Two Witnesses


Two Witnesses

In Christian eschatology, the Two Witnesses are two individuals, concepts or "corporate beings" described in chapter 11 of the Book of Revelation in the events leading up to the second coming of Christ.

] The images, symbolism, and allegorical language used throughout the Revelation are impossible to fathom or interpret without a fairly comprehensive knowledge of the original "Testament".

Israel and the Church as the “corporate witness"

Interconnected with Revelation 11, as some commentators have acknowledged [] which during the sacerdotal rites in ancient Jerusalem provided “uncircumcised gentiles” who were interested in the Jewish religion to venture into the temple complex but not into the area of the sacrificial altar; hence, they were not full participants and remained on the peripheral of full commitment; unless, of course, they were willing to be circumcised. Numerous Christian commentaries perceive the issue of circumcision as a matter of the heart and the cutting away of the “flesh” an experiential expression of Christian commitment to holiness and sanctification--Paul, the Apostle, repeatedly enunciates deeper understanding of "spiritual circumcision" [.]

Those willing to “pay the price” – having their flesh cut off (i.e., their “hearts dealt with”) – are those “measured at the altar of sacrifice.” [] ) foretells their ultimate destiny. Furthermore, they are immediately identified as: "These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth" (Revelation 11:4).

Those embracing Israel and the Church as the Two Witnesses identify the number "two" [cite book |last=Bullinger |first=E. W. |title=Number in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance |origyear=1921 |url=http://philologos.org/__eb-nis/two.htm |accessdate=2007-12-24 |edition=4th ed. rev. |year=2001 |publisher=Eyre & Spottiswoode (Bible Warehouse) |location=London] connoting the “witness of Israel” [cite web |url=http://christianactionforisrael.org/witness/witness.html |title=Witness to the Nations |accessdate=2007-12-25 |publisher=Christian Action for Israel] to the gentile nations during the 70th Week of Daniel's prophecy; as well as the fact that the "olive tree" [cite web |url=http://www.levitt.com/essays/olivetree.html |title=What is the Olive Tree? |accessdate=2007-12-25 |last=McCall |first=Thomas S. |year=2001 |month=March |work=Levitt Letter |publisher=Zola Levitt Ministries] in the Scripture signifies Israel. The "witness of the Church" is signified by the "two lampstands" [cite web |url=http://www.restoringthevision.com/Ch11RtheV.htm |title=Restoring the Vision of the End Times Church |accessdate=2007-12-25 |last=Kuenzi |first=Vernon L. |year=2001] whose identity was disclosed by the “seven golden lampstands” (i.e., candlesticks) revealed in Revelation 2-3 as the “churches.”

Furthermore, this imagery clearly harkens back to Zechariah 4 and the “two sons of oil” or “two olive trees” who astride the “golden lamp stand” seen by Zechariah the prophet. [Zechariah 4:2-4, 11-14.] Zerubbabel, the governor, and Joshua the High Priest (the kingship and the priesthood) are seen by the Almighty wholly empowered for the rebuilding of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem after its destruction under King Nebuchadnezzar II: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.” [Zechariah 4:6.]

Extending Zechariah's vision to the Revelation, John sees in the midst of the seven golden lamp stands, “one like unto the Son of Man.” Therefore, as Zechariah's vision saw the “kingship and the priesthood” on either side of the “universal lamp stand” – even so, that prophetic illumination is seen in the Revelation as the Son of Man, the “spirit of prophecy” disseminating light and life to the churches as the present “work of God” – as the work of the Almighty was expressed in Zechariah 4 – the work of God is expressed in Revelation 1 and confirmed by the bringing together in testimony and witness the ministry of the prophet; thusly, is Christ's work as “prophet, priest, and king” [cite web|url=http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:LKLx-OjNTEkJ:www.modernreformation.org/kr95triple.htm+Zechariah+4+-+Christ+is+Prophet,+Priest,+and+King&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=2|title=king"] fully declared through the Two Witnesses.

Again, those who hold to the “corporate nature” of these Two Witnesses point out that the further disclosures of what they “do” over against who they “are” does not negate their identities but affirms that their witness is to the earth (i.e., Israel – turning the waters into blood and striking “the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire”) and to the heavens (i.e., the Church – “have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy”). Here, the Apostle Paul's writings of the Church's “heavenly stature” confirms such a witness; whereas Israel's call to be a “light to the gentiles” confirms their original commission. [Ephesians 6:10-13.]

Those [cite web |url=http://www.the-tribulation-network.com/articles/individualism_and_the_american_church.htm |title=Individualism and the American Church ... How American Culture Distorts our Perception of the Church |accessdate=2007-12-27 |last=Shearer |first=Douglas R. |date=1993-06-29 |work=The Tribulation Network] adhering to a corporate expression of the Two Witnesses point out that “Reformational Christianity” [cite web |url=http://thebigpicture.homestead.com/files/CHRISTIANITYANDCULTURE.html |title=Christianity and Culture: The Case for Reformational Cultural Activism |accessdate=2007-12-27 |last=Strauss |first=Gideon |date=1992-10-02] has distorted our perception (especially in America) of one's identity. By this is meant that the Enlightenment and Reformation laid stress upon one's “individualism” (i.e., salvation is a “personal encounter with Christ” and not a salvivic experience through one's identity with the Church—“saved in the Church”). It is this identification with the individual juxtaposed to one's personhood reflected in the collective group that misses the spiritual dimension of Revelation 11 (i.e., “in Christ” or “in Adam” connotes corporate identification). [1 Corinthians 15:22.]

Once they “finish their testimony” the unveiling, and first mention in the Revelation of the beast who ascends out of the bottomless pit, is made. They pay the uttermost price for their testimony: “the beast . . . will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them” (Rev. 11:7). The word used for "war" in the Greek connotes a major conflagration, not a skirmish or interpersonal struggle; thereby drawing attention to the corporate nature of the conflict between the beast and the Two Witnesses; for the beast would not make "war" against two individuals (Greek: "polemos" - see Strong's Greek 4171). [cite web|url=http://www.htmlbible.com/sacrednamebiblecom/kjvstrongs/FRMSTRGRK41.htm|title=4171).]

Then their “body” (the Greek singular is used: "ptoma" [cite web|url=http://www.htmlbible.com/sacrednamebiblecom/kjvstrongs/STRGRK44.htm#S4430|title="ptoma"] - meaning "corpes") lies exposed in the “street of the great city” which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” (vs. 8). To illustrate that this city is the “great city” juxtaposed to the “holy city” – and not Jerusalem – the "Spirit Filled Life Bible" footnote affirms these witnesses face off with the worldly system, the great city, headed up by the beast:

The great city is not literally the physical city of Jerusalem, but spiritually the world in rebellion against God. Sodom symbolizes immorality, and Egypt symbolizes the political oppression of the people of God in this world where our Lord was crucified. ("The Spirit Filled Life Bible", Thomas Nelson Bibles, [cite web|url=http://www.seekgod.ca/hayford.htm|title=Bibles,] P. 1831)

This argument is reinforced by Rev. 11:8 pointedly stating that the great city is “spiritually” or “allegorically” called Sodom and Egypt—and Jerusalem is never mentioned in the text; however, many commentators do not see a problem in this—because the phrase “where also our Lord was crucified” must mean Jerusalem; for Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem. Others counter—Jesus was crucified “outside the camp” [Hebrews 13:13.] – “outside the gate” [Hebrews 13:12.] (not in Jerusalem proper) by the Romans (gentiles) and this Revelation passage appears to back this notion of the “great city” doing the work of crucifixion.

Posttribulationists, [Citation |last=Willems |first=Arthur G. |title =Book Review: The Church and the Tribulation |newspaper=Direction |pages=34-35 |date=April 1976 |url=http://www.directionjournal.org/article/?202] who see this dual witness of Israel and the Church (in counterdistinction to premillenarian-pretribulationists who accuse these posttribulationists of “blurring” the traditional dispensational distinctions of Israel and the Church), [cite web |url=http://www.ldolphin.org/progdispen.html |title=A Proper Biblical D.I.E.T. |accessdate=2007-12-27 |last=McCall |first=Tom |coauthors=Zola Levitt |year=2000 |month=February |work=Levitt Letter] likewise adhere to the 3 ½ days of “their body” exposed to the “open persecution” ("their body lies in the street of the great city"; i.e., the 42 months aforementioned in Revelation 11:2) as the final three-and-one-half years of Daniel's 70th Week and that the days mentioned here are years (i.e., the 70th Week represents seven years and 3 ½ days represents 1,260 days, 42 months, 3 ½ years, or time, times, and half a time)(see Day-year principle).

Therefore, it is at the very close of the 70th Week of Daniel's prophecy that the Two Witnesses are resurrected—there is no secret rapture (i.e., they are seen by all the inhabitants of the earth; Rev. 11:11)—a loud voice is heard from heaven calling all the “righteous dead” in the resurrection and those that are “alive and survive” the great tribulation are, as Paul proclaims: “The dead in Christ shall rise first, then we which are alive and "remain" (Grk. "perileipo" meaning "survive" - Strong's Greek: 4035). [cite web|url=http://www.htmlbible.com/sacrednamebiblecom/kjvstrongs/STRGRK40.htm|title=4035).] shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).

Once again, it must be pointed out that Historicists see this 1,260-day period as 1,260 years and believe it is the time of the Papacy's [cite web |url=http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/proph_38.htm |title=The Man of Sin |accessdate=2007-12-31] “rule and reign” as the antichrist system between A.D. 538 and 1798 (i.e., from the time the Roman Church was recognized as the “civil authority” until the time of Napoleon's imprisoning of Pope Pius VI and his death in 1798). [cite web |url=http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12131a.htm |title=Pope Pius VI |accessdate=2007-12-31 |last=Ott |first=Michael T. |year=1911 |work=The Catholic Encyclopedia]

The subsequent passages in Revelation 11:13-19 are interpreted by Post-tribulationists as confirmation that the pouring out of the “wrath of God” (i.e., after the resurrection and rapture) is seen "in the same hour" (Revelation 11:13). Immediately, Messiah's descending from the heavens to establish His earthly kingdom and the famous sounds of Handel's Messiah, and of John's prophetic testimony, are heard:

The kingdoms of this world have now become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Messiah (Christ), and he shall reign forever and ever! (Rev. 11:15)

The Revelation declares: “The Testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” [Revelation 19:10.] – therefore, as their deliverer testified on earth for 3 ½ years, [cite web |url=http://www.carm.org/questions/Jesus_age.htm |title=How old was Jesus when He was crucified? |accessdate=2007-12-31 |year=2007 |work=Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry] was crucified, arose from the dead, ascended to heaven – even so, this is the destiny of all those who will follow the Messiah--this is the "testimony of Jesus". [Revelation 1:2.]

Church or concepts

Evangelical postmillennialism, [cite web |url=http://www.pre-trib.org/pdf/Ice-WhatisPostmillennial.pdf |title=What Is Postmillenialism? Tom's Perspectives |accessdate=2007-12-31 |last=Ice |first=Thomas |format=PDF] as well as St. Augustine's amillennialism, [cite web |url=http://persweb.wabash.edu/facstaff/royaltyr/augustine.htm |title=Augustine and the Millennium |accessdate=2007-12-31 |last=Hutchinson |first=John M.] accord future roles for the Two Witnesses in their commentaries; however, those roles are wholly symbolic of the Church's singular witness to the world. As Amillenarian Tony Warren declares:

These two witnesses of Revelation eleven are a ‘symbol’ of God's faithful servants, the true eternal indivisible Church. [cite web |url=http://members.aol.com/twarren17/rev11.html |title=A verse by verse exposition of Revelation Chapter 11 |accessdate=2007-12-31 |last=Warren |first=Tony |date=2002-10-14 |work=The Mountain Retreat]

Hence, the Church is the “Israel of God” [cite web |url=http://members.aol.com/twarren13/israel2.html |title=The True Israel of God |accessdate=2007-12-31 |last=Shelton |first=L. R. |work=The Mountain Retreat] – and the concluding witness of the Church, as originally propounded by Augustine, [cite web |url=http://www.religioustolerance.org/millenni.htm |title=Eschatology, End Times, and Millennialism: Competing Theories |accessdate=2007-12-31 |last=Robinson |first=B. A. |date=2006-08-18 |work=ReligiousTolerance.org |publisher=Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance ] will endure to the end of the age as a demonstration of “the age-long struggle of evil against Christ's rule.” Israel and the Church constitute one people of God—there is no literal seven-year tribulation on earth. Evangelical postmillennialism also sees Israel and the Church as the one people of God; however, the Millennium will be a literal 1,000-year reign of Christ, realized through the church's ministry of the kingdom of God.

They who adhere to the singular witness of the Church until the Second Coming of Christ, affirm the Church's unique testimony until the eschaton.

The 1599 Geneva Study Bible [cite web|url=http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/GenevaStudyBible/gen.cgi?book=re&chapter=011)|title=Bible] asserts the two witnesses as the exclusive purvue of the church:

1) The authority of the intended revelation being declared, together with the necessity of that calling which was particularly imposed on John after which follows the history of the estate of Christ his Church, both conflicting or warring, and overcoming in Christ. For the true Church of Christ is said to fight against that which is falsely so called, over which Antichrist rules, Christ Jesus overthrowing Antichrist by the spirit of his mouth: and Christ is said to overcome most gloriously until he shall slay Antichrist by the appearance of his coming, as the apostle teaches in (2 Thessalonians 2:8). So this history has two parts: One of the state of the Church conflicting with temptations until Chapter 16. The other of the state of the same church obtaining victory, thence to Chapter 20. The first part has two sections most conveniently distributed into their times, of which the first contains a history of the Christian Church for 1260 years, what time the gospel of Christ was as it were taken up from among men into heaven: the second contains a history of the same Church to the victory perfected. These two sections are briefly, though distinctly propounded in this chapter, but both of them are discoursed after in due order.

This comment from the Geneva Study Bible is made on Revelation 11:4:

These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth . . .That is, the ordinary and perpetual instruments of spiritual grace, peace and light in my Church, which God by his only power preserved in this Temple. See (Zechariah 4:3).

A somewhat collective expression of the Church as the singular witness is given in Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible; [cite web|url=http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/MatthewHenryComplete/mhc-com.cgi?book=re&chapter=011|title=Bible;] Revelation 11:

It is a sufficient number; for in the mouth of two witnesses every cause shall be established. Christ sent out his disciples two by two, to preach the gospel. Some think these two witnesses are Enoch and Elias, who are to return to the earth for a time: others, the church of the believing Jews and that of the Gentiles: it should rather seem that they are God's eminent faithful ministers, who shall not only continue to profess the Christian religion, but to preach it, in the worst of times. II. The time of their prophesying, or bearing their testimony for Christ. A thousand two hundred and threescore days; that is (as many think), to the period of the reign of antichrist; and, if the beginning of that interval could be ascertained, this number of prophetic days, taking a day for a year, would give us a prospect when the end shall be. III.

John Wesley in his commentary on Revelation 11 [cite web|url=http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/WesleysExplanatoryNotes/wes.cgi?book=re&chapter=011|title=Revelation 11] suggests a more "spiritual" application of their identity - almost ambiguous in nature:

11:3 And I - Christ - will give to my two witnesses - These seem to be two prophets; two select, eminent instruments. Some have supposed (though without foundation) that they are Moses and Elijah, whom they resemble in several respects. To prophesy twelve hundred and sixty days - Common days, that is, an hundred and eighty weeks. So long will they prophesy, (even while that last and sharp treading of the holy city continues,) both by word and deed, witnessing that Jesus is the Son of God, the heir of all things, and exhorting all men to repent, and fear, and glorify God. Clothed in sackcloth - The habit of the deepest mourners, out of sorrow and concern for the people. 11:4 These are the two olive trees - That is, as Zerubbabel and Joshua, the two olive trees spoken of by Zechariah, Zechariah 3:9, 4:10, were then the two chosen instruments in God's hand, even so shall these. be in their season. Being themselves full of the unction of the Holy One, they shall continually transmit the same to others also. And the two candlesticks - Burning and shining lights. Standing before the Lord of the earth - Always waiting on God, without the help of man, and asserting his right over the earth and all things therein.

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible [cite web|url=http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/GillsExpositionoftheBible/gil.cgi?book=re&chapter=011&verse=003&next=004&prev=002|title=Bible] presents a classical Protestant Historicist interpretation of the two witnesses as the true Church in counterdistinction to the antichrist system of Roman Catholicism:

Though they ought not to be considered exclusive of other ministers and churches, who also have bore, and still do bear a witness for Christ, and against the idolatries of the church of Rome: no two individual persons can be meant, since these witnesses were to prophesy 1260 days, that is, so many years, but a succession of ministers and churches.

Ross Taylor's "Verse by Verse Commentary on Revelation" [cite web|url=http://www.apocalipsis.org/rev-11.htm|title=Revelation"] clearly defines the Church as the "two olive trees and the two lampstands" . . .

The two witnesses represent the witnessing church rather than two individuals: 1. The church received power to witness at Pentecost, see verse 3 'I will give power to my two witnesses and they will prophecy...' cf. Acts 1:8 and 2:18. 2. Two is the number to establish a witness, testimony (Deu 17:6, John 8:17, 2 Cor 13:1), for example our Lord sent his disciple out in twos, Mark 6:7. 3. They are described as 'the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth' 11:4. We have already seen that the church is symbolised by lampstands in 1:20. The olive trees represent the power of the Holy Spirit with which the witnesses had received (Acts 1:5, 1:8, 2:17). 4. They prophecy for the same period (1,260 days) as the worshippers, temple of God and holy city is trampled on by the Gentiles (42 months). These three designations are all indicative of the church. 5. They rise from the dead and are raptured as is the church (11:11-12). 6. 11:7 indicates that '...the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them' i.e. the two witnesses this parallels the warning in 13:7 that the beast 'was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them' see also the warning in 13:10. If the two events are indeed parallel then the two witnesses are the saints.

Furthermore, the elimination of all or part of the 70th Week of Daniel (yet future) is the hallmark of Historicist eschatology—there is no personal Antichrist, peace treaty to be signed with Israel, a future rebuilt Jewish temple, or future 70th week.fact|date=July 2008

An Amillennial Exposition of Revelation 11:1-13

An Amillennial exposition of Revelation 11:1-13 is available at this link. [cite web |url=http://www.twoagespilgrims.com/files/show_article.php?id=153 |title=Nollie Malabuyo, "The Two Faithful Witnesses" |date=2005-03-22 |work=TwoAgesPilgrims.com] You can also read an exegesis of the passage in [http://www.twoagespilgrims.com/files/show_article.php?id=157/ "Will Moses and Elijah Come Back? The Two Witnesses of Revelation 11:1-13"]

Individuals

The identity of the Two Witnesses as singular individuals is held by numerous Biblical literalists – a few of their quotations will confirm their commentary . . .

Dr. Thomas L. Constable of Dallas Theological Seminary on his studies of Revelation ("Notes on Revelation", 2007 Edition) provides a dispensationalist interpretation of the two witnesses as two "new individuals" to arrive on the prophetic scene yet future:

Even though believing Jews will suffer persecution at this time, God will still get His message out. Two witnesses will be especially significant at this time. Valid testimony required two witnesses under the Old Covenant (Deut. 19:15), and both Jesus and the early church sent out emissaries in pairs (Mark 6:7; Luke 10:2; Acts 13:2; 15:39-40). Revelation 11:3 Who is speaking in this verse? The speaker seems to be the angel who spoke in verses 1-2, who here speaks for God (cf. v. 8). God did not reveal the identity of the two witnesses. Many commentators believe they will be Moses and Elijah since these men were prophets and performed the kinds of miracles these witnesses will perform (v. 6). Others believe they will be Enoch and Elijah since God took these men to heaven without dying. Another reason some believe one of these witnesses will be Elijah is Malachi 4:5, which predicts that Elijah will return before Messiah. Other less literal interpreters think the two witnesses may represent not two individuals but the faithful witness of the church throughout its persecutions. I agree with those who believe that they will be individuals living at this time rather than former prophets brought back to earth for this ministry (cf. Matt. 11:14). [cite web |url=http://soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/revelation.pdf |title=Notes onRevelation: 2007 Edition |accessdate=2007-08-28 |last=Constable |first=Thomas L. |year=2007 |format=PDF |publisher=Sonic Light |pages=98 ]

Dwight Pentecost's "Things to Come" (also of dispensationalist Dallas Theological Seminary) concludes:

It would seem best to conclude that the identity of these men is uncertain. They, in all probability, are not men who lived before and have been restored, but are two men raised up as a special witness, to whom sign-working power is given. their ministry is one of judgment, as their sackcloth clothing indicates. [cite book |last=Pentecost |first=J. Dwight |title=Things to Come |year=1962 |publisher=Dunham Publishing Company |location=Findlay, Ohio |pages=308]

Paul D. Feinberg [cite web|url=http://www.foutz.net/archives/people/paul_d_feinberg_phd_in_memorium_february_21_2004.shtml|title=Paul D. Feinberg)] in "Three Views on the Rapture - Pre-, Mid-,or Post Tribulation" [cite web|url=http://www.amazon.com/Three-Views-Rapture-Pre-Post-Tribulation/dp/0310212952|title="Three Views on the Rapture - Pre-, Mid-,or Post Tribulation"] defends the Pre-Tribulational Rapture position and interprets the two witnesses as follows:

"The two witnesses appear to be individuals rather than representatives of all living and dead saints. The witnesses perform miracles; they testify. These actions are usually done by individuals, not groups. Moreover, both witnesses are killed by the Beast. If they are symbolic of all saints, then it seems as if all saints will be martyred before the Rapture. Further, it also appears that all saints will have men gaze at their dead bodies and desecrate them." ("Three Views on the Rapture - Pre-, Mid-,or Post Tribulation", Stanley N. Gundry, Gleason L. Archer Jr., Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1996, p. 148)

Those adhering to the "individual theory" of the two witnesses point out that these are truly awesome figures. They are similar to Moses and Aaron or Elijah and Elisha - both sets wrought indisputable havoc upon their audiences (Egypt and Apostate Israel) and "nothing could harm them." Therefore, could not individuals be raised up in the "end of days" and do such world-wide miracles? Could they not prevail as Moses and Elijah did before the masses? Furthermore, "their dead body" (singular) does not signify any "corporate nature" of their identity--to the contrary, it simply means the visibility of a dead body in the street of Jerusalem for 3 1/2 days (not years). Their resurrection is peculiar to them only--and does not connote the "resurrection of the just" [cite web|url=http://www.christiantrumpetsounding.com/resurrection.htm|title=just"] nor the rapture, for the rapture of the Church (according to pretribulationists) takes place at the commencement of Daniel's 70th Week.

The "great city" mentioned in Revelation 11 is not the great city found elsewhere in the Revelation [cite web |url=http://bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Bible.show/sVerseID/30881/eVerseID/30881 |title=Forerunner Commentary |accessdate=2008-01-27 |last=Ritenbaugh |first=John W. |year=2008 |work=BibleTools |publisher=Church of the Great God] ; and the "holy city" trampled under foot is physical Jerusalem, [cite web |url=http://www.gnmagazine.org/issues/gn32/jerusalem.htm |title=Jerusalem: Focus of Biblical Prophecy |accessdate=2008-01-27 |last=McNeely |first=Darris |year=2001 |month=January/February |work=The Good News |publisher=United Church of God] not the two witnesses. Likewise, the "temple" which is measured is the physical rebuilt temple [cite web |url=http://www.raptureready.com/featured/price/7rp.html |title=An Overview of the Future Temples |accessdate=2008-01-27 |last=Price |first=Randall |work=Rapture Ready] in Jerusalem, not the two witnesses.

The late John Walvoord, president of Dallas Theological Seminary, in his "Every Prophecy of the Bible" [cite web|url=http://www.armageddonbooks.com/walvoord.html|title="Every Prophecy of the Bible"] repeats the classical dispensational, pre-tribulational, literalist interpretation of the two witnesses . . . excerpts from his text:

In the Great Tribulation the temple has already been desecrated, sacrifices stopped, and the worship of the world ruler installed instead (Dan. 9:27; 12:11-12; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thes. 2:4; Rev. 13:14-15). Measuring the temple will indicate the apostasy of the nation of Israel and their need for revival and restoration. The Holy City, Jerusalem, according to the Scripture, will be trampled underfoot of Gentiles for the final forty-two months preceding the Second Coming. This has actually been true ever since 600 B.C. because from then to the time of the Great Tribulation, Israel never was in full possession of their holy places except by Gentile tolerance and permission. This is still true today as Israel could not retain its independence without the help of the United States. The forty-two months, however, refer to the Great Tribulation as a time when the holy place in the temple will be desecrated especially, and the Great Tribulation will run its course, climaxing in the second coming of Christ (13:5). Though there have been brief periods in the history of Israel when Israel temporarily retained control of the holy place, it will never be permanently theirs until the second coming of Christ. John was then introduced to those who were called 'two witnesses' who will be prophets in the end time. Their prophecy will cover 1,260 days, or forty-two months, the same length of time that the world ruler will possess the temple and turn it into a religious center for the worship of himself . . . the reference to the two witnesses as being symbolized by the two olive trees and the two lampstands probably has reference to Zechariah 4 where the lampstand and two trees are discussed. The meaning of this to Zerubbabel, who was one of the important leaders in Israel in Zechariah's time, was that their witness was empowered by the oil from the olive tree, symbolic of being empowered by the Holy Spirit (Zech. 4:1-14). In view of the fact that the Bible does not indicate who they are, it is probably safe to recognize them as two witnesses who will appear in the end time who are not related to any previous historical character.

Some claim that the two are "Jewish evangelists" who "evangelize Israel" while the 144,000 of Revelation 7 "evangelize the rest of the world" during the 70th Week of Daniel.

Who are they? We're not told, so we can't be certain, yet we know that . . . - "Witness" in Greek is "martus" ("martyr"). In Rev. 12:11 OT Israeli allusions are used, not NT Church figures like Peter or Paul. These two evangelize Israel; while the 144,000 evangelize the rest of the world! They possibly represent the OT Law and Prophets (Matt 22:36-40). Possibly Elijah (Representing the Prophets). Possibly Moses (Representing the Law). [cite web |url=http://www.soulcare.org/Bible%20Studies/Revelation/Revelation11_Witnesses.htm |title=Revelation 11 Consequences of Christ: The Two Witnesses Mercy-Grace |accessdate=2007-12-25 |last=Galloway |first=Sid |date=2001-03-18 |work=The Bible: One Bite at a Time]

The Eastern Orthodox Church teaches that the Two Witnesses will be Enoch and Elias (the two individuals who entered bodily into heaven), who will be sent back to earth to preach during the Great Tribulation, and they will be the last martyrs before the Second Coming.

Finally, perhaps they are archangels. [cite web |url=http://atschool.eduweb.co.uk/sbs777/snotes/note1204.html |title=The Two Witnesses |accessdate=2007-12-25 |last=Loughran |first=David B |year=1999 |work=Sermon Notes |publisher=Stewarton Bible School]

ee also

*Historicism - Historicism is an eschatological system of prophetic interpretation derived from the Protestant Reformation and holds that the prophecies of the Bible have taken place throughout history (many have been fulfilled) - some still will be fulfilled.
*Futurism - Biblical Futurism asserts that most of the relevant prophetic themes of Christian and Hebrew Scripture are yet future - the "end times" prophecies are mainly found outside the immediate time frame but could unravel any time - most hold to a literal, physical, apocalyptic and global view of Bible prophecies.
*Preterism - A variant of Christian eschatology which holds that some or all of the biblical prophecies concerning the Last Days (or End Times) refer to events which actually happened in the first century after Christ's birth.
*Partial Preterism - A form of Christian eschatology that holds much in common with but is distinct from Full preterism (or 'consistent' or 'hyper' preterism) in that it places the events of most of the Book of Revelation as occurring during the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD (and/or the Fall of Rome several centuries later) yet still affirms an orthodox future bodily return of Christ to earth at an unknown day and hour.
*Idealism - Idealism (also called the 'Spiritual view') in Christian eschatology is an interpretation of the Book of Revelation that sees all of the imagery of the book as non-literal symbols which are perpetually and cyclically fulfilled in a spiritual sense during the conflict between the Kingdom of God and the forces of Satan throughout the time from the first advent to the Second Coming of Christ.
*Millennialism - Millennialism (or chiliasm), from millennium, which literally means "thousand years", is primarily a belief expressed in some Christian denominations, and literature, that there will be a Golden Age or Paradise on Earth where "Christ will reign" prior to the final judgment and future eternal state, primarily derived from the book of Revelation 20:1-6. Millennialism as such is a specific form of Millenarianism.
*Postmillennialism - In Christian eschatology, postmillennialism is an interpretation of chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation which sees Christ's second coming as occurring after or post- the thousand year "millennium".
*Premillennialism - Christian eschatology which holds the belief that Christ will literally reign on the earth for 1,000 years at his second coming. The doctrine is called premillennialism because it views the current age as prior to Christ's kingdom. It is distinct from other forms of eschatology such as amillennialism, postmillennialism, and preterism which view the kingdom as figurative and non-temporal, or as currently occurring in history before Christ's coming. Premillennialism is largely based upon a literal interpretation of Revelation 20:1-6 in the New Testament which describes Christ's coming to the earth and subsequent reign at the end of an apocalyptic period of tribulation. It views this future age as a time of fulfillment for the prophetic hope of God's people as given in the Old Testament.
*Amillennialism -Amillennialism (from the Latin prefix meaning "no", "mille", meaning "thousand", and "annum" meaning "year") is a view in Christian eschatology named for its denial of a future, thousand-year, physical reign of Jesus Christ on the earth, as espoused in the premillennial and some postmillennial views of the Book of Revelation, chapter 20.
*The Tribulation - The Tribulation (or "Great Tribulation") is an event referred to in the New Testament of the Bible at Matthew 24:21 ("For then shall be great tribulation..." - King James Version) and other passages. In the futurist view of Christian eschatology, the Tribulation is a relatively short period of time where believers will experience worldwide persecution and be purified and strengthened by it.
*Rapture - The rapture ("harpazo" in Greek in 1 Thessalonians 4:17) is the common description of the event in Christian eschatology in which Christians will be "taken" or "caught up" from Earth to Heaven to be with Jesus Christ.
*Post Tribulation Rapture - This doctrine holds that there is a Resurrection-Rapture of living believers in Jesus Christ at the end of the age (or the "End times"). Posttribulationists believe that Christians will not be taken up into Heaven at the rapture, but will gathered by the angels to meet Christ in the air, then return with him to enter the millennium on earth.
*Prewrath Rapture - The Prewrath View (also known as Mid Tribulation Raptureplaces the rapture of the Church after the mid-point of a yet future 70th Week of Daniel--i.e., after the "abomination of desolation" - also holds that a side-by-side comparison of the wording of the sixth seal (Revelation 6:12-13) and the signs in Matthew 24:29 that announce the Second Coming of Jesus and the rapture of the Church indicate that they are the same event. Therefore, the rapture described in Matthew 24:29-31 can be placed after the sixth seal of Revelation.
*Pre Tribulation Rapture - A Dispensational-Premillennarian eschatology which affirms that the believing Church will be raptured prior to the 70th Week of Daniel (i.e., before the "tribulation" or the final seven-years of this age); likewise, this eschatology sees the coming Antichrist as a real person energized by Satan who will implement a "defense pact" or "peace treaty" with Israel at the commencement of Daniel's 70th Week. Thomas Ice of the Pre-trib Research Center is an avowed proponent of this eschatology.
*Dispensationalism - In Christian theology, Dispensationalism teaches biblical history as a number of successive economies or administrations, called dispensations, each of which emphasizes the continuity of the Old Testament covenants God made with His chosen people through Abraham, Moses and King David.
*Hyperdispensationalism - Hyperdispensationalism (or sometimes ultra-dispensationalism), as opposed to traditional (or mainstream) Dispensationalism, views the start of the Christian church as beginning with the ministry of the Apostle Paul after the early part of the book of Acts. Hyperdispensationalists regard the failure of the post-Apostolic church to preserve the Pauline Distinctive as a cause of the Great Apostasy and as a mistake of the 19th Century Restoration Movement. Hyperdispensationalists regard what they understand to be the recovery of true Pauline Christianity as the crowning achievement of events that began with the Protestant Reformation.
*Progressive Dispensationalism - Progressive Dispensationalism is one of two views in mainstream dispensationalism, the other being the traditional view. The major difference between the traditional and progressive dispensationalist views concerns the relationship between the dispensations. Traditional dispensationalists perceive the present age of grace as an "intercalation" or parenthesis in God's plan, and therefore is unrelated to the past and future dispensations. However, progressive dispensationalists reject this idea of a parenthesis, and perceive the present age of grace as a key link or progression in relation with the past and future dispensations.
*Eschatology - Eschatology (from the Greek ἔσχατος, "eschatos" meaning "last" + ology) is a part of theology and philosophy concerned with the final events in the history of the world or the ultimate destiny of mankind, commonly phrased as the end of the world. In many religions, the end of the world is a future event prophesied in sacred texts or folklore. More broadly, eschatology may encompass related concepts such as the Messiah or Messianic Age, the afterlife, and the soul.
*Roman Catholic Eschatology - The Roman Catholic Church affirms the Amillennarian worldview. Amillennialism was taught by St. Augustine in the fourth century and was a widely held view among Christians throughout Church history. Origen's idealizing tendency to consider only the spiritual as real (which was fundamental to his entire system) led him to combat the "rude" or "crude" aspects of a literal 1,000-year Messianic Kingdom yet future. Amillennialism has been widely held in the Eastern Orthodox Church as well, which generally follows Augustine on this point and which has deemed that Premillennialism cannot be safety taught. Amillennialism is also often associated with Protestants such as those in the Lutheran, Reformed and Anglican churches. (Please see Amillennialism).
*Seventh-Day Adventist Eschatology - The Seventh-day Adventist church holds a unique system of eschatological (or end-times) beliefs. Adventist eschatology is characterized principally by the premillennial second coming of Jesus Christ. Seventh-day Adventism derives its eschatological teachings in large part from its interpretation of the books of Daniel and Revelation, as well as the teachings of Jesus Christ found in Matthew chapter 24. Adventists have traditionally interpreted biblical prophecies using the historicist method, although some of the prophecies of Revelation are thought have a future application. It is this futurist aspect of the church's interpretation of the book of Revelation that has played a major part in shaping Adventist eschatology.
*Mormon Eschatology - In Mormonism, all Latter Day Saints are viewed as covenant, or chosen, people; they have accepted the name of Jesus Christ. Latter Day Saints do not dispute the "chosen" status of the Jewish people. In LDS doctrine all people who have ever lived will have the ability to enter into this covenant during the Millennium (yet future). Mormon eschatology holds that Jews, as a chosen people, will ultimately accept Christianity (See Jeremiah 31:31-34). Mormon doctrine teaches that Mormons are "The kin blood of the Jews." Every practicing LDS member receives a patriarchal blessing that reveals their linage in the House of Israel. This lineage may be blood related or through "adoption;" therefore, a child may not necessarily share the lineage of her parents (but will still be a member of the tribes of Israel). It is a widely held belief that most members of the faith are in the tribe of Ephraim or the tribe of Manasseh.
*Jehovah's Witnesses Eschatology - The eschatology of Jehovah's Witnesses is central to their religious beliefs. They believe that Jesus Christ has been ruling as king since 1914, and that after that time a short period of cleansing has begun taking place. They further believe that from 1919, Jehovah's Witnesses were selected by God to be his people. Jehovah's Witnesses believe 1918 to be the time when Christ Jesus judged all world religions. They teach that after a period of 18 months, among all groups and religions, there was found only one that was humbly doing the will of Christ. Jehovah's Witnesses claim the "Bible Students" who later became known as "Jehovah's Witnesses" in 1931 (See History of Jehovah's Witnesses) are that one unique group.
*British Israelism Eschatology - Teaches that the Anglo-Saxon race are the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel; therefore, many of the prophecies pointing toward "Jewish fulfillment" are really fulfilled in the Lost Tribes. It holds, however, many of the eschatological affirmations of the Seventh-Day Adventists.
*Supersessionism - Supersessionism (sometimes referred to as replacement theology by its critics) is a belief that Christianity is the fulfillment and continuation of the Old Testament, and that Jews who deny that Jesus is the Messiah are not being faithful to the revelation that God has given them, and they therefore fall short of their calling as his chosen people. This view holds that racial and ethnic divisions and boundaries are ended in Jesus Christ, and faith in Jesus unites all peoples into one new body, which is God's chosen people.
*Messianic Judaism - Messianic Judaism is a religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, who is referred to as Yeshua by its adherents.
*Apologetics - The field of study concerned with the systematic defense of a position.
*Exegesis - The extensive and critical interpretation of a text, especially of a holy scripture.
*Prophecy of Seventy Weeks
*2300 day prophecy

Relevant Biblical texts

*Revelation 10, 11, 12, 13, 16-21
*Genesis 37, 39-50
*Daniel 7-12
*Zechariah 3-8; 10-14
*Matthew 24
*
*Romans 9-11
*
*
*II Thessalonians 2

uggested book list

*Alnor, William M., "Soothsayers of the Second Advent." Fleming H. Revell, 1989. ISBN 0-8007-5324-0
*Barnhouse, Donald Grey, "Revelation - An Expositional Commentary." Zondervan, 1971. ISBN 0-310-20491-7
*Ben-Ariel, David, "Beyond Babylon: Europe's Rise and Fall" Publish America, 2004. ISBN 1413750575
*Boston, Robert, "Close Encounters with the Religious Right." Prometheus Books, 2000. ISBN 1-57392-797-X
*Brog, David, "Standing With Israel." Front Line, A Strang Company, 2006. ISBN 1-59185-906-9
*Clarkson, Frederick, "Eternal Hostility." Common Courage Press, 1997. ISBN 1-56751-088-4
*Coombes, R. A., "America, The Babylon - America's Destiny Foretold in Biblical Prophecy" A Real Book, 1998. ISBN 1-890622-33-8
*Culver, Robert Duncan, "Daniel and the Latter Days". Fleming H. Revell Company, 1954. LCCN|54|00|5434
*Dyer, Charles H., "The Rise of Babylon." Moody Publishers, 2003. ISBN 0-8024-0905-9
*Feinberg, Charles L., "Millennialism - Two Major Views". Moody Press, 1980. ISBN 0-8024-6815-2
*Gundry, Robert, "The Church and the Tribulation." Zondervan, 1973. ISBN 0-310-25401-9
*Gundry, Robert, "First the Antichrist." Baker Books, May 1997. ISBN 0-8010-5764-7
*Gundry, Stanley N.; Archer, Gleason L., Jr., "Three Views on The Rapture - Pre-, Mid-, or Post-Tribulation." Zondervan, 1996. ISBN 0-310-21298-7
*Hislop, Alexander, "The Two Babylons." Chick Publications, n.d. ISBN 0-937958-57-3
*Hitchcock, Mark, "Is America in Bible Prophecy?." Multnomah Publishers, 2002. ISBN 1-57673496-X
*Hunt, Dave, "A Cup of Trembling - Jerusalem and Bible Prophecy." Harvest House Publishers, 1995. ISBN 1-56507-334-7
*Ironside, Harry A., "Revelation." Loizeaux Brothers, 1982. ISBN 0-87213-384-2
*Jeffrey, Grant R., "Armageddon - Appointment with Destiny." Bantam Books, 1990. ISBN 0-553-28537-8
*Juster, Dan; Intrater, Keith, "Israel, the Church and the Last Days." Destiny Image Publishers, 1991. ISBN 1-56043-061-3
*cite book |last=Krieger |first=Douglas |title=Unsealing the End of Days: The Visions and Prophecy of Zechariah |url=http://www.the-tribulation-network.com/dougkrieger/unsealing/unsealing_book.htm |accessdate=2007-12-25 |date=2004-08-30 |location=Sacramento, Calif.
*Ladd, George Eldon, "A Commentary on the Revelation of John"." William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972. ISBN 0-8028-1684-3
*Ladd, George Eldon, "The Blessed Hope: A Biblical Study of The Second Advent and the Rapture." Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956. ISBN 0-8028-1111-6
*Lalonde, Peter & Patti, "Left Behind"." Harvest House Publishers, 1995. ISBN 0-9636407-3-9
*LaSor, William Sanford, "The Truth About Armageddon"." Harper & Row, 1982. ISBN 0-06-064919-4
*Lindsey, Hal, "Planet Earth - 2000 A.D." Western Front, Ltd., 1994. ISBN 0-9641058-0-2
*Linker, Damon, "The Theocons"." Doubleday, 2006. ISBN 978-0-385-51647-1
*MacPherson, Dave, "The Incredible Cover Up"." June, 1975. ISBN 0-931608-06-6
*Paterson, Stella, "Calling Forth The Remnant By Way of the Cross"." Preparing The Way Publishers, 2006. ISBN 1-929451-21-0
*Pentecost, J. Dwight, "Things To Come"." Dunham Publishing Company, 1962.
*Perry, Richard H., "Of the Last Days: Listen, I Tell You a Mystery"." Essence Publishing (Canada), July 2003. ISBN 1-55306-595-6
*Pink, Arthur W., "The Antichrist"." Kregel Publications, 1988. ISBN0-8254-3539-0
*Rausch, David A., "Zionism Within Early American Fundamentalism 1878-1918 - A Convergence of Two Traditions"." The Edwin Mellen Press, 1979. ISBN 0-88946-875-3
*Ryrie, Charles Caldwell, "Dispensationalism Today"." Moody Press, 1965. ISBN 0-8024-2256-X
*Shearer, S. R. (Steve), "The Beginning of the End"." End of the Age Ministries, 1985. LCCN|85|00|81941
*Spargimino, Larry, "The Anti-Prophets - The Challenge of Preterism"." Hearthstone Publishing, 2000. ISBN 1-57558-080-2
*Sutton, William Josiah, "Ancient Prophecies About the Dragon, The Beast, and the False Prophet"." The Institute of Religious Knowledge, 1999. ISBN 0-917013-02-6
*Sutton, William Josiah, "The Antichrist 666"." Teach Services, Inc., 1995. ISBN 1-57258-015-1
*Walvoord, John F., "Every Prophecy of the Bible"." Chariot Victory Publishing, 1999. ISBN 0-7394-0215-3
*Walvoord, John F., "The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook". " Victor Books, 1977. ISBN 0-89693-509-4
*Gundry, Robert, "The Church and the Tribulation"." Zondervan, 1973. ISBN 0-310-25401-9
*Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania - "Revelation - Its Grand Climax At Hand!"." Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1988.
*White, E. G., "America in Prophecy"." Inspiration Books East, Inc., 1888. ISBN 0-916547-04-3
*Woodrow, Ralph, "His Truth is Marching On -Advanced Studies on Prophecy in the Light of History"." Ralph Woodrow Evangelistic Assn., Inc., 1996 Edition. ISBN 0-916938-03-04

Notes and references


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