WHO ARE THE 144,000 WITNESSES- Introduction
Jehovah’s Witnesses say that 144,000 “anointed” Christians will go to heaven as spirits, while the rest of saved humanity will live on the earth. How should we respond to this teaching?

WHO ARE THE 144,000 WITNESSES- Interpretation of Revelation 7:4
When Jehovah’s Witnesses quote Revelation 7:4 to prove that only 144,000 people will go to heaven, we may object by saying this passage does not refer to some heaven-bound group, but to individuals from the twelve tribes of Israel. Now, Jehovah’s Witnesses may try to counter by arguing that Israel is merely symbolic of the Christian congregation. But if they interpret Israel symbolically in this passage they would also have to interpret the 144,000 symbolically as well, since they’re both mentioned in the same verse. Well, either way, their teaching crumbles. Oftentimes, Jehovah’s Witnesses will also cite Revelation 14:1-5; but once again, nothing in this passage proves that only 144,000 saved individuals will go to heaven.

WHO ARE THE 144,000 WITNESSES- The Earthly Class
On the flip side, Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that the “great multitude” of Revelation 7:9 is a description of the so-called “earthly class” — saved individuals who don’t number among the 144,000 elite. Sad to say, the vast majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that their only hope lies in being included with this group, since the 144,000 “tickets” to heaven have already been “sold out.” Interestingly enough, all the passages alluding to the great multitude — such as Revelation 7, verses 9 and 15 — place the group before God’s throne which, according to Revelation 11:19, is located in heaven. This is the exact opposite of what Jehovah’s Witnesses teach.

WHO ARE THE 144,000 WITNESSES- The Scriptural Answer
Contrary to their beliefs, the Bible states that all saved individuals will live in glorified, resurrected, physical bodies — much like Christ’s (Phil. 3:21; 1 John 3:2). Furthermore, Scripture tells us that saved individuals will dwell in both the new heavens and the new earth which, according to Ephesians 1:10, will be brought together under Christ. The truth is, all tickets have not been sold: Jesus Christ paid the price so that whosoever trusts in Him alone will indeed be saved (John 3:16).On Jehovah’s Witnesses and the eternal destiny of saved humanity, that’s the CRI Perspective. I’m Hank Hanegraaff.

This issue is covered in David A. Reed’s Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse  (B153/$7), 104-110. For commentaries on the Book of Revelation, we encourage you to get a copy of our bibliography of recommended readings on the subject of Eschatology (DE150/$0.25). These resources are available through CRI. For shipping and handling information, please call CRI or refer to our Resource Listing. To place a credit card order, call toll-free (888) 7000-CRI. To receive a free copy of our Resource Listing, fax us at (704) 887-8299 or write us with your request at P.O. Box 8500, Charlotte, NC 28271.