In pursuit of a recent theme and a writing project, I’m rereading some Ned Stonehouse on the heavenly realm. He argues that the elders in Revelation 5 are not to be understood as human or representing the redeemed, but should be regarded as angelic beings. This is in the chapter “Elders and the Living-Beings in the Apocalypse” from pages 88 to 108 of his book Paul Before the Areopagus. I’m not convinced by his specific case but loved the great reformed sentiments of his conclusion.
At other points, in quite unambiguous language, the saints appear both in tribulation and glory. And even the song of redemption of Rev. 5:9, 10 does not diminish in meaning because at this point the pure cherubic attendants upon the throne of God, rather than the saints themselves, celebrate with rejoicing the decisive accomplishment of redemption–the redemption by the blood of the Lamb of a multitude form among every tribe and tongue and people and nation that they might constitute a kingdom and be priests unto God. And is there not gain in the turning of our thoughts from the privileges of men and creation to the God of the throne, whose sovereignty, majesty and glory are dwelt upon in the vision…?”