REVELATION CHAPTER 11: THE TWO WITNESSES
- Verses 1-2: The word for ‘the temple measured’ is ‘nah-os.’ The words used for Holy Place and Holy of Holies (the rest of the Temple) is not included. In verse 2, it is the city not the Holy of Holies that is trampled upon. This points out that the old temple is to be brought down.
When Rome attacks in 70 AD, that is the beginning of the ‘time of the Gentles’ when Israel is underfoot (See Psalm 79; Luke 21:14). 70 AD is the beginning of Christ’s reign over the nations. The old covenant was officially over and this is the beginning of the time of the witness. When the two witnesses (Church) are killed, this is a symbol that their witness is not what it was. Something has overcome their witness for a time… just like Christ seemed to have been overcome for a time. Christ is the pattern.
- Verses 3-6: A new temple is built as a spiritual one as the two witnesses clothed in sackcloth are preaching repentance. See Zechariah 4:3-14 that mentions two live trees and two anointed ones with similar language. The witnesses preach with both authority of law and prophets (Matthew 17:1-5). It is with authority that the witnesses give testimony. The numbers/time in this passage are symbols of Jesus’ ministry, ongoing ministry, and connects to Daniel’s prophecy about the 70 weeks. Symbols are all of the Church Age… just showing different perspectives. The Church Age follows the same pattern as the ministry of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ lives and so His ministry continues and indeed has sent out His witnesses (the Church) which was commanded at great commission in Matthew 28:16-20. Jesus is building a new temple for God dwell through the Church. The Church (or rather the people) are the persevering Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. This is why the Church is called “His Body.” Jesus even calls His own body (John 2:19) a ‘temple’ and it would be destroyed and be rebuilt in 3 days. God through Christ builds His Temple in the heart of humanity and calls all people to submit to His Kingship.
- Verse 4: Olive trees and two lampstands (see Zechariah 4:3)
- Verses 5-6: No harm. God is looking after His Church (See Luke 10:19)
- Verse 7: Psalm 79:2-3 speaks of dishonor of God’s people. The two witnesses are highly symbolic of the Church. The two witnesses’ ministry is likened to that of Jesus who was put to death, but then like Him ascended to God. The witness continues.
This is the beginning of a new covenant with the total removal of old covenant trappings. John is speaking to the people reading then… and us now… at the same time. There is a ‘now and not yet’ quality of all this. If there is some level of chronological order with the little scroll, we will see the Gospel breaking out to the rest of the world (the Church’s destiny). There is a priority of the Jew, first, then Gentile world. Christ is at the right hand of Father God in Heaven who sends the Holy Spirit to direct His will to send out the Gospel into the world.
This passage describes the witness of the Church up to the Second Coming of Christ. 70 AD is Israel falling… the witness of the Jew falling… it would appear that even Christian witness was destroyed. And yet, from the ashes of 70 AD… the Church… the true witness and the faithful rose from the ashes as a greater witness than ever before. Rome thought ‘we dealt with the Jews for the last time,’ and yet the Church rose up as a continuing witness.
- Verses 11-15: The blow of the last trumpet happens low after a time of witness for God that goes out. Along with this testimony comes in the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah and He shall reign for ever and ever. 7th trumpet is the end of the world after the witness of the Church is finished.
This is the Second Coming of Christ. The people of God are of no more consequence or influence in the world and their job/witness is finished. The world is given over to itself like in the time of the Gentiles (see Luke 21:14) and the time is fulfilled. Two witnesses (Church) will be killed like Christ only to rise 3 half days later like Christ. This may also indicate the period of bringing about the Messianic Age since verse 17 says He has begun to reign. His reign includes a Jesus Who reigns by reflecting Father God’s will, bringing reward, and bringing destruction.
- Verse 15: This would be a movement that would take the Kingdom of God form “at hand” to “now” in the “now and not yet concept” we have been thinking about and studying with.
- Verse 18: God will shatter kings on the Day of His Wrath (see Psalm 2:5 and Psalm 110:5).
- Verses 17-19: Jesus Christ begins to reign over the nations because Jesus has overcome. All the kingdoms belong to Him. His covenant is the means by which He keeps His people. All barriers and veils have been lifted and glory includes all the people.
COMMENTS TO HELP YOU STUDY:
Keeping 70 AD in view, this event is the final point at which the Church Age has begun. 70 AD ushers in the death of Temple worship and the beginning of the Gospel outreach to the whole planet. As we will see, in chapter 19, the Temple in Heaven is opened, and the covenant is visible.
Trustworthy witness in the Scriptures is established by two or three witnesses. Chapter 11 summarizes what the ‘good guys’ will do during the Church Age. We should note that in a few chapters we will see 2 beasts (what the ‘bad guys’ will be do in resisting the Gospel). The trustworthy witness of the Church grows over time as does the resistance to the Gospel.
KEEP IN MIND: Throughout the little scroll chapters, there are some abstract expressions and a ‘now but not yet’ concept brings to light what is being proclaimed. This passage has more than a linear point of view. Sometimes it is difficult to come to a definite conclusion because of the ‘now but not yet’ nature of the Book of Revelation and even of the Kingdom of God.
BMD & TMB