Revelation 11 is somewhat infamous for its mention of two witnesses who will issue plagues and destroy people with fire from their mouths. In addition, in vv.1-2 we get the mention of a temple and the trampling of its outer court and the “holy city.” What is this all referring to? Is it referring to a future, rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, and two literal witnesses in the “end times”? Or is this, as I will argue, symbolism of the church?
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“Where the preaching of repentance, with judgments alone as evidence, had failed (Rev 11:6; cf. Rev 8:2-9:21), when fulfilled in witness to the point of death (11:7-10), participating in Jesus’ witness and victory through and over death (11:12), the prophetic ministry of the church will effect the conversion of the nations to God (11:13). This is the heart of the revelation contained in the scroll (10:1-11), the heart of Revelation’s message: that the church redeemed from all nations is called to suffering witness which, by virtue of its participation in Jesus’ sacrificial witness, can bring the nations to repentance of idolatry and conversion to the true God. In this way–as Jesus’ witness is extended universally in the life and death, as well as the preaching of the church–God’s kingdom can come to the nations as salvation, rather than judgement.” — Richard Bauckham