Do 144,000 Anointed Christians Replace 144,000 Angels Who Defected?
By Harold L. Flemings
A number of individuals subscribe to the view that the reason
why Jehovah selected 144,000 from the earth to rule with Jesus Christ in heaven
is because 144,000 angels, including Satan the Devil, defected and that they are
being replaced each one by one. At Revelation 21:1, we read:
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away." (NWT)
Now, if the "former heaven" represents the rebel angels and Satan, and the "new heaven" represents the 144,000 anointed Christians and Jesus, then it would appear, say some, that a sort of correspondency is strongly implied. But, does the correspondency take us as far as numeric correspondency?
Firstly, the Bible nowhere tells us that 144,000 rebellious angels are to be replaced by 144,000 humans resurrected to the heavens. Although that fact alone is not conclusive evidence against the view, it is, at least, suggestive.
Secondly, if the 144,000 followers of Christ are replacements, they certainly will not function as their antecessors. They are also ontologically different. The angels are mortal, capable of dying, but the resurrected 144,000 will be immortal. 1 (1 Cor. 15:50-56, Rev. 20:6) Moreover, the anointed Christians will function as kings, as administrators (a role not delegated to angels). (Rev. 22:5) The Bible clearly declares that those who go to heaven from the earth will have a position above angels, even judging angels. (1 Cor. 6:2,3) All of these facts tell us that there are qualitative and positional differences between angels and the resurrected 144,000. In this, for sure, there are no one-to-one correspondencies. In the context of our discussion, this means that the job description and status of any given member of the anointed in heaven does not replace that of any given spiritual defector, any demon.
1 During the Early Christian era, Paul describes Jesus as the only one given immortality from Jehovah. Later, the 144,000 receive it as they are resurrected to the heavens during the Parousia of Christ. (See 1 Tim. 6:15, 16; 1 Thess. 4:13-18.) This would mean that angels were not immortal and are not immortal.
On the matter of numbers, it may be worthwhile to reflect upon the following information. The Bible tells us that there are millions and millions of angels in heaven. (See Dan 7:10; Heb 12:22; Jude 14) Now, at Revelation 12:3, 4, 9, we are told that "a third of the stars" or "angels" were hurled with Satan out of heaven after a battle with Michael and his angels. A "third" of defecting angels, if literal, would mean many millions, not thousands of such creatures. Even if the "third" is not to be taken literally, it would still suggest a proportion of angels into the millions, nevertheless. In other words, we would be faced with more than just 144,000 angels who turned against Jehovah.
In the absence of any other relevant data, where does this lead us? If there was a specific reason why Jehovah determined that 144,000 would join his Son in the heavens, it seems not to be related to the number of angelic sons who became demons.