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Revelation 14:4

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

These are they which were not defiled with women - They are pure from idolatry, and are presented as unspotted virgins to their Lord and Savior Christ. See 2 Corinthians 11:2. There may be an allusion here to the Israelites committing idolatry, through the means of their criminal connection with the Midianitish women. See Numbers 25:1-4; Numbers 31:16.

Follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth - They go through good and through evil report, bear his reproach, and love not their lives even to the death.

The first fruits unto God - The reference appears to be to those Jews who were the first converts to Christianity.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole 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 emolunthēsanfrom 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 parthenoiThis 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.

And to the Lamb - They stood there as redeemed by him, thus honoring him as their Redeemer, and showing forth his glory.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Mount Sion is the gospel church. Christ is with his church, and in the midst of her in all her troubles, therefore she is not consumed. His presence secures perseverance. His people appear honourably. They have the name of God written in their foreheads; they make a bold and open profession of their faith in God and Christ, and this is followed by suitable actings. There were persons in the darkest times, who ventured and laid down their lives for the worship and truth of the gospel of Christ. They kept themselves clean from the wicked abominations of the followers of antichrist. Their hearts were right with God; and they were freely pardoned in Christ; he is glorified in them, and they in him. May it be our prayer, our endeavour, our ambition, to be found in this honourable company. Those who are really sanctified and justified are meant here, for no hypocrite, however plausible, can be accounted to be without fault before God.
Ellen G. White
Christ's Object Lessons, 223

But in order to accept the invitation to the gospel feast, they must make their worldly interests subordinate to the one purpose of receiving Christ and His righteousness. God gave all for man, and He asks him to place His service above every earthly and selfish consideration. He cannot accept a divided heart. The heart that is absorbed in earthly affections cannot be given up to God. COL 223.1

The lesson is for all time. We are to follow the Lamb of God whithersoever He goeth. His guidance is to be chosen, His companionship valued above the companionship of earthly friends. Christ says, “He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Matthew 10:37. COL 223.2

Around the family board, when breaking their daily bread, many in Christ's day repeated the words, “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.” But Christ showed how difficult it was to find guests for the table provided at infinite cost. Those who listened to His words knew that they had slighted the invitation of mercy. To them worldly possessions, riches, and pleasures were all-absorbing. With one consent they had made excuse. COL 223.3

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Ellen G. White
Christ's Object Lessons, 406

While they went to buy, the procession moved on, and left them behind. The five with lighted lamps joined the throng and entered the house with the bridal train, and the door was shut. When the foolish virgins reached the banqueting hall, they received an unexpected denial. The master of the feast declared, “I know you not.” They were left standing without, in the empty street, in the blackness of the night. COL 406.1

As Christ sat looking upon the party that waited for the bridegroom, He told His disciples the story of the ten virgins, by their experience illustrating the experience of the church that shall live just before His second coming. COL 406.2

The two classes of watchers represent the two classes who profess to be waiting for their Lord. They are called virgins because they profess a pure faith. By the lamps is represented the word of God. The psalmist says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105. The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Thus the Spirit is represented in the prophecy of Zechariah. “The angel that talked with me came again,” he says, “and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, and said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof; and two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? ... Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.... And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? ... Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” Zechariah 4:1-14. COL 406.3

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Ellen G. White
In Heavenly Places, 298

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. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God. Revelation 14:4, 5. HP 298.1

The Lord has a people on the earth, who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. He has His thousands who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Such will stand with Him on Mount Zion. But they must stand on this earth, girded with the whole armor, ready to engage in the work of saving those who are ready to perish.... HP 298.2

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Ellen G. White
Reflecting Christ, 103.6

From the first to the last of the Christian life, not one successful step can be taken without Christ. He has sent His Spirit to be with us constantly, and by confiding in Christ to the uttermost, surrendering our will to Him, we may follow Him whithersoever He goeth.—The Review and Herald, June 26, 1894. RC 103.6

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