Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The 24 Elders and Golden Crowns

Why do the 24 elders (older persons) depicted in Revelation 4:4 have golden crowns on their heads? I am not sure, but certain suggestions have been set forth. They are:

"Emblematic of the fact that they sustained a kingly office. There was blended in the representation the idea that they were both 'kings and priests'" (Barnes NT Notes).

"An emblem of their dignity. The Jewish writers represent human souls as being created first; and before they enter the body, each is taken by an angel into paradise, where it sees the righteous sitting in glory with crowns upon their heads. Rab. Tanchum, fol. 39, 4" (Adam Clarke's Commentary).

"they had on their heads crowns of gold, signifying the honour and authority given them of God, and the glory they have with him. All these may in a lower sense be applied to the gospel church on earth, in its worshipping assemblies; and, in the higher sense, to the church triumphant in heaven" (Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible).

"Four and twenty elders sitting. These ancients were (1) twenty-four in number; (2) they were clothed in white, the color of victory and purity; (3) on their heads were golden crowns, not the diadem which means a kingly crown, but the golden crown of honor (Stephanos). Critics are not agreed as to the signification of these elders, but most of them think that they symbolize the glorified church of God gathered round the throne. They disagree as to the significance of the number twenty-four. There were twenty-four courses of priests. There were twelve tribes, and twelve apostles" (People's NT).

Any other suggestions? I am particularly interested in why the crowns of the 24 elders are "golden."

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