Useful Bible Studies > Revelation Commentary > chapter 4

The 24 elders

Revelation 4:4

Round Godís throne (royal seat), John saw the thrones of 24 other rulers (the 24 elders). They sat with him, as the members of the government sit with the king of their country. So, the 24 rulers showed that they supported Godís rule.

The number 24 is important here. The Jews are the people who are born into the families of Jacobís 12 sons. The Christians are the people from every nation who have accepted the message of the 12 apostles. The apostles were the first Christian leaders, even as Jacobís sons were the first leaders of the Jews.

John saw 24 rulers; he did not just see 12 rulers. John was a Jew who had become a Christian. However, he did not believe that the Christians had replaced the Jews as Godís people. He taught that, together, the Jews and the Christians are the people of God. The Book of Revelation often shows that fact, for example Revelation 7:4-12. Paul also taught that - see Ephesians 2:11-16 and Romans chapter 11.

The 24 rulers all wore white clothes. That fact is also a word-picture; it shows that God has forgiven their evil deeds (compare Revelation 3:4-5 with Isaiah 1:18). It also shows why God has forgiven them; it is because of Jesusí death (7:14). So both these Jews and these Christians have a right relationship with God because of Jesusí death (Hebrews 9:15).

It is right and necessary that the rulers should wear white clothes in front of God. The priests at the temple (Godís house) wore white clothes. In the Book of Revelation, white often expresses the idea of something clean, as gold expresses the idea of something pure. There is a link between the idea of something clean and pure, and something that is holy. To be holy means to belong completely to God.

Next part: The greatness and power of God (Revelation 4:5)

 

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© 2016, Keith Simons.