Notes on the Book of Revelation: Chapter 11, Part 1

The Two Witnesses, Bamberg Apocalypse // Larry Hunt Bible Commentary

The Two Witnesses, Bamberg Apocalypse

vs. 2-3: 3 ½ (years), 42 (months), and 1,260 (days) all refer to the same length of time.[1] I will use 3 ½ for purposes of uniformity.  3 ½ is such a weird number; its main significance must be that it is half of 7.  Daniel makes use of similar numerology to describe two divisions of a week in Daniel 9:27, and I think John is alluding to that section of Daniel here, but I do not believe that he intends to say that Daniel’s week and his week symbolize the same events because the middle of Daniel’s week seems to fall between the years 26 A.D. and 46 A.D. (see notes there) whereas the middle of John’s week falls sometime after 81 A.D.  (see Order of Events supplement).  John, I think, is only making use of Daniel’s numerology and symbols.  Nevertheless, I think the two periods of 3 ½ years in Daniel 12:7 and 11 do describe the same period of time that John is speaking of here (see notes there).

Since the time period is a week, there are two of these 3 ½ periods: one during which the two witnesses prophesy with power over the unbelievers, and one during which these two witnesses are dead, having been killed by Beast I.  Here in verse 2, John says that  the court outside the temple will be given over to “the nations,” i.e., the unbelievers, for 3 ½ years.  I believe this period of time is the second of the two 3 ½ periods and corresponds to the 3 ½ days that follow the murder of the two witnesses by Beast I (11:7-10).  One might be inclined to interpret the 3 ½ days of vs. 9-11 as denoting a separate period of time since it says “days” rather than “years,” but I believe the days there symbolize years and that they represent the same period John refers to in v. 2, the period when the holy city “is given over to the nations.”

Notice that God tells John “[T]hey [the nations] will trample over the holy city,” and “I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophecy….”  Since God uses the future tense, I assume that these two periods of time fall in the future, relative to John.  In other words, I assume that they happen after John receives the Revelation, which would be after the mid-nineties A.D.  Of course, 11:6 uses the present tense and says that the two witnesses “have authority,” so I could also believe that the 3 ½ years in which they prophesy is taking place even as John receives the Revelation.


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