Revelation Chapter 4
VERSE 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.”
AROUND THE THRONE WERE TWENTY-FOUR THRONES:
Here, in this picture representing the beginning of the Gospel Age, we see that God’s throne (His established authority of Judgment) is surrounded by satellite thrones —extensions of His judgment authority.
These represent the Hebrew Scriptures —the only written authoritative judgment tool available to men before the completion of the Greek Scriptures. That the Church has its footing on these satellite thrones seems clearly pictured in Rev 12:1.
AND ON THE THRONES I SAW TWENTY-FOUR ELDERS SITTING:
These 24 represent the testimony of the “24 Prophecies” —the common name of the Jewish Bible. These elders become commentators from Chapter 5 forward. This is probably to draw our attention to the O.T. prophecies which the Gospel Age fulfills and upon which much of Revelation is based. (If they represented the Church’s office, it would seem likely that the symbol would have been introduced in the 7 Churches.)
(For more details on the 24 elders as well as a look at some of the other various views held by brethren see our study on the twenty four elders under How to study Revelation.)
CLOTHED IN WHITE ROBES:
The prophecies are NOT the work of men (see 2 Pet. 1:19-21), but rather the words of God dictated through the Holy Spirit and recorded by the hands of men. This white garment phrase is the assurance of their purity (Truthfulness).
AND THEY HAD CROWNS OF GOLD ON THEIR HEADS:
Crowns represent authority
Gold represents that which is divine
The head represents the ideas, philosophies, thinking, methods, etc., etc.
Thus the golden crowns (the authority placed on or in) the heads (the testimonies) of the 24 elders (the prophecies of the O.T.) represent that Gods word is divinely appointed, the ultimate authority.
NOTE: It is important to note the various references to the throne in this chapter. The THRONE itself appears in Verse 2; One Who is ON the Throne also occurs there. In Verse 4 we see things AROUND the throne. Verse 5 tells of things FROM the throne and then (along with Verse 6) BEFORE the throne. Then Verse 6 has the complicated combination, IN THE MIDDLE AND AROUND the throne. The various prepositions carry various lessons:
-THRONE= authority of judgment
-ON the throne: The only one rightly possessing the authority
-AROUND the throne: Delegated extensions of that authority
-FROM the throne: Emanating powers of judgment
-BEFORE the throne: Servants of the One Authority
-IN THE MIDDLE & AROUND the throne: Totally engulfing —GOD’S attributes are what surround Him, identify Him, sanctify Him, explain Him, and endear Him to us.”
(New Albany Notes on Revelation)
“The Revelator observes that encircling THE GREAT THRONE was twenty four subsidiary thrones. The expression “twenty-four seats” used in the King James Version is an inferior translation of the original Greek text, and should more properly be rendered “twenty-four thrones.” This latter term is especially appropriate because (a) these chairs were in close proximity to the central seat of divine government, and (b) each occupant of the twenty-four seats was robed in kingly attire.
The intriguing posture of these enthroned “elders” about the throne excites interest—who are they? Some Bible expositors believe the twenty-four elders represent the action and mood of the redeemed or true Church class of the Gospel Age. Part of the reasoning behind this deduction is as follows.
In preparation for the Temple services of Solomon, David established twenty-four courses or time periods throughout the ecclesiastical year, in which portions of the priesthood would take turns at full-time employment in Temple work. This plan ingeniously afforded an opportunity for all the priestly family, which had grown to considerable numbers since the initial establishment of the priesthood five centuries earlier, to actively participate in the Temple ceremonies. It also helped to minimize jealousy, partiality, and contention within the priestly family itself.
Since the twenty-four thrones do call to mind this former priestly arrangement of the courses, it is natural to infer that the twenty-four elders of Revelation are somehow associated with the priesthood and that, therefore, they actually represent the Church or priesthood of the Gospel Age. However, this conclusion is inaccurate (As we have attempted to show in our study of the five most prevalent views on the 24 elders).
It is important to reiterate that Revelation is a book of symbols, replete with imaginative language; sometimes the descriptions employed are seemingly of personalities or beings, whereas the internal theme of the vision indicates otherwise. Thus, correctly reasoned, the twenty-four elders personify the canon of Scripture.
More specifically, the number “twenty-four” indicates the twenty-four books of the Hebrew Testament.
The term “elders” is associated NOT with the PROPHETS (themselves), but with the PROPHECIES or books of the Old Testament; the “white raiment” alludes to the HOLY Scriptures; the “golden crowns” point to the divine authority of the Word of God; and the “thrones” provide assurance of infallibility or surety of fulfillment.
However, so that a misunderstanding will not develop, IT IS IMPORTANT to state that a deliberate association is intended between the twenty-four elders of Revelation and the twenty-four courses of David. The lesson is that the Word of God itself performs a priestly function in connection with the Temple, that is, on behalf of the true Church or Temple class.” (The Keys of Revelation)
In our next post we will take a look at Verse 5.
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