Revelation 8:1-11:19


The two witnesses — How Israel Turns to God, Revelation 11:3-13

(Introduction) – What we have seen in Revelation is horrifying.  The terrible prophecy about the Antichrist that is going to take place.

  • The prophecy by our Lord: “the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, (shall) stand in the Holy Place” (Matthew 24:15).
  • The prophecy predicted by Paul: “[The Antichrist] who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). 
  • The Antichrist will turn against all who call upon God and who refuse to bow down before the state and give the state their first allegiance.
  • The Antichrist will destroy Jerusalem and the temple and will launch the worst holocaust the world has ever seen.                                                                                                  

+As has been seen in previous passages, the holocaust will be launched against all true believers and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

+It will also be launched against the followers of other religions who have strong faith including the Jews, Moslems, Hindus, and others. 

+Millions upon millions, a numberless number, will be slaughtered (Revelation 7:9-17). 

+But it will also be launched against the Jews and Israel as a nation. 

+The Antichrist will utterly destroy Jerusalem and its temple.

+The Antichrist will hotly pursue the Jews and attempt to trample the Jewish people underfoot. (Revelation 11:1-2).

NOTE:  The present passage shows us a most wonderful thing.  God WILL NOT forsake the Jew.  Despite the Jews’ unbelief and rebellion against God’s Son as the true Messiah – despite their denial of the Lord Jesus Christ – God still loves the Jew.   He loves them…

  • for Abraham’s sake,
  • for Jacob’s sake,
  • for David’s sake,
  • for Paul’s sake, and
  • for Peter’s sake.

The point is God still loves Israel.  He still loves the Jew – for the sake of the nation’s fathers and for the sake of all true believers who founded the nation for God and followed the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 11:28; Romans 11:16).

  • Because of God’s great love and because of the godly people of Israel, God is going to turn Israel, God is going to save Israel.  This present passage shows how part of the turning is going to take place.
  • God is going to send Israel two great witnesses.  This is part of the message that John saw in the little book handed to him (Revelation 10:10-11).
  • This is the glorious message of Israel’s salvation: the message that two great witnesses will be sent to bear testimony to Israel and to the world.
  • These two great messengers will proclaim the salvation that is in God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
  1. They are God’s witnesses (Revelation 11:3-4).
  2. They will have great power (v. 5-6).
  3. They are persecuted and martyred by the beast (v. 7-10).
  4. They are resurrected by God’s breath (v. 11-12).
  5. They are vindicated (v. 13).

11:3-4 Witnesses — Ministers — call: the two witnesses are God’s witnesses.

  1. The two witnesses will be sent forth by God. God says, “I will give power unto my two witnesses.”  It is God who CALLS, GIFTS, COMMISSIONS, AND EMPOWERS THEM [HIS WITNESSES].
  2. The two witnesses will be sent forth for a set time, only for three and one-half years. This means they are raised up only for the great tribulation period.
  3. The two witnesses will be sent forth as true prophets who condemn sin and proclaim the salvation that is in Christ Jesus the Lord. This is shown by the dress mentioned, that of sackcloth.  This was the dress worn by the prophets of old.  The point of the dress is to show that their message will be straight forward and pull no punches.

It will be a message against the sins of the Jews and of the world, it is a condemning message.

BUT NOTE:   They will also be proclaiming the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.  This is shown by the statement made about them:  They are assassinated in the city where “their Lord was crucified” (The Greek actually says, “THEIR Lord.”)

They are going to be proclaiming that the only hope and salvation of this world is found in God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

They will, of course, be condemning the unbelief and denial of Christ as the Messiah, the unbelief and denial that has characterized the Jews down through the centuries.

  1. The two witnesses will have their needs met by God (Revelation 11:3-6).

NOTE:  They will be like two olive trees and two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.  This is a reference to two great Old Testament witnesses for God, Joshua and Zerubbabel Zechariah chapters 4-5.  The point is that the God of the whole earth will meet their needs:

  • God will make them as strong and fruitful as two olive trees.
  • God will make their witness to shine forth as the light of two candlesticks.

NOTE:  These same four things can be said about every true minister sent forth by God.  Not only at the end of the age (world) but also during the Age of Grace.  This should never be forgotten.

1)  It is God who sends forth the minister:  God calls, gifts, commissions and empowers the minister to bear witness for Him, and when God does, the minister must bear a strong witness.

2)  It is God who sends forth the minister to certain ministries and for set periods of time.

3) It is God who sends forth the minister as a prophet to preach against the sin and corruption of this world and to proclaim the salvation that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

4) It is God who supplies the minister, who gives him fruit and gives him a strong witness, a witness that shines as the light of the candlestick.

“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, THAT YE SHOULD GO AND BRING FORTH FRUIT, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (John 15:16).

“But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:” (Acts 9:15).

“But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee,” (Acts 26:16). 

“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:19-20).

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’  Then said I ‘Here am I; send me’ ” (Isaiah 6:8).

“In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD OF HOSTS” (Haggai 2:23).

(11:5-6) Ministers – Power:

The two witnesses will possess great power that will astound the people.  Their power will be the same as that of Elijah and Moses.

  • They will have the power of the fire of Elijah.  Note where the fire comes from: their mouths.  This probably means the fire of their words and preaching.  They will have so much influence and power from God that the Antichrist and his leaders will hesitate killing them.  Their preaching will apparently stir conviction in hearts and cause many to turn to God.
  • They will have the power to perform MIRACLES within nature: to cause it to rain and not to rain as Elijah did in 2 Kings; to smite the earth with plagues such as Moses did in Exodus.

NOTE:  The point is this:  their power is given to them by God. And in the end time, God’s supernatural power will be needed to protect their lives.

Remember all the catastrophes that are taking place upon the earth and the horror of the holocaust that has been launched by the Antichrist.  These two witnesses will need enough power and influence to keep the leaders of the world from assassinating them until God’s purpose is completed.  This is the reason for their unusual, miraculous power.

When God calls a minister, God empowers him.  God will give him whatever power he needs to complete his task.  What the minister must do is learn to call upon God for more and more power and trust God for it and then act upon it.

“But ye receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

“And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).

“And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power:” (I Corinthians 2:4).

“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;” (Ephesians 3:16). “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” (Ephesians 3:20).

“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake” (I Thessalonians 1:5).

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).


Who are the two witnesses?  There are many different ideas.

  • Some say the passage is an allegory symbolizing the law and the prophets;
  • Others say the law and the gospel.
  • Others say the 144,000 converted Jews (Revelation 7:1).
  • Some say the church; and others continue, on and on with more ideas.
  • Some say that the two witnesses are actual persons.
  • Some even identify them saying that they will be Enoch and Elijah, or Elijah and Moses sent back to earth.

It is difficult to see how the two witnesses could be anything other than two men.  There are just too many specific statements made about them that point toward human personality, statements that could never be applied to the church or to other things without really twisting this passage.

  • George Ladd says:

“The description of the two witnesses and the character of their ministry is given in such detail that it seems more likely that John conceived of these two witnesses as two actual historical…personages who will be sent to Israel to bring about her conversion” (The Revelation of John, p. 143).

  • William Barclay says:

“But the picture of the two witnesses is so clear and so definite that it does not seem to be only an allegory; it seems to refer to definite persons” (The Revelation of John, Vol. 2, p. 86).

  • Lehman Strauss says:

“The two witnesses are not the law and the gospel, or the Old Testament and the New Testament.  They speak.  They have mouths.  They are heard, handled, and hated.  They are individuals, for after their martyrdom John sees their ‘dead bodies’ (Revelation 11:9).  By no stretch of the imagination can we regard these witnesses as other than real persons” (The Book of the Revelation, p. 211).

Who are they?  If they are two persons, then who are they?  Scripture does not say, but note the traits of their ministry are just like those of Elijah and Moses.  This does not mean that these two great prophets have to come back from the dead.  It only means that the same kind of spirit that existed in these two great men will dwell in the two witnesses.

The two great witnesses of the end time will have the spirit of Elijah and Moses.  Remember, this is exactly what Jesus Christ said about Elijah, the Messiah’s forerunner.  But Jesus said that John the Baptist was His forerunner, that Scripture was speaking about the spirit of Elijah returning, that the forerunner would have the same kind of spirit as Elijah (Matthew 11:13-14).  It is much more natural and Biblical to say the same thing here–that the two witnesses in the end time will be two men with the same kind of spirit that Moses and Elijah had.

We will pick up our study next time with 11:7-10, Antichrist — The Beast of Revelation and the persecution of the two witnesses.

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