Who are the Two Witnesses ?
Revelation 11: 1 - 12
1.And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.
2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
11 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
This passage of scripture is paralleled in the book of the Prophet Zechariah.
Zechariah 4:2— 6
2. And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:
3 And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.
4 So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord?
5 Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts
What does scripture in Revelation ch 11 say about these two witnesses?
V3 “they” “shall prophecy” “ clothed in sackcloth”They, the two witnesses are referred to as Prophets.
V5 “ If any man hurt them” “ fire proceedeth out their mouth”
V7 “make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them”.
V8 “ their dead bodies shall lie in the street”
Definition of Prophet.
Prophet : A person who is believed to have a special power that allows them to say what God wishes to tell people, especially about things that will happen in the future:
Definition of Witness
Witness ( Greek martus: a witness ) Ear or Eye Witness. (a Person).
1. One who can give a firsthand account of something seen, heard, or experienced: a witness to the accident.
a.One who is called on to testify before a court.
b. One who is called on to be present at a transaction in order to attest to what takes place.
c. One who signs one's name to a document for the purpose of attesting to its authenticity.
These two witnesses are going to preach for 3 1/2 years. They are clothed, They have mouths, they prophecy, they are killed, their bodies lay in the street.
It does sound like these two are real men.
However, there are many interpretations of the two witnesses. Some say that the two witnesses refer to the Old and the New Testaments. The two books that testify of Gods plan of salvation. Books can testify to the truth but they are not witnesses.
Others say these witnesses are simply the churches over the ages that have proclaimed the gospel.
It is true that the people that belonged to churches are witnesses but these two are specific witnesses .
Other interpretations are Moses and Elijah, Elijah and Enoch, Peter and Paul, the Jews and Christians and so on.
An interesting idea is Elijah and Enoch.
It is said that because both Enoch and Elijah did not see death and because scripture says that “it is appointed to men once to die and then the judgement”
That it is plausible that these two men must return to die to fulfill the scripture. However, is this correct?
Lets look at the scripture quoted.
Here is the verse in context: Hebrews 9:27 Context
24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement:
28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
The Bible is very clear that all men experience a single permanent death. Once this happens, each person is accountable for their actions in life. This verse also, indirectly, reminds the reader that the real judgment for sin comes after death.
The context of this verse is that Christ died once, not continually.
Christ does not continually die for men. Men must come to Christ in this life, there are no second chances.
In the context of this passage, the writer is also making a point about the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. As recently mentioned, the sacrifice offered by Jesus is not like that of the old covenant. Animal sacrifices had to be offered repeatedly, since they could not perfectly atone for sin. Christ was able to offer a single, "once for all" sacrifice which absolutely covered the payment required for humanity's salvation.
There are many people in scripture that died twice. Lazarus, Eutichus, Dorcus, etc. However they only had one life on earth.
Then there is Moses and Elijah.
Yes, in scripture we can see that the powers given to these two witnesses are the same powers that Moses and Elijah had. We also know that John the Baptist was said to come in the spirit of Elijah.
Malachi 4:5: "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.
Is it possible then, that these two witnesses come in the spirit of Moses and Elijah but that it does not mean that it will be them personally returning to earth.The scripture does not say specifically that it is Moses and Elijah.
However, we do see in scripture that mantles of anointing can be passed on to others.
The bible tells us of Moses and Joshua and also of Elijah and Elisha.
Moses and Joshua.
Joshua is again mentioned is in Exodus 24:13: “And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God”.
He accompanies Moses up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. Joshua became Moses assistant and Moses his mentor. Joshua was next to Moses when Moses smashed the two tablets (Exodus 32:19). When Moses realised he would need a successor, he asked God to provide one. God directed him to Joshua, whom God had already prepared for the task.The mantle as it were, ( the anointing ) was passed on to Joshua. It was Joshua that led the children of Israel into the promised land.
Elijah and Elisha.
The very first thing that Elijah did to Elisha when he met him was to throw his cloak over him, but he took it back. Elijah was allowing Elisha the opportunity to come under the anointing of his mantle, to taste and see what it was like. The mantle represented the anointing of God. The mantle was taken back and for years, all we read about the life of Elisha was that he was the one who poured water on the hands of Elijah. The time came when Elisha took hold of that mantle and asked, “Where now is the God of Elijah?” He picked it up, cast it down and the waters of the Jordan parted (2 Kings 2:13-14). “13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan;14 And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.
The other prophets said that the anointing or the mantle of Elijah resided on Elisha (v. 15).15 And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.
Going back to Zachariah,Zec 4:11 Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?
Zec 4:12 And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?
Zec 4:13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
Zec 4:14 Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
What does the oil represent in scripture?
In many places, oil often represents The Holy Spirit. The anointing of the Spirit. Remember the ten virgins. Five had oil in their lamps and five did not.This is symbolising the fact that they did not have the Holy Spirit. They were not part of the bride and were not allowed to enter the wedding.Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. Matt 25: 2 - 12
2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
Another parallel passage is on the Mount of Transfiguration.Jesus was there in the centre of two figures and on either side were Moses and Elijah standing by the Lord of the whole earth.Remember, Moses passed on the anointing to Joshua and Elijah passed on the anointing to Elisha.
Could it be that the two witnesses are two men that dwell on the earth at the time of the seven year covenant and like John the Baptist, are anointed with the spirit of Moses and Elijah.?