Two Witnesses arrive in Jerusalem. They prophesy and do miracles for 1,260 days. They are killed. But after 3.5 days, they resurrect and ascend into heaven. [UPDATED]
VERSE 1. A reed like a rod was given to me. Someone said, “Rise, and measure God’s temple, and the altar, and those who worship in it.
Rise, and measure God’s temple. This is also described in Ezekiel 40.
Ezekiel 40:5. Behold, there was a wall on the outside of the house all around, and in the man’s hand a measuring reed six cubits long, of a cubit and a hand width each. So he measured the thickness of the building, one reed; and the height, one reed.
VERSE 2. Leave out the court which is outside of the temple, and don’t measure it, for it has been given to the nations. They will tread the holy city under foot for forty-two months.
Leave out the court which is outside. The outer court of the temple is called the “Court of the Gentiles.”
They will tread the holy city under foot. This is sad. Very sad.
for forty-two months. It can be difficult to understand what this means. The simplest interpretation is to take it at face value:
- 42 months, or
- 3.5 years
VERSE 3. I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”
I will give power to my two witnesses. These Two Witnesses are heroes of the faith.
They are as great as Joshua and Elijah, Judith and Ruth and the other mighty heroes of the Old Testament.
They are absolutely legendary heroes. We really, really like the Two Witnesses!
they. People put a great deal of effort into trying to guess who these two witnesses are. However, the text itself does not tell us.
We wonder if they are the two women spoken of by the prophet Zechariah:
Zechariah 5:9. Then I lifted up my eyes and saw, and behold, there were two women; and the wind was in their wings. Now they had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the efah basket between earth and the sky.
will prophecy. Us ordinary Christian believers are called to speak of Jesus Christ with other people. That is a type of “prophecy.”
However, these two witnesses are called to be mega-prophets to the entire world. Their words will rock the cosmos and alter the destiny of the universe.
one thousand two hundred sixty days. The simplest interpretation is to take this at face value:
- 1,260 days, or
- 3.5 years
clothed in sackcloth. This evokes the imagery of all the awesome prophets of old, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and John the Baptist.
Isaiah 8:2. and I will take for myself faithful witnesses to testify: Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.”
VERSE 4. These are the two olive trees and the two lamp stands, standing before the Lord of the earth.
the two olive-trees. What are these?
the two lamp stands. What are these?
standing. The Two Witnesses take a stand. They stand for Someone.
VERSE 5. If anyone desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies. If anyone desires to harm them, he must be killed in this way.
fire proceeds out of their mouth. Some people say this means that they speak up in defense of themselves.
However, in the context of this chapter, that interpretation is both dismissive and ridiculous.
devours their enemies. What does that “fire” that comes out from their mouths actually do? Is it a figurative fire of “persuasive words”?
No. It devours their enemies.
he must be killed. As if to leave no doubt about what the word “devours” means, it says this flame from the two prophets will cause people to die.
It won’t merely cause them to stop opposing. No, this flame from their mouths will kill people.
VERSE 6. These have the power to shut up the sky, that it may not rain during the days of their prophecy. They have power over the waters, to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.
the power to shut up the sky, that it may not rain. The mighty prophets of old did this. These Two Witnesses are fully equal to the greatest of the Old Testament prophets.
power over the waters, to turn them into blood. Moses did this in Egypt. These Two Witnesses are fully equal to Moses.
strike the earth with every plague. Moses did this in Egypt. These Two Witnesses are fully equal to Moses.
VERSE 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.
the beast. Who is this beast? What is it? It is probably the Antichrist.
the abyss. This is a bottomless pit. It is the home of demons.
Luke 8:31. They begged him that he would not command them to go into the abyss.
Romans 10:7. or, ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead.)”
Revelation 9:1. The fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from the sky which had fallen to the earth. The key to the pit of the abyss was given to him.
Revelation 9:11. They have over them as king the angel of the abyss. His name in Hebrew is “Abandon”, but in Greek, he has the name “Apollyon”.
Revelation 11:7. 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.
Revelation 17:8. The beast that you saw was, and is not; and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go into destruction. Those who dwell on the earth and whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel when they see that the beast was, and is not, and shall be present.
Revelation 20:1. I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.
Revelation 20:2. He seized the dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole inhabited earth, and bound him for a thousand years,
Revelation 20:3. and cast him into the abyss, and shut it, and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were finished. After this, he must be freed for a short time.
will attack them. The enemy always attacks the authentic servants of the Most High God. These are unquestionably the most authentic servants of the Most High God that are alive.
will make war with them. This will be an awful tragedy. The godly people will see their heroes slaughtered, and that by the evil one.
VERSE 8. Their dead bodies will be in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.
Their dead bodies. There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Two Witnesses are dead.
in the street of the great city. The dead bodies of the Two Witnesses won’t be whisked away and hidden.
No, their corpses will lay where they fell. Nobody will be able to miss the stark reality of their death.
is called Sodom and Egypt. Because of the idolatry of the city, it is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt.
where also their Lord was crucified. That city was Jerusalem. Where else could such important events take place?
VERSE 9. From among the peoples, tribes, languages, and nations, people will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not allow their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb.
among the peoples, tribes, languages, and nations. Everybody will know about this. It will be hidden from nobody. The enemy will make sure everybody knows he slaughtered the Two Witnesses.
look at their dead bodies for three and a half days. The simplest interpretation is to take this at face value.
- The body of Jesus Christ was in the tomb for three days.
- The bodies of the Two Witnesses will be dead for 3.5 days.
not allow their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. People are so glad for the death of the Two Witnesses that they deny the burial of their bodies.
VERSE 10. Those who dwell on the earth rejoice over them, and they will be glad. They will give gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.
they will be glad. People all around the world will celebrate the defeat of the Two Witnesses.
will give gifts to one another. People will send gifts to one another. We imagine that companies will quickly manufacture special gifts for people to send to one another.
VERSE 11. After the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered into them, and they stood on their feet. Great fear fell on those who saw them.
After three and a half days. The whole world viewed the corpses of the Two Witnesses lying dead on the street where they had died.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that they are dead, dead, dead.
the breath of life from God entered into them. They came back to life again.
Ezekiel 37:9. Then he said to me, Prophesy to the wind, prophesy, son of man, and tell the wind, Thus says the Sovereign LORD: Come from the four winds, breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.
they stood on their feet. This is not a “figurative” or “symbolic” resurrection. No, it is the real thing.
Ezekiel 37:10. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
Great fear fell on those who saw them. People are terrified.
VERSE 12. I heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” They went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies saw them.
a loud voice from heaven. This must have been awesome to hear.
Come up here! Can you imagine God saying this to you?
They went up to the heaven in the cloud. The Two Witnesses ascend up into the heavens like Jesus Christ did. Also, like Elijah did and like Enoch did:
Genesis 5:24. Enoch walked with God, and he was not found, for God took him.
2 Kings 2:11. As they continued on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated them, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
Sirach 48:9. [Elijah] was taken up in a whirlwind of fire, and in a chariot of fiery horses:
Sirach 49:14. No man was created upon the earth such as was Enoch; For he was taken up from the earth.
Hebrews 11:5. By faith, Enoch was taken away, so that he wouldn’t see death, and he was not found, because God translated him. For he has had testimony given to him that before his translation he had been well pleasing to God.
Revelation 4:1. After these things I looked and saw a door opened in heaven, and the first voice that I heard, like a trumpet speaking with me, was one saying, “Come up here, and I will show you the things which must happen after this.”
Revelation 11:12. I heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” They went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies saw them.
their enemies saw them. Their resurrection and ascension of the Two Witnesses was not done in secret. Everybody saw it. Doubtless it gave them no end of consternation.
VERSE 13. In that day there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
the rest … gave glory to the God of heaven. This is unexpected. Some people actually repent!
VERSE 14. The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe comes quickly.
VERSE 15. The seventh angel sounded, and great voices in heaven followed, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ. He will reign forever and ever!”
the seventh angel sounded [his trumpet]. This trumpet was almost certainly able to be heard everywhere on earth.
VERSE 16. The twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God’s throne, fell on their faces and worshiped God,
VERSE 17. saying: “We give you thanks, Lord God, the Almighty, the one who is and who was; because you have taken your great power and reigned.
VERSE 18. The nations were angry, and your wrath came, as did the time for the dead to be judged, and to give your bondservants the prophets, their reward, as well as to the saints, and those who fear your name, to the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”
VERSE 19. God’s temple that is in heaven was opened, and the ark of the Lord’s covenant was seen in his temple. Lightnings, sounds, thunders, an earthquake, and great hail followed.
the ark of the Lord’s covenant. This is probably the ark in which the Law was carried during the Old Testament. It is not likely to refer to Mary the mother of Jesus Christ, as some assert.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.