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Joseph Franklin Rutherford

1869-1942. Successor of C.T. Russell* as head of the Jehovah's Witnesses.* As a lawyer he had served as a special judge in Missouri. In June 1918 he and six others were sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment for propaganda against military service, but the sentence was quashed on appeal after nine months in prison. He wrote some twenty-two books and many booklets and laid the foundations of the directed dogmatic studies that characterize Jehovah's Witnesses. Russell had taught that Jesus Christ would return in 1914 or shortly afterward. Rutherford rallied his disappointed followers by discovering in 1921 that Christ had in fact returned invisibly in 1914 and had begun to purge his spiritual temple in 1918. Rutherford also “received” the new name for the Watchtower followers in 1931, i.e., “Jehovah's Witnesses.” When Armageddon was delayed and Witnesses numbered more than the expected 144,000, he found a way of including a second class in God's future blessings. He maintained also that the “higher powers” of Romans 13:1 were Jehovah and Jesus Christ, and not earthly rulers-an interpretation which has been rejected by current Jehovah's Witnesses' publications.

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