Rev. 7 and Rev. 14: The Sealed 144,000
Jesuit/ Futurist Interpretation
1582 Jesuit Rheims Bible Annotations:
[Re: Rev.7]: “He signifieth by these thousands and the multitudes following all the elect: but [only] the elect of the Jews to be in a certain number: the elect of the Gentiles [verse 9] to be innumerable.” [Editor’s note: In Rev. 7, the Rheims Bible explains the sealed 144,000 as literal Jews, the multitudes which follow are the Gentiles.]
[Re: Rev. 14]: “Christ and the same number of elect that were signed [in] chapter 7. [Virginity] is the one state of life more excellent than the other, and virgins for their purity surpassing the rest, and always accompanying Christ according to the Church’s hymn out of this place…the first fruits to God and the Lamb…..This the Church applieth to holy Innocents that died first for Christ.” [Editor’s note: In Rev. 14, the Rheims Bible does not specifically identify this group with the previous group, except by number. They imply both Jew and Gentile as martyrs for Christ, which Church historians confirm. This group, they say, comprises only literal virgins, thus proving the vow of celibacy to be sound doctrine.]
1590 Jesuit Ribera Revelation Commentary:
[Pareus on Ribera, re: Rev. 7]: “Ribera understands this literally of the conversion of so many Jews out of every tribe, during the end times under [a future] Antichrist. He proves this by arguing from Romans 11:26, and so all Israel shall be saved. But in this interpretation he contradicts himself and Paul. For if it is true that all the Jews will receive and follow Antichrist as the Messiah, as the Papists themselves imagine, how then shall so many cleave unto the true Christ? Also, if literally all Israel shall be converted, how then shall there be only 144,000 sealed ones?” [Editor’s note: Ribera views the 144,000 as literal Jews sealed at the end times of Antichrist, 3 ½ years prior to the return of Christ.]
[Pareus on Ribera, re: Rev. 14]: “Ribera affirms that they are 144,000 [literal] virgins to be converted to Christ both of the Jews and Gentiles under Antichrist during the last four years of the world.” [Editor’s note: Ribera differentiates the two groups, though they are of the same number.]
1867 J. N. Darby Synopsis of the New Testament - Revelation:
[Re: Rev. 7]: “First, the perfect number of the remnant of Israel is sealed, before the providential instruments of God’s judgments are allowed to act; 144,000=12 x 12 x 1000. They are secured for blessing according to God’s purposes and set apart by Him; not yet seen in their blessings, but secured for them. Afterwards the vast multitude from among the Gentiles is seen. We must remark here, there is no previous prophetic announcement of the blessing of the spared ones in the great tribulation (not the three years and a half of Matthew 24 — this refers to Jews — but that mentioned in the epistle to the church at Philadelphia). Hence this is fully given to us here, and we are distinctly told who they are. A multitude of Gentiles is seen standing not as around the throne, but before it and before the Lamb, their righteousness owned and themselves victorious. They ascribe salvation to God thus revealed, that is, to God on the throne, and to the Lamb. They belong to these earthly scenes, not to the assembly.” [Editor’s note: Darby believes the 144,000 to be literal Jews, followed by the multitudes of Gentiles. In this he agrees with the Rheims Bible and Ribera. Darby views Matt. 24 as speaking to the Jews specifically in the end times. Darby differentiates the multitudes of Gentiles seen here from the Raptured saints already in Heaven.]
[Re: Rev. 14]: “In CHAPTER 14 we have the dealings of God with the evil, only first owning and setting apart the remnant. The remnant belongs entirely to the renewed earth: they are seen on that which is the center of dominion and glory in it — Mount Zion, where the Lamb shall reign. They had His and His Father’s name on their foreheads; that is, by their open confession of God and the Lamb they had been witnesses of it, and suffered as Christ had suffered in His life in owning God His Father: only they had not suffered death. It was a new beginning, not the assembly, not heavenly, but the blessing of a delivered earth in its first fruits in those who had suffered for the testimony to it………the Jewish remnant are associated with the Lamb on earth, and, in a certain sense, with heaven.” [Editor’s note: Darby views this group of 144,000 as literal Jews, ‘the Remnant,’ who had not died in the Great Tribulation, and who were alive at the second-stage Coming of Christ. They reign with Him in literal Jerusalem during the Millennium. He does not posit literal virginity to them. Herein lies the contradiction of the Literal Futurist understanding. Futurists hold to both the literal and spiritual in the same context. The 144,000 are literal Jews, they say, yet they are not literal virgins. The inconsistency in exegesis is glaring.]
1909 Scofield Reference Bible Annotations:
[Re: Rev.7]: “The remnant out of Israel sealed.” [Editor’s note: Scofield follows Darby and the Jesuits, teaching these 144,000 to be literal Jews. His footnotes reference Romans 11:26. Thus, this prophecy is the fulfillment of the Scripture, all Israel shall be saved.] “Vision of the Gentiles who are to be saved during the great tribulation.” [Editor’s note: Scofield teaches ‘the multitudes’ of verse 9 are the Gentiles saved during the Great Tribulation period, whose duration is 3 ½ years.] “The great tribulation will be, however, a period of salvation. An election out of [literal] Israel is seen sealed for God, and, with an innumerable multitude of Gentiles, are said to have come out of the great tribulation. They are not of the priesthood, the church……” [Editor’s note: Scofield has three distinct groups of saved, as does Darby: (1) 144,000 literal Jews saved at the beginning of the Great Tribulation; (2) a multitude of non-Jews saved during the 3 ½ year Great Tribulation; (3) the Raptured and resurrected saints in Heaven.]
[Re: Rev. 14]: [Editor’s note: Darby is silent regarding this group, calling this vision, ‘parenthetical.’
1973 Hal Lindsey Revelation Commentary:
[Re: Rev. 7]: “But before the seventh seal is opened, Revelation 7 gives us a parenthetical panorama of the evangelistic activity of the Tribulation period. The chapter begins by flashing back to the very beginning of the seven-year period, where God sends 144,000 evangelists out with the gospel message before any judgments at all are permitted to fall upon the earth. These evangelists are Jews who may have been witnessed to by some Christians prior to the Rapture; when they discover all the believers are gone, they turn in faith to Christ to become their Messiah…….According to Romans 11:25 this national blindness will not last forever….The fullness of the Gentiles is that point in time when the Church is removed from the earth by the Rapture. Then God’s special focus and blessing will shift back again to the Jew…..But this time these 144,000 Jews will do in only seven years what their nation has failed to do in all its history – evangelize the whole world!” [Editor’s note: Lindsey differs from Scofield in that he has the Jews converted at the beginning of the last seven years of the world, rather than at the mid-point.]
[Re: Rev. 14]: “Revelation 14 reminds us that there will be a large group of people who never gave in to the persuasions of the Beast. Among these are the 144,000 converted Jewish evangelists, first mentioned in Chapter 7. Because Christ gives them superhuman insight, they are able to recognize the personal magnetism and miracles of the two Beasts for what they really are – frauds from the Devil himself. These 144,000 will be miraculously preserved by Christ through all seven years of the Tribulation Period….The 144,000 evangelists will all be hunted men because of their refusal to bow to the Antichrist….These 144,000 converted Jewish evangelists will sing an absolutely unique song, for they will have endured and been delivered through tribulation never before known to man…..Most Bible commentators agree that the celibacy of these men refers not so much to sexual purity (although this is important) but to separation from spiritual fornication and adultery (James 4:4).” [Editor’s note: Lindsey recognizes these are the same 144,000 converted Jews seen in Rev. 7. He does not view them as literal virgins.]
1982 Jack Van Impe Revelation Commentary:
[Re: Rev. 7]: “The 144,000 Israelites….This group cannot be the Church, for the Church is already in heaven (chapter 4, verse 1). Also, the Church is not Jewish, but is composed of all races, people, and tongues…..Presently the Jews are not certain of their tribal heritage. However, the omniscient, all-knowing God will untangle this condition at the appointed time……”
[Re: Rev. 14]: “Soon Jerusalem [Zion] will become the capital of the entire world – upon the arrival of the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Lord Jesus Christ…..Part of His earthly entourage is composed of the 144,000 Jews mentioned in chapter 7…..Some commentators, particularly priests in the Middle Ages, stated that [the honor of celibacy] was reserved for them because they had refrained from sexual intercourse. Such an explanation, however, is impossible in the light of the sanctity of marriage, for marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled (Hebrews 13:4)….The meaning, then, has to do with the undefiled walk of the redeemed Jews as stated in the next verse….They are free from spiritual fornication as described in James 4:4…” [Editor’s note: Van Impe follows Lindsey, adding the fantasy that literal Jerusalem will be the capital of the world and is to be understood as such here.]
1999 Tim LaHaye Revelation Commentary:
[Re: Rev. 7]: “Because of widespread confusion in regard to these 144,000, we must take time to examine the subject. If we let the ‘plain sense of Scripture make common sense,’ it becomes clear that the 144,000 are Jews. For John specifically states, Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel (Rev. 7:4). Twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes means exactly 12,000!.....It will be like having 144,000 Apostle Pauls proclaiming the gospel of Christ at the time of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, just like the day of Pentecost.”
[Re: Rev. 14]: “Many Bible scholars consider this to be a scene in heaven, while others regard it as a scene taking place on earth. The difference in viewpoint will seriously affect one’s interpretation….This passage, which falls within the ‘great parenthesis’ that covers Revelation 11:16-15:4, takes place in heaven at the middle of the Tribulation period…..There are two possible meanings for Mount Zion in the Scripture. One is the Mount Zion at the earthly site of Jerusalem; the other is the Mount Zion at the of the heavenly Jerusalem. That the Lamb of God will not be on earth in the midst of the Tribulation period is apparent from chapter 13. This must be the scene in the heavenly Jerusalem, described by the Holy Spirit in Hebrews 12:22-24….
“The identity of this group of 144,000 subjects has for some reason eluded many outstanding Bible scholars. Most commentators have a tendency to assume that they are identical with the 144,000 described in chapter 7….Two basic reasons are usually advanced for considering the two groups similar: (1) Both groups total 144,000, and (2) both groups have something written on their foreheads……..Not Jews – Christians……The 144,000 found in chapter 14 are probably the most outstanding 144,000 saints of the Church from the early days of the spread of the gospel to the Rapture of the Church.
“The Revelation text probably does not mean unmarried men, but men who are undefiled by women; that is, they have either kept the marriage contract or have never known a woman and thus in the eyes of God are considered ‘virgins’…..The Bible does not teach celibacy……Therefore the elite group of 144,000 who qualify to stand before the throne of God in heaven are those who have kept themselves undefiled. That is, they kept their marriage vows or remained unmarried.” [Editor’s note: In Rev. 7, LaHaye follows the other Futurists. However, in Rev. 14, he differs radically; proving even Futurists disagree among themselves! His view on celibacy is neither literal nor spiritual, viewing it as faithfulness on the one hand, or unmarried on the other. In this he also differs from the spiritual interpretation of the others.]
Protestant Reformed Historicist Interpretation
1618 Thomas Cartwright, A Confutation of the Rhemists….:
[Re: Rev. 7]: “That a greater number of the Gentiles shall be saved then of the Jews, is truly gathered of this place. But that the elect of the Jews are in a certain number because their number is set down and the other of the Gentiles is not: is more than the Scripture doth warrant……” [Editor’s note: Cartwright takes exception to the Rheims Bible declaration that literally 12,000 from each tribe will be sealed and saved. However, he does seem to imply that the 144,000 represent literal Jews, whatever their ultimate number.]
[Re: Rev. 14]: “The virgins here spoken of are not set in opposition to married persons, as the Jesuits most absurdly affirm. Instead, they are opposed and set against the fornicators with the whore of Babylon, as appeareth in the 8th verse of this chapter. Wherefore it is a notable spirit of slumber which applies ‘virgin’ to that which is against holy matrimony, when it is spoken against filthy fornication. The Jesuits take this passage in the literal sense, applying it to the bodily relationship of a man with his wife, when it is so evidently spoken of the fellowship of God with His Church. Unless they had blindfolded themselves on purpose that they would not see the truth, how could they not but understand that the whole Church is compared to a virgin through the ministry of the Church betrothed to Christ? And this may easily be understood here because all those things which are said to apply to virgins may also be applied to the faithful:
(1) They both have the name of the Lamb and His Father written in their foreheads: for it is not only virgins to whom this applies, but all the servants of God are signed in their foreheads.
(2) All the faithful are both bidden and do sing the new song which is song by these virgins.
(3) The faithful who are also redeemed from the earth by the blood of the Lamb and follow the Lamb wheresoever He goes.
(4) And is it not said of all the faithful Jews (and not only the Children slain by Herod) that they are the first fruits unto God?
(5) Neither is there any guilt in the mouth of those whose sins are forgiven them.
(6) Also, in Jesus Christ all the faithful are without spot or blot, or any such thing.
Lastly, this exposition of the Jesuits contradicts their own words when they affirmed earlier in this Chapter that these are the same number of elect signed in Rev. 7. For in the margin they noted that by the number 144,000 is to be understood all the elect, both Jew and Gentile. Note also the wickedness of the Jesuits who, though they hide and disguise their hatred of the holy and honorable estate of marriage, yet here their real view of marriage is quite evident when they account all married persons defiled with women. They oppose the proper understanding of ‘virgins’ in this context, calling those persons ‘virgins’ who are not defiled by literal women, though it pertains to all manner of persons whom the Holy Ghost has branded with His mark.” [Editor’s note: Cartwright implies that the 144,000 spoken of here, as well as in Chap. 7, comprise the whole Church of the elect, both Jew and Gentile.]
1573 William Fulke Revelation Commentary:
[Re: Rev. 7]: “[After having witnessed the dreadful judgments of God contained in the first 6 seals, John] is admonished, therefore, by this vision that not one out of the entire number of the faithful whom God hath predestined to eternal life can be turned from the constant confession of the true faith either by the cruel torments of their persecutors, or by the subtle and concealed deceits of heretics and false deceivers, although ever so great storms are falling upon them……..He commands the Angels that they hurt not the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, before He sets His seal upon His servants to distinguish and sever them from the wicked and hypocritical. Here the punishment of the ungodly are deferred, while there is provision made for the elect…….
“The number of the elect is certain with God, so that one of them cannot perish whom Christ hath taken under His protection; for this foundation of God shall always stand immovable, having this seal: The Lord knows who are His…..Truly, the number of the elect is great, greater than men would think. The elect, indeed, are not many if we compare them with the infinite millions of the Reprobate. But though a man might think there remain very few, almost no true worshippers of God at all, yet Christ still has His Church. There were seven thousand, this is, many thousands of Israelites (though Elijah believed he was alone) who had never departed God to wickedly worship Baal. So, though we might think the nation of the Jews is almost completely taken out of the world by the horrible persecutions and calamities it has undergone as evidenced by the first four seals, St. John hears that 144,000 out of the tribes of Israel have been signed. This number comprises 12,000 repeated 12 times, for the number ‘12’ signifies the gathering together, out of the miserable Dispersion, into one Body of Christ, His Church, which was founded in the 12 Patriarchs. After the Dispersion, His Church was gathered together by the 12 Apostles, who were Christ’s preachers. Later, Christ signified the same truth by sending the 72 [12 X 6] forth throughout the whole region…….We are taught here that there remains a Body of the Church, although the members are separated by great distances, nevertheless they hold the holy bond of unity with Christ, their Head. For wheresoever the dead carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered.
“He does not count the entire number of those to be sealed, only 12,000 out of each particular tribe. This He does on purpose lest it appear His famous and clear promises which remain, especially concerning the restoration of the commonwealth of Israel, have failed. Not that it is necessary that an equal number be taken out of every tribe, but rather because the number ‘12’ denotes perfection, showing us the number of the elect is determined by God…..From this great number of Jews listed we may gather the fulfillment of the mystery which Paul touches in the 11th chapter of Romans, that blindness is partially happened unto the Jews until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in, and then all Israel shall be saved.
First, those numbered were of Israel, the first-begotten of God. Afterward follow the Gentiles in their order which, as the Jews are superior them in respect to time, they are superior to the Jews in multitude and number. A great multitude, saith he, which no man could number, yet not a number uncertain, but one which is known to God, not able to be comprehended by men – out of all nations, kindreds, peoples and tongues. God is no respecter of persons, but accepts all who love Him, who work righteousness. For in Christ Jesus there is neither Jew, nor Gentile, nor Scythian, nor Barbarian, but those whom God has chosen, He has called, whom He has called, He has sanctified, and whom He has sanctified, He has glorified. By this we see what a wonderful, great company of the faithful, by the marvelous counsel and providence of God, without which man has no hope, escapes out of such great waves of persecutions. And whereas we may have thought the Church to be almost destroyed, yet great remnants are preserved by the help of God. We may also learn from this that the ‘Church’ is not to be sought with our eyes, nor is the multitude to be measured by our senses. For if the Church should always flourish in the eyes of men, there would have been no need for the godly to have been shown this vision. However, because the whole Church will seem to be utterly overthrown and full of slaughters, with heresies, falsehoods and defections abounding, our minds are set at rest that that sound rock which is promised, shall stand against the Gates of Hell. This truth cannot be seen with our natural eyes.” [Editor’s note: Fulke does not limit the sealed 144,000 to literal Israel. He applies them to the Church of the Elect, both Jew and Gentile. On the other hand, he also views the sealing of the 12 tribes as fulfillment of the promise of Romans 11, that God will not forget the remnant of elect literal Jews. They, too, have been predestined to salvation, to become part of His body, the Church.]
[Re: Rev. 14]: “It is taught in this chapter by what means the Church shall stand against the tyranny of Antichrist, afterwards the fall and ruin of ungodliness, which should be by the preaching of the Gospel, is foretold. The faithful are admonished to take heed and keep themselves from the corruptions and defilings of Antichrist because the last judgment of God shall follow shortly thereafter…….Mount Zion is an ancient figure of the Church which should never perish, concerning which there remains the excellent and magnificent promise that the Lord will never forsake it…..Therefore, Christ is said to stand on Mount Zion when He performs that which He promised in Scripture: Behold, I am with ye, even to the end of the world; wherefore the dead carcass shall be, thither will the eagles be gathered. Here, by this one example, is taught the perpetual existence of the Church. It is the seat of the Lamb, who will never fail His Mount Zion, for it is here He will always stand with His chaste worshippers.
“The whole fellowship of God’s faithful elect, gathered out of every one of the 12 tribes of Israel, as we read in the 7th Chapter, is joined to Christ their Head. For though wickedness has never before held such sway in the world, God hath His substantial number of people, though much fewer than the Reprobate, whom He preserves from Idolatry, filthiness and defilings; likewise as in the time of Elijah when He kept to Himself seven thousand who were clean and without spot having none of the filthiness of Baal.
“……..Their conduct and lifestyle is agreeable to their profession. For they should not be fit to celebrate the praises of God unless brought forth from a pure and undefiled heart. So under one analogy – virginity’s opposite, whoredom – he encompasses all kinds of defilings of a wicked life. The elect virgins are free from whoredom, as well as other, more heinous vices. According to the common usage in Scripture, by whoredom we may understand Idolatry and other vices. These make for a separation between Christ, the only Spouse of the Church, and men. When the godly keep themselves clean from adulterous superstitions and other defilings of the world, this is considered most precious virginity before God. For such virginity the seven thousand were commended who had not defiled themselves with any of Baal’s filthiness…..But, without all reason, the Papists in this place view ‘virginity’ as a confirmation for the legitimacy of the unmarried status of their clergy. But the Holy Ghost does not speak literally against intimacy with all women, but only of those which pollute men. For the Apostle witnesses in Hebrews 13 that the marriage bed is undefiled. Neither is any excuse found in the fact they are called ‘virgins.’ This expression pertains to the entire company of the elect, not only to the ministers of the Word, and much less to the popish priests. For though the priests outwardly live as single, unmarried men, very few are true virgins; yea, scarcely one in one thousand who hasn’t been defiled by fornication or lust which is contrary to nature, or at the very least, wicked burning. Thus, though we grant they live outwardly as single men, we deny they are virgins.” [Editor’s note: Fulke confirms his view that the 144,000 sealed comprise the Elect Church of God, both Jew and Gentile, who are kept from committing adultery with the Antichrist because the Lamb is the Good Shepherd who does not forsake His sheep.]
1644 David Pareus Revelation Commentary:
[Re: Rev. 7]: “…….there were sealed 144,000 of all the tribes of the children of Israel. I follow the exposition of [the oldest extant Historicist Revelation Commentary, from the 14th century], ‘By children of Israel is meant all nations imitating the faith of Israel because God hath elected some to salvation out of every part of the world.’ Christ also shall have His sealed ones in all places where Antichrist reigns. Besides, Gentile believers are often called ‘Israel’ in the New Testament when they exhibit the faith of Abraham and Israel; Romans 4 and 9:6, For they are not all Israel which are of Israel, etc. Now these 144,000 are compared to the twelve tribes of Israel because they succeeded in their place, which is why it is said they shall sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel, who were apostatized from God and Christ.
“Therefore, the distribution of these sealed ones according to their tribes is not to be taken literally, but by a certain similitude because God hath substituted other special nations, instead of those apostate tribes, in which He hath a certain number of ‘sealed ones,’ that is, ordained to eternal life. The reason for this is apparent: the twelve literal tribes of Israel were lost through the destruction of Judea and Jerusalem, even before the manifestation of this Revelation, remaining lost to this very day. Thus, it is altogether uncertain from what tribes the Jews of today are descended.” [Editor’s note: Pareus views the 144,000 sealed as comprising Gentiles, Israelites in the spiritual sense, not literal Jews, citing Scripture and history which mitigate against the literal interpretation.]
[Re: Rev. 14]: “Previously we saw Antichrist rage against the Church. Here we see the Church’s preservation and reformation of doctrine….The Author of this preservation is the Lamb, that is, Christ…..By ‘Mount Zion’ we are to understand the Church where Christ is present, because like Mount Zion it stands firmly against the devices of the Dragon and Beast…..Christ stands as a watchman on the tower, watching for the Church’s safety….Interpreters agree that the Lamb is described as such intentionally as opposed to the Beast. Christ is the preserver, while Antichrist is the destroyer…..Christ is not asleep, nor neglects His Church, but stands on watch for her safety, lest the wheat should be corrupted, although, indeed, the chaff or wicked follow and adore the Beast, running into destruction by permission of God…….
“Our Protestant interpreters also take the position that howsoever Antichrist holds sway far and near, Christ will always have His sealed elect who will stand with Him on the Mount, where their salvation will remain safe and unmoved…..I say, therefore, when the Beast ascended out of the sea and out of the earth, the Lamb appeared at the same time on the Mount with those who are sealed. When Antichrist had invaded the Church, bringing it under subjection, seducing the world, it appeared that the Lamb had lost His possession. For the Woman, flying into the wilderness, vanished from the sight of men, nowhere to be found, seemingly to have utterly disappeared. This transpired a short time after the reign of Gregory the Great, when Boniface 3rd sat in the Chair of ‘Universal Pestilence.’ It was then that the Church fled into the wilderness, not by a change of physical location (for it remained in the Roman Empire) but by loss of her ornaments and by virtue of a change of her shape…….
“Now the godly may think and so much indeed the Sophists do object, did the Church, therefore, then utterly cease to be? Was there no Church before Huss or Luther? Was Christ either negligent or unable to defend His spouse? Is it not written, The gates of hell shall not prevail against her? But behold, the Lamb standing here on Mount Zion with the elect and sealed, proving Christ was not lacking in care for His Church. Christ, indeed, allowed Antichrist, by a secret and just judgment, to take into his possession and to all outward appearances make spoil of all things. Notwithstanding, in the midst of Antichristian corruption, he always stood as a careful watchman, preserving to Himself 144,000 who were sealed, who worshipped not the Beast nor his Image. This is His Church and Spouse kept pure, just as in the corrupt period of Israel, when their were no true worshippers, Elijah seemingly the only one remaining, yet God reserved to Himself seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal……
“The standing of the Lamb belongs to that time period of a thousand years or more which began with the rising of Antichrist, even until the reformation of the Church. Which reformation was begun by Wickliffe in England, Huss in Bohemia, and even in the ages after them; by Luther, Zwingli, Melanchthon, and their fellow brethren in Germany, who were all great antagonists of Popery…..
“I hold that these 144,000 sealed are the same spoken of in Rev. 7. Secondly, this multitude is no other than the remnant of the Woman’s seed with whom, after her flight into the wilderness, the Dragon made war, Rev.12:17, as appears by the similar description of them in the 14th verse of this Chapter. Thirdly, they are no other than those saints to whom it was given to make war with the Beast, Rev. 13:7. Lastly, these are the faithful, whether teachers or their students, the godly, I say, who from Antichrist’s rising until the Reformation withstood the tyranny of the Popes, retaining the purity of the Gospel. In other words, it comprises all the martyrs and true professors of the faith, concerning which is written in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, and the Catalogue of Witnesses of the Truth……
“[As to the nomenclature ‘virgin’] the Reformer Toffanus’ observation delights me because it is an antithesis between the faithful and the inhabitants of the earth, those having committed fornication with the Babylonian Whore. I quote, ‘These signed ones are not defiled with women, that is, they have not committed fornication with the great Whore, but are virgins persevering in the faith and sincere worship of Christ.’ [Editor’s note: Pareus views the 144,000 here and in Rev. 7 as comprising the Elect Church of God, spiritual Israel, who fought the Beast, Antichrist, by the power and grace of Christ, the Lamb in their midst.]
1847 E. B. Elliott Revelation Commentary:
[Re: Rev. 7]: “…….by the twelve tribes of Israel, (including, of course, the 144,000 sealed out of them), we are to understand the then professing Christian body; not the Jews and their twelve tribes literally taken…….It is to be observed that there exists in the prophecy itself internal evidence abundantly sufficient to set aside all idea of literal Israelites being meant, and to show that the appellation is figuratively used of professing Christians. For not only long before the revelation in Patmos, and even while the literal Jerusalem was yet standing, St. Paul had taught the Gentile Christians to appropriate to themselves the name and privileges of Israel – even as those who were Abraham’s seed, Gal. 3:29; those that were by adoption of the commonwealth of Israel, Eph. 2:12-13, 19; and those that had been grafted into the true Jewish olive-tree, while the literal Jews themselves, having rejected their Messiah, were to be regarded as branches broken off, Romans 11:17-19; but further, in the primary vision shown to St. John in Patmos, our lord had clearly indicated that this was to be the Apocalyptic sense of the term. For He had not merely exhibited the Jewish sanctuary and its candlesticks to typify the then existing Asiatic Gentile churches, but by interpreting the emblem as such and interweaving other similar Christianized Jewish figures and appellations in the letters to the seven Churches, (i.e., Jezebel, temple, New Jerusalem, Jews), He was expressly preparing St. John for attaching confidently, and at once, a similar Christian meaning to such Jewish imagery and appellations as might occur in the subsequent Apocalyptic scenery, and that such was to be the intent of the Jewish temple and city apparent in the vision…..And if Jewish inanimate visible symbols are thus to bear a Christian meaning, it would surely be nothing less than a palpable and gross inconsistency not to affix a Christian sense also to the personal appellative of Israel.” [Editor’s note: Elliott builds a case for the 144,000 sealed of Israel to represent the New Testament Church, not literal Jews only, based on consistent exegesis, using the Lord’s interpretation in the Letters to the Seven Churches as the rule, whereby He gives New Testament interpretation to Old Testament symbols.
[Re: Rev. 14]: “Here I conceive that the primary emblem of the Lamb and His 144,000 on Mount Zion, depicted generally the true Christian polity all through the Beast’s reign…On the prefiguration of the very first marked commencement of the Apostasy, the 144,000 had been depicted to St. John, in Rev. 7, as the subjects of divine sovereign grace, electing them from out of the midst of mere professing Christendom, and then illuminating, quickening, and stamping them with the Father’s appropriating mark as his own: - the perfection of their number, however comparatively small; their preservation amidst the severest of God’s providential judgments on the world, within which they were mixed; even though oppressed and apparently conquered by their enemies, they should remain indestructible, ultimately proving altogether triumphant. It is these 144,000 that St. John has now again represented before him.”