.E., and there would be a worldwide fulfillment in our day. That insight led to several clarifications.[1]

5 We also discerned that the first part of the great tribulation did not begin in 1914. Why not? Because Bible prophecy reveals that the great tribulation will start, not with aware among nations, but with an attack on false religion. Thus, the events that began in 1914 were, not the beginning of the great tribulation, but the “beginning of pangs of distress.”
(Matt. 24:8) These “pangs of distress” correspond to what took place in Jerusalem and
Judea from33 C.E. to 66 C.E.

6 What will signal the start of the great tribulation? Jesus foretold: “When you catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place, (let the reader use discernment,)then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains.”(Matt. 24:15,16) In the first fulfillment, the “standing in a holy place” occurred in 66 C.E. when the Roman army (“the disgusting thing”) attacked Jerusalem and its temple (a place holy in the eyes of the Jews). In the larger fulfillment, the “standing” will occur when the United Nations (the modern-day “disgusting thing”) attacks Christendom (which is holy in the eyes of nominal Christians) and the rest of Babylon the Great. The same attack is described at Revelation 17:16-18. That event will be the beginning of the great tribulation.

7 Jesus also foretold: “Those days will be cut short.” In the initial fulfillment, this happened in 66 C.E. when the Roman army “cut short” its attack. Then, anointed Christians in Jerusalem and Judea fled, allowing for their ‘flesh, or life, to be saved.’ (Matthew 24:22; Mal. 3:17) So, what can we expect will happen during the coming great tribulation? Jehovah will “cut short” the attack of the United Nations on false religion, not allowing true religion to be destroyed with the false. This will ensure that God’s people will be save

8 What happens after the initial part of the great tribulation has passed? Jesus’ words indicate that there will be a period of time that will last until the start of Armageddon. What events will occur during that interval? The answer is recorded at Ezekiel 38:14-16 and Matthew 24:29-31. [2] After that, we will witness Armageddon, the climax of the great tribulation, which parallels Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 C.E. (Mal. 4:1) With the battle of Armageddon as its climax, that coming great tribulation will be unique—an event “such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning.” (Matt. 24:21) When it has passed, Christ’s Millennial Rule will begin.

9 This prophecy about the great tribulation strengthens us. Why? Because it assures us that no matter what hardships we may face, Jehovah’s people, as a group, will come out of the great tribulation. (Rev. 7:9, 14) Above all, we rejoice because at Armageddon, Jehovah will vindicate his sovereignty and he will sanctify his holy name.—Ps. 83:18; Ezek. 38:23.


10 Consider now the timing of another part of Jesus’ prophecy—the parable of the judgment of the sheep and the goats. (Matt. 25:31-46) Previously, we thought that the judging of people as sheep or goats would take place during the entire period of the last days from 1914 onward. We concluded that those who rejected the Kingdom message and who died before the start of the great tribulation would die as goats—without the hope of a resurrection.

11 In the mid-1990’s, The Watchtower reexamined Matthew 25:31, which states: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne.” It was noted that Jesus became King of God’s Kingdom in 1914, but he did not “sit down on his glorious throne” as Judge of “all the nations.” (Matt. 25:32; compare Daniel 7:13.) However, the parable of the sheep and the goats describes Jesus primarily as Judge. (Matthew 25:31-34, 41, 46.) Since Jesus was not yet active as Judge of all nations in 1914, his judgment of people as sheep or goats could not have started in that year.[3] When, then, will Jesus’ judgment begin?

12 Jesus’ prophecy about the last days reveals that he will for the very first time act as Judge of all nations after the destruction of false religion. As mentioned in paragraph 8, some of the events that will occur during that time are recorded at Matthew 24:30, 31. When you examine those verses, you will note that Jesus there foretells events that are similar to the ones he mentions in the parable of the sheep and the goats. For example, the Son of man comes with glory and with angels; all tribes and nations are gathered; those judged as sheep “lift [their] heads up” because “everlasting life” awaits them.[4] Those judged as goats “beat themselves in lamentation,” realizing that “everlasting cutting-off” awaits them.—Matt. 25:31-33, 46.

13 So, then, what can we conclude? Jesus will judge people of all nations as sheep or goats when he comes during the great tribulation. Then, at Armageddon, the climax of the great tribulation, the goat like ones will be ‘cut off’ forever. How does that understanding affect our view of our ministry? It helps us to see how important our preaching work is. Until the great tribulation begins, people still have time to change their thinking and start walking on the cramped road “leading off into life.” (Matt. 7:13,14) To be sure, people may now display a sheep-like or a goat-like disposition. Nevertheless, we should remember that the final judgment of who are sheep and who are goats is during the great tribulation. Therefore, we have good reason for continuing to offer as many people as possible the opportunity to listen to and respond to the Kingdom message.


14 Does a further consideration of Jesus’ prophecy reveal that our understanding of the timing of other significant events needs to be adjusted? The prophecy itself gives the answer. Let us see how.

15 In the part of his prophecy that is recorded at Matthew 24:29–25:46, Jesus focuses primarily on what will happen during these last days and during the coming great tribulation. There, Jesus makes eight references to his “coming,” or arrival.[5] Regarding the great tribulation, he states: “They will see the Son of man coming on the clouds.” “You do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” “At an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming.” And in his parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus states: “The Son of man arrives in his glory.” (Matt. 24:30, 42, 44; 25:31) Each of these four references applies to Christ’s future coming as Judge. Where in Jesus’ prophecy do we find the remaining four references?

16 Regarding the faithful and discreet slave, Jesus says: “Happy is that slave if his master on arriving [“having come,”ftn.] finds him doing so.” In the parable of the virgins, Jesus states:“While they were going off to buy, the bridegroom arrived [“came,” Kingdom [nterlinear].” In the parable of the talents, Jesus relates: “After a long time the master of those slaves came.” In the same parable, the master says: “On my arrival [“having come,” Int] I would be receiving what is mine.” (Matt. 24:46; 25:10, 19, 27) To what time do these four instances of Jesus’ coming refer?17 In the past, we have stated in our publications that these last four references apply to Jesus’ arriving, or coming, in 1918. As an example, take Jesus’ statement about “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45-47.) We understood that the “arriving” mentioned in verse 46 was linked to the time when Jesus came to inspect the spiritual condition of the anointed in 1918 and that the appointment of the slave over  all the Master’s belongings occurred in 1919. (Mal. 3:1) However, a further consideration of Jesus’ prophecy indicates that an adjustment in our understanding of the timing of certain aspects of Jesus’ prophecy is needed. Why so?

18 In the verses that lead up to Matthew 24:46, the word “coming” refers consistently to the time when Jesus comes to pronounce and execute judgement during the great tribulation. (Matt.24:30, 42, 44) Also, as we considered in paragraph 12, Jesus’ ‘arriving’ mentioned at Matthew 25:31 refers to that same future time of judgement. So it is reasonable to conclude that Jesus’ arrival to appoint the faithful slave over all his belongings, mentioned at Matthew 24:46, 47, also applies to his future coming, during the great tribulation.[6] Indeed, a consideration of Jesus’ prophecy in its entirety makes it clear that each of these eight references to his coming applies to the future time of judgement during the great tribulation.

19 In review, what have we learned? In the beginning of this article, we raised three “when” questions. We first considered that the great tribulation did not begin in 1914 but will start when the United Nations attacks Babylon the Great. Then, we reviewed why Jesus’ judgement  of the sheep and the goats did not begin in 1914 but will occur during the great tribulation. Finally, we examined why Jesus’ arrival to appoint the faithful slave over all his belongings did not occur in 1919 but will take place during the great tribulation. So, then, all three “whens” apply to the same future time period —the great tribulation. How does this adjusted view further affect our understanding of the illustration of the faithful slave? Also, how does it affect our understanding of other parables, or illustrations, of Jesus that are being fulfilled during this time of the end? These important questions will be considered in the following articles.


Paragraph 4: [1] For more information, see The Watchtower, February 15, 1994, pages 8-21 and May 1, 1999, pages 8-20. Paragraph 8: [2] One of the events mentioned in these verses is the ‘gathering of the chosen ones.’ (Matt. 24:31) Hence, it appears that all anointed ones who still remain on earth after the initial part of the great tribulation has passed will at some point be raised to heaven before the outbreak of the battle of Armageddon. This adjusts what was stated on this subject in “Questions From Readers” in The Watchtower of August 15, 1990, page 30. Paragraph 11: [3] See The Watchtower, October 15, 1995, pages 18-28. Paragraph 12: [4] See the parallel account at Luke 21:28. Paragraph 15: [5] The words “coming” and “arriving” translate forms of the same Greek verb, erkhomai.  Paragraph 18: [6] As noted, the Greek word rendered “on arriving” at Matthew 24:46 is a form of the same Greek verb that is rendered “coming” at Matthew 24:30, 42, 44.

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I hope that has answered your specific question.

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Brenton Hepburn


I AM one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I am always learning. I am NOT an expert in the full sense of the word but I can answer questions on the reliability of the NWT - the so called mind control problems-so called prophecies - how being a JW affects the individual and relatives and general practices and history of Jehovah’s Witnesses. >>WARNING<< Please be aware that there are people here who ARE NOT practicing JWs. By all means ask these ones questions. Depending on the question you will get an honest answer, but, generally the answer you get, will mislead you as to what we believe, often because, they do not give ALL the relevant details. These ones will, have an agenda against JWs., and will at times give answers that are not correct in regard to JW teachings and practices. If you are after a answer from one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, please read some of the answers that the various experts have published before choosing someone. If you want to ask one of the NON JWs a question, that is fine, BUT if you want a balancing view after asking one of the NON JWs, ask a JW the same question. PLEASE ALSO NOTE: There(have been)and are, some "experts" here who are NOT always the most courteous and polite, at times are actually quite rude, that applies to both JW's and non JW's and their answers may offend, especially when they get personal and attack the character of the person and not the message. Unfortunately some here that have done that. So it IS IMPORTANT to chose an "expert" that YOU feel will best suit YOU by reading some of their past answers . . . . .


I have been a publisher since 1964. When I first went on the internet I found a lot of negative information dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses covering prophecy, mind control and what many said was a very bad translation of the Bible known as the NWT. It shook my faith. After may hours researching these topics I could see why some felt that way, but, I was also able to explain why there were these misleading views. I can now set matters straight for anyone that has negative information about Jehovah’s Witness to show them that such information is at best misleading and at worst dangerous lies.

I have been a student of the Bible for many years, am trying to teach myself Biblical Greek. Was a public tax accountant for many years untill SEP 2009 when I gave it up due to health problems.

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