4 These [houtos] are they [eisi] which [hos] were [moluno] not [ou] defiled [moluno] with [meta] women; [gune] for [gar] they are [eisi] virgins. [parthenos] These [houtos] are they [eisi] which [ho] follow [akoloutheo] the
Lamb [arnion] whithersoever [hopou][an] he goeth. [hupago] These [houtos] were
redeemed [agorazo] from [apo] among men, [anthropos]
being the firstfruits [aparche] unto God [theos] and [kai] to the Lamb. [arnion] KJV-Interlinear
4 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. NASB
Today, the population of the world is around seven billion people. In the next century, if all of these events do not occur for another century, then that population could easily increase to perhaps fifty billion people.
Today, we have relative peace and prosperity in the world (when compared with what life will be like in the Tribulation). In most countries people's lives are hammered with the daily pressures of work, education, bills, social activities, and such things.
And yet even with all of the opportunities that we have today, the vast majority of the worlds population is indifferent toward God, Christ, and their spiritual lives. Most folks don't think much about those things, and of those who do think about them, they tend to invent their own rules and standards for their faith, whatever it may be.
But now we leap forward in time, to a period in history called the Tribulation, and God gives us the example of not one or two or even a dozen folks, but the example of 144,000 people who will live in the most horrendous time in all of human history.
If the Rapture does not occur for another hundred years, then the population that will be left behind, after the Rapture, will be in the tens of billions, perhaps forty or more. That is a lot of folks.
Now review the circumstances that will exist in that future life.
The restraint on sin has been removed. The corruption and evil and sin that will exit will run rampant around the world. Government policies will destroy economies, crops, production, jobs, and so forth. The world will be hampered with famine, starvation, disease, inflation, unemployment, crime, atrocities, and not to mention the most horrible and oppressive government regulations, ever, which will just further the suffering that will be forced on people.
Natural catastrophes will decimate roads, and bridges, communication and power and water and gas services, and homes. There will not be any insurance companies to pay, and no banks to process money or they will be crippled industries at best. Life is going to be very ugly for everyone.
How could anyone, under those conditions, turn to Christ, let alone stick with their faith in Christ, let alone study and learn and grow up to spiritual maturity?
Today you are not starving, or hiding from gangs, as it were, and most folks have plenty of time to build on their spiritual life. But in those days, time and even freedom will simply not exist, for reading the Bible.
And yet, God, through John, gives us the example of many tens of thousands of men, who will turn to Christ, and stick with their faith, come hell or high water, regardless of their circumstances, until the Second Advent, or until their lives are taken in martyrdom. They will be faithful throughout.
All will begin the tribulation as unbelievers, at whatever age they are at the time, and then believe in Christ, and then dedicate themselves to Christ thereafter.
This is what, 'follow the lamb,' means. They will stick with their faith as Job did, as Daniel did, and so forth.
They will not be defiled with women.
Defilement is a reference to illegitimate sexual activities. This does not mean that they will be unmarried and single. Their virgin status means that they will not participate in the perverted sex that is most likely going to exist in the Tribulation. Remember that all holds on sin are removed and degeneracy will run rampant.
So they will not participate, even out of curiosity, even a single time, in deviant or illegitimate sex. They will remain faithful to their wives, or chaste, if single.
Redeemed from among men, means that they will believe in Christ and therefore set apart in their salvation, from all of those who will remain as unbelievers.
The first fruits, carries a couple of connotations. First it can mean that they will be among the first in the Tribulation who will be saved, and it can also mean that they will be first among those who will be martyred.
First fruits here does not mean they will be first, per se. But it means that they as faithful and loyal and mature believers, will be among the first of that category (faithful, loyal, mature) for the Tribulation period.
There will be many millions of people saved and martyred during the Tribulation, and many will be saved as a result of the evangelization of these 144,000 people. However, most believers in the Tribulation will never advance to spiritual maturity. But these will.