In the beginning of Rev 11 the author seems to be referring to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, so that would date the book 3 years before 70AD.  Do we know who these two prophets are?  Their ending is very dramatic, and would imagine if this has happened we would know who these two are.  Any clues? 



First of all, even if we could establish that this verse is a reference to the actual physical temple, the evidence for a later, post AD 70 date for the writing of Revelation is fairly strong.   It is not an absolute slam dunk, but it is fairly convincing.  First of all, there is the statement by the author, presumably the apostle John, that he is on the island of Patmos because of persecution.  Early church fathers, including Irenaeus and Eusebius associate this with the persecution of the church under Domitian.   This persecution was probably toward the end of his reign–about AD 95.    The date of this persecution is not well established by external sources, so the vision may have come earlier in the reign of Domitian.  There is internal evidence for a later date (ie well after AD 70) as well in Revelation 17:9-18.  Here we have seven kings and an eighth who would come after him, as well as ten horns.   If we look at the parallel passage in Daniel 7, the seven and the eighth horns are Augustus, Tiberius,…Titus, Domitian.   The difference between Revelation 17 and Daniel 7 is that Revelation does not count the three pipsqueak horns, Galba, Otho and Vitellius.   Either way, the eighth or eleventh king is the one who speaks blasphemies against the saints.   This is certainly a reference to Domitian.   The beast who once was is probably Nero and a reference to his persecution, while the beast who was, is not but is about to be again, is probably a reference to a renewal of persecution under Domitian.  All this, and the fact that John tells us that these things will soon take place puts the date of writing some time during the reign of Domitian (AD 81-96).

 Now, to the passage at hand.  Revelation 11:1f does take place in the temple, but this is an apocalyptic vision.  The "rule" (really just a rule of thumb) with apocalyptic writing is that one takes it figuratively unless the context demands otherwise.   The 42 months are 3-1/2 years (time, times and half a time), which is symbolic of a persecution of an unspecified but limited duration.   I believe the trampling here is not on the physical temple in Jerusalem, but on God’s spiritual temple, which is the church.  "They will trample on the Holy city" is a reference to the New Jerusalem, not the old and fading Jerusalem (Hebrew 8:13) which, by that time had passed away as far as God was concerned.  If you go to Revelation 12 it certainly is talking about the dragon attacking the church, so the context leads to the conclusion that Revelation 11 is a prophetic, symbolic vision of the persecution of the Church. As for the two witnesses, they are obviously symbolic as well.  My thought is that they represent Moses/Elijah and their New Testament equivalent Jesus/John the Baptist.   Zechariah 4:2-3,11-14 in a parallel passage describes the two olive branches as "the two who are annointed to serve the Lord of all the earth."  This lends credence to one of the witnesses being Jesus.  So the two witnesses are either Moses/Elijah (ie Mount of Transfiguration) and their NT equivalent Jesus/John the Baptist, or possibly they are the Son and the Holy Spirit. I hope this helps. John Oakes  

Comments are closed.