Introduction: One of the most unusual prophecies in the
Bible is the Revelation 11 prediction about the “two
witnesses” who are involved in astonishing displays of
power. Revelation 11 tells us, “Fire pours from their mouth”
to destroy opponents. “They have power to shut the sky,”
turn water to blood, and create all sorts of plagues! Then
they get killed. But, wait, they come to life again! Who are
these guys? We begin to get the idea that they might not be
“guys” or people at all because they witness for over a
thousand years! Let’s dive into our study of the Bible to
discover what I think is the most reasonable understanding
of the two witnesses of Revelation 11!

I. Olive Trees and Lampstands

A. Read Revelation 11:1-4. The two witnesses are
compared to two inanimate objects, trees and
lampstands. When you think about lampstands, what
prior reference in Revelation comes to mind? (Read
Revelation 1:12-13 and Revelation 1:20. We see at
the beginning of Revelation that lampstands refer
to churches.)

1. Why would a church be symbolized by a
“lampstand” and not a lamp?

B. Read Zechariah 4:1-3. Again we see olive trees, a
lampstand, and lamps. What do you think the olive
trees have to do with the lamp in these verses?
(Read Zechariah 4:12. The olive trees provide the
“golden oil” that powers the lamp.)

1. How many lights are on this lampstand? (Seven.
Notice that is exactly the same as the number
of churches in Revelation 1.)

C. Revelation 11:3-4 compares the two witnesses to
trees and lampstands. If I only gave you the
information we have discussed so far about the two
witnesses, what would you conclude about them?
What idea combines a church and a light fueled by
oil? (A gospel guide. But let’s continue to explore
this idea. It looks like we are dealing with pieces
of a puzzle.)

D. Read Acts 10:38 and Luke 4:18. What do you think it
means to be “anointed?” (Read Exodus 30:22-25 which
gives us a recipe for a special “holy anointing
oil.” The general Biblical understanding is that
being anointed means having oil put on you.)

1. How do the texts in Acts and Luke relate the
act of being anointed with oil and the Holy
Spirit? (Anointing with oil is compared to
anointing by the Holy Spirit.)

E. Read 2 Peter 1:21. What light is fired by the Holy
Spirit? (The Bible! As we put together the puzzle
pieces of the olive trees, oil, lamp, and
lampstands, the picture that emerges suggests that
the witnesses are God’s word, the Bible.)

1. Does God have two Bibles? (I think the Old and
New Testaments solve that question.)

II. The Age of the Witnesses

A. We have all sorts of clues yet to be examined about
the nature of the two witnesses. Let’s explore
another. Re-read Revelation 11:3. Have you
previously seen a reference in the Bible to 1,260
days? (The previous verse, Revelation 11:2 refers
to forty-two months which equals 1,260 days.
Daniel 7:25 refers to “a time and times and half a time.”
This equals 3.5, which if referring to years,
equals 1,260 days. Then Revelation 12:6 and
Revelation 13:5 refer to the same time period.)

1. What do you think it means for the two
witnesses to be prophesying in “sackcloth?”
(You wear sackcloth when you are grieving or

a. If our original conclusion that the
witnesses are the Bible is correct, what
do you think it means to prophesy in
sackcloth? (The Bible has suffered a
reversal of fortunes.)

2. Do you think all of these references in the
Bible to 1,260 days refer to the same period
of time? Is it a coincidence that this same
period of time is stated in several different
places in the Bible?

B. Read Daniel 7:23-26. Does it seem like these events
could happen in 3.5 years? (Adam Clarke’s
commentary says that these are “prophetic” years
“and a prophetic year has a year for each day.” If
he is correct, and I think the context supports
him, then we are talking about 1,260 years, not
1,260 days. If these various references to 1,260
days are the same time period, then we must
conclude that it always refers to 1,260 years.
Considering the other contexts, that makes sense.)

1. Would a human be a witness for over one
thousand years? (The answer is obviously,
“no,” and that provides an additional clue
that the two witnesses are not humans.)

III. The Power of the Two Witnesses

A. Read Revelation 11:5-6. Can you recall any of these
things being reported in the Bible?

1. Read 2 Kings 1:9-10. Did fire come down from
heaven at the word of Elijah?

2. Read 1 Kings 17:1. Did the sky shut at the
word of Elijah?

3. Read Exodus 7:20. Did water turn to blood at
the word of Moses?

4. If you scan Exodus chapters 7-11 you will find
more plagues that came upon Egypt when Moses
appeared before Pharaoh. Now that you have
seen what happened when Elijah and Moses
spoke, is it possible that they are the two

a. Do they solve the problem of humans not
living for one thousand years? (Read
Matthew 17:1-3. We see that Moses and
Elijah came to earth from heaven! You can
see why some believe that the two
witnesses are Elijah and Moses.)

B. Let’s dive a little deeper. Is there a single
source of power behind the words of Elijah, Moses,
and the Bible? (Yes! The Holy Spirit. We can see
why the identity of the two witnesses is disputed,
but I believe the Bible, with its two testaments,
is a better fit.)

IV. The Death of the Two Witnesses

A. Read Revelation 11:7-10. How can the two witnesses
be killed if they are not alive? This is a clue
that my suggestion that the two witnesses are the
Bible is wrong!

B. Focus on Revelation 11:7. The “testimony” of the
witnesses is “finished” and a “beast” “makes war on
them” and then kills them. Is the Bible a
testimony? Has war been declared on the Bible?
Let’s examine some quotations from the past:

1. Pope Leo XII declared, “As it has been clearly
shown by experience that, if the holy Bible in
the vernacular is generally permitted without
any distinction, more harm than utility is
thereby caused.” Great Encyclical of Letters
of Leo XIII, pp. 412-413.

2. Pope Pius IV wrote: “The Bible is not for the
people: whosoever will be saved must renounce
it. It is a forbidden book. Bible societies
are satanic contrivances.” Catholic Church
Council of Trent, Rule III.

3. Why would religious leaders make statements
like this? (The stated concern is that
untrained people would not be able to
correctly understand the Bible.)

a. What do you think about that view?

C. Assume that in the middle ages, in accordance with
the statements of these Popes, the Catholic Church
was largely successful in keeping the average
person from being able to read the Bible. Read
Revelation 11:11. Can the Bible come alive? (When
the printing press was invented, the masses were
able to read and study the Bible for themselves. It
was a new day for Bible literacy!)

D. Let’s look again at Revelation 11:10. Have you
heard of people who find the Bible to be a torment?
Are any modern people burning the Bible?

E. Read Revelation 11:12. What does this tell us about
the battle over the Bible? (The Bible wins. Just as
Jesus rising to heaven shows that He won,
symbolically the Bible wins causing “great fear”
for those who oppose the teachings of the Bible.)

F. Have you asked yourself why we are studying the Two
Witnesses? What is the relevance, other than
unraveling another mystery in Revelation? (Our
topic in this study is the great controversy
between good and evil. The Bible is the bulwark,
the victorious truth, in the battle against evil.)

G. Friend, will you reaffirm your faith in the Bible?
Will you agree that what the Bible says is true,
and leave your own personal opinions behind?

V. Next week: Motivated by Hope.

Copr. 2024, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are
from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard
Version ), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All
rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within
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Holy Spirit as you study.