Who are the twenty-four elders of Revelation?


By BibleAsk Team

Revelation 4:4-10

“Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads. Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.”

The Twenty-Four Elders

There are different views to the twenty-four elders:

1-Some hold that the twenty-four elders are humans. They base their understanding on the fact that the twenty-four elders are depicted as clothed in white garments, which is representative of righteousness (Revelation 3:4) and wear on their heads “crowns” (Revelation 2:10).  These two facts show that they were redeemed men.

In addition, the description of the heavenly throne in chapters four and five of Revelation points to a period before the seven seals start to happen. On this ground, if the twenty-four elders are human beings, it means that they must be people already in heaven in John’s day.

Therefore, they assume that these are the saints who arose from their graves at the time of Christ’s resurrection (Matthew 27:52, 53; Ephesians 4:8), since that is the assembly known to have already been resurrected in that special resurrection. The main resurrection is still future and will take place at the second coming of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

2-Others liken the twenty-four elders with the twenty-four progressions of the Levitical priesthood. As the priests served before the Lord in the earthly temple, so John views the 24 elders as serving in the heavenly temple.

3-Some suggest that the twenty-four elders represent Israel in its completest sense (Revelation 7:4)—two elders from each tribe, one representing literal Israel, God’s saints before the crucifixion; and the other, spiritual Israel, the Christian church, God’s saints after the crucifixion. Thus, they may be equated with the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles. This interpretation emphasizes the figurative character of these symbols, instead of seeing them as literal saints now in heaven (verse 1).

4-Others view the twenty-four elders as angels, not human beings. Those that believe that point out that the elders are portrayed as serving the prayers of the saints (Revelation 5:8), a service, they claim, that could not be appointed to humans.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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