Twenty-Four Elders

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Twenty-Four Elders appear in the Book of Revelation (4:4) of the Christian Bible.

Saint John described the scene,

before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal... round about... were four beasts full of eyes... The four and twenty elders fall down before him... and worship him that liveth for ever and ever.[1][2]

Hall of initiation[edit]

The Four and Twenty Elders Casting their Crowns before the Divine Throne, c. 1803–5. William Blake, Tate. 354 x 293 mm.

In the centre of a huge hall is placed a throne: round about the Throne are four and twenty seats on which sit four and twenty Elders, robed in white and wearing crowns of gold.[3] In this Assembly is introduced the Lamb that is to be initiated. In front of the Throne are four remarkable beasts (living creatures): one of them is like a lion, another resembles an eagle, the third has the appearance of a calf, and the fourth has the face of a man. These beasts have six wings each, and are full of eyes all over; and they rest not night and day, but keep on blessing the One on the Throne.

Interpretation[edit]

The word "Elder" in the majority of places where it is used in the Scriptures means the representative head of a city, family, tribe or nation, so the "Four and Twenty Elders" are representative of the redeemed human race. But why 24 Elders? The Twenty-four is the number of the Priestly Courses as given in 1. Chron. 24:1-19. When David distributed the Priests into "Courses" he found there were 24 Heads of the Priestly families, and these 24 Heads he made representative of The wholesome priesthood. As the "Elders" are representative of both the Old and New Testament Saints, and the Old Testament Saints are represented by the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and the New Testament Saints' by the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb, they together make up 24 representative characters. Although somewhat problematic is that John's own presence in the scene as himself and in conversation with one of the 24 elders, makes for some double accounting by this interpretation. This distinction is clearly brought out in the description of the New Jerusalem, where the 12 Foundation Stones are named after the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb, and the 12 Gates after the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Alternatively the 24 Elders may refer to the dualistic 24 celestial archetypes that are divided into two as 12 and 12 archetypes each sharing each others' respective dual quarters of an archetype element, shared in pairs of two. Rev. 21:10-14.[4]

Allegorical interpretation[edit]

Champat Rai Jain, a 20th-century Jain writer claimed that the "Four and Twenty Elders" mentioned in the Christian Bible are "Twenty-four Jain Tirthankaras".[5] In his book, Jainism Christianity and Science, he wrote:

Briefly, the beasts represent the different kinds of souls that are embodied in the four elements (of matter), namely, the earth-bodied (represented by the lion, since he walks on earth), the air-bodied (represented by the eagle who flies in the air), the water-bodied (represented by the calf, which here is the young of the sea-mammals), and the fire-bodied (represented by the sun which is painted as the face of a man). Wings are a symbol for time, since it flies; and the number six is descriptive of the six aras (spokes) or a half-cycle in which four and twenty Tirthamkaras appear and preach the Truth. Plainly put, the significance of the secret teaching is only this that Life is Divine, and its divinity is manifested most perfectly and fully in the case of four and twenty Tirihamkaras, who appear in a half-cycle of time, consisting of six aras, and preach the Noble Truth to and for the benefit of the souls embodied in material bodies.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Four and Twenty Elders Casting their Crowns before the Divine Throne: Description. Tate. Retrieved on November 05, 2008.
  2. ^ Vining, Noble (2008-09-24). Bible Textionary on Revelation. p. 26. ISBN 9781572585164.
  3. ^ Bibles, Hendrickson (2013-02-01). Complete Evangelical Parallel Bible-PR-KJV/NKJV/NIV/NLT. p. 2902. ISBN 9781598569506.
  4. ^ "The Book of Revelation: III. The Things Which Shall Be Hereafter: 3. The Four and Twenty Elders".
  5. ^ Jain 1930, p. 78.
  6. ^ Jain 1930, p. 78-79.

Sources[edit]

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