The Way It Happened

Revelation 14:4, Who are the Firstfruits?

These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

//Revelation tells of 144,000 faithful people who stand on Mount Zion, singing praises to God. It is said they were redeemed from the earth. They are said to be the “firstfruits.” But who are they?

This question comes up often in the forums I participate in online. Many think this gathering of the firstfruits is still in our future; but that wouldn’t make them first, would it?

The Old Testament law tells us that in the new harvest, the firstfruits are given to God. It means the very first of the crop each year. The firstfruits among Christians would therefore be the first ones redeemed.

This is the understanding provided by Paul as well. In 1 Corinthians 16:15, he names the household of Stephanas as the firstfruits of Achaia. Likewise, in Romans 16:5, Paul indicates that Epaenetus is the firstfruits of Asia Minor. Compare these two translations of the same verse:

Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ. –KJV

Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia. –NIV

So “firstfruits” means “first Christians to convert” in this example. There is no reason to believe Revelation doesn’t use the word in the same way.

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