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Revelation Bible Study #14 Measuring Rod and Two Witnesses

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Revelation Series #14

Measuring Rod and Two Witnesses

Chapters 11:1-14

This chapter is considered by most to be the most difficult passage to define, to explain away.

I would say that those who do NOT have a literal view of this Revelation have a more difficult time with this chapter than those who DO have a literal view

Read Chapter 11:1-14

Now let's lay some groundwork of the different views

Regarding 1260 days … remember that we are dealing with a Jewish Calendar here not a Gregorian Calendar ….  These three chapters take a LONG pause before we finish the 7th Trumpet and the Bowl Judgments ….

Viewpoints -

How Are We to Understand the Period of 1260 Days?

When Does It Occur

Historicist Approach:

·     The measuring of the temple represents the determining of the true remnant church in the midst of the papal church at the time of the Reformation.

·     The 1260 days is actually 1260 years, being the duration of the power of papal Rome.

·     The two witnesses represent the Waldenses, Albigenses, and others who resisted the papacy in the years before the Reformation.

·     The woman is the visible church persecuted by Imperial Rome prior to a.d. 313, and her male child is the true church within her, vindicated by the enthronement of Constantine.

·     The beasts each represent different aspects of the papacy.

Preterist Approach:

·     The 1260 days is the period of the Jewish War, of Nero's persecution, or both.

·     The two witnesses are either historic prophetic witnesses against the Jews prior to the downfall of Jerusalem or a representation of the civil and religious authority in Israel.

·     The woman (Israel), gives birth to a child (the church), which flees Jerusalem (during the Jewish War) and is afterward persecuted by the devil.

·     The first beast is Rome (or possibly Nero, or both), persecuting the church.

·     The second beast is either the cult of the emperor, some zealous Roman procurator, or false prophets in Israel

Futurist Approach:

·     The 1260 days refer either to a period of a literal three and one-half years at the end of the Tribulation or to two different periods of that length totaling seven years.

·     The two witnesses are two individual prophets yet to appear in Jerusalem-possibly Moses and Elijah or Enoch and Elijah. Alternatively, they may represent a larger witnessing body.

·     The woman (faithful Israel) will be forced by persecution from the Antichrist to flee into the wilderness during the Tribulation.

·     The first beast is a political world-leader, and the second beast is his religious counterpart, who enforces universal worship of the first beast. (Some futurists take an approach to this section more like that of the spiritual approach.)

Spiritual Approach:

·     The 1260 days symbolize the entire church age.

·     The two witnesses are the church throughout the church age.

·     The woman sustained in the wilderness represents the same.

·     The first beast signifies political power that persecutes the church at any time in history and anywhere upon the planet.

·     The second beast is false religion and especially that which venerates political power.

Now … are these REAL years or NOT?  That is probably and most certainly connected to what you think about these witnesses we will talk about in a minute

But FIRST … Read again vv 1,2

The Temple Measured

Here again are viewpoints thanks to Dr. Gregg


The temple of God (v. 1) throughout the New Testament is always the church (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Thess. 2:4). The distinction between the temple and the court which is outside the temple (v. 2) is that between the true church and the outward and visible institution of the church. "The symbolism recorded by the apostle evidently describes the measurement of the church, its worship, and of its worshipers by the divine standard of the New Testament."9

This refers to the radical reassessment concerning these matters at the time of the Reformation. Elliott sees the measuring rod as a symbol of authority divinely appointed to Luther to measure or delineate the new forms of worship that would become a part of the evangelic church. The non-measured portion represents the removal from the Church of heathen-like, apostate practices like the worship of images, and the exclusion of the papal church itself. This rod was not the creation of Luther or the Reformers, but was given (v. 1) to them.


As at the end of chapter 10, where John's eating of the book repeats Ezekiel's action of centuries earlier, here in chapter 11 John is told to do something else that also has a precedent in Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 40-47 a man measures the temple with a measuring rod. In Revelation 11 John himself is given a reed for the same purpose. In both cases, the action depicts the defining of the true spiritual temple in view of the impending destruction of the physical structure in Jerusalem (by Babylonians in Ezekiel's day, by Romans in John's). David Chilton addresses the significance of this measuring:


Alford writes that chapter 11 "is undoubtedly one of the most difficult in the whole Apocalypse." Many have been perplexed by the task of discovering the symbolic meaning of its various features. On the other hand, Walvoord, like most dispensationalists, takes the simple approach of fairly-consistent literalism:

The great city of 11:8 is identified as the literal Jerusalem. The time periods are taken as literal time periods. The two witnesses are interpreted as two individuals. The three and a half days are taken literally. The earthquake is a literal earthquake. The seven thousand men who are slain by the earthquake are seven thousand individuals who die in the catastrophe. The death of the witnesses is literal as are their resurrection and ascension. These major assumptions provide an intelligent understanding of this portion of the prophecy.

Most dispensationalists agree with Walvoord that the temple (v. 1) here in view is one that is yet to be rebuilt by the Jews for the reinstitution of the Old Testament sacrificial cultus. The 42 months of trampling the city would be seen by most as the last ½ of the 7 years


The Greek word for temple here is naos, which most expositors apply to the holy of holies. It is significant that a reference is made to those who worship there (v. 1), since only one person, the Jewish high priest, was entitled to enter the literal holy of holies of the earthly temple. This indicates that we are here presented with a vision of the true habitation of God, identified since Pentecost with "the Church of the elect servants of God

The court which is outside (v. 2), however, is not measured, and the holy city with it is to be given over for trampling by the Gentiles. This unmeasured portion of the temple and the city refers to the visible church members who are not genuine Christians

The forty-two months (v. 2) "suggests a limited time rather than literal time"


Let's remember some things of prophesy

In Daniel we know from 9:24 that there are 70 weeks to put an end to sin, end to transgression, bring everlasting righteousness, seal up or complete visions and prophesies.

It was said that there would be 62 weeks of weeks and 7 weeks of weeks and a final week.  We know that those weeks refer to years. So that first grouping is 490 years from the order to rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One Jesus is cut off … or rejected.

We also know that this prophesy was fulfilled to the day in Jesus … either to the Triumphal entry or to the cross depending …

But there is one more week … 7 years still remaining …

In Daniel, the Antichrist, will make a covenant with Israel for that week, but will break that covenant in the middle of the week, sacrifices will stop … So Daniel divides this last week into two parts …

We now live in what Paul described in Ephesians 3 as a Mystery or a time of interlude not knowing when the end will come between the 69th and 70th week.

Christ is NOT measuring the Church, we are JEWISH ground here NOT on Church ground.

The Measuring of the Temple vv 1-2

GIVEN --- again God in charge

Two Witnesses

Read vv3-14

Viewpoints -


There has always been a true church comprised of true worshipers of God and followers of Christ. During the time of papal power, the true Christians who stood against its corruptions were a very small minority until the Reformation. The Waldenses, the Albigenses, the Bohemian Brethren, Wycliffe, Huss, and Jerome of Prague all were part of this nonconformist spirit. Elliott and others take the two witnesses to be this long line of witnesses for Christ during the 1260 years of the papacy prior to the Reformation. Matthew Henry identifies them with "God's eminent faithful ministers, who shall not only continue to profess the Christian religion, but to preach it, in the worst of times."

That fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies (v. 5) need not be taken any more literally than the words of Jeremiah: "Behold, I will make My words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them" (Jer. 5:14).

The various plagues (v. 6) are the calamities that fell upon the papacy from time to time and place to place, when the "heretics" were persecuted


The tale of the two witnesses presents a particularly difficult challenge to the interpreter, as most expositors will concede. Russell says that this passage represents "one of the most difficult problems contained in Scripture, and one that has exercised, we may even say baffled, the research and ingenuity of critics and commentators up to the present hour."

Are the two witnesses actually two individuals, or are they symbolic for a group of people, or even for some entity or abstract concept?

One clue as to the identity of the witnesses is found in the observation that they are the two olive trees and the two lampstands (v. 4). The expression seems to derive from Zechariah 4:11-14, where the figure generally is connected to the high priest Joshua and the governor Zerubbabel. On the other hand, the miracles attributed to them are reminiscent of Moses and Elijah (vv. 5-6). 

Russell then boldly asserts: "We have no hesitation in naming St. James and St. Peter as the persons indicated." In defense of these identifications, he points out that James, the brother of the Lord, was the most notable leader in the Jerusalem church until his violent death at the hands of the Sanhedrin in the year a.d. 69. Notwithstanding the strong tradition that Peter died a martyr in Rome (not Jerusalem), Russell marshals eighteen reasons for making Jerusalem "the habitual and fixed residence of St. Peter" and the likely place of his death. Of the legend of Peter's death in Rome, Russell writes that

it is more than time that it should be relegated to the limbo of fable, with other pious frauds of the same character: That St. Peter's stated abode was Jerusalem is, we think, proved. That he lived up to the verge of the Jewish revolt and war is evident from his epistles. That he died a martyr's death we know from our Lord's prediction; and in his case we may well say that the proverb would hold good, 'It cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.'


Another time indicator appears in this segment. It is a period of one thousand two hundred and sixty days (v. 3), which calculates to the same length as the forty-two months in the previous verse. Walvoord, writing of this period, declares that it

is unquestionably related to either the first three and one-half years or the latter three and one-half years of the seven years of Daniel 9:27. Expositors have differed as to which of the two periods is in view here. From the fact, however, that the two witnesses pour out divine judgments upon the earth and need divine protection lest they be killed, it implies that they are in the latter half of the seven years when awful persecution will afflict the people of God … The punishments and judgments the witnesses inflict on the world also seem to fit better in the great tribulation period.

The identity of the two witnesses (v. 3) has understandably given rise to a variety of speculations. Most futurists take them to be two actual men who will arise to prophesy in Jerusalem in the Tribulation. The similarity of their miracles to those of Moses and Elijah have encouraged some to believe that the witnesses are Moses and Elijah themselves. Moses and Elijah appeared together with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration, and would aptly represent to the Jewish people the Law and the Prophets, respectively, in whom the Jews put their trust. Elijah's coming was promised in Malachi 4:5-6, which is an added support for his identification with one of the witnesses.

Some think that it is Elijah and Enoch who appear in this vision. This was the view of the earliest apocryphal writers and the early exegetes of the church. Henry Morris is one modern writer who shares this view. To support this identification, it is stressed that Elijah and Enoch are the only two men who never tasted death,


The two witnesses (v. 3) represent the witnessing church throughout its entire career. As Hendriksen puts it: "These witnesses symbolize the Church militant bearing testimony through its ministers and missionaries throughout the present dispensation."

Though the church is one, the symbol of two witnesses supports the truthfulness of its testimony, since "the testimony of two is true"

The deadly fire that proceeds from their mouth (v. 5) pictures, on one hand, the fact that whoever sets out to destroy the church will do so to his own undoing- if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner (v. 5). In addition to the resemblance to Elijah's calling fire from heaven down upon those who had come to capture him (2 Kings 1), this image speaks of the power of their words. God told Jeremiah: "Behold, I will make My words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them" (Jer. 5:14). Lenski writes that "the word in the mouth of the Lord's prophet-witnesses may be scorned but it is not an empty sound. Its judgments are fire that devours its enemies." 

Wednesday Night Bible study Fall 2005-Spring 2006

The following resources were used among others in preparation


Revelation Four Views: A Parallel Commentary – Steve Gregg

W.A. Criswell Expository Sermons on Revelation

Dr. J.A. Seiss Expositions on Revelations

MacArthur Bible Studies: Revelation – John MacArthur

Dr. David Jeremiah Expositions on Revelation

The Pulpit Commentary: Revelation

Wiersbe: The Bible Exposition Commentary

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