Words and Phrases
The Twenty Four Elders continued.
4) Another possibility that many Bible students favor is that the twenty four elders represent 24 Old Testament prophets. This seems like a likely solution at first glance, even though there are more than 24 prophets in the Old Testament (I believe there are 29). Some solve that problem by stating that there are only 24 prophets that have spoken about restitution, and this again is a possibility, although there are some difficulties and differences of opinion in choosing who they should be. One other problem with this interpretation is that when the books are opened later to do the judging (Rev 20:12), it would not include ALL of God’s word, but only those prophets who spoke of restitution.
The 24 literal prophets also have the problem that they should not be in heaven in the first place being they lived and died prior to Pentecost and therefore were never spirit begotten. These were never made any heavenly promises their rewards were all earthly promises, earthly rewards. Instead the scriptures state that they will take their share with the rest of the ancient worthy class who as, “princes in all the earth”, will constitute the Lord’s visible representatives in the earthly phase of the Kingdom.
The main reason why many “Bible Students” favor this view is due to the mistaken belief that the Pastor endorsed this position. This particular view was published in an early article written by Brother Mann in (Z. Sept '83-5; R528). Pastor Russell in fact never expressed himself as favoring any particular interpretation on the 24 elders.
“The fact that the Pastor published this brothers view of the twenty-four Elders is by no means a proof that he endorsed it, for as a matter of fact at that time he was accepting contributions in the way of articles from a number of brethren in whose general teachings he had confidence; but he stated at the time that he would not be responsible for all their presentations. In his later years the Pastor ceased accepting articles from other brethren (most likely due to his age and time restraints. There was no way he would have had the time to proof read every contribution to see that it was in accord with the Divine Plan).” Herald of Christ’s Kingdom April 1920
5) the most likely interpretation of the 24 elders is however related to the preceding suggestion.
We found that the Hebrew Scriptures, as compiled by the Jews in the time of Christ, had 24 different divisions to them! They were able to do this by counting all the books as one apiece, with the exception of all the small books after Daniel, which are counted as only one book. This is shown in Lesser's translation of the Old Testament, as well as an appendix in the back of the Companion Bible where it lists the books of the Old Testament, as originally given by the Jews.
The difference between this view and the previous one is that the 24 elders are NOT the LITERAL prophets themselves, but rather SYMBOLIZE them in and through their testimonies; therefore the problem with them residing in heaven is resolved. Likewise this view of the 24 elders would then represent ALL of God’s Old Testament word, and not just what the 24 who spoke on the restitution had to say!
This works out very well in the symbol, in that the 24 seats can then represent authority, and what else has more authority than God’s word.” (Revelation Notes: Southern Wisconsin)
In our next post we will examine all the relevant text and attempt to present scriptural evidence in support for both the 3rd and 5th views as these two are the most logical viewpoints presented beginning first with the 3rd and concluding with the 5th.
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