What do the two witnesses symbolize? (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.

Revelation 11:3 - King James


⚪ The Old Testament and the New Testament
⚫ The Bible Students
⚫ The antitypical Elijah-John-the-Baptist work
⚫ The Jehovah's witnesses
⚫ The anointed ones who directed the work in 1914



⚪ The Old Testament and the New Testament

Rev. 11 [...]
11:3. And I will give power unto My Two Witnesses. — "The Lord refers to the Old and New Testament Scriptures, and faithfully they have borne their testimony to every nation."— D 258.
And they shall prophesy. — Teach.
A thousand, two hundred and three score days. — 1260 years, from A. D. 639 to 1799.
Clothed In sackcloth."Kept covered in dead languages." — C 50.

Source : 🇺🇸 1917 - Studies in the Scriptures, Vol 7, The finished mystery, page 173 + Cover

Vs. 14. - To the woman were given two wings of a great eagle that she might fly into the wilderness [lit., the place deserted] into her place. The two wings are probably the "two witnesses" - the Word, which now showed the true church from which Papacy had sprung, her true condition - ON earth instead of, as at first, above the earth, with the moon under her feet.
These two witnesses assist her, not only mount upward again, but to return to "the place deserted," i. e., to a condition of harmony with God, not with the world. She was nourished in this wilderness 1, 260 years, or three and a half times, (from A. D. 538 to A. D. 1798.)

Source : 🇺🇸 1917 - Zion's Watch Tower, December 1879 2


⚫ The Bible Students

Rev. 11 [...]


The article published in the November 1 issue of The Watch Tower would be in the hands of its readers by the end of the first week or about the seventh day of November, 1914. It shows the Elijah class in sack. [...] "They shall prophesy" (bear witness in this humiliated condition) 1260 days, or forty two months, [...] (Rev. 11:2, 3) From and after the beginning of the World War in 1914 the Bible Students, which we use here synonymously with the term 'God's people', were "hated of fill nations", just as Jesus foretold. (Matt. 24:9) They were thus trodden down, despised or treated with contempt.
Forty-two months of thirty days each, or 1260 days, which is equivalent to three and one-half years solar time, beginning the first week in November, to wit, November 7, 1914, would end on the 7th day of May, 1918. [...] The point here emphasized, and which the facts prove, is that God's people for a period of forty-two months did prophesy or give testimony in an attitude of mourning and under reproach and until they were overcome by the enemy organization.

Source : 🇺🇸 1930 - Light, Vol 1, page 198, page 199, page 200 + Cover


⚫ The antitypical Elijah-John-the-Baptist work


Now note further corroborative proof of this period of time: “I will cause my two witnesses to prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days dressed in sackcloth.” (Rev. 11:3, NW) The "two witnesses" are the antitypical Elijah-John-the-Baptist work, and their being introduced at this time is important, for it helps us to understand Daniel’s prophecy. Nearly seventy years ago The Watchtower for November, 1883, explained to God’s people that Elijah and John the Baptist foreshadowed great works to be accomplished at this end of the system of things, and which were also to be done before 1918.

Source : 🇺🇸 The Watchtower, July 1 1951, page 410 + Cover


⚫ The Jehovah's witnesses

Tenth, the congregation of Christ must today follow its first-century pattern by receiving progressive understandings of Bible prophecies which unfold further majestic purposes of the Living God and which new light of truth must be published impartially the world over by God’s prophetlike organization. Only the remnant of Jehovah’s anointed witnesses and their companions “do not treat prophesyings with contempt” but publish their fulfillments as they become clear, in their Bible publications. — 1 Thess. 5:20; Rev. 11:3, 4, NW.

Source : 🇺🇸 The Watchtower, May 15 1955, page 315 + Cover

At one time Jehovah’s modern witnesses found themselves in a stricken and unhappy state, particularly at the end of the first world war, in 1918. They were depicted in prophecy as persons dressed in sackcloth, and even as dead corpses lying in the streets. (Rev. 11:3, 7-10) But Jehovah caused the condition of his people to be changed from that of sorrow and mourning to one of joy and happiness. He delivered his faithful witnesses from their deathlike state of inactivity, put his spirit upon them [...]

Source : 🇺🇸 The-Watchtower, May 1 1961, page 296, page 297 + Cover


⚫ The anointed ones who directed the work in 1914

Who are these two witnesses? The details of the account help us to identify them. First, we are told that they “are symbolized by the two olive trees and the two lampstands.” (Rev. 11:4) This reminds us of the lampstand and two olive trees described in the prophecy of Zechariah. Those olive trees were said to picture “the two anointed ones,” that is, Governor Zerubbabel and High Priest Joshua, “standing alongside the Lord of the whole earth.” (Zech. 4:1-3, 14) Second, the two witnesses are described as performing signs similar to those performed by Moses and Elijah.
— Compare Revelation 11:5, 6 with Numbers 16: 1-7, 28-35 and 1 Kings 17:1; 18:41-45.
What is the common denominator that links these references? In each case, the account refers to God’s anointed ones who took the lead during a difficult time of testing. So in the fulfillment of Revelation chapter 11, the anointed brothers who took the lead at the time of the establishment of God’s Kingdom in heaven in 1914 preached “in sackcloth” for three and a half years.
At the end of their preaching in sackcloth, these anointed ones were symbolically killed when they were thrown into prison for a comparatively shorter period of time, a symbolic three and a half days. In the eyes of the enemies of God’s people, their work had been killed, causing those opponents much joy.—Rev. 11:8-10.
However, true to the words of the prophecy, at the end of the three and a half days, the two witnesses were brought back to life. Not only were these anointed ones released from prison but those who remained faithful received a special appointment from God through their Lord, Jesus Christ.

Source : 🇺🇸 The Watchtower (STUDY) November 15, 2014, page 30 + Cover