Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Who are the Twenty-Four Elders in Revelation?

God’s throne is surrounded by twenty-four other thrones, on which are seated 24 elders (Revelation 4:4).

We assume that these elders are human as we are given no indication that they are not. Who they are, however, is unknown. Perhaps a good guess would be that 12 of these elders are the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel (possibly even Judah, Levi, and the rest of Jacob’s sons themselves) and that the other 12 are the 12 apostles (with Paul or Matthias taking Judas’ place in that number.)

Matthias was chosen to replace Judas in Acts 1:15-26, but Paul is also named an Apostle (Romans 1:1. for example) and is certainly the better known of the two. There has been much debate on whether the selection of Matthias was ever valid or not as it was done by casting lots rather than a clear indication from God and was done prior to Pentecost and the giving of the Holy Spirit, thus calling into question the wisdom of the Apostles’ decision in selecting anyone before the guidance of the Holy Spirit was involved. In summary, the selection of Matthias may have been done with good intent, but God may have had Paul in mind instead.

Secondly, Scripture tells us that Jesus sat down with God on His throne once He ascended back up to Heaven after His resurrection. Prior to that, He told His disciples that God would choose who would sit on the thrones next to His. Note that Jesus did not deny the disciples the seats, but only said that it was not in His power to grant them (Matthew 20:23).

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