This essay explores the beliefs of early Christian writers on this issue. It categorizes their ideas into preterist, eschatological, and ecclesiological views.
The preterist views are those which saw the 144,000 as fulfilled in early Christianity. The eschatological views represent those who thought that they will be fulfilled in the last days right before Jesus returns. The ecclesiological views explain the number as a symbol of the church or all Christians. The essay will also examine the merits and demerits of each view and I will weigh in telling which view I think is correct and why.
I delivered this paper at the 2012 Doctrinal Conference of Providence Theological Seminary held in July. To read the paper in a PDF file, click here.