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There was given me a reed like unto a rod. There are several points that must be noticed: 1. Who measures? 2. The measure used. 3. What is measured? (1) A reed is given to John to be used as a measure. It is not an angel who measures, but an apostle, the sole representative of the apostles then living. The apostle is a representative of the apostolic body. It is the apostles who are to measure. (2) The measure is not a human one. John did not make it, nor did any other apostle, nor any man, or body of men. The reed was given to him. It is a divine measure. Whatever is measured is to be compared with a divine standard. There is a divine standard for measurement which was given by our Lord to the apostles. This is the New Testament of Jesus Christ. (3) Measure the temple of God. This cannot mean the literal temple. It was not in the part of the world where John was, if it had been standing; nor was it then standing. What is meant is that of which the temple was a symbol; viz., the Church. See notes on 1Co 3:16.
And the altar. In the Jewish temple the altar was the place where the worship centered. Without the altar worship was impossible, and the altar is taken as a symbol of the worship. The sacrifices of the altar were all typical of Christ's atonement. Hence, the measurement has a relation to the death of Christ.
And them that worship therein. The measure shall be applied to those who profess to be Christians. It will be seen whether they come up to the standard.
And the court which is without the temple. This was the outer court, the court of the Gentiles, the type of the world. This measurement does not relate to the world so much as to the Church.
It is given unto the Gentiles. Not only it, but the Holy City. By the Holy City Jerusalem is meant when the term is named literally, but Jerusalem is used often by both Paul and John as a symbol of the Church. See Gal 4:26; Heb 12:22; Isa 2:2; Isa 52:1; Rev 21:2. Hence, the prediction is to be fulfilled by a prostration or desecration of the Church by worldly influences.
Forty and two months. This period is given several times in prophecy in varied forms. These will all be considered at once below. Here it will suffice to say that this is a period of 1260 days, and a day being a symbol of a year, the period meant is 1260 years.
I will give unto my two witnesses. These two witnesses are witnesses for the Lord. They shall bear witness for 1260 days, the forty-two months the Holy City is trodden down. During this time they shall prophesy in sackcloth, a symbol of sorrow and mourning. It implies that these witnesses shall be in tribulation during the period named.
These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks. The olive tree was the source of the oil used to provide for the candlesticks. The candlesticks, burning the oil, gave forth light. The symbols imply that during this period of 1260 days God shall have two agencies, bearing divine witness, which shall give forth light to men. These agencies shall be filled and sustained by the Spirit.
Fire proceedeth out of their mouth. Whatever is signified by these two witnesses, they have the power to destroy. In seeking for the two witnesses we must find agencies which can save life and can destroy it, can shut the heavens and open them, can prevent blessings from descending upon the earth, can inflict curses and plagues on the inhabitants of the earth. The witnesses have supernatural powers.
When they shall have finished their testimony. The thought is, "When they shall have made their testimony complete."
The beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit. The coming up of the beast out of the abyss is named here, in Rev 13:1, and in Rev 17:3. The powers that come from the abyss are satanic. Compare Rev 9:2 with Rev 9:11. The beast, therefore, represents some devilish power or influence. The word rendered "beast" here, in Rev 13:1, and in Rev 17:3, denotes a savage wild beast of prey. The beast from the abyss should be distinguished from "the beast coming up out of the sea" (Rev 13:1), and from "the beast coming up out of the earth" (Rev 13:11). They are all malign powers, but the power of evil manifested in different forms.
Shall . . . kill them. Whatever the beast represents, that power shall assail the witnesses, and shall slay them for a time.
And their dead bodies shall lie in the street. They shall not be buried, but remain in plain sight. I believe that this is what is signified. Though the witnesses were slain, their enemies could not get them out of sight. They could not bury them.
Of the great city. This term is used eight times in Revelation. It is never used of Jerusalem. It is in contrast with the Holy City. As the Holy City is a symbol of the church, a wicked City would symbolize a false religion, or apostate church.
Spiritually is called Sodom, and Egypt. Symbolically so called. Sodom, with its sins, was a type of this city; Egypt, the house of bondage, is also a type. It is a sinful organization which has enslaved the true Israel.
Where also our Lord was crucified. Many commentators have insisted that this refers to literal Jerusalem, but we must remember that the place is one in which our Lord was spiritually crucified. This is done by apostasy. See Heb 6:6. That the reference is to spiritual declension is plain.
Look upon their dead bodies three days and an half. During a period of three and a half days their bodies shall be seen in the street of the city slain, and all shall see them. They shall be conspicuous. This would seem to point to a period of three and one-half years.
They that dwell on the earth. This expression, often used in Revelation, always refers to enemies of Christ. These rejoice because the witnesses are slain. They make merry over their death, because these two prophets tormented them. These witnesses, then, prophesied; that is, they spoke the will of God. Their warnings, exhortations, and denunciations of sin tormented the dwellers of the earth.
After three days and n half. After lying in a state called dead three and a half years, they come to life again. God gave them life. The effect of their appearance was to fill the people of the wicked city with fear.
They heard a great voice from heaven. That voice called on the witnesses to come up thither. To be exalted to heaven, symbolically, always means to give power, prosperity and glory. This means that the witnesses now receive power and influence over men. Their exaltation implies that their prophesying is to be accepted as authority over men.
In that hour there was a great earthquake. The symbol of commotion, and of political or religious changes. The earthquake is caused by the exaltation of the two witnesses. The result is that the wicked city is shaken, and a part of it falls.
A tenth part. A large part.
Seven thousand persons. Various explanations have been given for these numbers. In my judgment seven is used because it is the perfect number. Seven thousands would imply totality. The meaning is, therefore, a total overthrow.
And the remnant. So complete was the overthrow from the earthquake, that the rest were filled with fear and glorified God. The whole implies that when the witnesses were lifted up, a commotion shook the false religion or apostate church, and that it was destroyed by the commotion. A part of its inhabitants were slain (perhaps spiritually), and the rest repented.
And the seventh angel sounded. This is the seventh trumpet of the seventh seal. It should bring the end, the final victory, the grand consummation. That is what the apostle now beholds in the vision.
The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ. Here is the final triumph. It is the brightness of Zion's glad morning, the long deferred day of victory, the ushering in of the conquering reign of Christ. The Agency by which this conquest is effected is the exaltation of the witnesses, or the diffusion of the Word of God. This exaltation causes the earthquake, the fall of a part of the Great City, the destruction of a part of its inhabitants, and the repentance of the remnant. These events are followed by the seventh trumpet and the proclamation of the universal reign of Christ. Then the heavenly inhabitants join in pæans of victory and songs of praise and thanksgiving.
The four and twenty elders, which sat before God. These heavenly princes, in some way identified with the work of redemption, join in worship and praises. "The mystery of God has been finished in the days of the voice of the seventh angel" (Rev 10:7). The eighteenth verse will sufficiently explain why this also should be called a woe trumpet. It is the trumpet of judgment.
I believe this verse ought to belong to chapter 12, and will there consider it. If it is connected in meaning with Revelation 11:18 it signifies that heaven is opened at the close of the seventh trumpet, and that from thence come judgments as well as blessings.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on Revelation 11". "People's New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30