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Who Are the Two Witnesses?

13 Oct
Two Witnesses

from Google Images

Identifying who the two witnesses really are is something of a difficult task. So many have tried to do so, and, at least for my taste, they all fail to produce a likely interpretation. I cannot seriously consider the return of Moses and Elijah, who seem to have been endowed with the kind of powers the two witnesses employ. Nor am I able to justify the return of Enoch and Elijah on the grounds they never died, but ascended into heaven, something the Scriptures deny (John 3:13). Finally, (and there are probably other interpretations of which I am unaware) I do not suppose the two witnesses could be the faithful church. Such interpretations just don’t appear to be credible or good interpretations of what we find in the Apocalypse.

In Revelation 11:4 the Angel described the two witnesses, as the two olive trees and the two candlesticks (or lampstands), which stand before the God of the earth. A similar statement is made in Zechariah 4:1-3. There, the prophet is told that the two olive trees are the two anointed ones (Zechariah 4:12-14), but there is only one candlestick, and the prophet offers no other explanation for or attaches any other meaning to the candlestick. Nevertheless, in Revelation 11:4 the two witness are represented in both the two olive trees and the two candlesticks. To make matters even more complex, there are seven candlesticks that stand before the Lord in Revelation 1:12-13. So, how should we understand what the Angel claimed in Revelation 11. Is there one candlestick (Zechariah), two (Revelation 11) or seven (Revelation 1)? Put another way, one might phrase it: “Is there one witness (Zechariah), two witnesses (Revelation 11) or seven witnesses (Revelation 1)?

The olive three, itself, represents Christ, but the branches represent the elect (Romans 11:17, 24), and, although the prophet mentions the olive tree, when speaking of his vision (Zechariah 4:3, 11), he is really curious about the branch (Zechariah 4:12), which is probably meant here in Revelation 11:4. So, whoever the two witnesses are, they are branches (i.e. disciples) growing out of the olive tree (Christ), and, as an aside, since the Angel calls them his two witnesses (Revelation 11:3), the Angel is claiming to be Christ, according to Paul’s analogy in Romans 11.

If Zechariah 4 and Revelation 1 & 11 should be understood as prophecies about the same things, and I believe they do point to the same things, then we must reconcile the numerical differences of the candlesticks. Revelation 1:20 tells us that the seven candlesticks are the seven churches. We can apply this to Zechariah 4:2 and conclude that the single candlestick with the seven lamps was the whole body of the people of God in the Old Testament. However, with the gathering of the gentiles to the Lord under the New Covenant, the symbolism is emphasized as two candlesticks in Revelation 11:4. In other words, we are still speaking of the whole body of believers, but the emphasis is upon its content, Jews and gentiles.

Therefore, the Angel is not necessarily saying he is empowering only two witness or less than two. He empowers as many witnesses as he desires, but in the context of that number being a valid witness to Jesus’ resurrection, meaning the Law had to be satisfied with at least two witnesses (Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:5), but there could be more (Hebrews 10:28). The fact is, we have seven witnesses mentioned in the New Covenant Scriptures: Matthew, Peter (his epistles and Mark’s Gospel), Luke (his Gospel and Acts); John (his Gospel and epistles); Paul’s epistles, James’ epistle and Jude’s epistle. In fact, these seven witnesses may very well be the seven stars mentioned in Revelation 1:20. Moreover, it is quite probable that these seven witnesses fit the context of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:4, in that their number makes their witness valid in the context of the Law. So, we could say the Angel’s witnesses, whose testimony tormented those who dwelt upon the earth (Revelation 11:10) were, in fact, the seven men who wrote the New Covenant Scriptures.

 

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2019 in Apocalypse, Book of Revelation

 

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