Recovering the classic, Protestant interpretation of Bible prophecy.

The Meaning of the "Two Witnesses"

by J. L. Haynes, 1999

Many Christian teachers argue that the Two Witnesses are the Church and the Bible, the Old and New Testaments, or two individual prophets. The evidence of Scripture is against this kind of interpretation. Consider the following:

  • a. the vision is "signified" to John (Rev 1:1), or "communicated", from the Greek word "semaino" meaning a sign. The language of the Revelation is one of signs, or symbols, that represent actual realities. This can be thought of like the ancient writing found on the walls of caves, etc., or like Egyptian hieroglyphics.
  • b. in the same chapter (1) Jesus explains the symbols of "lampstands" and "stars" as representing "churches" and "angels" respectively (at least these can be understood to be churches in some sense of the word, and angels in some sense of the word, e.g., "bodies of believers" and "spiritual beings").
  • c. Rev. 11:4 explains the signs by pointing back to Zechariah's vision of the lampstands and olive trees, but the explanation given to John that the two witnesses are "two lampstands" would indicate that Jesus' application of the sign still holds true: the two witnesses/ two lampstands are two "churches" or,
  • d. the symbol of "two witnesses" signifies a minimum number of "witnesses" (or in this case the smallest remnant of true believers) in order to have legal and valid testimony. This is a common and clear teaching in the Scripture, and one which would be naturally understood by Jewish Christians familiar with the Old Testament:

Numbers 35:30 ‘If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death at the {1} evidence of witnesses, but no person shall be put to death on the testimony of one witness.
Deuteronomy 17:6 "On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.

Deuteronomy 19:15 "A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.

Matthew 18:16 "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.

2 Corinthians 13:1 This is the third time I am coming to you. EVERY FACT IS TO BE CONFIRMED BY THE TESTIMONY OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES.

1 Timothy 5:19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.

Hebrews 10:28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

Revelation 11:3 "And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."

Revelation 17:6 And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly.

The Biblical evidence strongly suggests that the Two Witnesses simply refer to a protesting, true Church of faithful believers, nearing extinction and scattered throughout the Roman world. It is a symbol that represents a minimal number of believers, or a small remnant of the faithful saints. The Bride of Christ, the remnant Church.

Also see, "666 - The Antichrist to come?" by Richard Gunther.

About Me

Historicism.com is owned and operated by me, Joe Haynes, of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. I serve as a pastor in a church plant in Victoria since 2013. My wife, Heather, and I have five kids. In 2011, I completed a Master of Arts in Christian Studies from Northwest Baptist Seminary at the Associated Canadian Theological Seminaries of Trinity Western University. Feel free to visit my blog at Keruxai.com.
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