NIV: At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne (thronos) in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne (thronou)were twenty-four other thrones (thronous), and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.
KJ: And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne (thronos) was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne (thronou) were four and twenty seats (thronous): and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.The Greek text for both the NIV and the KJ translation uses the word "thronos." ('thronos' is the nominative singular, 'thronous' is the accusative plural of 'thronos' and 'thronou' is genitive singular of the same word 'thronos').
The word 'thronos' means "a throne, a seat of authority." This vision refers obviously to God being seated at the head of all power and authority, but what does it mean that the 'elders' (presbuterous) are also sitting on 24 'thronos?' These elders are men in resurrected bodies wearing their crowns (stephanos) of victory and reward seated in a place of authority to rule with God. This is what Jesus promised and scripture supports in these places:
Rev. 2:26 - "To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations - 'He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery' - just as I have received authority from my Father.
Rev. 3:21 - "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne."
Rev. 5:10 - "You have made them to be a kingdom of priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."
Matt. 19:28 - "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
Luke 22:30 - "And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
1 Corinthians 6:2-3 - "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world...Do you not know that we will judge angels?"
2 Tim. 2:12 - "If we endure we will also reign with him."
Why did the translators of the KJ Bible translate the same Greek word used in the same sentence two different ways? It may have something to do with their lack of eschatological insight and their inability to understand why these "elders" were also on thrones of authority. To the average reader of the English King James this verse becomes completely misdirected when the "elders" are portrayed as merely in a position around the thrown of God to worship. Indeed, they do worship, but these same elders are seated in positions of universal authority directly under the Lord and King, Jesus.