Wednesday in the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Revelation 11:3-6

The Two Witnesses

We continue with the hardest chapter in the Book of Revelation, and these next verses are even more difficult than the last.  Although it is common for many to take Revelation literally and refer much of it to a future date, I’m sure that it has occurred to some already that I do not hold to such a view.  Granted, much of it does involve the future as that concerns our Lord’s return, but I believe that its message is timeless as it concerns God’s Church throughout history and all over the world.  My intention is to interpret the Book christologically (concerning Christ) and ecclesiologically (concerning Christ’s Church), and truly do feel that such is the message of the Book.

I contend that the “two witnesses” represent the Church as they are the “two lampstands.”  We learned from 1:20 that the seven lampstands represented the seven churches.  That only two lampstands are mentioned here refers to the Law that there be at least two witnesses to confirm testimony.  As for these witnesses also being the “two olive trees,” the reference comes from Zechariah 4:11-13 in which the two olive trees “are the anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”  Scholars offer different interpretations and even persons whom these olive trees might be.  I will focus on the fact that from the olive trees come the oil for the lampstands—which oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit who empowers the two witnesses, that is, the Church.  After all, the key verse in that chapter is: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).  I have already spoken of the 1,260 days representing that time allotted to the Church from Pentecost until our Lord’s return.  Thus, the import of the passage is that Christ’s Church “stands before the Lord of all the earth” testifying to the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit to an unbelieving world.

As for the miraculous power of the “two witnesses”—fire pouring forth from their mouths, shutting off rain, turning water to blood, and striking the earth with plague—I again interpret as symbolic references to the power of the gospel proclaimed by the Church.  One will notice that these were miracles performed by Elijah and Moses, and I will not gainsay that such miracles might be performed again just before our Lord’s return.  But in the meantime, let us not denigrate the power of the gospel to work the far greater miracle of changing hearts and minds and even bringing whole nations into the Kingdom, nor God’s ability to protect His Church against which the gates of hell cannot prevail (Matthew 16:18).

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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