“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11)
“And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.” (Rev. 4:4).
And so we come to the part of this book where it is necessary to start “identifying” things. You cannot interpret without interpreting, and so here we go.
I take the 24 elders to be representative of the elect of God throughout all history. There were twelve tribes in the Old Testament and twelve apostles in the New, giving us 24. The number 24 is also evocative of the priesthood, which in the time of David was divided into 24 courses (1 Chron. 24:4; 25:9-13). In his vision, Ezekiel saw 25 men—the high priest along with the heads of the 24 orders of priests (Eze. 8:16; 11:1). We have the same thing here. The High Priest is on His throne, and around Him are the 24 elders. These men show that God through the salvation wrought by Christ is reconstituting the earthly component of His Divine Council, as drawn from among men.
These men are called elders (presbyteros), and they also have crowns, which makes them ruling elders. They also have other indications of their priestly function as they are dressed in white, and they offer incense (Rev. 5:8).
These functions together (kings and priests) fit with the self-description of the elders in the next chapter (Rev. 5:10). The elders clearly represent elect mankind because they confess that the Lamb redeemed them with His blood, and has made them “kings and priests.” Their rule is on the earth, and that rule is about to be manifested through the course of the rest of the book.