Some in 1856 Never to Die


At the Battle Creek conference in 1856, Ellen White made a solemn prediction:

I was shown the company present at the conference. Said the angel, “Some food for worms, some subject of the seven last plagues, some will be alive and remain upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus.”1

All who attended that conference have long been dead. Did Ellen White make a flawed prediction?


Understanding this prediction requires an understanding of the biblical principle of conditional prophecy, set forth by Jeremiah:

If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.2

There are many biblical examples of this principle, Nineveh being one of the best known. Jonah 3:10 says: “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.”3

Likewise, the prophecy in question is conditional, too. Ellen White made frequent reference to the fact that God is not changing His mind about the timing of the Advent; His people have not fulfilled their part:

We may have to remain here in this world because of insubordination many more years, as did the children of Israel; but for Christ’s sake, His people should not add sin to sin by charging God with the consequences of their own wrong course of action.4


While it is impossible to prove the proposed solution as the correct one, it provides a satisfying answer nevertheless. At the very least, this should lead us to consider the prophetic gift of Ellen White in the context of her entire life, as opposed to one potentially perplexing statement.

  • 1. 1T 131, 132
  • 2. Jeremiah 18:7-10
  • 3. Jonah 3:10
  • 4. Evangelism 696