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This is the fourth post in a series on Revelation chapter four. To begin at the beginning, at the first post, then please click here.
Revelation 4:4 ‘Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones and seated on them were twenty-four elders’.
When we study Revelation we will need to be accurate in identifying the characters described, such as the first horse-man of chapter six and the woman of chapter twelve.
However, there is a certain air of mystery and enigma surrounding these twenty-four elders and we cannot be absolutely sure who they are or represent.
Certainly they hold a dignified and elegant place, seated on thrones surrounding the throne of God.
Some commentators suggest that they are angels of a superior order. They cite Isaiah 24:23 to prove that angels may be called ‘elders’.
Many disagree with this suggestion. Angels are rarely described as sitting down, let alone sitting on thrones. Moreover, in Revelation 5:8-12 the twenty-four elders and the angels are seen as two distinct groups.
Many commentators would argue that the twenty-four elders represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and therefore they represent the redeemed of all time.
This would agree with Revelation 21:12 that describes the Holy City. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel and on the foundations were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Matthew Henry, as ever, captures it masterfully: ‘He saw four-and-twenty seats round about the throne, not empty, but filled with four-and-twenty elders, presbyters, representing very probably, the whole church of God, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament state, not the ministers of the church but rather the representatives of the people’.
However, there is another equally good answer which we will explore tomorrow! To be taken there please click here.
To go back to the first post in this series on Revelation chapter four, please click here.
Thank you for reading/listening…
Matthew Henry quote: ‘Commentary on Revelation’ location 734