Who are the 24 Elders of the Book of Revelation?

Q&A from Podcast Episode No. 1: The Origin of the Great Conflict between Good and Evil

Question: Who are the 24 elders who are in heaven?

Answer:

Traditionally, it’s been taught that the 24 elders are the saints who resurrected at the time of Jesus’s death. There are two scriptural foundations for this view. First, in Revelation 5:8-10 we read about a scene that’s unfolding in the throne room after the apostle John has wept because no one is found worthy to open the scroll:

Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll,? and to open its seals;?For You were slain,?And have redeemed us to God by Your blood?Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God;?And we shall reign on the earth.” (New King James Version)
So this passage has been understood to mean that these Elders are redeemed by Jesus’ blood. The scripture that describes the resurrection of the saints at the time of Jesus’ resurrection is Matthew 27:51 which says:

“Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.”

Now, there is another view that I believe is more accurate. Let’s talk about a major discrepancy between Revelation 5:8-10 and the view that the 24 Elders are human. The issue with this scripture is that the four living creatures together with the 24 Elders say that Jesus has redeemed them and that they shall reign on the earth. This can’t be true, because we established earlier that the four living creatures are seraphim, and they were not redeemed by Jesus and will not reign on earth. That doesn’t leave us any wiggle room at all if we stay in the context of this particular bible translation – King James and New King James. If we look up this scripture in other bible versions, the translation is more accurate and matches the facts. This is how Revelation 5:8-10 reads in the New International Version, for example:

And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,?because you were slain,?and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

Do you see how different this version is? It’s telling a completely different story, a more accurate one. The redeemed are God’s people on earth, not the seraphim nor the 24 Elders, and it’s those redeemed who will reign on earth, again not the seraphim nor the 24 Elders.

The 24 Elders are the representatives of the sinless worlds. This presupposes that God has created other forms of intelligent life on other planets of this vast universe, and that they were able to resist Satan and remain faithful to God. Some of the scriptural evidence for this is in the Book of Job, where on a few occasions the “Sons of God” came to present themselves before the Lord. Let’s read in Job 1:6-7, and there’s another very similar passage in Job 2:1-3:

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”

This passage indicates a couple of things. First of all, do you notice how Satan totally behaves like he belongs in that group (“and Satan also came among them)? Secondly, Satan comes among the Sons of God as representing planet Earth, the tacit assumption being that the other Sons of God were representing other planets. In order to really demonstrate this we’d need to examine a number of different scriptures, where the Bible refers to the “Sons of God”. Sometimes the expression “Sons of God” simply refers to believers, other times it clearly refers to angels. This is why Satan feels at home among them because he’s in the company of other angelic beings like him, and these other angels all come before the throne of God representing the un-fallen worlds, worlds without sin.

There’s a lot more to be said about this topic but we’ll just wrap up here for now.

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4 Comments

  1. Candie Amber Daneliuk

    Why then out of the supposedly 25 inhabited Planets Did God the father choose ours the sinful planet to rule and reign from? Christ gave up His Heavenly authority and power to become a man for our sins. If God had 24 obedient planets of intelligent life, Why would He want to make us His Heirs and forever family??

    • Candie, I love your question, thank you for asking it. Please stay tuned for our next podcast where you’ll get the full answer. A couple of short answers: 1) the Good Shepherd went out of His way to rescue the one that was lost – this applies not only to individuals but to worlds. 2) Our planet is the locus (or scene) where the Great Cosmic Battle between good and evil is being played out. God will demonstrate to the entire universe that He is a just and holy God because He suffered long with evil-doers (6000 years to be exact) and established a fair-trial process to judge and condemn those who failed to repent. The crowning act of God’s glory (btw, God’s glory is His character – ref. Exodus 34) is to re-create heaven and earth after its total destruction at the Second Coming of Christ and to establish His universal headquarters here. It’s then that the saints inhabit the Kingdom. Do listen to our next podcast for the full story. God bless you.

  2. I can believe that there are other worlds that God has created, but there is no merit in the Bible for these other worlds being sinless. The Bible never mentions the creation of any worlds other than Heaven and Earth (and perhaps the “other waters” above the firmament.) Adam’s sin affected all of creation, including any hypothetical worlds. Please explain.

    • Hi Collin, thank you so much for your excellent question. It is true that the Bible never explicitly mentions the creation of other worlds so I won’t be able to give you direct biblical evidence of that, only indirect. The Sons of God are mentioned in a couple of places in the Bible: Genesis 6 and Job 1 and 2. In Genesis 6 it’s referring to the “holy line” of men from Abel through Seth and downward from which the Messiah would come (always in battle against the evil line that descended from Cain). In Job 1 and 2 the expression “Sons of God” is referring to other created beings, who are not from the human family, who were present at earth’s creation and shouted with joy. They were clearly not of the human family because the human family was only created on the 6th. day of creation week. They are probably angelic beings. They make up God’s heavenly council, the 24 Elders, as discussed in this article. The problem of sin in the universe is localized on planet earth and affected only our corner of the universe. It’s not a universal problem. The Godhead put in place a long-term plan (7000-year plan) for the eradication of sin from the universe, which breaks down into roughly 6000 years from creation until the second coming of Christ plus the millennium, at the end of which takes place the judgment of the wicked. (Please check out other podcasts such as “The Great Shaking”, “Pattern of Heavenly Things”, and “Trump: What’s in a Name?” where some of this is explained). This is why the Apostle Paul says that “we’re a spectacle unto the universe”. All created beings of the sinless world – especially the angelic host – can see through the veil, only we cannot: that was one of the punishments for sin.

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