The Watchtower is a semi-monthly magazine (full title The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom) that has been continuously printed by the Jehovah's Witnesses since 1879. The Watchtower is the primary teaching tool by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania, a legal nonprofit corporation established and run by the Jehovah's Witnesses. The magazine was originally published by Charles Taze Russell and was known as Zion's Watchtower and Herald of Christ's Presence.
The stated purpose of the magazine (printed on page 2 of all issues) is to:
- Exalt Jehovah God as Sovereign Lord of the Universe.
- Keep watch on world events as these fulfill Bible prophecy.
- Comfort people with the good news that God's Kingdom will destroy those who oppress their fellow men and turn earth into a paradise.
- Encourage faith in Christ Jesus whose shed blood opens the way to eternal life.
- Remain non-political, adhering to the Bible as its authority.
Starting with the January 1 and January 15 editions of 2008, the format of the magazine was adjusted to create a Public Edition (dated the 1st of each month) and a Study Edition (dated the 15th of each month).
- The Public Edition is used by Jehovah's Witnesses as part of their public ministry. Feature articles are intended to promote and explain the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses regarding God and the Bible. Secondary articles include topics that are intended to help readers draw closer to God or imitate Jesus Christ, answer Bible questions, or encourage additional Bible study.
- The Study Edition is not featured in the public ministry of Jehovah's Witnesses but is used in a weekly study program that is open to the public. Primary articles used in question and answer sessions focus on the Bible, Witness beliefs, and application of principles to personal life. Secondary articles provide information of interest to Jehovah's Witnesses, such as short autobiographical stories of other Witnesses, highlights of graduation ceremonies related to the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead.
As of the May 1, 2009, the Public Edition of the magazine had an average printing of 37,252,000 copies in 174 languages (either monthly or semi-monthly); no total printing information is included in the Study Edition of the magazine. Audio recordings for a limited number of languages are made available at www.jw.org.
The Watchtower (May 1, 2009) The Watchtower To Our Readers (January 1 and January 15, 2008)