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Chapter Four of this Commentary
The Sixth Trumpet of Revelation 9
Also called "the second woe."
Chapters 8, 9, 10, and 11
of the Book of Revelation
Scene 6. Revelation 11:3-4, 10
"The Two Witnesses"
"The Two Prophets"
Some expositors say the “two witnesses” are
Moses and Elijah.
Abundant blibical evidence renders this thesis unsustainable.
3 "And I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days, wearing sackcloth. 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 10 and the inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and celebrate and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to the inhabitants of the earth."
I. The identity of the "two witnesses," also called the “two prophets” in Revelation 11:10. "And I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days, wearing sackcloth." Revelation 11:3. “…because these two prophets had been a torment to the inhabitants of the earth.” Revelation 11:10
A. All the descriptions and events that cast light on the identity of the “two witnesses-two prophets” -their work, power, death, and resurrection- convince me that they are Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
1. Jesus Christ qualifies to be one of the “two witnesses.” Consider, esteemed reader, the evidence.
a) In Revelation 1:5, Jesus Christ is identified, textually, as “the faithful witness.” In Revelation 3:14, he identifies himself as "the faithful and true witness." The function of a “witness” is, it goes without saying, to give “testimony.”
During his earthly ministry, Jesus said to the Pharisees: “I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf.” John 8:18
Speaking to the Roman proconsul Pilate, Jesus of Nazareth says: “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” John 18:37
When the apostle John falls down at the feet of the angel who was transmitting to him the visions and prophecies of Revelation, the angel reproves him, saying. “You must not do that! … Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10
b) During the Common Era (Christian Age for Christians), Jesus Christ is seated on his throne at the right hand of his Father in Heaven. “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” 1 Corinthians 15:25. From up there where he reigns, through his function as the “Word,” he gives witness. “There are three that testify in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit…” 1 John 5:7
He also continues to give witness on planet Earth, doing it through Christians who are “good stewards [evangelists, preachers, teachers, elders, and deacons fully loyal] of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10), since all such "stewards" are effectually occupied in the spiritual task of bearing “witness” both to the world and to the church regarding the redemptive works of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
For example, the apostle Paul exhorts the evangelist Timothy: “Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord…” 2 Timothy 1:8
Indeed, some Christians were “…beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God.” Revelation 20:4. In Pergamum, “Antipas my witness, my faithful one… was
killed among you, where Satan lives,” Christ writes to the church in that city of the Roman province of Asia. Revelation 2:13
2. The Holy Spirit qualifies to be one of the “two witnesses.” Following is some of the evidence.
a) “And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. There are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree.” 1 John 5:6-8. The “water” is the water of baptism and the “blood” is that of Jesus Christ shed on the cross.
b) “The Spirit is the truth,” writes the apostle John (1 John 5:6), and “your word is truth,” Jesus affirms in his prayer to the Father. John 17:17. Therefore, taking into account that “the Word of the Lord
endures forever” and that this “Word is the good news that was announced to you” (1 Peter 1:25), we can confidently conclude that the Holy Spirit is always giving testimony on the earth by means of the divine, indestructible, everlasting truth.
To be sure, the Holy Spirit, having fully accomplished in the 1st century his assigned task of revealing “all truth” to the apostles (John 16:13), continues, just as Christ does, to testify to this very day, through people who accept and faithfully follow the divine Word he was instrumental in revealing, doing it, especially by means of “competent ministers” of the New Testament. 2 Corinthians 3:6
By this very same, totally confirmed, and reliable inspired Word (Mark 16:19-20), and not by modern-day, uninspired, contradictory, phantasmal “dreams, visions, feelings, or testimonies,” nor by alleged angelic revelations or unintelligible, untranslatable strange tongues, “that very Spirit” bears “witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 8:16
3. As we continue the analysis of Revelation 11:3-14, we will see that additional data confirms this identification of the ““two witnesses-two prophets” as Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
B. "These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth." Revelation 11:4
So then, two intriguing metaphors are provided as clues to finding the correct identity of the “two witnesses,” to wit: These witnesses “are the two olive trees and the two lampstands.”
1. "…the two olive trees…"
Olive tree in Kastela, Croatia
a) The olive, a tree that can live two thousand years or more, perfectly symbolizes Christ, his church, the Holy Spirit, and the inspired Word, all of which endure century after century throughout the Common Era, even to the end of material time.
“An olive tree in Mourriscas, Abrantes, Portugal, (Oliveira do Mouchão) is one of the oldest known olive trees still alive to this day, with an estimated age of 3,350 years, planted approximately at the beginning of the Atlantic Bronze Age."
"An olive tree in west Athens, named "Plato's Olive Tree", is thought to be a remnant of the grove where Plato’s Academy was situated, making it an estimated 2,400 years old."
"The age of an olive tree in Crete, the Finix Olive, is claimed to be over 2,000 years old; this estimate is based on archaeological evidence around the tree."
"The olive tree of Vouves in Crete has an age estimated between 2,000 and 4,000 years.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive#Oldest_known_trees
Two olive trees and two lampstands. "These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth." Revelation 11:4
b) Zachariah, in the visions given him, saw a lampstand and two olive trees.
“The angel who talked with me came again… He said to me, ‘What do you see?’ And I said, ‘I see a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it; there are seven lamps on it… And by it there are two olive trees, one on
the right of the bowl and the other on its left.’”
Zachariah asks the angel: “What are these, my Lord?” And the angel answered: "These are the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth." Zachariah 4:1-14
Taking “the two anointed ones” as a clue to the identity of the “two witnesses,” we discover that Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit perfectly qualify as the “two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”
(1) Jesus Christ is the "anointed" of God. Luke 4:18; John 1:41; Acts 4:27; 10:38; Hebrews 1:9
(2) God the Father also “anoints” the Holy Spirit so that he, in turn, might anoint Christians. “But as his anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in him.” 1 John 2:20-27. The Holy Spirit is the celestial Being given the task of teaching us “about all things.” He was anointed to “guide” the apostles selected by Jesus “into all the truth,” and all this truth has been transmitted to us in the inspired writings of the New Testament. John 16:13. Thus it is that we “do not need anyone to teach” us anything in addition to “all the truth” already taught us by the anointed Holy Spirit. Not ecumenical church councils, nor popes, self-appointed prophets and prophetesses, protestant religious councils, or religious organizations of any kind that attribute authority to themselves as definers of truth.
(3) Now it is also certain that, in a spiritual sense, every “good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of sound teaching,” (1 Timothy 4:6) is "anointed," that is, separated or elected (Acts 13:1-3) for the ministries of the spiritual Kingdom of Christ and God, which include proclaiming the prophecies and the “testimony” of Jesus.
2. The “two witnesses” are "two lampstands."
a) The similarities between some visions of Zachariah and the Revelation vision of the “two witnesses” again throw light on the identity of these two. The prophet sees "a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it; there are seven lamps on it…”
Zachariah asks the angel: "What are these, my Lord?" The angel responds: "Do you not
know what these are?... This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts." Zachariah 4:2-6
(1) Enigma solved! The "lampstand," with its “seven lamps on it,” symbolizes the “word of the Lord.” Divine light shines forth from the seven lamps, the light of the “word of the Lord.”
"Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Palm 119:105
During the present Common Era, the word of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit (John 16:13-15) is light for the church and the whole world. “Your word is truth." John 17:17. Jesus Christ personifies this “word.” He is the “Word” (John 1:1) by which God divulges his will and, as such, Jesus also personifies the divine light that emanates from the “word of God.” Colossians 1:25
In that regard, Jesus emphatically affirms: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12. “The true light, which enlightens
everyone” came “into the world.” John 1:9. “…and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19
(2) It is no less certain that the light of the divine word comes to the human race through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirt is so closely identified with “the truth” that it is said of him that “…the Spirit is the truth” (1 Juan 5:6), thus becoming the personification of the truth. And “the truth” is the “word of God,” and this “word” is light both for the Gentiles and the Jews, the Holy Spirit being the bearer of this celestial light, though not its originator, for Jesus explains: “…he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears… he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-15
(3) Guided by these similarities and realities, it seems altogether reasonable to conclude that the “two lampstands” of Revelation 11:4 do, indeed, most appropriately represent Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
b) “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts." Even these words that Zachariah heard are also applicable to the present Common Era, including the “little while” when the Satan-deceived nations will attempt to completely silence the “word of God” and the church faithful to Christ according to the exact sound teachings of the New Testament. Because loyal Christians triumph over their enemies by means of the “word of God,” powerful and effective, revealed in its entirety by the Holy Spirit, and, truly, “not by might, nor by power” of a worldly, physical nature.
“Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power… Take up the whole armor of God… …fasten the belt of truth around your waist… Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:14-17
c) "…the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of earth."
(1) “…that stand...” That is, they are upright. They have not been knocked over. They are not laying on the floor. They are “before the Lord of earth,” and this signifies that they are in Heaven. Just so, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, represented by the “two lampstands,” are, during this Common Era, “before the Lord of earth” in Heaven.
When “in heaven a door stood open” before the astonished apostle John (Revelation 4:1), he saw many celestial beings and witnessed marvelous events. Having recounted some, he adds: “Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” Revelation 5:6. Indeed, these “seven spirits” may be perceived as the perfect personification of the attributes and principal works of the Holy Spirit and, as such, would reasonably represent him in his fulness in the context of the works he executes. For example,
he is called the “Advocate” (John 14:15), in some versions translated as “Comforter,” "Counselor,” or “Helper.” He “intercedes for the saints.” Romans 8:26-27. He is “the Spirit of Truth.” John 16:13
So then, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are in Heaven. However, this does not mean they are unable to make themselves manifest on planet Earth. As a matter of fact, they do just that by means of the church loyal in every aspect to their only head, Christ himself, with its faithful ministers (evangelists, teachers, bishops, deacons) in the lead, as well as by means of the inspired word of the “new covenant.” They have not been silenced. They have not been cast down. They continue to make the celestial light of Heaven shine in the world.
(2) The “two lampstands” continue to "stand" even during the most difficult years of the “little while,” even to the hour when they, in their representation as the “two witnesses,” finish their testimony. Revelation 11:7. They do not escape the “great tribulation” of that future time until almost the very end of it.
C. The “two witnesses” are “two prophets." When the Satan-deceived "inhabitants of the earth” have, in the last days, killed them, they “will gloat over them and celebrate and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to the inhabitants of the earth.” Revelation 11:10
Of course, both the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ are prophets. The supreme prophets of the Common Era. Both have revealed to the church and the world every inspired prophecy.
In anticipation of the incarnation of the Son of God and his redemptive work in favor of the human race, Jehovah God said to Moses: “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command.” Dueteronomy 18:18
Jesus Christ es that promised “prophet.” Consonant with this fact is the clear and resonating affirmation of the angel to the apostle John: “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10
D. All this evidence in favor of identifying Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit as the “Two Witnesses-Two Prophets” of Revelation 11 effectively eliminates Moses and Elijah as candidates. As outstanding as these two men are among the “sons of God” who have lived on planet Earth, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are on a much higher plain in terms of qualifications and far-reaching powers. Too, it is of no little import that Christ and the Holy Spirit exercise their distinct roles in the context of the “new covenant” during the entire Common Era on the scenario of the whole world, while Moses and Elijah exercised theirs in the context of the “old law” or “covenant” given on Mount Sinai, limited thereby almost entirely to earthly Israel and their little corner of the globe.
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Category. Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment. Commentary.
Next. Scene 7 of Trumpet 6 of Revelation. The Two Witnesses prophesy 1,260 days wearing sackcloth. Satan-deceived nations trample over the holy city for 42 months. Evidence these two “times” are concurrent, taking place in the “little while” before the Second Coming of Christ. Timeline of events and circumstances.
Revelation 10:6. Going out into the FUTURE to the LAST DAY of TIME. Looking back at planet Earth in the 20th and 21st centuries.