The Two Witnesses – Would You Want This Job?

The Two Witnesses are impressive end time prophets able to stop the rain, send plagues and survive the Beast and False Prophet who they prophesy against. Understandably, they are the subject of much speculation and even envy today among Christians. Christians alternately believe that they are Enoch and Elijah (who allegedly never died), Moses and Elijah (from the Transfiguration), or even Christians among us today who claim to be them. But are they here and do we need to figure out who they are or worry about what happens if we don’t? Find out why they are not here today and no one in their right mind should want to claim to be the Two Witnesses.

What If You Don't Identify the Two Witnesses?

Over the years I have received a steady stream of questions about the Two Witnesses. After considering those questions and others, I have noticed a trend. There is clear anxiety and worry over the Two Witnesses and other end time prophecy topics.

It's almost as if we tend to view the Book of Revelation as a study guide to the Great Tribulation coming as our "final exam." If we do not learn enough to figure out, say, who the Two Witnesses are or what the mark of the Beast is, we may miss the real prophet, listen to a false prophet, be deceived and lost thereby flunking the exam and suffering through the horrific scenarios Revelation graphically describes to us. This includes being left behind from the rapture, missing the protection of the 144,000 or the Woman or, God forbid, taking the mark of the Beast.

Imagine being saddled with this stressful view and encountering one of several believers on the Internet who come forward claiming to be the Two Witnesses. (Isn't the Internet grand?) Obviously it only compounds the situation. What if we reject them and they turn out to be God's true end time prophets?

The good news is that, as with everything else in the difficult book of Revelation, God does not expect believers to figure out who the Two Witnesses are. It's a prophetic mystery today and when they come, they come. You definitely do not have to fear they have already come or fear rejecting them when they do come. As we shall see, they are not coming for you and I, or to rule over us like head prophets of the modern church.

Let's look at what Revelation says and get the peace from it that we're supposed to have, rather than be stressed about what we do not understand yet or worry about missing out when it comes to pass.

The Two Witnesses' Mission

The first thing to get straight is that the Two Witnesses are not here today any more than the Antichrist or mark of the Beast can be here already. The people who later become them are probably alive already, but they are not in that role yet or under that title. Just like them, their official appearance is directly tied to the future 3½ year, 42 month, 1260 day Great Tribulation:

Revelation 11:3-6 (NKJV) — 3 "And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."...5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies . And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. 6 These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.

Their job seems to be to counter-program the lies of the Beast and False Prophet for the entire period of their 42 month rule (Rev 13:5). The Two Witnesses are situated in Jerusalem (Rev 11:1-3, 8), the Beast's headquarters (Dan 11:45), for this reason.

Would You Take This Job?

If one considers the above and everything else Revelation shares about the Two Witnesses, it is ironic that some continue to claim to be them. The next time you encounter someone who thinks they are the Two Witnesses, it might be fun to point out what Revelation says is ahead for them:

  • A hard and stressful mission for 1260 straight days (Rev 11:3).
  • To be hated by everyone, the whole earth (Rev 11:5,10). (Probably the only human friend they will have will be the other witness.)
  • The tasks of killing numerous people, causing a 3½-year-long drought, bloodying drinking water, and otherwise plaguing the earth (Rev 11:5-6).
  • After all that, a vicious martyrdom in Jerusalem, by Satan himself without a proper burial (Rev 11:7-9) at which everyone else celebrates by giving presents (Rev 11:10). (By the way, in case you were wondering, no, it does not happen anywhere near Christmas time, three days before the Yom Teruah/Day of Trumpets on Tishrei 1, that typically falls in September.)

Plainly, this is a job that not only would no one in their right mind take, but one that few who God has to pick from would even be able to handle mentally without having a nervous breakdown or quitting. In fact, I can imagine the person who God assigns the job to trying to get out of it just as Moses did for the leader of the Exodus role.

Numerous Bible-based Candidates

Certainly it's a relief to rule out bumping into the Two Witnesses in church, on the street, the 'Net or anywhere else before the Great Tribulation starts. You do not have to worry about mistakenly denying or disobeying the real Two Witnesses this side of the Great Tribulation, either.

However, this does not address the problem of all the Bible-based theories you will find on the Internet about future candidates and being asked to consider or accept them by your well-intentioned friends. For example, are the Two Witnesses...:

  • Elijah and Enoch: This theory is by far the most popular one. It is based mainly on the argument that these are "the only two men who never died." However, that assumption is easily disproved with one of many plain verses (Heb 11:5, 13).
  • Elijah and Moses: This is a much more convincing theory as the miracles that the Two Witnesses do are all ones that Moses and Elijah did. Also these two appeared in the Transfiguration with Jesus when he was glorified and shown as he will be in the Kingdom (Mt 17:3). They will be resurrected and have obvious key top positions under him. The problem here is that they are dead and would require a special resurrection just for this job. There simply is no precedent for this in the Bible. On the contrary, the precedent we have for prophesies of coming prophets always show a new person being raised up for it. When the Malachi 4:5 prophesy of Elijah coming in the last days was fulfilled, it was a new person named John the Baptist. Jesus was "the prophet like unto Moses," not a resurrection of Moses (Acts 3:20-22). We should expect the next and final Elijah as well as the Two Witnesses to again be someone new coming in the spirit of those great prophets, Moses and Elijah.
  • Israel and the Christian Church?
  • The Old and New Testaments?

The last two theories are allegorical interpretations. These run into difficulty when you consider everything mentioned above about the mission of the Two Witnesses such as being killed and their bodies left in the streets and seen by everyone to much celebration. The allegory has to go very far to work.

Literal, Symbolic, Allegorical...or All the Above?

But does that mean the entire prophecy of the Two Witnesses is literal? Not necessarily. Context must always be considered. As those familiar with my book or website are aware, I do advocate reading Revelation just like the rest of the Bible: as plainly and literally as the context permits or directs. I find that most of Revelation reads quite plainly this way with few exceptions.

As I covered in my article on the 144,000, Revelation does occasionally have truly allegorical passages. The 144,000 men are not literal "virgins," literally "undefiled by women," literally following a literal "Lamb everywhere he goes" (Rev 14:4). Revelation 12 talks about a Woman who is both figurative woman (a constellation of a virgin woman, Virgo) and allegorical woman (she flees on the ground after giving birth to the Messiah, a picture of righteous Israel), but not literal single flesh and blood woman.

Yet for many, the verses on the Two Witnesses require a symbolic interpretation because the literal interpretation seems to present insurmountable difficulties. For example:

  • The two witnesses must create real plagues (Rev 11:6): No problem here if you remember that Moses created real plagues, ten of them. Elijah stopped the rain for 3½ years (Jas 5:17). It's nothing new for God's major prophets.
  • A real temple must exist in Jerusalem, with sacrifices being offered (Rev 11:1): This is what Daniel's 70th week prophecy predicts (Dan 9:27). Likewise, Paul said the Antichrist would sit in the temple at that time declaring he is God (2Th 2:4)
  • There must also be a real temple in heaven containing the ark of the covenant (11:19): Moses was told when he built the tabernacle on earth that he was building a copy of what God showed him from Heaven (Heb 8:5). The angels at the 7th trumpet are shown coming out of a heavenly sanctuary with the last seven plagues (Rev 15:5-8).
  • Precisely seven thousand people must be killed in an earthquake (11:13): The Bible is full with many such exact numbers of deaths which seem . God is sovereign and can direct things so that exactly 7000 die or as he made it take exactly Ten Plagues before Pharoah decided of his free will to let his people go (with a little hardening of his heart to help).
  • And, fire must come from two human mouths (11:5): This last one may not be literal despite the rest of the descriptions being literal. If we look at it in context, we can see why.

Revelation 11:4-5 (HCSB) — 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 If anyone wants to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and consumes their enemies; if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way.

Just as we saw with the 144,000 above, we have metaphorical and figurative language introduced here for two verses that is difficult to take literally. They are not literal lampstands and candlesticks obviously. (Certainly not both at the same time!) Therefore, perhaps when it says fire comes out of their mouth, it is figurative speech reminiscent of Jeremiah: "I am going to make My words become fire in your mouth. These people are the wood, and the fire will consume them " (Jer 5:14). (Compare also Jesus' return at Armageddon described as having a sword comes out of his mouth to strike the nations also amidst figurative language (Rev 19:15).)

Article continues below...

"Depart From Me, I Never Knew you!" - Jesus

Jesus predicted that he will tell many sincere believers to basically "get lost" instead of welcoming them into the Kingdom. So...who are they and what did they miss or do wrong? In this study, get those answers and the one requirement for salvation Jesus taught (that Christianity misses) so that you can make sure you don't hear these dreaded words yourself!

Because, there is no precedent of literal prophet fire-breathing and also because the preceding verse has such clear metaphorical language, I would say the fire is probably not literal unlike the plagues of the next verse and details in following verses.

If it seems unreasonable of God to mix literal, metaphorical, symbolic and allegorical language together in this way, leaving us little chance of knowing how to read it, well, no one said understanding the future in advance was going to come easy or that your life depended on getting it right anyway.

Conclusion

The Two Witnesses are central end time figures who oppose their counterparts of the evil Beast and False Prophet. They are not here now to tell you or I what to do, but come only when their counterparts take over for the Great Tribulation.

Like past fulfillments of promised prophets, someone of the current generation will step into the prophesied role like John the Baptist did, rather than long-dead prophets being given a special resurrection to do it.

However, even if we understand or accept none of this now (or none of this article is correct) it will not affect our chances of being safe when the Two Witnesses come. Here's the simple focus/intent (not understanding) that will determine our chances:

Revelation 14:12 (HCSB) — This demands the perseverance of the saints, who keep God’s commands and their faith in Jesus.”

For more on the two witnesses, see my article on "who will bring them food?"

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23comments
chip griffin - February 14, 2017

i think i know one of the two. do you have any questions that would prove or disprove in your own mind? 7707221415 chip, give him a call

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Don - March 8, 2017

I’ve met people that have claimed to be one of the two witnesses. I also know someone that says that he “may ” be one; but does not want to believe that he is; but he says that if God puts him in the position to become one, even though he fully understands that the whole world will hate him, they will try to kill him, he will not have a home for 3 1/2 years, he will have to kill people in “many” ways = drought, poisoned water, no food because of drought, massive crime against people that believe in Yeshua (Yesh-u-a), and then have to fight Satan himself and be killed by Satan; then knowing that people will do all kinds of things to their bodies, he says that just to know that within the hour he’s brought back to life, Yeshua will come and take him to heaven, it would be his honor to be one. People don’t think of it that way. They think it will be all fun being one of the two witnesses. Think seriously about having to go through 3 1/2 years of what I just described and tell me if you would be willing to go through that (remember even your family and friends will hate you). As I read a few minutes ago the only earthly friend they will have is each other. Of Course Yeshua will be with tjem all the way. I truthly don’t think that there are very many people alive today that would be able to handle that life. I can’t imagine what living that life would be like.

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    Jeanie - April 6, 2018

    God said in the Last days: brother will be against father, mother against daughter, etc. most of my family can not stand me: because they believe in the “milk toast” pastors: sucking down Kool aid, licking lollipops, candy canes ministries: No ministry that Preaches the truth “Like it is” Gospel: they watch money seeking padded ministries with “feel good goody” FLESH ministries with the big “I” “I” “I”s: but God said: DIE TO YOUR FLESH {DAILY}: they “over PUFFED” their stinking flesh. Point is: the fakes , the Pretend christians will hate you any way: so what?

    Reply
Sam Miller - July 14, 2017

Here is a question I just thought of. Elijah will be the one who gathers everyone to Jordan prior to WW3/Wormwood. Then later, we’ll flee to Judea to be protected during the GT.

If the two witnesses (including Elijah) will be in Jerusalem for the entire 3 1/2 years of the GT, does that mean there will be NO prophet leading those being protected?

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    Tim McHyde - July 14, 2017

    Sam, this will be a time of the outpouring of baptism of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-30). Just as the first century church had several prophets as Acts frequently mentions, so too will we in the end time. There is no doubt that we’ll have prophet leaders even they are not named in prophecy yet.

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Ryan Zombro - August 9, 2017

Surely, the Spirit of God will raise these prophets up from the wilderness of this world. They will have experienced a great amount of testing to prove themselves worthy of this calling. I think they will be nobodies in the site of the world, at first, until God starts working miracles through them. God is preparing them right now for service. I may be one of them, who knows for sure? If God works miracles through me, then I would accept the calling as one of the witnesses. I am a nobody right now, but God is good, and He will make a way for me. I would gladly take the call to be His witness.

SINCERELY

I am spirit

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Subin - September 10, 2017

Sir,

Why is is not possible that the Witnesses are the actual Enoch and Elijah?
After all, both of them did not “die” in the usual way. In fact, they are not said to have died.

So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him (Genesis 5:23,24).

Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven (2 Kings 2:11).

Why isn’t it possible that they are sent to die in the usual way this time along with their mission?

P.S. Your website is awesome and I am learning a lot.

Reply
    Tim McHyde - September 11, 2017

    Subin, Enoch and Elijah did die just as Scripture says: “appointed to men to die” (Heb 9:27). Of course, some will miss that appointment with death because of the rapture.

    Reply
      Subin - September 12, 2017

      Oh, I see. Thank you for that link.

      May God bless you.

      Reply
God's Servant In Training - October 5, 2017

It should not be hard to understand, that if it is written then is shall be done. Whom ever these two shall be our God and Creator shall prepare for what lay ahead of them. Such as all other things we see all are created by him and for him. That which is ahead has been written and will come to pass. God walked with our Great Prophets and prepared each of them for their own journey and he will these two as well. If we belong to God and he dwells in our hearts we to are his servants in training.

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marilyn - March 29, 2018

the 2 witnesses is the old testament and the new testament.

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    Tim McHyde - March 29, 2018

    Marilyn, how are all the OT and NT prints in the world able to die and stand up on their feet and go to heaven as Rev 11 says??

    Reply
April - May 17, 2018

I am not sure of the definite pairing but I heard an interesting theory that they are one man and one woman because the Bible actually never said “These two men”. It said, “These two anointed ones” or “My witnesses”. I know this is a somewhat new concept. What does everyone think about this concept?

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    Chris Ball - June 22, 2018

    Hi April

    Yes it is possible for the two witnesses to be a man and woman given how seriously Adonai takes a man and woman bonding through marriage. Though I would be more concerned with building up one’s relationship with Yeshua so that he won’t cast you out for not having a relationship with him.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that there is only so much time before Elijah calls us to Judea. Will you have enough faith and strength to leave for 3rd world living conditions in Judea to take up a crown in the Millennium?

    Reply
Benjamin - August 12, 2018

Tim,

Under your sub-topic “Would You Take This Job”, you stated the following

“…When the Malachi 4:5 prophesy of Elijah coming in the last days was fulfilled, it was a new person named John the Baptist…”

In my humble opinion, this specific verse could be referring to John the Baptist but could also be insinuating “another Elijah” to come near the end times and here is why:

Malachi 3:1 states ” …Behold, I will send My messenger, who will prepare the way before Me. Then the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple–the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight–see, He is coming,” says the LORD of Hosts…”

Jesus himself confirmed in Matthew 11:10 that John the Baptist was indeed the messenger referred to in Malachi 3:1. Jesus also stated in Matthew 11:14 that “…And if you will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come…”

Later after Jesus is transfigured in Matthew 17, Moses and Elias actually appear with Jesus in Matt 17:3. In Matt 17:10, the disciples inquire to Jesus as to why the scribes say that Elias must first come. Jesus answers them in Matt 17:11-12 stating Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things but also added that Elias is come already, and they knew him not. Matt 17:13 states the disciples understood that Jesus spake unto them of John the Baptist.

In retrospect back to the book of Malachi, in my opinion, chapter 4 is more directed toward the actual end times and the 2nd coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s review chapter 4 as follows:

Malachi 4:1 states ” For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yeah, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.”
4:2 states ” But unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.”
4:3 states ” And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.”
4:4 states ” Remember ye the law of Moses My servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgements.”
4:5 states ” Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
4:6 states ” And he shall turn the heart of their fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Malachi 4:5, in my opinion, is clearly telling us the Lord will send “Elijah” BEFORE the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord…Verse 4:1 is clearly describing a day that cometh that shall “burn as an oven” and the day that cometh shall burn up the wicked as stubble….

In conclusion and in my opinion, Malachi chapter 3 is referring to John the Baptist and the First coming of Christ and Malachi chapter 4 is clearly referring to the Second coming Christ and a completely different person/ figure that will assume the role of “Elijah” as John the Baptist did during the First Coming. Why else would chapter 4 the “great and dreadful day of the Lord”…???

Just some food for thought but a great article Tim and keep up the good work. I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

Reply
    Tim McHyde - August 13, 2018

    Benjamin, thanks, but I did not invent this. My statement about John the Baptist being the Malachi 4 (not 3) Elijah is based on what the Michael said about John the Baptist in Luke 1:17 quoting Mt 4:5-6 directly over him. He was a partial fulfillment of that as the angel said, but not the complete, latter fulfillment that the end time Elijah (right) “before the dreadful day of the Lord” (Mal 4:5-6=Joel 2:31-32) when the “sun turns to darkness and moon to blood” (Joel 2:31-32=Rev 6:12) because of Wormwood (Rev 8:11). You may want to read my fuller article on Elijah that covers all the verses.

    Reply
Kade - August 22, 2018

Christians are too caught up in interpretation. Think about think what Jesus was saying.

All that stuff about the road to hell being paved with good intentions, and how you cant love your enemy with a shotgun?

He wasn’t kidding.

Ultimately it’s really easy to say & hard to do. The truth will burn through you like shit thru a goose..but:

Empathy leads to compassion, and that leads to mercy & forgiveness, a 4-way symmetry. And if you stand true in that place, your shield will be steady.

And it doesnt matter what what you ‘believe’, no one’s loop holing into heaven just because he called “Jesus”, by the right name, or said the right things, but here on earth couldn’t be bothered to treat others like human beings.

Likewise, no one will burn who didnt have time to praise a God because they were living for the good of others, as their intuition and instinct directed them to deal only with what they see. God is not an ego-maniac.

The author makes a good point, you should listen, and not worry too much about witnesses. The thing must take its course. So let it.

In the meantime turn your sight inward, and know thyself.

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Nathan - October 12, 2018

Good article. I just wanted to point out that the Holy Spirit is capable of enabling any Christian, however weak they currently are, to be able to fulfill a difficult role like that of the two witnesses. Look at the difference it made with disciples like Peter. I also think that it’s unlikely that anyone who currently thinks they are one of the two witnesses actually will be as this likely springs from a desire linked to pride and vanity.

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    Tim McHyde - October 12, 2018

    Nathan, the HS is powerful, however God tends to put it on not just anybody for roles in service of God, but people who have proven zealous and righteous already. Most Christians are anything but that (Mt 7:21-23).

    Reply
Jericho - October 19, 2018

The two witnesses are slain in Jerusalem. This doesn’t necessarily mean they spend their entire time of witness in that city.

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    Tim McHyde - October 19, 2018

    Jericho, No, not their entire time is in Jerusalem, but 1260 days of it (Rev 11:3) because we know that’s where they die and that’s where the Antichrist is based, Mount Zion/Temple Mount (Dan 11:45=2Th 2:4). You would have to give me a verse that says they are somewhere else for the 1260 days of the Tribulation other than the area of the Third Temple referenced several times in Rev 11 for me to accept your theory they preach in other places, especially when all other nations are covered already by their 144,000 counterparts sealed with protection for ministry outside the place of safety.

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Jericho - October 19, 2018

Tim — I would also tend to agree with Nathan that weakness can be turned quite readily by the Spirit. A draw between the two witnesses and the references to Zerubabel and Joshua (Zechariah 3) may indicate that one of the two witnesses (the Joshua figure) is indeed very weak (clothed in filth to paraphrase) prior to the empowerment. This was so for Joshua – yet to be seen if it is so for one of the witnesses.

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    Tim McHyde - October 19, 2018

    Jericho, We all agree the HS/God can help anyone no matter how feeble they are, like Samson. However for this top tier end time role in God’s work, the limiting factor is not physical but rather zeal, faithfulness and mental strength (Lk 21:36). Historical precedents show that God does not just pick anyone nilly willy for his prophets, but people who are zealous for his Word and for truth, who have been mentally tested quite a bit. Given that most Christians today are “lukewarm,” materialistic, soft and not even zealous enough to even be considered saved (Mt 7:21-23) I expect the 2W to be special individuals you are not likely to encounter at church or rarely in life.

    Reply
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