Revelation 11:1-13

The Two Witnesses

Jan Huss

Then the saints shall be given into his hand for time, times and half a time. But the court shall be seated and they shall take away his dominion

Daniel 7:25-26

Daniel prophesied “the court” that would judge the beast. He actually used the Hebrew word for “court” three times, in Daniel 7:10; 22 and 26. And so the Apostle John, tells us about “the Court” of the Gentiles, beginning in Revelation 11:2. This “Court” shall be the “world” stage of the Reformation.

But who can represent the “two witnessess” (Revelation 11:3), that make “their testimony” (Revelation 11:7)? And what were the “two lampstands,” in verse 4, which we understand as two churches, from Revelation 1:20?

In Zechariah 4, we learned about two anointed ones who would stand beside the Lord of the whole earth. These two anointed ones drank of the Spirit of Christ, “not by power, nor by might, but by My Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6), translated as “by My Word” in the Targum. These were described as “two olive branches that drip into the receptacles” (Zechariah 4:12). The Spirit of Christ was the Rock that hit the Statue of the beast, in Daniel 2:45, using these two anointed ones.

Daniel described these two anointed ones in Daniel 12:11-12, “from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be 1,290 days. Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the 1,335 days.” See notes at Daniel 12:5-13.

Martin Luther

The first witness was Jan Huss, who freed the saints from the hands of the beast. Jan Huss was burned at the stake, but in 1471, the “Hussites” broke free from the power of the Papacy. This ended the “time, times and half a time.” The second witnesses was Martin Luther, who “45 days” (1,335 days – 1,290 days) later appeared to start his Reformation, which, according to the Lutheran Church began in 1516.

The relationship between Jan Huss and Martin Luther was actually emphasized by both of them. In 1415, when Jan Huss was burned at the stake, he said to the executioner, “Today you burn a goose, but in one hundred years a swan will arise which you will prove unable to boil or roast.” The word “Huss” in Czech literally means “goose.” One hundred years later, in 1516, when Martin Luther began his protest against the Catholic Church, he saw himself as the fulfillment of that prophecy. In his famous trial at the Diet of Worms, Martin Luther declared, “I am a Hussite.” Today, the pulpits in Lutheran churches are often in the shape of a swan in memory of this prophecy by Jan Huss.

1 A reed like a rod was given to me. One said, “Rise, and measure God’s temple, and the altar, and those who worship in it. 

Rev 11:1
there was given to me a measuring rod – this brings us back to Ezekiel 40:3, and the vision of a man with the appearance of bronze, having a measuring rod to measure the temple. The measurements, from Ezekiel 43:11, are the boundaries of the sanctified Church. The measurements are the Gospel of Jesus Christ that allows “the glory of God to come in,” Ezek 43:2.

measure the temple of God and the altar – here John measures the sanctified Church, the true Church according to the measurements of Gospel of Christ, and counts those who are true.

2 Leave out the court which is outside of the temple, and don’t measure it, for it has been given to the gentiles. They will tread the holy city under foot for forty-two months. 

Rev 11:2
leave out the court which is outside – here the word “court” is the same word we might use for court. It is used in Matthew 26:3 and John 18:15, to describe the court of the high priest, where Jesus was tried.

and don’t measure it for it has been given to the Gentiles – in the giving of the measurements of the Temple in Ezekiel, no measurements were made of the outside court, because of course, this Temple was to be for all nations. The Gentiles or Nations, were confined to the outer court under the Old Covenant, and John is told that they will also be excluded from the New Covenant grace.

they will tread the Holy City underfoot for 42 months – the Gentiles trampled the Gospel for 42 months, which are 1278 days, 1278 years, from 193 until 1471, when the first Protestant Church broke free from the Papacy.

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

Rev 11:3
And I will give power to My two witnesses – the word “power” is not in the original text. This verse literally reads, “I will give the two witness of me.” The speaker, with the measuring rod in verse 1, is Christ. He is going to provide the “two witnesses” required by the law that Paul explained in 2 Corinthians 13:1.

they will prophesy 1260 days – this is the 42 months as “days.” Of course there were more than two witnesses of Christ, over these 1278 years. Like the beast and the false prophet, the two witnesses are not “real persons.” These prophets are the saints who recognized the false teachings of the beast over this period, for example, the Waldenses and Albigenses. “From the twelfth to the fifteenth century the people of Europe were nearly united in opposition to the Roman See…Every country in Europe swelled with dissidents who repelled as the Antichrist the Bishop of Rome.” 1

However, the two witnesses can be symbolized by two persons, Jan Huss and Martin Luther (blessed is he who waits and comes to 1335 days, Dan 12:12). These are the two great spokesmen who liberated the saints from the power of the beast.

in sackcloth – the meaning seems to go back to Isaiah 50:3, “I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering.” The saints, New Jerusalem, are described as “the heavens” – the sun, moon, and stars – in Revelation 12:1. The heavens are now clothed in darkness, as “the power of the holy people has been completely shattered” (Daniel 12:7).

In Revelation 6:12, we are told that the sun became as “black as sackcloth.” The Hussites, who rejected all worldy attractions actually wore “gray” clothing. This was in contrast to the “purple and scarlet,” the vivid colours of royalty, worn by the clergy of the Catholic Church, described in Revelation 17:4.

4These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands, standing before the Lord of the earth. 

Rev 11:4
the two olive trees – see Zechariah 4:3,11-14, the anointed ones, meaning the saints, who are represented by Jan Huss, and Martin Luther.

and the two lampstands  – the Moravian and Lutheran churches. Jesus equated lampstands to churches in Revelation 1:20.

5 If anyone desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies. If anyone desires to harm them, he must be killed in this way. 

Rev 11:5
fire comes out of their mouths – to preach the truth, and to protest. They speak the word of God, “is not My word as fire” (Jeremiah 23:29). The “fire” of course was the protest against the Nations, the Gentiles described in Revelation 11:2.

Daniel described the fiery stream that issued from before the Almighty, and said, “the court shall be seated and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever.”

The beast had completely distorted the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By the time of the Reformation, the Church was selling the forgiveness of sins by way of “indulgences.” Indulgences were a payment to the Church in exchange for relief from purgatory, the place of suffering that the Church taught was necessary to endure, after death, before entering heaven. 

Jan Huss preached against indulgences more than 100 years, before Martin Luther attacked them in his famous 95 theses, in October of 1517.

The dark ages, from the 5th to 15th Century are so called because of the suppression of personal thought by the Church. Church inquisitions, and the burning of the writings of heretics make it difficult to understand the depth of opposition to the Church in these years. 

John Wycliffe, who died in 1384, translated the Bible into English and preached that the Bible should be the authority. He also said the claims of the papacy were unhistorical, and claimed that the moral depravity of the priests invalidated their sacraments.

If anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way – by the word of God, which will devour him; “I am making My words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, it will consume them” (Jeremiah 5:14).

6 These have the power to shut up the sky, that it may not rain during the days of their prophecy. They have power over the waters, to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire. 

Rev 11:6
power to shut up the sky – literally “heaven” as it bears the meaning of “heaven” in Revelation 10:5,6, etc. The two witnesses are “the anointed ones” (Zechariah 4:14), who have been “anointed” by the Spirit of Christ. They have the keys to the kingdom of heaven. They have the power to bring forth the spiritual rain of the Spirit of Christ, the “Rock” that strikes the “statue,” of the beast (Daniel 2:35).  These are also great men of faith, like Elijah, “who prayed earnestly that it would not rain,” because God’s people had bowed down to Baal (and to the beast in the New Testament) … “then he prayed again, and the sky produced rain,” (James 5:17, 18, and 1 Kings 17:1).

Jesus and James told us that Elijah “shut up the sky” for 3 years and six months (Luke 4:25, James 5:17). This prefigured the coming spiritual drought of “3 1/2 years” time, “time, times and half a time,” of the saints in the hands of the beast.

turn the water into blood – the false religion of the beast has been exposed by the preaching of the two witnesses, and baptism into the kingdom of the beast now results in spiritual death for those who seek to be saved in the kingdom of the beast. (This metaphor of water turning into blood is also used in Revelation 8:8, 16:3, to describe the spiritual deaths of those who refuse to be baptized into the end time Sanctified Church.) The two witnessess were two lampstands. They were estabished by the Spirit of Christ, and had the authority of the Spirit of Christ (John 20:22-23) to remit sins through baptism. But the Catholic Church had no such authority.

and strike the earth with a plague – the saints are in captivity of the beast, and the two witnesses are now given power to free them from “the Great City” which is “spiritually called . . . Egypt” – in verse 8. The Two Witnesses are compared to Moses and Aaron, who were given the power of plagues to free Israel from Egypt.

7 When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them. 

Rev 11:7
when they have finished their testimony – Jan Huss was burned at the stake in 1415.

His death caused outrage in Bohemia, and resulted in an army of “Hussites.” Many preachers, and writers challenged all of the corruptions of the Catholic Church; and focused on the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount as the way of life for all Christians; and preached purity, sacrificial love, and the avoidance of worldly pursuits.

But perhaps the greatest desire of Bohemians was a separation from the corrupted Church itself, which they called as the whore of Babylon, and they called the Pope, the Antichrist. 

Despite their hatred of the Church, they were afraid to reject its historically held authority, and they were forced to rely on the priests of the Church for the observance of communion and baptisms. And they questioned why they needed to confess their sins to men with the mark of the beast on their foreheads.

Finally, in 1467, a most devout group of Hussites, called the “Unity of the Brethren” gathered the courage to declare their complete separation from the Catholic Church. At the Synod of Lhota, in 1467, they drew from 12 slips of paper, to select three brothers, as the ministers of the new Church. And these three ministers rebaptized all their members. 

Fearing that the common people would not accept these new ministers, without proper “apostolic authority,” the Brethren approached Bishop Stephan, a Bishop of the Waldensian sect. The Waldensian sect believed that Stephan’s succession in the position of bishop could be traced back to the Apostles themselves, and his pious and blameless life made him a perfect witness. And Bishop Stephan was more than happy to ordain the new clergyman.

the beast that comes up out of the abyss – this is of course “the beast” in Revelation 13; “the beast…that will ascend out of the abyss” in Revelation 17:8 , the religious-political power that oppressed the saints. The Ten European states gave “their power and authority to the beast,” as described in Revelation 17:13.

Understanding that the beast which comes from the abyss is the same beast in Revelation 17:8, is yet another proof of this prophecy. This is the same religious-political beast described in Revelation Chapter 17.

will kill them – after the clergymen of the Moravian Church were ordained by the Waldensian Bishop, he was burned at the stake in August of 1467. The brethren were hunted like deer, and slaughtered in the forests of Bohemia, until 1471.

8 Their dead bodies will be in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. 

Rev 11:8
their dead bodies will be in the street – the Greek word for “street’ is also used to denote a public square. It is a wide area of public viewing. In other words, the world will watch them.

of the Great City – this is the Great City of Mystery Babylon, the Great Harlot, see Revelation 17:18.

which spiritually is called Sodom – Sodom was the most sinful city in the Old Testament. The “spiritual” Sodom is City of the Great Harlot.

and Egypt – as mentionned, this is an analogy to the captivity of God’s people in Egypt, as referenced in verse 6, by “the power to strike the earth with a plague.”

where also their Lord was crucified – Jesus was also killed “in the street,” in public for all to see.

9 From among the peoples, tribes, languages, and nations will people look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not allow their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. 10 Those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, and make merry. They will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. 11 After the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered into them, and they stood on their feet. Great fear fell on those who saw them. 

Rev 11:9-11
those from the nations…– the nations or Gentiles described in verse 2, and throughout the Book of Revelation, are those who are not the true saints, those who do not belong to “New Jerusalem.” The “nations” and “those who dwell on the earth” have the same meaning in this verse, as we shall see.

will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days – after the Synod of Lhota, in 1467, Bishop Stephan ordained the new Moravian clergy as “independant” of the Catholic Church. He was arrested by the Catholic authorities and burned at the stake in Vienna, on August 19, 1467, or shortly thereafter. The Moravian Church brothers were slaughtered in the forest, until Jan Rokycana, the Archbishop, and King George Prodebrady, died, in February 21, 1471, and March 22, 1471 respectively. After the death of King George, the Moravian Hussites worshiped freely and independently. This was three and a half days, or three and a half years, after the death of Bishop Stephan.

those who dwell on the earth will rejoice – “those who dwell on the earth” has the same meaning as Revelation 13:8, “all those who dwell on the earth will worship (the beast).” The worshipers of the beast rejoice, believing that the Reformation has been stopped.

they will send gifts to one another – those who worship the beast rejoice, such that they even send gifts to one another. Such behaviour was common among the Papists. Pope Alexander VI (1492 – 1503), apparently sent a gift of four mule loads of silver in order to secure his position as Pope in 1492. It is doubtless that the Papists sent gifts to each other to encourage each other in opposing the Protestant reformers.

after three and a half days the breath of God entered them, and they stood on their feet – after King George Prodebrady died, he was succeeded by Uladislaus, Prince of Poland. All of the imprisoned members of brethren were set free, public services began, and the new independent Moravian church prospered. This ended the period of “time, times and half a time” and began “the First Resurrection” and the reign of the martyrs with Christ, for one thousand years.

Great fear fell on those who saw them – of course, the Reformation in its full force, was only moments away, to the great fear of many.

12 I heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” They went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies saw them. 

Rev 11:12
and their enemies watched them (ascend to heaven) – the “time, times and half a times has ended,” and the 1,000 year reign of the Martyr’s with Christ begins; 2,300 days, in Daniel 8:14, less 1,290 days in Daniel 12:11. This begins the “First Resurrection described in Revelation 20:4. Symbolically the whole persecution and massacre of the Reformation becomes a public event where the Martyrs willingly accept God’s call up to heaven.

13 In that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified, and gave glory to the God of heaven. 

Rev 11:13
in that hour – being 1/12 of the human clock of 6,000 years. “Are there not 12 hours in a day”(John 11:9), “the night is coming when no man can work” (John 9:4).

There are four “hours” described in the Book of Revelation. In the first hour the Ten Kings reigned with the Beast (Revelation 17:12; 18:10, 17, 19); followed by this second hour; the third hour is, “the hour of God’s judgment” (Revelation 14:7); and the last hour is the “the hour to reap – the harvest” (Revelation 14:15). 

a great earthquake – meaning a great war. See Rev 16:18 for the great earthquake that describes the battle of Armageddon. Ongoing religious wars and persecutions followed the Reformation for about 100 years. The Book of Revelation refers to people as “the earth,” and the battle of the people as a “quake.”

a tenth of the city fell – those of the “Great City” who died. The estimate of the deaths in this period range from 6 to 18 million; being one tenth of the 80 million  people in Europe.

seven thousand were killed – see 1 Kings 19:18, “the knee who did not bow to Baal” that is the saints “in the wilderness” Rev 12:14, who did not “worship the beast” – the comparison is with Elijah in verse 6. These seven thousand represent the faithful matyrs.

  1. Historical Studies, Eugene Lawrence, 1876, pp. 202.