These verses contain explicit references to types of events, people, and miracles in the Old Testament. This prophecy is constantly looking back to the Old Testament and the prophets and what they did to give us clues about the Two Witnesses. These identifications with the miracles of Elijah and Moses mean that we should look back into the Old Testament for further clues about them.
Certain things, like these miracles, have forced many commentators to conclude that the Two Witnesses will literally be these two prophets, Elijah and Moses. But God has never worked that way! God has never resurrected somebody from far in the past and brought him to a time of which he knew nothing about and given him authority to preach. Every time God acts, He uses someone from that particular time—from that particular era—who has grown up in that milieu, that environment, so that he is prepared for the work that he needs to do. If God is going to be consistent, He will not resurrect Moses and Elijah to do this end-time work. They would be "fish out of water." They would not understand what was happening in the world at the time of the end.
Some have said the Two Witnesses will be Enoch and Elijah because those two were both translated, and their deaths are unrecorded. The Bible does not say how they died, where they were buried, or even how long they lived. In verse 4 is another one, as it specifically compares the Two Witnesses to Zerubbabel and Joshua. It is also said that the Two Witnesses are like John and James, the sons of Zebedee, in having a fiery zeal to do a spectacular work for God.
My view is that the Two Witnesses are actual men of the time, not resurrected saints, not angels from heaven, not prophets brought back after living in heaven for a few thousand years. These are all things that people have thought they might be. However, they will fulfill types, roles, or patterns that God has used in the past to proclaim His Word and to pronounce His judgments.
It is rare that God springs something on us He has not done in the past or that He has not at least alluded to or prophesied about. He is consistent; He works the same way. This consistency is one way that we can have faith in Him because we can always recognize the way He works. We can be suspicious of anything that does not fit God's patterns because His mind is always the same. Malachi 3:6 says that He does not change. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).
For instance, God has worked in twos, pairs, or couples, if you will, from the beginning. The ultimate type is the Father and the Son (the Spokesman, the Logos, the One who appears, speaks, and manages affairs). They are the ultimate Dynamic Duo. While the Son is seen or heard, the Father is always there too—giving His guidance and governing from His throne. These pairs always work together to accomplish a goal.
When He created mankind, He created them as a pair—a male and female, and they worked together to build the human family. Married couples today do the same thing on a smaller scale. There are various other pairings in the Bible of prophets, kings, priests, or what have you throughout the Old and New Testaments.
Consider Deuteronomy 19:15: "One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established." God will need two witnesses to convict the world of sin at the time of the end. They will speak the same thing, and they will back it up with miracles and signs. This is the way God works. He follows His own law, and it says that two witnesses are needed. So, He provides them—Two Witnesses at the end time.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part Six)