How are the 12 apostles and the 144,000 similar?

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By BibleAsk Team


The 12 apostles and the 144,000 are two distinct groups mentioned in the New Testament, both holding significant roles in Christian theology. While they are separate in their identity and function, they share similarities in their selection, purpose, and symbolic representation.

Selection and Divine Calling

The 12 Apostles

The 12 apostles were chosen by Jesus Christ to be His closest disciples and to spread His teachings. Their selection is described in Matthew 10:1-4:

“And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.” (Matthew 10:1-4, NKJV)

The apostles were specifically called by Jesus and endowed with authority to perform miraculous works, emphasizing their divine selection and mission.

The 144,000

The 144,000 are mentioned in the Book of Revelation as a special group chosen by God. Revelation 7:4 describes their selection:

“And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed.” (Revelation 7:4, NKJV)

This group is further described in Revelation 14:1-3:

“Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth.” (Revelation 14:1-3, NKJV)

Similar to the apostles, the 144,000 are chosen by divine appointment and marked by a special seal, indicating their unique role and sanctification.

Mission and Purpose

The 12 Apostles

The primary mission of the 12 apostles was to preach the Gospel and establish the early Christian church. Jesus commissioned them with the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20, NKJV)

The apostles were foundational in spreading Christianity, teaching Jesus’ message, and performing miracles to authenticate their divine authority.

The 144,000

The 144,000 are depicted as a group with a significant role during the end times. They are described as being redeemed and standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion, singing a new song that only they can learn (Revelation 14:1-3). Their purpose includes bearing witness to God’s truth and serving as a testament to God’s faithfulness to His people. Revelation 14:4-5 describes their purity and dedication:

“These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.” (Revelation 14:4-5, NKJV)

This indicates their role in maintaining spiritual purity and being a firstfruits offering to God, symbolizing their special status and mission.

Symbolic Representation

The 12 Apostles

The number 12 has significant symbolic meaning in the Bible, often representing completeness and the people of God. The 12 apostles can be seen as a parallel to the 12 tribes of Israel, symbolizing the continuity and fulfillment of God’s plan. In Revelation 21:14, the apostles are further linked to the foundations of the New Jerusalem:

“Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:14, NKJV)

This highlights their foundational role in the establishment of the new covenant and the eternal city of God.

The 144,000

The 144,000, consisting of 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel (Revelation 7:5-8), also carry significant symbolic weight. The multiplication of 12 by 12,000 emphasizes completeness and the full representation of God’s people. This group symbolizes the redeemed of Israel and represents the fulfillment of God’s promises to His chosen people.

Parallels Between the 12 Apostles and the 144,000

As, Jesus taught, trained and filled with the Holy Ghost the 12 apostles to preach to the the children of Israel at His first coming, He will also choose 12 times 12,000 faithful apostles filled with the Holy Spirit to lead His end time church in preaching the gospel to the entire world just before His second coming. And a great multitude of believers will accept the Lord Jesus Christ as a result of their anointed efforts.

The following are parallels between the 12 Apostles and the 144,000:

The 12 Apostles

  1. They are literal Israelites (Genesis 12:1-3).
  2. They live at the first coming (Galatians 4:4).
  3. Their number is complete and they are sealed with the Spirit (Acts 1-2).
  4. They minister under the former rain of Holy Spirit (Acts 2:17).
  5. They are the firstfruits of Jesus first coming (James 1:18).
  6. Because of their ministry, thousands of Jews get converted (Acts 2:5).
  7. They have Jesus’ Name (Acts 3:16).
  8. They have no guile (John 1:47).
  9. They follow Jesus (John 1:37).
  10. They lead thousands to God (Acts 4:4).
  11. They praise Jesus with palms (Matthew 21:1-9).
  12. They minister before a great persecution in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1).
  13. The 12 sing a song with Jesus (Mathew 26:30).
  14. They rested on the Sabbath (Luke 23:56; Acts 17:2).
  15. They are not defiled with the leaven of Pharisees (Mark 7:1-15).
  16. They will sit on twelve thrones Judging (Matthew 19:28).

The 144,000 Apostles

  1. They are spiritual Israel (Galatians 3:29).
  2. They live at the time of the second coming (Revelation 7).
  3. Their number is complete then sealed (Revelation 7; Ephesians 4:30).
  4. They minister under the latter rain of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28).
  5. They are the first-fruits of Jesus’ second coming (Revelation 14:4).
  6. Because of their ministry a great multitude gets converted (Revelation 7:9).
  7. They have the Father’s name (Revelation 14:1).
  8. They have no guile (Revelation 14:5).
  9. They follow the Lamb (Revelation 14:4).
  10. They lead a great multitude to God (Revelation 7:9).
  11. They praise God with palms (Revelation 7:9,10).
  12. They minister before a great persecution in the world (Daniel 12:1).
  13. They sing a song with the Lamb (Revelation 14:3).
  14. They have the Sabbath seal of God and the Father’s name (Revelation 7:1; 14:1).
  15. They are not defiled with the doctrines of Babylon (Revelation 14:4).
  16. They will sit with Jesus on 144,000 thrones judging (Revelation 20:4).

Conclusion

The 12 apostles and the 144,000 share several similarities in their divine selection, mission, and symbolic representation. Both groups are chosen by God for specific purposes, play crucial roles in the unfolding of biblical history, and carry deep symbolic meanings related to the people of God. The apostles were foundational in the establishment of the early church, spreading the message of Jesus Christ, while the 144,000 are depicted as a sanctified group with a special role during the end times, representing the faithfulness and purity of God’s people. These parallels highlight the continuity and fulfillment of God’s plan throughout the Scriptures.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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