Eliane B (29 June 2011)
"The Future Ministry of God's Two Witnesses - article by Pastor F. M. Riley"



I found this precious article written by Pastor F. M. Riley when I was browsing the “Way Back Machine”.

I hope you enjoy and benefit from reading it as much as I did. Don’t miss the final part about the identity of the Second Witness!

Below is the article just in case the link has any problem.




The Future Ministry of God’s Two Witnesses

                                                                                              By Pastor F. M. Riley  

       3    And I will give power unto My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

      4     These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

     5      And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.

     6    These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.

     7    And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

     8    And 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.

     9    And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.

     10    And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.

     11    And after three days and a half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.

     12    And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither.  And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. 

                                                                                     Revelation 11:3-12 


    On May 14, 1948 Israel became a nation again nearly 1,900 years after the Jews had been driven from their homeland and scattered among the nations of the world.  Students of Bible prophecy recognized that Israel’s national restoration marked “the beginning of the end” in God’s great plan of the ages.  Glory!  Since the national restoration of Israel volumes have been written about the various end-time prophecies, particularly as to how they relate to Israel. 

    In this study it is  my desire to share prophetic truth which is familiar to our readers, yet which is seldom studied in depth; the ministry and identity of God’s “two witnesses.”  The right understanding of the role of these “two witnesses” in end-time events will clarify other portions of God’s prophetic Word.  Let us begin….. 


    In Malachi 4:5-6 the Lord told the Jews,

    “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:  And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” 

    This portion of Scripture sets forth three important facts: 

1.        It is clearly stated WHO God will send back to Israel…..”Elijah the prophet.”

2.        It is clearly stated WHEN God will send Elijah…..”before the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”

3.        It is clearly stated WHY God will send Elijah…..”he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” 

        Now let’s carefully examine these three statements.  


    The Scripture plainly states that it will be “Elijah the prophet” that God will send to Israel.  It is significant that many religious Jews accept Malachi’s prophecy as literal truth. They actually look for, long for, and believe that Elijah will appear on the world scene before the Messiah arrives. They are expecting the very same Elijah who opposed Ahab and Jezebel, and who was caught up into the heavens in a chariot of fire.  Elijah’s literal return is what the Scripture predicts, and there is plenty of Scriptural evidence to believe Malachi’s prophecy will be literally fulfilled.

    Some today attempt to deny the literal fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy by claiming that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of the prophecy.  They teach that Elijah has already come in the person of John.  Let’s just see if the Word of God actually supports such a view.  

Facts About John the Baptist 

    First, let’s notice the birth of John the Baptist.  In Luke 1:13-17 we find an angel predicting the birth of John.  In verse 17 the angel says,  

    “And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 

    Notice that it is “in the spirit and power of Elias” [Elijah] that John the Baptist was to go forth.  This Scripture no where states that John would be Elijah, or that he would fulfill Malachi’s prophecy.  It was only the same “spirit and power” that rested upon Elijah that was to rest upon John.  That was the Spirit and power of the Lord.  Elijah exercised God’s power during his ministry, 2 kings 2:9.  The same power of God was to rest upon John the Baptist during his ministry.  To use this Scripture to teach that John was Elijah, and thus fulfilled Malachi’s prophecy, is to teach error.  As proof of this statement let’s hear from John himself….. 

    John 1:19-24 contains the record of the priests and Levites coming to John and specifically asking him, “Who art thou?”  “Art thou Elias [Elijah]?”  John replied to their question by emphatically stating, “I am not.”  Isn’t it strange that some today insist that John was Elijah, in spite of John’s emphatic declaration that he was not Elijah?  One would think that a person would surely know who he is.  What this suggests is that John was either mentally unbalanced and really didn’t realize that he was actually Elijah, or…..some Bible teachers are spiritually unbalanced due to their lack of serious Bible study.  I leave it to our readers to decide whether to believe the inspired Word or the uninspired claims of fallible men.   

    Second, notice the teaching of Christ Himself concerning John’s ministry in relation to Elijah.  In Matthew 11:7-19 the Lord stated, “And if ye will receive it [him], this is Elijah which was for to come.”  Did Israel receive John, or his teaching?  Not according to the Lord!  The Lord Himself clearly stated, “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.”  Does this sound like Israel received John?

    In Matthew 17:12 the Lord said, “…..Elias [Elijah] is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed.  Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.  Then the disciples understood that He spake unto them of John the Baptist.”  In this passage the Lord clearly stated that John was rejected of Israel, and that He Himself would suffer “of them” like John had suffered.  Who put Christ to death?  Was it not the unbelieving Jews?  And who ultimately put John to death?  Was it not a ruler of the Jews?  The Lord said that John was Elijah “if” he should be received.  John was not received, but rather was rejected and put to death.  Therefore John did not fulfill the prophecy of Malachi regarding the coming of Elijah.   

    Third, let’s let the leaders of Israel themselves testify.  In Matthew 21:23-27 the chief priests and elders came to Christ, demanding to know the source of His authority.  Christ answered them by asking, “The baptism of John, whence was it?  from heaven, or of men?”  The Scriptures tell us that they reasoned with themselves, “….saying, if we shall say, From heaven; He will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?”  Here is an open admission by the wicked leaders of Israel themselves that they did not receive John the Baptist; neither his message nor the Messiah whom he preached.  It is then Scripturally impossible for John the Baptist to have fulfilled Malachi 4:5-6.  John the Baptist filled the role of Elijah only for those who received him.   

    But let our readers keep in mind that Christ did say that Elijah would come.  In Matthew 17:11 the Lord said, “…..Elias [Elijah] truly shall first come, and restore all things.”  This is recorded a second time in Mark 9:12, “…..Elias [Elijah] verily cometh first, and restoreth all things.”  Since John the Baptist was not received, then he did not fulfill Malachi’s prophecy, nor this prediction of Christ.  The religious Jews are then correct in still expecting the coming of Elijah.  We can then conclude that Elijah himself is yet to return to Israel, exactly as prophesied in Malachi.  


    In Malachi 4:5 the Lord said,  

    “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:…”

     While the term, “the day of the Lord,” always refers to the future seven year Tribulation [and beyond], certain expressions occur in the Scriptures that make it clear that the Tribulation itself is divided into two periods of time.    

The Two Hours   

    For instance, the first half of the Tribulation is referred to as “the hour of temptation,” Revelation 3:10, but the last half of the Tribulation is referred to as “the hour of His judgment,” Revelation 14:7.  In other words, the first three and a half years are a time when all of humanity will be tested [peirasmos] to see if they will turn to the Lord in the midst of great catastrophes and plagues that are being poured out upon the earth.   The answer to that question is found in Revelation 9:20-21.  Because most of humanity will refuse to repent during the first half of the Tribulation, the Lord will then proceed to judge humanity during the last half of the Tribulation, Isaiah 26:21.  It is the last half of the Tribulation which would then indeed be “the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”   

The Time of Trouble  

     This truth is again made evident in Daniel 12:1.  “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time:…..”  By carefully studying the context in which this passage occurs, and by comparing this passage with Revelation 12:7-17, it is evident that this event occurs near  or at the middle of the Tribulation.  Therefore the “time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation…” will begin at the middle of the Tribulation and extend through the last half of the Trib.   And why shouldn’t there be terrible trouble during the last half?  Old Satan, the Devil himself, will be literally cast down and limited to the surface of the earth during the last half of the Trib.  God have mercy upon those who are still living upon the earth during that terrible time of trouble. See Revelation 12:12 and be warned   

The Abomination of Desolation 

    Then the Lord Himself clearly stated in Matthew 24:21, in the context of events which follow the setting up of “the abomination of desolation” [verse 15], “For then shall be great tribulation [trouble], such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”  The Lord here was speaking about the last half of the Tribulation, for it is at the middle of the Trib that “the image of the beast” is erected in the courtyard of the Jewish Temple, Revelation 13:14-15.  This “image of the beast” is “the abomination that maketh desolate,” Daniel 11:31.  Compare Mark 13:14-19.  When that “abomination” is set up in the courtyard of the Jewish Temple, the Jews will have to flee for their lives, and the whole land of Israel will become “desolate” during the last half of the Tribulation.  This is clear enough if folks would just quit “theorizing” and take God’s Word at face value for what it actually and literally says and teaches.     

    The phrase, “the great and dreadful day of the Lord,” then specifically refers to the last three and a half years of the seven year Tribulation.  It will be a time of trouble for the whole world, such as was previously unknown in all of human history, a time in which Almighty God will judge all the unrepentant, incorrigible wicked of the earth.  It will be the time when God’s “fury shall come up” in His face, Ezekiel 38:18; Nahum 1:6; Revelation 11:14-19.  During that last half of the Tribulation the Lord will pour out great and terrible judgments upon this earth unlike anything ever previously seen or known by mankind.  Now keep in mind that Elijah is to be sent back to Israel before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord…”  Therefore it is obvious that Elijah [and the second witness] will be sent back to minister to Israel [and the world] during the first half of the Tribulation.   

A Supernatural Ministry 

    In Revelation 11:1-14 it is recorded that God’s “two witnesses” will minister in the city of Jerusalem.  This portion of Scripture sets forth some unusual facts about these “two witnesses” and their ministry.  Let’s notice them….. 

    First, the “two witnesses” are specifically called “two prophets,” 11:10.  During the Tribulation these “two prophets” will bear witness of Christ.  They will definitely prophesy [preach] about the very soon coming Kingdom of the Lord, 11:3; 11:6.  Such a prospect looming on the horizon will certainly be a “torment” to the wicked world planners, 11:10.  The “two prophets” will faithfully give testimony for the Lord, 11:7.  If these “two witnesses” are to be identified, then we must look among those of the past who were true “prophets” of God.     

    Second, the “two witnesses” receive and exercise supernatural, miraculous powers from God during their ministry. 

1.         They are given miraculous, supernatural powers of protection.  Those who attempt to hinder or harm the “two witnesses” will be killed by fire issuing right out of the mouths of the “two witnesses.”  Doesn’t God say that His Word is “as a fire”?  Read Jeremiah 20:9 and 23:29.  Doesn’t God’s Word “burn” in the hearts of people when it is faithfully proclaimed? Read Luke 24:32. Yes, I am aware that these are symbolic terms, but what is to stop Almighty God from transforming the spiritual fire of His Word into literal fire, when such is needed to protect His servants?  Well…?

2.         The “two witnesses” are given miraculous, supernatural powers to shut up the heavens during their ministry, 11:6.  Not a drop of rain will fall upon the earth during their ministry. Talk about a drouth!  Humanity has never seen anything like the world-wide drouth that is coming during the first half of the Tribulation.  Compare Joel 1:8-20 and be warned. 

3.         The “two witnesses” will be given miraculous, supernatural powers to turn the waters of the earth into blood, and to smite the earth with various plagues, at anytime they feel that such is needed, 11:6.  Wicked men right through the centuries [and even today] have loved to shed blood, especially the blood of God’s people [Habakkuk 1:14-17].  During the Trib the Lord will give them blood to drink, Revelation 8:7-11; 16:4-7. 

4.         The “two witnesses,” while preaching only in the city of Jerusalem, will be given supernatural power to communicate their message to all the “people and kindreds and tongues and nations” upon the whole earth, 11:9-10. Today millions of wicked people don’t want to hear the message of God, but in that day it will not be stopped.  All will hear it!  There is no question that the preaching of the “two witnesses” will involve the miraculous, supernatural “gift” of “tongues,” a gift that is often corrupted, misused, and misunderstood today.  Everyone on earth in that day, in their own language and dialect, will hear and understand what is being preached by the “two witnesses.” Those who have “hearing ears” [13:9] will repent and be saved, but those wicked souls who don’t want to hear will only be “tormented” [11:10] by the Word.  Praise the Lord! 

    Third, 11:3 tells us that the “two witnesses” will be unusual in their appearance.  They will be dressed in “sackcloth.”  Such clothing has been discarded by the whole human race today.  No one in any nation dresses in “sackcloth” today.  But the “two witnesses” will!  Sackcloth is a rough material woven from camel’s hair.  The Bible gives us numerous instances of it being worn by people as a sign of mourning and repentance, especially by God’s Old Testament prophets as they sought God’s mercy and proclaimed God’s message, calling ancient Israel to repentance before God.  What a contrast their clothing will be to the modern clothing of the western nations, which has been adopted by most of the people of the earth today.   

    Now notice how the past ministry of Elijah perfectly correlates with the future ministry of the “two witnesses.”

     The “two witnesses” are to be two prophets who have previously lived and ministered in the past.  It is a fact that Elijah was probably the greatest prophet that the Lord ever called to minister to Israel during the Old Testament dispensation, and Malachi 4:5-6 plainly predicts that he is to be sent back to Israel. 

    The “two witnesses” are miraculously protected by fire during their ministry.  Elijah was protected in a similar manner during his ministry, 2 Kings 1:1-18. 

    The “two witnesses” have power to stop and withhold the rain during their ministry.  Elijah also had such power during his ministry, 1 Kings 17:1; James 5:17-18.

    The “two witnesses” will turn the waters of the earth into blood, and smite the earth with plagues.  Elijah also had such miracle working powers during his ministry.  See 1 Kings 17:8-16; 17:17-24, and 18:17-41. 

    The ministry of the “two witnesses” will be an international ministry.  The Lord Himself pointed out that in ancient times Elijah ministered to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews, Luke 4:23-28. 

    The ministry of the “two witnesses” will be a “torment” to the wicked of the earth, just as the ministry of Elijah was a “torment” to wicked old Ahab and Jezebel, and to their followers, 1 Kings 18:17-18; 18:40; 21:20-24. 

    Finally, the clothing worn by the “two witnesses” will be sackcloth.  That was the same type of clothing worn by Elijah during his ministry, 2 Kings 1:3-8. 

     The ministry of the “two witnesses” and the ministry of Elijah coincides in every point. There is then sufficient Scriptural evidence to conclude that Elijah himself will be one of the “two witnesses” that the Lord will send back to minister to Israel [and the world] during the first half of the Tribulation.  


    WHO will God send to Israel?  Elijah the prophet.  WHEN will God send Elijah back to Israel?  During the first half of the coming seven year Tribulation.  Now let’s notice WHY God will send him back. 

    Malachi 4:6 says,  

    “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.  

    Isn’t it amazing that some 2,600 years ago Malachi revealed that there would be a “generation gap” in the end of this age?  See Micah 7:5-6, Matthew 10:21 and Mark 13:12.  And isn’t it amazing that such a generation gap is in existence today? 

    In order to understand this particular statement of Malachi, and the role that Elijah will play in fulfilling this prophecy, other factors that relate to our study need to be carefully examined.  So I call our reader’s attention to….. 

Tribal Identity 

    When the Lord brought the Israelites into their “promised land” some 3,500 years ago, He had Joshua divide the land among the respective tribes.  According to God’s Law the land they were given was to remain the possession of the particular tribe [and family] to whom it was given from generation to generation.      

    However He did not give the tribe of Levi a portion of land as their inheritance, for doing service for the Lord Himself was to be the inheritance of the Levites.  Then from the tribe of Levi the Lord chose Aaron and his descendants to serve as priests.  Aaron was chosen as the first “High Priest.”  His sons were the first “priests.”  According to God’s  Law, from that time forward no tribe but the Levites could minister in the Tabernacle [and later in the Temple], and no Levite could serve as a priest or a High Priest, except the descendants of Aaron. 

    Because of the Law of Inheritance the tribal identity of the Israelites became very important to them.  Their genealogical records were carefully recorded and preserved.  According to Jewish history, these genealogical records were not only preserved by the respective Jewish families, but copies of them were laid up in the Tabernacle [and later in the Temple].  The importance of such records is emphasized in God’s Word in Ezra 2:59-63, Nehemiah 7:5-65, and several other places in God’s Word. 

    In the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. the genealogical records that were preserved there were destroyed, and the Jews were driven from their land.  With the Jew no longer in his land and the Temple no longer in existence, the genealogical records were of little value to the average Jew.  As the centuries passed many Jews assimilated into the Gentile nations into which they had been driven, adopting the languages, customs, politics, names, and sometimes even the religions of those nations.  Gradually tribal identity was lost by most of the Jews.  Because of this, the average Jew today has little idea and no real proof of their tribal identity.

    Such a situation presents a real problem for the religious Jews who want to rebuild the Jewish Temple and restore the ancient worship of the Jewish people.  For many years there has been an ever increasing desire among a remnant of religious Jews to rebuild the Temple.  Rabbis in Israel have actually trained young men to offer the sacrifices required by God in His Law.  These young men have been carefully selected from families with such names as Cohen, Levi, Gershon, etc., hoping that their names indicate that they are Levites.  If so, this would qualify them to serve and minister in a rebuilt Temple.  But there is no actual proof that these men are Levites. 

    Because there are no genealogical records, and therefore no actual proof that such men are Levites, not all religious Jews are willing to accept these men as Levites.  The Hasidic [Ultra-Orthodox] Jews have made it clear that they will accept nothing less than absolute proof of tribal identity.  They insist that God would never accept their Temple as His “house” unless only Levites served in it, and only a descendant of Aaron serve as the High Priest.  So this is a major problem for the Jews that must be solved before they can actually rebuild the Temple and again offer sacrifices to Jehovah, the God of Israel, as they did in the ancient past.  Now how is this problem to be solved…? 

The Antichrist Factor 

    In Daniel 9:26-27 and 11:21-23 we are told about a deceitful king [the Antichrist] who will rise to power in the last days, and “confirm the covenant with many…”  This covenant is referred to six times in Daniel 11:22-32.  We do not know every detail agreed upon in this “covenant,” but the Scriptures give us enough information to conclude that this “covenant” will be some sort of “peace” agreement, which apparently will bring “peace” to the Middle East, specifically guaranteeing “peace” to Israel for a period of seven years.  That is exactly what the Jews in Israel have desired ever since they became a nation in 1948.  The tragedy is that unbelieving Israel really doesn’t understand what problems this forbidden “covenant” [Exodus 34:12; Deuteronomy 7:2] is going to bring upon them.  See 1 Thessalonians 5:3.  When this “covenant” goes into effect, the Jews will then [and only then] be in a position to rebuild their Temple.    

    The Scriptures clearly teach that a Temple will be in existence during the Tribulation, Revelation 11:1-2 and 2 Thessalonians 2:4.  They also teach that animal sacrifices will once more be offered upon the Temple altar.  See Daniel 8:11-14, 9:27, and 11:31. 

     Therefore we can conclude that the problem of tribal identity will be resolved, and the Levitical priesthood will again function in the Temple.  In spite of the objections of some today, God will accept the rebuilt Temple as His “house.”  This statement is clearly proven by Revelation 11:1, “…Rise, and measure the temple of God…”  Keep in mind that this Scripture, like all Scripture, is inspired of God.  This Tribulation Temple will be “the temple of God” whether some folks like it or not.  The question then arises,  how is all this is to be brought about?  How…? 

To Restore All Things 

    It obviously will not be brought about by the Antichrist.  The Scriptures imply that the Antichrist will allow the Jews to rebuild their Temple, and perhaps he will even assist them in rebuilding it.  But the motive of the Antichrist in allowing the Jews to rebuild the Temple is entirely different than God’s motive in inspiring a remnant of the Jews to rebuild it.  The Antichrist intends to use the rebuilt Temple to exalt himself as the object of worship for the Jews and the whole world.  But that is not God’s motive!  The Antichrist will ultimately be permitted to invade the Temple and sit down upon the mercy seat [throne], boasting that he is God, 2 Thessalonians 2:4. Yet Almighty God is going to upset all the plans of the Antichrist.

    In Matthew 17:11 the Lord specifically stated, “Elias [Elijah] truly shall first come, and restore all things.”  A similar statement occurs in Mark 9:12.  This emphatic statement of the Lord makes it obvious that the major reason Elijah will be sent back to Israel will be to solve the problem of tribal identity, thus making it possible for the Temple to be rebuilt and the ancient worship of the Jews to be restored.  The “two witnesses” will divide the Jewish remnant into their respective tribes [Revelation 7:1-8], and will supervise the rebuilding of the Temple.

    The fact that a remnant of the Jews will be divided into their respective tribes again right after the beginning of the Tribulation is beyond dispute.  Revelation 7:1-8 records the salvation and sealing of 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes listed.  Some today would have us believe that the Lord miraculously seals the 144,000 without their ever experiencing His saving grace.  Not so!  God has only one way of salvation, John 14:6.  There is no sealing until there is first a receiving of Christ as Savior.  See Ephesians 1:12-14.  The fact that the 144,000 are the “first fruits” [the first people saved during the Tribulation] is clearly stated in Revelation 14:4.  This verse also tells us how they were saved; by believing on “the Lamb.”  Isn’t that how every lost person gets saved?  You know it is!

    Folks, Elijah was the greatest prophet that God ever sent to Israel during the dispensation of Law, other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  It was Elijah who called Israel to repentance when they had gone a whoring after the false gods of Ahab and Jezebel, 1 Kings 18.  It was Elijah who “repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down,” and prayed that God would “turn their hearts back again,” 1 Kings 18:30-37.  After Elijah had concluded his simple, humble prayer, “the fire of the Lord fell and consumed” his sacrifice, 1 Kings 18:38.  The Lord had accepted his offering on behalf of Israel.  Glory!

    Who then is better qualified than “Elijah the prophet” to once again call Israel to repentance before God, and “restore all things” pertaining to the ancient worship of the Lord God of Israel?  Who is better qualified to supervise and direct the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple than Elijah [and the second “witness”]?  And when the Tribulation Temple is rebuilt, who is better qualified to pray the dedicatory prayer than Elijah?  And “the fire of the Lord” will once again fall to consume the sacrifice and light the fires of the altar burning before the Temple.  Glory!  Praise the Lord!  Hallelujah! 

    Folks, this is why “Elijah the prophet” will be sent back to Israel again as one of God’s “two witnesses.”  Now let’s see if we can identify….. 


    The Scriptures clearly reveal that “Elijah the prophet” will be one of the “two witnesses.”  But can the second “witness” be identified?  Let’s see….. 

Various Theories 

    Many today have come up with various theories [guesses] as to the identity of the second “witness.”  By examining these theories, the truth will be much easier to recognize.  How much brighter a precious jewel appears when displayed upon a dark background.  Even so, the light of God’s truth radiates brilliantly when contrasted with the vain theories of men.  Now let’s examine some of these theories….. 

    The “We Can’t Know” Theory…..I have had folks quote Deuteronomy 29:29 to me, and tell me that since God didn’t reveal the names of the “two witnesses” in Revelation 11 it just isn’t meant for us to know who they are.  I choose to disagree!  I feel such a statement is only a poor excuse to justify a lack of serious Bible study.  In the previous chapter the Scriptures clearly identify “Elijah the prophet” as one of the “two witnesses.”  Since God’s inspired Word named one of the “witnesses” somewhere other than in Revelation 11, then God’s people have every right to expect the other “witness” to be identified by name elsewhere in the Scriptures. 

    I would remind our readers that Proverbs 25:2 say, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.”  Compare Revelation 1:5-6 and 5:8-10.  Are you or aren’t you?  Well…? 

    Again in Amos 3:7 we are told, “Surely the Lord will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.”  Maybe some folks ought to devote a little more time to studying the writings of “the prophets.”  Eh…?

    In 2 Peter 1:19 we read, “We have also a more sure [dependable; certain] Word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” 

    Folks, Deuteronomy 29:29 was written to the Jews.  Read the context yourself.  During this present dispensation, the Jews have been judicially blinded, Romans 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:13-15.  But true believers have no excuse for their ignorance of God’s Word.  If true believers fail to find answers to their questions, it is because they do not “search the Scriptures” as God’s people have been commanded to do, Proverbs 2:1-6; 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Peter 1:19.  The Lord Jesus Himself promised His people that the Holy Spirit would guide us into “all truth,” John 16:13.  If we really believe God’s Word, that settles the matter.  We can know the truth about those things that the Lord has placed in His Word.     

    The “Spirit-Word” Theory…..There are a few folks who teach that God’s “two witnesses” are the Holy Spirit and the Bible.  They claim that the Holy Spirit and the Bible will be “killed” [symbolically] at the beginning of the Tribulation.  According to them, the Holy Spirit will be “killed” because He will be rejected by the wicked and will no longer restrain them from their wicked desires.  The advocates of this theory quote 2 Thessalonians 2:7 as “proof” of their theory.  Sic!  They also claim that the Bible will be completely rejected as truth by the wicked during the Tribulation , so therefore the Bible is “killed.”  Then after three and a half years [Revelation 11:9-11] the Holy Spirit and the Bible are supposedly “resurrected,” Psalm 85:11.  The Holy Spirit and the Bible will then ascend up into Heaven as visible “witnesses” to the wicked that God’s Holy Spirit is the true Spirit and that the Bible is truly God’s Word. 

    This theory is one of the silliest, most illogical, Scripturally unsound, theories that otherwise supposedly intelligent men have ever invented.  There is not a single verse of Scripture anywhere in God’s Word that even suggests that the Holy Spirit will ever be “killed,” symbolically or otherwise.  There isn’t even the slightest suggestion that it is even possible for the Holy Spirit to “die.”  Rather, the Scriptures teach exactly the opposite. 

    In 1 John 4:4 we read, “…..greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” Who is it that is in the believer?  The Lord Jesus told the disciples in John 14:16-17, “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” 

    If the Holy Spirit that indwells the believer is “greater” than the spirit of Satan or the Antichrist, how is He [the Holy Spirit] to then be “killed” by them?  How is the Holy Spirit to dwell and live “for ever” within true believers if He is laying dead in the streets of Jerusalem for three and a half years, as the proponents of this theory claim?  How are the wicked of the earth to “see” the dead body of the Holy Spirit and “rejoice” over Him, when the Lord Himself said that the world “seeth Him not”?   Such is the absurdity of this silly theory. 

    Similar truths can be pointed out where God’s Word is concerned.  In Psalm 119:89 the Psalmist wrote, “For ever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven.”  What is “the beast” then going to do in order to “kill” the Holy Bible?  Is he going to invade Heaven, defeat all the angels of God, drag the Bible out of it’s “for ever” settled place, take it to the streets of Jerusalem, and “kill” it?  If this sounds like the ravings of some ignorant cultist, don’t blame me.  I don’t teach this silly theory, and those who do [or ever have] should hang their heads in shame.  What wicked mishandling of God’s Word!  God’s people are told to “rightly divide the Word of Truth,” 2 Timothy 2:15.  This whole stupid theory is a classic example of “wrongly” dividing God’s Word.  Shame!  Shame!  

    The “Second Death” Theory…..There are those who insist that the “two witnesses” absolutely have to be Enoch and Elijah, because they are the only two men who have never experienced death.   The proponents of this theory insist that everyone must die once [Hebrews 9:27], but only the eternally lost can ever die twice.  Since the “two witnesses” are to be put to death when their ministry is completed, then it is argued that the “two witnesses” have to be men who have never died [Enoch and Elijah].  It is further alleged that if they were men who had previously died, then in being put to death again they would experience “the second death.” 

    Folks, this theory sounds quite plausible to those who have not carefully studied the theory, but it simply does not stand up when tested by God’s Word.

    Hebrews 9:27 does not say or teach that everyone must die.  All the verse actually says is that an appointment with death has been made.  The truth is that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself was our substitute who kept that appointment with death for every true believer.  God’s people [those truly saved] have been released from that appointment by the sacrifice of Christ.  If any reader doubts this, then read the plain statements of God’s Word in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 and Hebrews 2:9.  The Lord Jesus Christ Himself died our “death,” thereby releasing us from that appointment.

    This truth is verified by the Lord Himself in John 11:25-26 where we read,  

    “…..I am the resurrection [for dead believers], and the life [for living believers]: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead [physically dead], yet shall he live [be resurrected]: And whosoever liveth [is physically alive], and believeth in Me shall never die…..” 

     In this passage the Lord Himself divided believers into two groups in reference to the time of the resurrection/rapture; those who have died in the faith and those in the faith who will still be alive when the Lord comes.  Christ plainly states that those believers who are alive at that time will never experience death; they will never die.  Glory!

    See also 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.  It was the Lord God Himself who appointed man to die [Genesis 2:16-17], and, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord God Himself kept that appointment for all who believe.  Christ died in our place on Calvary’s cruel cross.  He died our death.  Glory!  Since the appointment has already been kept for the believer, those believers who are still physically alive at the time of the rapture will never die.  They will be “translated” just like Enoch and Elijah were translated, and so will escape death.  Glory!

    This truth doesn’t mean that any believer so translated will be one of God’s “two witnesses.”  Neither does it mean that Enoch and Elijah are God’s “two witnesses” simply because they escaped death. 

    Those who advocate this theory ignore the fact that at least eight people mentioned in the Bible did die twice.  The son of the widow of Zarephath [1 Kings 17:17-24], the Shunamites son [2 Kings 4:18-37], the man buried in Elisha’s tomb [2 Kings 13:20-21], Jonah [Jonah 2:5-6], the son of the widow of Nain [Luke 7:11-16], the daughter of Jairus [Mark 5:22-43], Lazarus [John 11:1-45], and Dorcas [Acts 9:36-42].  All of these people died and were restored to physical life.  It is obvious that with the passing of time they all died again.  This means they died twice.  But what real Bible student would be ignorant enough to claim that their second time to die is “the second death”?  God’s Word specifically states that “the second death” is being cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, Revelation 20:14-15.  It is mishandling God’s Word to give it any other meaning.  Some folks need to study more and “opine” less.  God have mercy!

    Further, Premillennialists are almost unanimously agreed that Enoch is a type of the believer who will the translated [raptured] before the Tribulation, just as Enoch was translated before the flood.  God’s people should be consistent in what they believe.  If Enoch is indeed a type of the believer raptured before the Trib, then it is impossible for him to be one of the “two witnesses.”  If we are consistent when studying Bible types, then making Enoch one of the “witnesses” would mean that the raptured saints would return to earth during the Tribulation, witness for the Lord, be killed, and then raptured again.  Does this sound ridiculous?  It is!  The “theory” that Enoch will be the second “witness” just because he never died is completely ridiculous and illogical because it violates Bible types and Scriptural examples, and is utterly without any Scriptural justification.  Period! 

    The “Transfiguration” Theory…..The advocates of this theory point out that Moses and Elijah appeared with the Lord at the transfiguration, therefore they have to be the “two witnesses.”  Balderdash!  Such a theory is nothing but an assumption based on a lack of careful Bible study.  This theory is probably the most popular of all the theories put forth, but popularity of a theory does not make it Bible truth.

    Those expousing this theory have not carefully studied the transfiguration context.  I know this to be true because the Lord Jesus Himself, in Matthew 16:28, clearly stated,  

    “Verily I say unto you, There are some standing here, who shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom.”   

    Christ Himself said that the transfiguration was a “vision” of the “kingdom,” Matthew 16:28; 17:9.  It was not a vision of the rapture, nor of the Tribulation.  It was a vision of  the kingdom.  The Lord said so!  Most certainly Moses and Elijah will be in the kingdom.  So will all the rest of God’s redeemed people.  Hallelujah!  The fact that Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ at the transfiguration, which was a vision of the kingdom, is no proof at all that they will be the “two witnesses” of Revelation 11.  Such an assumption is based on ignoring the plain statement of the Lord Himself in Matthew 16:28. 

    The fact that the transfiguration was a vision of the kingdom is further confirmed by the Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 1:16, “For we have not  followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”  Could this be made any plainer?

    The transfiguration theory also ignores the role of Moses in God’s Word.  Deuteronomy 18:15-19 and Acts 3:22-23 plainly confirm Moses as being a type of Christ.  Moses only died once, and then disappeared from among mankind.  This is because he was a type of Christ.  Christ only died once for all, and then ascended back into Heaven, disappearing from among mankind.  See Romans 6:10, Hebrews 7:27, 9:12, 9:26, 10:10, and 1 Peter 3:18.  In Revelation 11:7 we are told that the “two witnesses” will be killed when their ministry is completed.  Moses has already died once, just as Christ died once.  To make Moses one of the “two witnesses” totally violates his role as a type of Christ.  If we are to be consistent with Bible types, then having Moses die a second time [as one of the “two witnesses] is tantamount to having Christ return and die a second time.  Such a thing cannot be.  It would totally violate the integrity of Christ and the Scriptures.  This is plain enough for any real Bible believer to understand.  It is Scripturally impossible for Moses to be the second “witness.”  Period!   

    The four theories we have examined are the most popular theories held by those seeking to identify the “two witnesses.”  But popularity doesn’t make them truth.  Not a one of these four theories stands up under the testing of God’s Word.  Every true believer should discard these theories, and get back into careful study of God’s Word.  It is the Word which identifies the second “witness.”   So let’s see what the Word has to say….. 

The Identity of the Second Witness 

    The Word identifies the first “witness” as “Elijah the prophet.”  And it is the Word that also identifies the second “witness.”  The Word plainly and repeatedly points out that John the Revelator [John the beloved; the Apostle John] will be the second “witness.” 

    I am aware that some readers may not want to believe this claim, but let’s just examine it in the light of God’s Word.  If the claim is true, then God’s Word will vindicate the claim.  If God’s Word does not vindicate the claim, then I ask no reader to receive it as truth.  Folks, true believers should always obey the Word, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good,” 1 Thessalonians 5:21. 

    Now I want to examine Scriptures which have been largely ignored or explained away by those seeking the identity of the second “witness.”  A close examination of these passages will clearly identify John the Revelator as being the second “witness.”  

Power Over Fire 

    In Luke 9:51-56 it is recorded that Christ passed through Samaria.  He sent His disciples ahead of Him into a Samaritan village to “make ready for Him.”  The Samaritans in that village refused to receive Christ.  Their response produced violent indignation in James and John.  They asked the Lord, “Lord, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias [Elijah] did?”  Such is exactly what is indicated in Revelation 11:5, “…..fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies…..” 

    It might be argued by some that John did not actually have the power to call fire down from heaven.  But it is obvious that John, if the Lord so willed, certainly thought he had such power.  The Word of God certainly teaches that the “two witnesses” will have such power, and will exercise it upon their enemies during the Tribulation.   

Sons of Thunder 

    In Mark 3:13-19 the Lord selected twelve apostles.  Verse 17 places James and John in the list of the apostles, along with the statement that the Lord Himself “surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder.” 

    In Revelation 10:1-4 we are told about a “Mighty Angel” that roars “as a lion roareth.”  When the “Mighty Angel” roars “seven thunders uttered their voices.”  These “seven thunders” communicate a Divine message.  We know this to be true because John started to write down what the “seven thunders” had said.  It is obvious that John understood what the thunders had said.  He had been named by the Lord Himself as a “son of thunder.” The only time “thunder” is mentioned in the New Testament, other than here in Revelation 10, occurs in Mark 3:17, John 12:29, and other passages in Revelation [Tribulation]It is obvious that John has a peculiar relation to “thunder” in the Scriptures.  Notice that this passage in Revelation 10 is directly connected to Revelation 11 which tells us about the ministry of God’s “two witnesses.”  There is no break or pause between the two chapters.  This certainly suggests that John will be the second “witness” who will literally fulfill what the “Mighty Angel” tells him he “must” do “again” in Revelation 10:11.   

If…..He Tarry 

    In John 21:20-24 the Apostle Peter looks at one of the Lord’s disciples and says, “Lord, and what shall this man do?”  The man Peter was referring to was the one “whom Jesus loved,” the one who “also leaned on His breast at supper,” and the one who said, “Lord, which is he that betrayeth Thee?”  This emphasis in God’s Word clearly identifies the disciple as being John himself. Compare John 13:23-25, 19:26-27, 20:2, and 21:24.  In answering Peter’s question the Lord said, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?”  The Scriptures record that Peter and the other disciples were astonished at the Lord’s answer.  They understood it to mean that John would not die.  However, the Lord did not say that John would not die, but that if the Lord should so will, John would tarry until the Lord returned.  To really understand this statement we need to examine it carefully.

    The word translated as “tarry” in this verse is the Greek word, “meno.”  This Greek word occurs 118 times in the New Testament.  It is translated variously as “abide; be; be present; continue; dwell; endure; remain; stand; tarry; tarry for.”  See Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, page 399, Strong’s No. 3306.  By examining the various Scripture passages where the word is used, it becomes obvious that the word literally means “to remain behind.” 

    The word “come” in this passage is translated from the Greek word, “erchomai.”  This word occurs 641 times in the New Testament.  It is translated 609 times as “come.”  This is the basic meaning of the word; “to come.” 

    What the Lord then actually told Peter, is that if it was His will John would “remain behind” until the Lord had come.  This is a startling statement.  What are we to make of it?  Does it mean that John is still living somewhere on earth today?  No, I don’t think so!  Could it mean that John never died, and will not die, until the Lord returns?   In view of Christian history which speaks of John’s death, that doesn’t seem plausible either.  And how does this statement relate to the identity of the “two witnesses”?  Just keep this statement in mind as we continue to study.   

John’s Unique Position 

    John is unique among the prophets of the Bible.  He is the only prophet that is to have  a personal role in fulfilling the prophecies which God gave to and through him. 

    In Revelation 1:9-20 John is seen on the island of Patmos.  The time is 96 A.D.  In verse 10 John tells us, I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day….”  Significantly, this exact same expression occurs a second time in Revelation 4:2, “And immediately I was in the spirit….”  In this latter passage the meaning is obvious.  John became “in the spirit” and was transported forward in time as he received the visions recorded in chapters 4 – 22.   Since the two expressions are exactly the same, why do so-called “scholars” give a different meaning to the passage in Revelation 1:10 than they do the passage in 4:2?  Well…? 

    The truth is, both passages mean exactly the same thing.  When the Lord spoke to John on the island of Patmos, John literally “became in the spirit.”  In his “spirit” John was then transported forward in time into “the day of the Lord.”  This enabled him to behold the entire church age, which he  recorded in Revelation 2 – 3.  Then following the church age John “became in the spirit” again as he was transported forward in time into “the day of the Lord” [the Tribulation; Daniel’s 70th Week].   

    Yes, I am quite well aware that tradition has labeled “the Lord’s day” in Revelation 1:10 as being “Sunday.”  But tradition and truth are often in conflict.  This passage has nothing whatsoever to do with “Sunday” being the Lord’s day.  John actually “became in the spirit” and was transported forward into the future “day of the Lord” [the Tribulation] where he became an eye witness and an active participant in the unfolding events that lead up to the return of our Lord.  In this manner John 21:22-23 was fulfilled [past tense] with John “in the spirit,” and it will yet be fulfilled [future tense] with John “in the flesh.”  John recorded the events of Revelation for us as an eye witness “in the spirit,” but he will yet have an active part in fulfilling those same events during the Tribulation as a “witness” in the flesh

    If our readers find this truth hard to grasp, then let me demonstrate it another way….. 

On the Earth 

    In Revelation 10:1 the beloved John wrote, “And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven.”  The exact [inspired] wording of this verse clearly implies that John  is on the earth watching this angel come down from heaven to the earth.  Verse 8 confirms this point, “And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.”  This passage tells us that the angel is standing upon the surface of the earth, partly on the land and partly on the sea.  John was then instructed to take the “little book” out of the angel’s hand.  In order for John to take the book out of the angel’s hand, he also had to be on the earth.  Some would explain this by claiming that John never literally left the earth; that he was [bodily] on the island of Patmos all the time.  This is true, however it does not alter the circumstances described in the context of the Revelation vision.  Right here in Revelation 10, John is described as being on the earth during the Tribulation.  Glory!  What follows will demonstrate this truth….. 

In His Flesh  

    In Revelation 10:9-10 John obediently takes the “little book.”  The angel then says to John, “Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.  And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and  it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.” 

    The prophet Ezekiel had an almost identical experience according to Ezekiel 2:7-10 and 3:1-4.  So did the prophet Jeremiah according to Jeremiah 15:16-18.  In both cases, after eating the Word these two prophets, in their flesh, preached the Word to others.  It was not just a case of them receiving from the Lord their individual books of prophecy, but rather a case of actually preaching the Word in their fleshly bodies.  Since this was the case with these two prophets, what makes us think it will be any different with John?  It won’t!  Notice the next thing John is told….. 

Thou Must Prophesy Again 

    In Revelation 10:11 the angel emphatically tells John, Thou must prophesy [preach] again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

    This is an emphatic statement!  It is similar to the command given to Ezekiel.  Ezekiel was to preach God’s Word.  Ezekiel, in obedience to the Lord, then went forth and preached in his fleshly body.  Why expect it to be any different with John?   

Another Vain Theory 

    At this point, in order to present and confirm the truth, I am forced to deal with and expose another “popular” theory.  Some teachers of prophecy tell God’s people that the command given to John in verse 11 only means that John was to write the remainder of the Book of Revelation.  Oh, is that so?  Let’s see if God’s Word supports such a theory…..

    The Lord Himself, in Revelation 1:19, divided John’s whole vision [The Book of Revelation] into three divisions, “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.”

    The first division is contained in Revelation 1; “the things which thou hast seen.”  

    The second division is contained in Revelation 2 - 3; “the things which are.”  At the time John received these revelations from God, the dispensation of Law was past and God’s people [including John] were living in the dispensation of Grace [the church age].  We are still living in it today.  The events of this present dispensation comprise “the things which are.” 

    The third and final division is contained in Revelation 4 – 22; “the things which shall be hereafter.”  In the Greek text this is literally “the things which shall be after these [present] things.” 

    These are the three divisions that the Lord Himself gave.  Who are these so-called “scholars,” these “great” men of God, who are so wise and knowledgeable that they can tell the Lord that He made a mistake? 

    The truth is that the third division was not even to begin to be concluded until the sounding of “the seventh angel,” Revelation 10:7.  John knew the visions given were not yet completed.  The “seventh angel” does not even begin to sound until after the account of the “two witnesses” is given, Revelation 11:15.  Those who teach this theory either make John out to be a simpleton, or they imply that the Book of Revelation was completed in chapter 10 and then the Lord decided to add “a fourth division” to the book.  The very idea of adding a fourth division totally violates the divisions that the Lord Himself set in place in 1:19.  The whole fallacy of this silly theory can be seen with just a little careful Bible study.  Instead of trying to explain away the plain statement made in 10:11, wouldn’t it be easier to just take the Lord at His Word and believe what He said?  He said that John “…..must prophesy [preach] again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.”  The Lord said it and that settles it, whether some choose to believe it or not.  Period!

    But now let’s nail down this truth….. 

Rise and Measure  

    Immediately after telling John that he “must prophesy again,” John was given “a reed like unto a rod” and the very same angel then told him,  

    “Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.  And I will give power unto My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth,” Revelation 11:1-3.  

    The context in chapters 10 – 11 are one unbroken context through 11:14.  These two portions of God’s Word were meant to be studied together.  Keep in mind that the scene that begins in chapter 10 continues right on into chapter 11.  We previously noted that John was on the island of Patmos when he received the Revelation.  But the Jewish Temple was not located on the island of Patmos.  Hello!  Are we awake yet?

    The truth is, there was no Jewish Temple in existence when John received the Revelation in 96 A.D.  The Temple had been destroyed 26 years previously in 70 A.D.  Since there was no Temple in existence, it is obvious that John was instructed to “Rise, and measure….” the future Tribulation Temple that will again be located in the city of Jerusalem.  This places John in Jerusalem during the coming Tribulation, and directly connects him to the Jewish Temple.  But how literally are we to take this?  Let’s see…..

    John is told to Rise, and measure…”  The word translated as risecomes from the Greek word, “egeiro.”  This Greek word occurs 140 times in the New Testament.  It literally means “to awaken; to raise; to lift up; to be raised or lifted up.”  See Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, page 165, Strong’s No. 1453.  Out of the 140 times the word occurs in the New Testament, it is used directly or indirectly 90 times in reference to rising from the dead.  Glory!  Folks, what John was being told in Revelation 11:1 was to wake up from the dead and “measure” [lay out the architectural design] of the Temple.  Glory!  Hallelujah!  Praise the Lord!  Get a concordance or a Greek Lexicon and check these things out for yourself.  John was not dead when he received the vision of the Revelation on the island of Patmos.  But here in Revelation 11:1 he is told to rise from the dead

    This makes it obvious that John would die, and did die, at some point after he received the Revelation in 96 A.D.  But his future resurrection and restoration to life was  prophesied in Revelation 11 even as he was receiving the Revelation vision. Amazing!   What a Mighty God we serve!   

The Scenario 

    The passages we have studied clearly reveal that John will be the second “witness.”  Although all the intimate details cannot yet be known, the general scenario regarding John [and Elijah] is as follows:

    At the time of the resurrection/rapture John will be raised from the dead right along with all those who have “died in Christ” during this present dispensation.  But John will not be caught up [raptured] to meet the Lord in the air along with the other children of God, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.  Rather, John will “tarry” [remain behind] to fill his role as the second “witness.”  He will continue to “tarry” until the Lord [the Mighty Angel] claims the earth as His possession at the middle of the Tribulation, Revelation 10:1-7.  This will literally fulfill the statement made by the Lord in John 21:22.  Restored to physical life in his flesh and blood body, John will minister as the second “witness” during the first half of the Tribulation. 

    Elijah and John, God’s “two witnesses,” will direct and supervise the rebuilding of the  Temple in Jerusalem, Matthew 17:11; Revelation 11:1-2.  In the latter passage John is given “a reed like unto a rod” and told to “measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.” 

    The Greek word translated as “reed” is the word “kalamos.”  This Greek word occurs 12 times in the New Testament.  The word literally means “a reed such as grows along the river’s bank,” but the word is often used symbolically to signify “a ruler’s emblem or rod of authority.”  Remember that the Roman soldiers placed such a “reed” into the hands of Jesus as they mocked Him preceding His crucifixion, Matthew 27:29-30; Mark 15:19. 

     The Greek word translated as “rod” is the word “rhabdos.”  This word also occurs only 12 times in the New Testament.  It is twice translated as “sceptre,” six times as “rod,” and four times as “staff.”  The word also literally means “a rod or sceptre of authority.” 

    The Greek word translated as “measure” is the word “metreo.”  This word occurs only 10 times in the New Testament.  It is translated by the words “measure” and “mete.”  It literally means “to measure or mete out; particularly in laying down God’s standards and principles of  righteous judgment.”  Whoa!  Does that tell you anything? 

    When we consider the meaning of these three words that were used by the “Mighty Angel” as He instructed John, it is obvious that John will be given a “rod” [a sceptre of God’s authority] for the purpose of restoring the ancient Temple worship of the Jews, and calling the Jewish remnant to repentance before God.  Thus we see that John’s ministry coincides perfectly with the ministry of Elijah.

    The ancient Temple worship of Israel was governed by the Law that God gave Moses to give to Israel.   The stated purpose of the Law, as given in the New Testament,  was to make lost people aware of their sinful condition, and of their own personal need of the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.  See Romans 7:7-13, Galatians 3:19, and 3:24.  The Jews nationally rejected the Lord Jesus Christ and were temporarily set aside, allowing God’s grace to be  preached to the Gentiles.  However, the purpose of the Law has never changed.  The Law is filled with types and shadows, all of which point to Christ as the fulfillment of the Law, 1 Corinthians 10:1-11; Colossians 2:16-17. 

    God is then going to send “Elijah the prophet,” the greatest prophet of the Law dispensation, and John the Revelator, the greatest prophet of  the Grace dispensation, back to the Jewish people.  These “two witnesses” will work together, directing and supervising the rebuilding of the Temple, and restoring the ancient Temple worship of the Jews.  When the sacrifices and offerings begin to be offered again on the Temple altar, Elijah and John will be there to point out and expound upon the spiritual pictures of the Lord Jesus Christ in those sacrifices and offerings…..and no religious [or secular] bigot, neither Jew or Gentile will be able to stop them.  The Lord Jesus Christ, the rejected and crucified “Messiah of Israel” will be proclaimed to all humanity.  Glory!    

    What a ministry they will have!  The power of the God of Israel will rest upon them, indwell them, guide them, and protect them, Revelation 11:5.  They will once again do “signs and wonders” to demonstrate that their authority comes from the very throne of Almighty God, Hebrews 2:3-4; Revelation 11:6.  Under their powerful preaching 144,000 Jews will believe their message and receive Christ right at the beginning of the Tribulation, Revelation 7:1-8; 14:1-5.  Millions of Gentiles will then also be saved under their ministry and the ministry of the 144,000, Revelation 7:9-14.  And at the conclusion of their ministry, even in death they will glorify Almighty God, Revelation 11:7-12.   

A Final Word 

    Dear readers, the return of Christ to resurrect and rapture His people [those truly saved] to glory is “the blessed hope” of the believer, Titus 2:13.  So many world events of prophetic significance are taking place today, it should be obvious that our Lord’s return is right at hand.  The Lord Jesus Christ, our beloved Savior, is coming very soon to rescue and rapture His Bride and her entourage to glory.  Are you ready?  Really ready?     

    “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” John 3:16. 

    “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the Master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:

    Lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping.

    And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch,” Mark 13:35-37. 


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                                                                                                        December 5, 2006 

    The above study was written in 1970.  Thirty-six years later, this study is more timely than it has ever been.  I have just completed editing the study, due to having received  many requests for it recently from people all over the world.  I want to assure our readers that my editing was limited to punctuation and grammer.  No point made in the original study nor any doctrinal truth has been changed. In these past thirty-six years I have had no reason to change anything that was in the original study.  I stood by these truths when I originally wrote them thirty-six years ago, and I still stand by them today. 

    The only thing that has changed is the times in which we live.  Dear readers, time is running out!  The coming of our Lord is at the door.  I am no longer talking about years, or even months.  I am speaking of weeks, and perhaps even days, until God’s people [those truly saved] meet our wonderful Lord and Savior face to face.  Are we ready for that meeting?  Really ready? 

    I personally expect Elijah and John to show up in the streets of Jerusalem within weeks of this writing, preaching Jesus to the Jewish people again.  Praise the Lord!  But I won’t be here to see them.  I’ll be in glory with my wonderful Savior.  And my earnest prayer and heart’s desire for every reader is that through the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ you will be in glory with me.  Listen again to these wonderful words of hope for all true believers.   

    “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 

    For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.

    For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep.

    For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

    Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

    Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

                                                                                        1 Thessalonians 4:13-18


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    NOTE:    Any reader who desires to receive a list of all of our Bible Studies currently in print can request the same by writing….. 

                                                          Pastor F. M. Riley

Last Call Gospel Ministry

3900 Clark Lane #178

Columbia, MO 65202 

Email     fmrglbd5@aol.com


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