Since I heard some Christians believe that only 144,000 will enter Heaven, I was greatly fascinated. In my years in theology school, I never encountered such a doctrine. My interest pushed me to have conversations with believers of this doctrine and with many priests and theologians from various denominations. The thorough research helped me gain extensive insight into the concept of only having 144,000 slots in the Kingdom of God. As one of the top contributors to the biggest theology forum on the web, the same topic came up. One curious user started the thread with a question I was ready to answer: does the Bible say only 144 000 will go to Heaven?
According to several interpreters, the Bible does not outright say only 144,000 people will enter Heaven. Instead, it states that the Kingdom of God is for all believers without a limit. The number 144,000 came from some Christians’ misinterpretation of verses like Revelation 7:4 and Revelation 14:1.
Join me in this article as I take an in-depth look into the concept of Heaven having restricted space for only 144,000 souls. You will find out why some Christians hold this belief and who they think the 144,000 people are. We will also examine the Biblical Scripture used to back this ideology and different interpretations of it. Keep reading to get all this information and more.
Where in The Bible Does It Say 144,000 Go to Heaven?
The Bible does not explicitly say 144,000 people will go to Heaven, but according to some Christians, Revelation 7:4 and Revelation 14:1 directly say this. When read contextually with its surrounding verses, Revelation 7:4 speaks of 144,000 people from 12 Jewish tribes who are sealed and protected by the Lord. Revelation 14:1, on the other hand, talks of 144,000 people with a lamb on Mount Zion with God’s mark on their foreheads. In verse 3 of the same chapter, the redeemed 144,000 are again said to be the only ones capable of learning a new praise song. Certain Christian groups have interpreted these verses to mean 144,000 people will be with the Lamb (God) and be worthy of the Kingdom of God. These believers think they are the anointed ones, protected and marked by God. However, most Christians and Biblical interpreters do not hold these beliefs.
Who Are The 144,000 Of Revelation?
There are two possible answers:
The 144,000 of Revelation could be referring to Jews only. If interpreted literally, Revelation 7:4 means that only 144,000 people from the 12 tribes of the children of Israel were sealed, which is receiving the protection of God. The 12 tribes mentioned in the following verses are Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. The tribe of Dan is not mentioned. These were the Hebrews or Israelites of the Biblical times. Today, they are known as Jews or Jewish people. With the literal interpretation, Gentiles or non-Jews are not part of the 144,000.
Then again, the 144,000 of Revelation could include both Jews and non-Jews. If read symbolically, the 144,000 mentioned in the book of Revelation refers to all followers and believers of God. Whether Jew or Gentile, they will receive the heavenly reward. Christian scholars like Sam Storm take every number in Revelation figuratively, and 144,000 is no different. He explains that in verse 12, the number is multiplied by itself and then by one thousand as a two-fold way of symbolizing the completeness and designation of all God’s people. There are other reasons why most believers think the 144,000 represent all Christians. They will be discussed in the article later.
Is the Number 144,000 Symbolic or Literal?
Depending on the various ways Biblical scholars interpret Revelation 7:4 and the entire book of Revelation, believers take 144,000 either symbolically or literally. With the futurist approach, the number is understood at face value. According to this construal, 144,000 people are going through the Great Tribulation on Earth before the second coming of Christ. These individuals are Jews, with 12,000 coming from each tribe of the children of Israel. The entire group is sealed by God and has His sacred protection from judgment, the Antichrist, and other tribulation perils. No one else has divine favor except for the 144,000.
Alternatively, when symbolically interpreted, the number 144,000 represents all Christians and believers indiscriminately, whether Jew or not. Numerous reasons support this ideology. Some of them include the heavy use of symbolism in the book of Revelation, the lack of genealogical proof of the 12 Jewish tribes named, and several other Bible verses proclaiming the promise of Heaven to all who believe. As a result, most Christians worldwide take the number 144,000 symbolically as opposed to literally.
Are There Gentiles in the 144,000 Souls?
According to those that believe the number 144,000 is symbolic, it does include Gentiles. Theologian and Biblical interpreter Thomas R. Schreiner theorizes that 144,000 signifies all the Christians throughout the ages, including both Jews and Gentiles. He looks at Revelation 14 as supporting evidence since it mentions the number again. In it, the 144,000 souls are said to be redeemed from the world and mankind as the first fruits of the Lord. This understanding is not constrained to only Jews. Schreiner further explains that Gentiles must be included in the 144,000 souls because today, no known Jews descend from the 12 tribes that were apportioned 12,000 in Revelation 7:4, and their genealogical ancestry is unclear. He argues that had the anointed really been Jews only, the 12 tribes would have been specified. Finally, another argument he presents is that shortly after hearing 144,000 in Revelation 7:4, John, the author of the Book of Revelation, describes the same entity as an uncountable multitude of people from every tribe and nation in Revelation 7:9. That can, therefore, show that the initial figure stated was figurative.
What Do Jehovah Witness Believers Think About The 144,000 Souls in The Book of Revelation?
Jehovah’s Witness (The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society) members believe Revelation 7:4 says only 144,000 souls will go to Heaven and be with the Lord. These 144,000 people/souls are from the times of Jesus until His return. Jehovah’s Witness teachings propound that only the 144,000 people in Revelation will have “heavenly hope,” making them “anointed” and worthy of heavenly citizenship. After the resurrection, the 144,000 will be given a new spiritual body to match their personality. For the remaining population, Jehovah’s Witnesses claim they will have “earthly hope” and will be tasked with manually building a paradise on Earth for a thousand years after everything has been destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon. They will live in this earthly Paradise for the rest of eternity and will never go to Heaven to be with the Lord or the other 144,000. They are known as “the great crowd .”Jehovah’s Witnesses also believe the 144,000 in Heaven will become co-rulers with Christ over “the great crowd” on Earth.
Is Jehovah Witness’ Belief About The 144,000 People Biblically Correct?
Many think Jehovah’s Witness’ belief about the 144,000 is not Biblically correct as it is founded on a misinterpretation of Revelation 7:4 and Revelation 14:1. The society (which sometimes is referred to as a Christian-based cult) used the King James Version of the Bible to conclude that 144,000 people are anointed with the Holy Spirit and shall enter Heaven. Opponents of these teachings state that it is entirely against the teachings of Jesus Christ Himself and the Bible. According to Christ’s ministry, eternal life is promised to all that follow Him. Jesus never gave a cap on the number of people who can enjoy the Kingdom of God (John 10:28). As well, in Ephesians 2:13-14, Gentiles are brought into the New Covenant, therefore, allowing all believers to gain the gift of salvation, and ultimately, Heaven. This completely negates the Jehovah’s Witness interpretation of the number 144,000.
Does the Bible Give A Specific Number of People Who Will Go to Heaven?
The Bible does not provide a specific number of people who will go to Heaven. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and Colossians 1:12-13 teach that all Christians will be in Heaven with God. Many believers understand that when God sent the Holy Spirit to Earth, it guaranteed His promise of Heaven (1 Peter 1:3-4). Additionally, many parts of the Scripture explain how those who believe in the Word and accept salvation shall receive the seal (protection) of God and will be with Him (2 Thessalonians 2:13). This bursts the idea that the number of people eligible for Heaven is defined. All believers, regardless of number, will go to Heaven, while non-believers will not.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.