Many think the Two Witnesses are going to be the prophets Moses and Elijah because they both appeared at the Transfiguration [Mt 17:1-3] with Jesus, and they might be. Some believe they could be Elijah and Enoch as both went to heaven without dying. I have believed Elijah was one of the two prophets, since Malachi prophesied that he would come, and because I received a word that Elijah was coming. The question is, was God through Malachi speaking of a literal reappearing of Elijah or something else?
When God spoke through Malachi the prophet, He said that Elijah would come before He judged the world –
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 the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. [Malachi 4:5-6] When John the Baptist was born, an angel said that he would go before Christ, meaning John’s ministry would come first, in the spirit and power of Elijah –
Luk 1:13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. Luk 1:17 And he shall go before him (Christ) in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Jesus said of John the Baptist – Mat 11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. Mat 11:14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. *(Elias was the Greek rendering of Elijah.)
In Mt 11 Jesus is saying that John the Baptist was the one prophesied to come but as the angel explained, John would go “in the spirit and power” of Elijah. Taking all these scriptures together, is it possible that Elijah to come might not be the actual old testament prophet returning to earth? In other words, Elijah’s coming might not be literal. Might his coming be in the form of a company of believers who go in the “spirit and power” of Elijah, as did John the Baptist?
What else do the Scriptures have to say about the Two Witnesses? More than I can include in this article, but the following passages might offer some insight as to who they might be. Then again, the book of Revelation specifically says they will be “two prophets.” The question is, are the two prophets literal individuals or is something else meant?
Two olive trees are mentioned in the Old Testament book of Zechariah, as the ‘two anointed ones’ who stand by the Lord –
Zec 4:2 And said unto me, What seest thou? 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 thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:
Zec 4:3 And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.
Zec 4:11 Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?
Zec 4:12 And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?
Zec 4:13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
Zec 4:14 Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
The following passage clarifies that the ‘two olive trees,’ and ‘two candlesticks,’ are the ‘two witnesses’ –
Rev 11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. (3 ½ years of the Tribulation)
Rev 11:4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. (Note how Zec 4:14 and this verse both say these ‘anointed ones’ STAND before God)
Rev 11:5 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.
Rev 11:6 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.
Rev 11:7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. (There’s no pre-trib rapture)
Rev 11:8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
Rev 11:9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
Rev 11:10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. (These ‘two anointed ones,’ could be two groups of people instead of two individuals?)
Rev 11:11 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. (Actually three and one half years of the Tribulation)
Rev 11:12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. Rapture of the saints! – 1Th 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Here we see that candlesticks in Scripture are a symbol for Christ’s churches – (Also Rev. 11:4)
Rev 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
Rev 1:12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
Rev 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
Rev 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
The two olive trees are also mentioned in the New Testament book of Romans –
Rom 11:17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
Rom 11:18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
Rom 11:19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
Rom 11:20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
Rom 11:21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
Rom 11:22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
Rom 11:23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.
Rom 11:24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?
The ”olive tree” is Abraham’s PHYSICAL SEED while the “wild olive tree” is Abraham’s SPIRITUAL SEED, the Gentiles who put their faith in Christ.
Might the Two Witnesses be two groups of people who testify of Jesus and perform wonders like those performed by Elijah and possibly Moses?” “These two have the power to shut the heavens, so that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying. And they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they wish.” Rev 11:6
In Luke Jesus was speaking about the end of the age and the signs, things that would be occurring that would signal His soon return – Luk 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
‘stand’ = 2a) to stand by or near; 2b) to stand; 2b1) continue safe and sound, stand unharmed, to stand ready or prepared; 2b2) to be of a steadfast mind; 2b3) of quality, one who does not hesitate, does not waiver; 1b2) to stand, be kept intact (of family, a kingdom), to escape in safety (Thayer’s Greek Definitions)
Could not “to stand” also mean that these witnesses remain “steady, firm, steadfast, unwavering” in their faith as they go through the end time tribulation? The two witnesses are KILLED by Antichrist after they finish their testimonies, and after their bodies lie dead in the streets for THREE AND ONE HALF YEARS (or 1,260 days of the tribulation) then are brought back to life and ASCEND up to Heaven – Revelation 11:7, 8, 9 & 11. The 3 ½ days are three and one half YEARS of the Tribulation! Revelation 11:3 – 12 proves there’s no pre-trib rapture, but the rapture occurs at the end of the 3 ½ years of tribulation, AFTER the two witnesses finish their testimony. To escape doesn’t always mean to be taken away from, or out of the situation. It could also mean to be given the power to resist the temptation to renounce Christ and worship the Antichrist – to “stand” firm in your faith to the end. One of the definitions of “to stand” is to “escape in safety.” There’s lots of precedence in Scripture of God PROTECTING his believing children THROUGH tribulation rather than rescuing them FROM it. Noah, along with his family and thousands of animals were taken into an ark which went THROUGH a great flood [Gen 7:13-8:19], Moses with the Israelites were protected during the plagues and pestilences that afflicted their Egyptian persecutors [Exo 7:2-11:10], David was miraculously delivered and protected many times from King Saul’s attempts on his life [1 Sam 19:1-18].
The two witnesses remain faithful to Christ even though it cost them their lives. But before they are put to death by the Antichrist and his followers, they are EMPOWERED from on High to do “mighty exploits” [Dan 11:31, Rev. 11:5-6] on earth that will show the world that God exists and is about to Judge those who refuse to repent of their unbelief. When the two witnesses become empowered and work miracles on earth, we can know that the return of our Savior is very near and our “blessed hope” is soon to be fulfilled. The “blessed hope” is the glorification of our earthly bodies into heavenly ones at Christ’s appearing – Tit 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ…. Php 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Php 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Taking all the above scriptures together, it would appear that the “two witnesses,” “two anointed ones,” “two olive trees,” “two candlesticks,” are all one and the same. They are possibly two anointed and empowered groups of faithful followers of Yahweh or two churches, of which there are hints in the book of Revelation [Rev 2:8-11 & 3:7-10] who resist the Antichrist. They may also be Christians and Jews who are the “two olive trees.” Refusing to worship the Antichrist, the faithful witnesses escape the damnation of those who do, though it costs them their lives. Whoever the two witnesses are, they are killed then raised from the dead in the sight of their enemies after they have finished their testimonies. Their reward for remaining faithful to Yahweh is that they’ll reign with Christ for a thousand years. Jesus said that those who lose their lives for His sake will find them again. [Ref’s: Rev 20:4, Mt 16:25, Luke 17:33, John 12:25]
If this study has helped you I would love to hear from you. Your email address will always be kept strictly confidential.
God speed to His Two Witnesses and a blessed Rosh Hashanah to all!
*Please note that nowhere in this article have I claimed to have the ultimate truth on this subject. All I’m doing here is exploring possible scenarios based upon what a large number of scriptures seem to indicate; it’s up to the reader to search the Scriptures for him/herself and to “test” all things – 1Th 5:21 but test all things, hold fast to what is good, [TLV]
Debra R. Stout, September 12, 2018