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What are the different views on who the two witnesses described in Revelation are?

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Revelation 11:3-12 discusses two important men involved in the end times known as the two witnesses. Who are they?

Since their coming is still future, there is some uncertainty regarding the identity of these two men. Three views are generally given. First, many suggest these two men will be Moses and Elijah. Moses was given the ability to turn water into blood at the first plague where he turned the Nile River red (Exodus 7:14-25). This same ability will belong to the two witnesses (Revelation 11:6). Elijah had the ability to pray and make the sky stop giving rain, just like the two witnesses (1 Kings 17—18; Revelation 11:6). Elijah also destroyed people with fire (2 Kings 1), and fire will come out of the witnesses' mouths and destroy their enemies (Revelation 11:5). In addition, both Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus at the Transfiguration, providing some precedence that they could return once again (Matthew 17:3-4).

A second view holds that these two witnesses will be Enoch and Elijah. The main reason for this view is that Enoch and Elijah are the only two men recorded in the Bible who were taken directly to heaven without dying. Enoch simply was "no more" and went to heaven (Genesis 5:23-24; Hebrews 11:5) while Elijah was taken to heaven with chariots of fire in the presence of his assistant Elisha (2 Kings 2:11). Since they have never experienced an earthly death, this view suggests these two men could return to die and experience resurrection in the future as the two witnesses.

A third view simply holds that the two witnesses will be two men in the future who have similar powers to Moses and Elijah. While it is possible the two witnesses could be Moses, Elijah, or Enoch, the text does not require this interpretation. God may again raise up men who have the power to turn water to blood and stop rain from falling. These signs will confirm to many that their work and teaching are from the Lord. As a result of their actions and resurrection, many Jews (and likely Gentiles as well) will believe in the Lord. After their resurrection and ascension, we are told, "And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven" (Revelation 11:13).

All of these activities are said to take place leading up to the midpoint of the seven-year Tribulation predicted in the Book of Revelation. It will be a time of great judgment during which a Jewish temple will be constructed, offerings will be made, and the Antichrist or future global ruler will desecrate the temple and declare himself to be a god. The work of these two witnesses will oppose this wicked leader and help point many to the true God during these final, difficult days.

Related Truth:

What is going to happen in the end times?

What people are included in the 144,000?

Who is the Antichrist?

Is there an end times unholy trinity? Who is part of the unholy trinity?

When will the resurrection occur?

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