The description of the elders in Revelation 4:4 shows that they are not angelic beings. The title “elders” in the Bible always is used for humans. In contrast to angels, who invariably stand in God’s presence, these elders sit on thrones. The white robes they wear are the attire of God’s faithful people (Rev. 3:4-5). The victory crowns (from Greek ‘qustephanos’, Revelation 4:4) on their heads are reserved exclusively for the victorious saints (James 1:12). All of these details suggest that the 24 elders are glorified saints.
The number 24 is symbolic: it consists of two sets of 12, the number 12 in the Bible being a symbol of God’s people. The 24 elders could represent God’s people in their totality, from both the Old and New Testament times. The number 24 also mirrors the chiefs of the 24 divisions of priests who took turns serving in the earthly temple services (1 Chron. 24:1-19).
The fact that the 24 elders were never mentioned before in the Bible implies that they are a new group in the heavenly throne room. They perhaps are the ones who were raised from the dead at the time of Jesus’ death (Matt. 27:51-53).
If so, these 24 elders who ascended to heaven with Jesus become representatives of humanity, to witness the fairness in God’s actions in the realization of the plan of salvation. In Revelation 5:9, the 24 elders, along with the four living creatures (vs. 8), fall down in worship before the Lamb who was slain and yet lives. Together, they sing a new song, extolling the Lamb as the One who is worthy, because: “You were slain and have redeemed us to God 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” (Rev. 5:8-10, NKJV).
Revelation 4:6-8 also mentions the four living creatures, or beings. Compare their description with the four living beings in Ezekiel 1:5-14 and Ezekiel 10:20-22 and with the seraphim in Isaiah 6:2-3.
The four living creatures are symbolize the exalted beings who serve God as His agents and the guardians of His throne (Ps. 99:1). Their wings point symbolically to their swiftness in carrying out God’s orders, and their eyes point to their intelligence. Their presence, together with the 24 elders and the myriad of angels around the throne (Rev. 5:11), shows that both heaven and earth are represented in the throne room.