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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's ReadingIn Revelation 4, we read about the twenty-four elders that are around the Throne of Yahweh. Have you ever wondered who they are?
Revelation 4:4 "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."
Many have speculated as to who these twenty-four elders are. But I believe they leaders from each of the 12 tribes of Israel (the twelve sons of Jacob) plus each of the 12 apostles. Let's take a look at the Scriptural evidence.
Identifying the Twenty Four EldersThere are three strong clues as to their identity:
- When the elders are first introduced in Revelation 4:4, it says they were “clothed in white garments”. The term “white garment” or “white robe” appears seven other times in Revelation, and in every instance it refers to redeemed and glorified people - who are made righteous in Messiah. Furthermore, they are wearing “golden crowns on their heads“, and crowns are promised to people who have been redeemed (2 Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, Revelation 2:10). So it’s reasonable to think that these elders are redeemed and glorified people also.
- In Matthew 19:27-28, Peter asked Yahshua, “See, we have left everything and followed You. What then will we have?”. Here, when Peter said “we”, he was referring to himself and the other disciples. Yahshua gave Peter this answer:
“Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
So we see that the twelve apostles were to be given thrones, and would sit as judges over Israel. This sounds like the twelve apostles account for half of the twenty-four elders. Also, the timing when these twenty-four elders would sit on thrones (Revelation 20:11-12) corresponds to the time “when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious Throne", Matthew 19:28.
- But if the twelve apostles are the first half of the twenty-four elders, who are the remaining 12 elders? Revelation 21:12-14, describes the New Jerusalem. In the description, we see twenty-four people identified, or to be more precise — two groups of twelve:
It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
The twelve apostles are mentioned here in addition to the twelve sons of Israel. If indeed the twelve Apostles are half of the twenty-four elders, the fact that they are mentioned here with the twelve sons of Israel suggests that the sons of Israel are the other half.So I believe that we have good reason to think that the twenty-four elders are formed by combining two groups:
- The twelve sons of Israel
- The twelve apostles of Christ.