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Q300 : Interpretation and the Twenty-Four Elders of Revelation 4

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Q300 : Interpretation and the Twenty-Four Elders of Revelation 4

Dr. Woods,

Thank you for the thorough study on the history leading up to the Protestant Reformationa. This info is a must for every believer, especially in light of the fact that the Roman Catholic Church has changed the facts of church history and spreading the misrepresentation far and wide to promote their ecumenical agenda. I especially found helpful the history of Antioch in relation to Alexandria, Egypt, and how allegorization led to misinterpretation of Scripture, introducing the slippery slope that led to the Roman Catholic cult and erroneous eschatology.

This leads me to the question I've had for quite a while now: We, the dispensational pretrib group, have always disagreed with the allegorization/spiritualizing of Revelation (eg: 1,000 years. 2 witnesses, 144,000 are not literal numbers, but only symbols). Well, aren't we doing the same thing when we take the 24 elders as a representation of the Church, rather than a literal 24 of some? To remain consistent, I thought of the representatives of the Church: Jews and Gentiles (aka 12 tribes of Israel and 12 apostles). But, that doesn't hold up completely, as they are all Jewish and, thus, are not from every tribe, nation, tongue.

How can we then interpret the 24 elders while remaining consistent with a literal interpretation of Scripture? I am keeping in mind the hermeneutic of literal, historical interpretation, unless Scripture tells us that it represents something else. Perhaps, we are not to know who they are on this side of heaven.

Thank you.


A300 : by Andy Woods

Andy Woods:

While I believe that the 24 elders to represent the church, they’re actually 24 literal elders that John is referencing there. I think Dr. Tony Garland in his Revelation commentary has a helpful discussion on this. He might want to chime in at this point and provide the appropriate link. God bless you.

Tony Garland:

I concur with Dr. Woods - following a literal hermeneutic, we take the 24 elders to be real individuals in the heavenly scene. So we aren't allegorizing or spiritualizing the passage to try and make them represent something else.

Having concluded that they are 24 real people, we then look at other clues within Scripture in an attempt to identify, more specifically, who these individuals might be. As I discuss in my commentary on Revelationa, there are good reasons to think they are among those who were saved between Pentecost and the Rapture: members of the body of Christ—the Church.

We do not make the twenty four elders "represent" the Church by spiritualizing the text. Instead, we see additional clues which point to them as having been leaders from among those saved during the Church age. It is in this sense they appear to be "representatives" of the Church.

I hope that helps . . .


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