In Revelation 11:3-12, God says he will appoint his two witnesses - "two olive trees", "two lampstands" - as prophets for 1260 days. They end up being overpowered and killed by the beast, seemingly in Jerusalem. The fact that they have the power to shut up the heavens suggests they're somehow connected with the ministry of Elijah and the mention of a turning water into blood and plagues is suggestive of Moses.

Are these witnesses supposed to be actual men? Or are they symbolic of something else? Is there any way from the text to tell?

I'm also curious if there is any OT connection for the fire from their mouths, like the allusions to Elijah and Moses.

  • "Fire from their mouths", see, 2 Samuel : 22;9 and Jeremiah 5:14.
    – Bagpipes
    Jan 30, 2022 at 14:30

11 Answers 11


Questions on Revelation are extremely difficult to answer because they are so highly based on your view of Revelation, which is too hard to argue for in one post. I don't have the expertise to give a great answer to this question, but I thought I might as well give it a shot since no one else has.

As someone who tends towards a partial preterist position, I would be inclined to say that these were two real men. Who they were, I do not know (though I intend to buy Greg Beale's Revelation commentary soon, and perhaps that will shed light on the question).

John Gill held that they represented a faithful few ministers of Christ down through the ages. He notes that the metaphor of the two olive trees is drawn from Zechariah 4:3, where they represent Zerubbabel and Jeshua, two faithful witnesses. This interpretation would likely be favored by many postmillenialists and amillenialists.

Possible Old Testament parallels to the fire going out of their mouths:

  • Yahweh's word (i.e. what comes out of his mouth) is like fire.
  • God told Jeremiah that his words were like a fire; later, he complained that that was so, and that he couldn't hold it in.

For this reason, Gill holds that the fire is the witnesses' faithful speaking of the Word of God.

Sorry for such a bare-bones answer. I will post more if/when I know more.

  • 1
    I was reading the Zechariah passage the other day and realized that chapter 4 provided the background for this passage in Revelation (verse 14 caught my attention). Still not sure what to make of that, though, since Joshua and Zerubbabel are themselves symbols.
    – Soldarnal
    May 9, 2012 at 18:33
  • @Soldarnal Symbols of other men also..Just as Elijah was a symbol or type of John the Baptist.! Nov 10, 2013 at 8:52
  • I too as a partial preterist, I find this answer compelling. Josephus mentions two priests, Ananus and Jesus who were killed and bodies left in the streets. Wars 4.5.2. This seems to fit with the destruction of temple, the bodies in the square, and borrowing the imagery of Zechariah. They may be the specific witnesses.
    – Daniel
    Jun 25, 2019 at 13:24

Short Summary

The two witnesses are a symbol of the people of God fulfilling their prophetic role during the period of wilderness/tribulation.

Fuller Explanation

It is difficult to give any interpretation of a single part of Revelation without risking having to explain the whole. With that in mind I shall attempt to interpret the nature of the two witnesses in the context here of Revelation while limiting remarks on the related ideas of the temple and the eschatological time.

The beginning of Revelation 11 should not be separated from the end of chapter 10 as there is no "And I saw" formula dividing the two. At the end of 10 we find a scene reminiscent of Ezekiel 3 where the prophet it given a scroll to eat. So here John is given a scroll to eat and told that he must prophecy many things. Immediately then in chapter 11, John is given a reed to measure the temple in similar fashion to Ezekiel 40 and following.

It would deviate too far from the original question to explore the full symbolism of the temple and courts, etc... but I would mention two things:

  1. The temple, the holy city, and the people of God are all tightly connected elsewhere in the book of Revelation. (See e.g. 3:12 and 21:2f, where the bride of the Lamb, i.e. the people of God, the new Jerusalem, and the temple are all interwoven and identified together).

  2. The length of the period during which the holy city is trampled is the same as that during which the two witnesses prophecy.

Again, it would run too far afield to explore the meaning of the Danielic period of times, time, and half a time - 1260 days, 42 months, 3.5 years - but Revelation seems to link a period of wilderness (cf. 12:6), the 42 month period in which Elijah ministered, and the times, time, and half a time from Daniel 7 during which the holy people of God are oppressed.

These points then lead us to connect the two witnesses with the holy city, which is connected with the people of God. While they are called to bear witness for a fixed time, they do so during a fixed time of oppression.


The reference to the two olive trees and two lamp stands takes the reader back to Zechariah 4. The prophet there is encouraging the people to rebuild the temple after the exile. In a vision he sees a lamp stand and two trees, which represent Joshua the High Priest and Zerubbabel the Governor. God's Spirit (verse 6) will empower the two of them to rebuild the temple. So here, the people of God are to build the new (spiritual and eschatological) temple of God through the power of God's spirit, by bearing witness in the world. (The theme of God's people as kingdom and priests - which here we can link to Joshua and Zerubbabel - is prevalent throughout Revelation, but as an example see 1:6.)


The reference to the fire from the mouths likely comes from Jeremiah 5:14 where we read (ESV):

Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of hosts:
“Because you have spoken this word,
behold, I am making my words in your mouth a fire,
    and this people wood, and the fire shall consume them.

In other words, it should not be understood as a real fire consuming the enemies of the people of God, but the word of their testimony will result in their destruction. Again, this is a well-developed theme in the book, but in particular see the battle in Revelation 19 in which it is by the sword of his mouth that the white rider slays the kings of the earth.

Moses and Elijah

Finally, the shutting up the heavens and turning the rivers to blood again emphasizes the prophetic nature of the two witnesses, linking them to the events in the lives of the prophets Moses and Elijah. Note that these powers are not given to them as individuals as though one were Moses and the other Elijah, but they are given to them both as though they were indistinguishable.

Two Witnesses

So why two witnesses? Most likely this refers back to the law's requirement that any testimony be given on the basis of at least two witnesses. For John, it is the corporate testimony of the people of God together that bears witness to the Lamb.

  • I really like and appreciate this excellent answer. +1.
    – Dottard
    Dec 4, 2020 at 11:08

There is another interpretation taken in the light of the Biblical Feast calculated with the Hebrew calendar. It is interpreting the revelations as the map of the redemption given by God, knowing these feasts makes an easier interpretation.

By example, the seventh month of the Bible is the time to celebrate the feasts of trumpets. Tradition dictates sounding Shofar or Trumpet, also known as the day of judgment, or the day of the coronation of the king. This day begins on the first day of the month, is the only Biblical festival that begins a first of the month.

Because the biblical calendar is lunar, "the months were set by observation of a new crescent moon". This means that the moon is hidden. In the ancient world, to determine which night is a new month is needed two witnesses, they announced to the Sanhedrin the arrival of the new month, in the seventh month it means to start the Feast of the trumpets. The witnesses are:

These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth (Rev 11:4)

Thus, if you read the book of Revelation, first are two witnesses (Rev 11:3-12) and then the seven trumpets (Rev 11:15). The two witnesses (will prophesy for 1,260 days - Rev 11:3) so I think they are those who announce to repentance for the blowing of the Trumpets, the coming of the Messiah! Thinking about the author of Revelation (the Apostle John), he knew and lived these feasts, and knew about these two witnesess.


The book of Revelation is full of signs and symbols.The two witnesses are symbols of Moses and Elijah.They have the power to turn water into blood and to shut up the sky, for 1260 days(three and one half years). The two olive trees are symbolic of the Holy Spirit and the two lampstands (two witnesses) are fueled by the Holy Spirit who gives light to the world.

Oil is used to anoint the people of God and the Holy Spirit is usually given to the anointed one after this.In 1:Sam 16-13 it is written,

So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers,and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.

In John 8:12 it is written,

When Jesus spoke again to the people,he said, "I am the light of the world."

In Revelation 19:10 it is written,

"The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

This scripture helps us to understand the two olive trees and the two lampstands.

The witnesses have received the anointing of oil (Lamp-stands) because they hold to the testimony of Jesus, and because of this testimony,the "Spirit of Prophecy" has been given to them.

In James 5:17 we read,

Elijah was a man just like us.He prayed earnestly that it would not rain on the land for three and one half years

**The above quote (because of the three and one half years-1260 days), the same period as mentioned in Revelation,surely reinforces the view that Elijah is one of the witnesses

Are these witnesses supposed to be actual men.

In Rev 11:8-10 we read,

Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city,which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt,where also their Lord was crucified. For three and one half days men from every people,tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts,because those two prophets had tormented those who live on earth

To understand the symbolism of the two witnesses we must look to the above scripture.

The men from every people ,tribe, language and nation represent followers of God.

The inhabitants of the earth represent followers of the beast.

To help understand the above two statements we must read Rev 14:6,

Then i saw another angel flying in mid-air,and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth-to every nation,tribe, language and people.

Also Rev 17:15,

Then the angel said to me," the waters you saw where the prostitute sits,are peoples,multitudes, nations and languages.

Also Rev 19:6 to confirm that the peoples,multitudes,nations and languages are the people of God.

Then i heard what sounded like a great multitude,like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder,shouting:"Hallelujah! for our Lord God Almighty reigns."

To help us understand the meaning behind the death of the two witnesses and why the people from every tribe,language, nation refuse burial,it is imperative to distinguish between the inhabitants of the earth and understand that one group are followers of God and the other group are followers of the beast.

The inhabitants of the earth follow the beast and this is confirmed in Rev:13 8-9,

All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast-all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.

He who has an ear,let him hear.

*Note:The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life will worship the beast. The people from tribes, nations and languages have their name written in the book of life but are also called the "inhabitants of the earth."

And again Rev 11:8-10,

For three and one half days men from every people,tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial.

And then it reads,

The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts,because those two prophets had tormented those who live on earth.


The two witnesses are not actual men but they are a symbol of "Testimony."It would appear that there is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit at this time.

In Acts 2:17-21 it is written,

"In the last days,God says,I will pour out my Spirit on all people.Your sons and daughters will prophesy,your young men will see visions,your old men will dream dreams.Even on my servants,both men and woman,i will pour out my Spirit in those days,and they will prophesy.I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below,blood,fire and billows of smoke.The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Two=testimony.According to the inhabitants of the earth the"testimony is dead"

The men of every people,tribe,language and nation know that "the testimony is alive."

The men of every people ,tribe, nation and language will refuse to accept that the "testimony of God" is dead (the two witnesses) and this is why they will refuse burial.They will not bury what is still alive.

The inhabitants of the earth are happy because they think that the"testimony of God" is dead.No more will they be tormented by the testimony of God and they will now trample on the holy city for a period of 1260 days.

  • If the two witnesses are indeed Moses and Elijah, they would represent the Law and the Prophets. Some people favor Enoch and Elijah, representing pre-and post-diluvian witnesses because they were each taken up into heaven without dying, perhaps in preparation for their being martyred in Jerusalem at a later time.
    – Dieter
    Jul 29, 2017 at 17:19

Reading all the answers so far, I wonder if the biggest problem in finding answers to your questions is due to inconsistency in interpreting the prophetic texts involved? I speak of the way there is chopping and changing between a literal ‘take’ and a symbolic ‘take’. People speak of two literal men who ought to be identifiable, but then they apply symbolic meanings in the identification process. This bothers me, because it seems to involve taking one part of a Bible sentence as literal, but then taking the rest of the sentence as symbolic. Well, if you interpret the scriptures that way, you can make it appear to say anything you want it to say!

Merely to illustrate this danger, look at the way Revelation 7:1-8 along with 14:1-5 has been taken by some to mean a literal number of 144,000 humans from earth will get to heaven. The problem is neither in this group getting to heaven, nor when, but that a literal number requires the rest of the comments about them to be literal too. If they are literally 144,000 in number, then they must also be literally virgin men who are literally from various tribes of Israel, and so on. But if the number is symbolic, representing a group of people, then the rest of the details are symbolic too. I’m not here to argue that these passages have to be all literal any more than they must be all symbolic: I’m just pleading for consistency.

Therefore, I suggest that if interpreters of Revelation 11 stick to either all literal, or all symbolic, they will at least have the merit of being consistent. And, I suggest, a clearer meaning will emerge than heretofore.

So as to actually give an answer to your questions, I am going to view the verses as being entirely symbolic, and we can see where that might lead us, quoting vss. 3 to 5.

“And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 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. 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.”

Not two literal men, but symbolising a particular group of God’s witnesses on earth, not for a literal 1,260 days, but for time as set by God and known to him, as to when it begins and when it ends. They are not dressed in finery, but in sack-cloth, which represents mourning and seeking God. This reminds me of Zechariah 9:4 where the man in linen and with a writer’s ink-horn marks in the forehead those of God’s people “that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.” Witnessing abominations, those God favours will mourn and seek him and be set apart by him for his particular use at a time when the evil one is attacking the sacred worship of God on earth. Since that length of prophetic time deals with the time of the Church Age from the ascension of Christ until his triumphant return, there have been such faithful witnesses in every century. They represent not two individuals at any given time, but all the holy ones on Earth who are outstandingly chosen of God to witness to the truth of God and of Christ: hated and targeted for that.

Olive trees and lampstands represent particular things in the Bible. I see in them the dual role of God's anointed, primarily Jesus as both Priest and King. In Zechariah chapter 4 there is this word given to Zerubbabel in the vision of the golden lampstand and the two olive trees. The meaning of the two olive trees is given by the angel (vs 14): "These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth." Zerubbabel was from the kingly line of David, and Joshua (3:3) was the Priest. Jesus is King (from the line of David) and is also the Great High Priest. The oil flowing from the two pipes represents the anointing of the Holy Spirit. So, the two on earth represent their heavenly King and Great High Priest, Christ Jesus, who is ruling in Heaven.

Fire from their mouths – links to Moses turning the waters of Egypt to blood, to Elijah praying for an extensive three-and-a-half year long drought in a wide region, and to Elijah calling down fire from heaven to consume troops of soldiers sent by king Ahaziah to arrest him. See the symbolic applications in all of that – Revelation 16:3-6 speaks of the sea and rivers turning to blood, but not literally. There will be spiritual drought but water of life with God’s witnesses. Fire from heaven falls in God’s judgment on the haters of God’s prophets. Ephesians 2:2 is pertinent as it speaks of how unbelievers “walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience”. They cannot see the Prince of Glory or grasp how the Holy Spirit works in the obedient children of God, because these are spiritual realities. Those who are spiritually dead to God grasp none of this for the evil spirit controlling them manifests himself through them - not through a particular person, or an incarnation, for the evil one cannot incarnate. They are his unwitting puppets, and he pulls invisible 'strings', out of sight, in 'the air'.

So, the two on earth represent their heavenly King and great High Priest, Christ Jesus, ruling in heaven. Since Jesus returned to heaven as King of God's Kingdom, there never has been a century in which he has not had those two symbolic men in Revelation 11 representing him. They are present in the earth today - those anointed ones who have been cleansed (as Joshua had to be) and who are fitted by the Holy Spirit to represent the Messiah. As you say, they are not two individual men. They represent the spiritual light (candlestick) and spiritual good fruit (olives) only to be found through the teaching of faithful witnesses of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. And they are in short supply, these days. But, because the days are evil and there is gross darkness, they shine like stars in the firmament – Philippians 2:15 - all the more noticeable for those with eyes to see! But if we take one bit in a verse to be literal, but the rest symbolic, we will suffer spiritual double vision!


First of all, there is no explicit context that the seven seals, seven trumpets and seven bowls are going to happen in a chronological order. Another observation is, after the sixth, and before the seventh, it often has a break to describe somethings that have no connection to what were happening.

  1. After the 6th seal, 144000 Israelites were sealed (Rev 7).
  2. After the 6th trumpet, a mighty angel and a little scroll (Rev 10), Two Witnesses (Rev 11).

These events again do not have evidence they were happening in between the seals and the trumpets chronologically.

One of the main theme in Revelation is the Final Judgement.

Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:15 NIV),

The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. (Rev 3:5)

Matthew 24:13-14 read

13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Matthew 24:13 corresponding to Revelation 3:5 those who were saved. And Jesus is the witness of the gospel, of which our salvation tied on.

So who were the two witnesses in Revelation 11?

When we review their characteristics, there was one can stop the rain, that allude to Elijah (1 Kings 17). Another one have power to turn the waters into blood, allude to Moses (Exodus 7). Together they allude to the Prophet and the Law.

Paul said in Romans 3:21

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. (NIV)

So these two witnesses are actually one, that is Jesus.

Note these witnesses prophesized for 1260 days (Rev 11:3). In next chapter, there was a woman gave birth to a son, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. The woman was taken care by God for the same 1260 days. My interpretation is, the son is the Church, and the woman allude to Jesus' Ministry, lasted from His Baptism to His crucifixion, total 1260 days. Please read my answer to another question in this site;

Who is the woman in Revelation 12.

Reviewing the rest of the verses

7 Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them.

Verse 7 refer to Jesus died because of Judah's betrayal.

8 Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city—which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified.

Verse 8 refer to Jesus' crucifixion in public at Golgotha, meaning the place of the Skull.

9 For three and a half days some from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial.

Verse 9 refer to Jesus' crucifixion during Passover, when many pilgrim watched the scene. The Jewish leaders might have objected Jesus' burial.

10 The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.

Verse 10 refer to the Jewish leaders for they succeed their plot to kill Jesus.

11 But after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them.

Verse 11 refer to Jesus resurrection.

12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on.

Verse 12 refer to the Jewish leaders had to devise a lie that Jesus body was stolen, after they lose Jesus body.

13 At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

Verse 13 is likely back to the moment, the seventh trumpet sound, when there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm. (Rev 11:19)


This reminds me of what I read just yesterday in Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 48:1-2:

And Elijah the prophet stood up, as a fire, and his word burnt like a torch. He brought a famine upon them,1 and they that provoked him in their envy, were reduced to a small number, *for they could not endure the commandments of the Lord.* By the word of the Lord he shut up the heaven,1 and he brought down fire from heaven thrice.2

1 Lk 4:25; James 5:17

2 2 Kings 1:10; cf. Luke 9:54; Job 1:16

Perhaps it's related to a time when two figures, saintly, prophet-like men who stand for the truth, will rise in a time when the people can "no longer endure sound doctrine" ("for they could not endure the commandments of the Lord"?) and speaking the truth will be like shooting fire out of your mouth: being blunt and speaking what is right in an age when people no longer know up from down. Specifically, two great witnesses to truth will come who will herald the coming of the Lord again, just as John the Baptist also did in the spirit of Elijah. The connections between Elijah and those who fulfill his role, being called 'Elijahs' like John, are confirmed from two separate Scripture passages:

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 48:10

[Elijah who is] registered in the judgments of times to appease the wrath of the Lord, to reconcile the heart of the father to the son, and to restore the tribes of Jacob.

Luke 1:17

And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah; that he may turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people.

It seems these two witnesses who will arrive at a time (the end times—Malachi 4:5) when the Son of Man will hardly "find faith upon the earth" (Luke 18:8) to restore at least a remnant of people to God, restoring the people of God from whatever faithlessness they had fallen into no longer being able to "endure the commandments of the Lord." That is, the true faith of Christ.

There is no 'the answer', and this is just my opinion.


There have been many useful answers concerning the "who" but I will focus on "what" these two witnesses represent. To me the most important allusion is to Ezekiel:

[Eze 14:12-23 ASV] (12) And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, (13) Son of man, when a land sinneth against me by committing a trespass, and I stretch out my hand upon it, and break the staff of the bread thereof, and send famine upon it, and cut off from it man and beast; (14) though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord Jehovah. (15) If I cause evil beasts to pass through the land, and they ravage it, and it be made desolate, so that no man may pass through because of the beasts; (16) though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, they should deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only should be delivered, but the land should be desolate. (17) Or if I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Sword, go through the land; so that I cut off from it man and beast; (18) though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, they should deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only should be delivered themselves. (19) Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my wrath upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast; (20) though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, they should deliver neither son nor daughter; they should but deliver their own souls by their righteousness. (21) For thus saith the Lord Jehovah: How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the evil beasts, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast! (22) Yet, behold, therein shall be left a remnant that shall be carried forth, both sons and daughters: behold, they shall come forth unto you, and ye shall see their way and their doings; and ye shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, even concerning all that I have brought upon it. (23) And they shall comfort you, when ye see their way and their doings; and ye shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, saith the Lord Jehovah.

By alluding to this passage John invokes this entire passage showing that no amount of intercession could save Jerusalem from its day of visitation.

The idea of the presence of righteous men saving a city derives from here:

[Gen 18:32 ASV] (32) And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for the ten's sake.

The two witnesses are clearly prophets and righteous men but they are not to be understood as two particular prophets showing up in Jerusalem in the last days (aka the first century) but rather stand-ins for the righteous in Jerusalem that would not avert destruction. Consider also Lot, who alone was spared before the destruction of Sodom which is a handle given to the leaders of Jerusalem:

[Isa 1:10, 15 NKJV] (10) Hear the word of the LORD, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the law of our God, You people of Gomorrah: ... (15) When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.

[Rev 11:8 NKJV] (8) And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

  • This is an interesting thought - though I'd be curious where you detect the allusion in the Revelation text and how your interpretation reconciles with 11:13; but it doesn't seem to address the question of identity of the two witnesses. Perhaps you could find a way to make this a self-answer to a new question?
    – Soldarnal
    Jul 22, 2019 at 15:32
  • Nice to see you posting again. I updated my answer. Where do you see a conflict with 11:13?
    – Ruminator
    Jul 22, 2019 at 15:55
  • Thanks, I see how it relates now. As far as 11:13, Bauckham ("Climax of Prophecy"), for one, argues that it stands as a positive contrast to the ending of chapter 9 where a third of all people were killed by the judgements and the plagues effect no repentance in the rest. In chapter 11, only a tenth of the city is destroyed and the rest give glory to God.
    – Soldarnal
    Jul 22, 2019 at 16:13
  • I see a tenth of the city being destroyed as horrific and the people giving glory to God referring to their great fear and amazement. Ultimately the city is to be burned, the temple destroyed and the wall torn down brick by brick. Over a million non-combatants were killed. It is the fulfillment of: Deu 32:35-36, 43.
    – Ruminator
    Jul 22, 2019 at 16:25

Romans 3: 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

Matthew 1: 17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

That equals 42

Revelation 11:2 t 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.

The time of Abraham till Jesus the Jews who were only outwardly jews trampled the holy city.

  • The question was about the two witnesses. I don't see that this answers it. Are you saying that the two witnesses are personifications of the law and prophets ? In which case you need to do more to substantiate that assertion. Otherwise it is just an uncorroborated opinion.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 11, 2020 at 10:19

Who are the two witnesses of Rev 11:3?

"And I will give power to my two witnesses and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days , clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth." Rev 3:3,4

I suggest they are the resurrected Zerubbabel (line of David) and Joshua (high priest).

"Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, I will shake heaven and earth ..." Haggai 2:21

"In that day says the LORD of Hosts, 'I will take you, Zerubbabel My Servant, the son of Shealtiel,' says the LORD, 'and will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you,' says the LORD of hosts." (given authority) Haggai 2:23

"This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts. Who are you O great mountain? Before Zerubabbel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone." (temple mount prep) Zech 4:6,7

"The hands of Zerubbabel Have laid the foundation of this temple; His hands shall also finish it." Zech 4:9

"Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the angel." Zech 3:3 "...And to him He said, 'See I have removed your iniquity from you ...'" Zech 3:4b

"These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth." zech 4:14


I concur with the assessment of the two witnesses as "the faithful witnessing church". As noted already, they have a double function twice. Once as "kingdom and priests", echoing the live trees of Zechariah. And once as echoing Moses and Elijah.

I just want to add ssome detail on the relevance of Moses and Elijah. Moses was the champion of God's people against the external danger of persecution. Elijah was the champion of God's people against the internal danger of temptation to unfaithfulness. The "seven letters" of ch2 and ch3 show the church threatened by both dangers.

Quoting from https://www.amazon.com/Silence-Heaven-Survey-Book-Revelation/dp/1597556

"V6 “They have power to shut the sky that no rain may fall… they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to smite the earth with every plague.” These are the powers which were given to Elijah and Moses respectively. Is that a reason to identify them literally as Elijah and Moses returning to the earth? No, because they appear to be sharing both sets of powers jointly (besides sharing the powers of Jeremiah), instead of holding their own separately. The powers should be seen as an indirect way of announcing that the Two Witnesses are resuming the tasks of Moses and Elijah. The chief task of Moses was to stand up against the oppression of God's people coming from hostile power. The chief task of Elijah was to stand up against the temptation of God's people coming from alien religion. Between them, they cover the external danger and the internal danger to the integrity of the community. The seven churches addressed at the beginning of the book were being warned about the proximity of both kinds of danger. Similarly the tribulation would be presenting both kinds of danger, and the situation would require both kinds of witness. In summary, the Witnesses have a two-fold status as "kings and priests" in Christ, and they are giving the two-fold testimony of Moses and Elijah, and that is why we see two of them"

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