Revelation Chapter 4: 4
Revelation 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.
In this passage John begins to describe what he saw surrounding the throne of God in Heaven. First, he sees twenty-four elders sitting on thrones, which encompass the throne Jesus sits on. Later in Revelation 4:6, John reports that four living creatures were in the “midst of the throne, and around the throne.” In other words, the area or platform on which the thrones sit, are all considered part of the throne of God.
God revealed to Daniel, that “thrones” would be put in place near His throne. This heavenly court is present when the Lord judges the antichrist, or “the beast”:
Daniel 7:9-11 – I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened. I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame.
Daniel 7:21-26 – I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom. “Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, trample it and break it in pieces. The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; he shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings. He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.’ But the court shall be seated, And they shall take away his dominion, To consume and destroy it forever.”
John also saw the thrones of the heavenly court. While John leaves out the beast’s judgment before the court, he does indicate the verdict is eternity in the “lake of fire”:
Revelation 19:19-20 – And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.
John also notes that those seated on “thrones” will judge the Tribulation saints:
Revelation 20:4 – And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
While thrones are not mentioned, Isaiah’s account of judgment against rebellious beings, from both the heavenly and earthly realms, will be in audience “before His elders”:
Isaiah 24:21-23 – It shall come to pass in that day that the LORD will punish on high the host of exalted ones, and on the earth the kings of the earth. They will be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and will be shut up in the prison; after many days they will be punished. Then the moon will be disgraced and the sun ashamed; for the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before His elders, gloriously.
The occupants of these “thrones” in the passages above are clearly the twenty-four elders, who are given judicial authority from the throne of God. Elders are spiritual leaders and teachers for both Israel and the Church. They also are representatives for the group at large:
Numbers 11:16-17 – So the LORD said to Moses: “Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you. Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone.”
1 Peter 5:1-4 – The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
The number “twenty-four” takes us back to the time of David, when he was making preparations for the temple on his death-bed. Of all the Levites, David chose twenty-four thousand, a multiple of twenty-four, to work in the temple:
1 Chronicles 23:1-4 – So when David was old and full of days, he made his son Solomon king over Israel. And he gathered together all the leaders of Israel, with the priests and the Levites. Now the Levites were numbered from the age of thirty years and above; and the number of individual males was thirty-eight thousand. Of these, twenty-four thousand were to look after the work of the house of the LORD….
The Levitical priesthood consisted of twenty-four divisions (1 Chronicles 24:1-19). David also divided up the Levitical musicians into twenty-four groups (1 Chronicles 25:1, 8-31). Interestingly, the twenty-four elders in Revelation are musically inclined, having harps and singing unto the Lord:
Revelation 5:8-10 – 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.”
Though not specified as white, the Levitical priests wore garments made of fine linen (Exodus 28:39-43), complete with a crown:
Leviticus 8:9 – And he [Moses] put the turban on his [Aaron’s] head. Also on the turban, on its front, he put the golden plate, the holy crown, as the LORD had commanded Moses.
However, like the twenty-four elders, the Levite musicians wore white:
2 Chronicles 5:12 – …and the Levites who were the singers, all those of Asaph and Heman and Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, stood at the east end of the altar, clothed in white linen, having cymbals, stringed instruments and harps, and with them one hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets.
From these scriptural evidences, we can see that David was prophetically given the pattern of the heavenly court, in delegating temple duties of the Levitical priesthood. Note the parallels:
|Total of twenty-four
|Services delegated into twenty-four groups
(1 Chronicles 23:1-4 ; 24:1-19; 25:1, 8-31)
|Have harps and sing
|Select group of Levites prophesied through music (1 Chronicles 25:1, 8-31)|
|Wear crowns (Revelation 4:4)||Wore crown (Leviticus 8:9)|
|Clothed in white (Revelation 4:4)||Musical Levites clothed in white linen
(2 Chronicles 5:12)
Some have surmised from the comparisons above, that the elders represent Israel. However, as shown in Revelation 4:8, Israel is better represented by the four living creatures. All things considered, note the following characteristics of the elders, which match that of the Church:
|Sit on thrones (Revelation 4:4)||Sit with Christ on His throne
|Kings and Priests (Revelation 5:10)||Kings and Priests (Revelation 1:6)|
|Will reign on the earth with Christ
|Will reign with Christ (2 Timothy 2:11-12)|
|Clothed in white robes (Revelation 4:4)||Clothed in white (Revelation 3:5)|
|Wearing crowns (Revelation 4:4)||Rewarded Crowns (See “Bema”)|
|Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 5:9)||Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
(1 Peter 1:18-19)
|Judgment committed to occupants
of the thrones (Revelation 20:4)
|Will judge the world and angels
(1 Corinthians 6:2-3) and the Apostles will judge Israel (Matthew 19:28)
Take note, that several of the characteristics of the elders also describe other believers from different dispensations. For example, the Tribulation saints will also reign with Christ in His Kingdom on Earth (Revelation 20:4), are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:11), and will wear white (Revelation 7:14). However, Scripture shows that only believers in the body of Christ, the Church, will be given judicial authority from the Lord (Matthew 19:28, 1 Corinthians 6:2-3). The Church is also the only body of believers promised crowns for their works.
The crowns are made of gold. Recall from Revelation 1:13, gold can represent holiness and purity, as it retains all of its qualities when tested in fire (Job 23:10). The tabernacle was holy, which is why many of the items in it were gold (Exodus 28:36, Exodus 39:30, Hebrew 9:3-4). Gold can also be associated with kingship, as illustrated throughout the Old Testament, with the great amounts of gold bestowed to many of Israel’s kings. As discussed in Revelation 1:6, Paul calls the Church body a pure or “chaste virgin” betrothed to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2), and later the “Bride” and “Wife” of Christ (Revelation 19:7, 21:9). As the spouse of the “King of kings” (Revelation 19:16), the Church saints are royal heirs to the Kingdom, so it makes sense for the elders who represent the church to wear gold crowns that symbolize puirity and kingship.
The Greek word translated as “crown” is “stephanos,” which was the type of crown given as a reward to the victors in athletic events, such as the Olympics. Recall from our study on the seven churches in Revelation 2-3, that Christ has claimed victory by overcoming the world. Believers overcome the world through His victory:
1 John 5:4-5 – For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Speaking of athletic events, Paul even uses the example of running in a race to obtain a crown:
1 Corinthians 9:24-26 – Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.
After the rapture, the Church will stand before Jesus at the “Bema,” or “judgment seat.” The Church will receive “victors” crowns as rewards for works at the “Judgment Seat of Christ”:
1 Corinthians 4:5 – Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.
2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
At the “Bema,” Christ will put believer’s works through a refining fire:
1 Peter 1:6-9 – In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 – According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
The passage above shows that Christ has laid the foundation for our crowns. Our good works that survive the fire will be our rewards. These will adorn our crowns with “gold, silver” and “precious stones.” The following verses describe the specific works that are rewarded with crowns:
The Crown of Life – Reward for faithfulness, even unto death:
James 1:12 – Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
Revelation 2:10 – Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
The Incorruptible Crown – Reward for living set apart for the Lord and from the world:
1 Corinthians 9:24-25 – Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for animperishable crown.
The Crown of Rejoicing – Reward for sharing the Gospel that leads to others accepting Christ:
1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 – But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire. Therefore we wanted to come to you – even I, Paul, time and again – but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.
Philippians 4:1 – Therefore, my beloved and longed – for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.
The Crown of Glory – Reward for leading and ministering to other believers:
1 Peter 5:2-4 – Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
The Crown of Righteousness – Reward for those who have devotion to watching,
as they fervently await the return of Jesus:
2 Timothy 4:8 – Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Coming back to the elders, the evidence shown above supports the twenty-four elders representing the Church. The number twenty-four breaks down as follows:
6 x 4 = Number of man x Number of creation
12 x 2 = Governmental perfection x Division
3 x 8 = Complete or divine x New beginning or renewal
Combining the biblical meaning of these numbers, with the pattern delegated to the Levitical priesthood by David, describes the following group of believers:
- They represent the complete royal priesthood of believers (1 Peter 2:5).
- They are humans redeemed by the Son of Man (Matthew 18:11, 20:28).
- They will govern with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom (Revelation 5:10).
- They will govern over all created beings (1 Corinthians 6:2-3).
These are all descriptions of the Church. God showed the earthly pattern to Moses, which was later delegated by David to the Levitical priesthood, in preparation for the earthly temple:
Hebrews 8:4-5 – …there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.
The “four and twenty seats” were actually thrones. Miniature thrones in authority, subordinate to God, but nevertheless they surround the throne of God.
“Four and twenty elders”: Their joint rule with Christ, their white garments, and their golden crowns all seem to indicate that these 24 represent the redeemed (verses 9:11; 5:5-14; 7:11-17; 11:16-18; 14:3; 19:4). The question is which redeemed? Not Israel, since the nation is not yet saved, glorified, and coronated. That is still to come at this point in the events of the end. Their resurrection and glory will come at the end of the 7 year tribulation time (compare Dan. 12:1-3). Tribulation saints aren’t yet saved (7:9-10). Only one group will be complete and glorified at that point, the church. Here elders represent the church, which sings the song of redemption (5:8-10). They are the overcomers who have their crowns and live in the place prepared for them, where they have gone with Jesus (compare John 14:1-4).
The twenty-four elders who represent the redeemed in heaven acknowledge that humans were created by God for His good pleasure. Their response of praise recognizes the sovereignty of God over our lives.
One of the most controversial questions raised by this vision of the throne of God is the identity of the 24 elders.
In (Rev. 5:9), the Scriptures tells us the four and twenty elders sung a new song.
Rev. 5:9 “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed “us” to God by the blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation”.
Notice “and hast redeemed us”, thus revealing their human nature. These 24 elders are redeemed men. Once their human nature was confirmed, it became obvious that the Rapture was pictured by (Rev. 4:1), as occurring before the Tribulation. Rapture for this scene, which is of the throne of God in heaven just before the 7 year Tribulation as defined (in chapters 6-19), pictures twenty four men or “elders” in the presence of God.
There are many significances tied to the number 12, but suffice it to say that God prescribed this number to have meaning and purpose of which were governmental authority, a completeness or perfection, and the authority given to mankind by God.
Twelve is a spiritual number which has to do with representation. The number twenty-four, I believe, could be two twelves’.
(1) One twelve for the Old Testament;
(2) One twelve for the New Testament.
The twelve prophets represent the believers of the Old Testament. The twelve disciples represent all believers from the New Testament.
There are many other schools of thought on the twenty four.
John, “the faithful witness” observes these events immediately after the church age has been concluded and just prior to the beginning of the Tribulation. These men, whether 12 who represent Israel and 12 who represent the church, or 24 outstanding Christian leaders in all church history, makes no difference, they all are redeemed men! They are redeemed saints who are in heaven just before the revelation of the Tribulation that follows. Like John, they are part of the pre-tribulation rapture in their glorified bodies worshiping all three members of the Trinity. This scene in heaven does not occur in the middle of the Tribulation or at its end, but before it begins.
These Old Testament believers were looking forward to Messiah and were preached to, when Jesus preached in hell and brought captivity captive out with Him.
Notice all twenty-four were dressed in white robes. White robes are worn by believers in Jesus, who have washed their robes in the blood of Jesus and are made white as snow. All through the Old Testament people like David were looking for the Savior. They believed, even though they were looking forward instead of backward to Him.
There are over thirty-seven Old Testament scriptures which mention the coming of Jesus Christ. These were fulfilled, every one. It is not absurd to speak of Old Testament believers.
These crowns that they had on their heads were gold. This showed that they had nothing to do with these crowns being put on their heads. Gold means the purity of God. God placed these crowns on their head. The grace of God placed these crowns on their head. They did nothing to earn them. It was a free gift from God for believing. Crowns show rulership, and we believers are promised that we will reign with Jesus.
image courtesy: Revelation 4-4 church of christ
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We are now living in the absolute End Times as per biblical prophecy.
Our Lord Jesus Christ – King of Kings. 2nd Coming and return is IMMENENT!.
Please do not waist another a minute.
No matter what religion you serve, there is only one God.
If, you want to be assured that you will not have to endure the perilous times that will befall you.
Irrespective, of what sins you may have committed at any time of your life. If you humble yourself and ask for God’s forgiveness. He will forgive you and wash them all away and welcome you as his beloved son or daughter with open arms.
If you are not a child of Father God or have not asked Jesus Christ to come into your life yet?
I implore you to do this without delay.
Read this prayer of Salvation and ask God to forgive you now and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour and you will be assured of eternal life.