Who Are The Two Witnesses?

By COGwriter

The Book of Revelation describes two individuals who are called the "two witnesses." Who are the two witnesses?

What is their job? What does the Bible reveal?

What has the Church of God (COG) taught on this subject? Might Roman Catholic prophecies give some clues here?

This article will briefly attempt to answer those questions. Also, please note that the terms may, might, seem, possibly, etc. are used throughout portions of this article--those type of terms are used intentionally to distinguish that certain statements are still unclear. Hence, speculative comments are normally identified, as they may change. But they do attempt to explain information about the two witnesses on the basis of the Bible, Catholic, and COG writings. (Here is a related link in Spanish/español: ¿Quiénes son los dos testigos?)

First From the Bible

Here is some of what the Bible says about the two witnesses:

1 Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, "Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. 2 But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. 3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. 5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. 6 These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.

7 Now when they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. 8 And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 9 Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. 10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

11 Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. 13 In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand men were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven. 14 The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly.

15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" (Revelation 11:1-15, NKJV throughout unless otherwise indicated).

Notice that area of the temple will be treaded on by the Gentiles for 42 months. Also for one thousand two hundred and sixty days (42 months) God raises up two witnesses to prophecy. They are referred to as "two olive trees." They are prophets because they prophesy (How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God). They are clothed in sackcloth and perform miracles. Some who oppose God's plan try to kill them. God allows miracles to protect them. God will ultimately allow them to be killed. Three and one half days after they are killed a major earthquake happens. And shortly thereafter the kingdom of God is established.

Interestingly, the Book of Revelation refers to the seven Churches as lampstands (Revelation 1:20) and the two witnesses as "two lampstands," hence the two witnesses are intended to represent the Church. Clearly their prophesying must include the good news of the soon coming millennial kingdom of God--as that is some of what Jesus expected the Church to do before the end would come (Matthew 24:14).

Since God identifies the two witnesses as "two olive trees," there is another place in the Bible that also discusses "two olive trees." Notice (bolding mine):

4:1 Now the angel who talked with me came back and wakened me, as a man who is wakened out of his sleep. 2 And he said to me, "What do you see?" So I said, "I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. 3 Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left."

4 So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, "What are these, my lord?" 5 Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord." 6 So he answered and said to me:

"This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,'Says the LORD of hosts. 7 'Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone With shouts of "Grace, grace to it!" ' "

8 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying:

9 "The hands of Zerubbabel Have laid the foundation of this temple; His hands shall also finish it. Then you will know That the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. 10 For who has despised the day of small things?For these seven rejoice to see The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.They are the eyes of the LORD,Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth."

11 Then I answered and said to him, "What are these two olive trees--at the right of the lampstand and at its left?" 12 And I further answered and said to him, "What are these two olive branches that drip into the receptacles of the two gold pipes from which the golden oil drains?" 13 Then he answered me and said, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord." 14 So he said, "These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth." (Zechariah 4:1-14).

Thus, it appears that the Hebrew scriptures support the concept that the two witnesses are two who stand by God and the Church of God (the lampstand, cf. Revelation 1:20;2:5). Because the above scripture is prophetic, it suggests that the "two olive trees...who stand besides the Lord of the whole earth" are two men currently on earth who are supporting the work of God.

Perhaps I should mention that although some have speculated that the late Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) was a type of Zerubbabel and that God using him to establish the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God was a type of laying the foundation for the temple, since he did not finish the work, it was not him (he also quoted that scripture, Zechariah 4:9 on p. 38 of the Plain Truth in August 1979). Of course, presuming the two witnesses saw the work of his day, they would obviously preach a message consistent with the message that HWA himself did, which would be one consistent with the truths he felt God had him restore to the COG.

Notice what Herbert Armstrong wrote:

Read what God says of those who say and do that Now WHEN is the TIME of this prophecy in Revelation? Read right on. Chapter 11 is merely a chapter division written by MEN. But John's book of Revelation continues right on. The apostle, in his vision, is told now by this same angel to rise and MEASURE THE TEMPLE. But LEAVE OUT the court which is for the Gentiles, for they shall tread down the Holy City for 3 1/2 years. So the TIME of our prophecy is at least 3 1/2 YEARS before Christ's coming--before THE GREAT TRIBULATION before the beginning of the DAY OF THE LORD and before the seventh angel blows the last trumpet! Then it continues on into the massage of the TWO WITNESSES--also referred to and perhaps identified in Haggai and Zechariah. And THEY SHALL PREACH A LAST WARNING TO THE WHOLE WORLD FOR 3 1/2 YEARS! (Armstrong HW. Co-worker letter, November 19, 1976)

Since Herbert Armstrong died, he obviously was not one of the two witnesses, and his reference to those two identified in Haggai and Zechariah is a reference to an end time Zerubbabel and Joshua. Thus, Herbert Armstrong was not Zerubbabel.

Notice also:

3 Speak to Zorobabel the son of Salathiel the governor of Juda, and to Jesus the son of Josedec the high priest, and to the rest of the people, saying: 4 Who is left among you, that saw this house in its first glory? and how do you see it now? is it not in comparison to that as nothing in your eyes? 5 Yet now take courage, O Zorobabel, saith the Lord, and take courage, O Jesus the son of Josedec the high priest, and take courage, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord of hosts: and perform (for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts)...23 In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, I will take thee, O Zorobabel the son of Salathiel, my servant, saith the Lord, and will make thee as a signet, for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts. (Haggai 2:3-5;23, Douay-Rheims)

3 'Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing? 4 Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,' says the Lord; 'and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,' says the Lord, 'and work; for I am with you,' says the Lord of hosts. 5 'According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!'...23 'In that day,' says the Lord of hosts, 'I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel,' says the Lord, 'and will make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you,' says the Lord of hosts." (Haggai 2:3-5, NKJV)

Since Christ is the foundation, the chief cornerstone (Matthew 21:43) of the temple of Christians (1 Corinthians 3:16), some have suggested that "Zerubbabel" may have been a type of Christ--especially since Jesus is specifically prophesied to return (Revelation 17:14) and destroy the kingdom of the Gentiles (Revelation 11:15; Haggai 2:21-23).

Yet, since "Zerubbabel" saw the original temple and is not recorded as laying its foundation, then it appears that perhaps "Zerubbabel" would seem to be some individual who is prophesied to rise up in the last days. If so, he would have likely been someone who saw the old Ambassador Auditorium and WCG work, and perhaps helped lay the foundation for the final phase of the Philadelphia work (more on that work and Zerubbabel is in the article The Final Phase of the Work). Zerubbabel would not be a 'newcomer' as some suggested that both of the two witnesses might be. Presuming Haggai is a prophecy for an end time Zerubbabel, he would help finalize the work, and perhaps God would grant him the faith to flatten a mountain figuratively (an entrenched, but improper, government structure) or even possibly also literally (which would, in a sense, be a fulfillment of a statement that Jesus made to His followers in Matthew 17:20; this could also be a reference to the mountain in Daniel 2:44-45). Passages in Haggai 2 seem to be telling a time of a future Zerubbabel and Joshua (for more of an explantion, see also the article The Temple and the Work).

Because at least one is "chosen," this may be that Zorobabel/Zerubbabel and "Jesus"/Joshua are a type of the two witnesses (Zechariah 3:3-10; 4:1-14; Haggai 2:3-5,23).  Other scholars seem to have tied also Zerubbabel and Joshua as types of the two witnesses (Jamieson, et al.  Commentary on Zechariah 4:11-12.  Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary)--thus Herbert Armstrong's speculative understanding was not unique in that way.

Since the name Zerubbabel, son of Salathiel (Haggai 2:23, DRB; or Shalthiel 1 Chronicles 3:17, KJV), means descendant of, or born of, Babylon (OT:2216; Zerubbabel.  Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary) or “stranger at Babylon,” he may have been born into a family that was part of the religion that will support the final Mystery Babylon of Revelation 17:5. Because of the meaning of the name 'Zerubbabel' it would seem that it is not a direct reference to Christ as He was not born of Babylon. 

Joshua, Yehowshu`a, seems to mean “Jehovah saves” (Ibid, OT: 3091).  This Joshua's father's name was Josedech (Haggai 1:12), meaning “Jehovah-righted” (OT:3087 ). Since Zechariah 3:3-5 shows that for a time Joshua wears 'filthy garments,' it may be that he affiliated too long with Laodiceans (cf. Revelation 3:14-18)--hence maybe that means it took him time before he completely would support the Continuing Church of God. 

Perhaps the names Zerubbabel and Joshua indicate that one of the witnesses was born into a Roman Catholic family (and later was called and converted to be part of the Church of God) while the other was born into a Church of God family and remained part of the Church of God.

This is consistent with some of the other ideas in this article.

Comments From the Bible and Those in Various COGs

When Herbert W. Armstrong was directing it, the old Worldwide Church of God (WCG) taught:

These two witnesses are two human beings who are given extraordinary power for 3 1/2 years just prior to Christ's return (verse 3). If any man attempts to hurt them before their ministry is up, "...fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies" (verse 5). Note how similar this is to the power given to Elijah (II Kings 1:9-15). They also have power over the rainfall, to produce drought and famine as did Elijah (Luke 4:25; I Kings 17:1-7), and to smite the earth with plagues (Rev. 11:6). Their mission will be to give one final warning (Armstrong HW, editor. The Plain Truth Personal Correspondence Department response on the two witnesses to Mr. and Mrs. Thiel. September 13, 1984).

Herbert Armstrong gave a speech in May 1967, which he said the following:

"Verse 3: God will empower His two 'witnesses' to proclaim God's truth for this three-and-one-half years, from the same city of Jerusalem. These two have the same powers that God had given to Moses and Elijah. That is why this Führer and his armies can not stop them. So they will be two men coming 'in the power and spirit' of Moses and Elijah - just as John the Baptist came in the 'power and spirit' of Elijah, though he was not Elijah.

"Now notice particularly verses 9 and 10: Evidently they shall not be merely speaking to a few people on a street corner - but broadcasting WORLDWIDE! (Armstrong HW. Personal from the Editor. Plain Truth, June 1967, p. 4).

Verse 3, that Herbert Armstrong alluded to specifically states that the two witnesses will prophesy, as they are prophets. And for a long time, I have been of the view that they will likely utlilize the internet for some of their work, as well as, when practical, press coverage.

Garner Ted Armstrong, son of Herbert W. Armstrong, wrote:

Now back to Revelation 11.

"And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two-hundred and three-score days, clothed in sackcloth" (Revelation 11:3).

Notice that the exact time during which the mysterious "two witnesses" of Revelation 11 prophesy—during which they have the power to call down great plagues upon the "seat of the beast," meaning the site of the beast's authority—is for a duration of three and one-half years!...

The two witnesses, two human beings who are called of God as spiritual leaders, are repeatedly conveying messages to the beast and false prophet in Jerusalem, as an antitype of Moses and Aaron, demanding that the beast power release the people of God from slavery (Revelation 11). (Armstrong GT. Who, What is the "Beast" of Revelation? GTEA, Flint, Texas)

The late evangelist John Ogwyn wrote:

By comparing Luke 21:24 with Revelation 11:2, we see that the Beast power will occupy and control Jerusalem for 42 months, or three-and-a-half years. It is right after the False Prophet desecrates the holy place, revealing his idolatrous symbols and blasphemous claims, that God will empower two of His servants, known as the Two Witnesses, to make their public appearance... God will empower them to deliver His message to a world dominated by the power of the Beast and mesmerized by the illusions of the False Prophet.
      God will use these two men to perform miracles similar to those performed by Moses and Elijah. They will announce God’s judgments to a world in rebellion against Him, and will confront the power of the Beast and the False Prophet. Throughout the three-and-a-half years of their prophetic career, they will receive God’s supernatural protection, just as Elijah did many centuries earlier (cf. 2 Kings 1:9–14). Finally, God will allow them to be killed. Many will celebrate at their deaths, since the False Prophet will have accused them of causing all of the world’s troubles. Their unburied bodies will lie in Jerusalem’s streets for three-and-a-half days, then they will be restored to life and will rise in the air, disappearing into the clouds while their enemies watch in shocked amazement (Revelation 11:11–12). (Ogwyn J. Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled. Booklet).

It is clear from Revelation 11:3-10 that the two witnesses will give a witness to the world which involves miracles.

Elijah and Moses did more miracles than perhaps any other men in the Old Testament.

Some of those same type of miracles are prophesied to be performed by the final two witnesses. 

Recall that the Bible shows that fire devoured at least 100 enemies of Elijah (II Kings 1:9-12) and Elijah proclaimed he had power to stop the rain (I Kings 17:1). However, since Elijah hid on more than one occasion, it can be said that he had only 'a little strength' (like the Philadelphia Church who also hides and has limited strength, Revelation 3:8-10)--also, it is possible that since Elijah hid, that the two witnesses will also hide from time to time (they may also travel to many places to do God's will; even Catholic sources, like H. Kramer, The Book of Destiny, p. 257, think that is possible).  God used Moses to turn water into blood in Exodus 7:20, and the two witnesses are empowered to do this also.

Interestingly, John the Baptist fulfilled an Elijah-role as the Bible teaches:

He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord...

So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. His mother answered and said, "No; he shall be called John." But they said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name." So they made signs to his father--what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, "His name is John." (Luke 1:17,59-63).

But Jesus also taught:

Jesus answered and said to them, "Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist (Matthew 17:11-13).

Jesus is essentially saying that although John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah, that an Elijah is still to come--and restore all things (probably related to truths about church history, doctrine, Christian living, and/or prophecy). And this may be one of the two witnesses. Furthermore, because not all of the Church of God will be protected in the wilderness (Revelation 12:14-17; see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra), it seems obvious that not everyone in the Church of God will recognize the authority of final 'Elijah,' until sometime after the start of the Great Tribulation.

Although Christ did so all ready, it may be possible that one of the two witnesses will fulfill, to a degree, Deuteronomy 18:15:

"The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren”.

The Hebrew scriputres also show that a type of Elijah is to come just before the Day of the Lord, hence an end time occurrence. Both Protestant and Catholic translations (the NJB puts the passage in a different chapter, but is the same section of scripture) are shown:

4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel. 5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” (Malachi 4:4-6, NIV).

22 'Remember the Law of my servant Moses to whom at Horeb I prescribed decrees and rulings for all Israel. 23 'Look, I shall send you the prophet Elijah before the great and awesome Day of Yahweh comes. 24 He will reconcile parents to their children and children to their parents, to forestall my putting the country under the curse of destruction.' (Malachi 3:22-24, NJB)

Notice that at the end, the people are still supposed to remember the laws that God gave through Moses, hence the faithful in the end would have some practices many now consider to be Jewish (see also The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time to Learn the Law).

It is also of interest to note that Moses is mentioned in Malachi 4:4, just prior to the Elijah prophecy in verse 5. Hence, there seems to be a biblical connection between Moses and Elijah, one that may be held by the two witnesses (more on Elijah can be found in the article, The Elijah Heresies).

Herbert W. Armstrong specifically taught:

Therefore it seems that the most logical identification of the two witnesses is the one generally accepted--Moses and Elijah...John the Baptist was NOT Elijah, as he plainly said, yet he came in the power and spirit of Elijah. Compare John 1:21, Mat. 11:14, and the explanation in Luke 1:17. So it is likely the two witnesses will be two men who will come in the spirit and power of Elijah and Moses... (Armstrong HW. What is Going to Happen? The Plain Truth. June-July 1934, p. 7).

Before the THIRD WOE--the last trumpet--we find the two witnesses described. Men have come forth with every possible interpretation of these witnesses. Notice the time element. They end their mission (described in chapter 11) at the time of the end of the second woe. (Verses 12-14.) (Armstrong HW. The Book of Revelation Unveiled at Last).

Then in chapter 11, is the story of the mysterious "two witnesses"...Sufficient it is to call your attention to the fact that they END their "1260 days" of prophesying at the "second woe," which is the sixth "trumpet." That is an important key. Now notice, Rev. 11:15...The Seventh Trumpet is "God's Wrath"... the seventh trumpet is is divided into seven stages, the Seven Last Plagues...These terrible plagues are described in the 15th and 16th chapters. We have the space to leave you with one hint: The plagues of Egypt, preceding the Exodus under Moses, were a type of these final plagues, following which will be the greatest Exodus the world has ever known (Armstrong HW. What is Going to Happen? The Plain Truth. February 1934, p. 4).

Thus, the prophesied plagues are likely to be announced by the two witnesses.

Some have speculated that the two witnesses will come from different COGs. Or that they may just be converted prior to the end. This author, however, thinks that those scenarios are unlikely.

Since the two witnesses will be placing their top priority on proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom to the world as a witness (c.f. Matthew 24:14) and one will "restore all things," it seems to make the most sense that God is currently training those who are or were once part of a group like the Continuing Church of God (CCOG). It would not seem to make sense that those who either do not place the proper priority on proclaiming the Gospel or who changed true doctrines would be the two witnesses.

From Some That Have Strayed from the Church of God

There are some who were once part of the old WCG who have made inaccurate claims about the two witnesses. The two that this section will mainly discuss are Jesse Arellano and Ron Weinland.

Jesse Arellano was with a group that believed that WCG, even after it changed and apostatized, was still the one and only true COG in 2004 (and also into 2005). One time he wrote me, and others in the COGs, and stated:

Do you believe...THAT SEVERAL MONTHS FROM NOW THE TWO WITNESSES OF GOD WILL APPEAR IN THE WORLD SCENE? (Email from Jesse Arellano to COGwriter@aol.com October 24, 2004).

My response to him was:

"No. Do you really believe that? If so, time will disprove your position shortly".

Jesse Arellano died several years ago (more on him and those of his views can be found in the article Comments on the Teachings of Ron Wallen, Philip Neal, Kenneth W., GRUMPS, Jesse Arellano, and others who Profess(ed) that WCG has God's Authority). Nor have the two witnesses appeared on the world scene with the power God is to give them (Revelation 11:3). Thus, his bold assertion about the two witnesses was false.

Ronald Weinland is a self-declared "prophet" who had some Church of God affiliation (he was a minister in the Worldwide Church of God and then later in the United Church of God). And he now claims to be one of the two witnesses with the Great Tribulation supposedly beginning in April/December 2008 (he originally used the April date then switched to the December date) and that Jesus would return on May 27, 2012--his assertions on these matters has long been false (he then claimed Pentecost 2013, and is now claiming a future Pentecost for Jesus' return).

But in addition to a variety of doctrinal changes, Ronald Weinland wrote that the Church's correct work should be “addressing what was actually confronting Laodicea” (Weinland R. The Prophesied END-TIME. 2004, p. 177), but that is not (according Revelation 11) the emphasis of the two witnesses (though it is likely they will have some role in that).

In his second book, Ronald Weinland declared:

I am to announce, through God’s direct revelation, that I am one of those two witnesses. The other witness will be revealed to the world during the time of the great tribulation—within the final three and one-half years of man’s era (Weinland, Ronald. 2008 - God's Final Witness. Copyright © 2006 by the-end.com, inc., Cincinnati. Published October, 2006, p.16).

Although, it is most likely that the two witnesses are alive right now, and maybe we of the Philadelphia remnant of the Church of God will know who they are prior to the final 3 1/2 years, I never believed that Ronald Weinland was one of the two witnesses of Revelation 11 (I believe his earlier writings on governance, the work, and false prophecy have completely ruled him out).

Furthermore, although he has appointed himself as one of the two witnesses, he earlier indicated that no one (which would include him), should do that as his website once stated:

The job of witnessing has been set aside for "two" to accomplish by the power of God. No church organization is going to do it, and no individual is going to be able to set himself up as God's apostle to do it. It is for the "two" who are yet to be sent by God.

So today we find that the witness some organizations believe they are doing is actually a witness that God already did during Philadelphia. According to prophecy, the only great witness that remains is the one God will do through His two witnesses at the very end (Weinland Ronald. Time is Running Out. Copyright © the CHURCH OF GOD-PKG. 2005. http://www.cog-pkg.org/publications/booklet/drr.html 08/21/07).

Apparently Ronald Weinland is also into a bit of allegory regarding the two witnesses (and although I may have misunderstood him, he apparently does not intend to wear any type of sackcloth or send forth fire) as he wrote:

Notice: “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth” (Revelation 11:3). The symbolism of “sackcloth” is given because these two will be filled with humility (Weinland, Ronald. 2008 - God's Final Witness. Copyright © 2006 by the-end.com, inc., Cincinnati. Published October, 2006, pp.21-22).

And if any man will hurt them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies, and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. They have power to shut heaven so that it does not rain in the days of their prophecy, and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. (Revelation 11:5-6)...

The fire proceeding out of their mouth is symbolic of the power to pronounce exacting judgments upon anyone who would do them harm (2008 - God's Final Witness, p. 89).

While it is possible that the two witnesses will not wear actual physical sackcloth, Revelation 11:13 is not speaking of just humility, but specifically that the clothing of the two witnesses will not be fancy--probably in contrast to the beast, who is likely to be flashy/wealthy in appearance. And in particular, I also suspect that the two witnesses actually will sometimes wear some literal sackcloth/black cloth, at least at times.  And that they will wear at least some black while they are publicly warning the world. I also believe that they will actually perform miracles, such as fire from them devouring their enemies--I do not believe that the fire mentioned in the Bible is only symbolic.

Anyway, because Ronald Weinland was self-appointed without miracles, teaches the wrong message, has made false predictions, and holds other inaccurate doctrines (he is now apparently unitarian and falsely taught that the end of the USA would be in 2008 (please see the article Concerns About Ronald Weinland's Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God), Ronald Weinland was not and is not one of the two witnesses.

Another self-appointed leader (who claims to be an apostle), RCG's David Pack, asserted:

The two witnesses...The prophets have to report to a living apostle (Pack, David. 21st Century Apostle. RCG Sermon).

David Pack should re-read the Book of Revelation as it gives no indication that the two witnesses have to report to any man. None of the prophets in the Old Testament reported to an apostle. (I believe I also heard David Pack falsely teach that he would be personally teaching the two witnesses, but I do not recall the precise quote--and no, I do not believe the task of personally teaching/preparing the two witnesses will be his responsibility.) David Pack himself has made many proven false predictions (see Why Not the Restored Church of God? ) and hence he is not a credible interpreter of matters prophetic.

Jesus warned:

11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many (Matthew 24:11).

And I believe that the above comments from Jesus are warning those of us in the COGs of false prophets, such as Jesse Arellano and Ronald Weinland, PCG's Gerald Flurry (who as of yet, has not claimed to be one of the two witnesses to the best of this author's knowledge), and even David Pack (who claims to be above prophets, though his quoted statement certainly can be considered as a prophecy). An article of related interest may be Why Be Concerned About False and Heretical Leaders? (Perhaps I should add that amongst Protestants, Harold Camping was distinguishing himself by claiming that his followers collectively make up the two witnesses, even though they exceed the number two--he spiritualized that and other things away, and was proven wrong on his dates for Jesus' return. See Harold Camping's Teachings About the End of the World Do Not Agree with the Bible).

Jesus also warned:

24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand (Matthew 24:24-25).

And one of those that Jesus is referring to above would be the one that the Bible calls "the false prophet" (please see the article Some Doctrines of Antichrist). To learn more about real prophets, please see the article How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God.

Some Early Roman Catholic Views

Roman Catholics have two types of prophecies that seem to involve the two witnesses, the one more commonly understood will be discussed in this section.

Essentially, Roman Catholics tend (as not all Catholics do) to teach that Enoch (who they sometimes call Henoch) and Elijah (who they often call Elias) must be the two witnesses. And this view has, to a great extent, been adopted by the Protestant churches (though some Protestants teach that the two witnesses may be a type of Elijah and Moses just like the many in the Church of God do, see The Wycliffe Bible Commentary on Revelation 11:3-12. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press).

Essentially, Catholics tend to rely on relatively long-standing traditions.

Part of the foundation of the tradition for Enoch being one of the witnesses comes from one of the so-called deuterocanoconical books (the Old Testament Apocrypha) and is not accepted as equally canonical to the rest of the Bible by Protestants, Churches of God, most Jews, or even Eastern Orthodox (though they do accept its inspiration):

Henoch pleased God, and was translated into paradise, that he may give repentance to the nations (Ecclesiasticus 44:16, The Original And True Douay Old Testament Of Anno Domini 1610. Volume 2. Prepared and Edited by Dr. William von Peters, Ph.D. Copyright © 2005, Dr. William G. von Peters. Ph.D. 2005 copyright assigned to VSC Corp.).

The above passage has Enoch in a place called "paradise" where he is allegedly waiting to until a time to give repentance to the nations. But, of course, while humans can preach repentance (and the two witnesses will do that), they cannot actually give repentance.

One of the earliest post-New Testament Catholic writings on the witnesses seems to come from the heretic, but Roman Catholic saint, Irenaeus who wrote:

Enoch, too, pleasing God, without circumcision, discharged the office of God's legate to the angels although he was a man, and was translated, and is preserved until now as a witness of the just judgment of God, because the angels when they had transgressed fell to the earth for judgment, but the man who pleased [God] was translated for salvation (Irenaeus. Adversus Haereses, Book IV, Chapter 16, Verse 2).

For Enoch, when he pleased God, was translated in the same body in which he did please Him, thus pointing out by anticipation the translation of the just. Elijah, too, was caught up [when he was yet] in the substance of the [natural] form; thus exhibiting in prophecy the assumption of those who are spiritual, and that nothing stood in the way of their body being translated and caught up. For by means of the very same hands through which they were moulded at the beginning, did they receive this translation and assumption...If, however, any one imagine it impossible that men should survive for such a length of time, and that Elias was not caught up in the flesh, but that his flesh was consumed in the fiery chariot, let him consider that Jonah, when he had been cast into the deep, and swallowed down into the whale's belly, was by the command of God again thrown out safe upon the land (Irenaeus. Adversus Haereses, Book V, Chapter 5, Verses 1-2).

Sadly, many Catholics believe the above statements from Irenaeus (which were later confirmed by writers such as Catholic saints Ephraem, John Damascene, and Hildegard), and this is one of the reasons that many of the Roman Catholics will be deceived about the real two witnesses and will not believe their message.

It should be noted that although Elijah was "went up" to a part of heaven (2 Kings 2:11), Elijah later wrote a letter to Jehoram the King of Judah (2 Chronicles 21:12-15) which indicated that Elijah ended up on the earth after he went up. The fact that Jesus taught no one other than He ascended into God’s heaven (John 3:13), which apparently is the 'heaven' that the Apostle Paul referred to as the “third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2), is scriptural evidence against the idea that Enoch and Elijah are alive in heaven now (or in “paradise” as some Catholics referred to the place). (As will be quoted a little later, the Catholic saint and theologian Thomas Aquinas wrote that it was the "atmospheric heaven" that Elijah seems to have done to.)

Hippolytus (died 235), one of the "greatest" Roman Catholic early scholars wrote:

Now Daniel will set forth this subject to us. For he says, "And one week will make a covenant with many, and it shall be that in the midst (half) of the week my sacrifice and oblation shall cease." By one week, therefore, he meant the last week which is to be at the end of the whole world of which week the two prophets Enoch and Elias will take up the half. For they will preach 1, 260 days clothed in sackcloth, proclaiming repentance to the people and to all the nations...

It is a matter of course that His forerunners must appear first, as He says by Malachi and the angel,"I will send to you Elias the Tishbite before the day of the Lord, the great and notable day, comes; and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, lest I come and smite the earth utterly." These, then, shall come and proclaim the manifestation of Christ that is to be from heaven; and they shall also perform signs and wonders, in order that men may be put to shame and turned to repentance for their surpassing wickedness and impiety.

For John says, "And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth." That is the half of the week whereof Daniel spoke (Hippolytus. On Christ and Antichrist, Chapters 43,46,47).

For when the threescore and two weeks are fulfilled, and Christ is come, and the Gospel is preached in every place, the times being then accomplished, there will remain only one week, the last, in which Elias will appear, and Enoch, and in the midst of it the abomination of desolation will be manifested,17 viz., Antichrist, announcing desolation to the world. And when he comes, the sacrifice and oblation will be removed, which now are offered to God in every place by the nations (Hippolytus. Exegetical Fragments, Chapter 22).

His first advent had John the Baptist as its forerunner; and His second, in which He is to come in glory, will exhibit Enoch, and Elias, and John the Divine (Hippolytus. On the End of the World, Chapter 21).

For this is what the prophets Enoch and Elias will preach: Believe not the enemy who is to come and be seen; for he is an adversary and corrupter and son of perdition, and deceives you; and for this reason he will kill you, and smite them with the sword. Behold the deceit of the enemy, know the machinations of the beguiler, how he seeks to darken the mind of men utterly. For he will show forth his demons brilliant like angels, and he will bring in hosts of the incorporeal without number. And in the presence of all he exhibits himself as taken up into heaven with trumpets and sounds, and the mighty shouting of those who hail him with indescribable hymns; the heir of darkness himself shining like light, and at one time soaring to the heavens, and at another descending to the earth with great glory, and again charging the demons, like angels, to execute his behests with much fear and trembling. Then will he send the cohorts of the demons among mountains and caves and dens of the earth, to track out those who have been concealed from his eyes, and to bring them forward to worship him. And those who yield to him he will seal with his seal; but those who refuse to submit to him he will consume with incomparable pains and bitterest torments and machinations, such as never have been, nor have reached the ear of man, nor have been seen by the eye of mortals (Hippolytus. On the End of the World, Chapter 29).

Thus, then, does the prophet set forth these things concerning the Antichrist, who shall be shameless, a war-maker, and despot, who, exalting himself above all kings and above every god, shall build the city of Jerusalem, and restore the sanctuary. Him the impious will worship as God, and will bend to him the knee, thinking him to be the Christ. He shall cut off the two witnesses and forerunners of Christ, who proclaim His glorious kingdom from heaven, as it is said: "And I will give (power) unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth."19 As also it was announced to Daniel: "And one week shall confirm a covenant with many; and in the midst of the week it shall be that the sacrifice and oblation shall be removed"—that the one week might be shown to be divided into two. The two witnesses, then, shall preach three years and a half; and Antichrist shall make war upon the saints during the test of the week, and desolate the world, that what is written may be fulfilled: "And they shall make the abomination of desolation for a thousand two hundred and ninety days." (Hippolytus. Fragments from Commentaries on Various Books of Scripture: The interpretation by Hippolytus, (bishop) of Rome, of the visions of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar, taken in conjunction. Chapter 39).

Another third century Catholic leader, Bishop Victorinus, mentions that several have been considered as the two witnesses, but that seems to lean towards Elijah as one of them:

...I will give to my two witnesses, and they shall predict a thousand two hundred and threescore days clothed in sackcloth." That is, three years and six months: these make forty-two months. Therefore their preaching is three years and six months, and the kingdom of Antichrist as much again. "If any man will hurt them, fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devours their enemies." That fire proceeds out of the mouth of those prophets against the adversaries, bespeaks the power of the world. For all afflictions, however many there are, shall be sent by their messengers in their word. Many think that there is Elisha, or Moses, with Elijah; but both of these died; while the death of Elijah is not heard of, with whom all our ancients have believed that it was Jeremiah. For even the very word spoken to him testifies to him, saying, "Before I formed you in the belly I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet unto the nations." But he was not a prophet unto the nations; and thus the truthful word of God makes it necessary, which it has promised to set forth, that he should be a prophet to the nations. "These are the two candlesticks standing before the Lord of the earth." These two candlesticks and two olive trees He has to this end spoken of, and admonished you that if, when you have read of them elsewhere, you have not understood, you may understand here. For in Zechariah, one of the twelve prophets, it is thus written: "These are the two olive trees and two candlesticks which stand in the presence of the Lord of the earth;" that is, they are in paradise. Also, in another sense, standing in the presence of the lord of the earth, that is, in the presence of Antichrist. Therefore they must be slain by Antichrist (Victorinus. Commentary on the Apocalypse, From the 11th Chapter).

Another Catholic prophet confirmed the belief that Enoch and Elijah will come again:

Saint Bernard (died 543): "During the three and one half years reign of Antichrist, God will send Henoch and Elias to help the Christians." (Connor Edward. Prophecy for Today. Imprimatur + A.J. Willinger, Bishop of Monterey-Fresno; Reprint: Tan Books and Publishers, Rockford (IL), 1984, p. 75).

However, at least one fourth century Catholic writer called Moses and Elias (Elijah) two witnesses of Christ, but not necessarily as the final two witnesses. Notice:

Nay more, we produce two witnesses, those who stood before Lord on Mount Sinai: Moses was in a cleft of the rock, and Elias was once in a cleft of the rock: they being present with Him at His Transfiguration on Mount Tabor (Cyril of Jerusalem. Catechetical Lectures, Lecture 12, On the words Incarnate, and Made Man. Chapter 16).

A 21st century Roman Catholic theologian, W. Kurz, also seems to support the COG position that the two witnesses are like Moses and Elijah:

John then prophesies about two witnesses...They have much in common with the Old Testament prophets Moses and Elijah ( Kurz W. What Does the Bible Say About the End Times? A Catholic View. Servant Books, Cincinnati. Nihil Obstat: Kistner H., Schehr T.P. Imprimi Potest: Link F., Paul J.M. Imprimatur: Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxillary Bishop, Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 19, 2004. Servant Books, Cincinnati, 2004, p. 157).

A major Roman Catholic theologian was Thomas Aquinas who wrote in the thirteenth century, something along the lines of the more commonly accepted position of most Roman Catholics:

Paradise did not become useless through being unoccupied by man after sin, just as immortality was not conferred on man in vain, though he was to lose it. For thereby we learn God's kindness to man, and what man lost by sin. Moreover, some say that Enoch and Elias still dwell in that paradise...Elias was taken up into the atmospheric heaven, but not in to the empyrean heaven, which is the abode of the saints: and likewise Enoch was translated into the earthly paradise, where he is believed to live with Elias until the coming of Antichrist (Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologica I:102; III: 49).

While Thomas Aquinas seems to have some hesitancy, it is this author's belief that most who profess Roman Catholicism and have looked into this area believe that the two witnesses will be Enoch and Elias (Elijah) and that they will come down from "Paradise."

Since the Bible does not state that anywhere, when the two witnesses DO REVEAL themselves to the world and DO NOT claim to have come down from "Paradise," then most in the world will not accept that they are the actual two witnesses from God.

What About 2 Maccabees?

Interestingly, many Roman Catholics believe that Enoch and Elijah will not appear until after the discovery of the ark of the covenant. This is supposedly related to 2 Machabees (sometimes spelled Maccabees). 2 Machabees is another of the "deuterocanoconical" books of the Old Testament Apocrypha.

The specific passage in 2 Machabees is:

4 And it was in the same writing, how the prophet commanded by the Divine
answer made to him, that the tabernacle, & the ark should follow in
company with him, till he came forth into the mount in which Moyses
ascended, and saw the inheritance of God.
5 And Jeremie coming thither found a place of a caue: & he brought the
tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense in thither, and stopped the
door.
6 And there came certain withal, that followed, to Mark the place for
themselves: and they could not find it.
7 And as Jeremie understood it, blaming them he said: that the place shall be
unknown, till God gather together the congregation of the people, and become
propitious:
8 and then our Lord will show these things, and the Majesty of our Lord shall
appear, & there shall be a cloud as it was also made manifest to Moyses, and
as when Salomon prayed that the place might be sanctified to the great God, he
did manifest these things (2 Machabees 2:4-8. The Original And True Douay Old
Testament Of Anno Domini 1610 Volume 2 Prepared and Edited by Dr. William
von Peters, Ph.D. Copyright © 2005, Dr. William G. von Peters. Ph.D. 2005
copyright assigned to VSC Corp.).

There is a rabbinic interpretation of the above passage that claims that this ark has to do with the coming of the Messiah. But it needs to be understood that this passage of Machabees does not mention Enoch nor Elijah.

Yet, notice the following, which is claimed to be based upon an interpretation of that passage in 2 Machabees.

Bl. Dionysius of Luetzenburg...prophecies:

"After the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant, Enoch and Elias will restore the Holy Sacrament of the Altar; Because of the fact that the Ark of the Covenant will be in the possession of the two holy prophets and not in Antichrist's hands, the Jews will recognize that Jesus is the true Messias..."

(Luetzenberg, Leben Antichristus, Chapter 29, circa late 17th century: as cited in Birch D.A. Trial, Tribulation & Triumph. Queenship Publishing, Goleta (CA), 1996, p. 509)

Since neither the Bible nor the passage is 2 Machabees states that Enoch and Elijah will come "After the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant," those who believe that ark must first be found simply will not be able to discern the true witnesses from God.

Roman Catholic Writings That May Condemn the Two Witnesses

Because of the general (not official as the Church of Rome has never officially pronounced its interpretation of the Book of Revelation) Roman Catholic position that Enoch and Elijah are the two witnesses, many Catholics will most likely use this as an excuse to ignore the two witnesses as they will not literally be Enoch and Elijah (even though one certainly may be a type of Elijah).

Furthermore, this author believes that the Roman Catholics will ultimately teach that the actual two witnesses are false prophets. Specifically, it appears that many Roman Catholics seem to think that one of the actual two witnesses is the false prophet warned about in Revelation 16:13; some suggest more than one "false prophet." Part of this has to do with official Roman Catholic teachings on the millennium as well as a variety of what are called "private prophecies."

Although the millennial view was once taught by people that Roman Catholics consider to have been early saints, it is now strongly condemned by the Roman Catholic Church:

676 The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism... (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 194).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church suggests that the millennial teaching is a doctrine of Antichrist. This was not a belief originally held by early Roman Catholic recognized leaders/saints. Thus, many who now consider themselves Roman Catholic will apparently not believe the teachings of Jesus' final two witnesses, who will be killed by a major power (Revelation 11:4-7)--and will most certainly be teaching about the soon coming millennium.

Some Roman Catholics also seem to teach that a certain false prophet essentially is a type of John the Baptist as they believe that this prophet precedes Antichrist. Notice some Catholic writings which may be sadly directed towards the true two witnesses:

Nun Anne Catherine Emmerich (October 1, 1822): "...Two men live at this time who long to ruin the Church...The two enemies of the Church...are firmly resolved to destroy the pious and learned men that stand in their way" (Schmöger Carl E. The Life and Revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich, Volume 2. Approbation: Bishop of Limbourgh Peter Joseph. TAN Books, reprint 1976, p. 298).

Jeanne le Royer (Sister of the Nativity, 18th century): "One day the Lord said to me: 'A few years before the coming of my enemy, Satan will raise up false prophets who will announce Antichrist as the true Messiah' " (Dupont Yves. Catholic Prophecy: The Coming Chastisement. TAN Books, Rockford (IL), 1973, p.57).

Bernhardt Rembordt (d. 1783): After a time of peace and prosperity, during the reign of the Great Monarch...the precursor of Antichrist will come, and there will be more wars...They want to found a new kingdom of Christ...They call themselves servants of God...With it the false prophets will fall...That is the beginning of the blood-era. (Culleton G. The Reign of Antichrist. 1951, Reprint TAN Books, 1974, pp. 153-154)

St. Vincent Ferr (15th century):...And when the false prophet, the precursor of Antichrist, comes, all who are not confirmed will apostatize, while those who are confirmed will stand fast in their faith, and only a few will renounce Christ." (Dupont, pp. 29-30)

Priest H. Kramer (20th century): Antichrist will have a forerunner or prophet, who will prepare the way for him...The prophet...comes out of the earth which is the term for the Gentile nations from which he sprang (Kramer H.B. L. The Book of Destiny.  Nihil Obstat: J.S. Considine, O.P., Censor Deputatus.  Imprimatur: +Joseph M. Mueller, Bishop of Sioux City, Iowa, January 26, 1956.  Reprint TAN Books, Rockford (IL), p. 318).

Catholic writer Desmond Birch: "The "False Prophet" arrives - - the Precursor of Antichrist. He will "ape" the role that John the Baptist performed in preparing the people to for the arrival of the Messiah" (Birch, p. 556).

I suspect people like the cardinals and the final pope (who may be an antipope) are considered to be "pius and learned men" according to A.C. Emmerich's words. Furthermore, understand that while the two witnesses will announce that Jesus is about to return and establish the Kingdom of God, that Catholic prophecies say that false prophets will come prior to the final Antichrist and announce him--yet it will be the true Christ that the two witnesses will be announcing!

The following is from Cardinal Newman:

But, whereas one heresy and that the last, which has now risen as harbinger of Antichrist, the Arian, as it is called (Athanasius. Translated by JH Newman and Archibald Robertson. Four Discourses of S. Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria, Against the Arians Discourse 1. Copyright © 2004 by The National Institute for Newman Studies.)

Thus we have found S. Athanasius calling Arianism "the forerunner of Antichrist," ( Newman JH. Four Discourses of S. Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria, Against the Arians Discourse 2. Copyright © 2004 by The National Institute for Newman Studies.)

Since the two witnesses would espouse the semi-Arian view of the Godhead (for details that may suggest why see Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning), apparently Athanasius seems to warning that this will come just prior to the return of Jesus.

Notice the following from Catholic writer Desmond Birch:

Yet, there are seven years of Chastisement mentioned in those passages -- which appear to be two periods of three and one half years. Some scholars believe that the first three and one half years merely refers to a period of the foretold specific "False Prophet" who will precede Antichrist and prepare the way for him. In this period, the "False Prophet" will ape the role of John the Baptist. (Birch, p. 295)

The Bible does not indicate that the "False Prophet" will rise up for 3 1/2 years before Antichrist. Instead the Bible shows that the two witnesses will preach for 3 1/2 years prior to the return of Jesus (some "Catholic" writings have confused Jesus with the final Antichrist, see Do Certain Catholic Prophecies About Antichrist Warn Against Jesus?)--though before God gives them full power (Revelation 11:3), they are likely to do some teaching/preaching prior (which also seems consistent with certain Catholic writings about this).

The reality is that the millennium will be a doctrine that the two witnesses will preach about during the time of Antichrist and just prior to the millennial reign of Christ.

Catholic leaders generally denounce the idea of a future millennial reign as well as all other ideas that salvation can come to humans after Jesus returns as heretical doctrines of Antichrist. Some apparently will teach that the "false prophets" cannot be the two witnesses because the two witnesses are Enoch and Elijah who are still waiting in Paradise to come down to earth (which some even feel cannot happen until after the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant).

Since we in the CCOG teach that Enoch and Elijah are dead, and thus believe that the two witnesses will deny that they came down from Paradise as Enoch and Elijah, this will likely confirm to certain Catholics that those that we in the CCOG refer to as the two witnesses will be to them as "false prophets." This will also be consistent with the new "Catholic" view that the millennial teaching is a doctrine of Antichrist.

Now one of the "greatest" Roman Catholic scholars taught a different order than most of their private prophets have taught. Notice that what Hippolytus wrote is essentially in the correct biblical, not current Roman Catholic, order:

By the beast, then, coming up out of the earth, he means the kingdom of Antichrist; and by the two horns he means him and the false prophet after him (Hippolytus. On Christ and Antichrist, chapter 49).

The Beast kingdom (which Hippolytus refers to as "the kingdom of Antichrist") started to form before the false prophet rises up (more on the false prophet and his role at the time of the Beast can be found in the article Doctrines of Antichrist). But since some private Catholic prophecies have the false prophet announcing the Antichrist, those who rely on them are in disagreement with both the Bible and Hippolytus there. And while we in the CCOG do not consider that we need to follow Hippolytus, many of his writings are considered to be part of the so-called "sacred traditions" that Roman Catholics base much of their doctrines on.

There are Catholic writings that suggest that one of the of the two witnesses will be "an apostate Catholic" and/or a heretic (only baptized Catholics can be considered officially as heretics):

Br. Thomas Mary Sennott, M.I.C.M. (21st century): Cornelius a Lapide...Commentary on Holy Scripture , Book 21, On the Apocalypse...In his work cited above, Cornelius a Lapide relates that Saint Ambrose, Tertullian and others say that, just as Our Lord had His precursor, Saint John the Baptist, who pointed to Him and told the people that this was the Messias, “Behold the Lamb of God . . .”, so also will Antichrist have his false prophet who will make the people worship him. He also says the phrase, “like a lamb,” indicates that he will be an apostate Catholic...(Sennott TM. The False Prophets. August 1, 2005. http://catholicism.org/false-prophets.html viewed 12/12/08)

Venerable Bartholomew Holzhauser (died 1658):..."When everything has been ruined by war; when Catholics are hard pressed by traitorous co-religionists and heretics... There will rise a valiant monarch anointed by God. (Connor, p.35)

Hildegard of Bingen (died 1179): A great enemy of the Church, a precursor to Antichrist, will take the title of Saviour. Heretics will join this precursor of Antichrist and persecute the true Church of Christ. Their cunning will be great, so great in fact that they will be able to draw many righteous men to their side. (Culleton, The Reign of Antichrist, p. 128).

Elizabeth Canori-Mora (died 1825): "All men shall rise one against the other, and they shall kill one another without pity. During this sanguinary conflict the avenging arm of God will strike the wicked, and in His mighty power He will punish their pride and presumption. God will employ the powers of {Hades} for the extermination of these impious and heretical persons who desire to overthrow the Church and destroy it to its very foundation...God will allow the demons to strike with death those impious men because they gave themselves up to the infernal powers and had formed with them a compact against the Catholic Church. (Connor, pp.22-23)

It is possible that at least one of the individual witnesses would have been Catholic or the son of a former Catholic as both of those types of people can be considered as "apostates." But to be a "heretic" officially according to the Vatican, "A person must be baptized to commit heresy" (The Great Heresies. NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors. Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004 IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827 permission to publish this work is hereby granted. +Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004 http://www.catholic.com/library/Great_Heresies.asp 01/19/07; from Catholic Answers).

Notice that an odd punishment seems believed by some to expect to affect prophetic "apostates":

Priest H. Kramer (20th century): God threatens wormwood as food for the perverse priests and false prophets...Wormwood should be the food of false prophets...They were self-appointed prophets, who received no call or vision from God and contradicted the warnings of true prophets...He himself becomes wormwood by apostasy, because he becomes a self-appointed teacher or prophet. (Kramer H., p. 202)

It needs to be understood that since Catholic priests would generally not consider it possible that a true prophet appointed by God would contradict the warnings of Catholic-approved prophets, this writing seems to be a warning against some prior with affiliation with Catholicism being used by God as prophets.

Could this then be referring to perhaps one or both of the two witnesses? I suspect it could be.

(More Catholic prophecies are included in the article Catholic Prophecies: Do They Mirror, Highlight, or Contradict Biblical Prophecies?)

Two Men "Are Enemies of the Church," the "Little Black Man," the "Black Church," and a "Black Net"

This section will probably contain the most speculation of any in this article. This is mainly because of a greater use of quotes from Catholic private prophecies and some from Protestant commentators.

The following is one of few places in Catholic prophecies that it seems that there is an objection to two specific individuals towards the time of the end that I believe is most likely a reference to the two witnesses (it also refers to two others) (any bolding mine):

Anne Catherine Emmerich (October 1, 1822) "The Church," she groaned, "is in great danger. I must ask every one who comes to see me to say an Our Father for that intention. We must pray that the Pope may not leave Rome, for unheard-of evils would result from such a step. We must pray the Holy Ghost to enlighten him, for they are even now trying to exact something of him. The Protestant doctrine, as also that of the Greeks, is spreading everywhere. Two men live at this time who long to ruin the Church, but they have lost one who used to help them with his pen. He was killed by a young man about a year ago, and one of the two men of whom I speak left Germany at the same time. They have their employees everywhere. The little black man in Rome, whom I see so often, has many working for him without their clearly knowing for what end. He has his agents in the new black church also. If the Pope leaves Rome, the enemies of the Church will get the upper hand. I see the little black man in his own country committing many thefts and falsifying things generally. Religion is there so skillfully undermined and stifled that there are scarcely one hundred faithful priests. I cannot say how it is, but I see fog and darkness increasing. There are however, three churches that they cannot seize: St. Peter's, St. Mary-Major's and St. Michael's. Although they are constantly trying to undermine them, they will not succeed. I help not. All must be rebuilt soon for every one, even ecclesiastics are laboring to destroy--ruin is at hand. The two enemies of the Church who have lost their accomplice are firmly resolved to destroy the pious and learned men that stand in their way." (Schmöger, p.298)

I am not convinced that the "little black man in Rome" (which is not "his own country") is actually Negroid in race (nor were the two or three Catholic commentators I have read who discussed this matter--they indicated some type of Caucasian; and another wrote “‘black’ here does not mean skin color, per se, but ‘sinister’” e.g. http://www.markmallett.com/blog/2009/03/the-pope-thermometer-of-apostasy/).

This is partially because a dark/black church is spoken about there and in other places (i.e. Schmöger, pp.279-280,283-284,292) and the term black in some Catholic writings (i.e. Hildegard of Bingen. Scivias. Paulist Press, Mahwah (NJ), pp. 173-174,299) appears to mean one contrary to or outside of the Roman Church. Furthermore since the two witnesses seem to wear some black cloth (cf. Revelation 11:3 with 6:12) and certain Catholic "prophecies" warn against biblical events (e.g. Do Catholic Prophecies Warn Against Jesus or Antichrist?) it appears that the above is a warning against God's two witnesses.

But irrespective of why "black" is mentioned, notice that there are two enemies of the Church that are being warned about.

The term "little" could suggest relationship to the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God (as it has "a little strength", per Revelation 3:8), but more likely, this suggests someone who is not portly in girth or tall in height, so at least one that Nun Emmerich warns about is possibly short of stature (in contrast to "little" another Catholic prophecy indicates that those who are "taller" are defenders of the Catholic Church and the successors of the apostles; see Hildegard, p. 457).

As far as having their "employees everywhere" and having "agents," I suspect that these may include some people recently converted into the Church of God and/or some COG people who did not flee to protection with the Philadelphians (some of this is discussed in more detail in the article There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra). The term "the new black church" would possibly be some version of either the remnant of the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God and/or the combination of those COG members who did not flee and those individuals newly converted.

Of course, private Catholic prophecies cannot be completely trusted (even the Church of Rome officially teaches that they generally do not have to be accepted by faithful Catholics), so perhaps no writer gets killed as the above passage from Nun Emmerich states, and perhaps other details will not be fulfilled as written. However, it does seem that this is a warning against those who will be the actual two witnesses, as well as perhaps those who may assist them. Since the Bible records that various prophets may have made statements that are not in the scriptures themselves, any potentially accurate predictions that "Catholic private prophecies" may contain probably come from a spirit entity with knowledge of those statements.

Nun Emmerich also claimed:

I see the Church alone, forsaken by all and around her strife, misery, hatred, treason, resentment, total blindness. I see messengers sent on all sides from a dark central point that issue from their mouths like black vapor, enkindling in the breast of their hearers rage and hatred...The situation is terrible! May God have mercy! How much I have prayed! O city! O city, (Rome) with what art thou threatened! The storm approaches--be on thy guard! (Schmöger, p. 302).

So Nun Emmerich seems to be seeing problems for Rome from something dark and black. This may be related to the witnesses.

A Catholic priest and saint called John Bosco had a series of what are claimed to have been prophetic dreams/visions. He at least twice used the term "black" as descriptive of those opposed to Roman Catholic practices.

In one such dream, John Bosco claimed to see an elephant who seemed to be polite but small enough to go into a Catholic Church, yet the elephant turned its back on the Catholic eucharistic altar and knelt in the opposite direction. Then, after some Catholics put up a banner stating "Holy Mary, help your forlorn children," the elephant gets upset and apparently gets some who had been Catholic to join it (hence the elephant seems to be symbolic of a Church opposed to Rome). John Bosco states some of the Catholics "get beneath Our Lady's mantle" and "were instantly cured"--suggesting that those who are close to Mary flee to her for assistance, so that they are not influenced highly by this elephant. There is then a separation between the two groups (Mary's and the elephant's) and then, according to John Bosco:

Suddenly rearing on its hind legs, the elephant changed into a horrible, longhorned specter and cast a black net over its wretched accomplices. Then, as the beast roared, a thick cloud of smoke enveloped them, and the earth suddenly gaped beneath them and swallowed them up (Forty Dreams of St. John Bosco: The Apostle of Youth. Compiled and edited by J. Bacchiarello. Nihil Obstat: E. Gutierrez, S.D.B., August 21, 1969. Imprimatur + Stephen Ferrando, S.D.B., D.D., Bishop of Shillong, India, September 21, 1969. Reprint 1996, TAN Books, Rockford (IL), 1996, p. 42).

While Catholics (including J. Bosco) tend to feel that this was a God-given vision related only to certain boys at a school back then, it instead may have been a demon-inspired dream with more to it. This dream may be a hint that the "elephant" (perhaps the COG), who is disgusted by such non-biblical practices such as the cultus Mary (more of which is mentioned in that dream), converts some who were Catholics, and that some (perhaps the two witnesses and maybe those who assist them) will wear some black netting. It also may be hinting that after the COG changes (or simply only the Philadelphians preparing to leave), it will appear to be gone because of something that the earth does. If it is not related to the killing of the two witnesses, this instead may slightly parallel Revelation 12:16 which states:

But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth...

Hence, John Bosco's dream may be indirectly discussing the fleeing of the Philadelphians to a place of safety (There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra ). It should also be noted that it seems clear to me that at least one Catholic saint and prophetess (see Hildegard of Bingen. Scivias. Paulist Press, Mahwah (NJ), pp. 301-302) most definitely is warning against those who go to the place of safety. Anyway, John Bosco may be saying that some of the accomplices of the true Church, probably including the two witnesses, will have some type of black net covering.

Perhaps it should be mentioned that in another of his "dreams" John Bosco claims that there will be battles against the Pope-led church ship, that one of the weapons used will be "bad books," and a new pope's ship is anchored to Mary. He interprets it to mean:

It seems to me that the Pope's ship might mean the Church, of which he is the head...The two columns of salvation seem to be devotion to Mary Most Holy and to the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist...The enemy ships are persecutions. The most serious trials for the Church are near at hand...Her enemies are represented by the ships that tried to sink the principal ship if they could. Only two means are left to save her amidst so much confusion: DEVOTION TO MARY MOST HOLY and FREQUENT COMMUNION (Forty Dreams of St. John Bosco: The Apostle of Youth. Compiled and edited by J. Bacchiarello. Nihil Obstat: E. Gutierrez, S.D.B., August 21, 1969. Imprimatur + Stephen Ferrando, S.D.B., D.D., Bishop of Shillong, India, September 21, 1969. Reprint 1996, TAN Books, Rockford (IL), 1996, p. 210-211).

I should point out that the Bible shows that Passover was an annual event, history shows that the Romans supported a change of the date of Passover to Sunday, Roman Catholic practices now have an often daily reenactment (which they tend to call communion), but the COG throughout history (and even today) teaches an annual, not frequent, Passover observance on the 14th of Nisan. Hence the above interpretation by Catholic Saint Bosco is in direct opposition to the COGs on that "FREQUENT COMMUNION" point (but not Protestants who almost always believe in observing "communion/the Lord's supper" frequently throughout the year). Furthermore, Mary is NOT a column of salvation (Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions) as the Bible teaches that it is only the name of Jesus that salvation comes through (Acts 4:10-12). And this cultus Mary will apparently be something that the two witnesses will need to preach against--and this seems to be a warning against some who will tell the truth about Mary.

Nun Anne Catherine Emmerich also claimed (bolding mine):

If the wicked party knew their own great strength, they would even now make their attack. I fear that the Holy Father will suffer many tribulations before his death, for I see the black counterfeit church gaining ground, I see its fatal influence on the public (Schmöger, p.292).

Hence there is prophesied to be a church that gains influence and that this causes distress at least to the Pope. It is called both black and counterfeit, so I suspect it may be because the true two witnesses, that the Catholic prophecies seem to be addressed against, are affiliated with it.

Nun Emmerich also claimed (the italics are in the text cited):

I saw the black fellow plotting again, the destroyers attacking the Church of Peter, Mary standing with her mantle over it, and the enemies of God put to flight. I saw Sts. Peter and Paul laboring actively for the Church and their basilica greatly enlarged. Then I saw darkness spreading around and people no longer seeking the true Church...The Pope shows no energy now ; he has been advised to hold out till death, and this he gained by an act of firmness. But his last orders are of no account, he enforces them too feebly. I saw over the city terrible evils from the north...

I continued my journey eastward over the sea into a cold country...the inhabitants were all staunch Protestants...I saw the fellow lurking near the shining palace (Schmöger, pp.131, 134).

Nov. 15, 1819...I saw many people in Rome deeply saddened by the intrigues of the black man, who looks like a Jew (Schmöger, p.273).

September 27, 1820, I saw deplorable things...I also saw Jews standing under the porch of the Church. All these things caused me great distress. (Connor, p. 66)

Perhaps I should remind everyone that a real member in any of the Churches of God "looks like a Jew" to various historical Catholic writers as we keep the Sabbath, biblical (often called "Jewish") holy days, do not eat biblically unclean meats, etc. I should also mention that Catholic writers sometimes refer to those in the COGs as Protestant (even though we are not Protestant, please see the article Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differs from most Protestants) as Catholics tend to classify all who refuse to accept Catholic doctrine, yet profess Christ, as Protestant. Their prophecies tend to indicate that "the shining place" is their church.

Also, note the following odd statement about the two witnesses from a Protestant commentary:

Some think these two witnesses are Enoch and Elias, who are to return to the earth for a time: others, the church of the believing Jews and that of the Gentiles (from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Revelation 11:3-13. Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.).

So although it seems to be a stretch, it is possible that some Protestant had some historical influence that the witnesses may be churches or individuals, possibly "believing Jews."

However, it is possible that one of the two witnesses will be a converted person primarily with a Gentile ethnicity (perhaps from a Greco-Roman religious background), while the other may be primarily of Israelite ethnicity who was brought up in the Church of God. They may also be related. Why do I say that?

Two reasons. First, recall that the Bible seems to refer to the witnesses as two olive branches (Zechariah 4:12). And notice that the Apostle Paul discussed two different types of branches in the New Testament--converted Gentiles as well as Israelites who accepted Christ:

11 But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. 12 Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! 13 For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. 15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in." 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? 25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:11-26).

Hence, since there are two witnesses that are referred to as two branches and there are Gentile and Israelite branches in the true Church, it is possible that one of the two witnesses will be of predominantly Gentile stock who converted to true Christianity while the other may be one of predominantly Israelite stock brought up in true Christianity. As branches, they are also somewhat related. But this is not absolutely certain, though a biblical possibility.

Furthermore, notice the following from the Bible and blackness:

I clothe the heavens with blackness, And I make sackcloth their covering (Isaiah 50:3).

I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood (Revelation 6:12).

The implication in the above scriptures is that biblical sackcloth is black--thus it seems that the two witnesses wear some cloth that is black as they wear sackcloth (Revelation 11:3). The implication from Matthew Henry's Commentary is that believing Jews may have something to do with the two witnesses. The implication from those sources, combined with the Catholic prophecies, seems to be that the "black man" is one of the two witnesses, or at least is one associated with the two witnesses and the COGs.

There also seems to be an old Eastern Orthodox prophecy that is opposed to the two witnesses (though like many of the Roman Catholic ones, it seems more focused against one the two witnesses):

Bl. Hieronymus Agathaghelos (1279 A.D.): ...young man...now it is not the end; I see you are being duped...you are hoping in vain; Sabbatism is against the Divine Law...you promote the Hebrew Sabbath at the expense of Christian Sunday, and yet, you will not succeed...before you become an apostate on behalf of the Sabbath...

And lo and behold, an evil assembly of the crafty evening leader, dressed in black mourning apparel, was measuring its strength...taking in a hypocritical manner the most holy name of Christ, by means of their flowering and dissembling speech; these were the men who were concealing their impiety under a mask of virtue; those were the most filthy citizens of Pentapolis...these are semi-godless men, they despise the Divine Law, they are rapacious wolves in sheep's clothing...they will have to pay the due price before the Public Executioner of the Sabbatians...you, the inventors of the distorted heresies...(Tzima Otto H. The Great Monarch and WWIII in Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Scriptural Prophecies. The Verenika Press, Rock Hill (SC), 2000, pp. 127, 132-135, with a partial translation from page 240)

There are several points to make related to the above. Notice that it is warning that someone who was part of a Sunday church (probably a one "born Catholic" as he becomes an "apostate" according to the mystic because of the Sabbath) will believe in and teach the Sabbath as well as believe that it is the time of the end. The followers of the end time Greco-Roman churches will insist that the end comes later than the actual two witnesses will teach. Notice that Agathaghelos indicates that the leader wears black and that these are concealed--it may be that the two witnesses sometimes will hide their identity (perhaps to allow themselves to cross international borders or other purposes). The leader is, for at least some while, a citizen of the Pentapolis, which in English means "five cities." A major point to emphasize is that Agathaghelos is indicating that these men will seem pious and he does not want anyone to listen to him. Thus, the above Orthodox prediction seems to be directed against the two witnesses as they will be followers of the true faith.

These witnesses will have several messages (the Sabbath being only one of them) that the coming revised Greco-Roman confederation will oppose.

It would also seem that the millennial hope and the hope of future salvation (as opposed to the concept that salvation is only offered in this age) will be one of the defining differences between the two witnesses and combined the Beast/Antichrist power during the 3 1/2 years that the two witnesses have been given the power from God.

It appears that Satan and/or his demons have influenced mystics throughout the ages to falsely warn against the two witnesses so that when they rise up, that these warnings from the mystics will be used as justification to attempt to discredit, persecute, and eventually kill God’s two witnesses!

Chinese Prophecy Might Be Discussing One of the Two Witnesses

There is a Chinese prophecy that, according to Ruan Pui-Hua, is expected to be fulfilled during the time of the Apocalypse. Because of that timing, this ancient writing would seem to be referring to one of the two witnesses (one witness may go to China and other parts of Asia more than the other one):

Zhuge Liang (3rd century): Rescuing others from disaster, is only a saint...From extreme disaster is born hope. (Pui-Hua, R.  Ancient Chinese Prophecies Till the End of the World.  AuthorHouse, Bloomington (IN), 2008, p. 142).

The two witnesses will be trying to warn the world about the disasters that befall it--this would include the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. The two witnesses will be saints (cf. Revelation 14:12). And some people all over the world will be spiritually rescued by listening to them--the "great multitude" of Revelation 7:9-10 would likely include many Asians. (More on Asia can be found in the article Asia in Prophecy.)

Thus, this could be a prophecy within the Chinese world of one of the two witnesses. It is possible that this could have come from Christian-contact with China be some early followers of the apostles (some believe that the Apostle Thomas got at least close to China in the first century).

Conclusion

The two witnesses are actually on the scene before they are known as the two witnesses, hence they are almost certainly alive now, as God's 6,000 year plan for humanity to rule itself is just about at its end (this is discussed in the article Did The Early Church Millenarianism?).

Because of misunderstandings of Catholic writers and private prophets, those who rely on those traditions of men more than the Bible will not recognize the two witnesses once they appear.

So who are the two witnesses?

  1. The two witnesses are true prophets of God.
  2. They provide testimony of the truth about God and the return of Jesus Christ to the earth.
  3. Just like John the Baptist was really not Elijah, but came in the Spirit and Power of Elijah, so the two witnesses may come in the Spirit and Power of Moses and Elijah.
  4. They may be a type of Zerubbabel and Joshua, and these men may have been born into Catholic and Church of God families respectively.
  5. They will have been in the true, and apparently most faithful, continuations of the Church of God.
  6. They will hold Church of God doctrines like the Sabbath, the Godhead, the return of Jesus and the millennium, the history of the true church, etc.
  7. Contrary to the claims of some, God has not yet clearly revealed their identities to the general public.
  8. Those who support the semi-Catholic beast power (he will claim to be Catholic, but will ultimately betray the Church of Rome) will apparently think that the two witnesses are false prophets, with one of them considered to be the false prophet of the Book of Revelation.
  9. The two witnesses will apparently wear some black clothes and/or sackcloth. According to certain "Catholic" prophecies, one who is "black" (opposed to their church) and looks like a Jew (apparently meaning having original Church of God practices) will be one of the two that cause that church problems at the end.
  10. The two witnesses are two who will accomplish the mission that God gives them.

Jesus warned that false prophets will arise and do miracles. Those who are waiting for Enoch and Elijah to literally come from Paradise to the earth, before they will accept God's true witnesses, are deceiving themselves. The vast majority of human beings will be deceived (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). But you do not have to be.

The two witnesses will be killed and there are non-biblical prophecies that others may rely on to support killing them.

The two witnesses are most likely alive now, and God will raise them up probably in the relatively near future. The two witnesses will more successfully proclaim the gospel of the kingdom of God. Those who do not wish to be deceived need to repent and believe the gospel now, as later it may be too late.

An article of possibly related interest may be There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra.

Thiel B. Who Are the Two Witnesses? www.cogwriter.com/thetwowitnesses.htm (c) 2007/2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013/ 2014 (Here is a related link in Spanish/español: ¿Quiénes son los dos testigos?)

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