Note: All Scripture quotations found in this article are from the text of the Authorized King James Version of the Bible.
Revelation 11:3 "And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth."
In this article, we will be identifying who the two witnesses that show up in the Tribulation are in the above verse. There are many bizarre interpretations about these two men. The Mormons believe that the two witnesses are the Book of Mormon and the Bible. Some Catholics believe that it is the Apocrypha and the Bible. Some Jews believe it is the Old Testament and the Talmud. The list goes on, but the next two passages expose those beliefs as absurd.
Revelation 11:4 "These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 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. 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."
Zechariah 4:11 "Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? 12 And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? 13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 14 Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth."
There is no way these passages are talking about books. The two witnesses are obviously two men. Zechariah 4 was talking about "two anointed ones" in the present tense (530-487 B.C.), way before any of those books were even written. These two anointed ones "stand by the Lord of the whole earth".
Revelation 11:5 "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."
No book that a person can burn has fire that comes out and burns them, including the Book of Mormon and Apocrypha. These are two men that breathed fire out of their mouths to destroy their enemies.
Revelation 11:6 "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."
They have the power to shut heaven so that it will not rain upon the earth. This tells us who one of the witnesses are for sure when we look at the book of James.
James 5:17 "Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months."
One of the witnesses is the Prophet Elijah who has the power to shut the heaven to cease rain for 3 1/2 years. Elijah stood before the Lord and was present on the Mount of Transfiguration in Matthew 17 on the right side of the candlestick. The next witness was the person who was on the left side of the candlestick, which was Moses.
Look back up at Revelation 11:6 and notice the colon in the middle of the verse after the word "prophecy". The second clause applies to the other witness, which is Moses who has the power to turn water into blood and smite the earth with plagues. Sound familiar? It does if you have read the passages about Moses in the Old Testament.
Both Moses and Elijah stood before the Lord of the whole earth in both the New and Old Testament. Not only that, but both of them were anointed.
Exodus 33:20 "And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. 21 And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:"
While reading the next verses, remember the fire in Revelation 11:5. These verses are Moses speaking to men and then men being consumed by fire from the Lord.
Numbers 16:31 "And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them: 34 And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also. 35 And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense."
Elijah, like Moses, also had fire to destroy his enemies in 2 Kings.
2 Kings 1:10 "And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty."
Some people try to argue that Enoch would be a good candidate for one of the witnesses, but there are many reasons that he could not be one of them. He was not anointed, he did not stand by the Lord of the whole earth, he did not have his enemies destroyed by fire, he did not smite the earth with plagues, he did not keep it from raining, he was not on Mount Sinai for forty days and forty nights, he did not have ministers that took up his ministry (Joshua and Elisha) and he did not appear on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus Christ. Not only that, but he was not one of the last two men mentioned in the Old Testament in Malachi 4. Moses and Elijah fit everyone of these qualifications.
There are some people that bring up weak arguments on why these two witnesses could not be Moses and Elijah. One of the reasons is because Moses was not caught up without dying. They say that because Moses died and was buried then he cannot be one of the witnesses. This is wrong because they could not find where the Lord buried Moses.
Deuteronomy 34:5 "So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. 6 And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth–peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day."
They could not find Moses because he did not stay buried. Moses came up from the dead and came up to Heaven ahead of time, which explains the contention between the devil and Michael in the book of Jude over the body of Moses. His body appearing at the Mount of Transfiguration proves that he was taken up ahead of time.
Jude 1:9 "Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee."
Then there are people that bring up objections about Elijah being one of the witnesses. They say that since Elijah was already come in the form of John the Baptist that he could not be one of the witnesses. This is just nonsense though when one reads the below verses.
Matthew 17:9 "And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. 10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? 11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist."
Notice the word "restore" in verse 11 and know that it is always in connection with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (Acts 3:20-21). The above passage says that Elijah will come in the Second Coming, not the First Coming. There are events that are prophesied of in the Old Testament that has not taken place yet, so Elijah is still expected to come in the Second Coming, along with all of the other prophesies that did not take place in the First Coming.
Jesus Christ said that John the Baptist was Elias, yet John said that he was not in John 1:19-21. This "contradiction" is easily answered in the book of Luke though.
Luke 1:15 "For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
The answer is that John the Baptist came in "the spirit and power of Elijah" and if the people would have accepted Jesus Christ as their Messiah in Acts 2-7 then Jesus would have came back and John would have been Elijah, but as we know, they rejected Jesus Christ, so that did not happen. If they would have received Jesus Christ as their Messiah then the First Coming would have been the Second Coming and all of the Old Testament prophesies would have been fulfilled then at that time. Comparing Malachi 4:4-6 and Luke 1:17 shows that John the Baptist was only a type of Elijah.
So in conclusion, there is no doubt that the two witnesses are Moses and Elijah. No other men or books fit the criteria. The scriptures interpret themselves and the Holy Spirit is very clear about who the two men are that come back in the Tribulation before Christ's Second Coming.