And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth.…
1. The prophecy under consideration gives us an undeniable evidence of the Divinity and truth of the gospel.
2. The prophecy under consideration assures us of the continuance of the gospel ministry.
3. We are here taught what is the character of Christ's approved ministers, and what are the duties which he requires of them.
(1) They, as witnesses, are to bear testimony to the gospel by professing their own faith in it, by exhibiting the evidences of its Divinity, by defending it against the cavils of unbelievers, by exemplifying the virtues of it in their conversation, and by sacrificing in its cause their worldly interest, and even their lives, if occasion should require.
(2) They, as prophets, must preach the Word with plainness of speech, adapting themselves to common capacities: they must speak with demonstration of the Spirit and with power, commending themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God: they must declare the whole counsel of God, however disgustful any part of it may be to vicious and corrupt minds: they must reprove prevailing iniquities, and confute licentious errors, whoever may practise the former or patronise the latter.
4. This prophecy teaches us that in times of prevailing infidelity and corruption there is always a pointed opposition to the ministers of the gospel. If men wish to exterminate the religion of Christ, they will first oppose the means of its support; and of these one of the chief is a learned and godly ministry.
5. We are taught in this prophecy from Whence arises the enmity of wicked men against the stated launchers of religion. St. John says that when the witnesses shall be slain, they who dwell on earth "shall rejoice over them, because these two prophets tormented them." How did these prophets torment them? Not by persecution; for they possessed neither the power nor the authority to persecute; but merely by proclaiming those solemn truths which condemn the practice, expose the guilt, and announce the punishment of irreclaimable sinners.
6. Another observation which here presents itself to us is that the Christian Church is meek, humble, and peaceable. So she is represented in this prophecy. She suffers persecution from her enemies, but does not persecute them in return. Her deliverances are effected by the hand of God, not by her own hand. The main instruments of her defence are the excellency of her religion, the purity of her works, and the fervour of her prayers. These weapons of her warfare have proved mighty through God to confound the devices and defeat the power of those who sought her overthrow.
7. We are taught the great efficacy of the prayers of good men.
(J. Lathrop, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.