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
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 song, saying,
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 unto me,
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
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
It seems evident from this
next passage however, that it won’t be until
the harpazo that all the just
will be resurrected, including those who have died in faith before. This
Matthew 27:52-53 must not have been a
resurrection to the immortal bodies, but a resurrection from sleep in their
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.]
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 and power.
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
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 song, saying,
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.
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 Christ’s blood?
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.
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.
- 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 on earth.
- No description is given of the elders ‘overcoming’ anything.
- The elders have white garments but so do angels- Matthew 28:1-6.
Many make an assumption that the elders are saints or Christians which
we cannot prove to be true.
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 presides.
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
Does the presence of a crown indicate that
the crowned being is always a raptured saint?
I looked 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
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
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
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 19 and
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
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 Resurrection.