If you have attended church for any number of years, then you have heard about the two witnesses of Revelation 11:1-14. You are probably also familiar with all the different scenarios of who they are. Many of us from time to time have perhaps even day dreamed about these two witnesses speaking the truth to the discontentment of the world, a world who just wants them to shut up and die, because the truth they speak condemns their sin.
These thoughts surround us because we live in a world where we often hear of brothers and sisters being slaughtered for spreading the gospel, owning a Bible, or just believing; or in other countries that are seen as being “free”, brethren being taking to court for offending someone by obeying the word of God, or even being threatened for speaking of our God and His righteous ways. The constant condemnation in the world of all that is blessed and pure from those who call evil good and good evil can take a spiritual toll on a follower of Christ.
In this study, we are going to look at 3 different scenarios. While there is no harm in holding on to the belief of one scenario over another, keep in mind that the truth is still difficult to know for sure until the incident is upon us. We still need to remain humble and vigilant as we see the prophecies of Revelation unfolding. As it could come alive as we think or it could unravel in ways that never crossed our minds. Pray always and remain watching.
ELIJAH & ENOCH
Some bible scholars and believers have long considered Enoch & Elijah as being the two witnesses because of passages in the Bible such as Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” And another verse in Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which was planted;”
We know from scripture that Elijah and Enoch never died a natural death but were taken up. We see in Genesis 5:21-24 of how Enoch was not because God took him. In 2 Kings 2:11, we read of Elijah's miraculous departure by a fiery chariot and horses of fire that took him to heaven in a whirlwind.
But then if everyone is appointed to die once, then does that mean that every who is taken up with the rapture going to actually die first? These are the questions that remain from such interpretations.
They also point to Elijah being a definite because in Revelation it states that the two witnesses will be able to shut heaven that it not rain and that scripture speaks of Elijah having done just that in James 5:17.
Then there is also the verses in Malachi 4:5-6, concerning Elijah the prophet coming before the great day of the Lord, which we will look at in the next chapter when we go over Elijah and Moses as the other two possible witnesses.
ELIJAH & MOSES
As we all ready covered, in James 5:17, we read how Elijah shut up heaven that it did not rain, which is one of the things that the two witnesses will be able to do. We also see that in 2 Kings 1:10 that Elijah called down fire from heaven, just like the two witnesses will be able to do.
Now lets look at Malachi 4:5-6, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to their children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
But we see in Luke 1:13-17, the angel Gabriel was sent to tell Zacharias that his wife Elizabeth would conceive a son and they would name him John. In verse 17, the angel tells them, “He shall go before him in the spirit of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children.” In Strong's Concordance, this word is pneuma can mean spirit of man but we know that John was not possessed by Elijah. This also means the spirit of God, spirit of Christ, spirit of the Lord, and spirit.
People also point to Matthew 17, when Peter, James, and John seen Yeshua speaking with Moses and Elijah; when a voice from heaven said of our savior, “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased, listen to him.”
Some scholars and believers think Elijah and Moses because these are the two that were talking with Christ, when we see in verse 10 that the disciples, having witnessed this interaction asked, “Why the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
Christ answered in verses 11-12, “Elijah truly shall come first, and restore all things, But I say unto you that Elijah is all ready come, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall the son of man also suffer of them.” Verse 13 states that the disciples understood that Christ was speaking of John the Baptist.
John the Baptist was not the reincarnation of Elijah, as some misinterpret this and as I stated previously, he was not possessed by Elijah, but because of the translation and knowing that we do nothing of ourselves but it is the working of the spirit through us, it makes the most sense to interpret this as being the Spirit of God. So we could say that the Spirit of God would be working through John as he did through Elijah.
Even though it appears that Malachi 4:5-6 was fulfilled with John the Baptist, there is a great number of people that also feel it is a prophecy for the days leading up to the return of Christ. Leaving many to strongly assert that Elijah will physically appear as one of the two witnesses, either in the flesh as himself or as he did to Christ on the mountain.
Revelation also states of the two witnesses that they will bring plagues and have power to turn water into blood, these are things which Moses had done in Exodus. So because of the given abilities of the two witnesses and the fact that they appeared on the mountain to speak with Christ, there are scholars and believers who are certain that the two witnesses will be Elijah and Moses.
While the only sure way of knowing who the two witnesses are is when they arrive and they assert the power and abilities that we are told they will have, there is still one more scenario that I can think of. One that I heard a few years ago that has been making its rounds through Christian media.
But first lets have a look at Revelation 11:3-12, “And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy 1,260 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 will proceed out of their mouth and will devour their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it not rain in the days of their prophecy: and have power over the waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascended out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall over come them and shall kill them. 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.
And they of all the people of kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies for three and a half days, and shall not put their bodies into graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts to one another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt upon the earth. And after three and a half days, the Spirit of life from God entered them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying to them, come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
THE BODY OF CHRIST
Trying to understand John the Revelator can be difficult because John was trying to describe a future of events consisting of things that he had probably not yet seen in his time. Most of us when we read what John wrote, we try to imagine the vision that John seen in our own minds. Some have claimed that the answer has been over looked within John's vision.
Which brings me to the next possible two witnesses that we are going to look at are the believers, the Jews and the Gentiles. You may be as surprised to hear this as I was but there does seem to be as much, if not a few more verses to back it up in scripture, than with the previous two.
John would have still been able to deduce who the beast of Revelation 13 was, had the angel never revealed it to him. Because Daniel in chapter 7 had visions and dreams upon his bed, where he sees beasts, which are interpreted as kingdoms, and horns that are interpreted as kings. What makes the Bible's prophecies and visions so unique is the consistency of the interpretation of imagery throughout all of them.
Like when John stated that the two witnesses were the two candlesticks and the two olive trees. I am going to show you in the following scriptures where the two candlesticks in the Bible has only been used to refer to the church. And Israel has always been referred to by God himself as an olive tree, and later in scripture, the believers of Gentiles are referred to as a wild olive tree.
There are things that Christ said that makes this scenario seem more possible. There are a lot more scriptures to go over with this scenario, therefore, this one may be a longer read but it is very interesting. And even if you disagree with this scenario, there will still be some aha moments in scripture that you never connected or thought of before.
In Zechariah 4:1-4, “And the angel that talked with me came again, and walked with me, as a man that wakes out of his sleep. And said to me, what do you see? And I said, I have looked. And behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof; And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and one upon the left side thereof. So I answered and spoke to the angel that talked with me, saying, what are these my lord?”
The angel then questions Zechariah and asks him if he knows what these are. Zechariah says no. So the angel proceeds to tell him a word from the Lord, but Zechariah was curious and asked again in verse 11 what the two olive trees and the two olive branches were.
Zechariah 4:13-14, “And he answered me and said, Know you not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”
In Strong's the word translated as “ones” is a masculine word meaning child, son, or children.
The word translated as “stand” means to endure, abide, serve, stand firm, and remain.
Jeremiah 11:15-17, The prophet is told not to pray for Israel, because God will not hear them in the time that they cry out to him in their trouble; for they do evil and rejoice in it. Then in verse 16, he says of Israel, “The Lord called your name, a green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of great tumult he has kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken off.”
Father was very angry because they were burning incense to Ba'al, but if you took note, he also called Israel an olive tree and said that their branches are broken off.
Romans 11:13-25, we see Paul speaking to the Gentiles about Israel being an olive tree. In verse 16-21, “For if the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if you boast, you bear not the root but the root bears you. You will say then, the branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well, because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Be not high minded but fear. For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed that he also spare not you.”
As we see, this chapter in Romans also states that the branches of the green olive tree (Israel) were broken off, so now the branches of the wild olive tree (Gentiles) can be grafted in.
Verse 24 continues, “For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be natural branches, be grafted into their own tree?”
From Jeremiah and Romans alone, we see the consistency of the green olive tree, the good olive tree referring to Israel and the wild olive tree referring to Gentiles. In Zechariah, we see that the two olive trees can have a slightly broader meaning. However, to avoid “cherry picking”, I want to be sure to list all scriptures pertaining to the olive tree.
THE GOSPEL WILL GO INTO ALL THE WORLD
When speaking of the things that will come to pass in the end times before the return of Christ, Matthew 24:14 states, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached into all the world for a witness to all nations; and then the end will come.”
Many believers throughout the years have concluded from this passage that it will be the missionaries, television, radio, and internet programs put out by the Christian churches and organizations that will spread the gospel throughout the world, thus fulfilling this prophecy. But truth is that a lot of the gospel that we hear today is of another Messiah. It has been watered down for tickling the ears and mixed in with world views. Very few churches and evangelists are teaching the pure unadulterated truth of the gospel of our Messiah Yeshua.
This belief has been so deeply ingrained that its the reasons why people like John Allen Chau, a missionary with All Nations outreached in 2018, traveled to a North Sentinel Island to try and evangelize a indigenous tribe, an attempt that ended with his death.
But what if this is not how the gospel spreads throughout the uttermost parts of the world? What if, the gospel is spread throughout the world to every tribe and nation by the two witnesses, whose time is not yet come? Because Matthew 24 says that the message of this gospel will go throughout the world and then the end will come. We also see with the two witnesses that when they have finished their testimony, that they are over come by the beast and are killed. Three and a half days later, the breath of God enters them and they rise into heaven, and then the end comes.
Think about it? These two witnesses do not just irritate and frustrate people in Jerusalem, but people all over the world. And with the power given to them, they will be able to go to places like like the North Sentinel Island where there is no modern technology and the natives will not be able to bring them harm because fire will proceed from their mouths and devour them. They will be forced to hear what the two witnesses have to say, and they will hear it in their own native language.
This scenario holds to the fact that the world is too big for an actual two beings to be all over the world. But if the power was to come upon all those who worship in truth and in love, then this would be possible, because the two groups would be many all over the world.
THE TWO CANDLESTICKS
Now that we have looked at the two olive trees, lets look at the two candlesticks. Will uncovering what this image refers to confirm or deny this possible scenario? Candlesticks are mentioned a lot all through the old testament, but its use is in literal terms, such as for ceremonies. Aaron was told to lit seven golden candlesticks in Numbers 8. But we are going to look at what they mean when given as an image in a vision, dream, or prophecy.
In Revelation 1:12-20, John sees seven stars and seven golden candlesticks. In verse 20, Yeshua tells John that the seven stars are the seven angels of the seven churches; And the seven golden candlesticks are the seven churches.
As a warning of repentance to one of the mentioned seven churches in Revelation 2:5, “Remember therefore from where you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come to you quickly, and will remove your candlestick out of its place, except you repent.”
FIRE WILL PROCEED FROM THEIR MOUTHS
We have read in Revelation 11:5 how the two witnesses will be able to send fire through their mouths to devour their enemies who would come against them to cause them harm. In Jeremiah 5:14, we read, “Wherefore this says the Lord God of hosts, because you speak this word, behold, I will make my words in your mouth as fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.”
We all ready know that true Christians are a nuisance to the evil hearts of this world, because the word that followers of the true Christ base their faith on speaks out against the wickedness that has become saturated in the world. Many who love their sins do not want to hear that the works of their hands and their imaginations are leading them off a cliff into fiery flames, and they need to repent and turn from their sins. They instead want their ears tickled. They want to hear that all roads lead to heaven through a wide gate of acceptance and tolerance. Even though Luke 13:28, Matthew 13:42; 22:12-13; 24:51; 25:30, all paint a different story. The world is in such deep denial of the truth that they have begun to rewrite the word of God to say what their itching ears want to hear.
Few never stop to think that if heaven had the same corruption that we see hear on earth, with the same temptations, that there would be zero desire to go to heaven. For me personally, its the freedom from temptation, it is everlasting tranquility, washed clean of the memories of a sinful world. It is being able to live peaceably under a just and righteous king.
We have all ready seen Christians being taken to court for refusing to participate in the sins of others. If you look up one of the defining qualifications of a terrorist in the United States, you will find someone who holds to traditional Christian values and beliefs. Alongside, someone who loves their country. The truth in our world has become so twisted, that those who would hear the word, who would turn and give their hearts to Christ, cannot because their eyes and ears are covered with wickedness. So the two witnesses must come bringing with them a force that is unstoppable, and they will testify until every ear has heard the truth.
THE BEAST WILL MAKE WAR
Lets look at the two witnesses again, in Revelation 11:7, “When they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit, shall make war against them, shall over come them, and shall kill them.”
Now Revelation 13:7, “It was given to him (the beast) to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given to him over all kindreds, tongues, and nations.
Acts 2:17-18, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.” This is also found in Joel 2:28.
Acts 2:19-21 goes on to say what John the Revelator and Christ in Matthew 24 says about signs, and wonders in heaven, of blood, vapor and smoke; And about the sun being turned to darkness and the moon being turned to blood right before Christ returns.
So we have seen that God will pour out of His spirit and many will prophesy right before the end comes. However, the two witnesses will also prophesy right before the end comes. We also see that the beast will make war with the two prophets and over come them, but he will also make war with the saints and over come them.
THEY WILL LIE IN THE STREETS
We read in Revelation 11:8-10, “And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their bodies for three days and a half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put into graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts to one another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.”
While this verse points to a great city, it also refers to two spiritual cities. It then goes on to say that every nation, kindred, and tongue will see these bodies and rejoice over them. I do not really see people from around the world flying in to one city to make merry. With the economical decline of nearly every country, such a thing just would not seem feasible. Unless of course, everyone was able to appear through a virtual reality beast system but scripture seems to be speaking of reality and not a made up universe.
If this theory is the correct one, then I do not think that everyone who says they are a believer will be given this power. Remember, Christ said that not everyone who says to him “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom because not everyone who believes does the will of the Father.
We cannot discard the fact that there will be some saved and brought to the truth through the two witnesses.
Maybe its this remnant left when Christ returns, as he stated in Matthew 24:22 that if he does not return when he does that there would be no flesh to return for.
If the two witnesses are actually two individuals, then in my mind, I am thinking they would need the ability to transport themselves miraculously from place to place to reach everyone all over the world, as there are still some tribes, natives, tongues, and people who do not have all the modern technology and they refuse to ever have it.
We also see how the disciples learned from our Savior that John the Baptist was who the scriptures spoke of, when they asked about Elijah coming before Christ. It was not literally Elijah who came but it was John in the same spirit of Elijah.
We need to consider that while miraculous things were done through Elijah and Moses, that it was not the power of them that did it but it was the power of the Spirit of God that was working through them. Elijah nor Moses, either one had any capabilities of doing anything outside of the power that belongs to God. The Spirit of God has worked through many of generations of men that we have never heard of.
We serve a God whose thoughts and ways are more righteous and higher than our own, and often times, we try to limit Him by our small thoughts.
When we look at the possibility of Elijah and Enoch being the two witnesses only because they never seen death, then that makes a taking up/rapture impossible because by that theory, all men must die. And in such an event, end time believers would not experience death just as Enoch and Elijah did not experience it.
Please keep in mind that Revelation is a mystery unraveling. Many believers and scholars have been trying to decipher it for generations, and all we have come up with are more ideas, with few certainties. The two witnesses very well could be one of these three or it could unravel in a way that we never seen coming.