This is an interesting theological question that does not have a definitive answer according to Jehovah’s Witness doctrine. However, we can analyze what the Bible and Jehovah’s Witness teachings say about who can go to heaven to try to arrive at a reasonable estimate.
What the Bible Says
The Bible speaks in several places about those who will be resurrected to heavenly life. Jesus stated that the number of those partaking of the heavenly calling would be limited when he said, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the Kingdom” (Luke 12:32). This indicates that those going to heaven would be relatively few in comparison to earth’s population.
Revelation 7:4 mentions a specific number, 144,000, stating: “And I heard the number of those who were sealed, a hundred and forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel.” Verse 9 clarifies that these ones come “out of all nations.” So this passage indicates that 144,000 humans total will rule with Christ in the Kingdom of Heaven.
However, the Bible indicates that more than just this number will be in heaven. Revelation 7:9 describes “a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.” This implies an additional unspecified number will also be in heaven, although their roles and positions are not defined.
Who are the 144,000?
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation are spirit-anointed Christians who go to heaven to rule with Christ in the Kingdom. They believe these ones are “born again” as immortal spirit creatures, which occurs upon their death. Their positions in heaven are implied to be higher than the “great crowd.”
The 144,000 are selected by God from among His faithful servants on earth across centuries beginning in the first century C.E. According to Witnesses, by the end of the 20th century, the choosing of the 144,000 was mostly completed.
How Many of the 144,000 are Left?
Jehovah’s Witnesses keep track of those still on earth who claim to be of the anointed 144,000. As of 2022, the number of these remaining anointed ones worldwide is less than 10,000.
|Year||Number of Partakers|
This table shows the declining number of those partaking at the annual Memorial observance ceremony over the last few years according to Watchtower statistics. Based on the current trend, it is conceivable that this number could reach zero within a decade or two. This would suggest that the selection of the 144,000 is complete.
Who is the Great Crowd?
As mentioned, the Bible speaks of a “great crowd” in heaven in addition to the 144,000. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe this refers to a separate group of faithful Christians who die and are resurrected to life in heaven, but their positions and roles are lesser than the 144,000 “king-priests.” They are not considered to be among those anointed by holy spirit.
How many might comprise this great crowd? While no specifics are provided in the Bible, Jehovah’s Witnesses publications have conjectured that it could number “millions or even billions.” One of their books states: “After the destruction of Satan’s system, many millions of persons may find refuge in becoming part of the great crowd of survivors.”
Key Facts About the Great Crowd:
- They are not limited to a specific number like the 144,000
- They are not among the anointed class on earth
- They are described as a multitude that cannot be numbered from all nations
- They gain heavenly life after surviving Armageddon
- Their positions in heaven are less prominent than the 144,000 ruling kings and priests
Current Beliefs About Total Going to Heaven
Currently, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that all of the 144,000 positions have basically been filled. Thus, the number going to heaven to rule with Christ is capped at 144,000.
In addition, they believe that millions or billions more could potentially populate the “great crowd” described at Revelation 7:9. Though estimations about this number vary greatly in their publications, the generally accepted view is that this crowd is an unlimited number drawn from righteous believers who live through Armageddon into God’s new world.
- 144,000 = Number of those going to heaven to rule as kings and priests
- Great Crowd = An additional unspecified number who will be resurrected to heavenly life after Armageddon
In conclusion, while the Bible does not provide specifics about how many will go to heaven in total, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that number will be 144,000 literal kings and priests plus an unspecified multi-million or billion “great crowd” from all nations who gain heavenly life. Though the exact number in the great crowd is undefined, it indicates that more than 144,000 will be in heaven.
However, it is also important to keep in mind that these numbers are specific to Jehovah’s Witness beliefs, which not all Bible scholars agree with. But it provides an interesting perspective on how many the Bible indicates will rule with Christ and inhabit heaven in the future.