What is the significance of the number 24 in the 24 elders of Revelation 4?

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There are different views on the significance of the number 24 in the 24 elders of Revelation 4:

First view

This view compares the 24 elders with the 24 divisions of the Levitical priesthood or the descendants of Aaron. These are mentioned in 1 Chronicles 24. Let’s read the passage: “A larger number of leaders were found among Eleazar’s descendants than among Ithamar’s, and they were divided accordingly: sixteen heads of families from Eleazar’s descendants and eight heads of families from Ithamar’s descendants. They divided them impartially by casting lots, for there were officials of the sanctuary and officials of God among the descendants of both Eleazar and Ithamar” (v.4,5).

The two categories of governors here mentioned signified religious officials of the highest order—chief priests. Both houses had served as religious leaders of the first rank. And the assignments were chosen by lot in order that no favoritism might be shown to either side. The base of division was according to the heads of the diverse families, not according to the individual members of the families.

As the priests served before God in the earthly sanctuary, so John saw 24 elders serving in the heavenly sanctuary. Each of the 24 classes took its turn in alternation for the duties of the services in the temple of the Lord.

Second view

This view sees the 24 elders representing Israel in its completest sense (Revelation 7:4). There are two elders from each tribe. One representing literal Israel or God’s children before the cross. And the other, represents the Christian church (spiritual Israel) or God’s people after the cross. Thus, they may be equated to the 12 patriarchs of the Old Testament and the 12 disciples in the New Testament. This view stresses the symbolic character of these people, instead of considering  them to be literal individuals that are now in heaven (v. 1).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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