Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's "REVELATION"
BY THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
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
- Position of REESE in The Approaching Advent of Christ,
which represents the post-tribulation position.
- 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).
- 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?
- 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
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 ... "
- 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.
- 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;
- OUR POSITION AND CONCLUSION
- 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).
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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
- The 24 elders are clothed.
- They are crowned.
- They are sitting, clothed, and crowned. The idea of
spirits sitting, clothed, and crowned, is an incongruous thought, and one
entirely foreign to Scripture.
- They are on "thrones" (not "seats"). "Thrones" are
connected with royal personages; seats are connected with private
- They are representatives of others, not simply 24
individuals considered as individuals.
- The angels are never numbered-'-Heb. 12:22. The elders
- Angels are not said to be crowned; the elders are.
- Heavenly intelligence, especially on themes connected
with redemption, is ascribed to the elders and not to the angels.
- They are associated in a priestly act. This kind of
ministry is angels.
never ascribed to
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.
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