To learn about the Two Witnesses, we begin with what the Bible says
about the Two Witnesses in Revelation. Specifically, we look at the Book
of Revelation 11:3-13.
There are many things to say about this passage. I want to talk about some of them on other pages of this site, but there are some things I’d like to talk about here, on this page.
First, notice that the length of time that these Two Witnesses will prophesy is “1,260 days”. In ancient times, a year was commonly counted as 360 days (30 days per month x 12 months = 360 days). So 1,260 days would be three and a half years. From this, the “three and a half days” between when the witnesses die and when they come to life again would be one day for each year that they prophesy.
Next, Revelation 11:8 is really interesting. For one thing, we see that the Two Witnesses are killed in “the square”, which apparently is some large, open area of the city where many people can gather together to see them. Another thing to notice is that the “great city” is Jerusalem, since it is the city “where our Lord [Jesus] was also crucified”.
It is also very important that the verse says the city “(metaphorically) is ‘Sodom’ and ‘Egypt’”. Many translators have translated the original Greek word here, “pneumatikos”, as “spiritually”, which is reasonable. However, the sense of “spirit” which was intended by the author is that of “essence”. Hence, we could also correctly translate this phrase as “(essentially) is ‘Sodom’ and ‘Egypt’”; that is, in its essence, the city is the same as Sodom and Egypt.
But to say that the city, in its essence, is the same as Sodom and Egypt, is (by the definition of metaphor) to say that the city “(metaphorically) is ‘Sodom’ and ‘Egypt’”. Therefore, for clarity’s sake, I have translated the word in this way. People may confuse “spiritually” with some religious sense (this is a passage from the Bible, after all); and they may confuse “essentially” with “necessarily” (as when we say that “it is essential” that something be done). “Metaphorically”, however, seems to clearly convey the intended meaning.
There are many people who say Revelation is almost entirely metaphorical, and that nothing definite can be understood from the book for this reason. However, if the author intended for this writing to be almost entirely metaphorical, then there would be no need to point out that the city is only metaphorically “Sodom” and “Egypt”. Therefore, the explicit use of metaphor in Revelation 11:8 indicates that the author of Revelation intended most of the book to be NON-metaphorical.
Finally, please note that the Two Witnesses wear “clothing made from sacks”. These “sacks” are the sort of bags in which grain, potatoes, and similar agricultural products are shipped and stored. The fact that these prophets wear such clothes indicates that they are probably extremely poor. The Two Witnesses will be living their lives in the same way as the prophets of ancient times, just as Paul described in Hebrews 11:37-38, which says:
Also, just like the old-time prophets, the Two Witnesses have miraculous power, and miracles abound in their lives. But these are not prophets of the past, but of the future. So we know from this passage that God is definitely NOT done with miracles. God is still a God of miracles, just as He was in the past, and just as He will be, in the future. God truly is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 11:8).
While I’m on this point, I want to quote the Bible a bit more, to make the situation regarding miracles very clear.
Sometimes Christians can think something like “In ancient times, there were miracles. But that was for that time. Miracles aren’t for today.“ But in the time of Jesus’s first coming to Earth, people were also very doubtful of miracles, too. Miracles were NOT considered any more believable then they are now. In fact, in Matthew 13:58, we find that there were places where Jesus “…didn’t do many miracles there because of their unbelief”.
But even though people didn’t believe in miracles, Jesus DID perform miracles, in those places where the people DID believe. And the Two Witnesses will perform miracles, too. Miracles are NOT “dead”.
As King Solomon wrote, in Ecclesiastes 3:14-15:
Next, let’s consider the question of Part 2: Why TWO Witnesses?
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