Author: Ron Graham

Book of Revelation

The Two Witnesses Killed
—Revelation 11:7-14

Times of Tribulation (Revelation 6-11) >Seven Trumpets >6th trumpet >The two witnesses killed

We continue to think about John's vision of the two witnesses. Up to now the witnesses have prophesied with power, conquering all enemies. But now there's tragedy.

We said that the two witnesses and their prophecies signify the power of God's two oaths about Jesus, that he would be anointed both Priest and King. But now suddenly (Revelation 11:7) there is a dramatic turn of events. The Beast is about to come up from the Abyss and the two witnesses are killed! However, then their power is truly seen, for they are resurrected to life and ascend into heaven.

1 The Two Witnesses Die

Revelation 11:7

Beast will make war In coming visions, John is told, a beast will come up out of the abyss to make war (cf Revelation 11:7, 17:8, 19:19.) When John later saw this beast, he wrote that it "had horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon" (Revelation 13:11-12). This beast represents false priesthood and false doctrine, and is identified as "the false prophet" (Revelation 16:13). He opposes the priesthood and testimony of Christ.

When this beast makes war, he kills the two witnesses (Revelation 11:7). This signifies that whilst Satan cannot stop the gospel being preached, he can spread false religion and for a short time of tribulation overcome the word of God with apostasy.

NoteAPOSTASY is a definite falling away from the true faith, a turning to the teaching and practice of error, trampling God’s Son underfoot (Hebrews 10:26-31). Not a stumbling, from which one repents and recovers with the help of Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16).

2 A Macabre Celebration

Revelation 11:8-10

Earth will rejoice The two dead witnesses lie unburied in the streets of Jerusalem. Wicked people from many nations look upon the corpses with joy. They celebrate and send gifts to one another, glad to be no longer tormented by the two witnesses who preached the truth of Christ's testimony.

Where their Lord was crucified The great city John saw, where the dead witnesses lay in the street, is Jerusalem because that is "where our Lord was crucified" (Revelation 11:8) It is "spiritually called Sodom and Egypt" (Revelation 11:8) because they were cities of perversion and false religion. There is a variant reading in the older manuscripts, "where their Lord was crucified". That is a poignant expression reflecting the tragedy of people rejecting the testimony and refusing to recognize their true Lord and Christ and Saviour.

Three and a half days The wicked celebration lasts but "three and a half days" (Revelation 11:9). "Days" to show the shortness of the time. "Three and a half" to indicate tribulation (as discussed in a separate lesson entitled Three and a Half.

3 Resurrection and Ascension

Revelation 11:11-13

After [TRANSITION] So far in this vision (Revelation 11:1-10) John has been writing not what he is seeing but rather what "someone said" he would be seeing (Revelation 11:1). That is why he says the witnesses "will prophesy" (Revelation 11:3) and the beast "will make war" (Revelation 11:7) and people "will send gifts" (Revelation 11:10). John has not seen these things yet, but he will see them anon. At this point however (Revelation 1:11), the vision catches up and passes, and John is writing of what he has seen

Breath of life The two dead witnesses are raised to life, bringing fear on the wicked who were looking at the corpses (Revelation 11:11). The witnesses live again, but they prophesy no more because they had finished their testimony before they were killed (Revelation 11:7)

Come up here! A loud voice called them from heaven saying, "Come up here!" (Revelation 11:12). The two witnesses went up into heaven in a cloud observed by their enemies. There followed destruction in the city and people were frightened into giving praise to God (Revelation 11:12-13).

note All persecuted Christians can take courage from this, because though they be killed and scorned, they will rise again when Jesus shouts the upward call, and they like the two witnesses will ascend to glory (1Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Victory Inevitable

This dramatic vision of the two witnesses, their death, non-burial, resurrection, and ascension, has a very important meaning.

As we have learned previously, the two witnesses signify the two oaths which God made about Christ, and their prophesying of the testimony of Jesus represents the performing of the Great Commission (Mark 16:15-16). The Great Commission will be fulfilled, and the gospel will remain "the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile" (Romans 1:16).

Nevertheless there will be times of tribulation when the enemies of Christ seem to have the upper hand. That, however, is temporary —the resurrected and ascended Christ will be seen to have the victory with power and glory on the great day of God when he comes for the great judgment of mankind and the ingathering into heaven of all his saints.

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