Revelation 14:4
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.

King James Bible
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.

Darby Bible Translation
These are they who have not been defiled with women, for they are virgins: these are they who follow the Lamb wheresoever it goes. These have been bought from men as first-fruits to God and to the Lamb:

World English Bible
These are those who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are those who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were redeemed by Jesus from among men, the first fruits to God and to the Lamb.

Young's Literal Translation
these are they who with women were not defiled, for they are virgin; these are they who are following the Lamb whithersoever he may go; these were bought from among men -- a first-fruit to God and to the Lamb --

Revelation 14:4 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

These are they - In this verse, and in the following verse, the writer states the leading characteristics of those who are saved. The general idea is, that they are chaste; that they are the followers of the Lamb; that they are redeemed from among people; and that they are without guile.

Which were not defiled with women - Who were chaste. The word "defiled" here determines the meaning of the passage, as denoting that they were not guilty of illicit sexual intercourse with women. It is unnecessary to show that this is a virtue everywhere required in the Bible, and everywhere stated as among the characteristics of the redeemed. On no point are there more frequent exhortations in the Scriptures than on this; on no point is there more solicitude manifested that the professed friends of the Saviour should be without blame. Compare the Acts 15:20 note; Romans 1:24-32 notes; 1 Corinthians 6:18 note; Hebrews 13:4 note. See also 1 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 6:13; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3. This passage cannot be adduced in favor of celibacy, whether among the clergy or laity, or in favor of monastic principles in any form; for the thing that is specified is, that they were not "defiled with women," and a lawful connection of the sexes, such as marriage, is not defilement. See the notes on Hebrews 13:4. The word rendered here "defiled" - ἐμολύνθησαν emolunthēsan, from μολύνω molunō - is a word that cannot be applied to the marriage relation. It means properly to "soil, to stain, to defile." 1 Corinthians 8:7; "their conscience being weak, is defiled." Revelation 3:4; "which have not defiled their garments." The word does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament, except in the passage before us, and it will be seen at once that it cannot be applied to that which is lawful and proper, and consequently that it cannot be construed as an expression against marriage and in favor of celibacy. It is a word that is properly expressive of illicit sexual intercourse - of impurity and unchastity of life - and the statement is, that they who are saved are not impure and unchaste.

For they are virgins - παρθένοι parthenoi. This is the masculine form, but this form is found in the later Greek and in the Christian fathers. See Suidas and Suicer, Thes. The meaning of the word, when found in the feminine form, is well understood. It denotes a virgin, a maiden, and thence it is used to denote what is chaste and pure: virgin modesty; virgin gold; virgin soil; virgin blush; virgin shame. The word in the masculine form must have a similar meaning as applied to men, and may denote:

(a) those who are unmarried;

(b) those who are chaste and pure in general.

The word is applied by Suidas to Abel and Melchizedek. "The sense," says DeWette, in loco, "cannot be that all these 144,000 had lived an unmarried life; for how could the apostle Peter, and others who were married, have been excluded? But the reference must be to those who held themselves from all impurity - "unkeuschheit und hurerei" - which, in the view of the apostles, was closely connected with idolatry." Compare Bleek, Beitr. i. 185. Prof. Stuart supposes that the main reference here is to those who had kept themselves from idolatry, and who were thus pure. It seems to me, however, that the most obvious meaning is the correct one, that it refers to the redeemed as chaste, and thus brings into view one of the prominent things in which Christians are distinguished from the devotees of nearly every other form of religion, and, indeed, exclusively from the world at large. This passage, also, cannot be adduced in favor of the monastic system, because:

(a) whatever may be said anywhere of the purity of virgins, there is no such commendation of it as to imply that the married life is impure;

(b) it cannot be supposed that God meant in any way to reflect on the married life as in itself impure or dishonorable;

(c) the language does not demand such an interpretation; and,

(d) the facts in regard to the monastic life have shown that it has had very little pretensions to a claim of virgin purity.

These are they which follow the Lamb - This is another characteristic of those who are redeemed - that they are followers of the Lamb of God. That is, they are his disciples; they imitate his example; they obey his instructions; they yield to his laws; they receive him as their counselor and their guide. See the notes on John 10:3, John 10:27.

Whithersoever he goeth - As sheep follow the shepherd. Compare Psalm 23:1-2. It is one characteristic of true Christians that they follow the Saviour wherever he leads them. Be it into trouble, into danger, into difficult duty; be it in Christian or pagan lands; be it in pleasant paths, or in roads rough and difficult, they commit themselves wholly to his guidance, and submit themselves wholly to his will.

These were redeemed from among men - This is another characteristic of those who are seen on Mount Zion. They are there because they are redeemed, and they have the character of the redeemed. They are not there in virtue of rank or blood John 1:13; not on the ground of their own works Titus 3:5; but because they are redeemed unto God by the blood of his Son. See the notes on Revelation 5:9-10. None will be there of whom it cannot be said that they are "redeemed"; none will be absent who have been truly redeemed from sin.

Being the first-fruits unto God - On the meaning of the word "first-fruits," see the notes on 1 Corinthians 15:20. The meaning here would seem to be, that the hundred and forty-four thousand were not to be regarded as the whole of the number that was saved, but that they were representatives of the redeemed. They had the same characteristics which all the redeemed must have; they were a pledge that all the redeemed would be there. Prof. Stuart supposes that the sense is, that they were, as it were, "an offering especially acceptable to God." The former explanation, however, meets all the circumstances of the case, and is more in accordance with the usual meaning of the word.

continued...

Revelation 14:4 Parallel Commentaries

Library
Heavenly Worship
"Up to her courts, with joys unknown, The sacred tribes repaired." Between the wings of the cherubim Jehovah dwelt; on the one altar there all the sacrifices were offered to high heaven. They loved Mount Sion, and often did they sing, when they drew nigh to her, in their annual pilgrimages, "How amiable are thy tabernacles O Lord God of hosts, my King and my God!" Sion is now desolate; she hath been ravished by the enemy; she hath been utterly destroyed; her vail hath been rent asunder, and the virgin
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 3: 1857

Let the Inner Ear of the virgin Also...
24. Let the inner ear of the virgin also, thy holy child, hear these things. I shall see [2284] how far she goes before you in the Kingdom of That King: it is another question. Yet ye have found, mother and daughter, Him, Whom by beauty of chastity ye ought to please together, having despised, she all, you second, marriage. Certainly if there were husbands whom ye had to please, by this time, perhaps, you would feel ashamed to adorn yourself together with your daughter; now let it not shame you,
St. Augustine—On the Good of Widowhood.

Ripe for Gathering
'Thus hath the Lord God shewed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit. 2. And He said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the Lord unto me, The end is come upon My people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more. 3. And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord God: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence. 4. Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Which Sentence Dishonoreth the Holy Martyrs, Nay Rather Taketh Away Holy Martyrdoms Altogether. ...
3. Which sentence dishonoreth the holy Martyrs, nay rather taketh away holy martyrdoms altogether. For they would do more justly and wisely, according to these men, not to confess to their persecutors that they were Christians, and by confessing make them murderers: but rather by telling a lie, and denying what they were, should both themselves keep safe the convenience of the flesh and purpose of the heart, and not allow those to accomplish the wickedness which they had conceived in their mind.
St. Augustine—Against Lying

Cross References
Jeremiah 2:3
"Israel was holy to the LORD, The first of His harvest. All who ate of it became guilty; Evil came upon them," declares the LORD.'"

Matthew 19:12
"For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it."

2 Corinthians 11:2
For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.

Ephesians 5:27
that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

Hebrews 12:23
to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,

James 1:18
In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

Revelation 3:4
'But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.

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