THE Jehovah’s Witnesses have been taught to believe that in the resurrection, those who died faithful to God are included in the ‘other sheep’ and will receive the “resurrection of the righteous” (“just” KJV) mentioned in Acts 24:15. (The Watchtower 2/15/95 p. 11 par. 12) Those of the ‘other sheep’ who are alive today, some of whom survive through Armageddon without needing a resurrection, are referred to as the ‘great crowd’. (The Watchtower 4/15/95 p. 31 Questions From Readers). These views are based around the following text.
“And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” (Joh 10:16 NWT)
The Bible speaks of the church as Jehovah’s flock (Acts 20:29; 1 Pet 5:2). Up until the conversion of Cornelius, the Gospel invitation had NOT been made available to the gentiles. But that changed suddenly about AD 36. Of the conversion of Cornelius’ household, we read in Acts 10:45, “And the faithful ones that had come with Peter who were of those circumcised were amazed, because the free gift of the holy spirit was being poured out also upon people of the nations.” NWT.
The gentile Christians could not be invited until after the 70 weeks (Dan 9:24) for Israel were completed (AD 36). Of that final week [a day = a year], we read “And he must keep the covenant in force for the many for one week” Dan 9:27 NWT). That covenant was Jehovah’s 70 weeks agreement with Israel. It was in the last half of the 70th week, three and a half years after the cross, that the great work was done amongst the Jews.
Applying the “other sheep” to the new gentile converts is the evident meaning and it would take strong additional scriptural evidence to convince the honest student otherwise. There is no direct indication in the Bible that these “other sheep” are referring only to true Christians who will not be part of the Little Flock. Without further compelling evidence, insisting on a different interpretation is building a doctrine from a scripture taken out of context. This reminds us of the Catholic Church misapplication of Matt 16:18 which says, “You are Peter, and on this rock-mass I will build my congregation, and the gates of Ha’des will not overpower it.” (NWT) Based on an unsupportable misapplication of this text, the Catholic Church believes that the papacy represents an “unbroken” line of apostolic succession from Peter to the present day.