Who are the 24 Elders in Revelation?


The Throne

In Revelation 4:1 John is translated to a time in the future, to witness the events that will take place after the Church Age - the things which are - and prior to the opening of the first seal in Revelation 6.  He is before the Father's throne.

The Trumpets

Since there seems to be confusion over the different types of trumpets used in the Bible, I offer these definitions from Vine's dictionary for Trump/Trumpet.

4536 salpigx {sal'-pinx}

It is used "of the supernatural accompaniment of divine interpositions in the two following verses to summons John to the presence of God."

Rev. 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet.

Rev. 4:1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven.  And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this."

It is also used "of the act of the Lord in raising from the dead the saints who have fallen asleep and changing the bodies of those who are living, at the Rapture of all to meet Him in the air."

1 Cor. 15:52  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet (4536).  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

"The last trump is a military allusion, familiar to Greek readers, and has no connection with the series in Rev. 8 and 9" (the seven angels sounding seven trumpets).

Some Jewish feasts involve the exclusive use of the shofar, the ram's horn, instead of the usual silver Temple trumpets. It is interesting to note that rabbinical tradition associates the left horn of the ram as the "first trump" and the right horn as the "last trump". (Read 1 Cor. 15:52)

The Last Trump has nothing to do with the series of blasts in Rev. 8 and 9. 

07782 showphar {sho-far'} or shophar {sho-far'}

Rev. 4:5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices.

This verse sounds a lot like Exodus 19:16 Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound ("voice" in some translations) of the trumpet (07782) was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.

Also compare to Joel 2:1-2 Blow the trumpet (07782) in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand: a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains.

The Voices

The voice that John hears in Rev. 1:10 and 4:1 is the voice of the Lord from heaven.  It is the same voice that was heard by Paul on the way to Damascus in Acts 9:47, and the same voice that will be heard in 1 Thess 4:16 when the Lord calls to those He is betrothed to.  It is the same voice that will be heard at the resurrection to judgment, John 5:28-29.

5456 phone {fo-nay'}   (voice) Can also be used for "sound or tone".

Rev. 4:4 - John sees the 24 elders sitting upon 24 thrones.  They have crowns of gold upon their heads.

I had been "taught" that the 24 elders represented the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve disciples.  That seems to be a common view, but it doesn't really work.  I searched the Bible for scripture to confirm my presumption and back this "belief".  I was unable to find even one verse that made mention of the twelve tribes of Israel sitting upon 12 thrones.  What I did find was Jesus telling His disciples that they would judge the tribes of Israel, but that wasn't to occur until the millennial reign.

Matthew 19:28 "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

Luke 22:28-30 "But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials.  And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

Jews, Gentiles or spiritual beings?

I looked back to Rev. 1:4 to find out to whom the book of Revelation was actually addressed.  In the 'cover letter' to the seven letters to the seven churches, I found that John is not writing this letter to the tribes of Israel, the Gentiles, or even to a class of spiritual beings.  He is writing it to the church!

Rev. 1:4-5, "John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.  To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen."

Israel has not been washed by the blood, nor have they been promised crowns at the Lord's appearing.

The Gentiles have not been washed by the blood.

Spiritual beings have no need of redemption!

In the opening of the letter, he is reminding the church of what Jesus has done for them.  And in regards to the elders being angels or some other spiritual beings, I quote this from the Vine's dictionary - "The word 'elder' is nowhere applied to angels."

Redeemed by His blood

To take my search a step farther, I compared what John wrote in Rev. 1:4-5, to the songs of the elders in Rev. 4:11, 5:9-10, and 11:17-18.

Rev. 5:9-10 You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us (2248) to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us (2248) kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign (936) on the earth.

2248 hemas {hay-mas'} us, we, our etc.  A primary pronoun of the first person  I  (only expressed when emphatic):- I, me.

936 basileuo {bas-il-yoo'-o} The reign of Christians in the millennium.

Unfortunately, some translations use the word them instead of us, and they instead of we, but those aren't accurate translations of the Greek.  The Precious King James Bible is Correct.

There is only one group of people that have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, AND made kings and priests - the church.  We will not only reign with Christ after the tribulation, we will also judge the world.

1 Cor. 6:2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?  And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 

Rev. 20:4  Then I saw thrones, and sitting on them were those to whom authority to act as judges and to pass sentence was entrusted.

But during the entire tribulation period the church will be hidden away in the marriage chamber!

Casting their crowns

As the redeemed elders in Rev: 5:9-10 (above) are worshiping the Lord, they cast their crowns before the throne.

Rev. 4:10 The twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created."

In the throne room, it is the church that proclaims His praises, and we are surrounded by His marvelous light! 

1 Peter 5:4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

2 Timothy 4:8 Finally, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that Day: and not to me only, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Since the elders (church) are present at the throne prior to the opening of the first seal in Rev. 6:1, the Lord must have made a personal appearance to them, to give them their crowns and bring them to heaven.  Read Rev. 22:12

Neither the Jews, the Gentiles, nor the angles have been promised crowns.  There is only one group of people that have been promised crowns at His appearing - the church.

For further thought

Isaiah 26:20-21 Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past.  For behold, the Lord comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain.

The Lord mercifully hides the righteous ones away during times of the His vengeance.  He calls them into His presence and shuts them in.

Psalm 27:5 For in the time of trouble, He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle he shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.

Zephaniah 2:3 Seek righteousness, seek humility.  It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord's anger.

Genesis 7:1 Then the Lord said to Noah, "Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation."

Genesis 7:16 So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.

Do any of these verses refer to the church?  I can't be sure, but they are being presented here to illustrate the way in which the Lord takes the righteous into His presence and hides them there.  Don't forget, He also removed Lot and his family before the destruction came.

Israel has not been made righteous yet, but God will keep His remnant safe through the tribulation, just as He kept them safe in Egypt.  The ways of God are unchanging; He is the same yesterday, today and forever. 


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