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Hello and welcome to my study on “The Two Witnesses of Revelations.”
In one of my previous studies, “The First Half of the Tribulation,” I spoke about the two witnesses and and their roles, but who are they? In this study I’m going to dive into scripture and present what evidence I’ve found that suggests who they ‘could‘ be.
Again we don’t exactly know who they are, but what we do know is that there are going to be two witnesses preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom prior to the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ. Let us start by looking at the passage in Revelations that speaks about their roles (Rev 11:3-12)
3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. 6 These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.
7 When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. 8 And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. 9 Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. 10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.
11 But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. 12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them.
This is a large passage with some great information. Scripture interprets scripture, so lets break down each part and look in God’s word to see what it says about the two witnesses.
So what do we know about them? We know that they will not show up until the Tribulation begins. We know that they will preach the Gospel of the Kingdom for 3.5 years (1260 days) and they will be given authority from God to preform signs and miracles, such as stopping rain and bringing about plagues. Then they will be killed by the Anti-Christ and their bodies will be laid in Jerusalem for 3.5 days, at which time God will raise them and everyone in the world will see it (easy to do with our technology today). Last, and what is very interesting, is what happens next, 12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them.
We’ve seen the phrase “Come up here” once already in Revelations Ch 4:1:
“4 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.”
If you read my previous study “Overview of Revelations,” I explain Rev 4:1 as being a vision of the Rapture of the Church that the apostle John witnessed. So if Rev 4:1 was the Rapture of the Church, and in Rev 11:12 we see the same voice, phrase, and they went up to heaven, this indicates that the two witnesses were Raptured off Earth.
So what does God’s word say about witnesses in general? Lets go all the way in the opposite direction to the beginning of the Bible to Deut 19:15:
15 “A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.
So we know from the Law of Moses that God requires at the very least two witnesses to confirm a matter. So here God is following His own requirements by sending two witnesses to preach.
But why are they called witnesses and not the Two Prophets? What exactly did they witness that qualifies them to be the two witnesses? I’ve searched the scriptures and found some evidence as to what qualified them to be witnesses. Lets look at Luke 24:4-6.
4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; 5 and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? 6 He is not here, but He has [risen.
And now look at Acts 1:10-11:
10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”
In both these verses, two men witnessed both the resurrection (Luke 24:4-6) and the ascension of Jesus (Acts 1:10:11). To be qualified as a “witness” in order to preach during the Tribulation Period, one would assume that you would need to have an eyewitness account of Jesus’s resurrection and ascension into heaven.
If these two men are indeed the witnesses, as depicted in the book of Revelations, then who could they be? Angels perhaps? Now angels can present themselves as men (Gen 18:2) but there was something specific about these two men that caught my eye, their clothing: “two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing (Luke 24)” and “two men in white clothing stood beside them (Acts 1).”
There are other places in scripture where I have seen men in similar garments. First are in the accounts of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8, Luke 9:28–36). In all three accounts Jesus (who is fully God and fully man, not an angel) suddenly appeared in his state of glory wearing similar clothes. Matthew – “His garments became as white as light,” Mark – “His garments became radiant and exceedingly white,” and Luke – “His clothing became white and gleaming.” Now in all three accounts both Moses and Elijah were also present talking with Jesus, but in the Luke Transfiguration account, in verse 31, says that they (Moses and Elijah) also appeared in glory, indicating that they were possibly also wearing similar clothing as Jesus.
Another passage which shows man wearing similar clothing is found in Revelations 4:4:
4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads.
This is part of the vision that the apostle John had of the Rapture of the Church. The “twenty-four elders” is a symbol (apocalyptic literature) of the Church (Christians) after the Rapture. They were also clothed in white just as Jesus, and more than likely Moses and Elijah.
So with all this information, we can conclude that the two men who witnessed both the resurrection (Luke 24:4-6) and the ascension (Acts 1:10-11) of Jesus were more than likely men and not angels.
But now here is the ultimate question, who are the two witnesses? This question perplexed me for sometime, I originally believed them to be Elijah and Moses because of the scene in the Transfiguration accounts. Also because Elijah had been given the ability to stop it from raining (James 5:17) and Moses was given the ability to bring about the plagues. This seems to fit the description of the two witnesses Rev 11:6: “6 These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague.”
So Moses and Elijah could definitely be a possibility, but I noticed something else that made me look deeper. At the midway point of the Tribulation Period, both of the two witnesses are going to be killed by the Anti-Christ. Now here is where it gets interesting for me. There are only two men in all of scripture who have actually never physically/bodily died. One is Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) and the other is Enoch (Gen 5:24). Not much is known about Enoch, except scriptures says that he “walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”
Both Enoch and Elijah never died, which is why after they preach the Gospel of the Kingdom for the first half of the Tribulation Period, they will be killed once their work is finally done. This seems to fit the qualifications to be the two witnesses, one, the eye witness account of the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, and two, having not experienced death.
This was a very interesting study for me and had me searching all over the scriptures to find answers. Though just to be clear, it is still not completely known who these two witnesses actually are, but it was worth every second researching it!
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And always remember, why is it important to study Bible prophecy? Because never have we been closer than today..