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Did Early Christians Preach Door-to-Door?



The Claim

The Problem: An Identity Crisis

How the Witnesses have justified door-to-door evangelism

Watchtower admissions in the 1970s

What about Acts 5:42?

Acts 2:46 -- Why is the Watchtower not consistent?

Does Acts 20 indicate Paul went door-to-door?

The Evidence of Paul's Epistles


The Problem: An Identity Crisis

This review of the Watchtower's 'golden age' (and that, by the way, was the new magazine which Rutherford launched in 1920, predecessor to Awake!) has been necessary to make vivid the central problem the Christian encounters when witnessing to Jehovah's Witnesses (now with a capital 'W'!). The JW no longer 'witnesses' by playing on your doorstep Joe Rutherford's 78s, nor has he even read any of JFR's books. But he does carry Joe's main message. And that message is essentially this: the fact that I'm at your door and you're NOT at mine proves I'm a Christian and you aren't. Salvation by works, yes, wrapped up neatly in a disguise that even fools the Jehovah's Witness himself. For HE thinks he's there to preach the name of Jehovah and Jehovah's kingdom. But, as I hope is now abundantly clear, his identity among Jehovah's Witnesses is the only thing proven by his presence at your door.

And this unique 'badge' is graphically – and incessantly – set before the JW by the Watchtower publications. You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, their most successful publication in recent decades, reinforces what is the bottom line for JW's on its last page:

You must be a part of Jehovah's organization, doing God's will, in order to receive his blessing of everlasting life. (p. 255, emphasis added)

And in case we don't know what 'doing God's will' means, here's a clarification from the Watchtower:

It is by our endurance in proclaiming "this good news of the kingdom" that we may attain to salvation. (Watchtower, July 15, 1979, p. 14)

If we have satisfactorily established that door-to-door evangelism is what makes one a Jehovah's Witness, let us proceed to a scriptural evaluation of the central question – Did Jesus and the apostles preach door-to-door? For if we would get anywhere at all with a Witness, we MUST take away his 'badge', that which separates him from everyone else called 'Christian'.

Were the Apostles Really 'Jehovah's Witnesses'?

As outlandish as that question may seem, Jehovah's Witnesses take pride in the claim that they -- and they only – are imitators of the method of evangelism practised by the early church. But did 1st century believers -- even the apostles -- go door-to-door, or does the book of Acts present a different picture of preaching work of the early church?