Who are the 144,000 mentioned in the book of Revelation, and what are their purpose during the end times? These questions have plagued many denominational circles throughout the church history, and as a result there are many different interruptions on the 144,000. Let us take a closer look into scripture to help us clarify these two questions and to find out not only who they are, but who they are not.
This group of men is introduced to us in Revelation 7:4; “Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel”. One of the popular theories around the 144,000 is that they are not actually Jews. I have heard of several denominations and other religions, which are seen as cultic to mainstream Christianity, believe that their group of believers is the 144,000. I believe that our introductory verse to the 144,000 refutes these theories. If you take the Bible literally then these men are Jews.
The next time that these Jews are mentioned is Revelation 14:1-5. These verses alleviate any doubt that the people in this group are not only Christians, but are set apart. Verses three and four of this chapter give us a few hints as to the purpose of these men during the end times. “…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 kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as first fruits to God and the Lamb”. Notice that they are redeemed from the earth, and that this happens just before the earth is harvested in verse 14 of the same chapter. Also notice how verse four ends, “They were purchased as first fruits to God and the Lamb”. I cannot prove this, but when we see that they are redeemed from the earth and offered as first fruits, I believe that these Christian Jews are either killed for their faith or race during the tribulation.
When we look closer into the original Greek words we find that the word for redeemed is agorazō which means “to go to market” and the word first fruits is aparchē which means “beginning of sacrifice”. Now if my theory is true then Revelation 6:9-11 could be referring to the 144,000 mentioned in the above scriptures. “Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.” Interesting how this verse mentions a specific number of fellow servants that were to be killed.
One thing that is absent from all of the scriptures that pertain to the 144,000 is the most popular theory. This theory states that this group is Jews that are to be converted after the rapture of the church. Under this theory they are often referred to as evangelist, as the gospel will be spread to the whole world through this remnant of the Jewish nation. Unfortunately I have found absolutely no scriptures at all to support this belief. What we do find is actually quite the opposite; they are redeemed from the earth during the tribulation.