Revelation 11:3
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth."

New Living Translation
And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will be clothed in burlap and will prophesy during those 1,260 days."

English Standard Version
And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”

Berean Study Bible
And I will empower my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for a thousand two hundred sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."

Berean Literal Bible
And I will grant to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy a thousand two hundred sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."

New American Standard Bible
"And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."

King James Bible
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
I will empower my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, dressed in sackcloth."

International Standard Version
I will give my two witnesses who wear sackcloth the authority to prophesy for 1,260 days."

NET Bible
And I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for 1,260 days, dressed in sackcloth.

New Heart English Bible
I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
“And I shall grant my two witnesses to prophesy 1260 days while wearing sackcloth.”

GOD'S WORD® Translation
I will allow my two witnesses who wear sackcloth to speak what God has revealed. They will speak for 1,260 days."

New American Standard 1977
“And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”

Jubilee Bible 2000
And I will give my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.

King James 2000 Bible
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth.

American King James Version
And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth.

American Standard Version
And I will give unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And I will give unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.

Darby Bible Translation
And I will give [power] to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred [and] sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.

English Revised Version
And I will give unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

Webster's Bible Translation
And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.

Weymouth New Testament
And I will authorize My two witnesses to prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.

World English Bible
I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."

Young's Literal Translation
and I will give to My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy days, a thousand, two hundred, sixty, arrayed with sackcloth;
Study Bible
The Two Witnesses
2But exclude the courtyard outside the temple. Do not measure it, because it has been given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. 3And I will empower my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for a thousand two hundred sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4These witnesses are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.…
Cross References
Genesis 37:34
So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days.

2 Samuel 3:31
Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, "Tear your clothes and gird on sackcloth and lament before Abner." And King David walked behind the bier.

1 Kings 21:27
It came about when Ahab heard these words, that he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and fasted, and he lay in sackcloth and went about despondently.

2 Kings 19:1
And when King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth and entered the house of the LORD.

Nehemiah 9:1
Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the sons of Israel assembled with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt upon them.

Esther 4:1
When Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city and wailed loudly and bitterly.

Psalm 69:11
When I made sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword to them.

Jeremiah 1:10
"See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, To pluck up and to break down, To destroy and to overthrow, To build and to plant."

Ezekiel 4:6
"When you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah; I have assigned it to you for forty days, a day for each year.

Daniel 7:25
'He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.
Treasury of Scripture

And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth.

I will give power, etc. or, I will give unto my two witnesses, that they may prophesy.

John 3:27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given …

1 Corinthians 12:28 And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, …

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; …

two.

Numbers 11:26 But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one …

Deuteronomy 17:6 At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that …

Deuteronomy 19:15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or …

Matthew 18:16 But if he will not hear you, then take with you one or two more…

2 Corinthians 13:1 This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or …

witnesses.

Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them…

Luke 24:48 And you are witnesses of these things.

John 15:27 And you also shall bear witness, because you have been with me from …

Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come on …

Acts 2:32 This Jesus has God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

Acts 3:15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God has raised from the dead; …

Acts 13:31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee …

they shall.

Revelation 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, See you …

a thousand. See on ver.

Revelation 11:2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure …

Revelation 12:6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God…

clothed.

Genesis 37:34 And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned …

1 Chronicles 21:16 And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand …

Esther 4:1,2 When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, …

Job 16:15 I have sewed sackcloth on my skin, and defiled my horn in the dust.

Isaiah 22:12 And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to …

Lamentations 2:10 The elders of the daughter of Zion sit on the ground, and keep silence: …

John 3:5-8 Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born …

(3-14) The Two WITNESSES.--It is the opinion of one able and pre-eminently painstaking commentator that "no solution has ever been given of this portion of the prophecy." I quote this that none may be disappointed when no satisfactory solution is given here; further light in the knowledge of the Bible, and the light of history, and, above all, the aid of the Holy Spirit, may show what the real solution is. At present it is best to lay down the lines which seem to lead in the direction of such a solution. First, the aim of the present vision must be kept in mind; and secondly, the vision in Zechariah (Zechariah 4, all), on which this is professedly built, must be remembered. Now the aim of our present vision seems to be to explain that in the great progress towards victory the Church itself will suffer through corruptions and worldliness, but that the true Temple--the kernel, so to speak, of the Church--will be unharmed and kept safe in her Master's hands. But the position of this hidden and enshrined Church will not be one of idle security; in that Temple will be reared in secret, as the rightful king Josiah was, those who will witness undaunted and undefiled for their Lord; throughout the whole of that chequered period of profanation and pain there will never be wanting true witnesses for righteousness and faith. To assure the sacred seer that this would be the ease, to exhibit the nature of their work and its results, is the apparent aim of the vision. If this be so, the witnesses can scarcely be literal individual men, though it is true that many literal individual men have played the part of these witnesses. Turning to the foundation vision in Zechariah, we find that the vision there is designed to encourage the weak and restored exiles in their work of rebuilding the Temple; they are shown that, weak as they are, there is a hidden strength, like a sacred stream of oil, which can make them triumph over all their difficulties: not by might or power, but by God's Spirit, the mountain would become a plain (Zechariah 4:6-7), and "Grace! Grace!" would be the triumphant shout when the headstone of the Temple was raised. In both visions, then, our minds are turned to the hidden sources of divine strength; there is a safe and secret place measured off by God, where He gives His children strength--not of ordinary might or power, but strength of grace. This is the grace which made Zerubbabel and Joshua strong to achieve their work; this is the grace which can make the two witnesses strong to do their part in the building of that more glorious spiritual temple which is built on the foundation of Apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone. The witnesses, then, stand as the typical representatives of those who, in the strength of God, have, through the long ages, borne witness for Christ against all wrong and falsehood, against a world in arms or a Church in error, or against a nominal Christianity in danger of becoming as corrupt and as cruel as heathenism. Such witnesses stand, like the two columns Jachin and Boaz, before the true Temple of God.

(3) And I will give . . .--Translate, And I will give (omit "power") to my two witnesses, and they shall . . . These are the words of God Himself; the omission of the words "and the angel stood" from Revelation 11:1 prevents any confusion of thought on this point. Two witnesses were required for competent evidence (Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15, et al.), and there has constantly been a sending forth of God's chosen messengers in pairs-- Moses and Aaron, Elijah and Elisha, besides Joshua and Zerubbabel, alluded to by Zechariah; and in New Testament times our Lord sent forth His disciples "two and two," as afterwards Paul and Barnabas, or Paul and Silas, went forth to preach. There is, besides the mere mutual support which two can give, a need for the association of two different characters in the same sort of work: the energy and the sympathy, the elucidator of doctrines and the messenger to the conscience, the apologist and the evangelist, the man of thought and the man of action, the Son of Thunder and the Son of Consolation; it is well that in a world-wide work this duality of power should be brought into play. The witnesses prophesy: the word prophesy must surely be allowed a much wider meaning than merely to predict or foretell future events. The compass of their work, as described afterwards, embraces much more than this (see Revelation 11:5-7): they work wonders, showing tokens that remind us of the days of Moses and Aaron; their words are mighty; their life is a testimony.

Their prophesying, or witnessing, extends over forty and two months: a symbolical period, as we have seen, but a period corresponding to that during which other witnesses had witnessed for God. Thus long did Elijah bear witness, under rainless heavens, against the idolatries of Israel; thus long did a greater than Elijah offer the water of life to the Jews, and witness against the hard, unspiritual, worldly religionism of the Pharisee and Sadducee; thus, too, must the witnesses, for God bear testimony during the period that the world- power seems dominant. They are clad in sackcloth-- the emblem of mourning (2Kings 6:30; Jonah 3:4) adopted by the prophets, whose God-taught hearts saw reasons for mourning where shallower minds saw none (Isaiah 20:2, and Zechariah 13:2). Compare the garb of Elijah and John the Baptist (2Kings 1:8, and Matthew 3:4), whose very apparel and appearance were designed to testify against the evils they saw. "The special witnesses of God, in a luxurious and self-pleasing age, are often marked out from the world by signs of self-denial, of austerity, and even of isolation" (Dr. Vaughan).

Verse 3. - And I will give power unto my two witnesses. Omit "power." What is given follows, viz. "they shall prophesy," etc. The voice, speaking in the name of Christ, says, "My: The two witnesses of me;" τοῖς, "the," as though they were well known. There is much diversity of interpretation in regard to "the two witnesses." It seems reasonable to understand the two witnesses as representative of the elect Church of God (embracing both Jewish and Christian) and of the witness which she bears concerning God, especially in the Old and New Testaments. The following considerations seem to support this interpretation:

(1) The vision is evidently founded on that in Zechariah 4, where it is emblematical of the restored temple, which only in the preceding verse (Revelation 11:2) is a type of the elect of God's Church (vide supra).

(2) The Apocalypse continually represents the Church of God, after the pattern of the life of Christ, in three aspects - that of conflict and degradation; that of preservation; that of triumph (see Professor Milligan's Baird Lectures, 'The Revelation of St. John,' lect. 2 and 5.). This is a summary of the vision here.

(3) Much of the Apocalypse follows our Lord's description in Matthew 24. In that chapter (vers. 13, 14) we have, "He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." Again, a brief description of this vision.

(4) It is not probable that two individuals are meant; for

(a) as we have shown throughout the Apocalypse, the application is invariably to principles and societies, though this may include particular applications in certain cases;

(b) it is inconceivable that Moses and Elias, or any other of the saints of God, should return from Paradise to suffer as these two witnesses;

(c) our Lord expressly explained the reference to the coming of Elias, and declared that he had already come; and

(d) there seems no more reason for interpreting these two witnesses literally of two men, than for interpreting Sodom and Egypt in their ordinary geographical signification in ver. 8.

(5) The details of the fate of the two witnesses agree with the interpretation given - the whole vision being understood as symbolical. Thus

(a) the picture of the two witnesses is evidently formed after the pattern of Moses and Elias, on account of the conspicuous witness they bore and the hardship they suffered, as well as their preservation and final vindication. Moreover, Moses and Elias are typical of the Law and the prophets, or the Scriptures - the means (as stated above) by which the Church chiefly bears witness of God.

(b) The time during which they prophesy;

(c) the clothing in sackcloth;

(d) the appellation of candlesticks and olive trees;

(e) their power to hurt;

(f) their apparent death;

(g) the torment they cause;

(h) their resuscitation;

(i) their vindication;

(k) the immediate advent of the final judgment; - all agree (as shown below) with the interpretation given.

(6) Witness is constantly connected in the Apocalypse and elsewhere with the Church, and generally with suffering, sometimes with triumph (cf. Revelation 1:2, 5, 9; Revelation 6:9; Revelation 12:11, 17; Revelation 20:4).

(7) In Revelation 19:10 we are told, "The testimony [witness] of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy," exactly the quality with which the two witnesses are credited (ver. 3), and which is the work of the Church. And they shall prophesy; that is, "prophesy" in its literal meaning of forthtelling God's will and his judgments on the wicked, and so of preaching repentance. This is emphatically the work of the Church, and is accomplished chiefly through the Scriptures. It is this prophesying that torments (see vers. 5, 10). A thousand two hundred and three score days. Or, forty and two months (ver. 2). During the period of the world's existence (see on ver. 2) the Church, although "trodden underfoot," will not cease to "prophesy." Clothed in sackcloth. Thus, symbolically, is expressed the same fact as in ver. 2. The Church there is "trodden underfoot" during the period of the world; here it is said that she is to perform her office during this time "clothed in sackcloth." The treatment by the world of both the Church of God and the Word of God is represented by the apparel of mourning and woe, which is the lot of the Church on earth. And I will give power unto my two witnesses,.... By whom are meant, not Enoch and Elias, as some of the ancient fathers thought, who, they supposed, would come before the appearance of Christ, and oppose antichrist, and be slain by him, which sense the Papists greedily catch at; nor are the Scriptures, the two Testaments, Old and New, designed, though their name and number agree, and also their office, which is to testify of Christ; but then to be clothed in sackcloth, to be killed, and rise again, and ascend to heaven, are things that cannot so well be accommodated to them: but these witnesses intend the ministers of the Gospel and churches of Christ, who have bore testimony for Christ, and against antichrist, ever since he appeared in the world; and particularly the churches and ministers in Piedmont bid fair for this character; who were upon the spot when antichrist arose, always bore their protest against him, and were ever independent of the church of Rome, and subsisted in the midst of the darkness of the apostasy; and suffered much, and very great persecutions, from the Papists; and have stood their ground, and continue to this day; and have been like olive trees and candlesticks, imparting oil and light to others. Though they ought not to be considered exclusive of other ministers and churches, who also have bore, and still do bear a witness for Christ, and against the idolatries of the church of Rome: no two individual persons can be meant, since these witnesses were to prophesy 1260 days, that is, so many years, but a succession of ministers and churches; and these are called two, both on account of the fewness of them, and because the testimony of two is sufficient to confirm any matter; and it may be in allusion to the various instances of two eminent persons being raised up at certain periods of time, as Moses and Aaron, at the deliverance of the children of Israel out of Egypt; Caleb and Joshua, at their entrance into Canaan; Elijah and Elisha in the idolatrous times of Ahab; and Joshua and Zerubbabel at the rebuilding and finishing of the second temple. Now the Angel, and who is Christ, here promises that he will give something to these witnesses: some supply the words, "I will give it"; that is, the holy city, or the church, to them, to be taken care of and defended; others, "I will give" them a mouth and wisdom, which their adversaries shall not be able to resist, according to the promise in Luke 21:15. We supply the words, "I will give power"; that is, authority to preach the Gospel, and strength to profess it, and to continue to bear a testimony to it, signified by prophesying; see 1 Corinthians 14:1.

And they shall prophesy; that is, "that they may prophesy"; which is supported by the Arabic and Ethiopic versions, the former rendering the words, "I will give to my two witnesses to prophesy", and the latter, "I will give in command to my two witnesses that they may prophesy"; the sense is, that Christ will give to them a mission and commission, sufficient authority, all needful gifts and grace, courage and presence of mind to preach his Gospel, to hold forth his word, and bear a testimony for him during the whole time of the apostasy, even

a thousand two hundred and threescore days; that is, so many years, which, as before observed, is the date of the beast's reign, of the holy city being trodden under foot of the Gentiles, and of the church's retirement into the wilderness: it is observable, that the date of the beast's reign and tyranny is expressed by months, and the date of the church's being in the wilderness, and the prophesying of the witnesses, is signified by days; and the reason which some give is not despicable, as that the beast and his followers are the children of darkness and of the night, over which the moon presides, from whence months are, numbered; and the church and the witnesses are children of the day, over which the sun rules. The habit of these witnesses during their time of prophesying follows,

clothed in sackcloth; expressive either of their outward state and condition, being poor, mean, and abject, while the followers of the beast are clad in silks, and live deliciously; or else of the inward frame of their minds, as mourning for the sad estate of the church of Christ, groaning under the tyranny and persecutions of antichrist. 3. I will give power—There is no "power" in the Greek, so that "give" must mean "give commission," or some such word.

my two witnesses—Greek, "the two witnesses of me." The article implies that the two were well known at least to John.

prophesy—preach under the inspiration of the Spirit, denouncing judgments against the apostate. They are described by symbol as "the two olive trees" and "the two candlesticks," or lamp-stands, "standing before the God of the earth." The reference is to Zec 4:3, 12, where two individuals are meant, Joshua and Zerubbabel, who ministered to the Jewish Church, just as the two olive trees emptied the oil out of themselves into the bowl of the candlestick. So in the final apostasy God will raise up two inspired witnesses to minister encouragement to the afflicted, though sealed, remnant. As two candlesticks are mentioned in Re 11:4, but only one in Zec 4:2, I think the twofold Church, Jewish and Gentile, may be meant by the two candlesticks represented by the two witnesses: just as in Re 7:1-8 there are described first the sealed of Israel, then those of all nations. But see on [2706]Re 11:4. The actions of the two witnesses are just those of Moses when witnessing for God against Pharaoh (the type of Antichrist, the last and greatest foe of Israel), turning the waters into blood, and smiting with plagues; and of Elijah (the witness for God in an almost universal apostasy of Israel, a remnant of seven thousand, however, being left, as the 144,000 sealed, Re 7:1-8) causing fire by his word to devour the enemy, and shutting heaven, so that it rained not for three years and six months, the very time (1260 days) during which the two witnesses prophesy. Moreover, the words "witness" and "prophesy" are usually applied to individuals, not to abstractions (compare Ps 52:8). De Burgh thinks Elijah and Moses will again appear, as Mal 4:5, 6 seems to imply (compare Mt 17:11; Ac 3:21). Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ at the Transfiguration, which foreshadowed His coming millennial kingdom. As to Moses, compare De 34:5, 6; Jude 9. Elias' genius and mode of procedure bears the same relation to the "second" coming of Christ, that John the Baptist's did to the first coming [Bengel]. Many of the early Church thought the two witnesses to be Enoch and Elijah. This would avoid the difficulty of the dying a second time, for these have never yet died; but, perhaps, shall be the witnesses slain. Still, the turning the water to blood, and the plagues (Re 11:6), apply best to "Moses (compare Re 15:3, the song of Moses"). The transfiguration glory of Moses and Elias was not their permanent resurrection-state, which shall not be till Christ shall come to glorify His saints, for He has precedence before all in rising. An objection to this interpretation is that those blessed departed servants of God would have to submit to death (Re 11:7, 8), and this in Moses' case a second time, which Heb 9:27 denies. See on [2707]Zec 4:11, 12, on the two witnesses as answering to "the two olive trees." The two olive trees are channels of the oil feeding the Church, and symbols of peace. The Holy Spirit is the oil in them. Christ's witnesses, in remarkable times of the Church's history, have generally appeared in pairs: as Moses and Aaron, the inspired civil and religious authorities; Caleb and Joshua; Ezekiel the priest and Daniel the prophet; Zerubbabel and Joshua.

in sackcloth—the garment of prophets, especially when calling people to mortification of their sins, and to repentance. Their very exterior aspect accorded with their teachings: so Elijah, and John who came in His spirit and power. The sackcloth of the witnesses is a catch word linking this episode under the sixth trumpet, with the sun black as sackcloth (in righteous retribution on the apostates who rejected God's witnesses) under the sixth seal (Re 6:12).11:3-13 In the time of treading down, God kept his faithful witnesses to attest the truth of his word and worship, and the excellence of his ways, The number of these witnesses is small, yet enough. They prophesy in sackcloth. It shows their afflicted, persecuted state, and deep sorrow for the abominations against which they protested. They are supported during their great and hard work, till it is done. When they had prophesied in sackcloth the greatest part of 1260 years, antichrist, the great instrument of the devil, would war against them, with force and violence for a time. Determined rebels against the light rejoice, as on some happy event, when they can silence, drive to a distance, or destroy the faithful servants of Christ, whose doctrine and conduct torment them. It does not appear that the term is yet expired, and the witnesses are not a present exposed to endure such terrible outward sufferings as in former times; but such things may again happen, and there is abundant cause to prophesy in sackcloth, on account of the state of religion. The depressed state of real Christianity may relate only to the western church. The Spirit of life from God, quickens dead souls, and shall quicken the dead bodies of his people, and his dying interest in the world. The revival of God's work and witnesses, will strike terror into the souls of his enemies. Where there is guilt, there is fear; and a persecuting spirit, though cruel, is a cowardly spirit. It will be no small part of the punishment of persecutors, both in this world, and at the great day, that they see the faithful servants of God honoured and advanced. The Lord's witnesses must not be weary of suffering and service, nor hastily grasp at the reward; but must stay till their Master calls them. The consequence of their being thus exalted was a mighty shock and convulsion in the antichristian empire. Events alone can show the meaning of this. But whenever God's work and witnesses revive, the devil's work and witnesses fall before him. And that the slaying of the witnesses is future, appears to be probable.
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