Jehovah`s Witness/144,000


Hi Sister T

On the forum recently it's been pointed out that numbers in the Bible mean certain things.

What about 144,000 what does this mean? Does it even mean anything at all?


How can you tell that 144,000 is a literal number ? Is there any other numbers in Revelation that are literal? and if not what makes you think 144,000 is?

Looking forward to your reply.

Hi John, you asked:

On the forum recently it's been pointed out that numbers in the Bible mean certain things.
What about 144,000 what does this mean? Does it even mean anything at all?

Yes, it does mean something; not sure on how far you want me to go back, but let’s start with Abraham, God made a covenant with Abraham for a nation.  As we see here:
Gen 15:5 He now brought him outside and said: “Look up, please, to the heavens and count the stars, if you are possibly able to count them.” And he went on to say to him: “So your seed will become.”

Gen 15:18 On that day Jehovah concluded with A′bram a covenant, saying: “To your seed I will give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Eu‧phra′tes

There are a lot of scriptures that speak about Jehovah declaring himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, here is one of them

Exodus 3:15 Then God said once more to Moses: “This is what you are to say to the sons of Israel, ‘Jehovah the God of ​YOUR​ forefathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, has sent me to ​YOU.’ This is my name to time indefinite, and this is the memorial of me to generation after generation."

Jacob had 12 sons, and from these 12 sons came the twelve tribes of Israel, Jacob's name was changed to Israel, thus we have the Israelites.  Who God made the Law covenant with as his chosen people.

Gen 35:22, 49  "And it came about while Israel was tabernacling in that land that once Reu′ben went and lay down with Bil′hah his father’s concubine, and Israel got to hear of it.  So there came to be twelve sons of Jacob"

Gen 49:28  "All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father spoke to them when he was blessing them. He blessed them each one according to his own blessing."

Gen 32:27, 28 So he said to him: “What is your name?” to which he said: “Jacob." 28 Then he said: “Your name will no longer be called Jacob but Israel, for you have contended with God and with men so that you at last prevailed.

Exodus 19:3-6 "And Moses went up to the [true] God, and Jehovah began to call to him out of the mountain, saying: “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and to tell the sons of Israel, ‘YOU​ yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, that I might carry ​YOU​ on wings of eagles and bring ​YOU​ to myself. 5And now if ​YOU​ will strictly obey my voice and will indeed keep my covenant, then ​YOU​ will certainly become my special property out of all [other] peoples, because the whole earth belongs to me, 6 And ​YOU​ yourselves will become to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to say to the sons of Israel.”

So these twelve tribes of Israel were to become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, but there were conditions, they had to strictly obey Jehovah and keep his covenant.  We also see that Jesus chose 12 apostles. (Matt. 10:2-4) But the Israelites as a whole did not continue to obey Jehovah and they lost out on that special privilege when they rejected Jesus. (Matt. 23:37, 38) Thus the nation no longer had that privilege but Jehovah chose a new nation, called new Jerusalem.   The 12 apostles form the secondary foundations of the New Jerusalem, built upon Jesus Christ. (Rec. 21:12, 14, Acts 15:14)

The number Twelve seems to represent a complete, balanced, divinely constituted arrangement.  Thus we read

Rev. 7:4-8
And I heard the number of those who were sealed, a hundred and forty‐four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel:

5Out of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand sealed;
out of the tribe of Reu′ben twelve thousand;
out of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand;

6out of the tribe of Ash′er twelve thousand;
out of the tribe of Naph′ta‧li twelve thousand;
out of the tribe of Ma‧nas′seh twelve thousand;

7out of the tribe of Sim′e‧on twelve thousand;
out of the tribe of Le′vi twelve thousand;
out of the tribe of Is′sa‧char twelve thousand;

8out of the tribe of Zeb′u‧lun twelve thousand;
out of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand;
out of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand sealed.

So when you add up 12x12,000 it equals 144,000.

Multiples of 12 are also sometimes significant. David established 24 divisions of the priesthood to serve by turn in the temple later built by Solomon. (1Chron. 24:1-18) This assists in identifying the “twenty-four elders” who were seated round about God’s throne in white outer garments and who were wearing crowns. (Rev 4:4) The footstep followers of Jesus Christ, his spiritual brothers, are promised kingship and priesthood with him in the heavens. These elders could not be only the apostles, who numbered just 12. They therefore evidently represent the entire body of the “royal priesthood,” the 144,000 (as represented in the 24 priestly divisions serving at the temple) in their positions in the heavens, as crowned kings and priests.—1 Peter 2:9, Rev 20:6.

It must be noted that the twelve tribes listed in Revelation are not the 12 tribes of the natural Jews because it didn't mention the tribe of Dan,  but included the tribe of Manasseh. Which was not listed as one of Jacob's twelve sons

Gen 35: 22-26 "So there came to be twelve sons of Jacob.23The sons by Le′ah were Jacob’s firstborn Reu′ben and Sim′e‧on and Le′vi and Judah and Is′sa‧char and Zeb′u‧lun.  24The sons by Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin.  25And the sons by Bil′hah, Rachel’s maidservant, were Dan and Naph′ta‧li.26And the sons by Zil′pah, Le′ah’s maidservant, were Gad and Ash′er. These are Jacob’s sons who were born to him in Pad′dan‐a′ram.

How can you tell that 144,000 is a literal number ? Is there any other numbers in Revelation that are literal? and if not what makes you think 144,000 is?

For time sake, I’ll copy and paste from one of our publications:

The apostle John wrote: “I heard the number of those who were sealed, a hundred and forty-four thousand.” (Revelation 7:4) In the Bible, the phrase “those who were sealed” refers to a group of individuals who are chosen from among mankind to rule with Christ in heaven over the coming Paradise earth. (2 Corinthians 1:21, 22; Revelation 5:9, 10; 20:6) Their number, 144,000, is understood literally for several reasons. One is found in the immediate context of Revelation 7:4.

After the apostle John was told in vision about this group of 144,000 individuals, he was shown another group. John describes this second group as “a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.” This great crowd refers to those who will survive the coming “great tribulation,” which will destroy the present wicked world.—Revelation 7:9, 14.

Note, however, the contrast that John draws between verses 4 and 9 of Revelation chapter 7. He states that the first group, “those who were sealed,” has a definite number. However, the second group, “a great crowd,” is without a definite number. With that in mind, it is logical to take the number 144,000 to be literal. If the number 144,000 were symbolic and referred to a group that is actually numberless, the force of the contrast between those two verses would be lost. Thus, the context strongly indicates that the number 144,000 must be taken literally.

Various Bible scholars, past and present, reached the same conclusion—that is, the number is literal. For instance, in commenting on Revelation 7:4, 9, British lexicographer Dr. Ethelbert W. Bullinger observed some 100 years ago: “It is the simple statement of fact: a definite number in contrast with the indefinite number in this very chapter.” (The Apocalypse or “The Day of the Lord,” page 282) More recently, Robert L. Thomas, Jr., professor of New Testament at The Master’s Seminary in the United States, wrote: “The case for symbolism is exegetically weak.” He added: “It is a definite number [at 7:4] in contrast with the indefinite number of 7:9. If it is taken symbolically, no number in the book can be taken literally.”—Revelation: An Exegetical Commentary, Volume 1, page 474.

Some argue that since Revelation contains highly symbolic language, all numbers found in this book, including the number 144,000, must be symbolic. (Revelation 1:1, 4; 2:10) That conclusion, though, is clearly not correct. Granted, Revelation contains numerous symbolic numbers, but it also includes literal numbers. For instance, John speaks of “the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:14) Clearly, the number 12 mentioned in this verse is literal, not symbolic. Further, the apostle John writes about “the thousand years” of Christ’s reign. That number is also to be taken literally, as a careful consideration of the Bible shows.* (Revelation 20:3, 5-7) Hence, whether a number in Revelation is to be taken literally or symbolically depends on its background and setting.

The conclusion that the number 144,000 is literal and refers to a limited number of individuals, a relatively small group when compared with the “great crowd,” also
harmonizes with other Bible passages. For instance, later in the vision that the apostle John receives, the 144,000 are described as those who “were bought from among mankind as firstfruits.” (Revelation 14:1, 4) The expression “firstfruits” refers to a small representative selection. Also, while Jesus was on earth, he spoke about those who will rule with him in his heavenly Kingdom and called them a “little flock.” (Luke 12:32; 22:29) Indeed, those from among mankind who will rule in heaven are few in comparison with those of mankind who will inhabit the coming Paradise earth.

Hence, the context of Revelation 7:4 and related statements found elsewhere in the Bible bear out that the number 144,000 is to be taken literally. It refers to those who will rule in heaven with Christ over a paradise earth, which will be filled with a large and undetermined number of happy people who worship Jehovah God.—Psalm 37:29.

Take care

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Sister T


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I can answer questions related to Jehovah's Witnesses and the Bible. I love learning the truth from the Bible and helping others to learn that truth as well. I don't know everything but will answer from the Bible, I like to use illustrations as well to help a person relate to what is being said. The Bible has the last say so over any person.


I am an active baptized Jehovah's Witness and Jehovah is Almighty God,(Ps. 83:18) and his Son Jesus Christ died so that everyone exercising faith in him may not be destroyed but have everlasting life. (John 3:16). I support my fellow Witnesses on this board who are real, and Jehovah's worldwide visible organization, including the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses. As God is not a God of disorder, and there could not be order if there were not ones to take the lead. Taking the lead and having a leader is not the same, our leader is Jesus Christ, and in order to have unity and order, there has to be arrangements in place. As the first century Christians had, there were men taking the lead, (Acts 6:1-6) as with Moses, (Exodus 18:21) and in our day, in following with Bible truths, we do the same. When people twist that around to us worshiping men, it is just a straight out lie! Why would the Scripture at 1 Tim. 3:1-10, 12, 13 give the criteria for men reaching out for an office of overseer if that was not meant to be? (Phil 1:1, Acts 20:17, 28, Eph. 4:11, 12, 2 Cor. 3:4-6). If we were not supposed to have men who take the lead, why was this scripture penned? James 5:14-15 "Is there anyone sick among YOU? Let him call the older men of the congregation to [him], and let them pray over him, greasing [him] with oil in the name of Jehovah. 15 And the prayer of faith will make the indisposed one well, and Jehovah will raise him up. Also, if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him."

If you have legit questions and want to know the truth, please ask, but if you are here to spread your lies and twists of the scriptures or get your falsehoods out, you may get rejected! The truth is from the Bible, if what you say does not harmonize with the Bible then what you say is wrong! Context and other scriptures help determine scriptures that may stump us, let scripture interpret scripture. The Bible does not contradict itself, so if what you are being taught or if what you are teaching makes it seem like the Bible is contradictory, remember it's not the Bible it's the man-made teaching! Doctrines of men! Mark 7:6, 7 "He said to them: “Isaiah aptly prophesied about YOU hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honor me with [their] lips, but their hearts are far removed from me. 7 It is in vain that they keep worshiping me, because they teach as doctrines commands of men." (also Romans 10:2, 3)

Matthew 24:14 says "And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come." We are doing that today, we are living in times of Bible Prophecy and as a Jehovah's Witness, we have the privilege to be apart of a prophecy spoken by Jesus himself! The good news of the Kingdom. Ask yourself, what kingdom? then read Daniel 2:44! It's a real government. Take heed now! Listening to men over God will mean your life.(Prov 3:5,6, Ps. 146:3) A lie will never become truth, No matter how long or how many people say it or speak it. Learn what the Bible really teaches, seek out Jehovah's ways, serving God in truth is only acceptable to him,(John 4:23, 24) you can not be serving God acceptably if what you believe is a lie! Pray for understanding and ask Jehovah to search your heart and draw you! (John 6:44, 65) Now is the time to be with the people who are called by Jehovah's name! (Acts 15:14, 17, Isa. 43:7, 10, Zech 8:23)

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