Understanding The Bible
STUDY REFERENCE
Clarence E. Mason's "REVELATION"
ADDENDUM

BY THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
1969

ADDENDUM
WHO ARE THE TWENTY-FOUR ELDERS?
PASSAGES UNDER DISCUSSION:
Rev. 4:4, 10; 5:5, 6, 7, 11, 14; 7:11, 13; 11:16; 14:3; 19:4
 

  1. Position of REESE in The Approaching Advent of Christ, which represents the post-tribulation position.
    1. They are glorious heavenly beings taking the lead in praise and worship of God.

      Answer: This is only a statement and there is no proof for his statement. Why must they be angels, just because they lead in the worship of heaven? Certainly not -- they have no priority. If these are redeemed men who have been saved from the earth just before the seals are broken, would they not likely praise the Lord? The time element here certainly is an important point (cp. 1 Thes. 5:9; Rev. 3:10).
       
    2. They celebrate with joy each crisis in the onward march of events to the consummation of the kingdom.

      Answer: TRUE, but why should not men glorify God along with the angels? Who should be more interested in Christ's reign than men who are to reign with Him? They should be glad and happy that He is going to reign. Compare Phil. 2:10-11, where we see all intelligent beings both men and angels, uniting in worship and praise. Why not here also?
       
    3. They seem never to have known the experience of conflict, sin, pardon, and victory; yet they rejoice over the blessedness of those who have, and give glory to God for His grace in the victory of those who have overcome.

      Answer: This is gratuitous. No such statement is made. It is assumed by Reese. An argument from the negative is never final. There is nothing in the reading to make it impossible or improbable that their song is an objective attestation of redemptive work, which has made their recent rapture possible, as well as the complete eventual victory and reign of Christ.

      The song they sing is not subjective but objective. They are singing, not about their own salvation but the complete victory pf Christ, of which judgment, redemption, and reigning are but steps in the program.

      As to Rev. 5:8-10 -- cp. 7:11, etc. -- I would observe that they have just cause for praise that Christ will save a great host, even in the period of judgment precipitated by the seals being broken. Rees is not too sure of himself on this statement, because he says "seem never to have known ... "
       
    4. They distinctly disassociate themselves from the prophets , saints and godly of ages past who rise in the resurrection of the last trumpet and are rewarded. This passage (11:16) indicates that they have not known death nor service on earth.

      Answer: They could properly disassociate themselves from the Church, if that is what 11:15-18 is saying. The church is a different body altogether. They can legitimately be distinguished from the Old Testament saints. Of course, Reese would say that the Church started with Abraham and he gives no place for a transition in Acts. However, in regard to 11:15-18, Reese must have misinterpreted this.  Why is it necessary to say that the saints and prophets are only the Old Testament worthies? Could these not be the New Testament saints and prophets mentioned in Eph. 3:5 This is a general statement here in 11:15-18 and covers the whole period from Christ's return in glory to the eternal state.
       
    5. Acting as assessors prior to the great consummation, they disappear from the scene when the new assessors--the great multitude of heavenly redeemed -- sit down on thrones and exercise judgment with the Lord Jesus at His coming. (This is a play on Rev. 20:4 with 1 Cor. 6:2; Mt. 19:28)

      Answer: What happens to the 24 elders? Is chapter 20:4 "all the redeemed" as Reese claims? If it be argued they are, then the Tribulation saints are not included. The Tribulation saints are raised after the sitters on the thrones are seen to be on their thrones; hence, we conclude they must be the 24 elders, and it is not correct, therefore, to say they disappear from the scene.

      CONCLUSION OF REESE:
      Since the 24 elders are always mentioned in conjunction with the angels and four living creatures, which are certainly angelic beings, by the law of association they must be angelic beings also, and are probably the angelic "lords" who have places of rulership in heaven. Cp. Eph. 1:21; Col. 1:16; Isaiah 24:23.
       
  2. OUR POSITION AND CONCLUSION
    1. There is nothing in the Greek reading to make it impossible or improbable that their song is an objective attestation of redeemed men who join heavenly beings in praising God for Christ's redemptive work, which has made their recent rapture possible, as well as the complete eventual victory and reign of Christ, " (as already given in answer to number 3 above).
       
    2. If these are angelic beings, what precedent do we have for such beings having crowns (the word is "stephanos," literally victor's wreath)? While we recognize that "stephanos" may be used of a holiday emblem, its usual usage in the New Testament is "victor's wreath"! How could angels get victors' wreaths?
       
    3. If the Church is not raised in 4:1 and not until 20:4, what is she doing in heaven in 19:7,8, II.
       
    4. Ezekiel and others see visions of the throne with living creatures and angels present, but not with 24 elders. Why? (Because the Church was not formed nor in heaven at the time of their visions.)
       
    5. Thrones? Where have we seen any heavenly beings on heavenly, individual thrones? This is a position for the co-reigners, not for servants as the angels are.
       
    6. Crowns cannot be given out until after the Rapture (2 Tim. 4:8). Yet these in Rev. 4-5 are crowned, showing the Judgment Seat of Christ has already taken place.

      WALTER SCOTT ON REVELATION 4-5
      From his book, The Revelation of Jesus Christ
      1. The 24 elders are clothed.
      2. They are crowned.
      3. They are sitting, clothed, and crowned. The idea of spirits sitting, clothed, and crowned, is an incongruous thought, and one entirely foreign to Scripture.
      4. They are on "thrones" (not "seats"). "Thrones" are connected with royal personages; seats are connected with private individuals.
      5. They are representatives of others, not simply 24 individuals considered as individuals.
      6. The angels are never numbered-'-Heb. 12:22. The elders are.
      7. Angels are not said to be crowned; the elders are.
      8. Heavenly intelligence, especially on themes connected with redemption, is ascribed to the elders and not to the angels.
      9. They are associated in a priestly act. This kind of ministry is angels.
        never ascribed to

 

MASON'S CONCLUSION

Thus we conclude the 24 elders must be the representatives of the redeemed of this age. Since Israel is not resurrected, judged, and rewarded until the second advent of Christ to the earth, these could not represent the redeemed of the Old Testament, but the redeemed of this Church age.

Then, if these are redeemed men, why are there 24? Why worry about the number?
God could have appointed 5 or 10 or any number and it would have been satisfactory. However, the number 2 is representative of witness. The number of 12 is the number of governmental administration. So, 2 x 12 or 24 would probably representative witnesses, illustrative of the whole Church as it witnesses this scene in heaven. The number is not the important thing. Their presence precise point of time, crowned and throned, is the crucial point.

 

"Mason's Notes"


(formerly Philadelphia Biblical University, Philadelphia College of Bible.)
Copyright 2012 to present,
All rights reserved.

Cairn University

200 Manor Avenue
Langhorne, PA 19047
United States of America
"Mason's Notes" Study materials on this website are made available here free, through the generosity of Cairn University, and may be copied for use in Bible study groups, in limited numbers, providing that no charge is made for them.  No further distribution or use of these materials is allowable under U.S. or International Copyright Law without the express permission of Cairn University.

20160408