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The Throne Room of Heaven
1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”
2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. 3 And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
6 Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. 8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:
"The 24 elders of Revelation 4:1-5:14 are best understood as representative of the church. Dr. Charles Ryrie explains:
"In the New Testament, elders as the highest officials in the church do represent the whole church (cf. Acts 15:6; 20:28), and in the Old Testament, twenty-four elders were appointed by King David to represent the entire Levitical priesthood (I Chron. 24). When those twenty-four elders met together in the temple precincts in Jerusalem, the entire priestly house was represented. Thus it seems more likely that the elders represent redeemed human beings, . . . the church is included and is thus in heaven before the tribulation begins."
If these elders refer to the church, then it would mean at least two things: 1) It would necessitate the rapture and reward of the church before the tribulation and would require a chronological gap for them to perform their heavenly duties during the seven-year tribulation. 2) It would also show that the completed church was already in heaven before events of the tribulation begin."
Rev 4:4 And  round about  the throne  [were] four  and  twenty  seats : and  upon  the seats  I saw  (5627) four  and  twenty  elders  sitting  (5740), clothed  (5772) in  white  raiment ; and  they had  (5627) on  their  heads  crowns  of gold .
1) elder, of age,
a) the elder of two people
b) advanced in life, an elder, a senior
2) a term of rank or office
a) among the Jews
1) members of the great council or Sanhedrin (because in early times the rulers of the people, judges, etc., were selected from elderly men)
2) of those who in separate cities managed public affairs and administered justice
b) among the Christians, those who presided over the assemblies (or churches) The NT uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably
c) the twenty four members of the heavenly Sanhedrin or court seated on thrones around the throne of God
Based on the principle that what is in the heavenly Temple is mirrored on the earth, it would seem that these 24 "elders" are a counterpart to the twenty-four divisions of the Levitical priesthood. The question on whether these elders are human or angelic beings is discussed in the notes to verse 10, below.
The Zohar also speaks of the eastern gate to the heavenly Holy of Holies, which is guarded by twenty-four sentinels:
I think I finally deduced the most reasonable literal scriptural "allegory-free" answer to the question a few years ago.
John is seeing the 24 elders and four creatures in Heaven in his time. There's nothing indicating that it is a future scene. It's simply the throne room in Heaven. Later we do get a scene of the same throne room in the future, but this time with many souls standing on it singing the song of Moses and the song of the lamb. That appears to be after the rapture, or gathering of the Firstfruits to Heaven for sure, since it happens after the 7th trumpet and the seven bowl angels arew are seen parading out to deliver their deadly payload (Rev 15:1-6).
24 Elders Men, Not 24 "Elder Angels"
These firstfruits were pictured and predicted in the Torah/Law by the Feast of the Firstfruits rehearsal done each year on the Sunday morning after Passover by a wave sheaf of barley being waved to God by the high priest: (Leviticus 23:10-11)
And we find that just as Jesus was raised on that day, so were several Firstfruit saints: ( Matthew 27:50-53)
And it would give us a reasonable answer for who the 24 elders in Heaven are. They are the glorified saints who were raised in the "First of the Firstfruits" resurrection of the Messiah. It's the best answer I have—so far =) Drop me a line and share yours if you have a better one.
Question: "Who are the twenty-four (24) elders in Revelation?"
Answer: Revelation 4:4 declares, “Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.” The Book of Revelation nowhere specifically identifies who the twenty-four elders represent.
One possible view that they represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles.
Others view the twenty-four elders as "representatives" of believers from all of time.
Still others believe the twenty-four elders to be angelic creatures of some sort - seraphim or cherubim.
Whatever the case, it is impossible to be dogmatic. The Bible simply does not give us enough information about the identity of the twenty-four elders.
Recommended Resource:Understanding End Times Prophesy by Paul Benware.
The Red Moon Rapture prophetic model maintains the position that the Day of the Lord, and thus the Tribulation, begins on the earth after the breaking of the sixth seal. The rapture of the church takes place immediately prior to the events of the sixth seal and the church is then seen in heaven after the Polar Shift as the Great Multitude of Revelation 7:9-17. This view is unique with respect to commonly accepted pre-trib models and this article defends it.
"Hence, from these three clues, the twenty-four elders must represent the church saints. If this is true, then they provide further evidence for a pre-tribulation Rapture. The church is already in heaven in chapter four and five before the tribulation begins in chapter six." (The Footsteps of the Messiah, p.114).
Originally posted by Rren
I kinda like gotquestions.org's answer; we don't really know. When we "need" to we will, but no harm in looking imho. Haven't found anyone pushing the "galactic counsel" angle yet...but i'm sure there's someone if i look hard enough.