The 24 Elders
In a nutshell, I don’t believe the 24 elders in scripture can be
definitively identified. However this page is my attempt to bring together
the scriptures that do speak of them and some thoughts on what the scriptures
are saying in order to put the information before you so you can decide
for yourself. In the scheme of things, their identities are not really all
that important to understand, but it is always good to at least try to understand
what the Bible presents to us because in the details we often discover some
amazing things that strengthen our faith.
After this I looked,
and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which
I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come
up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And
immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven,
and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper
and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne,
in sight like unto an emerald. 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. And out of the throne
proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven
lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits
of God. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal:
and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four
beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like
a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a
face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the
four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full
of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy,
holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
And when those beasts give glory and honour
and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on
the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast
their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O
Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all
things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
And I saw in the right hand of him that sat
on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with
seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice,
Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And
no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to
open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no
man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
And one of the elders saith
unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root
of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals
thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and
of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders,
stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes,
which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And
he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon
the throne. And when he had taken the book,
the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before
the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours,
which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new
Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof:
for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of
every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us
unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And
I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne
and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand
times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice,
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and
wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every
creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth,
and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying,
Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth
upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts
said, Amen. And the four and twenty
elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
After this I beheld, and, lo, a great
multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds,
and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb,
clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a
loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne,
and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood
round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts,
and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and
honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
And one of the elders answered, saying
What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came
they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These
are they which came out of
great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white
in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne
of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth
on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither
thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and
shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe
away all tears from their eyes.
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great
voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the
kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever
and ever. And the four and twenty elders,
which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped
God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O LORD God Almighty, which
art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy
great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and
thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged,
and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets,
and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and
shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. And the temple of God
was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his
testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and
an earthquake, and great hail.
And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion,
and with him
an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name
written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the
voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard
the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
And they sung as it were a new song before the
throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders:
and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four
thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were
not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow
the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men,
being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was
found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
And after these things I heard a great
voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory,
and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous
are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt
the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants
at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia And her smoke rose up for
ever and ever. And the four and twenty
elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that
sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. And a voice came out
of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that
fear him, both small and great.
The above are the scriptures that we have describing the 24 elders. I
can’t say that I know their identities as this isn’t laid out
in detail from the above passages, but is it possible that they are who
was resurrected with Christ after the crucifixion?
Jesus, when he
had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold,
the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom;
and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept
arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into
the holy city, and appeared unto many.
It seems evident from this next passage however, that it won’t
the harpazo that all the just will be resurrected, including those who
have died in faith before. This means that Matthew 27:52-53 must not
have been a resurrection to the immortal bodies, but a resurrection from
sleep in their mortal bodies.
And what shall
I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak,
and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the
prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness,
obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. Quenched the violence
of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong,
waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women
received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured,
not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And
others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of
bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder,
were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins
and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom
the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains,
and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained
a good report through faith, received not the promise: God
having provided some better thing for us, that they without
us should not be made perfect. [Resurrected bodies as Yeshua now has.]
1 Corinthians 15:16-24
For if the dead rise not, then
is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain;
ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ
are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of
all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen
from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the
dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
But every man in his own order:
Christ the firstfruits; afterward
they that are Christ’s at his coming.
Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to
God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority
So to me then it would seem that those resurrected at the crucifixion
were not resurrected into their immortal bodies because Christ is the firstfruits
of the resurrection and His resurrection wasn’t until three days later.
Furthermore, it isn’t until the harpazo that the rest of the bride
of Christ receive their immortal resurrected bodies and up until that point
none of the dead in Christ will precede that event.
Are the 24 elders human?
And I beheld,
and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the
midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven
horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth
into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right
hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the
book, the four beasts
four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having
every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are
the prayers of saints. And they
sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book,
and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast
to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and
nation; And hast made
us unto our God kings and priests:
shall reign on the earth.
Is this just a new song they are singing on behalf of the saints whose
prayers they are holding? Or by singing this song are they placing themselves
as redeemed humans as well? It seems that both the four beasts and the 24
elders are singing this new song and the beasts aren’t human, so is
it just that the song is written from the perspective of the human saints,
but sung by the 24 elders and four beasts? Or are the four beasts and 24
elders singing the song because they are included in the redeemed through
I recently received an e-mail regarding this point from
who pointed out that the “us”
in blue above is only used in the Byzantine manuscripts and not the earlier
Alexandrian manuscripts. Verse 10 states “And
hast made THEM unto our
God kings and priests: and THEY
shall reign on the earth.” This is how it actually reads in
both the Alexandrian AND Byzantine manuscripts, so it actually makes the
Alexandrian reading of verse 9 more likely.
It seems most likely since the four beasts are included in the singing
of this song, that they are singing it on behalf of whom it was written
for/by, those human saints whose prayers are being held by them all. I don’t
think this proves the 24 elders are human because they are singing the same
song along with the four beasts, who are clearly not human. Therefore, if
they’re both singing it and the four beasts are clearly not “out
of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation,” then there’s
no solid foundation that the 24 elders aren’t singing on behalf of
humans like the four beasts. If not beasts then I would label them as angels
if this is the case.
Many make an assumption that the elders are saints or Christians which
we cannot prove to be true.
- The scripture does not say the elders are men, it is possible
they could be angels.
- The elders do not receive crowns, they already have them.
- The elders sit on 24 thrones not 12 thrones.
- The elders are not judging Israel on 12 thrones, Israel is still
- No description is given of the elders ‘overcoming’
- The elders have white garments but so do angels- Matthew 28:1-6.
There is an alternate explanation
of who the elders are, which also cannot be proven. The Sanhedrin, the
court on earth, is believed to be patterned after the court in heaven.
The court on earth is divided into 3 parts and consists of the priests,
the ELDERS, and the scribes and teachers of the law. The high priest
It would appear that the throne room scene in Revelation
4 is also presented in Daniel 7 and it is stated that the ‘court’
will set. It is therefore possible the scene we see in Revelation 4
is of the court in heaven. The court in heaven would then consist of
the 4 living creatures that call to worship (the priests), the elders
(the elders), and the angels surrounding the throne (scribes or those
who carry the message). And God is presiding over the court. The elders
would then be angelic beings and not men. This would be a more plausible
explanation of the use of the term ‘elders’ for these beings.
Compared to all the angels present in this scene, men would not appear
to merit the name ‘elder.’
Does the presence of a crown indicate that the crowned being is always
a raptured saint?
and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was
one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp
sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple...
The one with the sickle and a gold crown is assumed to be Jesus
since the term ‘a son of man’ is used. But the passage continues
with ‘then another angel’ leaving the possibility open that
the one with the crown is an angel.
The relevant point is that
whoever the one with the crown is, Jesus or an angel, that person is
not a raptured saint. Since someone other than raptured saints can wear
the crown, saying the elders have to be raptured saints because they
are wearing crowns is a assumption not backed up by scripture. Clearly
someone other than the saints will wear crowns in heaven, and we are
not told anywhere the limits of who possesses a crown and who does not.
This is also akin to saying the elders must be raptured saints because
they wear white garments. This is disproved by Matthew 28- ‘an
angel of the Lord came down form heaven and going to the tomb, rolled
back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and
his clothes were white as snow.’ Angels clearly wear white
garments so the argument based on clothing fails.
Again the point
is that the argument that one can know who the elders are based on their
wearing crowns or their wearing white clothes is baseless, you are making
assumptions you cannot prove.
But while I cannot prove who the
elders are, I believe scripture clearly proves who the elders are not.
The scene in Revelation 4 and Revelation 5 occurs at the beginning
of the sequence of events described in Revelation There is some debate
if this scene occurs at the beginning of the 70th
week or at the middle of the 70th week and
the beginning of the great tribulation. While the exact time that this
scene occurs is not completely clear, it is completely clear that Revelation
4 and Revelation 5 are not describing the last day, the day of the Lord,
the day of Christ’s return. That day is described later in Revelation
16, Revelation 19 and Revelation 20.
But Jesus clearly states
in John 6:39, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I
shall lose none of all he has given me, but raise them up at the last
day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son
and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up
at the last day.”
Jesus clearly states that He will raise
Christians up on the last day. The scene in Revelation 4 and Revelation
5 clearly does not occur on the last day. Therefore the elders clearly
cannot be raptured saints because Jesus has not yet raised Christians,
it is not the last day, the harpazo has not happened as described directly
from Jesus himself.
And this statement by Jesus is reinforced
in Daniel 12, Matthew 24 and John 11:24- ‘Martha
answered, I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last
While I cannot say for sure whether the
elders are indeed angels or men, the weight of scripture goes against
the elders being raptured saints.
The other thing that has to be noted is that the elders are sitting
around the throne of God, not the throne of Christ. Actually, when John
sees the heavenly scene, Jesus is not even there. He does not appear
until after the seven sealed scroll is presented. I believe these elders
are part of an angelic representation of the earthen Levitical priesthood
ordained by God. More appropriately, the Levitical priesthood and temple
services would have been representative of what we see in Revelation. David
Lowe gives a really good explanation of this in his book Earthquake