not defiled with women
Defiled is Ἐμολύνθησαν [Emolynthēsan] : “Causing something to be dirty soil, smear, stain; metaphorically, as keeping the life spotless.”1 The same word describes those in the church at Sardis who “had not defiled their garments” (Rev. Rev. 3:4+). Their faithful service of the Lamb was exemplary and motivated by their consuming obedience to His will, because they “follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” This does not indicate that they were sinless, for they are among those needing redemption. This verse does not negate the divine institution and blessing upon married sexual relations for “marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. Heb. 13:4). Perhaps these minister at a time when the institution of marriage has all but fallen by the wayside (not inconceivable if present trends continue) and relations with women are almost exclusively outside of the bounds of marriage in their time? Theirs is a time characterized by fornication (Rev. Rev. 9:21+), perhaps pagan rites of old are flourishing once again, but on a global basis:
We have more than once, in the Epistles to the Assemblies, and on Revelation Rev. 9:20+, Rev. 9:21+, said that Fornication will be part of the great religious system of Anti-Christ in the coming time of trouble and temptation; as it formed an obligatory part of the great pagan systems of idolatry. Idolatry was not a mere sin into which people gradually sunk; but it was a Satanic device into which people rose in order to gratify the lusts of the flesh under the cloak of religion.2
The worship of Antichrist during the Tribulation will be unspeakably vile and perverse. As it did in the fertility cults of ancient times, sexual sin will apparently run rampant. Even in the current grossly immoral day, we can hardly imagine what the deviant sexual perversion of the Tribulation will be like. With all divine restraint removed (2Th. 2Th. 2:6-7) and the unbelieving world judgmentally abandoned by God (cf. Rom. Rom. 1:24, Rom. 1:26, Rom. 1:28), sin will be released like a flood, inundating the world.3
But in the fearful days of abandonment “as in the days of Noah”—when lust and violence will again fill the whole earth (as we see beginning now!) how wonderful to behold this company of 144,000 who have chosen to be entirely separated unto the Lamb and unto His Father, and who are thus, despite the days!4
In their complete dedication to the service of the Lamb, they voluntarily chose to forgo relations with women in order to focus completely on their unique God-given task during the Tribulation. they are virgins
These are physical virgins, for why else would it be said of this particular group of saints that they are virgins? All the saints are virgins in the spiritual sense of being set aside and dedicated to God. “I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2Cor. 2Cor. 11:2). Jesus explained, “there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it” (Mtt. Mat. 19:12) “Not only is there virgin purity of life, but there is also virgin love—undivided heart affection for the Lamb.”5 These are eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. By both choice and gifting, they were enabled to give their full focus to ministry at the time of the end.