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The 24 Elders (Revelation 4:4), the ESV Study Bible, and the NLT Study Bible

There are a number of divergent views concerning the book of Revelation. Personally, I love the book. I really enjoy spending time in the apocalyptic language of the scriptures. So how to the new study Bibles deal with the difficult and controversial images of Revelation? I won’t leave any comment about these notes this time since I disagree that the 24 elders refer to the redeemed.

ESV Study Bible:

4:4 On twenty-four thrones sat twenty-four elders. Their number may reflect the orders of priests serving in the OT temple (cf. 1 Chron. 24:7—19) but more likely they symbolize the unity of God’s people, encompassing OT Israel (led by the heads of the 12 tribes) and the NT church (led by the 12 apostles), like the new Jerusalem’s 12 gates and 12 foundations (Rev. 21:12, 14). Their thrones resemble those of God’s heavenly court in Dan. 7:9—10(cf. Rev. 20:4). Some interpreters believe that these elders are angels, and that therefore they do not include themselves among the redeemed in 5:8—10.

NLT Study Bible:

4:4 The twenty-four elders on their thrones probably represent all of God’s people. They might correlate to the twelve tribes of the old covenant and the twelve apostles of the new (see 21:12-14), although some have identified them with the twenty-four divisions of the Israelite priesthood (1 Chr 24:1-19). In the drama, they act as an antiphonal chorus (alternating groups of speakers or singers).

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