What does Revelation 14:3 mean?
ESV: and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.
NIV: And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.
NASB: And they *sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one was able to learn the song except the 144,000 who had been purchased from the earth.
CSB: They sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders, but no one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.
NLT: This great choir sang a wonderful new song in front of the throne of God and before the four living beings and the twenty-four elders. No one could learn this song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.
KJV: 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.
Verse Commentary:
The choristers in heaven join in singing a new song before God's throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. The scene takes us back to chapter 4, where the four living creatures surrounded God's throne and ascribed holiness to Him. The elders at that time praised God and worshiped Him as worthy to receive glory, honor, and power. In this verse it might be the same beings who sing a new song that only the 144,000 can learn. We do not know the words to the song, but they probably extol God for redeeming the 144,000 from the earth.

When God delivered the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and led them safely through the Red Sea, Moses and the Hebrews sang about the experience (Exodus 15). They praised God for redeeming them from the clutches of Pharaoh. It seems reasonable that the song mentioned in Revelation 14:3 focuses on God's power in purchasing the 144,000 by the blood of the Lamb and protecting them through the tribulation.
Verse Context:
Revelation 14:1–5 reports that John saw the Lamb and the 144,000 sealed Jews standing on Mount Zion. This continues Revelation's temporary break from a moment-by-moment account of end-times judgments, looking forward to the end of all things. The 144,000 are those we read about in Revelation 7. They come from the tribes of Israel and receive God's seal on their foreheads (Revelation 7:2–4). They serve God faithfully throughout the tribulation and are among those who survive to enjoy shelter, refreshment, and comfort in Messiah's kingdom (Revelation 7:15–17). There is great rejoicing in heaven as the 144,000 stand with the Lamb on Mount Zion.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter distinguishes two groups of people: those who believe in Jesus during the tribulation and those who worship the beast. John sees the Lamb, Jesus, and the 144,00 sealed Jewish servants of God standing together on Mount Zion. The scene anticipates the end of the tribulation with the 144,000 celebrating their victory over the beast. Heaven, too, celebrates their triumph. The eternal good news of salvation reaches the ends of the earth, calling upon everyone to turn to God or face His judgment and announcing the collapse of commercial Babylon and the eternal punishment of the beast, whose image so many unbelievers worshiped. This impending judgment is cause for believers to stay loyal to the Lord. Many believers will face martyrdom, but their temporary suffering does not compare with the eternal suffering worshipers of the beast will experience. When Christ returns to earth, the destruction of the wicked will be so complete that blood will flow so high it will reach a horse's bridle.
Chapter Context:
This chapter continues a segment of Revelation which deviates from the chronological account of the end times. These events occur at the end of the tribulation, when Christ returns to defeat all the remaining wickedness on earth. This event is given more details in chapter 19. In Acts 14:19–22 we learn that Paul and Barnabas returned to the cities of Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged the believers by saying believers must endure many tribulations before they enter the kingdom. Revelation 14 and 15 offer similar encouragement to stay loyal to Christ in the face of persecution. Chapter 16 resumes a step-by-step account of the end times.
Book Summary:
The word ''revelation'' means ''an unveiling or disclosure.'' This writing unveils future events such as the rapture, three series of judgments that will fall on the earth during the tribulation, the emergence of the Antichrist, the persecution of Israel and her amazing revival, as well as Jesus' second coming with His saints to the earth, the judgment of Satan and his followers, and finally, the eternal state. This content, combined with the original Greek term apokalypsis, is why we now refer to an end-of-the-world scenario as ''an apocalypse.''
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