THE TWO WITNESSES OF REVELATION 11
Just as there was a herald for the arrival of the Messiah
at His first advent, there will be one for the second advent. But at the
second advent there will be two heralds.
One of the heralds will be a resuscitated Elijah.
Malachi 3:1a predicts the coming of the first advent herald who was John
"Behold, I am going to send My messenger,
and he will clear the way before Me."
This is clear from Mark 1:2 where Mal. 3:1 is quoted in
reference to John. Isaiah 40:3 is also quoted as fulfilled in John. This
is confirmed at Mat. 3:1-3,
"for this is the one referred to by Isaiah the Prophet.
Malachi 3:1b continues,
"And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to
This indicates that the arrival of Messiah will occur in
close proximity to the ministry of the herald. Now although, this second
part of the verse is never quoted in the New Testament, it is probable that
we can find a preliminary fulfillment in the abrupt manner in which Jesus
presented Himself to the nation of Israel during His ministry. He did indeed
"come suddenly to His temple," as suggested - -
1. At the beginning of His ministry: John 2:13-22
2. At the conclusion of His ministry: Mat. 21:12-13
However, based on the text following Malachi 3:1b, the
direct fulfillment of this phrase, "The Lord whom you seek will suddenly
come to His temple," refers to the arrival of the Messiah at the Day
of the LORD. Verses 1-3 continue, "that is, the Messenger of the covenant,
in whom you delight, behold, He is coming, says Yahweh of the armies."
"But who can endure the day of His coming?
And who can stand when He appears?
For He is like a refiner's fire and launderer's soap.
And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver,"
This did not happen at the first advent of the Messiah,
but it is at the 2nd advent when He comes to pour out the wrath of the Godhead
upon the kingdom of the beast and to purify the world so that He might bring
into His earthly kingdom "the wheat" of Jews and Gentiles who
become believers between the rapture and Armageddon.
Let me suggest that Jesus does not need to come DIRECTLY to or into the temple.
It is His arrival in the clouds of the sky, Whom EVERY EYE will see that is the
official one and only second coming that is the focus of every OT and NT
prophecy. And this arrival of the Lord fulfills the idea of "suddenly" for it is
spoken of as coming "like a thief in the night." He will then begin the Day of
the Lord judgments which will involve judgment on this false temple as well as
the ruin of the beast and his kingdom.
Now back to the first advent arrival of the Messiah we
discover that the nation, did not recognize either -
1. The herald: Mat. 21:32
2. Or the Messiah: Mat. 19:44
They did of course know about the prophecy but rejected
its application to John and Jesus. Jesus however clarified it to them at
Here, He associates John's ministry with the prophecy concerning Elijah
at verse 14,
"and if you are willing to accept it, he himself was Elijah
who is to come."
But that association is based on similarity of ministry
and not equation.
The phrase, “if you want” refers to a POSITIVE attitude toward Jesus as the
Messiah. If they are WILLING (Greek verb, thelō) refers to acceptance of
John as the spiritual counterpart of the YET FUTURE coming of Elijah. If
they do, they will see his ministry as one of both blessing and judgment. Yahweh Elohim will become flesh and dwell among men; carry the sins of
the world; and be the focal point for either salvation or eternal
He is exhorting them to recognize the difference between the first and second
comings of the Messiah, "he who has ears, let him hear," (verse
15) and to recognize Himself as the Messiah.
Gabriel shows this association in his message to
John's father at Luke 1:16-17.
And Zacharias himself, later taught it as recorded at Luke 1:76-77.
Malachi records another prophecy of a herald for the Messiah.
Malachi 4:5 says, "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet
before the coming of the great and terrible Day of the Lord."
However, John was not the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5-6.
Jesus makes two statements at Mat. 17:11-12, to clarify this.
V. 11, "Elijah is coming."
This is still future and refers to the arrival of Elijah
as a herald to the Messiah's second advent.
V. 12, "But I say to you that Elijah has already come."
This refers to John's ministry, "in the spirit and
power of Elijah," but does not, indeed, cannot fulfill Mal. 4:5-6.
What then of the future coming of Elijah?
As already indicated, that coming will be directly related
to the coming of the Day of the Lord. His PURPOSE as indicated by what Jesus
said at Matthew 17:11, “Elijah is coming AND will restore all things,” is to
bring Israel back into a covenant relationship with God. This refers to trust in
the Messianic promise and acceptance of the Messianic person, who is Jesus. This
ministry is summarized by Malachi at verse 4:6, “And he will restore the hearts
of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their
fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.”
It is very probable that his ministry is one of
the reasons the 144k Jewish men will trust in Jesus at His arrival in the clouds
of the sky.
Their ministry is described as, "they will prophesy." The verb is prophāteuō,
which means to proclaim to speak forth. It does not directly refer to prediction
or foretelling, although sometimes the nature of prophecy is just that. However,
in this case, it refers to the ministry of proclaiming the gospel and the coming
of divine judgment.
It is called "testimony" at verse 7. The word is marturia and means witness or
testimony and describes the nature or content of the proclamation.
Their ministry will begin BEFORE the Day-of-the-Lord arrival of Jesus and
seeks to save a large number of Jews so that they might escape the time of
God’s wrath. This plea for RESTORATION of the Jews into a covenant
relationship with God is given at Zephaniah 2:1-3.
“Gather yourselves together, yes, gather, O nation without shame,
before the decree takes effect — The day passes like the chaff — before the
burning anger of the LORD comes upon you, before the day of the LORD’S anger
comes upon you. Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth who have carried
out His ordinances; seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be
hidden in the day of the LORD’S anger.”
Elijah’s primary focus will be on the Jews in Palestine, but he will have a
worldwide impact as he seeks to convict and convince Jews everywhere. The
difference between Elijah’s ministry and the ministry of the 144,000, is
that they seem to be scattered all over the world, whereas Elijah is
centered in Jerusalem; or at least at the end of his ministry he is in
Jerusalem. Both however, have the same purpose in bringing
Israel back into a covenant relationship with God through acceptance of
Jesus as the promised Messiah. However, since at verse 10, Elijah and Moses
are described as ones who "tormented those who dwell on the earth." Perhaps they
will have access to some kind of high speed transportation that enables them to
travel all over the globe even with the rigid controls of the beast that will be
Good evidence that Elijah is one of these two witnesses is found in the event
recorded at Matthew 16:27 through 17:8. This event is crucial for
understanding the future coming of Elijah.
At Mat. 16:27, Jesus says,
"For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory
of His Father with His angels,
and will then recompense every man according to his deeds."
This statement correlated with all that has been
taught to God's people throughout their history, refers to the Day-of-the-Lord
return of the Messiah. It is at this time that He will
1. Deliver His people; the Jews from their oppression (tribulation).
2. Administrate divine justice on those left in the world. Ezekiel 30:1-5.
3. Evaluate their deeds. Ezek. 34:17-22
4. Establish his earthly reign. Ezek. 34:23-31; Daniel 7:14, 22
5. Build a new temple: Dan. 8:9-26; Ezek. 43:1-17; Zech. 6:12-13
6. But of course, all these things will take place as a PROCESS that will take
2300 days from the midpoint of the 70th week until the completion of the temple.
SEE The 2300 days of Daniel 8
He then tells the disciples a very strange thing at verse
"There are some standing here who will not taste
of (physical) death
until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."
The term, "coming in His kingdom," refers to
the second advent presence of Jesus in resurrection glory to establish His
1000 year reign upon the earth.
This strange prediction is fulfilled 6 days later when
He takes Peter, James and John up onto a mountain and appears to them in
the manner He will appear at His second coming. This is recorded at Mat.
17:1-8. We know that this fulfills the words of Jesus at Mat. 16:28 because
Peter tells us so at 2 Peter 1:16-18.
"For we did not follow cleverly devised fables
when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty."
We also learn from this reference by Peter that the SECOND COMING that Jesus
displayed to the disciples is the VERY SAME second coming that the church is
looking for. For, later, Peter writes that we should be “looking for and
diligently promoting the coming of the day of God,” (Verse 3:12), which is
the alternate term for the day of the Lord (and the day of Christ), and
refers to the very same second coming that Peter has mentioned in his
earlier letter (1 Peter 1:7, 13; 4:13). There is no contextual basis for
seeing TWO events in Peter or Paul, but one visible and glorious revelation
of Jesus in the clouds of the sky at the day of the Lord. One exception is
found at Romans 11:26, which quotes Isaiah 59:20, and very clearly refers to
a physical descent to the earth to rescue national Israel from the invading
armies of the Armageddon campaign.
At Matthew 17:2, it says that Jesus was "transformed"
He appeared the way He will look in his resurrection glory which is called,
"the body of His glory," at Philip. 3:21.
Then Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus, "in glory,"
according to Luke 9:31. "In glory," refers to their radiance in
association with Christ's glory. Neither Moses or Elijah have a resurrection
body, so that is not in view. But they did not appear in their "old"
bodies either. There is evidence that the soul has a visible appearance
that resembles the "image" of the physical body that was its "house"
while on earth (Luke 16:23; 1 Sam. 28:10-14)
How the disciples knew it was Moses and Elijah is not indicated
and there is no point in trying to figure it out. Obviously, there was a
valid identification made.
SEE TOPIC: Interim
They were also carrying on a conversation with Jesus about
"His departure which He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem (Luke
9:31)." That departure refers to the sacrifice on the cross and the
subsequent resurrection and exit from the earth via His ascension 40 days
after the resurrection. The conversation also probably entailed everything
that would result from that sacrifice and looked forward to His return at
the Day of the Lord which God "will make known at His own time (1 Timothy
6:15)," since “coming in His kingdom” (Mat. 16:28) is what this APPEARANCE is
Based on the appearance of these two men here with Jesus
in a foreshadowing of His second coming, we can conclude that Moses is also
a herald of that coming. There is no prediction of this for Moses as there
is for Elijah, but because of the association presented here, it seems best
to conclude that the two of them function together in the capacity spoken
of in reference to Elijah at Malachi 4:6, "And he will restore the
hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children
to their fathers."
But how can either of these men come back and minister
on the earth?
First, it is no trick for God to bring back to life one
who has died. Abraham's understanding of this is quoted for us at Heb. 11:19,
"having concluded that God is able to raise up even the dead."
And Lazarus is a prime example of this (John 11:17-44). But of course, Lazarus
was only 4 days dead and we are speaking of those who have been dead for
Actually, this is no problem if God has preserved and protected
the physical bodies of those involved. Probably no problem even if the bodies
had been incinerated, but we do have specific information that the body
of Moses was protected (Jude 9). It is quite interesting that only three
people in the entire history of Mankind went through physical death apart
from the normal mechanics; Enoch (Heb. 11:5), Moses (Deut. 34:5-7), and
Elijah (2 Kings 2:11-12).
Furthermore we have specific information concerning the
protection of the body of Moses after his soul left. Jude verse 9 tells
us that Michael the Archangel was given the responsibility to place the
body of Moses in a place for safe keeping and preservation to await its
role in the last days. The soul of course, went to paradise in hades (Luke
16:22) as did all Old Testament believers at death, including Enoch and
Elijah. None of these men either received a resurrection body, or ascended
Jesus is the only one to have received a resurrection body
and no one else will until the Day of the Lord return of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:20-23).
In addition, no one had ascended into heaven prior to the resurrection and
ascension of Jesus (John 3:13), at which time He took to heaven all Old
Testament believers who resided in Hades (Eph. 4:8-9).
SEE TOPIC: Death -physical
In view of God's preservation of the body of Moses, it
is easy to see the same preservation assigned to Elijah's body. Thus, it
is totally possible for these two men to be resuscitated at the end time
to fulfill the ministry foreshadowed at the Mount of Transfiguration; the
ministry of Elijah prophesied to occur prior to the coming of the Day of
the Lord as recorded at Malachi 4:5-6. There is no need for the body of
Enoch to be protected and preserved since there is not even a hint of a
future role for him. It is suggested that his body was simply "buried"
by God to await resurrection at the Day of the Lord return of Jesus.
Concerning the suggestion that Enoch is one of the two witnesses, it need
only be pointed out that the presence of Moses and Elijah with Jesus at the
Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17) in a second coming context, gives
Moses "the nod" in choosing between the two; as well as the miracle
activities ascribed to them at Revelation 11:6.
Furthermore, in that some suggest that Enoch is the other witness for the
reason that he did not “see” death, let me point out that both Enoch and
Elijah did indeed die physically. Both were placed into Paradise in hades,
when their job was done here on earth. These men simply received a special
treatment from God, and as their bodies were left behind and privately
buried by God, their souls interacted with God and the angels in a very
special manner. At 2 Kings 2:11, Elijah is NOT taken into “heaven,” but into
“the heavens,” (Hebrew) ie., the sky.
Enoch did not “encounter” death in the normal manner and that is why it is
said of him that he “did not see death” (Hebrews 11:5).
As mentioned earlier, John 3:13 tells us,
“And no one has ascended into heaven, except the Son of man.”
This indicates that Enoch and Elijah did NOT go into heaven.
Another reason they could not have gone into heaven is because NO Old
Testament believer was given the “completeness” of salvation in heaven
BEFORE the church (Hebrews 11:39-40).
Now, can we find fulfillment of this prophesied ministry
in an end times context? I am suggesting that the two witnesses of Rev.
11 fulfill this prophecy. The two witnesses of Rev. 11:3-7, are not only
testifying about the things of God to the whole world (Rev. 11:9-10), but
minister specifically BEFORE and after the arrival of the Day of the Lord.
The two witnesses have an ability to protect themselves from personal harm by
calling down fire upon there persecutors.
"And if anyone desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and
devours their enemies."
This is adequately explained by John F. Walvoord in his commentary on
Revelation, page 180.
"Verses 5 and 6 record the miraculous powers given to the two witnesses.
Anyone who attempts to hurt them will be destroyed by fire proceeding our of
their mouths. This is at once a judgment of God upon their enemies and a
means of protection of the two witnesses, so that no one can lay a hand on
them. A parallel is found in the prophetic ministry of Elijah, who on two
occasions called fire from heaven upon the company of fifty soldiers sent to
arrest him. . . (2 Kings 1). In a similar way, the enemies of Moses were
destroyed (Numbers 16:35)."
We need not think of fire coming LITERALLY out of their mouths, but rather a
VERBAL judgment on the enemies that is pronounced by the mouth and results
in a judgment of fire coming from God.
Here we see that these two witnesses are characterized by
actions which are Biblically and traditionally associated with Moses and
"These have the authority to shut up the sky,
in order that rain may not fall during the days of their prophesying.
Like Elijah at 1 Kings 17:1.
2. and they
have authority over the waters to turn them into blood.
Like Moses at Exodus 7:17-20.
and to smite the earth with every plague as often as they desire."
Additional 9 plagues like Moses as found at Exodus 7:17 -12:30
It has been suggested that this verse indicates that the
two witnesses are omnipresent, since they seem to have jurisdiction over
the whole earth. However, this does not say that they are "present"
everywhere, but that they have "authority" (exousia) to smite
the earth. This simply indicates that where ever they are, they have the
authority and power to administrate divine judgment over the ones who persecute
them. And even if their ministry is limited to Israel (which is quite possible)
they have authority to "reach" to anywhere on the earth to defend
their cause. Indeed, verses 9-10 indicate that their jurisdiction extends
worldwide, but it does not require an omnipresence idea.
When they have finished their testimony: The word for finish is teleioō,
which means to bring to completion, to finalize. It is an aorist active
subjunctive to go with the temporal adverb, when (hotan). The aorist tense
indicates that in a specific point of time their job will be done. That specific
point of time will be the end of the 70th week of Daniel; 1260 days after the
start of their ministry and the start of thte tribulation at the midpoint of the
2. Testimony is marturia and
defines the nature and content of the proclaiming (prophecy) of verse 3. They
will bear witness to the power of God and the message of salvation. The result
will be success for at least a large number of the earth dwellers in Jerusalem.
After the ascent of the witnesses and the great earthquake, many will show
reverence and glorify God. See at Verse 13.
3. the beast will “make war with them, and overcome
them and kill them,”
It has been suggested that the term, “make war” indicates a massive campaign
against a “group” or “corporate body” rather than against two individuals.
The reasoning is that the word, “polemos,” which is used here, refers to a
whole series of battles rather than a “limited” campaign. However the word
polemos is used for a “single isolated engagement” in the NT at Revelation
19:19; 1 Corinthians 14:8 and Luke 14:31.
Not to mention the several times it is used this way in the LXX.
Furthermore, even if the word usage were restricted to
a "large" campaign, that would not mitigate against someone waging
a "detailed" and drawn out campaign of aggression against an individual
or two or a whole group. The same construction is used at Rev. 13:7 and
12:17 for making war with believers in general but the use of polemos does
not mitigate against these two witnesses being two actual people.
B. the beast will overcome them: nikaō
means to gain a victory over.
It is the same word used for the person who becomes a believer at Rev. 3, "he
who overcomes." And at Rev. 12:11 for both salvation and victorious living in
the face of the beast's persecution. "They overcome him because of the blood of
the Lamb and the word of their testimony."
Here, when the time is right within God's plan, the beast will be able to stop
all the defenses and the plague like activity of the witnesses and neutralize
C. and kill them : apokteinō
as a future active indicative, but the future tense goes back to the specific
point of time in God's plan of verse 7, "when they have finished their
testimony." All is in God's perfect timing and according to His perfect plan.
And their bodies will lie in a street of Jerusalem for 3
1/2 days. The city in view here is called “the great city” and although
Jerusalem is never called “great” elsewhere, That need not be a problem, for
it is indeed “alegorically” designated as Sodom (Isaiah 1:9-10; 3:9;
Jeremiah 23:14; Ezekiel 16:46, 49). And it is indeed, the city where, the
Lord was crucified. Someone has argued against this referring to Jerusalem
because Jesus was actually crucified “outside” the city rather than in it.
However, this reference does not state that Jesus was crucified IN
Jerusalem, but simply AT Jerusalem. Nothing is violated by understanding the
idea of “where” as designating the general geographical location.
Even after witnessing the visible arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky
with power and great glory, and being in the midst of the severe judgments
from the first 6 trumpets, the beast worshippers will still be loyal to him
and will celebrate his various victories.
Upon the killing of the two witnesses, the beast worshipers from around the
world "from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations," will be able
to observe the dead bodies lying in the street. This will be easily
accomplished through the video technology available today.
In addition, "they will not allow their bodies to be laid in a tomb." This
refusal to allow burial is to boastfully broadcast the beast's victory
throughout his beleaguered kingdom and promote the celebrations mentioned in
1. those who dwell on the earth: The "earth dwellers" are seen several times
in The Revelation. Generally it simply refers to any unbeliever. Here it
refers specifically to the beast worshippers.
Rev. 1:7, the tribes of the earth.
Rev. 3:10, those who dwell upon the earth
Rev. 6:10; 8:13; 13:12, 14; 14:6; 17:2
2. rejoice over them: The verb is chairō,
which indicates an a feeling of joy or exhilaration or feeling of relief. It
occurs with the preposition, epi + them, which indicates an attitude of glee
about the death of the witnesses.
3. and make merry: euphrainō
takes the attitude of gladness into a
celebration mode as in "party time."
4. send gifts to one another: probably at the direction of the beast. It
seems that this will show additional OUTWARD loyalty to the beast. It will
serve as a kind of propaganda program to encourage the people who not only
suffered at the hands of the witnesses, but are also still under many of the
judgments of God that have come through the trumpets.
Of course, this reminds me immediately of the Christmas tradition of giving
and receiving gifts. It could be an attempt to counterfeit that tradition
and downplay the reality of Christ's presence and judgment on the beast's
However, there are many and varied celebratory occasions throughout the
world's cultures that involve the trading of gifts.
The Jews also had a tradition of sending food and other gifts to one another
and to the needy on various joyful occasions. Esth. 9:19, 22; Neh. 8:10,
5. because these two prophets tormented:
A. Because: This word is hoti, used as a causal conjunction and indicates
the reason there is a celebration. It is because
the two witnesses who
tormented the people are now dead.
as an aorist active indicative which indicates the historical
fact of torment through the activities of the two
occurred over the space of the 1260 days. The
verb can refer to both
physical and mental torment and distress. I
suggest that the ministry of
the two witnesses involved both. Mental torment
will come from the
message that will indict them of spiritual
failure and assure them of the
spiritual consequences. The physical torment will
come from the
prophets' defense maneuvers and some of the
plagues they will bring.
6. But they
really had very little to celebrate in the midst of the turmoil and death
that permeated throughout the beast's empire from the trumpet judgments.
1. After 3 1/2 days: This will be the first days after the end of the 70th
week; the first of the 30-day period that follows the 1260-day period.
"And from the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the
abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1290 days."
2. The breath of life out from God came into them:
The Greek is pneuma of zoā to refer to the return of physical life to the
body. It is the same construction used in the LXX at Ezekiel 37:5.
In actuality it is the return of soul and spirit into the body. This is the
same thing that occurred at Luke 7.11-17; John 11:38-45; Mat. 27:50-53.
3. and they stood on their feet: evidence that they actually came back to
4. and great fear fell on those who were seeing them.
Watching: is a present active participle of theōreō. This is more than just
a glimpse-in-time action. It is an on going activity as the whole event
The word for fear is phobos. It sometimes means the idea of being afraid,
which is probably the idea here. At verse 13 there is a different reaction
from those who remain alive after the earthquake. The verb ginomai with the
adjective emphobos is used along with the RESULT of the mental reaction,
"and they gave glory to the God of heaven." See at verse 13.
At this point there is a question about resurrection.
After the bodies lie in the street for 3 1/2 days, they are brought back to
life. But will they receive a resurrection body at that time and then be
taken into heaven to take their place with the rest of the elect, as part of
the bride of Christ?
It is true that if Moses and Elijah are the two witnesses, then they will
"miss out" on the resurrection of the Old Testament elect which takes place
at the rapture. But that is simply a matter of timing, because they would
receive a resurrection body when they are taken up. This is a delay I
suggest they are willing to make in order to participate in this very
special aspect of God's plan. It will be a great privilege to provide a
final evangelistic outreach to Israel and to the world prior to Armageddon.
Whether this “raising” is only a restoration to physical life rather than
resurrection, their bodies will certainly be transformed before they ascend.
Receiving a resurrection body at this time is in order, since they were
indeed, believers prior to the GATHERING of the elect (all Old Testament
believers and church age believers), and are officially part of that group.
Thus either AS or after they are brought back to life after the 3 1/2 days,
they will receive a resurrection body. Then after the people have a moment
to react and digest the event, the voice from heaven will call them up into
the sky, with all the people in the city staring after them (Revelation
11:12). There, they join the others of the elect waiting in the third heaven
for the completion of the reward seat and their preparation for the marriage
of the Lamb.
It has been suggested that these two witnesses are other
than two individuals. From the perspective of the "Golden Rule of Interpretation,"
this option is not viable.
GOLDEN RULE OF INTERPRETATION
When the plain sense of scripture makes common
seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary,
ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context,
studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths,
indicate clearly otherwise.
Although there is an abundance of symbolism employed in
the book of The Revelation, there is no clear or even implied indication
that the characteristics ascribed to these two witnesses, should be taken
in any other way than "ordinary, usual, literal." Except of course,
where symbolism is obvious such as "olive trees," "lamp stand," and "fire from
The first issue is LITERAL interpretation.
When symbols are employed the interpretation of those symbols NEVER counter the
LITERAL factors in the context.
Since the literal descriptions of the two MUST refer to literal people, then the
interpretation of the symbols must ALSO refer to people.
One has to ignore those literal descriptions to come up with ANY "entity"
1. Literal, physical bodies clothed in sackcloth.
2. Dead LITERAL, PHYSICAL bodies in the street.
3. In a LITERAL PHYSICAL street.
4. ONE literal city of Jerusalem.
5. Not permit their dead LITERAL, PHYSICAL BODIES to be laid in a tomb - v. 9
6. Stood on their literal, physicl FEET
7. The instructions to "come up here" is addressed to individuals, not some
8. Their enemies watched them go up.
9. Even the fact that "they will prophesy," v. 3.
And have a "testimony," verse 7.
The three symbolic factors ascribed to these witnesses must be viewed as
subordinate to the identification of them as two individuals. So all the
straining and twisting and pseudo comparisons to find proof that the symbols
refer to the church or any other entity ignores the literal INTENT of the vision
shown to John at Rev. 11.
The SECOND issue is TIMING.
The 42 months, 1260 days and 3 1/2 years all refer to the same period of time -
from the midpoint of the week until the end of the week, which will be indicated
by the sounding of the 7th trumpet.
The church will be removed 6 to 18 months before the end of the week. The two
witnesses testify UNTIL the end of the week. And they are raised up 3 1/2 days
into the next 30-day period after the end of the week.
God is not playing games and intends for His word to be understood. It violates
the integrity of purposeful communication to have 1260 days at Rev. 11:3 mean
something different from the 1260 days of Rev. 12:6.
The THIRD issue is previous Scriptural identification.
1. Mal. 4:5-6, Elijah will come as a witness to the nation of Israel prior to
the arrival of the DOL.
Mark 9:12, "Elijah does come first to restore all things."
2. Mat. 17:1-5, Moses and Elijah are shown to be heralds of Christ's second
coming (the arrival of the DOL).
3. Nowhere in the rest of Scripture finds the fulfillment of this prophecy
except the ministry of the two witnesses.
It is therefore unacceptable from my perspective that these
two witnesses "symbolize" ANY thing other than two literal individuals.
Suggestions such as the church, Israel, the word, the Spirit, or anything
else are totally inadequate and violate the "individualistic"
flavor employed in describing them.
The three symbolic factors ascribed to these witnesses
must be viewed as subordinate to the identification of them as two individuals.
The first two symbols assigned to these witnesses are the
"lampstand" and the "olive tree."
The olive tree usually speaks of oil. Oil primarily was
used to "anoint" someone when they had a specific job to do. Sometimes
"oil" speaks of the Holy Spirit, so this factor must be considered.
The best example of this symbolism is found at Zech. 4:2-14 where we see
the two leaders of restored Israel, Zerubbabel and Joshua, in about 520
It is also significant that we have a lampstand and 7 lamps here which speak
of some aspect of Divine provision as indicated at verse 6, "not by might
nor by power, but by My Spirit."
Is it not most likely then, that the lampstand speaks of "witness"
(thus the word "testimony" at verse 7) via the
power of the Holy Spirit? And that it is used that way in connection with
the 7 churches also (for notice at Revelation 2:5, "I will remove your lampstand out of its place, unless you repent." Ie, their witness will be
removed, perhaps that local church even destroyed)?
The lampstand then, simply reflects the idea that all believers are to be
"lights of (to) the world," (Philippians 2:15; Matthew 5:14-16) and fulfill
their responsibility as ambassadors for Christ. These two witnesses just
have a very specialized ministry as heralds to the second coming of the
Messiah and as catalysts for bringing the nation of Israel back into a right
relationship with God (Malachi 4:6) as they "prophesy" and
proclaim their "testimony" right up to the very
end of the 70th week.
Verse 11 asks, what are these 2 olive trees?
and verse 14, the answer: these are the two "sons of oil" (which designates
them as "anointed ones") who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth.
That is, they are anointed with a specific job to do in ministering to the
nation of Israel.
Thus - the 2 witnesses are:
1. Anointed (commissioned) by God to testify for 1260 days.
2. Specially provisioned to be "lights to the world."
The third symbolic factor concerning these witnesses is
the term, "Fire from the mouth," which we already saw at verse 5.
The identification of these two witnesses "before
the fact" is not important and certainly not a reason for contention. I simply
feel that when all the pertinent passages are considered and correlated, Moses
and Elijah come forth strong and clear as the two witnesses.
Concerning the suggestion that Enoch is one of the two
witnesses, it need only be pointed out that the presence of Moses and Elijah
with Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration (Mat. 17) in a 2nd coming context,
gives Moses "the nod" in choosing between the two; as well as
the miracle activities ascribed to them at Rev. 11:6.
These two witnesses are given authority for 1260 days, which extends from
the midpoint of the 70th week, at the inception of the tribulation; the
oppressive reign of the beast, and concludes at the end of the week. It is at
this time that they are killed by the beast, and their bodies lie in the street
for 3 1/2 days. Although the 70th week ends at this time, there still remains 30
additional days during which God will pour out the final wrath of His
justice upon the earth and the beast’s kingdom. These are the first 3 1/2
days of that next 30 day period.
According to Daniel 12:11, there will be 1290 days until the abomination is
ended. That is 30 days beyond the end of the week.
Even though the beast's reign OFFICIALLY ends at the end of the week, he is not
neutralized and destroyed until 30 days later. His kingdom will go through a
massive judgment from the bowls, but he will still be huffing and puffing
against God and God's people - enough so that he can assemble his troops to
Armageddon where he will be destroyed. Just as Paul wrote, “whom the Lord will slay with the breath (word) of
his mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming,” (2
Thessalonians 2:8). This of course refers to the Day-of-the-Lord arrival of
Jesus in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory, portrayed at the
6th seal, and which initiates the judgments that will be finalized at
Armageddon. However, the beast is NOT SLAIN at this arrival in the clouds,
but remains alive until after the battle of Armageddon which is portrayed
for us at Revelation 19:11-21. Paul is not giving us a chronological factor
but simply a statement of fact, that it is “the appearance of His coming”
that will EVENTUALLY bring about the destruction of the man of lawlessness.
To repeat, 30 additional days are mentioned at Daniel 12:11, where we learn that
“from the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished, and the abomination
of desolation is set up” which is the midpoint of the week, “there will be
1290 days.” Thus, the removal of the desolation in the Jewish temple will
not occur until 30 days after the end of the 70th week. Armageddon occurs
toward the end of that 30 day period, and it might very well be that the
believing Jews in Jerusalem remove the idol image from the temple after the
invading armies are all destroyed.
After the two witnesses are taken up from the earth, there is a great
earthquake which demolishes a tenth of the city, killing 7,000 people
(Revelation 11:13a). As a result of this it seems that the remaining Jews in
the city (or most of them) finally change their minds and express reverence
toward God, giving Him glory - AND probably accepting Jesus as the Messiah
at that time. The gospel message which has been being proclaimed since the
rapture is “Fear God and give Him glory . . . and worship Him,” (Revelation
14:7). These people left in the city at this time do that. And this is how
we can find so many believers in Jerusalem and vicinity at the time the
armies of the world invade during the Armageddon campaign (Zechariah 12:5-8;
14:14). And these are the ones for whom the Lord descends to the earth as
recorded at Isaiah 59:20, “And a Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those
who turn away from transgression in Jacob.” This is not the Day-of-the-Lord
arrival of Jesus, for that is described in Isaiah 59:17b-19.
It has been suggested that verse 13 takes place in an Armageddon context.
However, the focus is on Jerusalem and NOT the valley of Megiddo, where the
final physical conflict occurs, known as Armageddon. Here, there is not
military confrontation. Here, there is no judgment on the beast, but a very
specific judgment on the CITY and the citizenry. There is a great
earthquake; one of FIVE that occur on the earth during that time period
known as the end times. It is a LOCAL earthquake which destroys one tenth of
the city and kills only seven thousand people. THE END, which is Armageddon,
will have not as yet occurred.
After the two witnesses are ascended into heaven, the 7th trumpet sounds
which announces the arrival of the final wrath of God to be dealt upon the
world of unbelievers (Revelation 11:14-19; 15:1-8).
Daniel 12:12 further indicates that there will be another 45 days (1290 + 45
= 1335) that will mark the BLESSING for those left on the earth. This must
refer to the cleansing of the earth from all unbelievers that is described
in two ways. (1) the sheep and goat judgment of Matthew 25:31-46. Those who
are left alive on the earth after this judgment are believers who go into
the kingdom in their normal bodies as subjects of King Messiah (Zechariah
(2) the fat and lean sheep judgment of Ezekiel 34:17-31. Those alive after
this separation go alive into the blessing of Messiah’s kingdom.
1. The two witnesses are Moses and Elijah.
2. Their ministry is to woo Israel back to trusting in the Messianic promise
and seeing Jesus as the fulfillment of that promise.
3. They minister for 1260 days, from the midpoint of the week until the very
4. They are killed by the beast but resurrected 3 1/2 days later, at which
time they are taken up into heaven to join the rest of the bride.
5. The immediate result is that the vast majority of Jews in the vicinity of
Jerusalem become believers in Jesus as the Messiah.
and questions are always welcome!
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