Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

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."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Day;   Vision;   Witness;   Scofield Reference Index - World-System;   Thompson Chain Reference - Dead, the;   Joy-Sorrow;   Mourning;   Sackcloth;   The Topic Concordance - War/weapons;   Witness;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Olive-Tree, the;   Prophecy;   Prophets;   Sackcloth;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Antichrist;   Day;   Time;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Lamp;   Olive;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Elijah;   Restore, Renew;   Zechariah, Theology of;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Order;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Gentiles;   Israel;   Jerusalem;   Judah, Kingdom of;   Number;   Olive;   Witnesses;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Revelation, the Book of;   Tribulation;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Beast;   Revelation, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Apocalypse;   Camel, Camel's Hair;   Clothes;   Day and Night;   Enoch ;   Eschatology;   Numbers;   Power Powers;   Sackcloth ;   Serpent ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Judgement;   Numbers as Symbols;   Olive, Olive Tree;   Seventy Weeks of Daniel;   Year;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Sackcloth;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Day;   Smith Bible Dictionary - E'noch;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Sackcloth;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Prophets;   Year;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Astronomy;   Revelation of John:;   Thessalonians, the Second Epistle of Paul to the;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Apocalypse;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

My two witnesses - This is extremely obscure; the conjectures of interpreters are as unsatisfactory as they are endless on this point. Conjecturas conjecturis superstruunt, parum verosimiles, says Rosenmuller: quorum sententias enarrare, meum non est. I say the same. Those who wish to be amused or bewildered, may have recourse both to ancients and moderns on this subject.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-11.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And I will give power unto my two witnesses - In respect to this important passage Revelation 11:3-13 I propose to pursue the same method which I have pursued all along in this exposition: first, to examine the meaning of the words and phrases in the symbol, with a purpose to ascertain the fair signification of the symbols; and, secondly, to inquire into the application - that is, to inquire whether any events have occurred which, in respect to their character and to the time of their occurrence, can be shown to be a fair fulfillment of the language.

And I will give power - The word “power” is not in the original. The Greek is simply, “I will give” - that is, I will grant to my two witnesses the right or the power of prophesying during the time specified - correctly expressed in the margin, “give unto my two witnesses that they may prophesy.” The meaning is not that he would send two witnesses to prophesy, but rather that these were in fact such “witnesses,” and that he would during that time permit them to exercise their prophetic gifts, or give them the privilege and the strength to enunciate the truth which they were commissioned to communicate as his “witnesses” to mankind. Some word, then, like “power, privilege, opportunity, or boldness,” it is necessary to supply in order to complete the sense.

Unto my two witnesses - The word “two” evidently denotes that the number would be small; and yet it is not necessary to confine it literally to two persons, or to two societies or communities. Perhaps the meaning is, that as, under the law, two witnesses were required, and were enough, to establish any fact (notes on John 8:17), such a number would during those times be preserved from apostasy as would be sufficient to keep up the evidence of truth; to testify against the prevailing abominations, errors, and corruptions; to show what was the real church, and to bear a faithful witness against the wickedness of the world. The law of Moses required that there should be two witnesses on a trial, and this, under that law, was deemed a competent number. See Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 18:16; John 5:30-33. The essential meaning of this passage then is, that there would be “a competent number” of witnesses in the case; that is, as many as would be regarded as sufficent to establish the points concerning which they would testify, with perhaps the additional idea that the number would be small.

There is no reason for limiting it strictly to two persons, or for supposing that they would appear in pairs, two and two; nor is it necessary to suppose that it refers particularly to two people or nations. The word rendered “witnesses” - μάρτυρί marturi- is that from which we have derived the word “martyr.” It means properly one who bears testimony, either in a judicial sense Matthew 18:16; Matthew 26:65, or one who can in any way testify to the truth of what he has seen and known, Luke 24:48; Romans 1:9; Philemon 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:10; 1 Timothy 6:12. Then it came to be employed in the sense in which the word “martyr” is now - to denote one who, amidst great sufferings or by his death, bears witness to the truth; that is, one who is so confident of the truth, and so upright, that he will rather lay down his life than deny the truth of what he has seen and known, Acts 22:20; Revelation 2:13. In a similar sense it comes to denote one who is so thoroughly convinced on a subject that it is not susceptible of being seen and heard, or who is so attached to one that he is willing to lay down his life as the evidence of his conviction and attachment. The word, as used here, refers to those who, during this period of “forty and two months,” would thus be witnesses for Christ in the world; that is, who would bear their testimony to the truth of his religion, to the doctrines which he had revealed, and to what was required of man - who would do this amidst surrounding error and corruption, and when exposed to persecutions and trials on account of their belief. It is not uncommon in the Scriptures to represent the righteous as witnesses for God. See the notes on Isaiah 43:10, Isaiah 43:12; Isaiah 44:8.

And they shall prophesy - The word “prophesy” does not necessarily mean that they would predict future events; but the sense is, that they would give utterance to the truth as God had revealed it. See the notes on Revelation 10:11. The sense here is, that they would in some public manner hold up or maintain the truth before the world.

A thousand two hundred and threescore days - The same period as the forty and two months Revelation 11:2, though expressed in a different form. Reckoning a day for a year, this period would be twelve hundred and sixty years, or the same as the “time and times and the dividing of time” in Daniel 7:25. See the notes on that place; also Editor‘s Preface. The meaning of this would be, therefore, that during that long period, in which it is said that “the holy city would be trodden under foot,” there would be those who might be properly called “witnesses” for God, and who would be engaged in holding up his truth before the world; that is, there would be no part of that period in which there would not be found some to whom this appellation could with propriety be given. Though the “holy city” - the church - would seem, to be wholly trodden down, yet there would be a few at least who would assert the great doctrines of true godliness.

Clothed in sackcloth - Sackcloth - σάκκους sakkous- was properly a coarse black cloth commonly made of hair, used for sacks, for straining, and for mourning garments. See the Revelation 6:12 note; Isaiah 3:24 note; and Matthew 11:21 note. Here it is an emblem of mourning; and the idea is, that they would prophesy in the midst of grief. This would indicate that the time would be one of calamity, or that, in doing this, there would be occasion for their appearing in the emblems of grief, rather than in robes expressive of joy. The most natural interpretation of this is, that there would be but few who could be regarded as true witnesses for God in the world, and that they would be exposed to persecution.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-11.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

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

My two witnesses ... The identity of these two witnesses appears to this writer to be definitely and undeniably, God's word, and God's church, those two witnesses indeed being the only two witnesses of God throughout the whole Christian age, since the ascension of Jesus Christ our Lord. One of these was featured in the preceding chapter under the imagery of the "little book open" in the hand of the Rainbow Angel; and the introduction of the two witnesses here without any preliminary suggests that they have both already appeared. Indeed, John, after eating the little book is the symbol of both the Word and the Church. Many other "explanations" of these two witnesses are fanciful but unconvincing.

Many scholars have recognized the positive connection between these two witnesses and "the people of Christ,"[26] "the church bearing testimony through its ministers, etc.,"[27] "the elect church of God,"[28] etc.; but such identifications fall short of explaining how there are "two" of these witnesses. In order to come up with two, such pairs as the following have been proposed:

The Old and the New Testaments[29]

Moses and Elijah.[30]

Elijah and Elisha.[31]

Elijah and Enoch[32]

Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians.[33]

The blameless churches, Smyrna and Philadelphia.[34]

Missionaries sent out "two by two."[35]

Preach the gospel to Jews and Gentiles[36]

The apostles Paul and Peter.

Zerubbabel and Joshua.[37]SIZE>

The extreme importance of identifying these two witnesses as God's Word and God's Church, here personified, will be apparent later in this chapter.

They shall prophesy, clothed in sackcloth ... This symbolizes the general rejection of these witnesses by the world and the apostate church. Their true testimony is given in mourning throughout the whole Christian dispensation. The true church is persecuted, and the Word is denied, contradicted, blasphemed, perverted, mistranslated, and opposed by every class of evil men continually.

And they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days ... Note the duration of the witnessing. It lasts throughout the entire period of the gospel from the First to the Second Advent of Christ. Particularly, let it be noted that neither Moses, Elijah, nor any other of the alleged "witnesses" tabulated above has either been seen or heard of during this whole time! But the Word and the Church have never ceased to bear their testimony.

[26] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 1081.

[27] William Hendriksen, op. cit., p. 155.

[28] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 289.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 147.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Vernard Eller, The Most Revealing Book in the Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974), p. 116.

[34] G. B. Caird, op. cit., p. 134.

[35] Frank L. Cox, op. cit., p. 74.

[36] Albertus Pieters, op. cit., p. 148.

[37] James D. Strauss, The Seer, the Saviour, and the Saved (Joplin, Missouri: College Press, 1972), p. 154.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/revelation-11.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And I will give power unto my two witnesses,.... By whom are meant, not Enoch and Elias, as some of the ancient fathers thought, who, they supposed, would come before the appearance of Christ, and oppose antichrist, and be slain by him, which sense the Papists greedily catch at; nor are the Scriptures, the two Testaments, Old and New, designed, though their name and number agree, and also their office, which is to testify of Christ; but then to be clothed in sackcloth, to be killed, and rise again, and ascend to heaven, are things that cannot so well be accommodated to them: but these witnesses intend the ministers of the Gospel and churches of Christ, who have bore testimony for Christ, and against antichrist, ever since he appeared in the world; and particularly the churches and ministers in Piedmont bid fair for this character; who were upon the spot when antichrist arose, always bore their protest against him, and were ever independent of the church of Rome, and subsisted in the midst of the darkness of the apostasy; and suffered much, and very great persecutions, from the Papists; and have stood their ground, and continue to this day; and have been like olive trees and candlesticks, imparting oil and light to others. Though they ought not to be considered exclusive of other ministers and churches, who also have bore, and still do bear a witness for Christ, and against the idolatries of the church of Rome: no two individual persons can be meant, since these witnesses were to prophesy 1260 days, that is, so many years, but a succession of ministers and churches; and these are called two, both on account of the fewness of them, and because the testimony of two is sufficient to confirm any matter; and it may be in allusion to the various instances of two eminent persons being raised up at certain periods of time, as Moses and Aaron, at the deliverance of the children of Israel out of Egypt; Caleb and Joshua, at their entrance into Canaan; Elijah and Elisha in the idolatrous times of Ahab; and Joshua and Zerubbabel at the rebuilding and finishing of the second temple. Now the Angel, and who is Christ, here promises that he will give something to these witnesses: some supply the words, "I will give it"; that is, the holy city, or the church, to them, to be taken care of and defended; others, "I will give" them a mouth and wisdom, which their adversaries shall not be able to resist, according to the promise in Luke 21:15. We supply the words, "I will give power"; that is, authority to preach the Gospel, and strength to profess it, and to continue to bear a testimony to it, signified by prophesying; see 1 Corinthians 14:1.

And they shall prophesy; that is, "that they may prophesy"; which is supported by the Arabic and Ethiopic versions, the former rendering the words, "I will give to my two witnesses to prophesy", and the latter, "I will give in command to my two witnesses that they may prophesy"; the sense is, that Christ will give to them a mission and commission, sufficient authority, all needful gifts and grace, courage and presence of mind to preach his Gospel, to hold forth his word, and bear a testimony for him during the whole time of the apostasy, even

a thousand two hundred and threescore days; that is, so many years, which, as before observed, is the date of the beast's reign, of the holy city being trodden under foot of the Gentiles, and of the church's retirement into the wilderness: it is observable, that the date of the beast's reign and tyranny is expressed by months, and the date of the church's being in the wilderness, and the prophesying of the witnesses, is signified by days; and the reason which some give is not despicable, as that the beast and his followers are the children of darkness and of the night, over which the moon presides, from whence months are, numbered; and the church and the witnesses are children of the day, over which the sun rules. The habit of these witnesses during their time of prophesying follows,

clothed in sackcloth; expressive either of their outward state and condition, being poor, mean, and abject, while the followers of the beast are clad in silks, and live deliciously; or else of the inward frame of their minds, as mourning for the sad estate of the church of Christ, groaning under the tyranny and persecutions of antichrist.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-11.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And 6 I will give [power] unto my two witnesses, and they shall 7 prophesy a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

(6) I would rather translate it "illud" than "illam" the temple than the city: for God says, I will give that temple, and commit it to my two witnesses, that is, to the ministers of the word, who are few indeed, weak and contemptible: but yet two, that is, of such a number as one of them may help another, and one confirm the testimony of another to all men, that from the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be made good among men; (2 Corinthians 13:1). {(7)} They will exercise their office enjoined by me by the space of those 1260 years, in the midst of afflictions though never so lamentable, which is figuratively shown by the mourning garment.
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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/revelation-11.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

I will give power - There is no “power” in the Greek, so that “give” must mean “give commission,” or some such word.

my two witnessesGreek,the two witnesses of me.” The article implies that the two were well known at least to John.

prophesy — preach under the inspiration of the Spirit, denouncing judgments against the apostate. They are described by symbol as “the two olive trees” and “the two candlesticks,” or lamp-stands, “standing before the God of the earth.” The reference is to Zechariah 4:3, Zechariah 4:12, where two individuals are meant, Joshua and Zerubbabel, who ministered to the Jewish Church, just as the two olive trees emptied the oil out of themselves into the bowl of the candlestick. So in the final apostasy God will raise up two inspired witnesses to minister encouragement to the afflicted, though sealed, remnant. As two candlesticks are mentioned in Revelation 11:4, but only one in Zechariah 4:2, I think the twofold Church, Jewish and Gentile, may be meant by the two candlesticks represented by the two witnesses: just as in Revelation 7:1-8 there are described first the sealed of Israel, then those of all nations. But see on Revelation 11:4. The actions of the two witnesses are just those of Moses when witnessing for God against Pharaoh (the type of Antichrist, the last and greatest foe of Israel), turning the waters into blood, and smiting with plagues; and of Elijah (the witness for God in an almost universal apostasy of Israel, a remnant of seven thousand, however, being left, as the 144,000 sealed, Revelation 7:1-8) causing fire by his word to devour the enemy, and shutting heaven, so that it rained not for three years and six months, the very time (1260 days) during which the two witnesses prophesy. Moreover, the words “witness” and “prophesy” are usually applied to individuals, not to abstractions (compare Psalm 52:8). De Burgh thinks Elijah and Moses will again appear, as Malachi 4:5, Malachi 4:6 seems to imply (compare Matthew 17:11; Acts 3:21). Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ at the Transfiguration, which foreshadowed His coming millennial kingdom. As to Moses, compare Deuteronomy 34:5, Deuteronomy 34:6; Judges 1:9. Elias‘ genius and mode of procedure bears the same relation to the “second” coming of Christ, that John the Baptist‘s did to the first coming [Bengel]. Many of the early Church thought the two witnesses to be Enoch and Elijah. This would avoid the difficulty of the dying a second time, for these have never yet died; but, perhaps, shall be the witnesses slain. Still, the turning the water to blood, and the plagues (Revelation 11:6), apply best to “Moses (compare Revelation 15:3, the song of Moses”). The transfiguration glory of Moses and Elias was not their permanent resurrection-state, which shall not be till Christ shall come to glorify His saints, for He has precedence before all in rising. An objection to this interpretation is that those blessed departed servants of God would have to submit to death (Revelation 11:7, Revelation 11:8), and this in Moses‘ case a second time, which Hebrews 9:27 denies. See on Zechariah 4:11, Zechariah 4:12, on the two witnesses as answering to “the two olive trees.” The two olive trees are channels of the oil feeding the Church, and symbols of peace. The Holy Spirit is the oil in them. Christ‘s witnesses, in remarkable times of the Church‘s history, have generally appeared in pairs: as Moses and Aaron, the inspired civil and religious authorities; Caleb and Joshua; Ezekiel the priest and Daniel the prophet; Zerubbabel and Joshua.

in sackcloth — the garment of prophets, especially when calling people to mortification of their sins, and to repentance. Their very exterior aspect accorded with their teachings: so Elijah, and John who came in His spirit and power. The sackcloth of the witnesses is a catch word linking this episode under the sixth trumpet, with the sun black as sackcloth (in righteous retribution on the apostates who rejected God‘s witnesses) under the sixth seal (Revelation 6:12).

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/revelation-11.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

I will give (δωσωdōsō). Future active of διδωμιdidōmi The speaker may be God (Beckwith) or Christ (Swete) as in Revelation 2:13; Revelation 21:6 or his angel representative (Revelation 22:7, Revelation 22:12.). The idiom that follows is Hebraic instead of either the infinitive after διδωμιdidōmi as in Revelation 2:7; Revelation 3:21; Revelation 6:4; Revelation 7:2; Revelation 13:7, Revelation 13:15; Revelation 16:8 or ιναhina with the subjunctive (Revelation 9:5; Revelation 19:8) we have και προπητευσουσινkai prophēteusousin (and they shall prophesy).

Unto my two witnesses (τοις δυσιν μαρτυσιν μουtois dusin martusin mou). Dative case after δωσωdōsō The article seems to point to two well-known characters, like Elijah, Elisha, but there is no possible way to determine who they are. All sorts of identifications have been attempted.

Clothed (περιβλημενουςperiblēmenous). Perfect passive participle of περιβαλλωperiballō as often before (Revelation 7:9, Revelation 7:13; Revelation 10:1, etc.). But Aleph A P Q here read the accusative plural in ους̇ous while C has the nominative in οι̇oi Charles suggests a mere slip for the nominative, but Hort suggests a primitive error in early MSS. for the dative περιβεβλεμενοιςperibeblemenois agreeing with μαρτυσινmartusin sackcloth (σακκουςsakkous). Accusative retained with this passive verb as in Revelation 7:9, Revelation 7:13. See Revelation 6:12 for σακκοςsakkos and also Matthew 3:4. The dress suited the message (Matthew 11:21).

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/revelation-11.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Power

Omit.

Two witnesses

The reader may profitably consult on this point the lectures of Professor Milligan on the Revelation of St. John. He maintains that the conception of the Apocalypse is powerfully molded by John's recollections of the life of Jesus; that there is a close parallelism between the Apocalypse and the delineation of the life of Christ contained in the fourth Gospel; and that the Apocalypse is, in the deeper conceptions which pervade it, a repetition of the Gospel. See pp. 59-69.

They shall prophesy ( προφητεύσουσιν )

See on prophet, Luke 7:26. Commonly explained of preaching repentance, though some take it in the later sense of foretelling future events.

Clothed in sackcloth

The garb of preachers of repentance. Compare Isaiah 22:12; Jeremiah 4:8; Jonah 3:5; Matthew 3:4. For sackcloth see on Luke 10:13.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/revelation-11.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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

And I — Christ.

Will give to my two witnesses — These seem to be two prophets; two select, eminent instruments. Some have supposed (though without foundation) that they are Moses and Elijah, whom they resemble in several respects.

To prophesy twelve hundred and sixty days — Common days, that is, an hundred and eighty weeks. So long will they prophesy, (even while that last and sharp treading of the holy city continues,) both by word and deed, witnessing that Jesus is the Son of God, the heir of all things, and exhorting all men to repent, and fear, and glorify God.

Clothed in sackcloth — The habit of the deepest mourners, out of sorrow and concern for the people.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/revelation-11.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Two. This number seems intended simply to represent plurality. The witnesses are the advocates and defenders of Christianity.--Prophesy; promulgate the gospel.--Clothed in sackcloth; exposed to sorrow and suffering.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/revelation-11.html. 1878.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 3. And I will give unto my two, &c.] sc. Power to purge the Church, and to stand for the truth, all the while it was trodden under foot. Videsis Catalogum Testium veritatis ab Illyrico editum. Zuinglius recordeth that Luther and he (both at one time, the one not knowing nor hearing of the other) began to write against the pope’s indulgences. And of Luther and Melancthon one writes thus,

"Divisae his operae, sed mens fuit unica; pavit

Ore Lutherus oves, flore Melanethon apes."

"This separate works, but the intent was the same, by the mouth Luther feeds the sheep, by the flowers Melanethon feeds the bees."

Unto my two witnesses] The whole succession of faithful preachers, under the tyranny and rage of Antichrist. These are said to be two, that is, few; or two, that is, enough, Deuteronomy 17:6; or two, in reference to those noble twos, Moses and Aaron, Elijah and Elisha, Zerubbabel and Joshua, in allusion to whom these witnesses are here described.

Clothed in sackcloth] As calling men to repentance; or as bewailing their blindness; or as lacking better clothing.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-11.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Revelation 11:3. I will give power unto my two witnesses, &c.— The sacred writer assures us that God would raise up some true and faithful witnesses, to preach and protest against the innovations mentioned in the preceding verse: and there were Protestants long before ever the name came into use. Of these witnesses there should be, though but a small, yet a competent number; and it was a sufficient reason for making them two witnesses, because that number is required by the law, Deuteronomy 19:15 and approved by the gospel, Matthew 18:16 and upon former occasions, two have often been joined in commission, as Moses and Aaron in Egypt; Elijah and Elisha in the apostacy of the ten tribes; and it is observable also, that the principal reformers have usually appeared in pairs; the Waldenses and Albigenses; John Huss and Jerome of Prague; Luther and Calvin; Cranmer and Ridley, and their followers: not that (I conceive) any two particular men, or two particular churches, were intended by this prophesy; but only that there should be some in every age who should bear witness to the truth. They should not be discouraged, even by persecution and oppression; but, though clothed with sack-cloth, and living in a mourning and afflicted state, should yet prophesy; should yet preach the sincere word of God, and denounce the divine judgments against the reigning idolatry and wickedness. And this they should continue to do, as long as the grand corruption itself lasted;—for a space of a thousand two hundred and threescore days. It is the same space of time with the forty and two months, Revelation 11:2. For forty and two months, consisting each of thirty days, are equal to a thousand two hundred and threescore days, or years in the prophetic style; and a thousand two hundred and threescore years, (as we have seen before in Daniel 12:11-12.) is the period assigned for the tyranny and idolatry of the church of Rome. A character is then given of those witnesses, and of the power and effect of their preaching; Revelation 11:4-6. These are the two olive-trees, &c. that is, "They, like Zerubbabel and Joshua, Zechariah 4 are the great instructors and enlighteners of the church." Fire proceeded out of their mouths, &c. (Revelation 11:5.) that is, "they are like unto Moses and Elijah, (Numbers 16. 2 Kings 1.) who called for fire upon the enemies of Jehovah." But their fire was real; this is symbolical, and proceeds out of the mouths of the witnesses, denouncing the divine vengeance on the corrupters and opposers of true religion; much in the same manner as it was said to Jeremiah, ch. Revelation 5:14. I will make my words in thy mouth fire, &c. It is added by St. John, These have power to shut heaven, &c. Revelation 11:6 that is, "They are like Elijah, who foretold a want of rain in the days of Ahab, 1 Kings 17:1. James 5:17 and it rained not by the space of three years and six months; which, mystically understood, is the same space of time as the forty and two months, Revelation 11:2 and the thousand two hundred and threescore days, Revelation 11:3 which were allotted for the prophesying of the witnesses." During this time the divine protection and blessing shall be withheld from those men who neglect and despise their preaching and doctrine. They have also power over the waters, &c. Revelation 11:6 that is, they are like Moses and Aaron, who inflicted plagues on Egypt; and they may be said to smite the earth with the plagues which they denounce; as, in scripture language, the prophets are often said to do those things, which they declare and foretel. But it is most highly probable, that these particulars will receive a more literal accomplishment, when the plagues of God, and the vials of his wrath, (ch. 16) shall be poured outupon men, in consequence of their having so long resisted the testimony of the witnesses.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/revelation-11.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Observe here, 1. That the church of God during Anti-christ's prevalency, shall not want witnesses or faithful teachers, though removed by persecution into corners.

Observe, 2. By mentioning two only, we may gather the paucity of faithful teachers, during the time of Anti-christ's prevalency; two are a number, but the least of numbers; we must not have our eye upon the multitude, or conclude that it is not truth which is not embraced and practised by the most; the train of Christ is not large, nor are his ways thronged as they ought, few comparatively there be that walk in them. As they, whom he calls forth to be eminently his witnesses, are not many, therefore called two; so they that received their witnesses are but few, for the world wonders after the beast.

Quest. But who and what are these witnesses?

Ans. The whole succession of faithful ministers, martyrs, and confessors, which Almighty God from time to time has raised up in his church to be the assertors and maintainers of divine truth, and to bear their testimony for Christ against all heresies, blasphemies, idolatries, and usurpations, in the time of Anti-christ's reign.

Observe, 3. The proper work of these witnesses declared, it is to instruct the people how to worshop God according to his word and will. The manner of their prophesying is said to be in sackcloth; that is, in much affliction and with great lamentation, bewailing the pollutions of the church, by the overspreadings of idolatry; and the time of their prophesying is said to be a thousand two hundred and threescore days; that is, during the time of Anti-christ's reign, so long the witnesses shall have a mournful time of it; during the whole reign of Anti-christ, God will have a true church, a true ministry, and faithful witnesses, whom, though Anti-christ will fight with, yet he shall never prevail against.

Observe, 4. How God is pleased to own and bear witness to these his witnesses.

1. He calls them his, my two witnesses.

2. He gives them power to prophecy; that is, they have their commission and authority from him, and they are enabled, assisted, and succeeded, by him, in the discharge of their testimony; their resolution and courage is from God, who calls them forth to bear their testimony for him.

Learn hence, That when God calls any of his to a martyr's fire, he does endue them with a martyr's faith; he furnishes his ministers and faithful servants with noble endowments, answerable to their great employments; God evermore gives much grace, where he tries grace much. As the command of God makes every duty necessary, so the assistance of God makes every duty easy, and the reward of God makes every duty and service gainful and advantageous.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/revelation-11.html. 1700-1703.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 11:3. κ. δώσω τοῖς δυσὶν μάρτυσίν μου. The object of δώσω follows here, not in the form of the infin.,(2820) but is described, according to the Hebrew way, in the succeeding clause, καὶ προφητ. Formally and materially incorrect are the additions to δώσω, “constancy and wisdom,”(2821) “the holy city,”(2822) which are expressly rejected already by Vitr. Unnecessarily, although in fact not unsuitably, De Wette supplies “direction and power.”

The art. τοῖς allows us to think only of two definite witnesses, otherwise known already, who, as the entire description until Revelation 11:12 establishes, are personal individuals, but not “allegories of potencies.”(2823) The witnesses are meant(2824) to be witnesses of Christ ( μάρτ. μου),(2825) which accordingly is understood in general of itself, because, as all true προφητεία proceeds from Christ,(2826) so also is it actually directed to Christ;(2827) but here it is especially applicable, because the witnesses come forth as preachers of repentance during an essentially Messianic visitation of judgment, and, besides, have to suffer from the same hostility as that by which the Lord himself is brought to the cross, Revelation 11:8. But from this it does not follow(2828) that Christ himself is to be regarded as speaking;(2829) but the heavenly voice(2830) speaks only in Christ’s name.

ἡμέρας χιλίας διακοσίας ἑξήκοντα. The specification of the forty-two months, Revelation 11:2, after the days, shows that daily, during this whole time, the prophetic speech of the two witnesses is heard.

περιβ-g0-. σάκκους-g0-. They are thus, above all things, preachers of repentance; for the penitential garb,(2831) which they themselves have adopted,(2832) puts before the eyes of the hearers what the prophetic testimony demands.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/revelation-11.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Revelation 11:3. δώσω, I will give) namely, that they may prophesy. [This is the language of the Lord Jesus respecting His highly distinguished servants.—V. g. καὶ here follows, with the same which ו has in Job 6:9, ויאל אלוה וידכאני: Genesis 47:6, ואם ידעת ויש.— τοῖς δυσὶ μάρτυσί μου, to My two witnesses) These are not Moses and Elias, but two illustrious men (as Nic. Selneccer acknowledges, besides other interpreters), at once resembling them, and resembling Joshua and Zerubbabel. But Elias the prophet is certainly to come before the coming of Christ to judgment, just as John the Baptist came before the coming of Christ in the flesh: Mal. 3:23 (Revelation 4:5). And the genius and mode of procedure of Elias the prophet bears the same relation to the last coming, which the genius and mode of procedure of John the Baptist bears to the former coming. Comp. Matthew 17:12, note.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/revelation-11.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

And I will give power unto my two witnesses: there hath been a great dispute amongst godly and learned men, who these two witnesses should be: some have thought them to be Enoch and Elijah, who, though long since glorified, they have thought (with no great probability, as I suppose any indifferent person will judge) shall come again, and be killed on the earth; yet this is the general notion of the popish writers. Others would have them the two sorts of gospel churches, one of which was made up of native Gentiles, the other of Jews proselyted to the Christian faith. Others have interpreted it of the Old Testament and the New: others, of some two eminent divines; and as to them there have been various guesses: others, of the ministers whom God employed upon the Reformation: others, of a Christian magistracy and ministry. For my own part, the name of witnesses is so often applied to the first ministers of the gospel, Acts 1:22 2:32 3:15 4:33 5:32 10:41 22:15 26:16 1 Peter 5:1; that I cannot but understand it of that faithful part of the ministry, who preach the gospel faithfully during the whole reign of antichrist. Neither do I think that the number two at all relates to their number, but to their witness bearing; two being the number which God ordained as sufficient to establish all civil things, Deuteronomy 17:6 Deuteronomy 19:15 Matthew 18:16 Hebrews 10:28; unless there be a regard had to those pairs, which all along the Old Testament bare testimony for God; Moses and Aaron, Caleb and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha; and after the captivity, Zerubbabel and Joshua, and the two olive trees, mentioned Zechariah 4:11,14, to which plainly this text hath relation, Revelation 11:4. To which some also add Abraham and Lot, Ezra and Nehemiah, Haggai and Zechariah, Paul and Barnabas, Peter and John; and note, that when Christ first sent out his apostles, Matthew 10:1-42, he sent them out two by two.

And they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth: we read before, that the holy city, that is, the true church, should be trodden under foot by the Gentiles forty and two months; we read here, that the witnesses should

prophesy in sackcloth a thousand two hundred and threescore days. It is apparent, that in the prophetical style a day signifies a year, Numbers 14:34, Forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years. So Ezekiel 4:6, I have appointed thee each day for a year. So Daniel 9:24, the seventy weeks must signify four hundred and ninety years, (for in seventy weeks there are four hundred and ninety days), or else the promise as to the coming of the Messiah failed. So the prophetical year contains three hundred and sixty years, and the prophetical month thirty years (for they did count thirty days to each month); so forty-two months are just one thousand two hundred and sixty days, that is, one thousand two hundred and sixty years. We shall find, Revelation 12:6, that the woman (that is, the church) was in the wilderness just this time, one thousand two hundred and sixty days; and in Revelation 13:5, this was also the time of the beast that rose up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns: by which it appeareth, that these four things ran all parallel at the same time; the beast arising, and exercising his power; the new Gentiles trampling upon the church, the holy city; the woman’s abiding in the wilderness; and the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth. If we could find out where any one of these began, we should find out the time of all the rest. Those who fix the rise of the beast in or about the year 400, must add to this 1260. Then in 1660 antichrist’s reign should have determined, and also the time of the church’s persecution, and the time when faithful ministers should prophesy in sackcloth: but if the rise of the beast were in the year 500, the expiration must be in 1760; if it be fixed in 600, all these things will determine in 1860; for the same number of days being assigned to all the four, it is manifest that all four began together, and shall end together, and that at the end of a thousand two hundred and sixty years after the beginning of them. For my own part, I look upon it as very hard to determine: but the difficulty lies in finding out the time when the beast first arose; for that being once found out, it is easy to conclude from Scripture, when both the popedom shall have an end, and the calamitous time for the church, especially the ministry of it, shall cease. That which God showeth John in this verse, is only, that his faithful ministers that should truly reveal his will, (which is here called prophesying), should have a mournful time for a thousand two hundred and threescore years.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/revelation-11.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

двум свидетелям Двум пророкам Бог дал силу и власть донести послание гнева и спасения во время второй половины годины искушения. Это перекликается с ветхозаветным требованием о необходимости двух или более свидетелей для подтверждения истинности свидетельства (ср. Втор. 17:6; 19:15; Мф. 18:16; Ин. 8:17; Евр. 10:28). Деятельность двух свидетелей-пророков станет кульминацией Божьего свидетельства Израилю: через проповеди пророками евангелия будет предсказан Божий гнев и Его милостивое предложение спасения всем, кто покается и поверит.

тысячу двести шестьдесят дней Сорок два месяца, или 3,5 года (ср. 12:6; 13:5; см. пояснение к ст.2).

вретище Одежда из грубой ткани, сделанной из козьей или верблюжьей шерсти. Ношение одежды из этой ткани означало покаяние, смирение и траур (ср. Быт. 37:34; 2Цар. 3:31; 4Цар. 6:30; 19:1; Есф. 4:1; Ис. 22:12; Иер. 6:26; Мф. 11:21). Божьи свидетели в скорби по причине ужасающей порочности мира и Божьего гнева из-за осквернения храма и святого города антихристом.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/revelation-11.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

My two witnesses; representing the few who continued faithful to God during this long period of general apostasy. Two witnesses are probably named, because two were required by the Mosaic law to constitute valid testimony. Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15.

A thousand two hundred and threescore days; 1260 days, the same as "forty and two months," verse Revelation 11:2, reckoning thirty days to a month.

Clothed in sackcloth; expressive of their afflicted and persecuted condition.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/revelation-11.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Foy E. Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation

The testimony of the two witnesses--11:3-14.

1. Power unto my two witnesses: The statement I will give in reference to my two witnesses reveals that the speaker here is Christ, the angel of verse 1, the only One who could assume such rank and authority. The assurance I will give power is based on a promise of the Lord to the apostles in Matthew 10:18-20, that when they should be arraigned "for testimony" they should "take no thought how or what" to speak; and as in Mark 13:11, "take no thought beforehand, neither do ye premeditate"; and as in Luke 12:12, "the Holy Spirit shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say." This is the power here given to the witnesses.

The two witnesses are representative of the prophets and apostles whose testimony was "this gospel of the kingdom" which should be "preached in all the world for a witness" before the end should come-- Matthew 24:14. The dual testimony is based on the requirement of the law in Deuteronomy 19:15 that "at the mouth of two witnesses shall the matter be established," and repeated by Jesus in John 8:17, "it is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true"; the allusion to which is made also in Hebrews 10:28, "he that despised Moses' law died . . . under two or three witnesses."

These are the witnesses of Matthew 23:31-37, of whom the Lord said: "Ye are the children of them which killed the prophets . . . behold I send unto you prophets . . . and some of them ye shall kill . . . crucify . . . scourge . . . and persecute . . . 0 Jerusalem . . . that killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent unto thee." They are representative of those mentioned further by Stephen in Acts 7:52, "which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?' By the prophets of the old dispensation and the apostles of the new covenant, the testimony, divine revelation, was completed and by "the two witnesses" thereby established.

2. Prophesy . . . clothed in sackcloth: The word sackcloth was of Hebrew origin and was interfused into every language as a symbol of ill-fortune. It was the suit of mourning in death, the garb of humility and penitence under judgment, and the clothing of suffering in calamities and persecutions-as so mentioned in Job 16:15; Psalms 30:11; Jeremiah 4:8; Isaiah 29:2; and Zechariah 13:4.

The speaker in this vision told John that his two witnesses should prophesy clothed in sackcloth, as a sign of great affliction and as a token of the extreme suffering that their testimony should cause to come upon them, portraying retrospectively the altar scenes of chapter 6:9-11, and prospectively all of the tribulations yet to be unfolded, of which the two witnesses were representatives.

3. A thousand two hundred three-score: The forty-two months equal twelve hundred sixty days, computed mathematically (42 x 30 ==1260), which is in the text declared to be "a thousand two hundred and three score days." The reader is requested to turn back to the comments on verse 2 and compare again the parallel between Isaiah 7:1-25 : l-9 and the forty-two months of Revelation for an example of exact mathematical application.

It designated the period of time for the Gentiles to tread Jerusalem, the holy city, under foot, which was accomplished and fulfilled in the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans. It is also the appointed time for the two witnesses "clothed in sackcloth" to prophesy, in the appropriate garb of the prophets during the time of these woes. That is what the angel told John these representative witnesses should do, and it agrees with what the Lord also said should be done in the parallel passages previously cited in Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10; Luke 21:12-15-24. It is evident that the period of the treading down of Jerusalem was the time of the testimony of the witnesses also.

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Wallace, Foy E. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "Foy E. Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/foy/revelation-11.html. 1966.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Who is speaking in this verse? The speaker seems to be the angel who spoke in Revelation 11:1-2, who here speaks for God (cf. Revelation 11:8).

God did not reveal the identity of the two witnesses. Many commentators believe they will be Moses and Elijah since these men were prophets and performed the kinds of miracles these witnesses will perform ( Revelation 11:6). [Note: E.g, Smith, A Revelation . . ., p169; Tenney, p191; and Barclay, The Revelation . . ., 2:87.] Others believe they will be Enoch and Elijah since God took these men to heaven without dying. [Note: E.g, Seiss, p244; and Thomas W. Mackay, "Early Christian Millenarianist Interpretation of the Two Witnesses in John"s Apoclaypse, 11:3-13," in By Study and Also by Faith, pp252-65, 310.] Another reason some believe one of these witnesses will be Elijah is Malachi 4:5, which predicts that Elijah will return before Messiah. [Note: E.g, Gundry, p94.] Other less literal interpreters think the two witnesses may represent not two individuals but the faithful witness of the church throughout its persecutions. [Note: E.g, Swete, p134; Mounce, p223; Beasley-Murray, p181; Morris, p147; Beale, p573. See Thomas, Revelation 8-22, pp87-89, for a good summary of the arguments pro and con for these three major views.] I agree with those who believe that they will be individuals living at this time rather than former prophets brought back to earth for this ministry (cf. Matthew 11:14). [Note: E.g, Walvoord, The Revelation ..., p179; Pentecost, Things to . . ., p308; Newell, pp150-51; Ladd, p154; Kelly, p226; Wilbur Smith, " Revelation," in The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p1510; Beckwith, p595; and Daniel K. K. Wong, "The Two Witnesses in Revelation 11," Bibliotheca Sacra154:615 (July-September1997):344-54.]

"Nor again can such allegorical interpretations as the Law and the Prophets, the Law and the Gospel, the Old Testament and the New, be maintained in view of all that follows." [Note: Swete, p134.]

They will "prophesy," namely, communicate messages from God. Their ministry will last1,260 days (i.e, 42months of30 days per month, or three and a half years; Daniel 12:11). The fact that John sometimes described the Great Tribulation in terms of days, at other times in months, or at still other times in years is probably just for the sake of literary variety. These various ways of describing the period also support the view that the time period will be three and one-half literal years since all three descriptions describe a period exactly that long by Jewish reckoning. This period also appears to be the Great Tribulation (i.e, the last half of Daniel"s seventieth week), the focus of John"s vision in this chapter. [Note: Ibid, p131; Walvoord, The Revelation . . ., p182.] Some interpreters, including the early church fathers Victorinus, Hippolytus, and Augustine, believed that the two witnesses would minister in the first half of the Tribulation. [Note: T. F. Glasson, The Revelation of John, p70; Newell, pp159-60; Johnson, p502; Wiersbe, 2:598; and McGee, 5:981; also held this view.] Nonetheless, the context strongly favors the last half of the Tribulation.

The two witnesses will wear "sackcloth," the dress that in biblical times signified approaching judgment and needed repentance (cf. Isaiah 22:12; Jeremiah 4:8; Jeremiah 6:26; Jonah 3:5-6; Jonah 3:8; Matthew 11:21).

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-11.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 11:3. The voice is continued, and the use of the word my connected with the two witnesses seems to indicate that it is the Lord who speaks, though in all probability by means of the ‘strong angel’ mentioned in chap. Revelation 10:1. The witnesses receive both the words of their prophecy and the power to utter them. The duty of ‘prophesying’ laid upon them is that of proclaiming the truth of God for the instruction or warning of men; while the clothing with sackcloth, a rough cloth of goats ‘or of camels’ hair, reminds us of Elijah and the Baptist (2 Kings 1:8; Matthew 3:4), and indicates the sufferings which the witnesses shall endure in delivering their message (2 Kings 19:1; Psalms 30:11; Isaiah 22:12).

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/revelation-11.html. 1879-90.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

My two witnesses....shall prophesy twelve hundred and sixty days. It is a very common interpretation, that by these two witnesses must be understood Henoch [Enoch] and Elias [Elijah], who are to come before the end of the world. It is true this is what we read in several of the ancient Fathers, insomuch, that Dr. Wells, in his paraphrase, calls it the "consent of the primitive fathers," and in his notes says, it is of "unexceptionable authority." This opinion (at least as to Elias) is grounded on those words of the prophet Malachy [Malachias/Malachi], (Chap. iv. 5.) behold, I will send you Elias, the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord; and also on the words of our Saviour, Christ, (Matthew xvii. 11.) where he tells his disciples: Elias indeed shall come, and restore all things. But I cannot say that the consent of the fathers is so unanimous as to Henoch: for we find by St. Hilary, that some thought Jeremy [Jeremias/Jeremiah] was to come with Elias, and he himself thought that with Elias would come Moses. See his commentary on Matt. p. 710, Nov. edit. Secondly, allowing it a received opinion that Henoch and Elias are again to come before the day of judgment, yet it is not the constant doctrine of the ancient fathers, that by these two witnesses in this place of the Apocalypse, must be understood Henoch and Elias. St. Cyprian expounds it of two sorts of martyrs for the Catholic faith; to wit, they who suffer death, and others who only suffered imprisonment, loss of goods, and the like. Others expound it of the testimonies concerning Christ and his Church, of which some are in the Old Testament, some in the New. To these we must join all those interpreters who expound all the visions and predictions in the Apocalypse, till the 20th chapter, of the persecutions raised by the Jews: or by the heathens against the Church, which have already happened. Of these, both as to ancient fathers and later interpreters, see Alcazar in his Prologomena, note 6, p. 33, and note 12, p. 48. (Witham) --- Two witnesses. It is commonly understood of Henoch and Elias. (Challoner)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/revelation-11.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

give. Add "power". Figure of speech Ellipsis. App-6.

My two witnesses. God has not specified their names. We know that two men are to be raised up "in that day", endowed with wondrous powers to execute a special mission. They are called emphatically "MY two witnesses "(See Revelation 1:5).

prophesy. See Revelation 10:11 and App-189.

a thousand . . . days = forty-two months, Revelation 11:2. The periods are probably synchronous.

thousand. See Revelation 14:20 and App-197.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/revelation-11.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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

I will give power - or commission. There is no "power" in the Greek.

My two witnesses - `the two witnesses of me.' The article implies the two were well known.

Prophesy - preach under the Spirit's inspiration, denouncing judgments against the apostate. They are symbolized as "the two olive trees," "the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth." The reference is to Zechariah 4:3; Zechariah 4:12; Zechariah 4:14, where two individuals, 'the two anointed ones,' are meant-Joshua and Zerubbabel, who ministered to the Jewish Church-as the two olive trees emptied the oil out of themselves into the bowl of the candlestick. So in the final apostasy, God will raise up two inspired witnesses to minister encouragement to the afflicted, though sealed; remnant. As two candlesticks are mentioned, Revelation 11:4, but only one in Zechariah 4:1-14, the twofold Church, Jewish and Gentile, may be meant by the two candlesticks represented by the two witnesses; just as in Revelation 7:1-17, there are described first the sealed of Israel, then those of all nations. But see note, Revelation 11:4. The actions of the two witnesses are just those of Moses when witnessing for God against Pharaoh (the type of Antichrist, the last and greatest foe of Israel), turning the waters into blood, and smiting with plagues, and of Elijah (the witness for God in Israel's almost universal apostasy), a remnant of 7,000, however, being left, as the 144,000 sealed (Revelation 7:1-17), causing fire by his word to devour the enemy, and shutting heaven, so that it rained not for three years and six months-the very time (1,260 days) during which the two witnesses prophesy.

Moreover, "witness" and "prophesy" are usually applied to individuals, not to abstractions (cf. Psalms 52:8). DeBurgh thinks Elijah and Moses will again appear, as Malachi 4:5-6, may imply (cf. Matthew 17:11; Acts 3:21). Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ at the transfiguration, which foreshadowed His millennial kingdom. As to Moses, cf. Deuteronomy 34:5-6; Jude 1:9. Elias' genius and procedure bear the same relation to Christ's second coming that John the Baptist's did to the first (Bengel). Many of the early Church thought the two witnesses Enoch and Elijah. This would avoid the difficulty of the dying a second time; for these have never yet died. Still, the turning the water to blood, and the plagues (Revelation 11:6), apply best to Moses (cf. Revelation 15:3, "the song of Moses"). The transfiguration-glory of Moses and Elias was not their permanent resurrection-state, which shall not be until Christ shall glorify His saints, for He has precedence before all in rising. An objection to this interpretation is, that those blessed servants of God would have to submit to death (Revelation 11:7-8), and this in Moses' case a second time, which Hebrews 9:27 denies. See note, Zechariah 4:11-12, on the two witnesses, answering to "the two olive trees." The two olive trees are channels of the oil feeding the Church, and symbol of peace. The Holy Spirit is the oil in them. Christ's witnesses, in remarkable times of the Church, have appeared in pairs: as Moses and Aaron, the inspired civil and religious authorities; Caleb and Joshua; Ezekiel the priest, and Daniel the prophet; Zerubbabel and Joshua.

In sackcloth - the garment of prophets, especially when calling people to mortification of their sins, and to repentance. Their exterior aspect accorded with their teachings: so Elijah, and John who came in his spirit and power. The sackcloth is a catchword, linking this episode, under the sixth trumpet, with the sun black as sackcloth (in righteous retribution on the apostates who rejected God's witnesses under the sixth seal (Revelation 6:12).

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-11.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(3) And I will give . . .—Translate, And I will give (omit “power”) to my two witnesses, and they shall . . . These are the words of God Himself; the omission of the words “and the angel stood” from Revelation 11:1 prevents any confusion of thought on this point. Two witnesses were required for competent evidence (Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15, et al.), and there has constantly been a sending forth of God’s chosen messengers in pairs— Moses and Aaron, Elijah and Elisha, besides Joshua and Zerubbabel, alluded to by Zechariah; and in New Testament times our Lord sent forth His disciples “two and two,” as afterwards Paul and Barnabas, or Paul and Silas, went forth to preach. There is, besides the mere mutual support which two can give, a need for the association of two different characters in the same sort of work: the energy and the sympathy, the elucidator of doctrines and the messenger to the conscience, the apologist and the evangelist, the man of thought and the man of action, the Son of Thunder and the Son of Consolation; it is well that in a world-wide work this duality of power should be brought into play. The witnesses prophesy: the word prophesy must surely be allowed a much wider meaning than merely to predict or foretell future events. The compass of their work, as described afterwards, embraces much more than this (see Revelation 11:5-7): they work wonders, showing tokens that remind us of the days of Moses and Aaron; their words are mighty; their life is a testimony.

Their prophesying, or witnessing, extends over forty and two months: a symbolical period, as we have seen, but a period corresponding to that during which other witnesses had witnessed for God. Thus long did Elijah bear witness, under rainless heavens, against the idolatries of Israel; thus long did a greater than Elijah offer the water of life to the Jews, and witness against the hard, unspiritual, worldly religionism of the Pharisee and Sadducee; thus, too, must the witnesses, for God bear testimony during the period that the world- power seems dominant. They are clad in sackcloth— the emblem of mourning (2 Kings 6:30; Jonah 3:4) adopted by the prophets, whose God-taught hearts saw reasons for mourning where shallower minds saw none (Isaiah 20:2, and Zechariah 13:2). Compare the garb of Elijah and John the Baptist (2 Kings 1:8, and Matthew 3:4), whose very apparel and appearance were designed to testify against the evils they saw. “The special witnesses of God, in a luxurious and self-pleasing age, are often marked out from the world by signs of self-denial, of austerity, and even of isolation” (Dr. Vaughan).

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/revelation-11.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
I will give power, etc
or, I will give unto my two witnesses, that they may prophesy.
John 3:27; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11
two
Numbers 11:26; Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15; Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1
witnesses
20:4; Luke 24:48; John 15:27; Acts 1:8; 2:32; 3:15; 13:31
they shall
19:10
a thousand
2; 12:6
clothed
Genesis 37:34; 1 Chronicles 21:16; Esther 4:1,2; Job 16:15; Isaiah 22:12; Lamentations 2:10; John 3:5-8
Reciprocal: Numbers 12:6 - a prophet;  Numbers 14:34 - the number;  Numbers 35:30 - General1 Kings 20:31 - put sackcloth;  2 Kings 1:8 - an hairy man;  Psalm 37:18 - the days;  Psalm 44:22 - killed;  Psalm 94:5 - afflict;  Psalm 137:1 - we wept;  Proverbs 22:12 - eyes;  Ecclesiastes 3:17 - for;  Isaiah 3:24 - a girding;  Isaiah 20:2 - the sackcloth;  Isaiah 20:3 - three;  Isaiah 24:13 - there;  Isaiah 54:11 - thou afflicted;  Isaiah 66:10 - that mourn;  Jeremiah 1:10 - I have;  Jeremiah 48:37 - upon the loins;  Ezekiel 4:6 - each day for a year;  Ezekiel 43:3 - to destroy the city;  Daniel 7:25 - a time;  Daniel 8:14 - Unto;  Daniel 11:36 - till;  Daniel 12:7 - that it;  Zechariah 13:4 - wear;  Zechariah 14:6 - not;  Matthew 3:4 - his raiment;  Matthew 11:8 - A man;  Mark 6:7 - two and;  Luke 7:19 - two;  Luke 10:1 - two and;  Luke 10:2 - are;  John 8:17 - that;  Romans 9:2 - General1 Thessalonians 5:20 - GeneralHebrews 11:37 - in sheepskins;  Revelation 6:9 - slain;  Revelation 11:7 - when;  Revelation 11:9 - three;  Revelation 12:14 - for a time;  Revelation 13:5 - and power

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/revelation-11.html.

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Verse3. The word power is not in

the Greek and is not necessary for the

thought, which is that God would see

that His two witnesses could speak.

The two witnesses are the Old and New

Testaments, the documents that Rome

took away from the people. To prophesy

is from PROPHETEUO and Thayer's Genesis -

eral definition Isaiah, "Speak forth by di-

vine inspiration." Hence it includes

the making of predictions and any

form of speech that will impart infor-

mation that is in harmony with the

will of God. The word in our passage

means that the Old and New Testa-

ments would continue to exist and

offer their information through the

period designated. In symbolic lan-

guage a day stands for a year (Ezekiel

4: 6), hence the number of days named

with words corresponds with the1260

years. Clothed in sackcloth symbolizes

a condition of mourning, and it is used

in this verse to refer toithe mistreat-

ment the word of God would receive

all through the Dark Ages.

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/revelation-11.html. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 11:3

Revelation 11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

In this verse we are to consider, first, who these two witnesses are. Secondly, what power Christ gives His witnesses. Thirdly, what their gift of prophecy is. Fourthly, what time we are to understand by a thousand two hundred and threescore days; and fifthly, what is meant by their being cloathed in sackcloth.

First, these

two witnesses

are described metaphorically: { Revelation 13:4} These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks, etc. by which description it appears, that these two witnesses are not two individual persons, as Moses and Elias; neither by these are intended any two testimonies, as the Old and New Testament; nor two distinct offices, as magistrates and ministers. For none of these interpretations will agree with the metaphorical description of these two witnesses. { Revelation 13:4} These two witnesses are the faithful ministers of Christ, called two olive-branches. { Zechariah 4:3-14} These are the two anointed ones, which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves; that is to say, they are the ministers and prophets of the Lord, who, under the gospel, have received an unction from the Holy One, Christ Jesus. { 1 John 2:20-27} As the priests and prophets did, under the law, who were anointed with material oil, { Exodus 28:41; 1 Kings 19:16} and they are also the visible, true constituted gospel churches of Christ, called here two candlesticks, which are so interpreted and expounded by Christ Himself. { Revelation 1:20} And the seven candlesticks are the seven churches.

The Church of God under the law being but one, and that a national church, was metaphorically described by one golden candlestick. { Zechariah 4:2} But the churches of God under the gospel, being many congregational churches, as the churches in Judea, { Acts 9:31} the churches of Galatia, { 1 Corinthians 16:1} and the churches in Asia, { Revelation 1:11} when they were first planted, are resembled by two golden candlesticks, and by seven golden candlesticks. Nor is my distinguishing between the Lord's ministers, his prophets, and his churches unwarrantable, for the Holy Spirit of God did distinguish them. { Acts 13:1} Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers. { Acts 15:4} They were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders. { Acts 15:22} Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, that Isaiah, all the brethren. { Acts 15:23} The apostles, and elders, and brethren, send greeting unto the brethren, etc. The ministers of Christ in the churches of saints, are Christ's prophetical witnesses; who ought to bear their testimony for Christ, and against Antichrist. { Revelation 12:11}

Secondly, the power which Christ hath given unto his two witnesses, is not a magisterial power; for Christ hath given that kind of power to the kings of the earth, and governors under them, { Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-15; Titus 3:1} nor a monarchical Prelatical power, such as the Pope of Rome, his cardinals, and priests, have usurped, who lord it over God's heritage, His churches and clergy, contrary to the mind of our Lord Jesus Christ, { 1 Peter 5:3} mhd wv katakurieuontev twn klhrwn, Not as lording it over the clergy, but it is a ministerial, prophetical, stewardly power; that Isaiah, the power of the word, not of the sword. Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth; see, I have this day set thee over the nations, and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build and to plant. { Jeremiah 1:9-10} That is to say prophetically, by denouncing God's judgements against them, which the Lord will execute, if they repent not. { Jeremiah 18:6-10} And I will bring upon the Land all my Words, which I have pronounced against it, { Jeremiah 25:13} -which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations, though the ministers of the gospel may declare the righteous judgements of God against ungodly men, according to his written word, yet they ought not to sit in judgement, and pass sentence of corporal punishment upon any man. {Luke 12:14} But yet all the plagues and judgements here mentioned, and intended are principally (though not only) spiritual plagues and judgements, such as the Lord's prophets had power to do by the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, { Ephesians 6:17} which proceedeth out of Christ's mouth, { Revelation 19:15-21} so that this power which the Lord Jesus Christ gave his two witnesses is a ministerial, prophetical, ecclesiastical power of faith, by the Word of God and prayer, { Acts 6:4} which they ought to give themselves continually unto, not using the power of the sword at any time, in any case, He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear, -He that killeth with the sword shall be killed with the sword { Revelation 13:9-10} etc.

Ecclesiastical power ordained by Christ and given to his ministers, is not magisterial, but ministerial; not the power of the sword but of the Word, For the Word of God is living and powerful, { Hebrews 4:12} etc.

Thirdly, by the gift of prophecy here, which Jesus Christ gave unto his two witnesses, called the two prophets, { Revelation 11:10} we are to understand such ministerial and prophetical gifts of the Holy Spirit, whereby they were fitted and qualified to prophesy before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings, { Revelation 10:10-11} there are diversities of spiritual gifts, and among the rest the gift of prophecy. { 1 Corinthians 12:4-10; Romans 12:6} Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the analogy of faith. This gift of prophecy Christ gives unto his faithful ministers in the churches of saints, that they may be his witnesses, { Acts 1:8; Acts 5:32} in bearing their testimony for Christ-against Anti-Christ-in all the offices of his mediatorship; and it is therefore called the testimony of Jesus which is the spirit of prophecy, { Revelation 19:10; Luke 21:12-19} that is a mouth and wisdom given by Jesus Christ, which no adversaries shall be able to gain-say, or resist: And it shall turn to you for a testimony. {Luke 21:13}

Fourthly, the time of their prophesying is here said to be

a thousand two hundred and threescore days

which days are not to be understood literally for so many natural days; for that is but three years and an half; and is intended by the three days and an half, expressed in Revelation 11:9 to be the time that the dead bodies of the slain witnesses shall lie unburied, called a time, and times, and half a time ( Revelation 12:14 and Daniel 7:21-25). But these thousand two hundred and threescore days must be understood of prophetical days; that Isaiah, a day for a year, and each day for a year, according to the scripture account, { Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6} which is one thousand two hundred and threescore years (the editor of this manuscript does not here agree with H. Knowles). And so is the prophetical number of days and time of the woman, that Isaiah, the Church of God in the wilderness, viz. one thousand two hundred and threescore days. { Revelation 12:6} It is not my work at present to determine the beginning and ending of this time, and these days, but to give the right interpretation thereof, that the reader may understand the meaning by my exposition. God hath timed the persecutions, tribulations, and sufferings of His churches, ministers, and saints, in their generations. { Genesis 15:13; Exodus 12:41; Jeremiah 25:10-12; Jeremiah 29:10-13; Revelation 2:10; Revelation 11:2} They must last no longer, nor end sooner, than God's set time.

But yet I may say, that the best ecclesiastical historians, and the later expositors of this Book of the Revelation, affirm, that these thousand two hundred and threescore days began about the Year of our Lord407, 409, 410 or before428. (Sympson's History of the Church, Lib4. Socrat. History Eccl. cap3, Helvicus in Concil, Taurinat cap7, Magdeb, Cent5 cap10 etc). And if these thousand two hundred and threescore days did begin about428, then they will end about1688, which a short time will manifest more certainly. Though these are uncertain conjectures; yet if we shall see the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit, make war against the two prophetical witnesses, and overcome them, and kill them, as is prophesied { Revelation 11:7} then we shall certainly know the ending time of these thousand two hundred and threescore days. { Daniel 12:4-13}

Fifthly, to be

clothed in sackcloth

signifieth the sorrowful, mournful condition of these two prophets, the witnesses of Christ, by reason of their sufferings, persecutions, and tribulations, which they endured in the days and time of their prophesying. The prophets of old use to wear garments of black, especially in times of calamity and affliction, which were made of hair, and called sackcloth of hair, as an emblem and symbol of great calamity and mourning. { Isaiah 22:12; Isaiah 32:11; Isaiah 50:3; Jeremiah 49:3; 2 Kings 1:8; Matthew 3:4; Revelation 6:12} The faithful ministers of Christ, who are serving of their generation have born their testimony for Christ against Anti-Christ in all his mediatorial offices, as he is prophet, priest and king in his church, have suffered persecutions, imprisonment, banishment, and death many of them. As the apostles and disciples of Christ did suffer under the Roman pagan dragon; so the ministers and saints of God have suffered under the Roman-Papal-Beast, about one thousand two hundred fifty nine years.

God's faithful witnesses must suffer persecutions for their testimony against Anti-Christ, { 2 Timothy 3:12} yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution till the1260 days be ended.

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-11.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

b. The martyr two witnesses=the faithful few, Revelation 11:3-6.

3.Give power—It was to be expected that in the midst of Gentiles these witnesses would hush in silence. Their enemies are thousands, and they are but two. But they have the “gift of power,” and their prophecy will ring through the streets of the city through the whole long, dark period. My— The word implies that the speaker is God, and that these witnesses are claimed as his own. See note Revelation 11:1. Hence this word is incorrectly quoted by Dusterdieck as an instance in which an angel abruptly speaks the words of God as his own, as a precedent for such an interpretation of Revelation 22:10, where see note.

Prophesy—All true preaching is prophecy, for it predicts man’s future destiny, and comes from a divine power. The whole gospel is a solemn prophecy.

Clothed in sackcloth— An emblematic garb, symbolizing humiliation and grief, especially of the repentant kind. Hence it was worn by the prophets who preached repentance to a guilty generation. The garment represented the humiliation which the sins of the age required. It was usually made of coarse hair. and used for sacks, and also for straining out liquids. Elijah and John the Baptist wore sackcloth. 2 Kings 1:8.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-11.html. 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Revelation 11:3. , the simple, archaic garb of prophets, especially appropriate to humiliation (reff.). The faithful prophets who withdraw from the local apostacy to the desert in company with Isaiah (Asc. Isa. ii. 9 f.) are also clothed in this black hair-cloth. The voice of the divine speaker here “melts imperceptibly into the narrative of the vision” (Alford, cf.Revelation 11:12). Contemporary Jewish belief (4 Esd. 6:26) made these “witnesses” (men “who have not tasted death from their birth,” i.e., Enoch, Elijah) appear before the final judgment and preach successfully, but the only trace of any analogous feature in rabbinical prophecy seems to be the appearance of Moses and Messiah during the course of the Gog and Magog campaign. The reproduction of this oracle, long after its original period in 70 A.D., would be facilitated by the fact that the visions of Ezekiel and Zechariah, upon which it was modelled, both presupposed the fall of the city and temple in ancient Jerusalem (Abbott, pp. 84–88).

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/revelation-11.html. 1897-1910.

The Bible Study New Testament

3. I will send my two witnesses. [The two witnesses are the Church Militant.] Jesus sent his disciples out two by two (Luke 10:1). Two witnesses symbolize the outreach [missionary spirit] of the messianic community in taking the “sacred and ever-living message of eternal salvation” to the whole world. 1,260days. The Gospel Age (see note on Revelation 11:2). The church judges the world. Compare James 5:17-18.

 

 

 

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 11:3". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/revelation-11.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.