Baha’i Founders, founders, and Successors in the Book of Revelation

Baha’u’llah and the Bab were the Founders (with a big F) of the Baha’i Faith. Then Baha’u’llah appointed his son ‘Abdu’l-Baha as his successor. In turn, ‘Abdu’l-Baha appointed his grandson Shoghi Effendi as the Guardian of the Cause of God, as well as the Universal House of Justice to be universally elected and established…both under the care and protection of the Abha Beauty [Baha’u’llah], under the shelter and unerring guidance of the Exalted One [the Bab].[1]‑A

As for the lesser founders (with a small f) of the Faith, Baha’i Writings identify them explicitly as the 24

“elders” mentioned in the Book of Revelation as the Bab, the 18 Letters of the Living [the Bab’s first disciples] and five others who would be known in the future. So far we do not know who these five other[s] are.…In each cycle the guardians and holy souls have been twelve. So Jacob had twelve sons; in the time of Moses there were twelve heads or chiefs of the tribes; in the time of Christ there were twelve Apostles; and in the time of Muhammad there were twelve Imams. But in this glorious manifestation there are 24, double the number of all the others, for the greatness of this manifestation requires it.[2]‑A

Later was found a complete set of the Bab’s Tablets to the 18 Letters of the Living and two other tablets one addressed to the 19th Letter who was Himself and the other to ‘Him whom God will make manifest’, i.e. Baha’u’llah.[3]‑S In other words, the 19th and 20th elder-founders of RevelationThe eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth of twenty letters written by the Bab are the Bab and Baha’u’llah.

Further, due to his devoted services Haji Mirza Muhammad-Taqi brought victory and honour to the Cause of God. Accordingly, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has designated him as one of the…‘four and twenty elders which sat before God on their seats¼in the Revelation of St John the Divine’.[4]‑A So the 21st elder of Revelation is the Baha’i founder Muhammad-Taqi. He was a cousin of the Bab who performed noble deeds for the new Faith, like building the first Baha’i Temple in Ashkhabad. Significantly, ‘Abdu’l-Baha assumed the power to designate him as a Revelation elder.

But here the trail fades. As yet, no Baha’i Writings clearly identify the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th elders of Revelation as specific Baha’i founders. Regardless, Baha’is usually assume that they are Baha’u’llah’s devoted son ‘Abdu’l-Baha, his faithful daughter Bahiyyih Khanum, and his dedicated great-grandson Shoghi Effendi.

Importantly, the Apocalypse as spiritually inspired Scripture itself contains nine verses whose literal Greek backs ‘Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi as Revelation elder-founders interpretively. These verses show its elders, Living-Beings, and Enthroned-Ones as kaleidoscopically overlapping groups as follows:

4.2’s a person seated upon the Throne as its main Enthroned-One

4.6’s four Living-Beings…at the center of the Throne, and around the Throne as two of its Living-Beings on the Throne and as another two of its Living-Beings guarding the Throne[5]-C

4.9’s first Enthroned Living-Being simultaneously as its main Enthroned-One and as one of its Living-Beings

5.5 & 7.13’s certain of the elders as its first elder

5.6’s young Ram…at the center of the Throne and four Living-Beings, and at the center of the elders simultaneously as one of its two Enthroned-Ones, one of its Primary-Figures, and one of its elders

6.1 & 15.7’s certain of the Living-Beings as the first Living-BeingAll inclusive Matryoshka doll

7.17’s Ram up at the center aboard the Throne as its second Enthroned-One in tandem with its main Enthroned-One.

These verses comprehensively show the two Enthroned-Ones as also two of Revelation’s four Living-Beings, and its four Living-Beings as also four of its 24 elders. The 20 elders work just one job as elders; two elders work two jobs as elders and Living-Beings (Human-being and Eagle); and two elders work three jobs as elders, Living-Beings (Lion and Bullock), and Enthroned-Ones. Seen another way the Enthroned-Ones, the Living-Beings, and the elders are packed together into a three-shelled matryoshka doll. Its heart nests the two Enthroned-Ones. Its middle shell encapsulates the four Living-Beings, including the two Enthroned-Ones. Its outer shell encases the 24 elders, including the Enthroned-Ones and Living-Beings. In other words, inclusively, there are not 30 parties but only 24.

Accordingly, Baha’u’llah and the Bab interpret simultaneously as the two Enthroned-Ones, as the Lion and Ox Living-Beings, and as the 19th and 20th elders. Similarly, ‘Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi interpret simultaneously as the Human-being and Eagle Living-Beings and as two of the 22nd–24th elders. The very fact that he himself could assume the power to designate Taqi-Muhammad as a Revelation elder in itself favors ‘Abdu’l-Baha as an elder. Then Shoghi Effendi’s personal emblem of an eagle like the one over his tomb fits him as the Eagle Living-Being. ‘Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi were simply too modest to openly name themselves as Revelation Living-Beings or elders.

How Faiths group their founders also helps to identify ‘Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi as two elder-founders. Traditionally, Faiths rank founders in horizontal generations like the 12 Sons of Israel or 12 Apostles of Jesus, or in vertical family-lines like the 12 Imams of Muhammad. But the double Baha’i Faith ranks its 24 founders both ways:

• The Bab and his 18 founder Letters of the Living form a horizontal 19–person generation (a “gene-ration” of “nineteen-to-the-dozeTomb of Shoghi Effendi in London, with eaglen” as it were)

• The Bab and his cousin Muhammad-Taqi form a short two-person generation and a short family-line simultaneously

• Baha’u’llah, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Bahiyyih Khanum, and Shoghi Effendi form a presumptive vertical four-person family-line.

This makes Bahiyyih Khanum the penultimate 23rd elder-founder. She was a lady who fitted her station such as none other woman.[6]‑B As the presumed 23rd of 24 elder-founders, she nicely matches the poetess Tahireh as the 17th of the 18 Letters of the Living. In the male-dominated world of the Shi'i Persia of the mid-1800s, just these two women founders honed a sharp edge for the emancipation wedge of the new Faith.

So the 24 Revelation elders identify as these Baha’i founders

• The 1st–18th elders as the Bab’s 18 Letters of the Living

• The 19th elder as the Bab

• The 20th elder as Baha’u’llah

• The 21st elder as Muhammad-Taqi

• The 22nd elder presumptively as ‘Abdu’l-Baha

• The 23rd elder presumptively as Bahiyyih Khanum

• The 24th elder presumptively as Shoghi Effendi.

The 22nd, 23rd, and 24th Revelation elders as ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Bahiyyah-Khanum, and Shoghi E ffendi

In addition, other Revelation groups—joined by thematic-verbal links like Throne, chalices, new song, singing praise, surging water, and thunder—interpret as early Baha’is. The souls of those slain portray Baha’i martyrs in Persia. Many angels are noble believers. Those winning out over the beast are Primary-Figures prevailing spiritually over Persia’s brutal Qajar dynasty. Siblings are fellow-Baha’is. The 144,000 stamped with the seal are many Baha’is progressively perfecting Faiths. Millions and roar of a huge crowd echo as modern Baha’is. Hundreds of millions and loud roar of a huge crowd resound as future Baha’is.


[1] ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Will and Testament 10

[2]“Elders” mentioned, Shoghi Effendi (1934), GPB 8; Directives 58.22 and Lights 1713.507–08

In each cycle, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, SAQ 11.57

[3] Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny 428

[4] ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Revelation of Baha’u’llah 1.201, also Child of the Covenant 240

[5] Fourth Century Christian folklore presents the four Living-Beings as Gospel writers in another sequence: (1) The Human-Being as Matthew, (2) the Lion as Mark, (3) the Bullock as Luke, and (4) the Eagle as John. Interpretively, this fresh order is apt in that it sets the lion and bullock as central Enthroned-Ones and the human-being and eagle as guardians flanking them.

[6] Baha’u’llah, Bahiyyih Khanum 1.2