The men who would like to hurt the two witnesses would find fire coming out of the witnesses’ mouths to devour them, and every enemy who would seek harm the Lord’s witnesses would be killed in this fashion (Revelation 11:5). Of course this is apocalyptic language and not to be taken literally. There never was a fire breathing dragon, nor was there ever a man who was able to devour men, literally, through fire coming out of his mouth. The language is a metaphor for how the ministry of the witnesses would be protected by the Lord. For example, it was prophesied of Jesus that “he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked” (Isaiah 11:4). Obviously, Jesus didn’t literally slay anyone during his public ministry 2000 years ago.
Such a metaphor has to do with Jesus’ words. The only weapon he used against his enemies was the word of God, and that was sufficient, because it was used in a timely fashion that put the Jewish authorities in fear of reprisals from the people (cf. Mark 11:18, 32; 12:12; Luke 20:19). Moreover, the metaphor of fire also represents the word of God, as is clearly seen in the Lord’s statement to Jeremiah: “Because you speak this word, behold, I will make my words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them” (Jeremiah 5:14). Similarly, the witnesses of the Lord who wrote the New Covenant Scriptures would be divinely protected, until their ministries were complete.
The Angel in Revelation 11:6 tells us that his witnesses had the power to keep it from raining during the days of their ministries, turn water into blood and smite the earth with all sorts of plagues. In other words, they had similar power that was granted Moses and Elijah during their ministries. Put another way, they had the power of the Old Covenant Scriptures, and all that it contained at their disposal, like showing the prophets spoke of the days of the writers of the first century AD Scriptures (1Peter 1:10-12), and showing that the promise of salvation of God that was ready to be revealed at the soon coming of Jesus (1Peter 1:3-7), and that judgment of the living and the dead was about to occur in the first century AD (1Peter 4:5, 7).
After the days of their ministries, they would be killed by the beast that ascends out of the pit of the abyss (Revelation 11:7). Now, the Angel also claimed that the days of the witnesses would be 1260 days or 3 ½ years. I don’t believe this refers to the entire period of time these men served God, but, rather, the 1260 days refer to the climax of their ministries. The last 3 ½ years would be definitive. I believe this is when all the catholic epistles were written, namely James, 1 & 2 Peter; 1, 2 & 3 John and Jude. Clearly, some of Paul’s epistles were written during the days he spent in prison at Rome. Luke’s book of Acts was written late in the Apostolic period, probably in 63 or 64 AD, but before Paul was slain, Peter’s Gospel (Mark), and most likely that of John were written during this period of time or about 3 ½ years prior to the Jews’ war with Rome. This was the time Jesus spoke of in his Olivet Prophecy. It was a time when persecution would be so severe that brethren would begin to betray one another and the great falling away would take place (Matthew 24:9-14; cf. 2Thessalonians 2:3).
After the witnesses were killed, “their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified” (Revelation 11:8). There is no doubt that Jerusalem in Judea is meant here, because that was where Jesus was crucified. Moreover, Jerusalem is the only city in the Bible that is spiritually identified as Sodom and Egypt. In fact, Israel was identified, spiritually as Sodom even before she entered the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 32:29-32). In her last days (cf. Deuteronomy 31:29; 32:29) Jerusalem would become as wicked as Sodom (Deuteronomy 31:1, 29; 32:29-32; Ezekiel 16:46, 55), and in her latter end she would be nothing more than a house of bondage for her people (Exodus 13:3, 14; Galatians 4:24-25).