Who Are The 144,000?


It never ceases to amaze me how some people are so inconsistent when it comes to interpreting the Scriptures. We’ve all met these sincere people who want nothing more to convince us that Christians can’t go to heaven where God dwells because that space is for the elite, it’s for the 144,000 but we can possess second best, heaven in Erath and remain here on Planet Earth after it has had its fiery cleansing process.

When it comes to the Book of Revelation we have to remember that it’s highly figurative and highly symbolic and when we come to understanding what John wrote we need to be consistent with what is literal and what is figurative, otherwise we end up withal kinds of wonderful ideas.

Revelation 7

‘After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: ‘Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the tribe of Gad 12,000, from the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000, from the tribe of Simeon 12,000, from the tribe of Levi 12,000, from the tribe of Issachar 12,000, from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000, from the tribe of Joseph 12,000, from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.’ Revelation 7:1-8

Now if the number 144,000 is literal, then we must conclude that its composition must also be literal, which means the number is composed of 12,000 Jews from each tribe mentioned, and none from Dan. If the tribes of Revelation 7 are to be literally taken, then that would mean that not one person from the tribe of Ephraim or Dan will enter heaven, because they’re not included in this list.

And if we take this literally that would mean that the Old Testament heroes like Joshua, who was from the tribe of Ephraim, and Samson, who was from the tribe of Dan, won’t be in heaven.

Notice also that even though, ‘tribe of Joseph’, is mentioned, we know that Joseph wasn’t a tribe in the literal sense, which again helps us see that the whole context is figurative.

The number was sealed, indicating God’s protection of all His people on earth, the great multitude had white robes, indicating victorious saints in the keeping of God, Revelation 7:4 / Revelation 7:9.

The great multitude

‘After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.’ Revelation 7:9

John later will identify the great multitude as in heaven, not on earth.

‘After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God’. Revelation 19:1

If this is to be taken literally, then those who believe it’s only the 144,000 will be in heaven, must exclude the ‘great multitude, which no one could count’ from heaven. Those who argue for a literal translation have a get out clause for this, which is to create yet another group of people, they say this group represents the ‘earthly class.’

They tell us that only the 144,000 will be in heaven and everyone else will be on earth, but notice what the text actually says, this multitude was described as ‘standing before the throne’, and where is the throne, it’s in heaven, Revelation 1:4 / Revelation 4:2-10.

Again, these saints ‘before the throne’ were serving God in ‘His temple’. Revelation 7:15 / Revelation 11:19.

Revelation 14

‘Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.’ Revelation 14:1-5

The 144,000 are mentioned again in Revelation 14 and again, the number is grouped with several other prominent symbols.

Notice the following, there is the ‘Lamb,’ which is a figure representing Christ. John 1:29 / Revelation 5:6. There is Mount Zion, a symbol of divine government, Isaiah 2:2-4. There is the number 144,000, suggestive of the heavenly complement of God’s people, in other words, no one will be missing who is supposed to be there. And then we have the saints who are depicted as ‘virgins,’ which descriptive emphasises their purity, 2 Corinthians 11:2.

And so, once again, when we read these passages we must be consistent with our interpretation, if we’re going to say that the 144,000, is a literal number, then to be consistent, we should also argue that a literal Lamb was literally standing on literal Mount Zion with a group of literal men who had never been intimate with literal women, hence, were literal virgins!


If this whole thing was to be taken literally this is what we would end up with. Only men will be in heaven, hence, Deborah, Naomi, Mary, Dorcus, and women of like faith are without that hope. Only unmarried men who are virgins will gain heaven. This would exclude Abraham, Moses, Peter, and a host of other Bible characters. Surely, we can see how crazy this could get!

Who are the 144,000?

The 144,000 of Revelation 7 and Revelation 14 are to be identified with ‘the great multitude’, they are the same group viewed from different standpoints and they all signify the entire body of the redeemed. This group represents a body of people who were ‘purchased’ from among men. The only purchase price ultimately available for human salvation is that of the blood of Jesus Christ.

Make no mistake about it, there’s not a person alive or who has ever lived will go on to live in planet Earth because when Christ returns the Earth will be totally and utterly destroyed, Matthew 24:35 / 2 Peter 3:10 / Revelation 21:1.

Wherever we look at the 144,000 we must remember that John is using figurative language, and the Bible plainly teaches that there’s ultimately one hope, Ephesians 4:4 and that hope is reserved in heaven for the faithful, 1 Peter 1:3-5.

The Scriptures teach nothing about an earth class and a heaven class in eternity.



"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Acts 1:8