This question focuses on grammar not "what makes sense".

The first step to understanding a passage is parsing:

  • identify the parts of speech
  • assign the pronouns to the proper names
  • assign the verbs and adjectives to the pronouns and proper names
  • do not worry about the "true meaning": "dragon", "day of the Lord", etc

If the writer is competent, there is only one correct parsing.

Only then can you apply interpretation: what is "the dragon", etc.

Revelation 11:1-3

11 Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, 2 but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. 3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”

It appears that nearly everyone uses this passage to equate "42 months" to "1,260 days".

Because 42 divides into 1260 a whole number of times?
Because the numbers are in adjacent sentences?


Is there a grammatical reason to equate 1,260 days to 42 months in any end-times passage?

Subsequent questions will focus on interpretation.

2 Answers 2


The prophecies of 1260 days and 42 months each occur twice in the book of Revelation and form a chiastic structure:

  • Rev 11:2 - 42 months gentiles trample on the holy city
  • Rev 11:3 - - 1260 days two witnesses prophesy in sackcloth
  • Rev 12:6 - - 1260 days woman flees to the desert to escape the dragon
  • Rev 13:5 - 42 months beast blasphemes & exercises defiant authority

Some interpreters also connect these to the 3½ years as well:

  • Dan 7:25 - 3½ times (years) saints persecuted by little horn
  • Dan 12:7 - 3½ times (years) end marks the beginning of the end of time
  • Rev 12:14 - 3½ times (years) woman out of dragon’s reach

There is nothing in the text to link these prophecies syntactically, only semantically - they all appear to be discussing the same period of time.

Further, we have a very close association between the following incidents:

  • In Rev 11:2, 3 the 42 months and the 1260 days appear side by side
  • In Rev 12:6, 7 the 3½ times (years) and 1260 days appear side by side
  • Further, in Rev 12: 6, 7, 14, the 1260 days is sandwiched between two instances of the 3½ times (years).

Just how one interprets these prophecies is another matter entirely, but they certainly appear linked.


In the Textus Receptus, the modern editor must make choices not only among slight (usually) variations of the text itself in the ancient manucripts, but also in punctuation, sentence termination, and capitalization that are entirely absent from the most ancient, majuscule texts.

So with these two sentences adjacent to each other, it is a choice of the modern editor whether these are really two separate sentences or not. The Textus Receptus editor could decide that they are two similar clauses in the same sentence, separated perhaps by a semicolon in English. In your English edition they are separate sentences.

Clearly there is a grammatical correspondence between them, it is evident even in translation, and this is a common pattern that can be seen especially in the Proverbs and Psalms. It shows up even in the Torah and the prophets. Less so in the New Testament, but we see it here.

Seen as an instance of the pattern of repetition, this reinforces the equivalence of 1260 days to 42 months.

But of course the 'pink elephant in the room' is, under what mathematical logic are these truly equivalent?

Because in prophecy like this we are not given all the information we would need to make precise calculations with the lunisolar system (such as whether a given year will have a leap month), the pattern in Revelation and in Daniel is to use a coarse system of 12 months with 30 days each in a year of 360 days. Under this coarse system, 42 months is in fact 1260 days.

To keep such a system in line with reality over longer times, every 6th year will have 13 months, and the 39th year in each 40 year cycle will have 13 months. This was used in ancient times to anticipate the birth of Messiah according to the famous 70 weeks prophecy of Daniel. Daniel 12:11 says 1290 days, implying an extra 30 day leap month is added in that case. (Credit to Andrew Gabriel Roth for explanation of the prophetic dating system.)

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