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Encircling the great throne were twenty-four thrones with elders[a] in glistening white garments seated upon them, each wearing a golden crown of victory. And pulsing from the throne were blinding flashes of lightning,[b] crashes of thunder, and voices.[c] And burning before the throne are seven blazing torches, which represent the seven Spirits of God.[d] And in front of the throne there was pavement[e] like a crystal sea of glass.[f]

Worship around the Throne

Around the throne and on each side[g] stood four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind.[h]

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  1. Revelation 4:4 Scholars are divided over who these twenty-four elders are, either (1) the union of Jew (twelve tribes of Israel) and the church (twelve apostles of Jesus), (2) a rank of heavenly beings serving as God’s cabinet officers, (3) a symbol of the twenty-four prophetic books of the Old Testament, or (4) an actual council of elders (believers) who are subordinate to God but ruling with authority and wisdom. They are enthroned and have crowns, which would speak of regal authority. Made up from the overcomers from among the community of the redeemed, the twenty-four elders are robed in Christ’s righteousness (white garments), enthroned with him (Eph. 2:6; Rev. 3:21), and crowned with glory.
  2. Revelation 4:5 Lightning is often an emblem of the revelation-word of God breaking forth on the earth (Ps. 97:4), which dismantles the works of Satan (Luke 10:18). As God’s Word goes forth, there will always be voices to carry the fresh revelation of heaven.
  3. Revelation 4:5 Or “sounds.” See also Ex. 19:16; Ps. 77:18.
  4. Revelation 4:5 Or “the seven-fold Spirit of God.”
  5. Revelation 4:6 See Ex. 24:10; Ezek. 1:22, 26.
  6. Revelation 4:6 The blazing torches reflected off the glassy crystal sea would appear to be heaven’s analogue to the Red Sea. See also 15:2–4. One of the miracles of the Red Sea crossing was that the waters congealed and became like glass (Ex. 15:8). John is seeing a hint of the chaotic “sea of humanity” (Dan. 7:2; Ezek. 32:2) being calmed before God’s sovereign throne.
  7. Revelation 4:6 A possible inference in the Greek is that the four living creatures are supporting the throne; that is, the throne (chariot of God) rested upon them. See Ezek. 1:15-26. The number four points to the four winds and the four seasons (the whole created order).
  8. Revelation 4:6 They had eyes to see into different realms and into times past and future (in front and behind).