According to the Scriptures"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel... By which also ye are saved... unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

My Two Witnesses

This is a brief dissertation as to the identity of the Two Witnesses spoken of in the book of Revelation. Some believe it is Enoch and Elijah. Some believe it is Moses and Elijah. Others believe that John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecies concerning the coming of Elijah. It should be noted that prophecies, when not yet fulfilled, can sometimes be difficult to interpret. So when we search out the matter, it is therefore necessary to search the whole council of God, and leave room for the possibility that we may not have it entirely right.

We first read about these two witnesses in Revelation chapter 11. "And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth" (Revelation 11:3).

Who might they be? They are not mentioned by name but are simply called “my two witnesses”. They are the ones who witness and give testimony on behalf of the Lord for the first three and one half years of, what some have termed, the 7 year Tribulation, otherwise known as Daniel's 70th week. We are told that, "These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth" (Revelation 11:4). This is in reference to two men specifically mentioned in the book of Zechariah in chapter four and are identified as Joshua, the high priest, and Zerubbable, the governor of Israel. These were the two leaders of Israel, who when they were come back from their Babylonian Captivity, "builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon" (Ezra 3:2), to once again, establish true worship in Jerusalem after their 70 year exile from the land of Israel.

Are the two witnesses in the Revelation actually Joshua and Zerubbable? I do not believe so, but certainly Joshua and Zerubbable, and the situation surrounding them foreshadowed that of the Two Witnesses in the Revelation as their circumstances are quite similar. It is like history repeating itself.

First of all, just like the nation Israel was gathered back to their land after the 70 years of Babylonian captivity, so too, in the latter days, the Lord God said that he would gather Israel from the four corners of the world a “second time” and bring them back into the land that was promised to their forefathers and their descendants for an everlasting possession.

The prophet Hosea tells us that "the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days" (Hosea 3:4-5).

The prophet Isaiah proclaimed, "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth" (Isaiah 11:11-12).

Secondly, in the Revelation John said, "And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein" (Revelation 11:1). The first 12 verses of this chapter deal with the Two Witnesses. Sacrifice will once again take place in Israel, under the Jewish economy. There will be an altar and the temple shall be rebuilt and the children of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and worship Him.

This I believe will be the result of the ministry of the Two Witnesses, which we have pictured for us in the Old Testament under Joshua and Zerubbable, for when "the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem" (Not as Israel and Judah; but as “one stick” as in Ezekiel 37:16-19), Joshua and Zerubbable, "builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon . . . for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries" (Ezra 3:1-3).

Even today, we can see how the hostility of the nations is mounting up against Israel and I am sure there is a growing fear because of what is happening in those countries surrounding them.

Although Joshua and Zerubbable may be a type of the Two Witnesses in the Revelation, we still must ask, Who then are these two witnesses? The last book of the Old Testament tells us, "Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers" (Malachi 4:4-6). Was it just a coincidence that these two men, Moses and Elijah, were seen with Christ when He was transfigured before Peter, James and John. "And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem." (Luke 9:30-31).

But why Moses and Elijah? I believe these two, who came to speak to Christ of his decease which He should accomplish, are the same two men who bore witness to His death, burial and resurrection. When Mary Magdalene and the other women went on the first day of the week to anoint the body of Christ, "they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again" (Luke 24:2-7).

I believe that it was these same two men who also were witness to the ascension of Christ, and gave testimony of His coming again. After Christ had given the apostles their commission “and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3), "he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:9-11).

I ask the question, Who else could bear witness to the fact of the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ during the Tribulation, and of His soon return to set up His kingdom? None other than these "two men". We are told, “at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established” (Deuteronomy 19:15). And again, “the testimony of two men is true” (John 8:17).

Some may protest saying that these "two men" were angels, for in John's account, he mentions "two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain" (John 20:12), and that is O.K., but, we must remember, that while the Greek word "aggelos", is usually translated as angel, it is also translated as messenger, which is the primary meaning of the word, whether the messenger be an angel or man. John says it was two angels, but Luke says that it was two men, and this would not be a contradiction of terms. Even John the Baptist was called an angel ("my messenger", Gr. aggelos). (Note: To see where "aggelos" refers to men, look to Luke 7:24, 27, 9:52, Matthew 11:10, Mark 1:2, James 2:25, etc.)

This I believe will be the testimony of the Two Witnesses, Jesus Christ crucified for sinners and risen from the dead, who has ascended up on high and is soon to return and set up his Kingdom. Their message will be the same as John the Baptist who came "in the spirit and power of Elias" (Luke 1:17), "saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2). John also pointed to Christ as "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29), and testified saying, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36).

This message will be preached with power and will be authenticated with divine manifestations from heaven. "And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will" (Revelation 11:5-6).

I believe that it will be them who will establish true worship back to Israel through their prophetic teaching ministry, which takes place during the first three and one half years of the tribulation. The fruit of their ministry will result in the conversion of 144,000 Jews (Revelation 7:1-8), who "were redeemed from the earth . . . which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth . . . being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb" (Revelation 14:3-4).

These in turn will extend the gospel of Christ to the ends of the world, to be a witness “unto all nations” (Matthew 24:14), whereby "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues" (Rev. 7:9) are saved, having "washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Revelation 7:14). During the Tribulation many will be "slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held" (Revelation 6:9), but these overcome the devil "by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony" for they "keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12:11, 17).

The prophet Joel foretold of "those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem" (Joel 3:1), saying "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. . . And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call" (Joel 2:28-29, 32).

Salvation in our Lord shall be proclaimed in all the world for a witness unto all nations beginning with the "two witnesses". Israel will find repentance through the ministry of these two. Then the "hundred and forty four thousand Jews" will bring the gospel of the kingdom to the ends of the world. They will have accomplished in seven years what the church could not do in two thousand years.

Some have placed the two witnesses as Elijah and Enoch. The main reason for this is that both Enoch and Elijah were translated to heaven without dying. The Bible tells us that "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27), and so, given that they did not yet die, these two could be the Two Witnesses. Moses on the other hand died and was buried in a sepulchre before entering the promised land, and therefore, since he had died once, could not die again as these "two witnesses" are slain after their three and one half year ministry (Revelation 11:7-8).

However, apart from that, Moses does seem to be a better fit. The miracles of these two are similar to the miracles that Moses did in Egypt and Elijah (Luke 4:25, James 5:17, Exodus 7). Also, Elijah is mentioned alongside Moses at the end of the Old Testament which speaks of Elijah's coming at the end of the age. Furthermore, there are exceptions in the Bible as to the dying "once". There is a generation that will never die, but will be raptured and their bodies translated into glorified bodies when Christ returns. Also, there were some who were raised from the dead such as Lazarus, who was four days in the grave and his body already decayed and stinking, whom Christ raised from the dead in a mortal body yet to die again, as well as others. So because Moses had died once already would not necessarily disqualify him as one of the Two Witnesses.

It is also stated by some that Enoch will be a witness to the gentile nations while Elijah will be the minister to the nation of Israel. However, as stated earlier, the witness of the 144,000 Jews will stretch across the world to the gentile nations, so Enoch is not required to minister to the gentile nations. It was Israel whom God had chosen to be a witness and a light to the gentiles, and now, where they failed in the past, will have this glorious opportunity to fulfill their mission during the last ingathering of the saints in the last days.

So now to the question, Was John the Baptist Elijah?

What do we know of John the Baptist?

He was born the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth who was the cousin of Mary the mother of Jesus.

The angel told Zacharias of his mission, “And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:16-17)

John the Baptist “came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.” (John 1:7)

“John bare witness of [Jesus]” (John 1:15). Pointing to Him as, “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

When John was asked, “Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not... He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.” (John 1:21, 23; cref. Isaiah 40:3)

He was not an Old Testament prophet as Jesus said, “all the prophets and the law prophesied until John” (Matthew 11:13). He was a New Testament prophet and the first one to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus quoted Malachi 3:1 concerning John saying, “this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.” (Matthew 11:10)

The prophet Malachi also said, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5-6) Jesus said, “And if ye will receive it, this [John] is Elias, which was for to come.” (Matthew 11:14) and “That Elias is come already” (Matthew 17:12), but He also said after the death of John the Baptist, “Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things” (Matthew 17:11).

I think we must say that John the Baptist came in the Spirit and power of Elijah, but was not Elijah. Rather, he was a “type” of Elijah, who performed a ministry somewhat like that of Elijah, but like Christ, was rejected by Israel as a whole and put to death. John did have some converts who became the disciples of Christ, but they were few in number. But Elijah will come “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD” (Malachi 4:5) when “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 40:4-5)

This all seems to be akin to one of Peter's first sermons, spoken from the Temple that was soon to be destroyed:

“18  But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.
19  Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
20  And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
21  Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
22  For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
23  And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
24  Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.” (Acts 3:18-24)

Christ will come again, but for now He is ascended into heaven, “until the times of restitution of all things” which surely shall come via Elijah. “Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things” (Matthew 17:11). When Jesus first came He came to baptize with the Holy Spirit, but when he comes the second time He is coming to baptize with the fire of Judgment. John the Baptist said, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:11-12)

Today we are either wheat or chaff. For all those who have repent and believed the gospel, they have been baptized by the Holy Spirit, and made a member of His body which is the Church (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, Colossians 1:18) . For all those who are not “in Christ” they shall be baptized with fire, that is, cast into hell, that lake of fire that burneth forever and ever. John the Baptist said, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36) Thank God there is yet an open door for sinners today. Jesus said, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9). The admonition for today is to “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Last Update: 9/28/2015

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