Are the twenty-four elders in heaven, humans or spirit beings?

Some wrongly teach that the twenty-four elders are saved human beings. And they base their assumption on a mistranslation of Revelation 5:8-10 in the King James version that says, “Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.”

But according to the Greek text, this verse should instead read: “…For You were slain, and have redeemed them [the saints, not us] to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation; and have made them [not us] kings and priests to our God; and they [not we] shall reign on the earth.”

If we examine this passage closely we find that in verse 10 it clearly says that the resurrected human saints will reign on earth whereas the Bible says that the twenty-four elders are working at God’s throne in heaven. Also, the twenty-four elders could not be human beings because no man except Jesus Christ (John 3:13) has ascended to heaven where God’s throne is. All saved human beings will be given immortality at Christ’s coming—when He returns to the earth to rule and reign (I Corinthians 15:22-23).

Others suggest that the twenty-four beings are the saints that had a special resurrection when Christ rose from the dead “and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many” (Matthew 27:53). But this is not true for the twenty-four elders are already ministering in heaven before Christ appears as a resurrected victor (Revelation 4 and 5; Daniel 7) with the saints that had the special resurrection.

Thus, we can conclude that the twenty-four elders are angels of high honor. Revelation 5:8 says these elders each have a harp and golden bowls full of incense, symbolic of the prayers of the saints. These spirit beings minister before God on behalf of humans.

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team



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