Chapter 4 - The Throne Room in Heaven Scene

Revelation Chapter 4: the throne room of the Yahovah ("the LORD") in Heaven; the One seated on the throne; the 24 elders; the four living creatures; the seven spirits of Yahovah; heavenly worship

4:1 (a) After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in Heaven. And (b) the first voice I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, (c) “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”

a. The Revelation was given to John in more than 40 individual visions and/or sounds that he saw and heard, in a series of six units. Those six units are separated by the phrase, “After these things,” which also occurs at 7:1, 7:9, 15:5, and 18:1. So, the first unit of revelation to John is contained in 1:1-3:22; the second unit is 4:1-7:8; the third unit is 7:1-7:8; the fourth unit is 7:9-15:4; the fifth unit is 15:5-17:18; and the sixth unit is 18:1-22:21. And a key to understanding the Revelation is to know that each shift from one unit of revelation to the next does not necessarily indicate a change from one time period to the next, but indicates a change in point of view or subject matter. "After these things" combined with "I looked," "I saw," or "I heard" indicates a change in visions or perspectives whereas "after these things" or "after this" (as at the end of this verse or in 9:12) without the change of perspective addendum indicates a change in time periods. In other words, the Revelation is presented more from Yahovah’s point of view, which transcends time, than from man’s point of view, which is bound by time. It is more like a giant mural than a time-line chart, and the reader is taken, in John’s description, to various parts of the mural until a clear view of the whole painting is formed. There is a general time sequence portrayed in the Revelation in the overview of the events of the seven seals, the seven trumpets followed by the seven bowls of wrath, and other events the timing of which is indicated by specific time markers, but many parts are not in strict chronological order and are included to fill in details in the time sequences. So, a key to understanding the Revelation is to know which parts are time sequences, which parts are parenthetical details, and how all the parts fit together. Some of this may be discovered by contextual clues, but a major key to putting the pieces of the mural puzzle together is to realize that many of the pieces are not found in the book of the Revelation; they are found in other Scriptures, especially the prophecies of Daniel and Yahushua ("Jesus").  As we proceed through Adonai's ("the Lord's") Revelation, you will see what we mean. It is the prayer of this commentator that the reader will be helped in putting together the scenario painted by Adonai in His Revelation into a clear understanding of the “things shortly to take place” at the End of the Age, because it is indeed a breathtakingly magnificent mural. 

b. A better translation of this phrase is that of the original King James Version: “the first voice which I had heard,” which refers the reader back to 1:10 and the voice of the Messiah Yahushua ("Christ Jesus").

c. This means, “Come up to Heaven,” as is clarified in the next verse. Some have surmised that the phrase, “after these things” and the clause, “come up here,” in this verse refer to a time sequence of future events, beginning with the present “Church Age,” at the end of which the “Rapture,”occurs, then the “Tribulation.” However, as was explained in (a) above, the reference is to a change in perspectives rather than to prophetic time sequence. John is simply stating that after he was given the Word of Adonai regarding the assemblies, he was told to “come up here” for his next revelatory vision - of things in Heaven. Some teach that the "Church" is not present during the last seven years, and this verse is one of the few straws they can grasp at to support that view. However, this cannot be true, because there are numerous references to Believers in Yahushua being present during those seven years, e.g., the multitude who came “out of the great tribulation” (7:14), “the rest of her offspring” (12:17), and “the saints” (13:7). The “Church Age” will be coming to a close only when “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25), at the end of the 42-month Great Tribulation (cf. 13:5) and the Final Seven Years. This sequence of events will be clarified as we continue through the Revelation.

4:2-3 Immediately I was (a) in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in Heaven, and (b) One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was (c) like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.

a. “In the spirit,” as in 1:10, is a Hebrew idiom that means in a vision or trance, although, without a doubt, this is a special vision induced by the Holy Spirit.

b. There is only one other record in Scripture (Daniel 7:9-10) of Yahovah the Father seated on the throne, and that is for the Final Judgment at the End of the Age.

c. Besides the breathtaking beauty of Yahovah, these precious gemstones probably represent more. When we search the Old Covenant Scriptures, we do find other significance for them. Each of the twelve tribes of Israel was represented by a gemstone. Reuben (which means “behold, a son”), Jacob’s first-born son, was represented by the jasper (diamond?). Benjamin (which means “son of my right hand”), Jacob’s twelfth son, was represented by the sardius, a beautiful red stone. So, the stones may represent Yahushua the Son in purity (the sparklingly clear jasper) and redemption (the blood-red sardius), the First and the Last, and the eternal King of Yahovah’s people seated on the throne. And, “around the throne” is a beautiful emerald rainbow - the symbol of Yahovah’s mercy in not destroying His chosen People.

4:4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.

The identification of the 24 elders has been the subject of endless debate, largely because of some confusion among Bible translations. Because the 24 elders are wearing white robes (purity) and golden crowns (royalty), and are sitting on thrones, they would appear in some sense to represent the Redeemed of Yahovah. Also, there are twelve elders of Israel (the twelve patriarchs) and twelve elders of the Assembly of Believers (the twelve apostles) whom Yahushua promised would sit on twelve thrones with Him judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28). If the NKJV of 5:9-10 is correct, then it would seem that the 24 elders are the representative leaders of Yahovah’s people. According to the NKJV, the new song sung by the 24 elders says,

You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to [Yahovah] by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.

Another possibility suggested by Michael Rood ( that the Saints who were resurrected immediately after the resurrection of Yahushua (Matthew 27:52) ascended into Heaven with the Messiah and are the 24 elders. This would make them the “firstfruits” (cf. James 1:18) of those resurrected who are dead in union with the Messiah (spiritual Israel), just as the 144,000 will be the “firstfruits” of those sealed as the Redeemed of Yahovah out of physical Israel (cf. 14:1, 4).  However, again, no other passage in the book of Revelation indicates the Redeemed will be glorified, receive their white robes, and reign on thrones until after the time of "great tribulation" when the millennial reign of the Messiah is established (cf. 6:9-11; 7:9, 13-14; 20:4).

However the translation of 5:9-10 according to some early Greek manuscripts, as it is in the New American Standard Version (NASV), is,

Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for [Yahovah] with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.

In the latter translation, the 24 elders are not including themselves among those who are redeemed, so, according to the NASV, it would seem that the 24 elders are non-human heavenly beings. Another indication that the 24 elders are not literally the Redeemed from among men is the obvious fact that at the time John saw this vision, the Redeemed were not yet in Heaven in their glorified bodies.  Third, there are some passages that seem to parallel 5:9-10 that indicate the 24 elders are indeed heavenly beings - specifically angels who sit in the heavenly council of the Most High God:

As I looked thrones were placed and the Ancient of Days took His place.... the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened (Daniel 7:9, 10).

This scene in Daniel's vision is in the throne room of Yehovah.  Seated on thrones around His throne are heavenly beings (angels) who sit in judgment with the Supreme Judge Yehovah (the word translated "court" refers to a judicial body).

Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute?  And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it (Acts 7:52-53).

For since the message delivered by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?  (Hebrews 2:1-3)

These Scriptures indicate there is a council of angels who are involved in the heavenly judicial process including sitting on thrones around the throne of Yehovah and making judgments, delivering the Law to humans, and delivering sentences.   

4:5-8 And from the throne proceeded (a) lightnings, thunderings, and voices. (b) Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of [Yahovah]. Before the throne there was (c) a sea of glass, like crystal. And (d) in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and back. (e) The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. (f) And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord [Yahovah] Almighty, (g) Who was and is and is to come!”

a. Lightnings, thunderings, voices, and other ominous sounds are signs in Scripture of the awesome presence of Yahovah and something equally awe-inspiring about to happen. For example, there were lightnings, thunderings, and the sound of a trumpet so loud from Mount Sinai when the Law was given and Israel was established as a nation that all the millions of people in the camp at the base of the mountain trembled (Exodus 19:16). 

b. Fire is a sign throughout Scripture of the Spirit of Yahovah active in the purification of His People and the destruction of His enemies. (See comments on 1:4.)

c. The floor of Yahovah’s throne room. The only two references in the Bible to a “sea of glass” are here and in 15:2, so the symbolic meaning is not clear. A possible Old Covenant Scriptures parallel may be the bronze “sea” in the Temple (1 Kings 7:23) - a huge wash basin for the cleansing of priests. And in 15:2, the sea of glass is seen combined with fire, Yahovah’s purifying agent. Also, the sea may be a symbol of multitudes of people (cf. 13:1; 17:15). So, when all these Scriptural references are combined, the sea of glass may symbolize the purification of Yahovah’s redeemed People who are seen standing on it in 15:2.

d. Four creatures in the “midst” of the throne (cf. also 5:6 and 7:17) is a scene difficult to visualize.The Greek word (mesos) can also mean “amongst.” Perhaps it means in the center of the throne room, in front of and around the throne. Or perhaps, in some mystical way, the throne occupies the whole scene. Other examples of mystical images in Revelation are in 3:12 and 21:2. Nor can we visualize how Elohim the Father, Elohim the Son, and Elohim the Holy Spirit can be separate but One. Our limited human minds can comprehend only so much of ultimate reality, and human words are just not sufficient to describe it all.

e. There are numerous opinions regarding the significance of the four creatures. One that seems sensible is that they represent different attributes of Yehovah in relation to His natural creation: the lion, majesty and omnipotence; the calf (correctly translated “ox”), patience and power in labor; the eagle, beauty and supremacy; and man, intelligence and dominion on Earth. Each creature is the “king” of its respective domain: the lion over the wild animals of the earth; the ox over the domestic work animals; the eagle over the birds of the air; and man over the entire earth - together representing Elohim’s dominion over His natural creation. The great mobility (each with six wings) and vision (each full of eyes) of the four creatures would seem to represent the omnipresence and omniscience of Yehovah. Others have surmised from Biblical and extra-Biblical sources (e.g., the book of Enoch) that the four creatures or living beings are the four archangels, Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel. Another possible correct interpretation is that whereas the 24 elders represent the Redeemed of Yahovah who are seen by John in Heaven, the four creatures represent Yahovah’s physical People the Yahudim ("Jews") who look forward in faith to the coming of the Messiah but have not yet accepted Yahushua as the Messiah. Yahudic ("Jewish") historians tell us that, during their 40-year sojourn in the wilderness on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land, the twelve tribes of Israel were separated into four groups which traveled and camped in those four groups behind the banners of Judah (on which was the figure of a lion), Reuben (on which was the figure of a man), Ephraim (on which was the figure of an ox), and Dan (on which was the figure of an eagle). When they camped, the Tabernacle, wherein was the presence of the Lord, was in the midst of the four groups (cf. Numbers 2:3, 10, 18, 25), which would perfectly typify the scene that John saw in Heaven. 

f. The two roles of the four living creatures in Revelation are to worship Yahovah 24/7 (4:8; 5:9, 10, 12, 14; 7:12; 19:4) and to direct John’s attention to what happens on Earth when the first four seals are broken (6:1; 3, 5, 7).

g. Again, although the primary focus of Chapter 4 is on Yahovah the Father, there is no clear distinction between Him and Yahushua the Son, “Who was, and is, and is to come!”

4:9-11 (a) Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and (b) cast their crowns before the throne, saying: “You are worthy, O [Yahovah], to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”

a. As the Israelites were the first to worship Yahovah on the earth, the living creatures appear to be the worship leaders in Heaven: The 24 elders follow their lead and worship Him.

b. As representatives of Yahovah’s redeemed People, the 24 elders fall down casting their crowns before Him - Elohim ("God") the Father and Elohim ("God") the Son - acknowledging that He is the supreme Ruler, the King of Kings (19:16), because all things were created and are sustained by Him (cf. John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-17).

Please click one of the following links to navigate this site:

Continue from Chapter 4: the Throne Room in Heaven to Chapter 5: The Lamb of Yahovah Who is Worthy to Open the Scroll.

Return from Chapter 4 to the verse-by-verse commentary on Revelation page.

Return to the Revelation Understood! commentary home page. 

Add Your Own Revelation Chapter 4 Commentary

Has the Lord Yehovah given you additional insight into Chapter 4 of the Revelation of the Lord? If so, you are invited to add your own page of commentary. (To be approved for inclusion in this website, your commentary must be relevant to this page's topic the throne room in Heaven scene, contribute to our understanding of the topic, and be solidly based on Scripture.)

Other Commentators' Contributions

Click below to see commentaries from other visitors to this page...

Throne room of God reflected in Human Anatomy 
Surrounding God's throne are 24 elders who all bow down. The human body has 12 ribs on each side that each face downward. There are 4 living creatures …

The 24 Elders 4:4 Not rated yet
I believe it's quite simply stated "elders". The Greek being presbyterous and that word is always used in reference to men who were leaders...(easily …

who are the 24 elders ? Not rated yet
The furniture in the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle represent that which is actually in Heaven. In John's vision in Heaven we see …

Yahuah the Father Supreme Not rated yet
You said in your commentary that there is no clear distinction between Yahuah the Father and the Son on reference to verse 5-8 (g) but I would beg to differ …

Click here to write your own.

Public Comments

Have your say about what you just read on this page! Leave a comment in the box below.
Want others to see this page? Please recommend it. Here's how.

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Common English translations of Hebrew and Messianic terms used in this commentary:

Yehovah - the LORD or GOD
Yah - I Am (the short form         of Yehovah)
Elohim - God
El - God (the short form of         Elohim)
Adonai - my Lord or Master
Yeshua - Jesus
Followers of Yeshua - 
Messiah - Christ
Assembly of Followers of
     Yeshua - the Church
Antimessiah - Antichrist
BBM - Before the Birth of
     the Messiah (rather than
     BC or BCE)
ABM - After the Birth of the      Messiah (rather than AD
    or CE)

For a complete explanation of Hebrew terms used, go to Important Terms and Concepts.

Stay Informed!
Current Events in the Light of Bible Prophecy

Get Involved!
Be a Watchman.

If you want to know the prophesied identity, role in current events, and soon-coming destiny of the United States of America, the reality of which very few prophecy students, teachers, and preachers in America want to face, and to know what God wants His people in America to do about it before its too late, get the FREE book,  

Come Out of Her NOW, My People

For quick access to the commentary on a chapter of the Revelation, click on its link below:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22