And round about the throne [were] four and twenty seats,
&c.] In a semicircular form, as the rainbow also was; the thrones in the above form, came to both ends, or sides of it; just as when the sanhedrim, or great court of judicature among the Jews say F13, the "Nasi", or prince, sat in the uppermost seat, at his right hand was "Ab beth din", or the father or the sanhedrim, and at his left hand a doctor or wise man, and all the rest of the members sat in a semicircular form upon seats before them, so that they could see them all; and to this the allusion might be thought to be, did their numbers agree, but in the great sanhedrim there were seventy one, and the lesser twenty three, which last comes very near the number here;
and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting;
by whom are not meant the twenty four books of the Old Testament, as some of the ancients thought, and also some of the modern writers, as Lord Napier and others; for the things said of them are such as cannot be applied to inanimate things, such as sitting on seats, being clothed with white raiment, having golden crowns on their heads, falling down before the throne, and worshipping him that sat on it; and besides, in ( Revelation 5:8 Revelation 5:9 ) , they are said to be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, out of very kindred, tongue, people, and nation; for which last reason, angels also cannot be designed, and who, moreover, in the place referred to, are manifestly distinguished from these elders; nor are they to be understood as to the representatives of the Jewish church, or of the Jewish and Christian church together, as triumphant in heaven; and so be signified by the twelve patriarchs and twelve apostles, which together make up twenty four; but rather the members of the Gospel church state, throughout the whole of it, in every succession and period of time, are here meant; and are expressed by the number "twenty four", in allusion to the twenty four courses of the priests, into which they were divided by David, ( 1 Chronicles 24:1 1 Chronicles 24:4 1 Chronicles 24:18 ) , and to the twenty four stations of the Levites, who in turn attended the service of the temple daily, and represented the whole body of the people of Israel, in putting their hands upon the sacrifices, and praying for them; of which (See Gill on Luke 1:5); add to this, that in twenty four places the priests and Levites kept watch in the temple F14; so these twenty four elders before the throne of God, in his temple, represent the whole Israel of God, all the members of the Gospel church state, from the first to the last of it: and they are styled "elders", not on account of office, as pastors of the churches are called, but because of their senile gravity, prudence, and knowledge; they having a greater degree of spiritual knowledge of the manifold wisdom of God than the Jewish church, which was in a state of infancy, and under tutors and governors, had; but the Gospel church is in a state of manhood, and no longer under a schoolmaster, and so fitly expressed by "elders"; and these are represented as "sitting" on their seats, not only to hear the word of God, but as judging in cases that come before them, respecting the admission or exclusion of members, the laying on or taking off of censures and these, their seats being around and near unto the throne, denote their nearness to God, and their communion with him, in his house and ordinances, and his dwelling in the midst of them.
Clothed in white raiment;
in the pure and spotless robe of Christ's righteousness, which is comparable to fine linen, clean and white; and is the righteousness of the saints in common, of every true member of Christ's body.
And they had on their heads crowns of gold;
being made by Christ kings, as well as priests, unto God; for so these four and twenty elders are said to be, in ( Revelation 5:10 ) ; and they now reign as kings over sin, Satan, and the world, and have a kingdom of grace which shall never be removed; and they shall reign with Christ on earth a thousand years, and then reign with him to all eternity in heaven. It is a common saying with the Jews F15,
``that there is no eating and drinking in the world to come, but the righteous are "sitting", (Myhvarb Mhytwrjew) , "and their crowns upon their heads".''
F13 Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 4. sect. 3. & Maimon. Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 1. sect. 3.
F14 Misn. Middot, c. 1. sect. 1.
F15 Zohar in Numb. fol. 106. 3. & Raya Mehimna in ib. fol. 96. 3. T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 17. 1. Abot R. Nathan, fol. 1. 3. Caphtor, fol. 82. 2. & 86. 2. & 108. 2. & Nishmat Chayim, fol. 30. 2.