WHO ARE THE FOUR AND TWENTY ELDERS THAT HAVE CROWNS OF GOLD AND SIT AROUND THE THRONE?
(1) The name of "elder" is not the name of the Church. If the "elders" here point to the Church, it will be almost like saying that the entire Church is made up of Elders. According to historical fact, God first chose the angels (Isaiah 14: 12; Ezekiel 28: 11-19), then the Jews (Gen 12: 1-3), and thirdly the Church (Acts 2). Therefore, the Church cannot be reckoned as elders, even the Jews are not to be considered as elders (the election mentioned in Eph 1 : 4 refers to the eternal purpose of God, and hence is quite different from the elect angels as mentioned in 1 Timothy 5 : 21 ).
The term "Elder" some say, is used some 200 times in the Bible and is applied to men only. Therefore, these 24 Elders should be redeemed men?. NO.
These Elders are in heaven and not on earth and they were seated even before John was taken up.
(2) The number of the elders is not the number of the Church. The Church's number in the Scripture is Seven or multiples of seven, but 24 is not such a multiple. Joel 2 : 28, 29
" I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh;
and your Sons and your daughters shall prophesy
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions;
and also upon the servants,
and upon the handmaids.."
The Promises to the Churches are 7 in number. Each contains the solemn exhortation "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches". We are bidden to hear not what the Church or the Churches say but to "hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches"'.
The 7 seals
The 7 parables of Mathew 13
The 7 gifts of Christ in John's Gospel
- His flesh 6: 51
- His life 10: 11
- His example 13:15
- Comforter 14:16
- My Peace 14 : 27
- His Words 17: 8,14
- His glory 17 : 22
(3) After Rev 19 : 4 there is no more trace of the 24 Elders. If these elders do indeed represent the entire Church, what has happened to the glorious Church after Rev 19:4 ?
(4) The white garments which the elders wear are not said to be cleansed by the precious blood ; however, in another place (Rev 7 :14) the white garments are said to have been washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. The white garments here show that the elders are without sin.
(5) The song these "elders" sing is not that of redemption since the song in Rev 4 :11 tells of the Creation of God. They thus know only God's Creation, they have no personal knowledge of God's redemption.
Those who regard the 24 elders as representing the redeemed have done on the authority of Rev 5:9; but that is a misunderstanding of the translation. The Revised version gives the correct translation". And they sing a new song, saying, Worthy art thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for Thou wast slain and didst purchase unto God of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and madest them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests and they reign upon the earth".
(redeemed "them" - not these elders, but men of every tribe, tongue, people and nation).
(6) All the phenomena in Chapter 4 stand for the state of the Universe. Besides the throne and the Seven Spirits, there are the 4 living creatures and the 24 elders; none else is mentioned. This indicates that these elders are the elders of the Universe.
(7) There are three classes of people in view in Rev 7 : 13 -17, namely : (1) elders (2) John, and (3) those arrayed in white robes, (part of Church - Tribulation Saints). If the elders are part of the Church why should they ask to John, "Who are they, and whence came they ?
John and Elders are differentiated here.
(8) John addresses one of the elders as "my lord" (Rev 7: 13-17) thus showing the Superior position of the elder over John. Otherwise how could the elder permit John to call him "my Lord"? (Look Rev 22:8-9).
Who then are these elders?
(1) Since they sit on thrones and wear crowns of Gold they must be kings.
(2) They wear white garments which are the garments of the priests (Exod 28; Lev 6 : 1 0 & 16 :4). They have harps, sing songs, and hold golden bowls of incense - all these are evidences of their priesthood.
(3) They are the elders of the Universe. They are the oldest (so they are called "elders") among created things. They are the angelic leaders of the heavenly worship. (24 = 2 x 12, it is the number associated with heavenly Government and Worship).
(4) God had originally appointed angels to govern the Universe. But one fell and turned into Satan. As to those angels who had not followed Satan in rebellion, God still assigns them the rule over the Universe. As Michael is the chief prince over the nation of Israel (Dan 10 :13), even so, all of us who are redeemed have our guardian angels (Acts 12 :15, Math 18 :10; Heb 1 : 14).
The 24 Elders sit while the 7 angels who blow the trumpets stand before God (Rev 8 :2). The 24 Elders are now in charge of the Universe. When they see people getting saved they are not jealous at all; rather, they praise God for it. They will govern the Universe until the kingdom shall come (Millennium); and then they will resign their appointments and there will be the transfer of the Government of the Universe to men (Rev. 11 : 16-18, Heb. 2:5-8). This is why they are not mentioned after Rev 19 :4.