Who are the 24 Elders of the Book of Revelation?

There are three key descriptions that are said about them and I believe if we take a look at all three we can narrow the field down to one group, which represent the church of Jesus Christ.

Key verse:
Rev.4:4
“Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.”

We are told four facts about these “elders.”

1. They are elders
2. They are on thrones surrounding the Father’s thrones
3. They are dressed in white robes
4. They are wearing crowns

There is only one group that is prophesied in the Bible to have all four descriptions. They are Church age believers, those who have accepted Christ after Jesus came and died on the cross.

1. They are elders
Rev.4:4 “…on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting…”

This term is not chosen lightly – it is a term that is used often in the Bible and always refers to a group of older individuals that represent a larger group of people.

In the OT, it is used of the elders of Israel, the elders of a specific tribe in Israel, the elders of a city, and the like. It’s primary use in the OT, is “the elders of the nation of Israel.” They were older men who were leaders of the various tribes of Israel.

In the NT the primary use of the term is elder of a local church of Church age believers.

Acts 14:23
Acts 15:22

Also, Peter the apostle (1 Pet.5:1) and John the apostle (2 Jn.1 and 3 Jn.1) call themselves by the term “elder”. They are using it in the primary way of “local church elder.”

This means that these elders are human beings representing a larger group of human beings.

2. They are on thrones surrounding the Father’s thrones.
Rev.4:4 “Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting…”

A throne means that they are reigning or prepared to reign with God.

Church age believers are promised that they will reign with Christ.

2 Tim.2:12
“If we endure, we shall also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us.”

Rev.3:21
“To him that overcomes I will grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and have sat down with my Father in his throne.”

Rev.20:4
“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and who had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”

In Rev.20:4 above, there are thrones with people on them ready to rule. These cannot be the tribulation believers since they are mentioned next. They must be either church age believers and/or OT believers.

The apostles also are promised that they will reign with Christ.

In Mat.19:28, Jesus says to his twelve disciples,
“…Truly I say to you, those who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Although this is probably at the second coming when Israel is judged and during the millennium when all people in physical bodies will be judged.

3. They are dressed in white robes
Rev.4:4 “…clothed in white robes…”

White robes represent purity and righteousness inn the Scriptures.

This is promised to church age believers in Rev. 3.

Church age believers
Rev.3:5
“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”

Rev.19:7-10
“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white. The fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. And he said to me, ‘Write, Blessed are they who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’”

4. They are wearing crowns
Rev.4:4 “…and they had crowns of gold on their heads.”

There are two Greek words for “crown.”

They are “diadema,” the monarch’s crown and ‘stephanos,” the victor’s crown (which was actually a wreath he wore after winning an event).

This word “stephanos,” the victor’s wreath, is used of the crown believers will receive when they come into the presence of Christ. It is a victor’s crown symbolizing the victory we have achieved by holding firm to Christ until the end by our faith.

1 Cor.9:24-25
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may win. And every man that competes in the games exercises self-control. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible one.”

2 Tim.4:7-8
“I have fought the good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me on that day; and not to me only, but to all those also that have loved his appearing.

To me the crowns were carefully selected to demonstrate that these individuals represent the church of Jesus Christ.

Summary:

The 24 elders have these four descriptions:

1. They are elders
2. They are on thrones surrounding the Father’s thrones
3. They are dressed in white robes
4. They are wearing crowns

There is only one group that is prophesied in the Bible to have all four descriptions. They are Church age believers, those who have accepted Christ after Jesus came and died on the cross.

Why the number “24”?

It could be the church made up of Jews and Gentiles in one body,

12 for Jewish believers
12 for Gentile believers.

In this view, they could be the twelve apostles who represent Jewish Christians and twelve representative elders of the church of Jesus Christ who represent Gentile believers.

The apostles formed the foundation of the church and thus are deeply associated with it. See Eph.2:20-21.