A Question I Was Asked:

Who Are The 24 Elders of Revelation Four?

Who are the 24 Elders of Revelation four? Can you help me in this?

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, firstly we need to check the relevant verses:

1. After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." 2. At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. 4. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. (Revelation 4:1-4).

Okay, this is plainly a vision of Heaven itself (verse 1). God Himself is seated on His throne (verses 2-3), but surrounding that throne were those who are called '24 elders,' these too are seated upon thrones. They are adorned in white, and wearing crowns. White raiment always represents those who are declared righteous by God. See Revelation 3:5, 18; Revelation 11:15-16; Revelation 19:8. The crowns are given by God to true believers. Notice 1 Corinthians 9:25-27; Revelation 2:10; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:2-4; 2 Timothy 4:8; and 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20. This description of the 24 elders tells us that they were believers that had trusted Christ as their Saviour whilst on this earth, but are now in Heaven.

These then are Christians, possibly martyrs, who currently sit in Heaven very close to God. But these were exceptionally devout and righteous examples of our Faith in order to have been granted such close access to God. Very likely these 24 Elders have been granted a role to judge certain situations upon earth right now! Revelation 5:8-10 tells us a bit more:

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. (Rev 5: 8-10).

So these Elders are plainly representative of all the saved of the earth; they are continually praising God in Heaven. They are in Heaven now, but following Christ's Second Coming, probably both in Heaven and on Earth too since the Eternal State has earthly and heavenly dimensions (New Heavens and a New Earth). They are clearly distinguished from angels in this verse:

"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;" (Rev 5:11).

So the Elders are distinguished from the angels by their number - only 24 - whereas the angels are in the many millions, the verse says, "ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands." So the 24 Elders are not angels, but are former believers, maybe including some, or even all, who went through martyrdom for their Faith.

Millennium Support in Revelation 5:10?

Before we continue on to our conclusion, let us quickly look at a side-issue and at a point which some will raise. A few, seeking support for an earthly millennium, will note Revelation 5:10 which states,

You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.

But that verse presents no problem and does not provide "overpowering evidence for an earthly millennium" at all (as one writer stated). Christians in all levels of authority are indeed reigning on earth in preaching and upholding the Gospel right now, so this "reigning" does not require the concept of a millennium. We must remember what Peter the Apostle wrote of our present - not distant future - earthly authority:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9, my emphasis).

Christians labouring on earth with the Gospel throughout this Christian age are seen by God as having royal authority. Why? Because we serve as ambassadors for the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ. So in being privileged to preach the Gospel on earth right now, we are indeed "reigning on earth" in being part of a "royal priesthood" (as Peter describes it). Yes, God looks upon true believers upon earth at the present time as having royal authority, and that applies just as much to you if you are an elderly widow who might feel that you accomplish very little, as to any major preacher. So no need of invoking a millennium here. But does not "they will reign on the earth" sound futuristic? After all, it's future tense; Yes, because as John wrote, the greater part of the Christian age was in front of him.


The 24 Elders are at work in Heaven right now, they represent the Church in offering continual praises to God. Almost certainly, God has also granted them authority to judge and evaluate certain situations which occur upon earth. Now, of course, we cannot presently possibly identify who these people are - God knows and He is the only One who needs to know. Of course, at Christ's return to earth, the '24 Elders' will go forward to the resurrection of the dead, as with all true believers. In that future time, we will probably all learn who they were in their former earthly lives.

Robin A. Brace. August 21st, 2016.