What does Revelation 11:6 mean?
ESV: They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire.
NIV: They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.
NASB: These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.
CSB: They have authority to close up the sky so that it does not rain during the days of their prophecy. They also have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every plague whenever they want.
NLT: They have power to shut the sky so that no rain will fall for as long as they prophesy. And they have the power to turn the rivers and oceans into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they wish.
KJV: 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.
Verse Commentary:
There has been much speculation about the identity of the two witnesses. The most popular choices are Elijah and Moses, but some Bible teachers suggest Enoch may be one of the two. They base this opinion on the fact that "it is appointed for man to die once" (Hebrews 9:27). Because Enoch did not die (Genesis 5:24), they believe he must die at a future time. Elijah also did not die, but was taken to heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:1–12).

The identification of the two witnesses as Elijah and Moses is based on the witnesses' power to withhold rain from the earth, which Elijah did when he was a prophet in Israel (1 Kings 17:1; James 5:17), and to smite the earth with plagues, which Moses did when he told Pharaoh to release the Hebrews from bondage (Exodus 7:14—12:29). It was also Elijah and Moses who were present at Jesus' transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–8). Jewish tradition believed Moses and Elijah would return in the future (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18; Malachi 4:5), but these Old Testament references were also fulfilled by Jesus and John the Baptist. Another consideration is that Moses and Elijah are the human representatives of the Law and the Prophets, both of which bear witness to God.

Of course, the two witnesses could be entirely different people. In the final analysis, it is not necessary to know exactly who the two witnesses are. What matters, in this context, is what they do.

The witnesses' sackcloth demonstrates their mourning over Israel's backslidden condition. This is a common symbol, especially in the Old Testament, of regret and sadness (Genesis 37:34; 2 Samuel 3:31; Jonah 3:5).
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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