What does Revelation 11:4 mean?
ESV: These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.
NIV: They are 'the two olive trees' and the two lampstands, and 'they stand before the Lord of the earth.'
NASB: These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.
CSB: These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.
NLT: These two prophets are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of all the earth.
KJV: These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
NKJV: These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.
Verse Commentary:
Prior verses indicated that these two witnesses would prophesy for 1,260 days. The witnesses are referred to here as the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. The reference is appropriate. The Old Testament prophet Zechariah received a vision of a gold lampstand and two olive trees, one on each side of the lampstand. The lampstand had a bowl and lamps into which the olive trees poured oil.

Olive oil was used in Bible times as fuel for lamps. The angel who gave the vision told Zechariah: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6), and he identified the lampstands as "the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth" (Zechariah 4:14). Jesus told a parable about ten virgins. Five of them were wise; they took flasks of oil with their lamps. The other five were foolish; they took no oil for their lamps (Matthew 25:1–4). One can see the oil in Matthew 25 as the Holy Spirit, and the 2 olive trees in Zechariah as the witnesses of Revelation. Based on that, God's two witnesses during the second half of the tribulation will be empowered by the Holy Spirit to shine God's light into a dark world.
Verse Context:
Revelation 11:3–14 follows on the heels of a brief assertion that the Gentiles will possess the temple's outer court and trample Jerusalem for forty-two months. We learn also that God will authorize two witnesses to prophesy during those forty-two months. Here we gain information about the two witnesses' ministry, what happens to them, and God's immediate response. The passage ends by alerting us to the fact that the second woe has ended, but the third woe is coming soon.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter continues the interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpet judgments. John received a measuring rod and was told to measure the temple, the altar, and the worshipers. However, he was told not to measure the court outside the temple, because the Gentiles would overrun it for three and a half years. During that time, two divinely authorized witnesses would prophesy. They would have power to summon fire from heaven and to strike the earth with plagues. At the end of their testimony the beast from the pit will kill them and leave their bodies in a street in Jerusalem. But, three and a half days later, God will resurrect their bodies and draw them up to heaven. At that time a powerful earthquake will level a tenth of Jerusalem and kill seven thousand people. When the seventh trumpet sounds, loud voices in heaven proclaim Jesus as the possessor of the world's kingdoms, and the twenty-four elders praise Jesus as the Lord God Almighty who will begin to reign. He will judge the dead but reward His servants. The chapter ends with the opening of the temple in heaven.
Chapter Context:
The eleventh chapter of Revelation provides information about an event that transpires between the sounding of the sixth and seventh trumpets. It involves two powerful witnesses that God raises up in the middle of the tribulation. These two witnesses minister throughout the second half of the tribulation. They are martyred, but God raises them up and lifts them to heaven. Concurrent with their ascension a mighty earthquake destroys one tenth of Jerusalem and kills seven thousand people. This is the second woe. The first woe is described in chapter 9 as an invading army of locusts.
Book Summary:
The word ''revelation'' means ''an unveiling or disclosure.'' This writing unveils future events such as the rapture, three series of judgments that will fall on the earth during the tribulation, the emergence of the Antichrist, the persecution of Israel and her amazing revival, as well as Jesus' second coming with His saints to the earth, the judgment of Satan and his followers, and finally, the eternal state. This content, combined with the original Greek term apokalypsis, is why we now refer to an end-of-the-world scenario as ''an apocalypse.''
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