Close of the heavenly calling
Russell originally set the close of the heavenly calling as being 1878. This was moved to 1881, 1910, 1914, 1925, 1931 and finally 1935. In 2007 it has admitted as unknown.
Watchtower unsure when
Watchtower 2007 May 1 pp.30,31
When does the calling of Christians to a heavenly hope cease?
The Bible does not reveal a precise answer to that question. We do know that the anointing of Jesus disciples with a view to their heavenly inheritance began in 33 C.E. (Acts 2:1-4) We also know that after the death of the apostles, genuine anointed Christian wheat came to grow together with counterfeit Christians, weeds. (Matthew 13:24-30) Then, starting in the late 1800s, anointed Christians were again prominently active. In 1919 the harvest of the earth, including the gathering of the final ones of the anointed, began to be reaped.Revelation 14:15, 16.
From the late 1800s until 1931, the main thrust of the preaching work was the gathering of the remaining members of the body of Christ. In 1931 the Bible Students took the Bible-based name Jehovahs Witnesses, and in the November 15, 1933, issue of TheWatchtower, the thought was expressed that this unique name was the denarius referred to in Jesus parable recorded at Matthew 20:1-16. The 12 hours mentioned in the parable were thought to correspond to the 12 years from 1919 to 1931. For many years after that, it was believed that the call to the heavenly Kingdom had ended in 1931 and that those called to be joint heirs with Christ in 1930 and 1931 were the last called. (Matthew 20:6-8) However, in 1966 an adjusted understanding of that parable was presented, and it became clear that it had nothing to do with the end of the calling of the anointed.
In 1935 the great crowd of Revelation 7:9-15 was understood to be made up of other sheep, Christians with an earthly hope, who would appear on the world scene in the last days and who as a group would survive Armageddon. (John 10:16; 2 Timothy 3:1; Revelation 21:3, 4) After that year, the thrust of the disciple-making work turned to the gathering in of the great crowd. Hence, especially after 1966 it was believed that the heavenly call ceased in 1935. This seemed to be confirmed when almost all who were baptized after 1935 felt that they had the earthly hope. Thereafter, any called to the heavenly hope were believed to be replacements for anointed Christians who had proved unfaithful.
Without a doubt, if one of the anointed unrepentantly falls away, Jehovah does call another individual to take his place. (Romans 11:17-22) However, the number of genuine anointed ones who have become unfaithful is likely not large. On the other hand, as time has gone by, some Christians baptized after 1935 have had witness borne to them that they have the heavenly hope. (Romans 8:16, 17) Thus, it appears that we cannot set a specific date for when the calling of Christians to the heavenly hope ends.
How should a person be viewed who has determined in his heart that he is now anointed and begins to partake of the emblems at the Memorial? He should not be judged. The matter is between him and Jehovah. (Romans 14:12) However, genuine anointed Christians do not demand special attention. They do not believe that their being of the anointed gives them special insights, beyond what even some experienced members of the great crowd may have. They do not believe that they necessarily have more holy spirit than their companions of the other sheep have; nor do they expect special treatment or claim that their partaking of the emblems places them above the appointed elders in the congregation. They humbly remember that some anointed men in the first century did not qualify to serve as elders or ministerial servants. (1 Timothy 3:1-10, 12, 13; Titus 1:5-9; James 3:1) Some anointed Christians were even spiritually weak. (1 Thessalonians 5:14) And sisters, although anointed, did not teach in the congregation.1 Timothy 2:11, 12.
Hence, anointed Christians along with their other sheep companions strive to stay spiritually strong, cultivating the fruitage of the spirit and working for the peace of the congregation. All Christians, whether anointed or of the other sheep, work hard at preaching the good news and making disciples under the direction of the Governing Body. Anointed Christians are content to do this for as long as it is Gods will that they remain on earth as Jehovahs servants.
Watchtower 1995 Feb 15 p.19
"Logically, the calling of the little flock would draw to a close when the number was nearing completion, and the evidence is that the general gathering of these specially blessed ones ended in 1935."
Watchtower 1931 Dec 1 pp.356,357
"The facts in harmony with and therefore in fulfilment of the prophetic parable show that in 1931, ... all who had the love of Christ delighted to know that the last ones coming into the service were to share this honour equally with those who had been long in the service. The anointed who continue to maintain their integrity toward God will share this honor, and no others could have it."
Watchtower 1931 Nov 15 p.343
"Counting the hour for a year, as shown by the facts foregoing, and which is supported by the Scriptures, the “even” or close the twelfth hour (Matt. 20:8), the period of time mentioned in the parable, came to a close with the year A.D. 1931."
Studies In the Scriptures - The Finished Mystery p.64
Our proposition is that the glorification of the Little Flock in the Spring of 1918 A.D. will be halfway between the close of the Gentile Times and the close of the heavenly way, A.D. 1921."
Studies In the Scriptures Series II - The Time Is At Hand 1915 ed. p.235
"As in the type that date - three and a half years after the death of Christ - marked the end of all special favor to the Jew and the beginning of favor to the Gentiles, so we recognize A.D. 1881 as marking the close of the high calling, or invitation to the blessing peculiar to this age - to become joint-heirs with Christ and partakers of the divine nature."