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Jehovah's Witnesses believe1 that 144 000 of their number are different to the rest in that they will go to heaven, whereas the rest (presumably several million) will live on paradise Earth.

I'm wondering how near to complete they believe that they are now, eg 25%, 50%, 99%? And do they keep records on the 144 000 so that they can answer this exactly?

1 References: TRiG's answer and Wikipedia.

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3 Answers 3

Truly this is a question that cannot be answerd because the watchtower keeps changing who the 144000 are...

One of the core doctrines of the Watchtower is that only 144,000 humans will go to heaven, where they are to rule as kings. Most Jehovah's Witnesses are not considered part of the 144,000 and do not expect to go to heaven. Rather they believe themselves part of the Great Crowd that will never die, but rather reside forever on earth. Prior to 1935, all "true Christians" were said to be anointed and called to heaven. Therefore, everyone associating with the Watchtower Society prior to 1935 was automatically part of the heavenly class. Those who converted after 1935 generally are told they have an earthly hope.

Russell had said that all 144,000 had been chosen by 1881 and presented a number of Biblical reasons why this was the case.

Remember, too, that the Scriptures proved to us in various ways-by the Jubilee Cycles, the 1335 days of Daniel, the Parallel Dispensations, etc.-that the "harvest" or end of this age was due to begin in October, 1874, and that the Great Reaper was then due to be present; that seven years later-in October, 1881-the "high calling" ceased, though some will be admitted to the same favors afterward, without a general call being made, to fill the places of some of the called ones who, on being tested, will be found unworthy.
Thy Kingdom Come p.362

"And the three and a half years following the Spring of A.D. 1878, which ended October, A.D. 1881, correspond to the three and a half years of continued favor to individual Jews in the last half of their seventieth week of favor. As in the type that date-three and a half years after the death of Christ-marked the end of all special favor to the Jew and the beginning of favor to the Gentiles, so we recognize A.D. 1881 as marking the close of the special favor to Gentiles-the close of the "high calling," or invitation to the blessings peculiar to this age-to become joint-heirs with Christ and partakers of the divine nature." The Time Is At Hand 1916 ed. p.235

Rutherford recycled this concept, and without any Biblical basis moved the sealing of the 144,000 from 1881 to 1931.

"God having a fixed time for every purpose (Ecclesiastes 3:1), his time to give creatures on earth the opportunity to get in line for a heavenly reward has been from A .D. 29 until,chiefly,1931,called the "dayof salvation". "Let God be True" 1946 ed. p.298

"Although Jehovah had come to his temple in 1918 and had begun judgment of this anointed class, still others must be brought in, because some were found unworthy and theymust be replaced. The evidences show that this continued until especially 1931, when there began a work of gathering those recognized as "other sheep" of the Lord Jesus Christ." Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose 1959 p.139

This was later changed to 1935.

"Hence, especially after 1966 it was believed that the heavenly call ceased in 1935." Watchtower 2007 May 1 p.30

"Their being identified in 1935 as the great crowd of other sheep was an indication that the choosing of the 144,000was then about complete." Revelation, Its Grand Climax Now at Hand p.125

In recent years, those that chose to partake of the emblems have been criticised as having emotional issues.

"Over the years some, even ones newly baptized, have suddenly begun to partake. In a number of cases, after a while they acknowledged that this was an error. Some have recognized that they partook as an emotional response to perhaps physical or mental strain. But they came to see that they really were not called to heavenly life. They asked for God's merciful understanding." Watchtower 1996 Aug 15 p.31

These comments a reminiscent of the words of Jesus at Matthew 23:13:

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to."

In 2007 this teaching was once again changed, with the admission that the Bible does not give a date for when the closing would occur.

"As time has gone by, some Christians baptized after 1935 have had witness borne to them that they have the heavenly hope. Thus we cannot set a specific date for when the heavenly hope ends." Watchtower 2007 May 1 p.31

And once again even these "facts" may need updated .... so again you question has an ever changing answer ...

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Welcome Rob. This answer goes a long way to answering my question and it contains a lot of references, thank you. To get it really high quality, can you 1. remove your personal feelings about JWs? We are just looking for answers here (see tour) and 2. add online (hence more easily verifiable) references, if they exist. Thanks! –  Wikis Feb 20 '14 at 8:42
Your welcome, I guess I can see if I can get on line sights for you to reference aside from the actual books I listed you can reference which is better I beleive anyhow. And these are all facts nothing I listed is opinion or feeling. Im sorry if you feel otherwise. –  rob Feb 20 '14 at 22:40
After rereading my post I did find where my last reference posted was from the Mormon faith...but the rest are still valad facts from Watchtower publications. Sorry for the confusion. –  rob Feb 20 '14 at 22:53
Thanks Rob. I think you should also remove the Matthew 23:13 bit. Personally I agree with your opinions, btw, but it is not in the spirit of this site to include them in answers. –  Wikis Feb 20 '14 at 23:10
(@Wikis) P.S. Just so it's clear...I did remove the last reference. Haha... and thanks for the welcome, hopefully I will catch on quick. (o: –  rob Feb 20 '14 at 23:11

Jehovah's Witnesses believe1 that 144 000 of their number are different to the rest in that they will go to heaven, whereas the rest (presumably several million) will live on paradise Earth.

I'm wondering how near to complete they believe that they are now, eg 25%, 50%, 99%? And do they keep records on the 144 000 so that they can answer this exactly?

The easy answer, devoid of speculative and distracting outlines:

No, they have no idea on percentages, and often revise their understandings on this and related things.

Its important to remember the roots of JWs. The main intent is to restore pure worship, and labor greatly to unravel scriptural mysteries.

The 144,000 number comes directly after the 666 number, showing a contrast. 666 is associated with a name, 144,000 is associated with a name.

A name in the scriptures is tied with a person's activities / reputation. (Ecclesiastes 7:1, Revelation 3:1, Revelation 14:1)

By the fact that 666 (or 616?) is openly acknowledged to be a calculable mystery, it would not be surprising if the same were true of 144,000 in comparison, both being numerical results of related allegorical puzzles found in the scriptures.

The identities associated with the 144,000, and knowing it's completeness, is not something entrusted to men, but God:

Proverbs 21:2

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs and tries the hearts. (Amplified Bible)

Compare this to the parable of the faithful steward and the wise/foolish virgins, as well as the related slaves/talents parables. There is a lot going on here numerically. JW's have at least been smart enough to see relationships here. I wonder who will be entrusted to know the final summation of it all? ( Genesis 41:15-16, compare Matthew 7:8 )

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An interesting topic "144,000". Actually the only reasonable answer to identify this group or class, coincides with what Jesus said about having "a little flock" and "other sheep" that will become as on fold, is given by JW's. No other "religion" tries to touch this question without relying on a doctrine or philosophy of theology. (Same-same as double talk) But using only the Bible as the source of explanation any serious student of the scriptures can not dismiss these "co-rulers" mentioned in Dan. and Rev.

But did anyone ever think to ask why the huge "organized religions" like Catholics, all Protestant and Evangelical denominations do not offer an answer. I was able to eliminate 95% of so called "Christian" organizations by checking off which ones forsook the command of Jesus found in the ten commandments to not kill and to even love your enemies. Now don't say if no one fought back then the world would be ruled by evil people when in both world wars, Christians were the aggressors supported by the same Christian clergy of those who fought against them. (I can not understand why no one wants to discuss this .. oh well) So by identifying those who outright deny the teachings of Jesus and oppose those who question them, it was easier to focus on the "Christians" who do strive to listen and obey the truth in God's word.

So I continue to wonder why there are so many "Christian" religious minded people, faulting those who are trying to pay as much attention to the Bible whether they are right or wrong on many of the harder to understand teachings of the Bible while not saying one thing in opposition to those who openly and willfully denounce the simplest teachings and commands of God to follow their own words and teaching for their own profit and well being. Please.. I am not knocking anyone... only looking at the truth we call history.

Back to JW's and the 144,000: The answer is simple - 144,000 humans who were and are bought from earth with the blood of the ransom sacrifice will reign as co-rulers with Jesus in heaven over the entire earth made up of all those "exercising faith in him" that were not destroyed but given everlasting life - where - on earth because that is "God's will being done on earth."

The answer is simple because it says it all right there in the Bible. Think about the scriptures that are easy to understand like "only those doing the will of God remain forever' or "Everlasting life means knowing you the only true God and the one you sent forth Jesus Christ" or "friends with the world are enemies of God" or "our father in the heavens we keep your name holy (or hallowed)" or "only if they would listen to me and keep living". Sound simple? I think so but why don't all the people who want to argue over meat and bones fail to understand bread and water.

So yes the question about the 144,000 is answered from the Bible. Did JW's know everything from the beginning of the 1800's? Did the apostles understand everything in the 1st century? We all know the answer is no. So why make it seem like JW's are different. Even Dan said the words are not to be understood until the time of the end. So the question I would ask is.. If this is the time of the end - to what people on earth will the understanding be given to - outright wrongdoers or those trying to understand and obey? Those teaching traditional non-biblical doctrines handed down through centuries by a corrupt clergy raised to the elevation of royalty - or those studying the scriptures with a heartfelt desire to please God and do His will?

The choice is simple - it's the choosing that's hard.

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Thanks for answering this question and bringing some JW knowledge to bear on a question that calls for it. However having read this I have to say it does a lot of rambling and some preaching and only a little answering the question. Can you edit to remove the bits that aren't related to the question and clarify the points that are most relevant to the question? Thank for understanding. –  Caleb Feb 21 '14 at 21:46
Welcome to the site! This doesn't really have much to do with your answer, but I find that sharing the following tends to help new visitors avoid mistaking the purpose of this site. I do hope to see more from you! When you get a chance, please see How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Feb 22 '14 at 5:05

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