However, we were not able to agree with them on every point. It was not a disagreement as a matter of personal opinion, but something we were able to prove scripturally. If you are a JW reading this, then please let us share our findings with you. And let the Bible be the final authority.
Here is what we found about the 144,000.
It is spoken of only two times in the Bible: Revelation 7 and 14.
JW believe that 144,000 is a literal number and not a symbolic number. We have found so far that a lot of numbers in the Bible, especially in Revelation are in code.
The number 12 is a special and significant number in the Bible. We see in the Bible that there were 12 tribes of Israel, 12 disciples of Christ, 24 elders, that the New Jerusalem has 12 foundations, 12 gates, 12 thousand furlongs, a tree with 12 different kinds of fruit, blooming 12 times a year, and so forth.
The 144,000 is a multiple of 12 which signifies a completeness.
Here is its basic Hebrew numerology:
12 = God's chosen people, part of His covenant, societal perfection
1,000 = Big number, gigantic scale, ultimate
Any number squared = The meaning of that number, but perfected
12 X 12 = 144 = The perfection of God's covenant with man
144 X 1,000 = 144,000 = The perfection of God's covenant with man on a gigantic scale
Immediately after John sees the 144,000, he now sees a great multitude that is innumerable from many tribes, nations, tongues, and so forth. In Revelation, there is a pattern we can find. It usually begins a chapter with symbolic things, then those symbolic things are clarified immediately after. For example, in Revelation 17, John sees a vision of a woman riding a beast with seven heads, ten crowns, rising out of the water. Immediately after this symbolic vision, there is a clarification of what it means in the same chapter. There is a very strong possibility that the innumerable crowd is the result of the symbolic 144,000.
If that statement above is not enough, let us look into more and dig deeper:
The 144,000 were redeemed from the earth. When Christ appears, we shall be caught up in the air to be with the Lord forever. This act of being caught up separates us from the earth below which will face the wrath of the Lord. We have been redeemed from the earth when this occurs.
The 144,000 are said to be resurrected immediately in heaven. In the Bible, it says that no man has ascended to heaven, except the one who descended from heaven (Christ) in John 3:13.
The Bible also only speaks of two resurrections: One for the just to go into life, and the wicked unto damnation.
"And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation" John 5:29
When Christ appears, it is the dead in Christ that shall rise. The Bible also says:
"Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." Rev 20:6
And then it says that the rest of the dead lives not again until the thousand years are expired in verse 5 above.
The JW says that it is the 144,000 that reign as kings and priests with Christ, but the Bible speaks of those who partake of the first resurrection. The second resurrection is after the millennial reign.
I cannot find anywhere that there is a heavenly resurrection for the 144,000. I only have found that no man can enter heaven as of yet until the resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15 explains this in more detail:
Christ was the first to have a glorified resurrection. He was the firstfruit of the resurrection, and verse 23 says:
"But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." (v23)
We will receive this glorification at His coming. 1 John 3:2, and Phil 3:21 both confirm that we shall see Christ appear, and receive His image. We shall too be like Him at His coming.
This next verse is key:
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." 1 Cor 15:50.
So, this basically says that no one can enter heaven as of yet. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption.
And there's a "BUT"..
"For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." (v53)
So when Christ appears, we will be changed from mortal into immortal, from corruptible to incorruptible. Now this becomes possible. It is never said anywhere in the Bible that this spiritual resurrection ever occurs before His coming.
Here are the qualities of the 144,000. They are:
SEALED- We see that they are sealed which separates them from the rest divinely. Yet, the Bible tells us that saved believers will be sealed by the Spirit also in (2 Cor 1:21,22, Eph 1:13, Eph 4:30). This sealing is available to us who are saved, and never made apparent to be exclusive to a specific number of people only.
WITHOUT GUILE- We are without guile because God has imputed upon us His righteousness (Psalm 32:2, Rom 4:8)
WITHOUT FAULT- We are without fault because Christ has perfected us forever with His one sacrifice (Heb 10:10, 14, 17)
SERVANTS OF GOD- The 144,000 are called the servants of God, as we are. (Rom 6:22, Eph 6:6, 1 Peter 2:16)
JEWS FROM THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL-
The 144,000 are Jews, but the Bible says that we are no longer Jews by birthright, but of the heart-
"For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God." Rom 2:28,29
PRIESTS- We have been made priests of God if we partake of the body of Christ. (1 Peter 2:5, 9)
ABLE TO SEE CHRIST AND REIGN WITH HIM- The great multitude mentioned in Rev 7 are surrounding the throne of God and of the lamb, and are seen worshiping them. This multitude came out of the great tribulation, washed their robes in the blood of the lamb, and are now before the throne serving God day and night. The Lamb will be in the midst of them also.
My JW friend asked me how I had proof that Christ would be with us. I gave her these verses:
"Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." 1 Thess 4:17
"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." John 14:3
Also, the Bible tells us that we will all see Jesus. It is not going to be an invisible event. Here is proof:
Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:11
A great crowd of 500 saw Jesus ascend to heaven. The angels told them that in this like manner, we shall also see Him descend down.
"Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen." Rev 1:7
"And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." Matthew 24:30
There is also another possibility about us seeing God the Almighty Himself-
Isaiah (in Isaiah 6) saw God, but first he had to be purified. When we are changed and transformed, we will be purified also into incorruptible, glorified beings, free from the flesh of sin.
"And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God." Rev 21:3
"And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads." Revelation 22:4
Now I address the verse that is very popular with the JW to support their beliefs of the 144,000:
"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Luke 12:32
The JW believe that the "little flock" is specifically the 144,000. Firstly, there is nowhere in that passage that mentions the 144,000. Peter even asks Christ in this same passage in verse 41 if He is speaking to them, or to all? Jesus replies about the good and faithful servant, and this is who this passage is directed to.
The Lord is our Shepherd and we are His flock. This is spoken of countless of times throughout the Bible. (some examples: Ezekiel 34:15, 31, Psalm 79:13, 95:7, 100:3, Matt 10:6, 25:33, John 10:4, 11, Acts 20:28,29, 1 Peter 2:25, 5:2,3)
Unfortunately, the Lord's flock is small because the road is straight and narrow and there is a few that find it. There is no special group of 144,000 sheep separated from the rest of the other sheep but that God said He will bring us all together to be one fold, and to have one Shepherd (John 10:16).
Also, God is not a respecter of persons. He does not distinguish one above the other (Rom 3:22, Col 3:11, Gal 2:6). All have fallen short of the glory of God, and it is by His grace that we are saved and found without fault before the throne of God. We receive the sealing of the Spirit, and the Father claims us as His own through adoption of sons (Gal 4:5,6 and Rom 8:15). That is why His name is written on our foreheads.
He that overcomes is given all these things: Power over the nations, to sit on a throne, and he will inherit all things.
"And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations" Rev 2:26
"To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." Rev 3:21
"He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son." Rev 21:7
And who is he that overcomes?
"Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" 1 John 5:5
"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." 1 John 5:4
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." Rev 12:11
The Bible included you and me in this plan. Christ is our head, our mediator, and we are partakers of His grace and glory. It is not limited to specific 144,000 but that it was given to those who overcome. We shall live with Him and reign with Him. This is all made possible through Jesus Christ our Lord according to the Father's good pleasure.