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Revelation 11:1  (King James Version)
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<< Revelation 10:11   Revelation 11:2 >>


Revelation 11:1

"The temple of God" is simply a common symbol of the church. However, it is interesting that, here, it is not the Temple in its general sense. Christ uses an interesting word for it: naon. The naon is not the whole Temple but just the holy place, also called the sanctuary, where the priests are allowed to enter and offer incense on the incense altar, where they brought the shewbread to place the table, where the menorah was lit before God. This is the specific place that Jesus points out to measure—the sanctuary of the Temple. It excludes the courts that are outside. In verse 2, Jesus specifically says to leave them out.

Thus, He is speaking of the inner sanctuary—not the Most Holy Place, where God's throne, represented by the Ark of the Covenant, is, but the room just outside the veil—where the priests are allowed to come in and do their work. This room represents the true church, the wheat (as opposed to the tares), the elect. Christ is directing our eyes away from any hangers-on, mixed multitudes, tares, or anyone else among the church. He is speaking of the inner core—those who are truly called and converted. In addition, He is speaking generally, not individually. He means the whole true church, as in "the body of Christ."

Paul uses this same term, calling it "the holy temple in the Lord" (Ephesians 2:19-22) rather than "the temple of God"—but it is the same idea. Paul calls us "the temple of the living God" in II Corinthians 6:16.

The Two Witnesses are told here to measure the church (the called, the elect) in general—the entire true church, the body of Christ.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 2)



Revelation 11:1

Measuring is "judging against a standard." When we measure a thing, we take something with a fixed proportion - like a length or a weight that is known or standardized - and we compare it to whatever we are trying to quantify or measure. We see how it measures up: how long it is, how wide it is, how tall it is, how heavy it is, etc. We can also see if it fits a pattern or a template that is necessary for the item to do its part. In our case, one can see if he is fit for the Kingdom of God.

"For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God" (I Peter 4:17). We are being measured, judged, against a standard. "The house of God" is another way of saying "the temple of God," the phrase used here. Judgment begins at the house of God, and the Two Witnesses are given the responsibility of measuring the Temple of God. The two verses are saying basically the same thing. Note, the Two Witnesses are not actually doing the judging - Christ is, for that is His job. The Two Witnesses' responsibility is to explain the basis for the measurements. In other words, it is their job to show what the standard is, to let people know what they should be measuring up to.

Their job is similar to Amos' vision of the plumb line (Amos 7:7). The plumb line can be said to be slightly different because it is used to measure verticality - to see whether something is standing up straight, or to use a more "religious" term, to see if it is "upright." A plumb line is a weight suspended on a string. When it stops swaying like a pendulum, the string is perfectly vertical. When a workman puts it next to something like a wall or post that needs to be vertical, he can tell whether his wall or post is out of plumb or not.

That idea is present here in Revelation 11:1. How close do we meet the standard? How upright are we? How fit are we for the Kingdom of God? Finding the answers to these questions is part of the Two Witnesses' job. Remember that the work of the church is essentially done by this time. This preaching of the standard is a work that the ministry of the church has been given to do in every time, but maybe not to this extent. In any event, the Two Witnesses, at this time of the end, are the only ones able to do this job in a major way.

It is possible that this part of their ministry begins, however, before the Seven Thunders cease. In fact, it is a pretty good bet that they will already be involved in ministry before the Tribulation begins. Then God will say, "Okay, now it's time for you to do your real job." They will then begin their prophesied ministry, which will be quite intense.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 2)



Revelation 11:1

There is no chapter break here. The thought should be continued directly from Revelation 10:11 - "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings." Then He says, "Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there."

We see a dual commission: First, to go to kings, nations, and tongues, a broad and general commission. The second one is more specific - focused on the Temple, the altar, and the worshippers. This two-pronged approach is seen throughout the Scriptures. There is 1) a message to the world, then 2) a message to the church.

The second part, measuring the temple, the altar, and the worshippers, can be equated to what we call, in these times, "feeding the flock." The first, going to the world, we call "preaching the gospel." These two areas of preaching are never sundered from one another. In fact, one cannot be done one without the other because they always overlap in some bit. They should be done in tandem.

Sometimes, however, one needs to be done more fully than the other or must be emphasized more, as God directs. God likes them to be done simultaneously, if possible. There is a great deal of work that needs to be done. The church must make a witness. Then, the ones whom God calls to do and support the work must be fed to grow and overcome to be part of His Kingdom. They must be helped to overcome and to go on to perfection. So these two things have to be done. If a person starts preaching the gospel to the world, pretty soon he will have people following his message, and they will need to be taught further and brought along.

One can preach the gospel all he wants, but nothing will be done with the fruit of the gospel unless he is also feeding the flock. They must be done in tandem. They do not necessarily have to be done 50 percent each, but they will be done because God's purpose requires them both.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 2)



Revelation 11:1

There is no break between Revelation 10 and 11. Whoever made these chapter breaks missed the very obvious flow from one to the next. The chapter break would have been better inserted at Revelation 11:15, when the seventh trumpet sounds. It would have made for a long chapter 10, but it would have kept similar material together. Perhaps Satan had a hand in this, because the original Bible did not have chapter breaks. Maybe the Devil was able to influence some scribe somewhere to do this and confuse the interpretation of these prophecies. I do not know. However, we need to see these chapters as a whole.

This section is what we could call "an inset chapter" or "an inset passage." It is a digression from the main flow of the chronology—the main flow of events. It takes time out to explain an important subject so we can get caught up and understand what is happening more fully. There are several of these in Revelation: Chapter 12 discusses Israel and the persecutions that come upon it—and later the church, the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16)—by Satan. Another well-known one is chapter 17, about the harlot that rides the Beast, and chapter 18 is the description of Babylon. These insets give us important prophetic information that we need to know.

It is important that we understand this point. The seven thunders and the eating of the little book in chapter 10, as well as the measuring of the Temple and the Two Witnesses in chapter 11, are all part of one major subject. What is this major subject? If we know what the seven thunders are, what eating the little book is, what measuring the Temple is, and what the preaching of the Two Witnesses is, then it becomes quite clear. What do they all have in common? The message and the preaching of that message.

Revelation chapters 10 and 11, then, are an inset passage on the preaching and work of the church—especially its leadership, those messengers God has called to proclaim His Word.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 1)



Revelation 11:1-5

In Revelation 11, during the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord, John describes the Two Witnesses as having God-given power to witness and, if need be, call fire down from heaven to destroy their enemies. While they preach God's last warning to the human and demonic powers of earth just before the final Trumpet sounds, God gives them supernatural protection.

Before the start of their 3½-year commission, the Two Witnesses will already have been witnessing by their example and through their preaching. They will already be producing good works. God will inspire them to utter a specific message directed at the descendants of Israel and the rest of the world, indicting the world of sin.

Revelation 11:3 says:

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

The word "power" is not in the Greek text, which simply reads, "I will give to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy. . . ." Paraphrased, God says, "I will grant to My Two Witnesses the right or power of prophesying during the time specified." Translators must add a word like "power," "privilege," "opportunity," or "boldness" to complete the sense in English.

The meaning is not that God would send two witnesses to prophesy, but that they are existing witnesses who receive additional gifts and powers. During that time God will give them the privilege and the strength to proclaim the truth that they will be commissioned to communicate as His "witnesses" to mankind.

The phrase "and they will prophecy" does not necessarily mean that they would predict future events, but that they would proclaim the truth as God had revealed it. The indication here is that the Two Witnesses would publicly preach or maintain the truth before the world.

God promises protection to those who obey Him, provided it is His will. Some of the faithful are given the spiritual strength to be martyred, and others are protected from such unpleasantness. God decides for His own purpose how He wants us to represent Him. Revelation 11:5 describes part of God's witness protection program, "If anyone wants to harm [the Two Witnesses], fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies." Christ is reliable and true. Not a hair of our head is affected without His approval.

Martin G. Collins
'You Are My Witnesses...'



Revelation 11:1-19

All the inset chapters are introduced in a significant way: by an angel coming down from heaven or a spectacular and unusual vision of someone or something, such as a woman clothed with the sun, moon, and stars or a Beast rising up out of the ocean.

Chapter 11, however, does not begin this way because it is not the beginning of the inset. The inset actually begins in Revelation 10:1 where the spectacular vision occurs. Chapter 10 does not follow chapter 9 in time sequence anymore than the material in chapter 11 does. Chapter 11 merely continues the vision begun in chapter 10.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Revelation 10 and the Laodicean Church



Revelation 11:1-19

Revelation 11 is inset material. The only possible period of time when the Two Witnesses could testify is during the three and a half years that precede Christ's return—the time of the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.

Most of this period of time has already been covered by chapters 6 (the fifth and sixth seals) and 8-9 (the trumpet plagues). Chapter 11 clarifies what has already occurred in the narrative, answering how people can possibly be converted during the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. The answer is that they are hearing a message thundered by the Two Witnesses! Revelation 7:9-17 suggests that by their preaching, an innumerable multitude will be converted.

The information is given in a digression—an inset chapter— from the main story flow. Inset chapters clarify what is happening within the time sequence.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Revelation 10 and the Laodicean Church



Revelation 11:1

Jesus also instructs the Two Witnesses to measure "those who worship there." This seems to repeat the Temple symbolism (referring to the church in general), but it does not. This phrase specifically targets the individual Christian. It is not just the whole church that needs to be measured but the individual Christian—the individual worshipper—also needs to be measured. A Christian will not ride anybody else's or the church's coattails into the Kingdom of God. Everyone has to be measured by the preaching, the message of the Two Witnesses. Some people do not like this word in this context, but this verse teaches that each one of us individually has to qualify—measure up—for our place in God's Kingdom.

The Temple, then, symbolizes the whole body of Christ, while the worshippers are individual Christians. What God is showing here is that He is concerned not just for the church as a whole but for the individual. Under the Old Covenant, remember, only the priests could enter the sanctuary—not the common Israelite. Now we can enter into, not only the Holy Place, but also the Most Holy Place (also called the Holy of Holies). However, we had better make sure, just like those in the Levitical system, that we are "clean" spiritually—those who were allowed to enter the sanctuary had to be perfectly clean physically to do so. In the type, they had to be "measured" against a standard (in this case, of cleanliness) before they could come there and perform their worship or their duty.

It is not enough to clean the church as a body; each individual within the church must also be cleaned. Some matters have to be engaged on a macro scales, and others on a micro scale. So, God has His overall purpose, and He has His individual purpose. He will ensure that everything is perfectly pure before Him. Both of these categories will be measured, corrected, and made to work properly.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 2)




Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Revelation 11:1:

1 Kings 18:30
Amos 7:7-9
Zephaniah 2:2-3
Zechariah :
Zechariah 4:10
Matthew 13:48-50
John 4:23-24
Revelation 6:9
Revelation 10:11
Revelation :
Revelation 11:1
Revelation 11:3

 

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