The 144,000 of Revelation 14
It is easy to assume the 144,000 of Revelation 7 and 14 refer to the same group of people. But is such an assumption true?
In Revelation 7, the 144,000 are “of” or (out from) all the tribes of the children of Israel.” (Rev. 7:4b)
By contrast, the 144,000 of Revelation 14 are specifically identified as those “redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.” (Rev. 14:4b)
Understanding the identity of the 144,000 of Revelation 14 requires knowing who the Bible describes as “firstfruits.”
In I Corinthians 15:23, Christ will be joined by others resurrected from the dead at His Second Coming. In verse 52, Paul explains how and when this resurrection will occur.
“in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
The “last trumpet” is the seventh trumpet found in the book of Revelation.
“Then the seventh angel (trumpet) sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15)
In Matthew 24:31, Christ tells how these “firstfruits” will be gather to Him.
“And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
Christ calls resurrected “firstfruits”, “the elect.”
“The elect” are people God the Father has called out of this world to become members of His Church. (John 6:44)
Notice how Paul describes the brethren in Colosse, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved . . .” (Col. 3:12)
John address the brethren, “To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth...” (II John 1:1)
This resurrection at the 7th trumpet is called the first resurrection. It is a resurrection from physical death to eternal life.
“Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power,” (Revelation 20:6a)
This point is reiterated in I Corinthians 15:53.
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”
Those in the first resurrection will always be with Christ.
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (I Thes. 4:16-17)
Another important aspect of the first resurrection is rulership with Jesus Christ.
“Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. ...they shall be kings and priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” (Rev. 20:6)
The 144,000 of Revelation 14 represent God’s faithful servants of the Old and New Testament Churches. (Heb. 11:39-40) The sum total of the first resurrection is 144,000.
God called these people out of this world and redeemed them through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. (Rev. 14:3-4)
The 144,000 of Revelation 7 and 14 represent two distinct groups of people. One is physical, the other is spiritual. The physical 144,000 are not yet part of God’s family (I Cor. 15:50), while the 144,000 firstfruits are the first to become members of God’s family. (Rev 14:1, 4-5)
Correctly understanding the identity of the 144,000 is proof God is still revealing knowledge from His Word, with more to come. (Isa. 42:9)
Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.