If you will notice in Rev 4:4, the elders are wearing crowns. Crowns represent authority. A king would wear a crown. Now in 4:10, these 24 elders cast their crowns before the throne of God. That denotes that their authority comes from God. Also, in 5:8 these elders fall down before the throne of Christ. This is saying that even though they had some authority, it was less that that of Christ and that they are subject to Christ. So, we are dealing with an entity that has authority, but their authority is subject to that of Christ.
I believe the only authority that fits that description today in the church is that of the 12 apostles. The 12 apostles taught the will of God to the people. We know the apostles had authority because Matt. 16:19 says, “whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” The apostles had the authority on this earth to reveal the gospel of Christ to mankind, yet their authority was subject to the authority of Christ.
Also, in the Old Testament the nation of Israel was born from the 12 Patriarchs. They fathered the physical nation of Israel. So, from the 12 sons of Israel were born the nation of Israel and from the teachings of the 12 apostles the church was born. So, both laws God has given to man was given through 12 people…. The Law of Moses was given to the children of the 12 patriarchs and the gospel of Christ was given to the church through the 12 apostles. For one to be a member of the nation of Israel, he had to be physically “born” into that nation. They were the physical descendants of the 12 patriarchs. For one to become a member of the church they have to be “born” spiritually into Christ by following the teaching of the 12 apostles.
12 Partiarchs plus 12 Apostles = 24
So, I believe that the 24 elders represent the authority that God gave unto men to bring into existance the nations of his people that were subject to God’s laws. Israel was a “physical” nation subject to the Law of Moses and the church is a “spiritual” nation subject to the law of Christ given through the 12 apostles. Therefore, there are 24 elders.