Quite a few have asked the following question from our study on the book of Revelation:
Who are the two witnesses talked about in Revelation 11?
Revelation 11:3-4 (NASB)
3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.
4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.
The two olive trees and two lampstands is a reference to Zechariah 4. Zechariah was shown a vision of two olive trees furnishing oil for the two lampstands of God so that the light would never cease to shine. In the Temple, it was a tedious job to make sure the lampstand always had the necessary oil so the candle would never burn out. It would be humiliating for a priest if you were the one to let this happen. When Zechariah receives this vision he gets really excited. He asks God what the olive trees and lampstands symbolize. Here is the answer he is given…
Zechariah 4:13-14 (NASB)
13 So he answered me, saying, “Do you not know what these are?” And I said, “No, my lord.”
14 Then he said, “These are the two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth.”
Interestingly, when James and John (Mark 10:35-40) ask Jesus if they can each sit on His side when He comes into His kingdom, they are told no, because the anointed ones have already been chosen. Revelation 11 tells us what they will do over a three and a half year period in the last days.
Who are the two anointed ones? Elijah is definitely one of them. We are told this in Malachi 4.
Malachi 4:5-6 (NASB)
5 Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.
6 He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”
There are two main views regarding who the other anointed one is. Some say Moses, because he was the giver of the Law and one of the greatest prophets who ever lived. This would make sense in that Moses would represent the Law and Elijah the Prophets. This view is also valid since when Jesus was on the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke with Him (Mark 9:4).
Another strong possibility is the second witness would be Enoch. The reason Enoch is considered is because Jude quotes him as preaching about the Last Days and the coming of the Lord.
Jude 1:14-15 (NASB)
14 It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones,
15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
Enoch also stands out in that he and Elijah are the only two men to be raptured and not die. In Genesis 5 we are told Enoch walked with God and was taken up. In Hebrews 11:5 we are told he was taken up by God and did not see death. Enoch and Elijah are the only two to have experienced this prior to the Rapture.
Hebrews 9:27 tells us it is appointed for everyone to die and then face judgment. However Elijah and Enoch did die. Many believe they will return, fulfill their ministries, and be the ones who are killed in Revelation 11.
This may compel you to question…If it is appointed for everyone to die, what about those who are raptured? The answer is found in 1 Cor. 15:50-57. Here the Rapture is described as a time when death is defeated. Jesus did defeat death on the cross. We will witness the consummation of this victory at the Rapture when death is swallowed up in life.