24 Elders in Revelation are not redeemed human beings. Here’s why…
The 24 elders in the book of Revelation are not redeemed human beings. They are angels of high order representing the unfallen worlds of God’s vast creation. This is in contrast to the traditional view within Christianity which says that the 24 elders are the redeemed people, representatives of the Church on earth, and not angels.
The knowledge of the true identity of the 24 elders will give us a better understanding of what’s happening in the throne room of God in relation to the vast scope of God’s kingdom, dominion, authority, and creation. This view is in harmony with the many accounts in the Bible. We will also answer objections that can possibly raise with regards to this interpretation.
In this article, we will focus on why the 24 Elders as presented in Revelation 4 are not the redeemed human beings (except for Adam).
Problem in the mistranslation of King James Version in Revelation 5
The 24 Elders first appeared in Revelation 4 as one of the groups surrounding God’s throne. As the Apostle John was invited to see God’s throne in a vision, he saw the following groups or individuals:
- God the Father seated on His throne
- Four living creatures (seraphims – Isaiah 6:1-3 )
- 24 elders each seated on a throne
- Seven Spirits of God (fullness of the Holy Spirit)
Revelation chapter 4 is where the throne room is being prepared to welcome Jesus as the war Hero for accomplishing His mission as the slain Lamb of God in the cross in accordance with the plan of salvation. Chapter 5 is where Jesus and the angelic hosts arrived in that throne room. When Jesus took the sealed scroll as the only Person worthy to open it, the four living creatures together with the twenty-four elders sung this song:
“Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”Revelation 5:8-10 KJV
The phrases “redeemed us”, “hast made us kings and priests”, and “we shall reign on the earth” in the King James Version is the reason why many interpreted the 24 elders as human beings.
But we can see a problem right away in this translation. The problem is seen in relation with the other group that sung that same song: the four living creatures or the seraphims. Prophet Isaiah had an encounter with the seraphims in Isaiah chapter 6. The seraphims are a different category of angels. They have six wings compared to other angels.
Were the seraphim redeemed as well? No. Nowhere in the Bible says that some of the fallen angels deceived by Lucifer asked for forgiveness. Also, the Bible never speaks of angels being priests and kings ruling over the earth. So, there is obviously a problem in the KJV translation of Revelation 5:8-10. And so the translation “redeemed us” is incorrect.
Problem in KJV is corrected in other translations
English Standard Version:
“for you were slain, and by your
New International Version:
“because you were slain, and with your
Contemporary English Version:
“because you were killed. And with your own
Notice that instead of the “redeemed us”, “hath made us kings and priests”, and “we shall reign on the earth”, the other translations correctly used the phrases “you ransomed people for God”, “you have made them a kingdom and priests”, and “they shall reign on the earth”.
The difference now is that those who were singing were not part of the redeemed but rather, they praised Jesus because He rescued the people from every tribe, language, and nation. They, too, were happy that Jesus has provided the atoning sacrifice for the fallen creation–the humanity. The other heavenly beings were so much happy that fallen humanity has now the way to escape the trap of sin.
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24 Elders in Revelation are representatives of the unfallen worlds
Who are the 24 elders in Revelation? Why they can't be the redeemed people? Are there other created beings that did not fall into sin?
24 Elders: Who represents the planet Earth in the heavenly council?
We learned from previous lessons that the 24 elders as mentioned in Revelation 4 cannot be the redeemed human beings. Instead, they are representatives of the unfallen worlds in the heavenly council of God's vast creation. A good question to follow is: who represents the planet Earth?
24 Elders: Final Celebration with the Lost-and-Found Sheep
Christ laid aside the glory in order to save the one lost world. For this He left the sinless worlds on high, the ninety and nine, and came to redeem this earth.
Different ways on how God is revealing Himself to humanity
Nature tells us that God exists. The Bible reveals the character, activities, and God's plan for humanity. By dwelling among men, Jesus demonstrated God's character in a way that men can experience.
The 24 Elders are distinctively identified apart from the redeemed 144,000
“And a new song was being sung in front of God’s throne and in front of the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn that song, except the one hundred forty-four thousand who had been rescued from the earth.”Revelation 14:3
The 24 elders cannot be part of the redeemed 144,000 as both were identified distinctively and that the 24 elders were already in heaven before anyone from the 144,000 was seen in heaven.
The 24 Elders are distinctively apart from the redeemed great multitude
Revelation 7:9 mentions the redeemed great multitude standing before the throne and the Lamb wearing white robes and with palm branches in their hands. Then one of the 24 elders asked Apostle John:
“Do you know who these people are that are dressed in white robes? Do you know where they come from?”
This questioning tells us that the 24 elders, or at least one of them, are not part of the redeemed great multitude.
The 24 Elders were already in heaven before the special resurrection happens
Daniel 12:2 mentions a special resurrection just before the second coming of Jesus. But it is impossible that the people who will be resurrected at that time will compose the 24 Elders since the latter has already been in heaven as early as Jesus’ ascension after He finished His role as the slain Lamb of God as recorded in Revelation 4-5.
The 24 Elders were already in heaven before the general resurrection happens
The 24 elders cannot be among those who will be part of the general resurrection when Jesus comes the second time as written in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 for the same reason that the 24 elders are already in heaven as early as the ascension of Jesus as recorded in Revelation 4-5.
The 24 Elders were already in heaven before the special resurrection happened when Jesus died
Matthew 27:51-53 mentions that some people were resurrected when Jesus died on the cross. These people cannot be the 24 elders in heaven for the reason that before they were resurrected the 24 elders were already seated on their respective thrones in heaven. In other words, while the 24 elders are already in heaven preparing for Jesus’ ascension, the resurrected people are still in their graves.
Enoch, Moses, Elijah are not representatives of the planet Earth
Could it be that Enoch, Moses, and Elijah who were taken by God are part of the 24 elders? A quick answer is no. How is that so?
The 24 elders are representatives of the unfallen worlds that God also created. Nowhere in the Bible stated that these three mighty men of God are representatives of humankind in God’s divine council in heaven.
Adam should be the representative of the planet Earth to this divine council, but he has given it away to Lucifer when he sinned. But Lucifer lost that position when Jesus triumphantly executed the plan of salvation on the cross. This will be elaborated more in details in the coming article.
The 24 Elders keep the prayers of the saints all throughout human history
Revelation 5:8 says that one of the functions of the four living creatures and the 24 elders in heaven is to keep the golden vials which are full of the prayers of the saints.
“…the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.”
As soon as a living saint exists and prays, the 24 elders must be there to keep the saint’s prayer.
If we consider Adam as the first living saint, then the four living creatures and the 24 elders must be in their respective positions to keep Adam’s prayers (and the rest of the living saints after Adam) to God. This tells us that the 24 elders are existing even before Adam was created. Again, this will be elaborated more in the next article.
We have seen that the 24 Elders as mentioned in the book of Revelation are not redeemed human beings.
There is a problem in the KJV translation of Revelation 5:8-10 as seraphims (angels) are not redeemed and will not rule and be kings and priests over humanity. This mistranslation is corrected with other translations.
We also have seen that all human beings who were and will be resurrected cannot be part of the 24 elders since the 24 elders have been in heaven in all the existence of humanity to keep the prayers of the saints.
We will pause here for now and will continue on the next article presenting who the 24 elders really are. This is a fascinating study which will give us a better appreciation of God’s magnificent plan and rulership as the King and Creator of the vast universe and galaxies.
If you are blessed and inspired so far, please feel free to share this article to your friends so that they too will be blessed and appreciate God’s greatness. Share us your thoughts on this in the comment section below.
This article echoes the “24 Elders” presentation by Pastor Stephen Bohr of the Secrets Unsealed ministry.
Featured photo: March 2017 Watchtower (Study Edition)