From Revelation 4 (KJ21):

4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats; and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment, and they had on their heads crowns of gold.

Who are these "four and twenty" elders?


Who are the twenty four elders in Revelation?

Traditionally they are the symbolic representation of 12 tribes of Israel and 12 Apostles representing the entire church from Adam to the end of the world is very easy to ascribe to. Besides the winged creatures are often thought as angels so all the more reason to consider the 24 elders (a name given to church members) as symbolic of humans, not angels.

For anyone open to the Catholic interpretation, the following is offered.

Many non-Catholic as well as Catholic scholars have noticed that the whole structure of Revelation is a big Passover liturgy where Christ, the Priest King, the firstborn Son and the Lamb looking as though it's been slain conducts and celebrates the heavenly liturgy. And the earthly liturgy is meant to be a reflection in that, a participation in that, and the early Church took it for granted.

In Chapter 4, verse 8 of Revelation we read:

8 Each of the four figures had six wings, with eyes everywhere looking outwards and inwards; day and night they cried unceasingly, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who ever was, and is, and is still to come. 9 And as often as these figures gave glory and honour and blessing to him who sat on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fell down in worship before him who sat on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, and threw down their crowns before the throne, crying out,3 11 Thou, our Lord God, claimest as thy due glory and honour and power; by thee all things were created; nothing ever was, nothing was ever created, but in obedience to thy will.

Catholic theology understands the number of the elders (24) to be both the 12 tribes of Israel, as well as the 12 Apostles. The 12 tribes are symbolic of all of God’s children in the Old Testament, or before Christ. It obviously follows that the 12 Apostles represent all of God’s elect until the end of the world. This is a perfect example of how St. John uses numeric signs and symbols throughout his Apocalypse.

The footnote entry for Revelation 4:8 in the New American Version (Catholic bible) is as follows:

[4:1–11] The seer now describes a vision of the heavenly court in worship of God enthroned. He reverently avoids naming or describing God but pictures twenty-four elders in priestly and regal attire (Rev 4:4) and God’s throne and its surroundings made of precious gems and other symbols that traditionally express the majesty of God (Rev 4:5–6). Universal creation is represented by the four living creatures (Rev 4:6–7). Along with the twenty-four elders, they praise God unceasingly in humble adoration (Rev 4:8–11).

Twenty-four elders: these represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles; cf. Rev 21:12–14.

In his General Audience of Jan. 12, 2005, Pope Saint John Paul II the Great preaches a sermon entitled By the Blood of the Lamb. He begins his edifying exposition of this perennial Catholic doctrine by commenting on how the 24 elders represent the worship of God’s chosen people:

1.The hymn that has just resounded ideally comes down from heaven. In fact, the Book of Revelation that presents it links the first part (cf. 11: 17-18) to the "twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God" (11: 16), and in the second strophe (cf. 12: 10-12) to "a loud voice in heaven" (12: 10). We are thus involved in a grandiose portrayal of the divine court where God and the Lamb, that is, Christ, surrounded by the "Council of the Crown", judge human history in good and in evil but also reveal history's ultimate end of salvation and glory. The role of the Canticles that spangle the Book of Revelation is to illustrate the topic of the divine lordship that controls the often bewildering flow of human events.

2.In this regard, the first passage of our Canticle is significant. It is set on the lips of the 24 elders who seem to symbolize God's Chosen People in their two historical phases, the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 Apostles of the Church. Now, the almighty and eternal Lord God "has taken [his] great power and begun to reign" (11: 17). His entry into history does not only aim to curb the violent reactions of rebels (cf. Ps 2: 1, 5), but above all to exalt and reward the just. These are defined with a series of words used to describe the spiritual features of Christians. They are "servants" who comply faithfully with the divine law; they are "prophets", endowed with the revealed word that interprets and judges history; they are "saints", consecrated to God, who revere his name, that is, they are ready to adore him and to do his will. Among them there are "small and great", an expression dear to the author of the Book of Revelation (cf. 13: 16; 19: 5, 18; 20: 12) which he uses to designate the People of God in its unity and variety.

Other interpretations do exist. Some hold that the Twenty-Four Elders are angels.

Revelation 4:4 declares, “Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.” The book of Revelation nowhere specifically identifies who the twenty-four elders are. However, they are most likely representative of the Church. It is unlikely that they are angelic beings, as some suggest. The fact that they sit on thrones indicates that they reign with Christ. Nowhere in Scripture do angels ever rule or sit on thrones. The Church, however, is repeatedly said to rule and reign with Christ (Revelation 2:26-27, 5:10, 20:4; Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30).

In addition, the Greek word translated here as “elders” is never used to refer to angels, only to men, particularly to men of a certain age who are mature and able to rule the Church. The word elder would be inappropriate to refer to angels, who do not age. Their mode of dress would also indicate these are men. While angels do appear in white, white garments are more commonly found on believers, symbolizing Christ’s righteousness imputed to us at salvation (Revelation 3:5,18; 19:8).

The golden crowns worn by the elders also indicate these are men, not angels. Crowns are never promised to angels, nor are angels ever seen wearing them. The word translated “crown” here refers to the victor’s crown, worn by those who have successfully competed and won the victory, as Christ promised (Revelation 2:10; 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12).

Some people believe these twenty-four elders represent Israel, but at the time of this vision, Israel as a whole nation had not yet been redeemed. The elders cannot represent tribulation saints for the same reason—not all had yet been converted at the time of John’s vision. The most likely option is that the elders represent the raptured Church which sings songs of redemption (Revelation 5:8-10). They wear the crowns of victory and have gone to the place prepared for them by their Redeemer (John 14:1-4). - "Who are the twenty-four (24) elders in Revelation?"

The Coptic Orthodox commemorates the twenty-four Elders of Revelation on Hator 24 (Coptic Liturgical Calendar): The Commemoration of the Twenty-Four Priests.

On this day, we commemorate the twenty-four incorporeal priests of the Most High, who are sitting around His throne. They are exalted above all the saints and the spiritual hosts. Because of their closeness to God, they intercede on behalf of the human race and offer the prayers of the saints as incense, in the golden censers in their hands, before the Glorious and Blessed Lord.

The fathers of the church arranged this feast to commemorate them.

Their intercession be for us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.

In the end, one can say that no one answer is the absolute perfect response to this question.


internal evidence from the text

revelation 4 does not occur in isolation to the previous texts....please connect this text to revelation 4 and 5..revelation 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne....Christ overcame and sat down at His Father s throne in AD31

revelation 4 shows us the throne(link with revelation 3:21) without Christ,and the HOLY SPIRIT fully present in heaven before being sent to earth....as the vision unfolds Christ arrives in chapter 5 and suddenly we read that in verse 6 that the seven spirits of GOD ARE NOW ON CHRIST AND HE HAS SENT THEM TO EARTH(He has received the promise He gave to the disciples to be given by from the FATHER...and HE SENDS THAT PROMISE AT.).....THATS PENTECOST!!!!...Christ left the earth day 40 after resurrection...escorted by angels (David sees this in psalms 24:7-10)...as He ascends revelations 4 shows the stage set to receive Him....the Beings present before He arrives in the throne room are God the Father,God the Holy spirt and the seraphim's (4 living creatures) and the 24 elders...revelation 5 shows us when He arrived, His wounds were fresh (the lamb as if its slain)He then received all power in heaven and earth (seven horns)and received the holy SPIRIT (seven eyes) and sent them to earth...the text actually says it! the beings present in heaven then rejoice at Christ who had "purchased" man for God and made them priest and kings

THE thousands of angels who arrived with Christ are then heard by John singing and joining in the praise......we often think John deliberately omitted them in revelation 4) .......with that background lets tackle the question ...24 elders...internal evidence in the text shows these 24 elders holding bowls of incense ...hence they are priests...luke 1:5-8 will show Zachariah being chosen to burn incense in the temple as a priest...Zachariah belonged to the 8 th division called abijah....remember they were 24 priestly divisions ...evidence is in 1 chronicles 24...i repeat 24 priestly divisions....the number 24 in revelation 4 must be viewed through the priestly role born by these elders...elders are rulers who shared governing of Israel with Moses....in MOSES TIME THEY WERE 70 of them ...they were not priests either..they were elderly man or man of management..in new testament times elders were leaders in the churches with pastoral roles....the symbols in revelation 4 point towards elders in the priestly role...they are seen as present in the throe room before Christ arrives....Ephesians 4:8 This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people."...Christ took some people who He had resurrected and took them to heaven as first fruits.....Christ arrives in chapter 5 with those who he had resurrected and already the elders are already there....back to revelation 4....before Christ arrives we see these Elders as Kings...sitting on thrones...they accept their allegiance to God and remove their crowns....i refer you to the roman emperor who used to call to their palace all the rulers they had appointed and then when those leaders came they would remove their crowns to acknowledge that they rule by permission of the emperor!..thats the act of removing the crown!.... when will redeemed saints sit on thrones?..revelation 20:4!!!!!....Christ has to put down all his enemies first ..Matthew 22:44 ►

"'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet."' in revelation 5 Christ sits at the right hand of the FATHER IN AD 31 ( i can explain the phrase after this in revelation 4:1 is just introducing a new vision...need more time to explain this ) but in AD31 He still has work to do...only until when the work is done and the kingdoms of this world has become the kingdoms of our Lord do saints sit on thrones...which is revelation 20:4..before that they don't sit on thrones!!!...so who are the 24 elders?...does Christ officially officiate as a High Priest?..well Hebrews 5 and 8 has a lot to day about that......Revelation 5 shows us Christ assistants ...on the earthly sanctuary there were always 24 priests on duty every day and the high priest was the 25th person...in apostasy in ezekiel we see the whole 25 corrupted....ezekiel 8:16...in revelation 4 they are waiting for His arrival....to begin work in the sanctuary as priests assisting the high priest Christ of the new covenant....with better promises, better sacrifices and better and more superior sanctuary not built by man but pitched by God himself!

so who are the 24 elders?..we now know they are rulers(kings) and as well as priests ...those who quote the KJV verse in revelation 5:8 song sung by the seraphim's and 24 elders must remember both these groups sing that song ...and the seraphim's were not redeemed from the earth...as we read the translations we realise the wording is different and the word "US" or "THEM" changes meaning

so who are the 24 elders?.are they literal 24? based on 1 chronicles 24 it refers to 24 divisions ..so what about the heavenly order of these beings are they 24 literal elders?....key point ...John was shown things in symbols .....we read carefully realising these are symbols ..the angel SIGNIFIED TO JOHN ..used symbols to reveal truths (see revelation 1:1)

who the are the 24 elders?..can we know everything in revelation ?..... as the book of revelation unfolds the saints delivered and the 24 elders remain separate groups...in revelation 7 the elder actually asks ..who are these in white robes and whence did they come from?.....the elder never says -these are my fellow saints-..

when the redeemed stand on the sea of glass the elders remains as elders.....not the as the redeemed

when the saints FINALLY sit on thrones in revelation 20:4 after ascension to heaven ...then revelation 3:21 is finally fulfilled!!!....so who then were the 24 elders ?

the answer is .....the heavenly council......the hope we have is ....when we also are overcomers and reject sin...we will sit on Christ s throne and wear the stefanos crown...

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