Thursday, May 30, 2013

My Actual View of Revelation 14:4

This post is intended to make clear what I really believe about Rev 14:4 since there appears to be some confusion.

"These are the ones not defiled with women, for they have kept their virginity. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They were redeemed from the human race as the firstfruits for God and the Lamb" (HCSB).

The Greek παρθένοι appears here in its masculine form, referring to virgin males. See LSJ and BDAG. Chrys Caragounis also informs his readers that παρθένος "is applicable to both men and women, as becomes clear from a look at examples garnered from NT times to the present" (The Development of Greek and the New Testament, page 307). One example that he gives to show παρθένος can refer to either men or women is Revelation 14:4. In this particular case, the text applies to men; at least, on the surface level.

That is what I want to clarify in this post. I have clearly distinguished the surface (grammatical-level) understanding of Rev 14:4 from the deep structure (interpretive) understanding. I believe it's hard to deny that the 144,000 are depicted as males at the surface level. The words, "These are the ones not defiled with women" along with the masculine form of παρθένος support the idea that 144,000 males of Jewish descent are being portrayed here. John did not envision literal women not defiling themselves with literal women. But he could easily write about males keeping themselves clean in this respect (on the surface level).

However, what all of this means on the interpretive level is another matter. In that regard, I have not rejected anything that Jehovah's Witnesses teach about this verse. My concern has been purely grammatical. The remarks I made earlier only dealt with how the 144,000 are depicted. On the interpretive level, I believe that the 144,000 are spiritual Israelites who did not commit spiritual fornication.

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