Revelation 4:1-4 / Before the Throne

Posted on April 12, 2015


This is the thirteenth in a series of verse-by-verse expositions of the book of Revelation. This message was delivered at Hillcrest Baptist Church on the morning of April 12, 2015. This message details John’s vision of the throne room in Heaven. This post contains an audio recording of my message, along with my sermon notes and a study outline. Please note that the sermon notes are not a full transcript.


Rev. 4:1-4



Chapter 4 focuses on the throne room. What had started as a vision of heaven, became an open door invitation. The voice of invitation is the same voice which John heard in Revelation 1:10. It is the voice of Christ. 

 John is told to “come up here“. This is not a reference to the rapture (although we will soon see the raptured saints). This is a literal invitation to visit heaven, a very rare event reserved for a very select few, and with a specific message and purpose in mind. 

In fact, John is one of only three people in the Bible to see a vision of heaven – Isaiah, Ezekiel, Paul and John. Two other Biblical figures caught a glimpse of heaven Micaiah, Stephen), but what they saw is merely mentioned, not described. 

2 Chronicles 18:18 

Acts 7:55-56 

Only three of these men actually wrote about what they saw – Isaiah, Ezekiel and John. Paul never wrote about what he saw. He simply writes that he was caught up to the third heaven. 

2 Corinthians 12:2 

Any extra-biblical claims of heavenly visions should be carefully scrutinized against Scripture. Since God’s Word is now complete, any claim that adds to or contradicts what the Bible already tells us about heaven, should be immediately dismissed. 

 The purpose here, was to show John the “things which must take place after this“. 

 “After this“, after the letters to the churches. 

 Now begins a description of the events that will follow the church age. 


Immediately I was in the spirit.” This suggests that there was some time gap between the vision received in chapters 1-3, and the rest of the book. The length of the intermission is completely unknown. It could have been minutes or days, but is completely unimportant. In fact, chapters 1-3 were focused on John’s present time, where the rest of the book is focused on future events.

 John sees an inhabited throne. He who sits on the throne is in complete control of what John is about to see. 


Jasper and Sardis will be the foundation of the New Jerusalem: 

Revelation 21:19-20 

God, of course, who is the Creator of the universe, and the originator of everything, is the very foundation upon which we rest. We need not; however, attempt to find symbolism is each of these precious stones. 

 John doesn’t actually attempt to describe the one who sits on the throne, but simply paints a picture of His glory.

The description of a rainbow in connection with God, is not unusual. 

Ezekiel 1:28 

From the time of Noah, the rainbow became a sign of God’s faithfulness to His word, His promises. 

Genesis 9:12-17 


The white robes indicate that these elders are the redeemed/raptured saints, Israel has not yet been redeemed, nor have the tribulation saints. 

Nor are they angels. The elders are distinguished form the angels. 

Revelation 7:11 

Elders refers to leaders in both Israel and the church. 

Numbers 11:16 

Titus 1:5 

Why 24? Some points to ponder: 

  • It is possible that 12 represent the tribes of Israel and 12 the apostles of Christ, mirroring the reference in the new Jerusalem. 

Revelation 21:12 
Revelation 21:14 

  • There were 24 orders of priests in the Old Testament Temple. 

1 Chronicles 24:3-5 

1 Chronicles 24:18 

  • The saved have been made kings and priests: 

Revelation 1:6 

The one thing we know for sure is that only one group will be complete and glorified at that point—the church. Here elders represent the church. They are the overcomers who have their crowns and live in the place prepared for them, where they have gone with Jesus. 

John 14:1–4 

The conclusion is that the 24 elders are the raptured saints, who represent the whole of God’s church. Their focus is on the Lord. 

 They wear crowns, which further differentiates them from angels. Crowns are the promised rewards of the saints. 

2 Timothy 4:8 

James 1:12 

1 Peter 5:4 

Knowing that we will be able to partake in God’s glory is all the more reason to keep our focus on Christ. 

 What crown do you have laid up? 

 Are you ready to stand before the throne?