Previous Section: Chapter Ten - The Little Scroll


[Trumpet Judgment 7]

Revelation 11:1-2

(1) Then there was given me (2) a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, (3) "Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. (4) Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, (5) for it has been given to the nations; and (6) they will tread under foot the holy city for (7) forty-two months.

1. Chapter 11 begins somewhat abruptly from a grammatical standpoint. Specific grammatical indicators that suggest types of transitions usually support chapter divisions. These are usually not evident in an English translation, but are very clear in the original Greek. A grammatical connection between chapters 10 and 11 is absent. However, there is a logical reason for why the content of chapter 11 follows chapter 10. The strong angel announced the end of God’s "delay" in punishing the living earth-dwellers responsible for the death of His faithful followers. We were told the "what," but not the "why." Why is the end of God’s "delay" suddenly and dramatically announced following the sixth trumpet, just before the seventh trumpet sounds?

Chapter 11 will explain that the announcement of God’s suspension of His "delay" is neither sudden nor unexpected. In fact, it comes at God’s precisely intended point in the sequence of end-time events. In step with the rest of the NT, the sequence of the end time events in the Revelation is known, but the exact timing when these events will occur is not known. Therefore, chapter 10 is a critical chronological marker. In addition, chapter 11 will explain why John must prophesy against nations, tongues, peoples and kings.

One other note: modern commentaries are much too quick to spiritualize this chapter. While there are figures of speech employed to communicate John’s intended meaning, this is no basis to claim nothing literal or yet futuristic about Revelation 11. The only obstacle to a futuristic literal fulfillment of Revelation 11 is the intellectual bias of modern theologians.

2. A measuring rod = is similar to Ezekiel 40:3. John is given an instrument for measuring.

3. Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it = explains what John is to measure. John is clearly on the earth, since the strong angel of chapter 10 descended from heaven and stood on the earth. We are not told how John will get to the temple, when he will actually carry out the measuring or the results of his measurements. The temple of God is a clear reference to the earthly tabernacle of God. One can be sure that there is no outer court that the nations trample in heaven. "The temple (naos) of God" is referred to in Revelation 11:19 with the designation which is in heaven. This clearly sets it apart from the temple on earth. The term temple can translate two Greek words: naos or hieron. Naos normally only refers to the building that houses the holy of holies. Hieron refers to the complete temple area including the building that houses the holy of holies as well as the courts.

From the building that houses the holy of holies (naos), John is to proceed to measure the altar. Since the altar of incense is located in the holy place, which is part of the building that houses the holy of holies, this altar is more than likely the altar of burnt offerings. It (in the Herodian temple) was located in the court of the priests, which is the next area one sees when leaving the building that houses the holy of holies.

The third and final thing to be measured by John concerns "those who worship in (near) it (the altar located in court of the priests). "Those who worship" in this particular area are the priests. Naturally, John would not measure people the same way he would measure a building. Therefore, John is to count the priests who worship in the area of the altar of burnt offerings. Why does God want these three entities measured/counted? We shall return to this question later.

4. Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it = is the second half of John’s instructions. John is told to exclude the outer court, which was the area designated for Gentiles. It is not to be measured.

5. For it has been given to the nations = explains the reason the outer court is not to be measured. God has ordained by His sovereign choice to allow the outer court, reserved for Gentiles to honor Him, to be dishonored by Gentiles. "The nations" usually refer to Gentiles only.

6. And they will tread under foot the holy city = explains what the Gentiles will do. To tread under foot is a figure of speech. It means "to mistreat or abuse (BADG 640 §1ag)." "The holy city" is a clear and unmistakable reference to Jerusalem. However, there is doubt on the part of some that it refers to the literal earthly city, Jerusalem. Some argue that the reference concerns a spiritualized "mother of cities." All arguments betray a bias against a literal interpretation of this chapter. As the earthly home of God Almighty, Jerusalem was referred to as a "holy city" in the Old Testament (Isa 52:1, Neh 11:1). Gentiles will dishonor God’s place of worship and abuse the city.

7. Forty-two months = defines the length of time "the holy city" will be abused. Forty-two months equals three and a half years or 1,260 days. This numerically specific number has a pre-history in the book of Daniel. Daniel predicted a future period of human history, which he described in several ways: (1) time, times, and half a time (Dan 7:25; 12:7); (2) half a week (Dan 9:27); (3) 1,290 days (Dan 12:11). The fact that the Revelation refers to a period of human history, which is also described as: (1) 1,260 days (Rev 11:3; 12:6); (2) time, times, and half a time (Rev 12:14); and (3) forty-two months (Rev 11:2), confirms a Danielic connection.

This unique time frame is specifically prophetic in connection with the prophesied reign of "the prince." There is no doubt on the part of scholars that Daniel and the Revelation speaks of the fulfillment of the same prophetic event. However, the problem concerns the fulfillment itself. Preterists argue that the events are synonymous, but were fulfilled in the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem. Those who spiritualize the text see an on-going fulfillment as God and His people battle against evil in the world. Futurists see a literal future fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecies that are confirmed in the Revelation.

Daniel predicts that a beast (a king) from the sea would arise and persecute the people of God for time, times and half a time. The Revelation confirms this (Rev 12-13). The crucial question concerns how this event relates to "the holy city" suffering abuse by the nations for forty-two months. Luke 21:24 states, "and they (the Jews) will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem (the holy city) will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles (the nations) until the times of the Gentiles (the nations) are fulfilled." The Lord Jesus prophetically indicates that Gentile abuse of the Jews and Jerusalem would be set in motion by a terrible destruction "by armies (Luke 21:20)." As Luke 21:12 indicates this terrible destruction and enslavement of the Jews and Jerusalem would begin during the lifetime of the Disciples and would eventuate into the coming of the kingdom of God. This prophetic event begun in AD 70 is said to continue "until the times of the Gentiles (the nations) are fulfilled." Therefore, the preterists are half right and half wrong. The events of AD 70 did fulfill prophecy, but not all prophecy. The events necessary to inaugurate the Lord’s return began, but not the consummation of His return.

In content, one characteristic of "the times of the Gentiles (the nations)" is an abuse of Jerusalem by the Gentiles. Their abuse consists of their fundamental disregard for Jerusalem as the city of God upon the earth. Their willingness to worship other gods upon the very site the true God of heaven calls His home is the gravest and most abusive act of human history. This God will allow during this Gentile dispensation. The final three and a half years of this Gentile dispensation will be the worst of all. It is during this period that the ultimate act of abuse of Jerusalem will occur. This event will be presented in detail in Revelation 12-13.

However, the reason this detail appears at this point in the narrative of the Revelation is because while the Gentile dispensation of abuse of the Jews and Jerusalem runs its course, God has at the same time been taking a people for his name from among the Gentiles. The mystery of God (God’s special work in Jesus to bring Gentiles to glory) ends at the same time that "the times of the Gentiles" ends. They run concurrent and they culminate at the same time. While God has poured out grace on the Gentiles (the nations), they have returned his mercy with abuse of His people (the Jews) and His City (Jerusalem). The termination of the "delay" also means the termination of the Gentile abuse of God’s people and their city. The punishment of the abusers of God’s holy city is John’s first prophecy in fulfillment of his charge to prophesy against people, nations, tongues and kings.

Revelation 11:3

(1) And I will grant (2) authority to (3) my two witnesses, and (4) they will prophesy for (5) twelve hundred and sixty days (6) clothed in sackcloth."

1. And I will grant = is another very abrupt comment. There is no grammatical connection indicated. However, the connection is a logical one. The ministry and death of the two Jewish witnesses is another example and reason for John’s prophetic ministry against peoples, nations, tongues and kings. Specifically, the abuse the two Jewish witnesses will experience justifies God’s wrath against the living earth-dwellers (peoples, nations, tongues, and kings). The unspecified speaker of Revelation 11:1 (someone said) is specified in Revelation 11:3 (I will grant). The speaker is none other than God, Himself.

2. Authority = is put in italics in the NASB because it is not in the original text. The translators have added it to give the reader a sense of what John intended.

3. My two witnesses = identifies who receives authority from God. With the definite Greek article "the" before it, John indicates his audience’s familiarity with the witnesses--not their specific names and identity, but their specific roles. Verse four will deal with this issue in detail.

Wild and unnecessary speculations about the identity of these two witnesses have filled many pages. Enoch and Elijah are by far the leaders in this theological guessing game. Given the fact that both are murdered and savagely treated, it is highly unlikely that the two witnesses are historical figures from Israel’s past. The Lord Jesus, Himself, states, that the living "will not be persuaded" to repent "even if someone rises from the dead (Luke 16:31)." A point proved by His own resurrection. Equally, given that these two witnesses are murdered, it is extremely unlike God to resurrect faithful giants like Moses, Elijah, Enoch or any other great figure from the OT only to have them murdered in the streets of Jerusalem. Another point that argues against past historical figures, particular Elijah, concerns the ministry of the two witnesses.

The ministry of Elijah is specifically defined. Malachi 4:5-6 states,

Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. 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.

What exactly is Malachi predicting here? The Lord Jesus helps us understand the meaning of this text. He states in Matthew 17:11, "Elijah is coming and will restore all things…." Literally, "Indeed, Elijah is coming and he will restore all things." This demands that John the Baptist was in a figurative sense, Elijah. However, the verse also supports the conclusion that the real literal Elijah is going to come. Jesus summaries Elijah’s mission: to restore all things. Elijah is going to bring reconciliation among the people of Israel. Now the reader must pay close attention to the Lord’s words. Elijah will restore all things. Notice Elijah will not try to restore. Elijah will not desire to restore, but in fact, Elijah will restore all things. Such a ministry is not reported to be a part of the ministry of the two witnesses. It is therefore best to see the two witnesses as two future individuals whom God will use in ministry reminiscent of Moses and Elijah (for reason to be stated below).

4. They will prophesy = explains the two witnesses' ministry. The two witnesses are specially called prophets in Revelation 11:10. These prophets will function as Old Testament prophets functioned. They will speak for God to the people and judge those who refuse to obey. What they will prophesy is not stated explicitly, but the objects of their punishment is stated emphatically.

5. Twelve hundred and sixty days = is the length of the ministry of the two witnesses. This numerical designation finds affinity with Daniel 7:26 and 12:7. It is the same time frame during which the holy city will experience the worst abuse and dishonor the Gentile nations will ever level against it.

6. Clothed in sackcloth = explains the dress of the witnesses and gives us a clue to the content of their prophecies. "Sackcloth" (of OT fame) was usually made of coarse animal hair like goats or camels. Genesis 37:34 indicates sackcloth was a garment of mourning. I Kings 20:31-32 indicates the wearing of sackcloth evidences humility in the face of authority (see also Dan 9:3). Sackcloth could also be used to indicate a desire for forgiveness when repentance is made, which is evidenced in John 3:5-8. Zechariah 13:7 indicates that sackcloth was the attire of the prophets on various occasions (See Isa 20:2). Zechariah indicates that the wearing of sackcloth was or will be the habit of those attempting to deceive the people of God. Thus, the wearing of sackcloth by a prophet evidenced true or faked sincerity. It was a mark of authenticity for the prophet.

Revelation 11:4

These are (1) the two olive trees and (2) the two lampstands that stand before (3) the Lord of the earth.

1. The two olive trees = offers one more clue to the identity of the two witnesses. Here we have an explicit allusion to Zechariah 4:14. Where the two olive trees are identified as ‘the two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth." Exactly who the anointed ones are is not explicitly stated, but this explains John’s use of the definite article back in verse three. John’s audience knew the witnesses as prophetic characters, but did not know their names or unique identities.

2. The two lampstands = is the second clue given about the two witnesses. This also appears to allude to Zechariah 4:11.

3. The Lord of the earth = is God, Himself.

Revelation 11:5

(1) And if anyone wants to harm them, (2) fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way.

1. If anyone wants to harm them = is curious to say the least. Why would anyone want to harm them? To harm means to hurt or to harm, with the implication of doing something which is wrong and undeserved (Louw & Nida § 20.25). Therefore, whoever it is that seeks to harm the witnesses, there reason to do so is fraudulent. John describes those who will want to harm the two witnesses as "their enemies."

2. Fire flows out of their mouth = is one of the many reasons most scholars either see a spiritualized or symbolical significance to the book of Revelation. Fire proceeding from the mouth can hardly be taken literally or can it? Jeremiah 4:14 speaks metaphorically of God’s word as fire. However, the fact that John emphasizes by restatement, "if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way," argues strongly for a literal interpretation here. In the tradition of the Old Testament, particularly Elijah, the miraculous use of literal fire in judgment has precedent. In addition, John describes the death of the enemies of the two witnesses as devouring. Incineration by fire would be an effective means of disposing of your enemies.

Revelation 11:6

(1) These have the power to shut up the sky, (2) so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and (3) they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and (4) to strike the earth with every plague, (5) as often as they desire.

1. These have the power to shut up the sky = is the first of three prerogatives of the two witnesses. Power is better translated authority. This prerogative is assigned to both witnesses. While Elijah is typically pictured, as the one shutting up the heavens, both witnesses will have this authority. Interestingly, Elijah did in fact shut the heavens of rain for three and a half years during his earthly ministry (Luke 4:25; James 5:17).

2. So that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying = is the result of a shut up sky. "Rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying" is a severe judgment. The fact that Israel experienced a three and a half-year period without rain means it is possible to survive, but with great difficulty. Water will be an expensive commodity. Given the trumpet and bowl judgments that deal with salt and fresh water sources, it is clear that the two witnesses will limit their influence to specific geographical areas—Jerusalem and its environs will be one of them.

3. They have power [authority] over waters to turn them into blood = is the second prerogative of the witnesses. Not only will they stop the rain from heaven, but they will also ruin water sources on earth. Turning water into blood is reminiscent of the prophet Moses. However, both witnesses will have this prerogative.

4. [They have authority] to strike the earth with every plague = defines the third prerogative of this group. They both have this ability. The witnesses have an unlimited range of possible plagues; are unlimited as to how many times they strike; and the total earth surface can be their victim. This does not bode well for the world.

5. As often as they desire = indicates that God has given these witnesses the choice concerning how often they strike. This indicates a tremendous amount of trust on God’s part in these witnesses.

Revelation 11:7

(1) When they have finished their testimony, (2) the beast that comes up out of the abyss (3) will make war with them, and (4) overcome them and kill them.

1. When they have finished their testimony = refers back to the designation of "twelve hundred and sixty days," in Revelation 11:3. It is critical for the reader to discover which half of the of Daniel’s seven-year prophetic week the ministry of the two witnesses will occur. There are those who would debate whether Daniel’s Seventieth Week is in view throughout Revelation 4-19. Linguistic, theological, semantic and historical details make any other conclusion unacceptable. We shall deal with this question at chapters 12-13, later.

When will the two witnesses finish their work: the first half or the second half of Daniel’s Seventieth Week? It is our belief that they prophecy and torment the wicked during the second half of Daniel’s Seventieth Week. Our reasons are thus: The unique length of the two witnesses’ ministry is proof that Revelation 10-11 coincides with the end of Daniel’s Seventieth Week and the beginning of the seventy-five day period that immediately follows it. God states in Revelation 11:3 that He would "grant authority to my two witnesses and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days…." Twelve hundred and sixty days is equal to forty-two months, three and a half years or time, times, and half a time.

These particular time references are explicitly identified only in the books of Daniel and Revelation. In every case, the same prophetic period is indicated—the second half of Daniel’s Seventieth Week (Dan. 9:27). Daniel 7:25, 12:7 and Revelation 13:5 indicate that "time, times and half a time" or "forty-two months" is the amount of time given to the beast to persecute the saints of God. Daniel 9:27 indicates that "the prince" will have half a week, which is three and half years, to persecute the people of God. Revelation 12:6 and 14 indicate that "twelve hundred and sixty days" or "time, times, and half a time" is the amount of time God will protect "the woman" in the wilderness from Antichrist’s persecution. There is no significant debate, among those who hold to the futurity of Daniel’s last week of prophecy, that the six references above refer to the second half of Daniel’s Seventieth Week.

Revelation 11:3 is the seventh explicit reference to a three and a half year period in the books of Daniel and Revelation. The burden of proof that Revelation 11:3 does not refer to the second half of Daniel’s Seventieth Week lies with those who would argue differently. This question might have been left in the unsolvable category if it were not for the three woes. The strategic placement of the ministry of the two witnesses between woes one and two prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the ministry of the two witness must occur during the second half of Daniel’s Seventieth Week. John’s choice to place the details of the ministry of the witnesses in Revelation 11 is logical. The death of the two witnesses coincides with the end of the Seventieth Week and provides another reason for John to "prophesy against many peoples and nations and tongues and kings."

2. The beast that comes up out of the abyss = is identified as the primary antagonist of the two witnesses. The beast (tharion) is not an animal, but a man or kingdom. This is a figurative extension of the literal sense—wild animal. Louw and Nida state, "a bad person in the sense of being both harmful and dangerous (88.199)." John clearly wants the reader to understand that this beast is both harmful and dangerous.

John introduces the "beast" at this point because of his relationship to the two witnesses. Scholars are inclined to make a big deal of the fact that John introduces the beast with the article "the." This indicates that the readers are familiar with this entity, but not the specific name and identify. It is true that this is the first explicit reference to the beast (singular) in the Revelation. However, the beasts (plural) were introduced in the fourth seal. There, John indicates that "the beasts of the earth" will be agents of Death prior to the wrath of God.

The literal referents of the beasts of Revelation are very difficult to identify.

Revelation 11:7 – the beast that comes up out of the abyss.
Revelation 12:3 – the red dragon (seven heads and ten horns)
Revelation 12:9 – the dragon (Satan)
Revelation 13:1 – a beast that comes up out of the sea (seven heads and ten horns).
Revelation 13:11 – Another beast (the false prophet)
Revelation 17:3 – a red beast (seven heads and ten horns) comes up out of the abyss.

See the lengthy discussion of the identity of the beast in chapters 12-13.

3. Will make war with them = describes the agenda of "the beast." War is not typically used to describe an attack on two people. However, given the abilities of the two witnesses, "the beast" will use every avenue available to defeat them. The two witnesses are more than the beast’s armies.

4. Overcome them and kill them = is the result of three and a half years of desire. Having tormented the people without mercy, authority or permission is granted the beast to kill the witnesses.

Revelation 11:8

(1) And their dead bodies will lie in the street of (2) the great city (3) which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, (4) where also their Lord was crucified.

1. Their dead bodies will lie in the street = indicates the level of contempt the beast and his faithful followers will have for the witnesses. That the two witnesses will be put to death argues against the identification of Elijah and Moses or angelic beings as the two witnesses.

2. The great city = can be none other than Jerusalem for reasons to follow.

3. Which mystically = indicates that author is employing a figure of speech. Mystically is a translation of the Greek word pneumatikos. This same word is used in 1 Corinthians 2:14, where it is translated spiritually. The point John is making is this: spiritual perception is necessary to understand "the great city." The great city is a literal city, however, it is great for a different reason than normal.

Sodom is the first clue to why this is the great city. Destroyed by God for gross immorality (homosexuality), Sodom became a by-word for wickedness. It is always depicted as a city destroyed by God because of its wickedness (Deut 29:23; Isa 1:9; Jer 49:18; Amos 4:11; Zeph 2:9; Matt 10:15; Luke 10:12; 2 Pet 2:6; Jude 7).

Egypt is the second clue to why this is the great city. Egypt is not a city, but a state. However, it is what the state represents that is the point of comparison. Egypt is depicted in Scripture as a symbol of slavery (Deut 5:6; Judg 6:8; Neh 9:17; Jer 34:13) and idolatry (Isa 19:1; Ezek 20:7). Both Sodom and Egypt were destroyed by God because of their wickedness.

4. Where their Lord was also crucified = is the third and final clue that positively identifies the great city. This phrase clearly identifies this city as Jerusalem. Yet, many scholars will not accept a literal interpretation at this point. The spiritual interpretation only applies to Sodom and Egypt. Jerusalem will forever be known as the place of the Lord’s death. This supports the author’s intent that Jerusalem is a wicked city. Wicked because Gentiles are dishonoring God’s place of worship and abusing God’s holy city.

This is the first place in the Revelation where the title Lord is applied directly to Jesus. The title is specifically applied to God the Father in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament Jesus is Lord. In the Revelation, the title is applied to God the Father fifteen times. It is applied to Christ eight times. The absolute use of this title for Jesus here argues against the notion that these witnesses are not part of the church family. This is a NT designation for the believer’s relationship to his savior.

Whether Jerusalem and its environs are the sole focus of the two witnesses’ ministry cannot be dogmatically stated. However, the fact that they are killed in Jerusalem, which is consistent with OT parallels, seems to support the conclusion that it is their base of operation. Jesus indicates in Luke 13:33 that Jerusalem is the death site for the prophets.

Revelation 11:9

(1) Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations (2) will look at their dead bodies for (3) three and a half days, and (4) will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb.

1. Peoples… tribes… tongues… nations = indicates a universal presence in Jerusalem at the death of these witnesses. The reason for the gathering of such a wide selection of the world in Jerusalem at this time is not indicated.

2. Will look at their dead bodies = is a very unpleasant detail included in the text. This is the first response of the wicked earth-dwellers to the death of the witnesses. Why would the dead bodies of these witnesses bring pleasure to this universally represented people group?

3. Three and a half days = is a literal reference. There is nothing here to suggest a non-literal interpretation.

4. Will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb = suggests a spirit of meanness. This is the second response of the wicked earth-dwellers to the death of the two witnesses. Having been tormented, the people are not satisfied with the mere death of the witnesses. They take satisfaction from allowing the bodies to rot in the streets of Jerusalem. This expresses the degree of anger and hatred they have for the witnesses.

Revelation 11:10

(1) And those who dwell on the earth (2) will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, (3) because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

1. Those who dwell on the earth = further defines who the universal gathering in Jerusalem is. This or a similar phrase is used nine times in the Revelation and always refers to the wicked people of the earth who are hostile to God and His people. The wicked earth-dwellers are in contrast to those who are of God and whose citizenship is in heaven.

2. Will rejoice over them = is the third response of the wicked earth-dwellers to the death of the witnesses. They are genuinely happy at the death of the witnesses. This elevates our understanding of the suffering the witnesses will cause the wicked earth-dwellers. "(They will) celebrate" is the fourth response of the wicked earth-dwellers. This party spirit follows good news. They will send gifts to one another is the fifth and final response of the wicked earth-dwellers. In ancient times, there is information that suggests men often gave gifts at festivals, marriages and other similar joyous events. However, events that involved the exchanging of gifts is a rare event and heightens the sense of joy the wicked earth-dwellers experienced at the death of the witnesses. This again makes the degree of torment by the witnesses of the wicked earth-dwellers apparent.

3. Because the two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth = is the directly stated reason for the response of the wicked earth-dwellers. Notice that they are now called prophets. They have declared the will of God. They have also unleashed plagues and punishments upon the wicked earth-dwellers. Nothing brings the wrath of the world more than plagues and preaching. Whoever would do either must be fully prepared to suffer!

Revelation 11:11

(1) But after the three and a half days, (2) the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and (3) great fear fell upon those who were watching them.

1. After the three and a half days = is repeated from Revelation 11:9. Many have attempted a spiritual or allegorical understanding of these numbers. However, there is no basis to such findings. A literal three and a half day period is intended.

2. The breath of life from God came into them = has OT parallels (Gen 1:30; 2:7; 6:17; Job 32:8). As God gave Adam breath for the first time, the two prophets will receive it a second time. This is a beautiful picture of the resurrection for all the dead that awaits God’s breath in the grave.

3. Great fear fell upon those who were watching = has NT parallels as a response to a supernatural display of God’s power (Luke 1:12, 65; Acts 5:5; 19:17).

Revelation 11:12

(1) And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, (2) "Come up here." (3) Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, (4) and their enemies watched them.

1. They heard a loud voice from heaven saying = is an oft-repeated motif thoroughout the Revelation. The voice is not identified. It is loud enough for all wicked earth-dwellers to hear.

2. Come up here = is the exact same command given to John in Revelation 4:1.

3. Then they went up into heaven in the cloud = or on the cloud would be another way to say it. The two prophetic witnesses are taken up to heaven in bodily form. Their transportation system is the cloud. The cloud as a divine transportation system has broad biblical usage (Acts 1:9; 1 Thess 4:17; Dan 7:13; Isa 19:1; Mark 13:26; Exod 14:24).

4. Their enemies = is a final identification of the wicked earth-dwellers.

Revelation 11:13

(1) And in that hour (2) there was a great earthquake, (3) and a tenth of the city fell; (4) seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, (5) and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

1. In that hour = speaks to the immediate judgment of God that followed the witnesses rapture to heaven (Matt 8:13; 10:19; Luke 7:21; John 4:53).

2. There was a great earthquake = is God’s response of judgment on the wicked earth-dwellers in the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem.

3. A tenth of the city fell = clearly suggests a literal city is in view. Some scholars still insist that John is referring to a city that represents the whole wide world. Clearly, a tenth of the city of Jerusalem is destroyed.

4. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake = is both a precise number and small in comparison to the present number of people who live in Jerusalem. We are not told if this number represents a tenth of the inhabitants of Jerusalem at the time. God’s sense of balance is evident. For the death and inhuman treatment of the prophetic witnesses, 7,000 souls were required as just payment.

5. The rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven = is John’s final comment concerning the ministry of the prophetic witnesses. A reaction of fear and the giving of glory are two reactions typical of supernatural manifestations of God.

Matthew 17:6 indicates fear was the disciples (believers) reaction to God’s voice at the transfiguration of Jesus. Matthew 27:54 indicates "fear" was the centurion and company (unbelievers) reaction to the events connected with the death of Christ. Matthew 8:27 indicates the disciples (believers) were amazed at Jesus’ ability to command the winds and the sea.

Luke indicates that a typical acclamation at the conclusion of a supernatural event is "they glorified God (Luke 13:13; 18:43)." Both were recipients of miraculous healing. Mark 2:12 indicates that both believers and unbelievers "were glorifying God" at the conclusion of Jesus’ miracle concerning the man let down through the roof on a pallet. This is important because some scholars indicate the possible conversion of the living earth-dwellers in Jerusalem following this supernatural event.

To give glory to God is used in Scripture in several ways. First, it can mean "to tell the truth ([John 9:24], Louw-Nida, § 33.468). Second, it can summarize the praise and honor one gives to God as a result of His goodness (Luke 17:18; Acts 4:21; 11:18; 12:23; 13:48; 21:20). What then is the significance of this phrase for the wicked earth-dwellers in Jerusalem? Perhaps, Acts 13:48 is helpful at this point. Luke writes, "When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed." This verse clearly teaches that while all rejoiced and glorified, not all believed. Thus, it is possible for an unbeliever to speak the truth with those who believe in the God of truth. Equally, while those who are converted do "give God glory," it not the same to say that everyone who gives God glory is saved. It is one thing to recognize God’s power and abilities and to audibly express it, but it something altogether different to suggest the mere act proves conversion.

The wicked earth-dwellers in Jerusalem express the obvious, but there is no indication of repentance. There is no calling upon the name of Jesus for forgiveness. To give God glory can be nothing more than the mere recognition of God’s sovereignty over heaven and earth. This is exactly the meaning of this phrase in 1 Samuel 6:5. The priests and diviners of the Philistines command the capturers of the Ark to acknowledge God’s sovereignty (give glory to the God of Israel) by sending the Ark home. The Philistines (in context) are clearly unbelievers, both before and after the experience with the Ark. This is the meaning of Revelation 16:9 where the living wicked earth-dwellers refuse to repent and give God glory (recognize his sovereignty) as sovereign of heaven and earth. It renders the wicked without excuse. They consciously chose to worship the creature rather than the creator. Thus, the sixth and seventh bowl is necessary. This is the point of Acts 12:23 where Herod is killed because he refused to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and his submission to that God.

The death of the two witnesses is the second important reason John must prophesy against the living wicked earth-dwellers again. Equally, their death is the final installment of God’s promise to the fifth seal martyrs. With the death of the two witnesses, the number of those to be killed as the martyrs who had been killed is complete. Thus, the mystery of God is complete.

Revelation 11:14

(1) The second woe is past; behold, (2) the third woe is coming quickly.

1. The second woe is past = is perhaps one of the most important sentences in the whole Revelation in relation to the chronology and sequencing of the book of Revelation. The fact that not one seal is punctuated with a pronouncement of a "woe" fulfilled argues against recapitulation or the overlapping of seals, trumpets, and bowls (with the exception that seal seven contains the first six trumpets and the seventh trumpet contains the bowls judgments).

The pronouncement of the second woe is also critical to understanding the placement of the summary of the prophetic witnesses’ ministry in the book of Revelation.

There are basically three options: first, that the ministry to the two prophetic witnesses recorded in Revelation 11:1-13 occurs between trumpets six and seven; or second, that the ministry of the two witnesses runs concurrent with the trumpet judgments, but is summarized in Revelation 11:1-13; or third, that the ministry of the two prophetic witnesses symbolically represent the struggles of all believers during the period of the church.

Daniel specifically limits the time frame "three and a half-years" (represented in the Revelation as time, times and half a time, one thousand two hundred and sixty days, forty-two months) to the eschatological period just prior to the coming of "One like a Son of Man." Daniel indicates that two "three and half-year periods" would characterize his Seventieth Week. A unique beginning would mark the second period. Jesus, in Mathew 24:15 calls it "the Abomination of Desolation."

Of the three other references to a three and a half-year period in the Revelation, each reference concerns persecution. Revelation 12:6: the woman flees to protective custody for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. Revelation 12:14: the woman escapes form the Dragon (Satan) to protective custody for time, times and half a time. Revelation 13:5: the beast from the sea is authorized by the Dragon (Satan) to act for forty-two months. Thus, we conclude that the Revelation is unconcerned with the life of the beast from the sea prior to his authorization by the Dragon.

It is clear that the ministry of the two prophetic witnesses is presented in summary fashion. The emphasis is a focus on the termination rather than the beginning of their ministry. Therefore, it is our contention that the ministry of the two prophetic witnesses begins before the trumpet judgments, but terminates with the sixth trumpet. Consequently, the ministry of the two prophetic witnesses runs concurrent with the time of the dragon-empowered-beast that comes from the sea. The purpose of the strategic placement of Revelation 10:1-11:13 is clear. The termination of the mystery of God and the ministry of the two prophetic witnesses set in motion the final display of God’s wrath against the living wicked earth-dwellers. With the death of the two witnesses, God’s promise to the fifth seal martyrs that with the completion of the death of those who were to be killed, He would avenge and punish the living wicked earth-dwellers is vindicated.

2. The third woe is coming quickly = is significant for the debate about imminency. The only way one may designate that the third woe is imminent is the second woe must have been initiated. Similarly, the Rapture is imminent only if some event sets it in motion. Jesus indicated that His return is imminent only after a season of unparalleled suffering has been initiated. Then and only then will the Rapture be imminent.

Revelation 11:15

(1) Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, (2) "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and (3) He will reign forever and ever."

1. Then the seventh angel sounded = establishes a chronological sequence that is important to recognizes. The seventh trumpet must be the third and final woe. The three woes (trumpets five, six and seven) are the worst expression of God’s wrath recorded in the Book of Revelation. Nothing in the seals can compare to the trumpet judgments without over generalizing the similarities and minimizing the differences of the trumpets and seals.

Loud voices distinguish this oft-repeated phrase from other occurrences by the fact that it is plural in this particular case. This points to the significance of what is announced at this point.

2. The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ = is none other than God’s reclamation of the earth. God almighty and His Christ are now in complete physical control of the earth. Physical, in the sense that God and His Christ are physically manifested on the earth and are in the process of removing all that is unlike Themselves—the Gospel of the Kingdom fulfilled. Heaven has already been cleansed through the war of Michael and his angels (Rev 12:7-90), which occurs at the middle of Daniel’s final week. The gospel of the kingdom of God is in its final phase of clean up. It will be complete when Satan and his forces are locked away for one thousand years in the abyss. The end of the end of the age is in view. This by definition means that Satan is no longer the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4). He will be defeated, arrested, bound and imprisoned for a millennium.

Has become is past tense and suggests that this is a done deal. However, some scholars argue that this is an example of prophetic perfect; i.e. something stated as completed, but still future. That is, the loud voices are so certain that this will happen that they state it as if it has already happened. However, this conclusion is unnecessary. It grows out of a failure to understand the sequence of end-time events and the chronology of the book of Revelation. This is merely the announcement that God has publicly reclaimed his rightful rule over the earth. However, God is still in the process of cleansing the earth of the living wicked earth-dwellers and their satanic leaders, which is the result of the bowl judgments.

Our Lord and of His Christ is not an unusual way to refer to God the Father and His Anointed. This is an allusion to Psalms 2:2, which will control the content of this section--Revelation 11:15-18. The temporal kingdom of Christ (the millennium) has not begun at this point. Therefore, Christ who will rule during the temporal kingdom is subordinate to the Father. Since God the Father is invisible and will never manifest Himself in physical form, God the Son will act as visible King on the earth.

3. He will reign forever and ever = does not agree with the previous statement. One would expect the last sentence to say; "They will reign." However, the loud voices from heaven are correct in their theology. He will reign applies to God the Father. God the Father will reign forever and ever. This is specifically declared in OT Scriptures (Exod 15:18; Ps 10:16; Dan 4:3). Jesus, on the other hand, will reign over a temporal kingdom (one millennium) after which He will subject Himself and all rule and authority to God the Father forever (1 Cor 15:27-28).

Revelation 11:16-17

(1) And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, (2) "We give you thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, (3) because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.

1. And the twenty-four elders = are the only group specifically identified at this grand celebration of God’s reclamation of the earth. Why this is the case is not stated. However, the elders are given the opportunity to up-date the reader concerning what transpire at the sounding of the seventh trumpet. When God reclaims the earth as His sovereign domain, four very important events find their fulfillment.

2. We give you thanks = is prayer of thanksgiving. This prayer is directed to the Lord God, which indicates God the Father. He (God the Father) is pantokrator (almighty) (Rev 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7; 21:22), which is a literal translation of the Hebrew phrase Jehovah, the Lord of Host (Amos 3:13; 2 Sam 5:10; 1 Kigs 19:10; Jer 5:14; Ps 89:8). As the Almighty nothing could, can or will stop Him. He is sovereign.

3. Because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign = indicates the reason for the prayer of thanksgiving. You have taken reflects the Greek tense of this verb. It is an accomplished fact. It is not that God has not always had the power. Rather, He at this point has determined to use it. Have begun to reign also suggests a past act. However, the emphasis is ingressive. That is, God the Father has taken his great power and just started to reign. This confirms the pronouncement of the loud voices in heaven that "the kingdom of the world has just become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ."

Revelation 11:18

(1) And the nations were enraged, and (2) Your wrath came, and (3) the time came for the dead to be judged, (4) and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and (5) to destroy those who destroy the earth."

1. And the nations were enraged = is the first reaction to God’s reclamation of the earth by those on the earth. Ta ethna (the nations) refers to the Gentiles. Israel would not be involved because the kingdom of God is their temporal hope. Psalm 2:1-2 speaks of an enraged response from the nations when God enthrones His Son as king of the nations. The reason the nations are enraged is that Jesus’ lordship demands submission and recognition of His sovereignty which the nations reject (Rev 16:9).

2. Your wrath came = is God’s response to the rage of the nations. Their failure to submit to God results in their destruction. God’s wrath is expressed in the bowl judgments (Rev 15:1).

3. The time came for the dead to be judged = is the second of four events that follow God’s reclamation of the earth. The verb came is understood. Scholars recognize a difficulty with the judgment of the dead at this point in the sequence of the Revelation. The dead can refer to either the righteous dead, the wicked dead or both. Since God is not through with his judgment of the living wicked earth-dwellers, it hardly seems proper to judge the wicked dead at this point. Particularly, given that more wicked-dead will follow and a judgment will follow the 1000-year kingdom. This judgment involves the righteous dead only. An event necessary before the Lord of lords returns at Armageddon with His armies.

4. And the time to reward Your bond-servants = requires extra thought. The Greek conjunction and can be translated even when an apposition type sense is intended. We believe this to be the better interpretation at this point. Therefore, we translate this portion to say, "and the time came for the dead to be judged, even to reward your bond-servants the prophets…." To judge the righteous dead means the same thing as to reward God’s bond-servants. Misthos (reward) refers to the payment one is due based on prior work. Scripture promises the faithful rewards. Ultimate on the list of rewards, is the right to reign with Christ.

Since the judgment of the righteous is in view, what groups are indicated is important. Scholars do not agree concerning the grouping indicated in Revelation 11:18b. We suggest the following translation, "and the time came for the dead to be judged, even Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints, namely those who fear Your name, the small and the great…" This allows a qualifying phrase for both prophets and saints. The prophets are the bond-servants and the saints are those who fear Your name. Revelation 16:6 speaks of saints and prophets. Revelation 18:24 also speaks of prophets and saints. These are clearly two separate groups. The Revelation also speaks of the prophets as servants of God (Rev 10:7d). This is a reference used for the prophets more than eighteen times in the Old Testament (Dan 9:6; Amos 3:7; Zech 1:6).

5. [The time came ] to destroy those who destroy the earth = is the final event introduced by John that occurs immediately after God Almighty takes back His rightful rule over the earth. The verb to destroy in the Greek literally means "to cause the complete destruction of someone or something — ‘to destroy utterly (Louw-Nida, § 20.40)." The object of this utter destruction is "those who destroy the earth." Those who destroy have the same verb as to destroy just referenced. Scholars do not agree on its meaning here. Most claim a figurative meaning here. The sense is those who morally ruin the earth (Louw-Nida, § 88.266). God will physically destroy those who have bankrupted the people. This is the expressed purpose of the bowl judgments, which constitutes the third "woe." The primary party guilty of morally ruining the earth is the "great harlot" of Revelation 17-18.

Revelation 11:19


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