"Fair Use for Education and Discussion Purposes"
The two witnesses:
So what about the two witnesses? What is their origin? One possibility is that the two witnesses could be two people that are raised in the manner of Lazarus, where they are brought back to life and then die again after their testimony ends. Another possibility is that the two witnesses are the only two men that haven't seen death. These two possibilities have lead to all sorts of ideas on who these two witnesses could be, the most popular being Enoch, Moses, and Elijah.
A strong case for Elijah being one of the two witnesses is found in Malachi 4:5-6 and Matthew 17:11, which indicates that Elijah will return before the Day of the Lord to "restore all things" to the Jewish people, by turning their hearts to repentance like John did before Jesus' 1st Coming. What is not clear is if Elijah is coming back before Daniel's 70th Week begins, or if he returns sometime (at least 1264 days per Revelation 11:3 and 11:11) before Jesus returns. I show this possible scenario here.
It is also not clear that Elijah's call for repentance will be the "prophecy and testimony" of the two witnesses, though most believe it will be. Nor is there another prophet in Scripture that is said to have the same mission as Elijah, except for John the Baptist who accomplished this call for repentance back before Christ's ministry.
In other words, Elijah may be coming to the Jewish people on a separate mission from the two witnesses. If Elijah returns before Daniel's 70th week begins, this would support him having a separate mission. Other possibilities could be that John the Baptist who came in the spirit of Elijah, or Elisha who was given a double portion of Elijah's spirit, would come back with Elijah as the other witness.
I also would not rule out that these two witnesses will be two currently unknown men chosen in the manner of the 144,000 servants and serve in the spirit of Elijah, in the same manner that Elisha and John the Baptist did. In other words, perhaps Elijah is not coming back as one of the witnesses. This notion is supported in the fact that Jesus said John the Baptist would have fulfilled the roll of Elijah had the Jews accepted him at His first coming (Matthew 11:14 and 17:12, Mark 9:12-13), even though John said he himself wasn't Elijah (John 1:19-27).
Some circumstantial evidence in favor of Moses being one of the two witnesses is that in Malachi 4:4 Moses is mentioned right before the prophecy of Elijah's return:
Malachi 4:4-6 "Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, With the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse."
Other reasons supporting Moses being a candidate include him being pictured in the transfiguration alongside Elijah (Matthew 17:3). Also, some of the plagues that were poured out on Egypt will be the same as those that will be performed by the two witnesses. There was also a strange dispute over the body of Moses between Michael the archangel and Satan (Jude 1:9) that may suggest Moses' body is being protected for his resurrection. However, this would seem to put God in a box in terms of having to protect a body to resurrect later. I think it makes more sense that Moses' body was protected so it couldn't be used as a form of idolatrous worship like the bronze snake was (2 Kings 18:4).
The main argument for Enoch being a candidate is because he and Elijah were the only two individuals that didn't die. Hebrews 9:27 is cited, that says "it is appointed unto man to die once". I belive that this is more of a proverb, rather than an absolute. Consider the several cases in Scripture, like Lazarus, where people had died, but rose again to a mortal body to later die again. Also, consider the fact that a whole generation of believers will be "changed" and taken alive in the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).
Enoch is said to have been taken alive so he wouldn't see death (Hebrews 11:5). I believe Enoch is a picture of the rapture of the Church. If the purpose of Enoch was to not see death, because he was a pattern for those in the Church that will not see death, it doesn't make sense that he will have to die later. Personally, I find the arguments for Enoch to be the weakest.
Two other possible candidates are the disciples John and James, whom Jesus called the "sons of thunder". I find it curious that John, being one of the "sons of thunder", has a vision in Revelation 10 where seven "thunders" utter some things that he was not to reveal. Right after this scene, John is told that he himself would prophesy again. Next, we see in chapter 11, that John is told to measure the Temple, and then we are told about how the two witnesses will prophesy for 42 months.
The following passage may suggest that John and James are candidates for the two witnesses:
Luke 9:51-56 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?" But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." And they went to another village.
The two witnesses will consume their enemies with fire, just as James and John wanted to do:
Revelation 11:5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner.
This next passage is even more curious:
Mark 10:35-45 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, "Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask." And He said to them, "What do you want Me to do for you?" They said to Him, "Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory." But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They said to Him, "We are able." So Jesus said to them, "You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared." And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John. But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
Who will be at the right and left hand of Jesus? The two witnesses:
Zechariah 4:11-14 ..."What are these two olive trees-at the right of the lampstand and at its left?" And I further answered and said to him, "What are these two olive branches that drip into the receptacles of the two gold pipes from which the golden oil drains?" Then he answered me and said, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord." So he said, "These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth."
Revelation 11:3-4 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.
Going back to the passage in Mark 10, James and John asked to sit at the right and left of Jesus. Jesus tells them that those positions are not His to give. Is Jesus talking about who will be the two witnesses? We can't be sure. However, if He is, at first glance it appears that Jesus is telling James and John that they will not fulfill that role. But what Jesus says is that it is not up to Him to decide who will fulfill that role. It is probably a safe assumption that this decision is up to the Father, but we are not explicitly told that.
What is also interesting, is that James and John were thinking about how great they would be if they had the positions at the right and left of Christ. Jesus turns this around on them by saying that those who desire to be great will be servants and slaves. What are the two witnesses, but servants or prophets of the Lord.
I want to be clear that I do not necessarily believe that James and John will be the two witnesses. But when pondering these passages that hint that they might be, I find it interesting that they seem to be asking to fill that role by wanting to call fire down from Heaven and be at Jesus' right and left side, just like the two witnesses.
James and John are also both members of the Church. I do not believe these two Church members being in the Tribulation would conflict with the dispensations doctrine, as they are clearly being supernaturally protected in order to carry out their mission. Meanwhile, all the other Saints are given over to the antichrist without any supernatural protection. In addition, the two witnesses are said to be "two olive trees" (Zechariah 4 and Revelaion 11). This would also support the two witnesses being Church members if the Olive harvest parallel to the Church is correct.
Lastly, some believe that Zechariah himself tells us who these two witnesses will be:
Zechariah 3:1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?"3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. 4 Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, "Take away the filthy garments from him" And to him He said, "See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes." 5 And I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the LORD stood by.
Zechariah 3:6 Then the Angel of the LORD admonished Joshua, saying, 7 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'If you will walk in My ways, And if you will keep My command, Then you shall also judge My house, And likewise have charge of My courts; I will give you places to walk Among these who stand here. 8 'Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, You and your companions who sit before you, For they are a wondrous sign; For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH. 9 For behold, the stone That I have laid before Joshua: Upon the stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave its inscription,' Says the LORD of hosts, 'And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. 10 In that day,' says the LORD of hosts, 'Everyone will invite his neighbor Under his vine and under his fig tree.'"
Zechariah 4:1 Now the angel who talked with me came back and wakened me, as a man who is wakened out of his sleep. 2 And he said to me, "What do you see?" So I said, "I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. 3 Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left." 4 So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, "What are these, my lord?" 5 Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord" 6 So he answered and said to me: "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' Says the LORD of hosts. 7 'Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone With shouts of "Grace, grace to it!"'"
Zechariah 4:8 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying: 9 "The hands of Zerubbabel Have laid the foundation of this temple; His hands shall also finish it. Then you will know That the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. 10 For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the LORD, Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth."
Zechariah 4:11 Then I answered and said to him, "What are these two olive trees - at the right of the lampstand and at its left?" 12 And I further answered and said to him, "What are these two olive branches that drip into the receptacles of the two gold pipes from which the golden oil drains?" 13 Then he answered me and said, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord." 14 So he said, "These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth."
It is believed that Joshua, being both the high priest having the name of the coming Messiah (Joshua and Jesus are transliterations of the Hebrew name Yeshua, which means "the Lord saves"), and Zerubbabel, being both of the seed of David and ruler over Judah, together represent the messianic, high priest and royal blood line and kingship of the Savior. It would be fitting that these two men were given power from the Holy Spirit (the oil) to oversee the building of the temple the first time, and then come back again to survey the Tribulation temple as they start their ministry described in Revelation 11.
Luke 21:28 "Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”