The forth chapter of Revelation records John’s vision of the throne room in Heaven. Seated before the throne are twenty-four elders who have golden crowns upon their heads. Scholars debate over who these elders are. Some say they are spiritual beings who praise God continually. Others state they are humans who have gone to be with the Lord. I tend to believe that twelve of these elders represent the Old Testament, and the other twelve represent the Church.
In Genesis God chose the nation Israel to go out and proclaim him to the others nations. They were to be his witness to the world. The foundations of Israel were the twelve patriarchs. Ten of the Patriarchs were ten sons of Jacob, Ruben, Simeon, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Naphtalia, Asher, and Benjamin. The other two were son’s of Joseph (Jacob’s eleventh son), Ephraim and Manasseh. Genesis 47-50 gives an account of how Jacob blessed each twelve. Each patriarch founded a tribe in Israel. Levi, Jacob’s third son, was set aside as the priestly tribe, and they were not numbered in Israel.
The tribes of Dan and Ephraim fell into idolatry, and they never repented of their sins. They intermarried with the Canaanites, and became know as the Samaritans. God eventually cut them off from Israel. The prophet Jeremiah predicted Dan’s destruction in Jeremiah 4:15-20. And in Hosea 12: 8-14, the destruction of Ephraim is prophesized. In Revelation 7, Levi and Joseph replace Dan and Ephraim.
The second twelve, in my opinion, are the twelve apostles. When Jesus came to earth he laid the foundation of the church, and the apostles were the first twelve stones laid on its foundation. Judas is replaced by Matthias in the first chapter of Acts. Many people believe Paul is the twelfth apostle. But let me point out that the appointment of Mathias is a fulfillment of Old Testament Prophecy (Read Acts: 1). Also Paul did not receive his baptism from John the Baptist, and was not an apostle to the church in Jerusalem. He was an apostle to the Gentiles.
I really have no concrete evidence to prove that these twenty-four men are the ones who seated before God. But these men received an honor from God that no one else was ever given. They founded Israel and the church. Regardless of who they are, I do believe that each elder is human. Heavenly creatures are not usually identified with crowns. Golden crowns represent the rewards given to those who serve Christ on this earth.
Revelation 4:10-11 (KJV) states, “The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
These twenty-four elders are considered great in the eyes of men. But when they appear before God, they are nothing. Each man cast his crown before God, and proclaims him as the true King. The only one worthy to wear a crown is Jesus Christ. And when he returns to earth many crowns will be upon his head, Revelation 19:12.
The twenty-four elders in my opinion.
Old Testament: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Gad, Asher, Naphtalia, Joseph, Benjamin, and Manasseh.
New Testament: Peter, James the Greater, John, Andrew, Matthew, Phillip, Thomas, Batholomew, James the Lesser, Simon the Zealot, Jude, and Mathias