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The Two Witnesses Revisited — 23 Comments

  1. Hi Inge, I believe the post to be quite accurate.

    Two witnesses were sent to Pharoah, Moses and Aaron, Word and Ruach. Then there is Deut 4:9, Jeremiah 8:8 and Revelation 22:18-19. When you have clear evidence of this, yet people still believe that the version/translation of word they have is perfect and without fault. God had to include these scripture because He knew Satan was going to alter His Word through the agency of man.

    The spirit presented in churches today is a false spirit, and the version of truth a false truth.

    Mainstream christianity believes the law/torah was abolished by Messiah. The true Messiah is the Word, and is led by the Ruach, just like all the Prophets of old, who spoke the Word and was led by the Ruach.

    Those who come to serve YHVH, must do so in spirit and truth. You need to search the Truth with the help and guidance of the Ruach to escape the craftly inserted lies and deception of the enemy.

    I don't know how people still believe the two witnesses are Moses and Elijah or Elijah and Enoch.


    • Thank you, and welcome to our blog.
      I like your reminder that "Two witnesses were sent to Pharoah, Moses and Aaron, Word and Ruach."
      I wouldn't go so far as to say that "The spirit presented in churches today is a false spirit, and the version of truth a false truth." In nearly all the churches God has some of His true people, the true heirs of Abraham who are led by the Spirit/Ruach (Gal 3:29). In Rev. 18:4 Yahweh calls His people out of Babylon. That means that His people are currently still in Babylon, even though Babylon is full of false teachings.
      We just need to be sure that Babylon is not in us. We need to let the Holy Spirit give us a new heart and mind that we may be His true people. (Ezek 36:26; John 3:3) This is a daily experience.

  2. Thank you Inge. Truly the spiritual gift of teaching has been bequeathed to you. What you have shared with us is not something recent ie for several years this was taught and understood by many Seventh Day Adventists. The fact that there remains much uncertainty indicates one and/or two things.
    1. As a church we no longer expound and explain these truths from the pulpit, so many simply do not know.
    2. As a body we have grown spiritually lazy and expect to be spoon fed and do not search the scriptures for ourselves under the guidance of the HOLY SPIRIT. Instead we prefer to ‘junk out’ on YouTube and video sermons, receiving predigested and regurgitated food from man instead of directly from GOD.
    May these lessons and in particular this week’s lesson allow JESUS to open our eyes of understanding and as He did to His disciples post resurrection.

    More than anything your impassioned plea rings true "Please dig for truth for yourself and don’t expect to have everything come “easy.”

  3. Thank-you Inge for all the evidence. I picked up on they killed them and their dead bodies lay in the streets. That goes along with burning the OT and the NT in the streets. Along with other evidence such as, both point to Christ as our Saviour, both give instruction of a better life, both substanuate the law of God as ceaseless, and both have the 1260 day prophecy of the papal 'jurisdiction' over Christiandom. Both give evidence(witness) of prophecy fulfilled.

  4. Thank you for "connecting the dots." Things that are obvious to Finley are not so obvious to some of the rest of us.

  5. Sister Inge Anderson: it is difficult to presume a cause-effect relationship in this situation. By the Edict of Versailles (Nov 1787), King Louis XVI restored freedom of worship and civil rights for non-Catholics in France, rolling back the 100+ years of persecution of Protestants set by the Edict of Fontainebleau (October 1685).
    It so happened that this was King Louis XVI that was guillotined.

    • I was not trying to establish a direct cause-effect relationship between what individuals did and what happened to them. However, the actions of the kings, nobles and clerics paved the way for the rebellion of the lower classes against those classes. I believe the French Revolution was not just the result of despotic governance by kings and clerics, but it was also the result of France having removed the moderating influence of Bible-believing Christian, such as the Huguenots, the Albigenses, and the Vaudois (also known as Waldensians [edited].

      Remember how God said He would spare Sodom if just 10 righteous men were found there? I believe this was not just arbitrary on God's part. Righteous people have an influence on society that is much greater than we imagine, and God can work through them. But France had killed the righteous men or chained them to galleys, if they didn't flee fast enough. Thus it reaped the Revolution. I suggest you read Chapter 12 of The Great Controversy for more insight on what caused the "reign of terror" in France.

  6. Please note my corrections to the blog post above. I had written that

    The St. Bartholomew Massacre, carried on for a week in Paris, but continued for two months in the rest of France, butchering 70,000 men, women and children for no other reason than that they believed in Christ. (The Great Controversy, p. 272)

    I referred to this in the context of the French Revolution. However, that awful event happened roughly 200 years before the French Revolution. The massacre began the night of August 23-24, 1572, and it was one of the incidents marking France's refusal of God's voice through Bible-believing Christians to turn to Him, rather than the corrupt priests and popes. The violent persecution of Protestants by kings, nobles and church officials paved the way for their own destruction by the guillotine 200 or so years later. When God's Spirit is rejected, it paves the way for Satan's spirit to reign.

    I edited the post in order to put this massacre in the proper context in relation to the French Revolution and added additional information.

  7. Hello Inge,

    After reading “The Two Witnesses Revisited”, I was still left with many more questions than were answered. I did a Google search of this term: “two witnesses revelation and zechariah explained”. What I found was that there were many interpreters who took portions of the text similar to yours, having similar themes, but coming to completely different conclusions about the identity of the two witnesses and their role in “bible prophecy.” This is classic “proof text” “exegesis” (which is not exegesis at all). The conclusions of these interpreters appeared to be driven by (largely unstated) pre-existing assumptions that were being read (tentatively) into the texts that they cite. Some even cited extra-biblical prophetic authorities as an imprimatur for their conclusions.

    I would not feel confident standing on the exegetic conclusions of any of these interpretations.


  8. I truly believe, the primary application of this prophecy is for the last days which will be more literal in a sense than what we have... Understood. Even sister Ellen white has given counsel to continue studying, we will be give more and better understanding as we move closer to the end of this world s history.

  9. This is an awesomely superb Sabbath School lesson. Thank you Jesus for the inspiring and encouraging words of life.

  10. Introduction: One of the most unusual prophecies in the
Bible is the Revelation 11 prediction about the “two
witnesses” who are involved in astonishing displays of
power. Revelation 11 tells us, “Fire pours from their mouth”
to destroy opponents. “They have power to shut the sky,”
turn water to blood, and create all sorts of plagues! Then
they get killed. But, wait, they come to life again! Who are
these guys? We begin to get the idea that they might not be
“guys” or people at all because they witness for over a
thousand years!

    Remember, this section of Revelation, as in much of the book, is based on prophecy. As the Sabbath School lesson states on Sunday- we can conclude (not dogmatically, however) that the two witnesses are the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.
    -Dogmatic means expressing opinions or beliefs as if they are facts and cannot be doubted.

    The “two witnesses” have been interpreted along three lines. Some have seen them as two historical figures (Enoch and Elijah; Moses and Elijah; Peter and Paul) who have proclaimed God's Word or else as two future individuals who will preach in the last days. Other scholars have argued that these two witnesses are the twin components of divine revelation to humanity (Law and Gospel; Law and prophets; Old Testament and New Testament-(see ref.4). Still others have seen these two as symbolizing all or part of the church on earth in its prophetic role, particularly at the end of time. This third view seems to be what Revelation intends, particularly when we consider the meaning of the two lampstands.”
    -Revelation 11:1-4. The two witnesses are
compared to two inanimate objects, trees and
lampstands. When you think about lampstands, what
prior reference in Revelation comes to mind? (Read
Revelation 1:12-13 and Revelation 1:20. We see at
the beginning of Revelation that lampstands refer
to churches.)
    “-The church prophetic is likened to two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. In John's initial vision, he had seen seven lamp-stands standing before the risen Christ. Christ himself had interpreted: “The seven lampstands are the seven churches” (1:20). There is no reason to suppose that “lampstand” means anything different in chapter 11.”

    “First, why is the church presented as two and as witnesses? Scripture in several places established that two witnesses were required to affirm truth; a single witness could be disregarded legally (Deut. 17:6; 19:15; Matt. 18:16; 26:60; 2 Cor. 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19; Heb. 10:28).”

    “They will prophesy for 1,260 days. During the same time that the nations are trampling on the churches, they will nevertheless prophesy.”

    “One key to successful prophetic ministry of a church is for it to be clothed in sackcloth. A humble church, sorrowful and mourning for its sins and the sins in the world surrounding it, is always powerful”

    “Zechariah's vision(Zech. 4:1-14) also included two olive trees (Zerubbabel and Joshua), distinct from the lampstand. In Revelation olive tree and lampstand have merged. Nevertheless, Zechariah 4 again provides a key, for the olive trees there provided oil to light the lampstand. Further, the oil is the power of the Spirit of God: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Zech. 4:6). The church prophetic is powerful not only when it is a humble church but also when it is enabled by the Holy Spirit.”

    “In verses 5–6 John describes the effective ministry of the end-time churches. The outcome is symbolized as fire … from their mouths. The Word of God in judgment from his prophets was likened to fire in the Old Testament: “Therefore this is what the LORD God Almighty says: ‘Because the people have spoken these words, I will make my words in your mouth a fire and these people the wood it consumes’” (Jer. 5:14).”

    Verses 7–10 describe the painful price to be paid for such faithful witnessing to the world. All is still under God's sovereign plan, for only when they have finished their testimony will they be killed. God always permits his servants to finish the task he has for them.
    What will finally overwhelm them is no human enemy but the beast that comes up from the Abyss. Most Bible students think this refers to the water monster (Antichrist) later described in chapter 13. He will attack them, a phrase more literally “he will make a war “against them,” a further indication that the two witnesses are not two lone individuals but rather the whole church prophetic. (A gruesome twentieth-century parallel is how the Third Reich made a war against an entire people.) His war will succeed; at last he will overpower and kill them. This certainly suggests that a large cadre of Christian martyrs will be created in the last days.”
    -(Revelation 6:9–11 tells us the martyrs under the altar cry out for vengeance on the wicked. They are told to wait a little longer until the number of their fellow martyrs is full.)( More martyrs yet to come)

    “Men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on the corpses of the witnesses—a further indication that “the great city” stands for the whole wicked world. Those who live on the earth will suppose falsely that the time of their “torment” has ended.”

    “The victory celebration of the world over the church was premature. God in heaven always has the last say. Those martyred for their powerful witness during earth's last dreadful days will be granted to be like their Lord. “If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection” (Rom. 6:5).

    “The time left is brief. The survivors were terrified because they have at last recognized that all is lost—after the 1,260 days of rejecting the prophets and the 3.5 days of glee over the prophets' deaths. Neither the powerful witness nor the tragic death of the prophets had been persuasive, but their resurrection and ascent finally convinced the world that the God of heaven was the true God. That they gave glory to him does not mean that they were converted. They are making a terrified confession. ”


    A.- Rev. 14:6 Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—NKJV
    - Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.—NKJV

    Q.- Who or what are the 2 Witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11?
    A. I personally believe at this point in time that they represent God’s Word/Truth. That is of course given to us in God’s Word, the Bible. I also believe God’s Truth will be represented by and preached by God’s end time TRUE CHURCH. Therefore both viewpoints work for me as being plausibly right.

  11. I did a lengthy PowerPoint presentation explaining this week's Sabbath School lesson with pictures, extra Bible verses, excerpts from encyclopedias and news articles, and some short passages from Uriah Smith's "Daniel and the Revelation." Anyone else is welcome to view that presentation to the extent that it helps them. (A conference official who visited my church today said that he liked it.) Please be advised that I do not claim copyright or trademark on anyone else's intellectual property: all Sabbath School lessons, photos, drawings, articles, etc., belong to their respective creators and/or owners, and are only used under "fair use" provisions of United States copyright law, which allows certain uses for educational and news-gathering purposes, and for commentary: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/158Jof5IB7K3yOtuJH-G8VSIk7NvgaRHNGUn6UgY8P44/edit?usp=sharing

  12. A lot of work went into your slide presentation. I am wondering how you get through all 82 slides in one 45 minute SS. I am not a conference worker,I like your presentation too. I would have to tailor it to 20 or so slides. My Sabbath School class has a lot of discussion and some teaching. Actually lots of teaching, in discussion we are teaching each other also.

    • John, I'd like to add that I sincerely hope that such a presentation - informative as it is - is not typical of a Sabbath School class in that congregation.
      Our Sabbath School classes need to be interactive, giving as many people as possible an opportunity to speak. Most of us soon forget what we see on a slide or hear someone say, but if we are engaged in a discussion, it goes deeper into our brain and heart. And that's just one reason why lecturing/presenting is not the best way of leading a Sabbath School class. The other reason is that we need the interactive fellowship that can happen in a small class with people sharing and discussing Bible truths and their experience with one another.

  13. Ms. Anderson and the lesson have already pointed out the direct connection between the symbols for the two witnesses in Rev 11, and Zechariah 4's use of these symbols.

    It is also very interesting to note that the first words the angel uses to answer Zechariah's question about what the symbols mean are - "The word of the LORD" - which is exactly what Seventh-day Adventists say the witnesses are.

    Now we could get confused by the fact that it is "the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel" - in other words, we might be tempted to conclude that this only refers to the promise made to Zerubbabel.

    But look at the first words of the promise itself :

    ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
    Says the Lord of hosts.

    Is this statement true only for Zerubbabel? Does everyone who is not Zerubbabel rebuilding the temple have to rely on their own might and power and not by God's Spirit?

    Or does that statement apply to more than just one person? Isn't that sentiment the word of God to EVERYONE?

    Furthermore, why is one promise of God for Zerubbabel have the position of standing before the God of the whole earth (Zec 4:14)

    And what is the word of the LORD for (only) Zerubbabel doing in Rev 11? There we see the same symbols prophesying and striking the earth with plagues long, long after Zerubbabel is dead and gone. Also by the time John writes Rev 11, the temple that was being built in Zec 4 has been destroyed.

    So we see long after the particular situation faced by Zerubbabel has passed into history, the symbol that represented the word of the LORD to him is still alive, active and more dangerous than a two-edged sword.

    Is the symbol the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel ONLY? Or is it the word of God... PERIOD?

    Finally, it's interesting that when Zechariah is writing (near the end of the Old Testament) there is one lampstand... but by the time we get to Revelation, at the end of the New Testament, we have two lampstands. A New Testament adds a new lampstand to the symbol (more light).

    • Ah, thanks, Michele .. the beauty of discussion God's Word together is that we learn from each other! I had not thought of any significance to the single lampstand in the vision of Zechariah and the two lampstands in Revelation. That's interesting ...
      That said, I believe there's more: In Rev. 1, Christ walks among the lampstands or candlesticks, and He says explicitly that these represent His church(es). Thus I see the Holy Spirit being the fuel that makes the light shine through the lamps/candles/churches of Christ. And this is inseparable from the Word of God. As individuals and churches, we can only shine light into this world, if we allow the Holy Spirit to speak God's Word through us.

  14. Tim Mackie from "Bible Project" proposes a new interpretation of the passage of the two witnesses. Mackie argues that the two witnesses represent the faithful church during the persecution, which, with a double prophetic anointing, preaches for the salvation of souls.

    What do you think about it?

    • Thanks, Pedro. I really appreciate "The Bible Project." It is so "right on" in most cases. However, I find that in the area of prophecy a lot of commentators sort of lose their biblical moorings. That said, I think the Bible Project is better than most. I assume you got your information from the Bible Project Page on Revelation (or the video).

      I agree that "lamp stands" are reasonably interpreted as churches, vessels of the Holy Spirit who inspired God's Word. In the Hebrew sanctuary services, the Lamp stand" stood for Christ as the Light of the World. Before He physically left this planet in His incarnate form, He commissioned His disciples to "go teach" all that He had taught them. So they would become "lamps" in this world.

      In light of this, I agree that the "Bible Project" interpretation makes sense if you ignore the context of the vision, including the 3 1/2 years. It's a fluid sort of interpretation that could apply to various points in history. There are no dates to anchor it in the Bible or in history, whereas the 3 1/2 years, related to God's Word as the 2 witnesses, have a remarkable fulfillment in connection with the French Revolution. (Whether interpreted as "God's Word" or as messengers of God's Word, the meaning is much the same: The Holy Spirit speaks through God's Word, which is transmitted by human messengers. But in this case, tying the meaning specifically to the Bible makes sense, due to context and historical dates.)

      My way of interpreting prophecy (which is also the official Adventist way) is called the "historicist" method. (See "The Heart of Historicism," by Hans K. LaRondelle, Ministry magazine, September 2005) It assumes that prophetic symbols are anchored in Scripture and that what appear to be time prophecies are also anchored to actual dates in biblical times and beyond. William Miller used this method, as did most theologians before his time, and Josia Litch used this method to predict the loss of power of the Ottoman empire, writing

      on the 11th of August, 1840, when the Ottoman power in Constantinople may be expected to be broken. (Josiah Litch, in Signs of the Times, and Expositor of Prophecy, Aug. 1, 1840)

      When people watched to see what would happen on Aug. 11, 1940, they saw that "Turkey, through her ambassadors, accepted the protection of the allied powers of Europe, and thus placed herself under the control of Christian nations." (The Great Controversy, p. 334) Some have said that Litch predicted the "fall of the Ottoman Empire" and "proved" that this was not true, because the empire continued to function. However, it seems to me that if the United States accepted the protection of China, we would probably interpret this as a loss of "power" even if the union of the states continued to exist. So we should use the same way of interpreting Turkey's acceptance of the protection of European countries.

      Unfortunately, later in life, Fitch abandoned historicism as a method of interpreting prophecy in favor of futurism, first proposed by the Jesuit theologian Francisco de Ribera (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_Ribera accesses May 17, 2024). Today most Protestant churches have accepted futurism and dispensationalism as the standard method of interpreting prophecy rather than historicism. It avoids seeing the RC church as "the beast."

      • Dear Inge,

        Thank you for sharing your detailed reflections and perspective on interpreting biblical prophecies. I really appreciate the depth of your analysis and the way you connect historical events with the historicist interpretation of prophecy. You have clearly devoted a lot of time and study to this topic, and your observations on the historicist method and its application to events such as the French Revolution and the history of the Ottoman Empire are particularly interesting.

        It is also notable how you have highlighted the transition in prophetic interpretation from historicism to futurism and dispensationalism in contemporary theology. These are valuable points to consider in any serious study of eschatology.

        Thank you again for enriching our conversation with your knowledge and for inviting me to explore these topics further.

        With appreciation, Peter

        What do you suggest about dispensationalism? I'm not very inclined to believe in it.

        • Dear Pedro, I haven't really studied dispensationalism. I just know that the conclusions they arrive at are generally out of sync with what I understand the Bible to teach. I believe that a fundamental problem with dispensationalism is the foundational assumption that God deals with humanity in profoundly differing ways in different "dispensations." Among others, it teaches about a "dispensation of law" and then a "dispensation of grace." On the surface, it looks as though God had different ways of saving people.

          By contrast, we believe that God ever only had one way of saving sinners - that is by grace through faith in the incarnate Savior. The Law was spoken from Sinai to demonstrate what love in action looks like and to help humanity understand their need of a Savior.

          In the pre-incarnation period, God's people looked forward in faith to the Messiah to come for their salvation. God gave them sanctuary services that were, in effect, a continual acted-out drama of the work the Messiah would do for them. They demonstrated their faith through their worship and songs, their obedience and their offerings, many of which typified the Savior to come.

          Since the incarnation, we have the account of the life of Christ and the teachings of the Apostles to help us to understand the way of salvation. But even now, there are lessons we can learn from the Hebrew sanctuary.

          Ever since creation, God has wanted to be "with" His people. Our first parents turned away from Him and broke this relationship. Later in history, God had His people build Him a visible "house" to live among them. When they were faithful, they could see the faint, comforting glow of the Shekinah glory inside the curtained-off Most Holy place of the wilderness sanctuary. They experienced the visible signs of His presence in the cloud of shade by day and the pillar of fire at night.

          Then He clothed His divinity with humanity so He could come even closer to us, and before He was crucified, He promised that, although He would "go away" in His physical body, the Holy Spirit would represent Him and be with them and teach them all things.

          To me, it is all one beautiful story of a loving Father seeking His errant children, wanting to bring them all home.

          • Dear Inge,

            Thank you for your reflection on dispensationalism. I appreciate your dedication to studying and understanding the Scriptures in depth. Your explanation of the unity of salvation by grace through faith in the incarnate Savior is clear and well-founded.

            I really appreciated the ideas you mentioned. In particular, I liked how it interpreted the different eras and how God has revealed himself and interacted with humanity throughout biblical history.

            As I point out and I believe you affirm, I am convinced that there is no way to reconcile the doctrine of dispensationalism with the unitary vision of salvation that you clearly mention. I appreciate any additional advice you can offer.

            Thanks again for your time and wisdom.

            Pedro Ramirez


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