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Rev. 14:4,

These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

I have 2 questions regarding this passage:

1) Does the NT "Defiled with women" follow the OT understanding of ritual 'defilement' under the Ex. 19:15, where Moses commanded the people to , Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives.?

2) Or, are we to understand this passage figuratively; interpreting ἀνθρώπων(anthrōpōn-men) as not "gender specific" but all men in relation to this passage?

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  • @All This passage generally is interpreted "symbolically", as contextually no credence is given to a "144,000 Male-Only" interpretation. Yet the "12 Tribes" is interpreted as being Israel, which is Literal. Why does the context change in this passage? Are we to understand "Israel" as ONLY being Israel in the 1st Century AD? Or is there "another Israel" which we haven't seen yet?
    – Tau
    Jul 11 '17 at 15:36
  • Since they are used as an example of faithfulness and purity (virgins), ruining a 'well-earned' virginity would be to 'defile' your holy vocation of virginity, indeed. Aug 17 '17 at 14:21
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Revelation is a book filled with symbols. One symbol that is used throughout the Bible is that a woman stands for religion. So, in the case of Rev. 14:4, the metaphor is the virgin who has not mixed their pure religion with other religions.

Jer. 46:11 Go up into Gilead, and take balm, O virgin, the daughter of Egypt: in vain shalt thou use many medicines; for thou shalt not be cured.

Amo. 5:2 The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise: she is forsaken upon her land; there is none to raise her up.

2 Cor. 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

Rev. 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

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Very few know that the vers also could be read; “Defiled among women”.

These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. (Rev 14:4 - KJV)

ουτοι εισιν οι μετα γυναικων ουκ εμολυνθησαν παρθενοι γαρ εισιν ουτοι εισιν οι ακολουθουντες τω αρνιω οπου αν υπαγη ουτοι ηγορασθησαν απο των ανθρωπων απαρχη τω θεω και τω αρνιω. Rev 14:4 - TR Greek New Testament: Textus Receptus (1550/1894)

The word translated to “with” is μετα meta #G3326 with (345x), after (88x), among (5x), it has been translated few times and πρός is a better word for among but yet it's a possibility that the vers is referring women and not they [men] defiled with women. So Revelation 14:4 could be read;

These are they which were not defiled among women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

In my opinion this even fits it's context better and start to make sens, it's the women that are virgins not the men! Below Berean Study Bible with edit with μετα to among and men ἀνθρώπων to mankind.

4 These are the ones who have not been defiled among [μετα] women, for they are virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They have been redeemed from among mankind [ἀνθρώπων] as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. 5 And no lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. Revelation 14:4-5

  • They are virgins.
  • No lie ever told.
  • They are blameless.

The Lamb and His 144.000 bride!?

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    Amen never heard that interpretation before but it make sens.. +1 Jul 25 at 11:16
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It is a spiritual purity for all men and women in Christ. They remained faithful to Christ, and were not fornicators with other gods like the pagan idolators were. The 144,000 was the symbol of those converted Jews of the first generation, the first fruits to Christ of the twelve tribes of Israel x the twelve apostles of Christ who were martyred under the persecution.

2 Cor. 11:2,

"For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." (KJV)

Adam Clarke's commentary on vs. 4,

"These are they which were not defiled with women - They are pure from idolatry, and are presented as unspotted virgins to their Lord and Savior Christ. See 2 Corinthians 11:2. There may be an allusion here to the Israelites committing idolatry, through the means of their criminal connection with the Midianitish women. See Numbers 25:1-4; Numbers 31:16." Source: here

Excerpt from Eldicott's Commentary on vs. 4-5:

"(4, 5) These are they . . .—The characteristics of the servants of the Lamb are given in this verse and the following. The first is purity: they are virgins. The expression can hardly be limited to the unmarried, as the 144,000 represent the wide society of the choice ones of God. They are those whose hearts have been made as the hearts of little children (Matthew 18:1-4), who have that purity of heart which Christ declared to be blessed, and which St. James declared to be the first mark of heavenly wisdom (Matthew 5:8, and James 3:17). " Source: here

The sense is that they were pure, bonded in marriage to Christ, and not committing adultery / fornication with idolatry, nor worshiping idols.

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The commenter above failed to show how the virgins are literally following a literal lamb.

Plus how do women defile men by having sex according to the Old Testament? Nowhere in the Bible speaks of it. A woman on her cycle is termed as ritually unclean in the OT, but guess what, the man is termed as ritually unclean too every time he releases sperm.

So I ask again how do men become defiled by having sex with women.

The point is the text is symbolic and it doesn't take a scholar to know that.

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  • 1
    Welcome to Bible Hermeneutics SE and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others.
    – agarza
    Jul 7 at 3:07
  • @Kind In Exodus Moses order the men to not know their wifes the 3 days before going up to meet YHWH so to be sanctified, the opposite of sanctified is corrupted, polluted. Exodus 19:15 And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not come near your wives.” Also King David was not to eat of the holy showbread if he had been with women; 1 Samuel 21:4 And the priest answered David, “I have no common bread on hand, but there is holy bread—if the young men have kept themselves from women.” Jul 25 at 11:14
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There are people who will say the passage should be taken symbolically and others who will look to the Torah for definition. But keeping in mind that Revelation was meant to be read by peasants and understood by the uneducated, the passage should be taken quite literally. If the passage says they are virgins, then they are virgins. If it says they've never been defiled by women, it means they've never had intercourse with a woman. If it says they are first fruits who were redeemed from among 12 tribes of Israel (as written in Revelation 7:1-8), then it's not just the Jews. And from the context of the following verses (Revelation 7:9-12), these 144'000 are a special group set apart from the rest of the saints who come from every tribe and nation on earth who are coming out of the Great Tribulation (whether they fell as martyrs or were taken up after surviving the Great Tribulation, it does not give a specific distinction. But other New Testament passages alludes to it being a mixture of both in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

I hope I've given you a better knowledge of the details and hopefully the Holy Spirit can lead to you to understand the answer.

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  • @MinRickyMooreII Greetings. I'm having trouble with the idea that this passage could ever be taken literally. It seems to me "144,000" is merely a "perfect number" (12^2 * 10^3) of the chosen people of God. Just as described above, they are those who have not been defiled by idolatry, etc. While the ancient Jews may have been peasants, most were raised to understand Scripture quite well. They attended synagogues where they were taught. I agree with you that these were not all Jews since the number is representative of perfection -- all the faithful everywhere, both men and women.
    – Xeno
    May 8 at 5:55
  • So married people are excluded ?
    – Nigel J
    May 8 at 13:59
  • Welcome to Bible Hermeneutics SE and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others.
    – agarza
    May 9 at 3:51
  • The word "never" is not to be found in Rev 14:4. Non of the 46 English translations on Bible Hub use that word. Interesting. Jul 7 at 10:57
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Since I have cared for my wife during her dementia, I have had intimate evidence of the defilement that sexual activity involves. Cleaning of the excretions that accumulate in the vaginal area are mute evidence of the defilement that occurs when having intercourse. There is no way to avoid the blood, urine and fecal contamination that co-exist within the sexual act. It is commonly known that hetrosexual sex can create 'Aids' when the woman is unable to clean herself from fecal matter when engaging in sexual contact. Therefore, in my understanding, I would have to agreee with the Scripture saying that the witnessess are virgins. Secondly; the witnesses are from the 12 tribes of Israel. That means that the witnesses are Jews! You cannot say that gentiles are going to be included in the witnesses. This is part of Gods' fulfillment of His promise to the Jews. We gentiles are not a part of that promise.

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  • Hi Dennis, welcome to BH-Stack Exchange, we are glad you are here. Please be sure to take the site tour and read our code of conduct. Thanks! Jul 25 at 9:13
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    @DENNIS ORR "It is commonly known that hetrosexual sex can create 'Aids' when the woman is unable to clean herself" HIV is the virus, the HIV virus after a while becomes AIDS its can't be created by intercourse but the person first have HIV which becomes AIDS. AIDS it becomes in a human when the number of CD4 cells falls below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood (200 cells/mm3). A person with AIDS and have intercourse transmit HIV virus never can a person transmit AIDS but that is develop in each infected person. Jul 25 at 9:41

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