Revelation 7 & 14 – The 144,000

By Wayne Jackson

According to the Watchtower Witnesses, the “kingdom” or “the church” will consist ultimately of only 144,000 people who will be in heaven. Supposedly, this “ruling body” will exercise authority over the rest of those receiving eternal life, who will live upon God’s glorified earth (Let God Be True, p. 113).

The Witnesses appeal to Revelation 7:4ff and 14:1ff as proof for this unorthodox concept. The theory is false for many reasons.

  1. The kingdom/church is frequently represented in the New Testament as existing on earth (cf. Revelation 1:4,6,9).
  2. After the return of Christ, there will be no earth, for it will have been utterly destroyed at the Judgment (Matthew 25:46; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 21:1).
  3. There is but “one hope” (Ephesians 4:4) for the faithful, and it is heaven (1 Peter 1:3,4). Watchtower doctrine argues for two hopes — heaven or earth.
  4. The numeral “thousand” is used more than twenty times in the book of Revelation and not once is it employed literally.

The 144,000, mentioned in Revelation 7 and 14, is a symbolic number as evidenced by the following facts.

  1. If it is literal in chapter 7, only Jews would be in heaven (see 7:4ff). The fact that Dan is omitted, Joseph is classified as a “tribe,” and Levi is included demonstrates that the description is figurative. Moreover, in addition to the 144,000, there was a “great multitude” there (7:9).
  2. If the numeral is literal in chapter 14, only unmarried men will be in heaven, for the group consisted of virgins who had not been defiled with women (14:4). Note also that they follow the “Lamb” wherever He goes. Is that a literal or figurative lamb?

Underline the numerals in these contexts, and beside Revelation 7:4 write: If literal, only Jews in heaven. Beside 14:1 note: If literal, only unmarried men in heaven.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.