144,000 – Translated Without Seeing Death

Question: If the sealing of the 144,000 commenced in 1848, and some of that number have died and will be resurrected in the “special resurrection”, how can it be said that the 144,000 are translated without seeing death? If order to find the answer to this question, we must be willing to read the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy very, very, carefully, and to take it exactly as it reads. We open the consideration with the following statements:

Revelation 14:1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty [and] four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. 14:2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: 14:3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred [and] forty [and] four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.

Revelation 15:2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, [and] over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. 15:3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous [are] thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true [are] thy ways, thou King of saints.

Only the 144,000 will sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. We now read this simple statement from the Spirit of Prophecy:

Mary, dear precious child, is at rest. She was the companion of your sorrows and disappointed hopes. She will no more have grief or want or distress. Through faith’s discerning eye you may anticipate, amid your sorrows and griefs and perplexities, your Mary with her mother and other members of your family answering the call of the Life-giver and coming forth from their prison house triumphing over death and the grave. Your faith may see the loved and the lost ones reunited among the redeemed of earth. You with them erelong, if faithful, will be walking in the streets of the New Jerusalem, singing the song of Moses and the Lamb, wearing the jeweled crown. . . . {HP 272.4}

This man was told that if he was faithful, he would sing the song of Moses and the Lamb with his wife and her mother, who had both passed into the grave. If only the 144,000 sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, then we must conclude that the number will be made up of those who have already died. I will not spend any more time now on this point as this has been thoroughly covered in a previous study titled: 144,000 Dead or Alive. Such plain statements as quoted above from the Spirit of Prophecy are often cast aside because it conflicts with how we may have understood the matter.

Testimony of Henry N White Ellen White’s son who died at 16 states he will not experience the seven last plagues:


I myself have often queried the idea that the number of the 144,000 could include those who have “died in the faith of the third angel’s message”. It was words and phrases quoted throughout the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy such as “translated” and “without seeing death” that caused me to question as to whether this was the case or not. And it is my belief that it is for the same reason that many Seventh-day Adventists are unwilling to accept such plain statements as the one above. I took it for granted that I understood the subject of the 144,000. But when I returned to study it for myself, I realized that I had yet many questions unanswered, and that I was unable to give a reason for my belief. In this short study, I hope to make the subject clearer and remove many of the obstacles that still prevent us from receiving a plain “Thus saith the Lord”.

We will read some examples of the statements that seemingly contradict the idea that some may have already died previously. We will take each one at a time and make some observations. But first, let us look at the word “translated”. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines the word “translate/translated” thus:

1.a) to bear, remove, or change from one place, state, form, or appearance to another

b) to convey to heaven or to a nontemporal condition without death

from Strong’s Concordance we gather that the word “translate” comes from metatithēmi, which means: 1) to transpose (two things, one of which is put in place of the other)

a) to transfer

b) to change

c) to transfer one’s self or suffer one’s self to be transferred

1) to go or pass over

2) to fall away or desert from one person or thing to another

“Transpose” at Merriam-Websters Online:

1: to change in form or nature

3: to transfer from one place or period to another :

By the above definitions, we can see the two ways in which the word “translated” applies:

Those that are translated are changed from one state or condition to another

Those that are translated are transferred to one place from another

When we read the word in the inspired writings we can safely apply both definitions.

You will see both applications in the following two quotes:

I might mention very many instances where I was pressed and urged, wept over and prayed for by zealots to come to these manufactured tests and crosses. I utterly refused to submit my judgment, my sense of Christian duties, and the dignity we should ever maintain as followers of Jesus Christ, who were expecting to be translated to heaven by receiving the finishing touch of immortality. {8MR 230.1}

For his faithful obedience to God he [Enoch]was translated. So, also, the faithful, who are alive and remain, will be translated. They will be removed from a sinful and corrupt world to the pure joys of heaven. {CC 29.6}

However, it is also important that we take note where the “without death” applies in the definition of translation. It only applies in the sense of being conveyed to heaven or to a non-temporal condition, i.e. changed from mortality to immortality. It applies in the PROCESS of the change from location or condition. It is not cognizant of the life prior to the commencement of the process of translation, or as to whether there has been a death previously or not. It is simply applicable to the change made on one who is LIVING at the time of their change, and for the duration of the process of the change that is made. Whether they have died previously or not does not come into the definition of the word translated. This is a vital understanding. “Without death”, and “Without seeing death” is exactly the same. It is in the process of being conveyed to heaven or to an immortal condition that death is not seen. Bearing this uppermost in our minds, we can now more safely examine the main quotes that seem to be the occasion for misunderstanding.

Example 1

Still seeking to give a true direction to her faith, Jesus declared, “I am the resurrection, and the life.” In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. “He that hath the Son hath life.” 1 John 5:12. The divinity of Christ is the believer’s assurance of eternal life. “He that believeth in Me,” said Jesus, “though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?” Christ here looks forward to the time of His second coming. Then the righteous dead shall be raised incorruptible, and the living righteous shall be translated to heaven without seeing death. … {DA 530.3}

Observations: This is a perfect illustration of what we have just come to comprehend by the correct definition of translated – those that are living, i.e, the “living righteous” shall be “translated”, conveyed to heaven or to a non-temporal condition, “without seeing death” – that is, they are alive at the commencement of the change, are alive through the process of change, and are still alive when the change is complete.

Example 2

Moses upon the mount of transfiguration was a witness to Christ’s victory over sin and death. He represented those who shall come forth from the grave at the resurrection of the just. Elijah, who had been translated to heaven without seeing death, represented those who will be living upon the earth at Christ’s second coming, and who will be “changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump;” when “this mortal must put on immortality,” and “this corruptible must put on incorruption.” {DA 421.4}

Observations: Here we see the meaning of the word clearly. Elijah represented those who would be living upon the earth at the time of Christ’s second coming. Moses died and Christ resurrected Him. When Christ came, Moses was raised FROM THE DEAD, i.e. He was NOT alive when Christ came and it was when Christ was already present that he was given immortality and taken to heaven. Therefore, Moses was not translated without seeing death. Elijah was already alive when his body was changed to a non-temporal condition, and was conveyed to heaven with no death involved in the process. Elijah was translated without seeing death.

Example 3

With the Lamb upon Mount Zion, “having the harps of God,” they stand, the hundred and forty and four thousand that were redeemed from among men; and there is heard, as the sound of many waters, and as the sound of a great thunder, “the voice of harpers harping with their harps.” And they sing “a new song” before the throne, a song which no man can learn save the hundred and forty and four thousand. It is the song of Moses and the Lamb–a song of deliverance. None but the hundred and forty-four thousand can learn that song; for it is the song of their experience–an experience such as no other company have ever had. “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.” These, having been translated from the earth, from among the living, are counted as “the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb.” . {GC 648.3}

Observations: Simply read in its context, we see that the 144,000 are the only ones among the living who will be translated from the earth – the rest of those who are living at the time of Christ’s second coming will be killed by His brightness.

Example 4

I saw the saints leaving the cities and villages, and associating together in companies, and living in the most solitary places. Angels provided them food and water, while the wicked were suffering from hunger and thirst. Then I saw the leading men of the earth consulting together, and Satan and his angels busy around them. I saw a writing, copies of which were scattered in different parts of the land, giving orders that unless the saints should yield their peculiar faith, give up the Sabbath, and observe the first day of the week, the people were at liberty after a certain time to put them to death. But in this hour of trial the saints were calm and composed, trusting in God and leaning upon His promise that a way of escape would be made for them. In some places, before the time for the decree to be executed, the wicked rushed upon the saints to slay them; but angels in the form of men of war fought for them. Satan wished to have the privilege of destroying the saints of the Most High; but Jesus bade His angels watch over them. God would be honored by making a covenant with those who had kept His law, in the sight of the heathen round about them; and Jesus would be honored by translating, without their seeing death, the faithful, waiting ones who had so long expected Him. {EW 282.2}

Observations: Do we read “without their seeing death” as the same as “without seeing death”? In this example, it does not matter whether we will read it as applying to not seeing death in just the process of translation, or that they have never seen death even prior to their translation. If we read this one in context, it is only speaking of those who have lived through the Sunday laws and through the entirety of the seven last plagues. This statement does not include those who had died in the faith of the third angel’s message and who had been resurrected in the special resurrection.

If you are not comfortable in taking the words “without death” as the same as “without seeing death”, please bear in mind that wherever the spirit of Prophecy uses such statements, she is never speaking specifically about the 144,000. There will be those who will never taste of death, but in the Spirit of Prophecy there is no specific mention that the 144,000 in particular have never seen death. Death is not something that will disqualify someone from being numbered among them. Don’t forget that letter that was written over a hundred years ago to a man whose wife had died and the assurance was given that if he was faithful, he could sing that special song only the 144,000 can sing with his late wife. If Enoch and Elijah represent those who have never died previous to their translation, then in that sense can we consider them as representatives only of those who will live though the Sunday laws and the entirety of the seven last plagues. Moses would then represent those who do pass under the dominion of death at some time in their lives, including the 144,000.

However, if we will stay strictly with the literal definition of the word translated, as is correctly used in the English language, we will see that it applies only to that particular point in time – that their translation is not cognizant of any previous state, but that there is no death involved in their removal to heaven or their change from mortality to immortality. They are alive when Jesus comes, are alive when their bodies are changed, and are alive when they are received into the presence of Christ.

Thus, for those who are hoping on being translated the following admonition is given:

Those who have trained the mind to delight in spiritual exercises are the ones who can be translated and not be overwhelmed with the purity and transcendent glory of heaven. You may have a good knowledge of the arts, you may have an acquaintance with the sciences, you may excel in music and in penmanship, your manners may please your associates, but what have these things to do with a preparation for heaven? {CCh 186.3}

To be alive upon the earth and see Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven before our vile bodies are changed, we will need to have a mind that is well-disciplined in spiritual exercises. Like Apostle Paul, we need to learn to “keep under my body”, with all its thoughts and feelings if I want to be received into the presence of Christ without seeing death.

May God help us to lay down all our own conclusions and read His word exactly as it reads.


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Posted on 14/07/2012, in The 144,000 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I read the first four statements that you have here. The first paragraph is on the ones being sealed. The sealing started 1844 with the dead. It has always been said that no one can tell when it came to the living. Again you give no references for this statement that you have made. It also is a time when all are sealed. We are sealed for heaven or eternal death.
    The hundred and forty four thousand stand before God without a mediator. Are you telling me that we have not had a mediator since 1844?

    2 this paragraph is about what is going on in heaven after all the people of God have been taken there by Christ and all His angels.

    3 this paragraph is also in heaven.

    I found the statements about the special resurrection. One is in 1911 GC p637 and 1884 GC p454 Both use the word WITH not Among.

    When reading we have to use time and place. That quote about the man that was dealing with the loss of a family member was in a time that they thought that the end was very very near. Mrs. White said close to the end of her life that she used to think that she knew who might be part of the 144000 but realizes that she doesn’t since they are all dead now. She was giving that man comfort and hope not prophesying.

    Revelation 14:3 This is the word of God and what He says. this is happening in Heaven
    And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.

    Revelation 7:4 This is happening hear on earth at the very end of time.
    And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

    Revelation 14:1 This is after the 1000 years in heaven when the earth is made new
    And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.

    Remember Christ never touches the earth at the second coming. We meet Him in the air. That is how we tell the difference between Christ and Satan pretending to be Christ.

    • The sealing refers to those in the church of Philadelphia also. They also enter the temple. The 144,000 with Jesus on mount Zion after the 1000 years isn’t a debate. They are always with Jesus.

      The word with means among. It’s the same thing. I am not sure why people argue that.

      Please read the first two articles here and all my studies on this topic which there are a large number of. Even the pioneers taught it this way.


    • I. When did the Adventists obtain the light on the Sealing Message?

      II. When will the Sealing work begin?

      III. Will any who have died in the faith since 1848, when that message was received, be reckoned with the 144,000?

      Also: An Impressive Dream and a Picture of the Tribulum with explanation, etc.

      By J. N. Loughborough, Route 4, Box 13. Lodi, California.


      The presentation of the following pages to our people, I deem to be in harmony with what is stated in “Testimonies for the Church,” volume 7, page 288: “As those who have spent their lives in the service of God draw near the close of their earthly history, they will be impressed by the Holy Spirit to recount the experience they have had in connection with His work. The record of His wonderful dealings with His people,” etc.

      Of the benefit to be derived from the bringing of such things to the attention of our people, we read from the pen of sister E. G. White, in the South African Missionary of February 20, 1911 “We have nothing to fear from the future except we forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teachings in our past history.”

      In reference to the subject matter of this book — the sealed 144,000 — I have been greatly moved by the Spirit of God to write and publish the facts, as to how the sealing message was obtained not only from the Bible but by direct instruction in visions of Sister E. G. White; also as to how the message was received and taught by our ministers and people down to the year 1894, when the “new light” theory found its advocate in one who afterwards apostatized from the faith, and died without seeing the fulfillment of his expectation that he would live to the end of time, and hence be one of the 144,000. His claim was, that later testimonies of Sister White taught; that all the 144,000 would be made up of those who had never died.

      When I found that some were teaching that “all of the 144,000 who will be sealed are now living,” I thought it time that some one should speak, and show that it is not the manner of God’s prophets, to make positive statements at one time, and afterwards teach entirely contrary to them. Such surely was not the course of Bible prophets. The whole of this “new light” is produced by taking words out of their connection, and away from the things of which they are spoken, and giving them a general application, as you will see when we come to the analysis of the matter.

      I presented the substance of this tract in two discourses on the Stockton campground. Those who heard the discourses, requested that it might be published, so that they could have the reading of it. As the subject is one on which there is some controversy, I thought our publishers would not wish to print the matter in their papers or take the responsibility of publishing it in any form. So I have decided to bring it out as a small book, to be obtained through mail, from the author. I first thought I might get it into a five-cent pamphlet; but since revising for print, and enlarging, I find that five cents would not pay the expense of printing and postage. So I have placed a price at ten cents, with the promise to the Lord that all may accrue from sales, after tithing, shall be divided between Eastern city work and foreign missions. May the Lord make the reading of the book a blessing, even as the searching out the copy for the same, in the past few months, has been to the author.

      J. N. LOUGHBOROUGH, Lodi, California July 1, 1916.

      “The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The mark of the beast will be urged upon us. Many a star that we have admired for its brilliancy, will then go out in darkness. Chaff like a cloud will be borne away on the wind, even from places where we see only floors of rich wheat.” “Testimonies,” Vol. 5


      Before me are three questions which I am requested to answer:

      FIRST: When did the Adventists obtain light on the sealing message?

      SECOND: When did the sealing work begin?

      THIRD: Will any of the people of God who have died since 1848, in the message, be reckoned with the 144,000?

      As to the first question, we note that in 1845, some of the Adventists began the study of the third angel’s message of Rev. 14:9-12. They saw clearly that the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath was included in the keeping of all the commandments, as set forth in that message. Of the study of the message, we read in a statement from Sister E. G. White, in “Testimonies for the Church,” volume 1, pages 78 and 79. The statement relates to the situation in 1846. and onward, and reads: “When we began to present the light on the Sabbath question, we had no clearly defined idea of the third angel’s message of Rev. 14:9-12. The burden of our testimony as we came before the people was, that the great second advent movement was of God, that the first and second messages had gone forth, and that the third was to be given. We saw that the third message closed with the words: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” And we as clearly saw as we now see (the now was 1868, when volume 1 was first published), that these prophetic words suggested a Sabbath reform; but as to what the worship of the beast mentioned in the message was, or what the image and the mark of the beast were, we had no defined position.

      “God by His Holy Spirit let light shine forth upon His servants, and the subject gradually opened to their minds. It required much study and anxious care to search it out, link after link. By care, anxiety, and incessant labor has the work moved on until the great truths of our message, a clear, connected, perfect whole, have been given to the world.”

      Although, down to the year 1848, our people had clear light on the different features of the third angel’s message, their attention had not been especially called to the sealing message. They did believe that, according to Rev. 14:1-5, there would be 144,000 to stand redeemed on Mount Zion. This company was also mentioned by Sister White in her first vision, recorded in “Experience and Views,” old edition, page 12. But they had not as yet studied the light on the sealing of the 144,000.

      As we shall see, it was at the time of the conflict of the nations of Europe, in the early months of 1848, that light came to this people respecting the sealing message. In a brief consideration of that conflict, its cause and development, we shall see how the light on the message was obtained. In the “Library of Universal Knowledge,” page 530, we read of that conflict in 1848: “That revolution was caused by the French people demanding a republican form of government from under Louis Philippe; and for a time, there was republican form, the revolution contagion spreading temporarily over most of the continent of Europe.”

      From the time of the Reign of Terror in France, the desire of the masses was, to secure for the people a greater control of the government, and to satisfy the craving of the people for national life–in fact, to have a true government of the people, for the people, and by the people. Through the working of the papacy, a Bourbon, Louis Philippe, had been placed upon the throne, and it seemed to be an impossibility to induce the pope to submit to any government but that of his own devising. See Robinson’s “Western Europe.”



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