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The 2 Witnesses: two people or groups? Revelation 11:1-14
We’re all interested, and some are anxiously wondering – who are the 2 Witnesses of Revelation 11? Who is the False Prophet? Who/what is the whore called “Babylon” in Revelation 17-18?
Today let’s zero in a bit on the two witnesses. I plan to eventually give a full sermon on this, but felt one issue needs to be handled first: Are the 2 Witnesses 2 individuals, or 2 groups?
MOST Bible students believe they are two individuals, who perform similar miracles as Moses and Elijah did. In fact God promises to send “Elijah” before his great and dreadful day of the LORD (Malachi 4:5-6). John the Baptist fulfilled that partially, and yet he clearly was not the actual Elijah preaching just before the terrifying Day of the LORD, which is yet to come.
Malachi 4:5-6 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
6 And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse."
Yeshua also clearly implied there would yet be another “Elijah” to come in the future, when he says in Matthew 17:11 that Elijah IS COMING first and “shall restore all things” – and then he added that Elijah HAS come, referring to John the Baptist.
Matthew 17:11-13 NKJV -- Jesus answered and said to them, "Indeed, Elijah IS COMING first and WILL restore all things. 12 But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands." 13 Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.”
John the Baptizer also came as an Elijah-type, but there is still one more time we’ll see an end-time Elijah prophesying in Jerusalem.
But John the baptizer did not restore all things or reunite fathers and sons as Malachi 4:5-6 says. Plus, John the baptizer had died some years before Yeshua said all these things. Again, the Elijah to come will come just before the awesome and terrifying Day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5-6).
But there are also a persistent few who promote the notion that these 2 Witnesses in the future actually represent groups of people and not just two individuals. Let’s tackle that today. Sometime later I will go in depth in a sermon about the two witnesses. Some believe these represent Old and New covenants. Or Jews and Gentiles. Or the Philadelphian and Laodicean churches of Revelation 3. Or representatives of the Law and the Prophets. And on and on and on.
When we read about the 2 Witnesses, the description of them and their work cannot, surely cannot, apply to groups. The account is fully discussed in Revelation 11:1-14. I recommend we all read it carefully. I’ll post the entire scripture text at the end of this blog.
Revelation 11:3 says these two witnesses prophecy for 1260 days (3.5 years) and are clothed in sackcloth. Are we expected to believe that two GROUPS of people will all be clothed in sackcloth?
Rev 11:4-6-- The descriptions in verses 4-6 clearly apply to individuals and not groups. Are groups going to devour their enemies by fire coming out of each individual in those two GROUPS? Will two GROUPS, dressed in sackcloth be turning water to blood? No, the idea of these two individuals actually being two groups is not making any sense. Water to blood points to Moses’ miracles. Destroying enemies by fire and calling for famine points to Elijah’s miracles.
Revelation 11:7-13: Can we expect the dead bodies of GROUPS to be in the city and then GROUPS of people be resurrected 3-1/2 days later? That just would not make sense and the wording here seems to clearly point to two individuals.
Revelation 11:10 clearly says these are TWO PROPHETS, not groups, who are to be tormenting the world with their plagues. The world will not like them at all.
So I won’t be preaching or teaching that the two witnesses represent two groups, when I prepare the full sermon on the topic.
For those of you without your own Bibles in parts of the world, here is what Scripture says, using the New King James Version:
Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, "Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. 2 But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.
3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth."
4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. 5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. 6 These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.
7 When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. 8 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. 9 Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. 10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two PROPHETS tormented those who dwell on the earth.
11 Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. 13 In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven.
14 The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly.”
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Very clear explanation of the two witnesses. Am grateful for opening my eyes concerning the two witnesses. I used to believe that they were two groups! God bless you for that wonderful explanation.