Revelation 11:1-6 / Powerful Witness

Posted on September 6, 2015


This is the twenty-seventh in a series of verse-by-verse expositions of the book of Revelation. This message was delivered at Hilcrest Baptist Church on the morning of September 6, 2015. This message looks at the two witnesses, and the effect of their witness. This post contains an audio recording of my message, along with my sermon notes. Please note that the sermon notes are not necessarily a full transcript.


Rev. 11:1-6


Chapter 11, verses 1-13 provide an interlude to the linear progression of events in Revelation. These verses give us an overview, background information, and encouragement that God is in control.

Sometime around the beginning of the tribulation, the temple will be rebuilt.

  • Daniel 9:27
  • Daniel 12:112
  • Thessalonians 2:4

Jews will not offer sacrifices, except at the temple. This is why they are not offering sacrifices today, because there is currently no temple. During the first half of the tribulation, Jews will be making sacrifices in this rebuilt temple.

At the time that John wrote this the temple had been destroyed, yet he is told to measure it. This is further confirmation that it will be rebuilt.

Why should John measure the temple? Measurement is usually taken of one’s possessions, and the temple belongs to God. In a similar way the temple of Ezekiel 40 was measured and the New Jerusalem was measured.

  • Revelation 21:15-17

This temple belongs to God; however, it is a precursor to the antichrist. It is in the temple that he will be revealed for exactly what he is.

At the breaking of the seventh seal, we began the last half of the tribulation. This is an especially dark time, as the world has been given over to the antichrist. All of the unsaved, knowingly or not, are under his control, and they will seek to persecute the jews. The Jews will have had the temple for the first half of the tribulation, but the antichrist will claim it for the second half. This will be the abomination spoken of by Daniel and Jesus.

  • Matthew 24:15

The antichrist and his followers will have 42 months to tread the holy city underfoot.


Notice that they are wearing sackcloth. Sackcloth was a garment worn in Bible days to signify mourning and sorrow. They are preaching judgment, and whenever we preach judgment, we should do so in the sackcloth of a broken and sorrowful heart.

We need to remember that this portion of Scripture does not necessarily progress in a linear fashion. This is an overview. These two witnesses will prophesy for 1260 days. (3.5 years per a 360 day prophetic year). We should place the time of these two witnesses at the first half of the tribulation, not the last.

  • First, a different unit of measurement is used for the reign of the antichrist and the two witnesses (months/days). Therefore, there seems to be a purposeful distinction drawn between the two.
  • Second, they are compared to two olive trees. (v.4) This is most likely a reference to Zechariah chapters 3-4. The two olive trees were Joshua and Zerubbabel, ministering in the rebuilt temple. Likewise, these two witnesses will have a rebuilt temple.
  • Third, after 1260 days, they will be killed and lay in the streets for 3.5 days. After which, they will be resurrected. (v.11) If this occurred at the end of the tribulation, you have 3.5 days that just don’t fit. Christ returns at the conclusion of those seven years, not seven years and 3.5 days.
  • Lastly, placing them in the last half of the tribulation compromises the antichrist’s dominion during that time. When the beast arises, no one will be able to make war with him.
    • Revelation 13:4

Obviously, if these two witnesses were around, they would be able to withstand him.

So these witnesses are prophesying during the first half of the tribulation, but who are they. At this point, its impossible to be too dogmatic, because the Bible doesn’t tell us who the are.

One theory is that they are Elijah and Enoch, because neither of them physically died. Others say Moses and John the Baptist. Still others say Moses and Elijah. I think this most likely, but we simply don’t know.

  • Both Moses and Elijah were present at the transfiguration.
  • The Jews expected both Moses and Elijah to return.
    • Moses: Deuteronomy 18:15-18
    • Elijah: Malachi 4:5-6
  • John the Baptist was though by some to be Elijah, but he was not.
    • John 1:21
  • Both Moses and Elijah used supernatural means to provoke repentance. As a matter of fact, the plagues mentioned here are very similar to the plagues which Moses brought against Egypt. Also, there will be no rain for 3.5 years, the same as formerly brought by Elijah.
    • James 5:17
  • Elijah was raptured alive into heaven, and Moses’ body was buried where it would never be found.

If you’ll remember, we’ve already seen that there will be many people saved during the first half of the tribulation. Even the first half of the tribulation will be a terrible time, but in large part, because of the faithful witness of these two prophets, people will be saved. (v.13)

Even today, God requires a faithful witness from His followers. We are His means of spreading the Gospel.

  • Romans 10:14-15

We too can go out in the power of Jesus Christ, because the one who has all power has commissioned us to do His work.

  • Matthew 28:18-20


Posted in: Eschatology, Sermons