Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
Click picture to visit her "Revelation Illustrated" site.
1: And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.
2: But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
[11:1,2. Chapter 11 continues the parenthesis that began with chapter 10. John is told to measure the temple of God, which may be a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem during the Tribulation period or (more likely) the prophesied millennial temple (cf. Ezek. 40-42). The rod is a surveyor's instrument (cf. Zech. 2:1-5). The measuring anticipates the building of a new temple on earth during the millennium. The outer court represents the control of Jerusalem and Israel by Gentiles during the last half of the Tribulation period. The holy city is the earthly Jerusalem (cf. Dan. 9:24; 11:45; Zech. 13:8,9; 14:2). The forty and two months show that Jerusalem will be under Gentile control for three-and-a-half years, probably the last half of the seven-year Tribulation period (cf. Dan. 9:24-27, where the period of the Great Tribulation is seen as the Seventieth Week-or seven-year period-in God's postexilic program for Israel).]
3: And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
4: These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
[11:3,4. God's two witnesses will prophesy or preach in Israel for 1,260 days (three-and-a-half years, based of prophetical years of 360 days each). Again, this will probably occur during the last half of the Tribulation period, while invading Gentile forces are in control of Jerusalem. The sackcloth symbolizes mourning, confession, and repentance. The "witnesses" will proclaim a message of judgment and the need for repentance. They bear similarities to John the Baptist, and will be the ultimate fulfillment of the promised return of Elijah (cf. Mal. 4:5,6; John 1:21). They are also identified as the two olive trees and the two candlesticks. These symbols relate to Zechariah 4:2-6, where Zerubbabel and Joshua the priest are pictured as two olive trees furnishing oil for a lampstand (Israel). They provided help and power for Israel in a time of need. These two witnesses will be for Israel in the future what Zerubbabel and Joshua were in the past: the channels of God's power and message to Israel during the Tribulation period.]
5: And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
6: These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
[11:5,6. They will perform miracles similar to those performed by Moses (cf. Ex. 7:14-20; 8:12) and Elijah (1 Kings 17:1; 2 Kings 1:10-12; Luke 4:25; James 5:17). They are protected from harm for three-and-a-half years. Their miraculous powers are apparently for the purpose of authenticating their divine message (as in the case of Jesus and His apostles). Their message will be twofold: (1) Jesus is the Lamb of God (Savior); and (2) Jesus is the King (Ruler). The miracles show that the King is coming again to set up His kingdom, and therefore Israel must repent.]
7: And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
8: And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
9: And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
10: And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
[11:7-10. The beast from the bottomless pit is apparently the same as the "beast" from the sea in 13:1, the Antichrist or false messiah. His place of origin shows his demonic character and the control of Satan. At the end of the three-and-a-half years of preaching, the witnesses will finally be killed by the beast in the great city, identified as the place where also our Lord was crucified. This must be a reference to Jerusalem, at this time under Antichrist's control. As such it is called Sodom, referring to uncleanness and immorality, and Egypt, depicting oppression and bondage. Not allowing their dead bodies to be buried is the ultimate indignity. The unbelievers of the earth, having submitted to the authority of the Beast, wil rejoice, because they hate the plagues and the message of the two prophets (cf. 1 Kings 18:17; John 16:20).]
11: And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
12: And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
13: And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
14: The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
[11:11-14. The two witnesses are brought back to life, and then taken up into heaven. Their enemies react in fear, since their resurrection is incontrovertible proof that their message was true and that Jesus is God and Messiah. An earthquake kills seven thousand men. (Compare Matt. 27:51-53). The remnant are the "rest," those who are not killed by the earthquake. Many of them repent and give glory to God. The parenthesis begun with chapter 10 ends here. The third woe is the seventh trumpet, which comes next(v. 15).]
15: And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
[11:15. The seventh trumpet results in the establishment of the millenial kingdom of Christ. The seven vials or bowls (16:1) are probably contained in the judgment of the seventh trumpet. They will occur in a very brief period of time at the end of the Great Tribulation. The second coming of Christ, while a great blessing for believers, will be God's most severe judgment of the earth. The kingdoms of this world will be completely overthrown by the coming kingdom of Christ (cf. 19:11-21; Dan. 2:34, 35, 44), who will reign for ever and ever (cf. Dan. 7:13, 14, 27).]
16: And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,
17: Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.
18: And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.
19: And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
[11:16-19. God is worshipped by the elders because what He promised is now accomplished. Their gratitude is for the establishment of the millenial kingdom (cf. 1 Cor. 15:24). The Gentile nations will be subjugated (cf. Ps. 2:1,2). The wrath of God will take vengeance on His enemies (cf. Ps. 2:5; 2 Thess. 1:7,8). The dead of all ages will be judged at the future Great White Throne (20:11-15). Old Testament and Tribulation saints who have died will be raised and rewarded (cf. Is. 26:19,20; Dan. 12:2; Matt. 25). Those who have tried to destroy the earth will themselves de destroyed by God (cf. 19:20,21). The ark of his testament (covenant) is a symbol of the presence of God and of His faithfulness in fulfilling His covenant promises.]