Revelation 11:4
These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
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(4) These are . . .—Translate, These are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks which stand before the Lord of the earth. This is the verse which refers us to the vision of Zechariah for the basis of our present vision. There, as here, we have the two olive trees, which are explained to be “the two anointed ones which stand before the Lord of the whole earth.” The explanation is supposed to refer to Zerubbabel and Joshua. or, as others think, to Zechariah and Haggai. At that time these men were the witnesses for God in their land and among their people. But the answer of the angel is general: “the olive trees are the two anointed ones which stand,” &c. For the vision is general and age-long; it reminds us of the returned Jewish exiles, and of those who were then among them, as anointed witnesses, but it shows us that such witnesses are to be found in more than one era; for it is not Zerubbabel and Joshua who can exhaust the fulness of a vision which is the representation of the eternal truth that the oil of gladness and strength from God will rest on those who rely, not on might or power, but on God’s Spirit. The fact that the witnesses are two is brought more prominently forward here than in Zechariah. There, though the olive trees are two, the candlestick is but one, with seven lamps; here there are two candlesticks spoken of as well as two olive trees. This amplification of the original vision is, perhaps, designed to remind us of the greater latitude of diversity in the new dispensation. Just as in the early chapters of this book we had seven golden candlesticks, which, though one in Christ, yet are spoken of as separate, so here the double aspect, the diverse though united efforts of the two witnesses. are brought into prominence. It may serve to remind us. that the witnesses are to be expected to keep their individuality and to use freely their diverse powers. It is not from one class or with one mode of action that the witnesses come: they may be of the statesman class, like Moses and Zerubbabel; of the prophetic or priestly like Zechariah and Haggai, like Aaron and the later Joshua (Zechariah 3:1); for men may witness for God, according as the evils of their time and age require it in the State as well as in the Church. The work of Wilberforce, Clarkson, and Howard is a work and a witness for God as well as the work of Chrysostom, Athanasius, and Luther; for the witnesses are raised up to speak against the neglect of humanity as well as against errors in divinity; against a heartless as well as against a creedless Christianity, for both lead back to heathenism. These witnesses are burning and shining lights; in them is centred the light of their age; in them is found the token that the grace of God never fails, but as the Church’s day so shall her strength be. Here, too, we have the pledge that from Him who is both Priest and King the civil rulers as well as the ecclesiastical rulers may draw grace according to their gifts; and from Him, too, all who are made kings as well as priests to God may derive the power to give the double witness of a life anointed by the Spirit of consecration and ruled by the sceptre of righteousness.

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.These are the two olive-trees - These are represented by the two olive-trees, or these are what are symbolized by the two olive-trees. There can be little doubt that there is an allusion here to Zechariah 4:3, Zechariah 4:11, Zechariah 4:14, though the imagery is in some respects changed. The prophet Zechariah 4:2-3 saw in vision "a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which were upon the top thereof; and two olive-trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof." These two "olive branches" were subsequently declared Revelation 11:14 to be "the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth." The olive-trees, or olive-branches Revelation 11:12, appear in the vision of the prophet to have been connected with the ever-burning lamp by golden pipes; and as the olive-tree produced the oil used by the ancients in their lamps, these trees are represented as furnishing a constant supply of oil through the golden pipes to the candlestick, and thus they become emblematic of the supply of grace to the church. John uses this emblem, not in the sense exactly in which it was employed by the prophet, but to denote that these two "witnesses," which might be compared with the two olivetrees, would be the means of supplying grace to the church. As the olive-tree furnished oil for the lamps, the two trees here would seem properly to denote ministers of religion; and as there can be no doubt that the candlesticks, or lamp-bearers, denote churches, the sense would appear to be that it was through the pastors of the churches that the oil of grace which maintained the brightness of those mystic candlesticks, or the churches, was conveyed. The image is a beautiful one, and expresses a truth of great importance to the world; for God has designed that the lamp of piety shall be kept burning in the churches by truth supplied through ministers and pastors.

And the two candlesticks - The prophet Zechariah saw but one such candlestick or lamp-bearer; John here saw two - as there are two "witnesses" referred to. In the vision described in Revelation 1:12, he saw seven - representing the seven churches of Asia. For an explanation of the meaning of the symbol, see the notes on that verse.

Standing before the God of the earth - So Zechariah 4:14, "These be the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth." The meaning is, that they stood, as it were, in the very presence of God - as, in the tabernacle and temple, the golden candlestick stood "before" the ark on which was the symbol of the divine presence, though separated from it by a veil. Compare the notes on Revelation 9:13. This representation, that the ministers of religion "stand before the Lord," is one that is not uncommon in the Bible. Thus it is said of the priests and Levites: "The Lord separated the tribe of Levi, to staled before the Lord, to minister unto him, and to bless his name," Deuteronomy 10:8; compare Deuteronomy 18:7. The same thing is said of the prophets, as in the cases of Elijah and Elisha: "As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand," 1 Kings 17:1; also, 1 Kings 18:15; 2 Kings 3:14; 2 Kings 5:16; compare Jeremiah 15:19. The representation is, that they ministered, as it were, constantly in his presence, and under his eye.

4. standing before the God of the earth—A, B, C, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, and Andreas read "Lord" for "God": so Zec 4:14. Ministering to (Lu 1:19), and as in the sight of Him, who, though now so widely disowned on "earth," is its rightful King, and shall at last be openly recognized as such (Re 11:15). The phrase alludes to Zec 4:10, 14, "the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth." The article "the" marks this allusion. They are "the two candlesticks," not that they are the Church, the one candlestick, but as its representative light-bearers (Greek, "phosteres," Php 2:15), and ministering for its encouragement in a time of apostasy. Wordsworth's view is worth consideration, whether it may not constitute a secondary sense: the two witnesses, the olive trees, are THE TWO Testaments ministering their testimony to the Church of the old dispensation, as well as to that of the new, which explains the two witnesses being called also the two candlesticks (the Old and New Testament churches; the candlestick in Zec 4:2 is but one as there was then but one Testament, and one Church, the Jewish). The Church in both dispensations has no light in herself, but derives it from the Spirit through the witness of the twofold word, the two olive trees: compare Note, see on [2708]Re 11:1, which is connected with this, the reed, the Scripture canon, being the measure of the Church: so Primasius [X, p. 314]: the two witnesses preach in sackcloth, marking the ignominious treatment which the word, like Christ Himself, receives from the world. So the twenty-four elders represent the ministers of the two dispensations by the double twelve. But Re 11:7 proves that primarily the two Testaments cannot be meant; for these shall never be "killed," and never "shall have finished their testimony" till the world is finished. Here is a manifest allusion to Zechariah’s vision, Zechariah 4:2,3,11-14, though with some little difference. He saw a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which were upon the top thereof: and two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. The angel tells him, that these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes did empty the golden oil out of themselves, were the two anointed ones, or the two sons of oil, that stood by the Lord of the whole earth. By which some understand Zerubbabel and Joshua; some, those godly magistrates and priests, which after the captivity the Jewish church should have, and prefigured a gospel ministry, who being filled with knowledge and grace, should feed the Lord’s church (as pastors after his own heart) with wisdom and understanding, from the gifts and graces of God’s Holy Spirit, which they should receive; which further confirmeth me, that by the two witnesses, Revelation 11:3, we are to understand a godly magistracy and ministry, or rather the latter only, to whom prophesying most strictly agreeth, and who have a more special relation to the candlesticks here mentioned, by which churches are meant, Revelation 1:20.

And the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth: in Zechariah’s vision was but one candlestick, how comes here a mention to be made of two? Mr. Mede confesseth himself at a loss here, unless here another candlestick be added to signify the Gentiles’ conversion to Christ. Others think that it denoteth the small number of gospel churches that should be left; they were reckoned seven, Revelation 1:20; here they are reduced to two. Possibly it may denote the different state of God’s church. In the Old Testament God had but one church, viz. that of the Jews; but now he hath many churches, and they are all fed from faithful ministers, as olive branches pouring out their oil of grace and knowledge upon them. These are the two olive trees,.... Or represented by the two olive trees in Zechariah 4:3, which there design Joshua and Zerubbabel; and who in laying out themselves, their gifts and wealth, in rebuilding and finishing the temple, were types of these witnesses, the ministers of the Gospel, in the successive ages of the apostasy; who may be compared to olive trees, because of the oil of grace, and the truth of it in them; and because of the gifts of the Spirit of God bestowed on them, or their having that anointing which teacheth all things; and because they freely impart their gifts, and the golden oil of the Gospel unto others, and also bring the good tidings of peace and salvation by Christ, of which the olive leaf is a symbol; and because they are like the olive tree, fat, flourishing, and fruitful in spiritual things; they are sons of oil, and God's anointed ones:

and the two candlesticks; which hold forth the light of the word, in the midst of Popish darkness: this shows that churches, as well as ministers, are designed by the witnesses, since the candlesticks are explained of the churches, Revelation 1:20, though the simile well agrees with ministers of the word, who are the lights of the world, or hold forth the light of the Gospel, which is put into them by Christ: and these olive trees and candlesticks are represented as

standing before the God of the earth; ministering unto him, enjoying his presence, and having his assistance, and being under his protection. The Alexandrian copy, the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, read, "the Lord of the earth"; and so the Complutensian edition; see Zechariah 4:14.

These {8} are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

(8) That is, the ordinary and perpetual instruments of spiritual grace, peace and light in my Church, which God by his only power preserved in this Temple. See Zec 4:3.

Revelation 11:4. The two witnesses of Christ (Revelation 11:3) are further characterized in their nature and calling, and that, too, from Zechariah 4; for the definite art., αἱ δύο ἐλ., αἱ δύο λυχν., points back to this, as the entire verse is based upon the sense and expression of Zechariah 4. There Zech. beholds a golden candlestick with seven lamps, the symbol of the Church of God,[2833] besides two olive-trees, to the right and left of the candlestick, which receives from them its oil. The two ἐλαῖαι (LXX.) designate, besides the λυχνία, “two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth;”[2834] viz., the two defenders and guardians of the theocracy given by God,

Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua;[2835] but the symbol represents that only by the Spirit of God, and not by man’s own power, the restoration of the kingdom of God can be effected, Revelation 11:6. With this symbol of Zech., John agrees when he designates the two witnesses of Christ as ΑἹ ΔΎΟ ἘΛΑῖΑΙ, and as ἘΝΏΠΙΟΝ ΤΟῦ ΚΥΡΊΟΥ Τῆς Γῆς ἙΣΤῶΤΕς. The latter expression, whose harsh incorrectness (ΑἹ

) is explicable by the reference to the persons represented under the symbols of ἘΛΑῖΑΙ and ΛΥΧΝΊΑΙ,[2836] designates as little as the corresponding words in Zech. the two witnesses as representatives of the Church against the world,[2837] but as servants of God,[2838] who is here called, accordingly, the Lord of the world,[2839] because he shall establish the fact that he is the Almighty, who sends his servants into their office, and protects them against all enemies, Revelation 11:5, and to the terror of their enemies can glorify[2840] the κατοικοῦντες ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, Revelation 11:10 sqq. Deviating, however, from Zech., John designates the two witnesses, not only as two ἐλαῖαι, but also as two λυχνίαι. He, of course, derives this symbolical idea from Zech., but gives it another application; for what is said here is neither concerning the kingdom of God in itself, nor its up-building through Christ’s two witnesses, but concerning a judgment upon “the holy city,” during which the two witnesses preach repentance, and that, too, in vain, Revelation 11:7 sqq. In no respect have the two witnesses aught to do with the preservation of the temple.[2841] The idea of the one λυχνία in the sense of Zech. has therefore no place here. But John comprehends the symbol of the λυχνίαι in essentially the same significance as that of the ἑλαῖαι, when, precisely in the sense of Zechariah 4:6, he portrays what was just before expressed in clear words (δώσω τοῖς μάρτ. μ. καὶ προφητεύσουσιν); viz., that the efficiency of the two witnesses depends upon the Divine Spirit, not upon their own power, and hence becomes truly prophetic. John, therefore, describes the prophetic character of the two witnesses of Christ as like those two anointed ones in Zech.; but that he will not express the identity of the persons, nor designate the two witnesses as Zerubbabel and Joshua, who then must be regarded as repeated, follows partly from the deviation from Zech., and partly from other specifications in the context, Revelation 11:3, Revelation 11:5 sqq.[2842]

[2833] Cf. Revelation 1:20.

[2834] LXX.: παρεστήκασι κυρίῳ πάσης γῆς.

[2835] Cf. Revelation 3:1 sqq.

[2836] Cf. Revelation 5:13. Winer, p. 499.

[2837] Against Ebrard, who understands the אְַדֹון כָּל־הָאָרֶץ as the Persian ruler of the world, and accordingly, in this passage, the κύριος τῆς γῆς as “the Lord of this world.”

[2838] Revelation 8:2. Cf. Isaiah 6:1.

[2839] Cf., on the other hand, Revelation 11:13.

[2840] Cf. Beng.

[2841] Revelation 11:1, wherein many erroneously find the new building of the Christian Church symbolized.

[2842] See on Revelation 11:13.Revelation 11:4. They are further described in the terms applied by Zechariah to the two most prominent religious figures of his day, except that they are compared to two lampstands, not to one which is septiform. The idea is that their authority and influence are derived from God. As in Revelation 11:7, the function of the two witnesses (cf. Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15) is defined as “prophecy,” but no details are given.4. the two olive trees &c.] See Zechariah 4 passim. There apparently the “two Anointed Ones” are Zerubbabel and Jeshua, or rather perhaps the ideal King and Priest, conceived as types of Him Who is both: perhaps these two Witnesses similarly typify Him as King (cf. Deuteronomy 33:5) and Prophet.Revelation 11:4. Αἱ δύο ἔλαιαι καὶ αἱ δύο λυχνίαι αἱ ἐνώπιον τοῦ Κυρίου τῆς γῆς ἑστῶτες) See App. Crit. Ed. ii. In Revelation 11:13 He is called the God of heaven, and Isaiah 54:5, the God of the earth; Genesis 24:3, the God of heaven and the God of the earth; but in this passage He is called the Lord of the earth, as in the parallel passage, Zechariah 4:14.—ἑστῶτες altogether agrees with grammatical rules and the taste of many, and still more so does αἱ ἑστῶσαι;[110] nor should I refuse to regard αἱ ἑστῶτες as a fault of the copyists, if this were the only instance of such a construction. But because the Apocalypse abounds in figurative expressions, as we have everywhere shown, in any passage where there is a variety of reading, I take it for granted, I admit, that the reading which is contrary to that which we should have expected is the true one, and that it has been simply and faithfully handed down by less perverse copyists; and I think that the others have been altered and conformed to the common rule by more recent copyists. In the present instance that הומדים is expressed from Zechariah, the passage quoted above, although the construction is easier in Hebrew than in Greek, as lately in לאמר, λέγων, Revelation 11:1. The article is necessary in this place for the connection of the discourse, as ה in העמדים. No book has οἱ: therefore αἱ remains. The Greek article is much, more flexible than our custom admits: as τῷ τὸν φόρον, ὁ τὸ πολὺ, οἱ μακρὰν, κ.τ.λ. Therefore αἱἑστῶτες, if it pleases you, is said, as though it were said, αἵεἰσὶν ἑστῶτες, where αἱ as the subject, and ἑστῶτες as the predicate, are not ill agreed. There is a disparity of genders not unlike this, ch. Revelation 14:19. See also Notes on Chrys. de Sacerd. p. 504. If any one is positive that John could not have thus written, let him follow the reading which he judges that he wrote.

[110] Ἑστῶτες, ABC Vulg. But ἑστῶσαι, Rec. Text, with h.—E.Verse 4. - These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks. The "two olive trees" and the "two candlesticks" are here identical. Thus, while St. John uses the figure of Zechariah, he does not apply it in every detail. In the prophet, but one candlestick is mentioned. "The two olive trees," which supply the material for the candlesticks, are fit emblems of the Old and New Testaments; the candlesticks typify the Jewish and Christian Churches. These are identical so far as being God's witnesses; the Church derives her stores from the Word of God, the light of the Word of God is manifested through the Church. Standing before the God of the earth; the Lord of the earth (Revised Version). The participle is masculine, though the preceding article and nouns are feminine, probably as being more in keeping with the masculine character under which the two witnesses are depicted. Perhaps he is described as the "Lord of the earth," since the witnesses are to prophesy before all the earth (cf. ver. 9 and Matthew 24:14). Two olive trees

See Zechariah 4:1-14.


See Zechariah 4:1-14, and note on Matthew 10:15.

The God

Read κυρίου the Lord. Compare Zechariah 4:14.

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