The 144,000


Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that:

  • The “little flock” of Luke 12:32 is equated with the 144,000 of Revelation 7 and 14 [1]
  • The 144,000 are sealed from among all nations to become “spiritual Israel” [2]
  • The sealing of the 144,000 began at Pentecost 33 C.E. and continues to the present day [3]
  • The 144,000 are sealed to be kings, priests, and the bride of Christ [4]

What does mainstream Christianity believe?

 There are diverse views of the identity of the 144,000 – in broad terms:

  • A symbolic number representing Jewish Christians who escaped Jerusalem’s destruction in AD 70 – Preterist view
  • A symbolic number representing all the Christian church, “spiritual Israel”, throughout the centuries – Traditional view
  • Possibly a literal number of literal Jews who will convert to Christianity during the future Great Tribulation – Dispensational view
  • A literal number of Christians – “spiritual Israel”, 33 AD to the present day – who will rule as kings in heaven over a paradise earth – JW view

Q1. Are the “little flock” of Luke 12:32 the 144,000?

Answer: There is no basis for equating the “little flock” of Luke 12:32 with the 144,000 of Revelation chapters 7 and 14.

Luke 12:32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you [Luke 12:22, “and he said to his disciples] the kingdom.”

Q2. From where are the 144,000 sealed?

Answer: Do you see a contrast between (a) the 144,000 sealed Israelites – ‘one nation’ and numbered (Rev 7:4; 14:1) and (b) the great multitude – multinational and unnumbered, before the throne and one day to rule as kings on the earth? (Rev 7:9; 5:9-10; 19:1)

Rev 7:4 I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel. [The 144,000 are not sealed to become Israelites; they are sealed FROM Israel to become members of the 144,000 “bondservants of our God” – Rev 7:3]

Rev 7:9 Behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages… [this multinational innumerable crowd (cf. Rev 14:6) contrasts to the ‘one nation’ numbered group of Rev 7:4]

Rev 14:1 On Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000

Q3. Are there other scriptures which indicate that natural Israel will play an important future role in the outworking of God’s purposes?

Answer: See ISRAEL

Q4. When are the 144,000 sealed?

Answer: It appears that they are sealed just prior to or during the Tribulation.

Rev 7:1-3 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. Then I saw another angel … saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”

Q5. In Revelation 7 and 14, are the 144,000 ever spoken of as being kings, priests, or the bride of Christ?

Answer: There is no mention of them in these roles

  • Rev 7:3 – are servants of God (bondservants, footnote ESV)
  • Rev 7:4 – number 144,000
  • Rev 7:4 – are sealed from the 12 tribes of Israel
  • Rev 14:1 – stand on Mt. Zion with the Lamb.
  • Rev 14:1 – have the Lamb’s and His Father’s names on their foreheads
  • Rev 14:3 – sang a new song before the throne
  • Rev 14:3 – had been redeemed from the earth as firstfruits
  • Rev 14:4 – have not been defiled with women
  • Rev 14:4 – follow the Lamb wherever He goes
  • Rev 14:5 – no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless


  • Jesus referred to his then small number of disciples as a “little flock”. There is no basis for equating the “little flock” of Luke 12:32 with the 144,000 of Revelation
  • The 144,000 are sealed from among natural Israel to become “bondservants of our God”
  • The 144,000 are sealed just prior to or during the Tribulation
  • The Bible nowhere states that the 144,000 are sealed to be kings, priests, or the bride of Christ


  1. Reasoning p 268
  2. Reasoning pp 166-167; Insight Vol 2 p 1234
  3. Watchtower 2008 Jan 15th pp 20-24
  4. Watchtower 2006 July 15th pp. 4-7; Revelation Climax 29 pp 198-205

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