When Russell started the Watchtower Society, his followers were referred to as Bible Students. At Russell's death in 1916,
Rutherford took control of the legal entity known as the Watchtower Society.
However, after Rutherford's failed predictions for 1925 and overhaul of Watchtower doctrine the majority of Bible Students departed
from Rutherford. To differentiate his followers from other Bible Student groups Rutherford
took the name Jehovah's Witnesses. To this day there are active Bible Students globally.
The Watchtower currently claims that Jesus chose the Watchtower Society in 1919 as his cleansed people. It is interesting that Bible Students still hold to the majority of the 1919 Watchtower teachings, whereas Jehovah's Witnesses do not. If Jesus truly had chosen a group of people in the year 1919 based on their accurate understanding of truth, then that group today would have to be Bible Students and not Jehovah's Witnesses.
Whereas Rutherford changed many of the Watchtower teachings during the 1930s, Bible Students hold to core Watchtower beliefs instigated by Russell and held in 1919. The understanding of the Bible given in Russell's Studies in the Scriptures are not described as old truth, but still held to as accurate interpretations resulting from Gods direction. These include doctrine still believed by Jehovah's Witnesses, such as;
- Jehovah is not part of a Trinity
- An earthly paradise
- The importance of the Ransom
- The coming of Armageddon
- The expiration of the gifts of the spirit
- Man being a soul, not having a soul
They also hold to 1919 teachings later rejected by Rutherford, including;
- The sign of the pyramid
There are various Bible Student branches. Rather than strictly organised under a Governing Body as Jehovah's Witnesses are now,
they hold to the structure instigated by Russell, including open Bible discussion and home churches. As of October 2012, one of the more informative sites about Bible Students is friendsofjehovahswitnesses.com, which lists many of the Bible Student groups. Further information about Bible Students can be found at;
Paul Grundy 2005 - 2020