Charles Russell

Russellites, Millennial Dawners, Bible Students, Jehovah's Witnesses


Revised  2023
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This work is completely independent of any existing religions denomination, church, organisation or group, a voice from a wilderness.


A person who built on his predecessors' accumulated retrieved knowledge was Charles Russell.  Brought up a Presbyterian he become fascinated with, and later influenced by, the Millerites' teachings and understanding of Bible time prophecies, particularly relating to the second coming of Christ.  In 1870, he joined one of these groups. Russell applied a rational mind to Bible examination, developing received information available to him and making further independent advancements in his Bible research.  He formed a separate study group in Pennsylvania who became known as Millennial Dawners or Russellites.

As Russell formulated his understandings he openly opposed creed based church doctrines. Rightly, like Isaac Newton 180 years earlier, he rejected the trinity doctrine in favour of the Bible evidence that God was the Creator, Jesus Christ was His first spirit-kind created Son and that the 'holy spirit' was God's activating dynamic energy.  He rightly advocated that the doctrine of eternal hell fire punishment was adopted from pagan sources and scripturally unsound. Russell correctly rejected the immortality of the soul doctrine in favour of the scripturally supported 'soul sleep', the condition of all the dead awaiting resurrection.  Russell also promoted the retrieved scriptural information that Sir Isaac Newton had accurately advocated along with other fundamentalist groups that the second coming of Christ would not be in a visible material state.

He expanded this understanding further by verifying that Christ's 'presence' from the Greek word 'parousia' could be used, not only in a physical presence sense but also in an implied sense that the second presence would be invisible and not physical.  Up to then, Christ's second coming had generally been thought to be a visible one in the flesh.  His renewed study on this subject, using the then available cleaner Bibles, revealed that the earlier understanding of Sir Isaac Newton, that it would be an invisible 'parousia' or presence period, was correct.  This, Russell maintained, would be in a similar fashion to Jesus Christ's continuing his invisible 'parousia' with his first-century disciples from 33 until the end of the Jewish system in 70, (Matthew 28:20).  Russell argued that Jesus had indicated this type of invisible presence would be renewed during his second 'parousia' period.

The 'second presence', Russell claimed, would be similar to Yhwh's 'presence' with Israel, symbolised by the Shechinah light and cloud over the Ark in the most holy of the tabernacle: "There I shall come to meet you (come into presence [parousia] with you) from above the mercy seat..I shall give you all my orders" (Exodus 25:22).  Russell appreciated that scriptural evidence supported the understanding that the 'parousia' presence was a specific period of time, when Christ would once again reactivate his attentive association with selected appointed representatives on earth, as he had done with his disciples during the first century.

This retrieved understanding had been made possible by the use of concordances and cleaner translations of the Christian Greek scriptures in establishing the meaning of the word 'parousia'.  Russell made a concerted effort to reintroduce the proper name of God, which had superstitiously been neglected.  He favoured using the popular medieval rendering of the 'Tetragrammaton' YHWH as Jehovah rather than Yahweh.  Like Miller, Russell accepted that Adam had received the just punishment of death for his crime but his offspring human race had unjustifiably inherited his death sentence also.  To address this problem, Jesus Christ sacrificed himself as a counter-balancing ransom, to counteract this inherited death penalty on mankind.  Russell concluded that on the basis of this ransom sacrifice, the Bible advocated that humans, worthy or not, would be granted a second chance of life by the mechanism of resurrection, which he understood would take place during the 1,000 year restoration reign of  Christ over the earth.  It was a time of sifting out scripturally supported teachings from those not.

Time calculations were reworked and a new formula emerged based on a dream of Nebuchadnezzar recorded in the Bible, of a tree representing world rule. This tree is chopped down and preserved for 'seven times' until "By the decree of watchers the thing is, and [by] the saying of holy ones the request is, to the intent that people living may know that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind and that to the one whom he wants to, he gives it and he sets up over it even the lowliest one of mankind” Dan 4:14-17This he applied to Jesus as King of kings, but wrongly fixed the start date of this seven times at 607 BC.  He calculated erroneously that God's earthly Kingdom had been chopped down by the Babylonians in 607 BC.

Russell's formula = 7 times was 7 years of 360 days, a total of 2520 days.  These days were converted to years by applying the day for a year scripture at Ezekiel 4:6, giving 2,520 years.  Starting at 607 BC, the 2,520 years runs out in 1914 when Christ, he expected, would start ruling.  Many other calculations were then hung on this date creating great expectations in his followers, who went under the names of Russellites, Millennial Dawners, Bible Students and later, some became Jehovah's Witnesses.  This is now their position but still no spirit rain has fallen.  This 1914 date should now seriously be reassessed in view of better historical evidence and bible information on the Kingdom timetable.

See  607 BC  PLUS 2,520 YEARS EQUALS 1914? 

One mistake Russell made was to take the Giza pyramid in Egypt assuming it had been constructed pre flood. Which contained a record of the chronology of God's Kingdom plan contained in the internal measurements of the passages within the pyramid. These bible researchers, along with many others, have laboured endeavouring to push forward the retrieval of scriptural knowledge, not always correctly, but along the way, many seeds of truth have been retrieved and sown in the minds of those seeking the Kingdom.  Many labourers have worked in the fields sowing seeds in men's minds, awaiting the falling of the late spirit rains (James 5:7) to make these seeds grow into fruit ready for harvesting by others at the end of a system (John 4:36-38),  see Early and Late Rain.

Much continued refining has been done since Charles Russell's efforts in recovering clearer understanding of God's word.  These advancements can give us greater clarity and understanding of God's Kingdom and its time table.

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