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Revelation 7:4

    Revelation 7:4 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    And I heard the number of them that were sealed, a hundred and forty and four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the children of Israel:

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    And there came to my ears the number of those who had the mark on their brows, a hundred and forty-four thousand, who were marked out of every tribe of the people of Israel.

    Webster's Revision

    And I heard the number of them that were sealed, a hundred and forty and four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the children of Israel:

    World English Bible

    I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the children of Israel:

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    And I heard the number of them which were sealed, a hundred and forty and four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the children of Israel.

    Clarke's Commentary on Revelation 7:4

    I heard the number of them which were sealed - In the number of 144,000 are included all the Jews converted to Christianity; 12,000 out of each of the twelve tribes: but this must be only a certain for an uncertain number; for it is not to be supposed that just 12,000 were converted out of each of the twelve tribes.

    Barnes' Notes on Revelation 7:4

    And I heard the number of them which were sealed - He does not say where he heard that, or by whom it was communicated to him, or when it was done. The material point is, that he heard it; he did not see it done. Either by the angel, or by some direct communication from God, he was told of the number that would be sealed, and of the distribution of the whole number into twelve equal parts, represented by the tribes of the children of Israel.

    And there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel - In regard to this number, the first and the main question is, whether it is meant that this was to be the literal number, or whether it was symbolical; and, if the latter, of what it is a symbol:

    I. As to the first of these inquiries, there does not appear to be any good reason for doubt. The fair interpretation seems to require that it should be understood as symbolical, or as designed not to be literally taken; for:

    (a) the whole scene is symbolical - the winds, the angels, the sealing.

    (b) It cannot be supposed that this number will include all who will be sealed and saved. In whatever way this is interpreted, and whatever we may suppose it to refer to, we cannot but suppose that more than this number will be saved.

    (c) The number is too exact and artificial to suppose that it is literal. It is inconceivable that exactly the same number - precisely twelve thousand - should be selected from each tribe of the children of Israel.

    (d) If literal, it is necessary to suppose that this refers to the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. But on every supposition this is absurd. Ten of their tribes had been long before carried away, and the distinction of the tribes was lost, no more to be recovered, and the Hebrew people never have been, since the time of John, in circumstances to which the description here could be applicable. These considerations make it clear that the description here is symbolical. But,

    II. Of what is it symbolical? Is it of a large number, or of a small number? Is it of those who would be saved from among the Jews, or of all who would be saved in the Christian church - represented as the "tribes of the children of Israel?" To these inquiries we may answer:

    (1) that the representation seems to be rather that of a comparatively small number than a large one, for these reasons:

    (a) The number of itself is not large.

    (b) The number is not large as compared with those who must have constituted the tribes here referred to - the number twelve thousand, for example, as compared with the whole number of the tribe of Judah, of the tribe of Reuben, etc.

    (c) It would seem from the language that there would be some selection from a much greater number. Thus, not all in the tribes were scaled, but those who were sealed were "of all the tribes" - ἐκ πάσης φυλῆς ek pasēs phulēs; that is, out of these tribes. So in the specification in each tribe - ἐκ φυλῆς Ἰούδα, Ρουβὴν ek phulēs Iouda, Roubēn, etc. Some out of the tribe, to wit, twelve thousand, were sealed, It is not said of the twelve thousand of the tribes of Judah, Reuben, etc., that they constituted the tribe, but that they were sealed out of the tribe, as a part of it preserved and saved. "When the preposition ἐκ ek, or "out of," stands after any such verb as sealed, between a definite numeral and a noun of multitude in the genitive, sound criticism requires, doubtless, that the numeral should be thus construed as signifying, not the whole, but a part taken out" (Elliott, i. 237). Compare Exodus 32:28; Numbers 1:21; 1 Samuel 4:10. The phrase, then, would properly denote those taken out of some other and greater number - as a portion of a tribe, and not the whole tribe. If the reference here is to the church, it would seem to denote that a portion only of that church would be sealed.

    (d) For the same reason the idea would seem to be, that comparatively a small portion is referred to - as twelve thousand would be comparatively a small part of one of the tribes of Israel; and if this refers to the church, we should expect to find its fulfillment in a state of things in which the largest proportion would not be scaled; that is, in a corrupt state of the church in which there would be many professors of religion, but comparatively few who had real piety.

    (2) to the other inquiry - whether this refers to those who would be sealed and saved among the Jews, or to those in the Christian church - we may answer:

    continued...

    Wesley's Notes on Revelation 7:4

    7:4 Of the children of Israel - To these will afterwards be joined a multitude out of all nations. But it may be observed, this is not the number of all the Israelites who are saved from Abraham or Moses to the end of all things; but only of those who were secured from the plagues which were then ready to fall on the earth. It seems as if this book had, in many places, a special view to the people of Israel.