WHO ARE THE 144,000?
I. The 144,000 are mentioned only two times in the Bible (Rev. 7:4-8; 14:1-5).
II. If the 144,000 are literal and the things said about them are literal then only male Jewish virgins will be saved. That means there will be no women, no Gentiles, and no married people.
III. But we know that these were not the fleshly Jewish nation because the tribes listed in Revelation chapter seven are not the same as those tribes who were considered the Twelve Tribes of Israel in the Old Testament. For example, the tribe of “Dan” is missing. “Ephraim” (one of the most prominent tribes) is also missing from this list. The tribe of “Levi” is counted. “Joseph” is counted here but not in the Old Testament count. (In the twelve tribes in the Old Testament Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, were adopted by Jacob (Gen. 48:5) and they replaced Joseph and Levi in the Old Testament count.) The way the twelve tribes were counted in the Old Testament is listed in Numbers 13:4-15 which is different from the 144,000 (twelve tribes) sealed in John’s vision.
IV. Everything said about the 144,000 is also true of Christians. Observe the following comparisons.
1. SERVANTS of God (Revelation 7:3)
Christians are servants of God. (Revelation 1:1 & 4).
2. SEALED (Revelation 7:3; 14:1)
Christians are sealed (2 Timothy 2:19; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30).
3. TRUE JEWS (Revelation 7:4-8)
Christians are the true Jews today. (Romans 2:28-29; Galatians 3:26-29; Galatians 1:2 & 6:16).
4. REDEEMED from the earth (Revelation 14:3 & 4)
Christians are the redeemed (Revelation 5:8-10; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Romans 3:24).
5. VIRGINS (Revelation 14:4)
Christians are virgins (spiritually pure). (2 Corinthians 11:2; Matthew 25:1-10).
6. FOLLOW THE LAMB (Revelation 14:4)
Christians follow the Lamb. (John 10:27-29: 1 Peter 2:21).
7. FIRSTFRUITS UNTO GOD (Revelation 14:4)
Christians are firstfruits unto God (James 1:18).
8. NO DECEIT (Revelation 14:5)
Christians are purified (1 Peter 1:22-23, Ephesians 5:27).
9. WITHOUT FAULT BEFORE GOD (Revelation 14:5)
Christians are without fault (Ephesians 5:25-27; Jude vs. 24).
10. TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL (Revelation 7:4-8)
Christians are the “twelve tribes” of Israel today (Luke 1:30-33; Matthew 19:28; James 1:1; Gal. 3:29).
Conclusion: My conviction is that the 144,000 are simply the people of God. Just as the “twelve tribes” was a designation for the people of God in the Old Testament, just so the “twelve tribes” that John saw in Revelation chapters seven and fourteen are Christians—God’s people in the New Testament. Mary was told that Jesus would reign over the “house of Jacob” (Lk. 1:33) and Jesus reigns over the church—He is the head and/or King (Col. 1:13-18). Jesus said that the apostles would “judge” the “twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28)—which seems to refer to the revealing/interpreting the will of Christ to believers in the New Testament. Paul wrote to the “churches of Galatia” (Gal. 1:2) whom he later referred to as the “seed” (descendants) of Abraham (3:26-29) and the “Israel of God” (6:15-16). James wrote to the “twelve tribes” (James 1:1)—whom he later identifies as those “brethren” who “hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ…” (2:1, ESV). Therefore I believe that the 144,000 refers to all of those redeemed by the blood of Jesus.