You have reached the portion of our website explaining the apostasy of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). Start here if you do NOT have a WCG background.
- “Anoint Your Eyes” – Christ’s Warning to His People
- The True Church – One Organization, or Many?
- The Government of God – Understanding Offices and Duties
- The Work of God – Its Final Chapter!
- Why The Restored Church of God? – Should You Join?
- Should Accusers Be Answered?
- Is “That Prophet” Alive Today? – The Rise of False Prophets
- There Came a Falling Away
- Surviving “Perilous Times”
Founder and Pastor General of The Restored Church of God, Editor-in-Chief of The Real Truth magazine, and voice of The World to Come program, David C. Pack has reached many millions around the globe with the most powerful truths of the Bible—unknown to almost all. He has authored 80 books and booklets, personally established over 50 congregations, and appeared as a guest on The History Channel. Mr. Pack attended Ambassador College in Pasadena, California, entered the Worldwide Church of God ministry in 1971, and was personally trained by its founder, Herbert W. Armstrong.Learn more
Where Will the Two Witnesses Come From?
The Bible foretells the arrival of two special servants just before the outset of the Great Tribulation. They will wield tremendous—and unprecedented—power. And they will contend with the Beast, False Prophet and others in Jerusalem, while surrounded by hostile forces. In direct contact with Jesus Christ, these final prophets will issue God’s last warning to a deceived world.
The subject of the Two Witnesses is not as difficult as many think. This article reveals the truth about these two end-time servants of God, including where they will come from. You are about to learn what almost no one understands! Ironically, much of it was understood by everyone in the Church when Mr. Armstrong was alive.
One-third of the Bible is prophecy—history written in advance. Four-fifths of this future history is yet to be fulfilled. Tragically, most Bible readers are completely unaware of awesome, impending world events, soon to involve all nations. They have no idea what the future holds—what is coming. Many have opinions, but few know how to find answers. This has come to include many of God’s people. Others think they already understand prophecy, but remain ignorant of vital knowledge.
Tragically, most former brethren of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) have fallen into near total ignorance of and terrible confusion about the Bible’s prophetic meaning. This includes being now largely unable to recognize the speed, sequence and seriousness—and the awesome magnitude!—of certain onrushing prophecies, even the basic ones—those referenced time and again by Mr. Armstrong. Again, this is on top of not truly comprehending what any of them actually means! So many just cannot untangle the maze of what happens when, as well as where and to whom—and why!
The truth about the Two Witnesses has become no exception. The appearance in recent years of Ron Weinland and his wife claiming this role has only worsened the matter (including the most preposterous ideas and thinking that this man seems to have saved for recent days). This is in part because outrageous and false claims invariably have the effect of jading people to the truth.
Jesus and a number of New Testament writers spoke and warned often of false prophets corrupting true understanding. But there are two final true prophets described in the Bible. This article strips away the mystery and confusion about who and what they are—what they do—what is their commission—and what it is they witness.
The Two Witnesses have grown to be a subject of great speculation. But ridiculous theories about them have only served to bring more questions, followed by all the wrong answers. Such unending commentary about these little-understood figures comes from people who don’t have a clue what they are talking about. With the passing of time, interest will only increase as their arrival becomes more imminent. Very few now seem to still understand exactly how they will appear, let alone how and where they will receive their office, what their commission involves—and where it is they COME FROM!
None of this should be. Let’s understand all of it—exactly!
First, recognize that the churches of the world have their own theories about the Two Witnesses. This ranges from the Catholic church to Grace Communion International (formerly the WCG), and many in between. Here is the briefest summary of human interpretations about the Two Witnesses. We will come to see why they are so silly.
The leader of one big denomination wrote perhaps the silliest: “The two witnesses represent the Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament. Both are important testimonies to the origin and perpetuity of the law of God. Both are witnesses also to the plan of salvation” (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy). Just knowing the Two Witnesses lie dead in Jerusalem before being resurrected makes this idea ridiculous! Books cannot do this. Yet it came from a supposed “prophetess” who is venerated by millions of people.
An 18th century theologian wrote, “No two individual persons can be meant, since these witnesses were to prophesy 1,260 days, that is, so many years, but [which is instead] a succession of ministers and churches…” (John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments). A modern theologian agreed, “They represent the churches fulfilling their vocation to bear witness to Christ in the final time of tribulation” (G.R. Beasley-Murray, The New Century Bible Commentary). So did one Bible commentary: “The two witnesses symbolize the entire worshiping community which bears collective witness to God and…Christ” (Robert W. Wall, New International Biblical Commentary).
Now this (emphasis mine): “The vision [of the Two Witnesses] seems to be an interruption in the sequence of [Revelation] trumpet blasts, and the reason for this never has been clear. Accordingly, this chapter [Revelation 11] has been difficult for Christian interpreters” (Thomas Tai-Seale, Thy Kingdom Come: A Biblical Introduction to the Baha’i Faith). One reason involves the greatest rule of Bible study—that this Book interprets itself! You will see this. Revelation 11 should not be difficult to understand for anyone with God’s Spirit.
Continuing the same source, “Henry Alford, Dean of Canterbury, once wrote: ‘No solution has ever been given to this portion of prophecy.’ Another leading scholar writes: ‘This paragraph, 11:1-13 [in Revelation], the second part of the interlude (between the sixth and seventh trumpet blasts) contains a vision to which it is confessedly difficult to assign a meaning and place appropriate in our book’…The difficulties are both in interpreting symbols and in identifying the characters…”
The author continues, “Two prophet-witnesses are introduced…The witnesses are characteristic of Old-Testament prophets…as they are in the Book of Revelation, we know they appear after the ministry of Christ…Who are these two witnesses? They are Muhammad and ‘Ali, his son-in-law and legitimate successor…Muhammad and ‘Ali are both witnesses and olive trees who produce the sacred oil” (ibid.).
One wonders how even one person could swallow such breathtaking ignorance!
Others claim the Two Witnesses are Moses and Elijah—or Enoch and Elijah—Peter and Paul—the house of Israel and house of Judah—Jewish and Gentile believers—the Pope and Great Monarch—a Jewish ruler and a Jewish High Priest—or Zerubbabel and Jeshua. But there are many more theories.
Worse, hundreds or even thousands of people today claim to be the Two Witnesses. I have known many such people, in fact dozens of them. Simple math reveals somebody’s wrong! Invariably, these are misguided kooks who have nothing more than feelings for proof. At our Headquarters, we hear from them all the time. Any number have tried to get “messages” to me “from God.” It is easy for us to see through them—but sadly many cannot. (This certainly includes the Weinlands.)
No one knows the truth about them! This includes ALL of the WCG splinters and slivers.
The Splinters Are Little Better
We start with the United Church of God. Their broadcast about the Two Witnesses on the group’s Beyond Today program teaches this (emphasis mine):
“Now when you think of prophecies that lie ahead, especially about the two witnesses, how will they affect you? Our Beyond Today panel discussion is next. So joining me now [Steve Myers] are fellow hosts of the program, Darris McNeely and Gary Petty. Well we’ve been talking about who are the two witnesses?…And so, people may be wondering, can I know the identity of those two witnesses?
“Darris: So what’s important is that God knows who they are, when they will be revealed because they are His witnesses. He says they are my witnesses.
“Steve [Myers]: How do we know? If we are going to know at some point and we don’t know now, how will that work?
“Gary: When we look at the Bible, all it tells us is that these two witnesses come on the scene 3½ years before Jesus Christ returns. So, what they’re doing before that point we don’t know, but their worldwide ministry is 3½ years before Jesus Christ. So when we see two men that are doing the miracles that these men are doing, then we know who they are, but until that point...”
Nothing in UCG’s entire broadcast speaks to where the Two Witnesses will COME FROM. The reason is obvious. They don’t know!
Now the Living Church of God (LCG). Roderick C. Meredith, leader of LCG, said this about the Two Witnesses: “Malachi 4 teaches...vs. 5, ‘Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD’...Elijah may be one of the two witnesses...They (the two witnesses) have power to shut up heaven, like the original Elijah did...These two men are a definite type of Elijah and Moses. And one of them may be the end-time Elijah” (“The Elijah Question,” sermon, May 19, 2001). However popular in the splinters today, Roderick Meredith’s position is utterly false and unbiblical.
One blog writer for the Living Church of God—tacitly authorized by Mr. Meredith and fairly widely read by LCG members—introduces his article “Who Are the Two Witnesses” with the following. Note the ambiguous terms used throughout (emphasis mine): “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.”
The only thing the writer forgot to say is that “I am ignorant and you should not read one more word.” But he continues, “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 [we will later see this is wrong]…”
“Because the above scripture [Zechariah 4] is prophetic, I suspect 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.”
Then quoting Haggai 2:3-5 about Zerubbabel, who Mr. Armstrong plainly stated he was a type of, the blog writer states (again, emphasis mine), “Of course, since Christ is the foundation, the chief cornerstone (Matthew 21:43) of the temple of Christians (1 Corinthians 3:16), ‘Zerubbabel’ may be 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 perhaps ‘Zerubbabel’ could be someone prophesied…If so, he would help finalize the work, and perhaps God would grant him the faith to flatten a mountain…”
“Because at least one is ‘chosen’ this may be that Zorobabel/Zerubbabel and ‘Jesus’/Joshua are a type of the two witnesses (Zechariah 3:8-10; 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). 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. 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). Perhaps the names Zerubbabel and Joshua indicate that one of the witnesses was born into a Roman Catholic family while the other was born into a Church of God family.”
This speculative carnal nonsense is so ludicrous to any with God’s Spirit that no comment here is necessary. The man goes on throughout the article to quote and reference Catholic sources! Later in this article you will see the complete and utter fiction of his statements.
Finally, Ron Weinland, leader of the Church of God – PKG, teaches that he is the chief one of the Two Witnesses (again his wife being the other). Incredibly, he also claims that Jesus Christ is returning on May 27, 2012 (The Day of Pentecost). (To learn why this is also complete unbiblical nonsense, you may read my thorough article “Ron Weinland—Spectacularly Wrong!”)
Here is Weinland’s most recent twisting of Bible prophecy: “Revelation 11 states that God’s two witnesses die in the streets of Jerusalem. This is not a literal physical death in a literal physical location as has been believed. It is about an attitude and spirit of God’s scattered Church toward His own two witnesses for the time of their work—3 ½ years. Jerusalem is about the scattered Church and streets concern the ‘ways’ of all the 600+ scattered groups that make up this ‘spiritual’ condition of Jerusalem at the end.
“‘After three and one-half days [prophetic 3 ½ years] the Spirit of life from God entered into them [not physical life, but spirit life as the two witnesses are changed from mortal to immortal at Christ’s return], and they stood upon their feet [were made to “stand” in God—in His truth—in the sight of others once God shows all the scattered body irrefutable proof of their “standing” with Him through this resurrection] and great fear fell upon them who saw them’ (Rev. 11:11). This is not talking about the world, but it is talking about the scattered Jerusalem who is struck with fear when they are brought face to face with this reality and truth of the resurrection of God’s two witnesses to immortal life as part of the 144,000.
“‘And they [God’s two witnesses] heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, “Come up here.” And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies beheld them’ (Rev. 11:12). These two witnesses are not received by the scattered body as being brothers spiritually, nor as sent from God, but spiritually they are received as enemies to their belief and understanding of God’s will” (“God’s Church Reunited,” May 23, 2012).
Such devil-inspired confusion!
This sampling reveals the unnecessary mystery surrounding a subject that should still be understood as when Mr. Armstrong was alive. But we will see that when just the few relevant Bible verses are combined, the picture becomes very clear. Before examining the unprecedented commission given to the Two Witnesses, questions about their ORIGIN must be answered. All other questions then fall into place.
Where Will the Two Witnesses Come From?
Certain inescapable conclusions present themselves, and there can be no proper discussion of the Two Witnesses if we must dance around important issues and facts. Therefore, what follows in this article will be unambiguous. You will not wonder, “What does this mean?” The words may, might, seem, possibly, perhaps and attempt to explain will not be here. The reader must be presented with reality—and hard choices.
We will go step-by-step—and verse-by-verse—so the subject of the Two Witnesses becomes almost impossible to misunderstand.
Similar to the final watchman of Ezekiel, the Two Witnesses will not, and could never, arise to their task from any of the splinters. We will soon see why. You will recognize that all the organizations could never even be candidates from which these final two prophets could arise! This is because all of them have lost sight of how God’s government works—the pattern of that government taught by Mr. Armstrong—including the biblically prescribed roles of different offices within it, and the connection of these offices to the unified Body of Christ, which is a single organization.
Many have the idea that these prophets will suddenly appear “out of nowhere”—without warning—and that this will perhaps occur overnight. Or that they will have been hiding somewhere, waiting to be revealed! Of course, no one in the WCG splinters believes they will come from among the Protestants or today’s popular televangelists. Still, almost none seem able to unravel the puzzle of their origin. Of course, popular prophecy writers have been unable to do this.
The first clue of where these men will come from is in the office they hold. First notice Revelation 11:3: “I will give power unto My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore [1,260] days, clothed in sackcloth.” In verse 10, the Witnesses are referred to as “these two prophets.” Clearly then, these men hold the office of prophet. But “witness” comes from the Greek word martus, meaning “to witness, literally, judicially, or figuratively,” to be a “martyr.”
This is important. Everyone knows what a witness is in a courtroom. He is one who testifies to the truth about past events, generally involving a crime, civil offense or disputed contract. The Two Witnesses are no different, except they testify to future events, and martyrdom is tied to the meaning of witness. There is a reason.
First, some basic review. In Matthew 16, Jesus declared, “I will build My Church” (vs. 18), which the apostle Paul made clear is also called the Body of Christ. Notice: “[Jesus] is the Head of the Body, the Church” (Col. 1:18) and “[God] gave Him [Jesus] to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is His Body” (Eph. 1:22-23). This much is clear.
Next, the form of government that Jesus installed into His Church consists of various offices. I Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4, among other places, describe this government and its offices. Obviously, the unified, organized Church that Jesus built is the only place HIS government can be found. This becomes the only place Jesus gives offices. Paul made plain that Christ’s Body is not divided (I Cor. 1:10, 13). He also recorded, “GOD has set some in the Church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers” (I Cor. 12:28), as well as “And He [Christ] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” (Eph. 4:11). Why? “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ” (vs. 12).
In simple summary, Christ (God) will “give” two men to be prophets in the one Church He directs—the sole Body of Christ. Nothing new here. This is exactly what Mr. Armstrong taught.
General background would be helpful regarding what IS a prophet. First, let’s understand the Greek word translated “prophet.” Similar to its English equivalent, it is prophetes—pronounced prof-ay’-tace—and means “a foreteller [prophet], by analogy an inspired preacher.” The Hebrew word for “prophet” is virtually identical—“a prophet or (generally) inspired man.”
The word evangelist is found only two times in the entire New Testament, and pastor just once. Yet the word “prophet” is found 160 times—in the New Testament! This is primarily because New Testament Scripture quotes Old Testament prophets so often. In fact, the apostles wrote in a way that could be described as intermingled with the office and writings of the early prophets. Later prophets of the first century received messages or prophecies from God and brought them to the apostles.
Let’s read how this always worked: “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God [prophets] spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (II Pet. 1:21). Prophecy comes from GOD. He inspires His servants to record His words.
So a prophet is an inspired man—a tool of God, not acting on his own—but he is also one who foretells, meaning he reveals things yet to come. Prophets foretell events before they happen. This summarizes their two chief duties. The Old Testament declares plainly that if men claiming to be prophets speak prophecies that do not come to pass, God said such men are to be rejected and put to death. Obviously the actions of these kinds of imposters are serious to God.
No New Testament Prophets Without a Living Apostle
Before continuing about the Two Witnesses, an inset is necessary. Almost none of God’s people ever took the time or had an interest in studying what God says about prophets—true and false. Similarly, few seemed to know whether Mr. Armstrong taught anything about them, including how to recognize true and false prophets, the function and purpose of God’s prophets, when there is and is not a need for a prophet or prophets to arise and how prophets always interface and work with apostles! In the New Testament, prophets never appear without a living apostle present to report to.
I Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11 reveal that Christ certainly does “give” some to be prophets. As with “gifts of the Spirit” (I Cor. 12:4-10), when one is given to be a prophet it is for a specific purpose. God’s prophets play a specific role within their appointment. As mentioned, some or most may feel that Mr. Armstrong never addressed or explained the role of prophets, but he did, including what prophets are given to DO! For those who value what Christ’s apostle taught, the following statements are sufficient to answer whether any man today is either a true prophet, a false prophet or “That Prophet” (as Gerald Flurry has long claimed to be).
Let’s read important general instruction, but words that also contain specific information for our purpose here:
“Emphatically I am NOT a prophet, in the sense of one to whom God speaks specially and directly, revealing personally a future event to happen or new truth, or new and special instruction direct from God—separate from, and apart from what is contained in the Bible. And I never have claimed to be.
“There is no such human prophet living today!
“The Bible is the written Word of God—and, for our time now, it is COMPLETE! Never have I believed or claimed that God reveals to me new truths not contained in the Bible—in addition to, or apart from the Bible…
“Let’s take a look at the Church of God of the first century, as we find it revealed in the Book of Acts, beginning from the day of Pentecost, 31 A.D. The Bible was not fully written—only the Old Testament—in 31 A.D. God then was still communicating new truth, instruction and knowledge directly and personally to prophets. As the Church progressed, it was the function of a prophet to communicate TO THE APOSTLES special messages which God had personally revealed to them. Others were inspired in the writing of the books of the New Testament.
Personal, Tomorrow’s World, Feb. 1972
This powerful statement bears examination! First, Mr. Armstrong makes absolutely plain that there are no prophets alive today. He said this over 40 years ago—but how many remember or knew of it! Second, he states that the function of prophets in the New Testament is to inform apostles of new revelations from God. Put another way, without a living apostle, there can be no true prophets! This was also made clear. Do you believe Mr. Armstrong correctly understood this? Would one holding the highest office in the Church (apostle) be confused about the role of those holding the next most important lower office with which apostles interact? Of course not!
Third, Mr. Armstrong is blunt about the fact that anyone claiming to be a prophet today must be false! (We will understand later how the Two Witnesses fit with Mr. Armstrong’s instruction, including their interaction with an apostle.)
These three points are crystal clear to all who believe that God used Mr. Armstrong to establish a foundation of truth in the Church. Remember that he knew he was an apostle. And he often quoted Ephesians 2:20 regarding the role of apostles and prophets working together with Christ to form the foundation of the Church. Would God leave His servant blind to the role of the only other office that Christ said formed the foundation of His Church, when that office was subordinate to the apostle?
Again, of course not!
Only With Apostles
Only now can one see why Mr. Armstrong gave the understanding that he did in this quote. Prophets work with apostles! God has always used this pattern to place truth into His Church (we will see this even applied in the Old Testament). Let’s restate this. You can have an apostle without a prophet, but you cannot have a true prophet without an apostle! Grasp this! We should not only understand this is true, but why. I would never have understood a prophet’s role (any more than any other truth) unless an apostle had taught it to me. That happened—and I determined to remember it! Have you?
Here is a statement from MYSTERY OF THE AGES, which Mr. Armstrong called his most important book. It strengthens the above statement, but also demonstrates that he never moved from his previous understanding:
“There was no such doctrinal committee in the Headquarters Church at Jerusalem. All teaching came from Christ through the apostles and a few times Christ communicated to apostles via the prophets (of which there are none in God’s Church today since the Bible for our time is complete). God’s Church today, as in the first century, receives its teachings from the living Christ, through an apostle, just as in A.D. 31.”
This statement is consistent with what we read previously. Note at this point that anyone professing to be a prophet bringing “new truth” (purported to be understanding “on top of Mr. Armstrong’s foundation”) cannot possibly be bringing truth. It may be new, but it cannot be true—all squealing protestations by self-appointed prophets notwithstanding! Remember, Philadelphians are told, “Hold fast what you have” (Rev. 3:11), not “Hold most of it fast and let some of it go” or “Hold that fast which you have, but you can add ridiculous prophetic nonsense to it.” (I do not suggest that God’s Church cannot grow to see existing truths more clearly and, because truth only enters the Church through apostles, Christ has today in fact used this office to add more to the existing framework of prophecy.) It is no accident that Christ ties “let no man take your crown” with “hold fast what you have.” Honestly examine this verse for what it says!
Mr. Armstrong long understood both his apostolic role and that of a prophet. Before continuing, realize that anyone who believes that there are true prophets alive today disagrees with Mr. Armstrong. (Of course, at a point, the final Two Witnesses/prophets change this.) Recognizing that your crown is at stake, ARE YOU PREPARED TO DO THIS? Should you not at least be open-minded to considering the remaining information in this article?
The book The Government of God – Understanding Offices and Duties has an entire chapter and parts of several others devoted to explaining the nature and function of prophets in the New Testament. What is written in that book helps form the reader’s foundation of understanding, and cannot be separated from the contents of this article. It also covers the role of apostles in detail, including how Christ teaches His Church true doctrine solely through this office, and how it interacts with prophets.
We will later return in the article to more about how the Two Witnesses work in conjunction with an apostle.
Back to the Two Witnesses. The Bible reveals that at a point the final Work of God will end—“The night comes, when no man can work” (John 9:4). World conditions will become so bad that God “shuts the door” of His Work, ending it (Rev. 3:7-8). The Church will have come to be so persecuted and hindered by this time that miracles—perhaps many—may be needed just for God’s Work to be completed. The Church must at this point be taken to a place of safety for its survival.
This is just before the Two Witnesses begin to carry out their responsibility. Finishing God’s Work must also at this point be handed to them. They are imbued with special, miraculous power not seen in any other servants of God except perhaps the prophet Elijah. Themselves under terrible persecution, this will be the only way they can carry out their task.
As they appear on the world scene, some few days or weeks before the Tribulation, they will deliver a final warning to government leaders, but also to all nations of the world—whose eyes will be riveted on them. Most are unaware that the Two Witnesses actually begin their “1,260-days” (Rev. 11:3) of testimony a few days before the Tribulation since they are killed at least three and a half days before it ends.
Revelation 11:6 describes “the days of their prophecy,” while verse 7 references “when they shall have finished their testimony.” Again, witnesses testify to matters that are in doubt. Realize that everything having to do with end-time prophecy are ALL matters that the Two Witnesses must clarify with finality. (False prophets and prophecy teachers will have left the truth of prophecy a jumbled mess of confusion to the hundreds of millions hearing them.) Based in Jerusalem, the Witnesses will represent God—for three and a half years—by addressing and warning nations of the coming Day of the Lord. Numerous verses show that the Tribulation and Day of the Lord together also last 1,260 days, or three and a half years before Christ’s Return. Although elements of these time periods have become blurred throughout the splinters, this was once common knowledge—prophetic doctrine!—in the WCG.
How great is the power of the Two Witnesses? Verses 5-6 in Revelation 11 make this clear: “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. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.”
Grasp this! If anyone tries to harm these men and stop their commission, fire will destroy him! And, to get the attention of the world—to highlight the terrifying, then-soon-coming Day of the Lord—to bring punishment—and to hold enemies temporarily at bay—they will be able to stop the rain, turn rivers and lakes to blood and unleash horrific plagues—and all of these as often and for however long they choose! Does this sound like people you should understand—and recognize?
What about knowing which side you will be on when they appear?
The power that Jesus Christ gives them is so great they cannot be killed by anyone or anything for their three-and-a-half-year ministry. This makes them unique among all previous prophets, who not only could be killed but usually were, often after imprisonment and torture.
Again, this unique power compares to what Elijah received. Let’s see: “The king [Ahaziah] sent unto [Elijah] a captain of 50 with his 50…And he spoke unto him, You man of God, the king has said, Come down. And Elijah answered…If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume you and your 50. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed [them]” (II Kings 1:9-12).
These prophets will also be empowered to bring drought and famine on Earth. Now more about Elijah: “Elijah…said unto Ahab, As the lord God of Israel lives…there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word…and it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land” (I Kings 17:1, 7).
Jesus confirms this account: “I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land” (Luke 4:25). This was spoken by the same Jesus Who you will see stands with the Two Witnesses.
Jerusalem, where the Two Witnesses carry out their commission, is the most fought over, and coveted, city on Earth—and all through history. This becomes a big reason the final Beast and False Prophet will want to rule from there. (They would know the Bible foretells Christ will rule from this city for 1,000 years.)
The False Prophet and Beast will want all competition eliminated—competing voices stopped. This will eventually lead to a supernatural showdown, one where God will evidence the greatness of His power over Satan and his servants once and for all. God will protect His witnesses until His Work is done.
After three and a half years, God will permit the Beast system to kill these men. Let’s see: “When they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified” (Rev. 11:7-8). Now notice: “They of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations [the whole world] shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves” (vs. 9).
In the modern age of globalization, people worldwide will witness this via television, cellphones and computers. Many will feel vindicated at what they perceive as just punishment due to drought, fire and terrible plagues these “evil men brought.” All nations will enjoy their death, excited that such “intolerant judges” against man’s way of life—man’s massive sin!—are finally gone. Life can now return to normal.
Instead of worldwide repentance at their testimony, proving nothing has changed for thousands of years with God’s prophets, the world relishes their death: “They that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth” (Rev. 11:10). The next three verses show these martyrs are resurrected to physical life, while an earthquake kills 7,000 people in Jerusalem to emphasize who these extraordinary servants represented.
Now verses 12-13: “They [the nations] heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them [the Witnesses], Come up here. And they ascended…in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city [Jerusalem] fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to…God.”
This earthquake is God punctuating the world’s failure to permanently destroy these extraordinary servants. Obviously mainly in Jerusalem, it could still be worldwide in scope. This earthquake precedes and begins to announce the most pivotal event in human history—Jesus Christ’s Return!
My book The Bible’s Greatest Prophecies Unlocked! – A Voice Cries Out explains in detail all that you have learned, but also so much more.
“Two Olive Trees”
Revelation 11 reveals other details: “These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth” (vs. 4). What does this mean? Who are the “two olive trees”—and “two candlesticks”? Let’s watch the Bible interpret itself.
Christ the Revelator is referencing a passage in the book of Zechariah, which calls the Witnesses “two olive branches,” which “empty…golden oil out of themselves” (4:12). Two verses later Zechariah states that “these are the two anointed ones” (vs. 14). But what is this “golden oil” and its connection to the two “anointed ones”? The answer is tied to their awesome power.
Jesus’ parable of the 10 virgins helps bring understanding. The five foolish virgins are seen to lack “oil” for their lamps. Having lost God’s Holy Spirit—symbolized by oil—they are “shut out” of the kingdom of God (Matt. 25:10)! I John 2:27 shows that all true Christians are “anointed” with God’s Spirit, and anointing would normally occur with oil. II Timothy 1:7 refers to the Holy Spirit as the spirit of “power, love, and a sound mind.” And Paul admonished every Christian to “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10), as well as, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). These two deeply converted men obviously must be anointed with a much-more-than-usual measure of God’s Spirit—the source of their extraordinary power!
Two Men—Two Church Eras?
Because God’s people of the seventh era are scattered into many organizations, there has arisen the question of whether the Two Witnesses will come from the last two Church eras—Laodicea and Philadelphia. This would be utterly impossible. (If the reader is not yet convicted about the identity of Laodicea, and that it is the splinters and slivers collectively, what follows will not be understood.)
The Two Witnesses coming from Laodicea is completely out of the question—I repeat, impossible!—and there are a host of reasons. And this includes any possibility that one comes from Laodicea to join the other who is Philadelphian in condition so that the two of them represent two eras, as this silly theory suggests.
This idea comes from a sloppy reading of Zechariah 4, causing many to believe the Two Witnesses represent two of the candlesticks of Revelation 2 and 3, and thus the two final church eras. First notice Revelation 1: “And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle…the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels [messengers] of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which you saw are the seven churches” (vs. 13, 20).
But does this mean the Two Witnesses will each come from one of the last two Church eras? In addition to how Christ only gives offices in His one unified organization and Body, here is what else is often missed. A closer examination of Zechariah 4 brings the truth: “And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, and said unto me, What see you? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick [menorah] all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon [on the candlestick not the bowl], and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: and two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof” (vs. 1-3). The olive trees, which we will see picture the Two Witnesses, are by the lamps. They are not two of the seven lamps—candlesticks—supposedly representing Philadelphia and Laodicea.
Let’s see this proven further: “Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? [Notice again the Two Witnesses are not the candlesticks, but are on the sides of the menorah.] And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? And he answered me and said, Know you not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then said he, These are the two anointed ones [some Bible margins render this “the two sons of oil”], that stand by the lord of the whole earth (Zech. 4:11-14).
Understand. The Two Witnesses are typed by olive trees (or branches, these are interchangeable terms). These branches drip golden olive oil through two pipes attached to the bowl on top of the menorah. This oil then runs down through seven pipes into each of the seven candlesticks. This provides the oil—the power—to light them.
Be sure to get this! The Two Witnesses are called olive trees, olive branches, anointed ones and sons of oil, but they are NOT pictured as candlesticks, and thus could NOT represent the final two Church eras.
Why NOT from Laodicea!
Let’s pile on proof. Christ describes Laodicea as “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, naked,” and “lukewarm,” without “zeal” and puffed up with too many “goods” and “riches” (Rev. 3:16-17). He would NEVER put anyone (the witness that is supposedly Laodicean) in this kind of DEPLORABLE SPIRITUAL CONDITION into the second highest office in His Church—and send him off to such an incredibly important task!
With such enormous control over world conditions, these must be men of tremendous spiritual depth and understanding! This should be clear, in fact again virtually impossible to misunderstand.
The living Jesus Christ would never select one to receive such power and authority if he were not humble, obedient to God, faithful in all matters, and doctrinally sound—strong in the truth! When understood, this alone means that these prophets must come from the only Church on the face of the earth that understands ALL THE DOCTRINES OF GOD! They will be men who speak the truth of God—and the TRUTH ALONE!—and who will have built the courage to do this under extreme pressure during prior training. They will be men of great strength and conviction, able to stand completely alone in a hostile world that wants them DEAD!
Politicians, weaklings, menpleasers and the self-appointed would NEVER work! Neither would the “best” Laodicean.
Besides, men of compromised doctrinal understanding would no doubt issue the wrong message to both the nations and leaders whom they must confront. They must know to issue the right message in different situations to different audiences.
These two servants will be men of great judgment, wisdom and understanding—who know exactly when and when not to use their awesome power. Of course, they will have to fully understand the scope and magnitude of their own office. And they must comprehend that their role involves submission to the authority of the one higher human office above them. We cannot be describing men who would be anything less than crystal clear about the nature of the government of God in His Church—and in all its exactness, precision and detail?
A point of emphasis. All of this is another central reason the Two Witnesses must arise from within the Body of Christ. They will be men who understand where Christ is the “Head” (recall Ephesians 1:22-23 and Colossians 1:18)—where He is leading, meaning where His government is present—because they will need to constantly tap Christ’s own power on a daily basis. They will be men who have submitted to His government, and who will have been doing this for a long time! In other words, the Two Witnesses will be men that Christ has been ruling. These men will have had to return to doctrinal soundness in all points long before they begin their commission!
Remember once more that Laodicea is where “the people rule,” because they have rejected Christ’s government. This has put them outside the Body of Christ. Would Christ use men who have themselves rejected His government over them? These men have to tell the whole world that they should have submitted to the government of God 6,000 years ago—and that this government is coming very, very soon to smash all of their governments—and that this is because those governments have failed! How many would fit this “job opening”?
These will be men who recognize that “to walk among lions, one must BE a lion.”
Offices in Christ’s ministry are never given to untrained or inexperienced men. God has never worked this way, especially with the highest offices in His Church. The God of the Bible does not hand out great power and authority willy-nilly. The Two Witnesses will have been faithfully serving in God’s Church, almost certainly first in one or more lower offices, before they are ready to be given the higher office of prophet—one that history records has not been assigned by Christ for almost 2,000 years. And realize these men would not receive office just before their ministry begins. There will be prior evidence they have been given to be prophets, no doubt including an obvious ability to perform great miracles, meaning almost certainly not for the first time at the point they are facing the nations of the world from Jerusalem.
(The book in our Splinter Explanation Packet titled The True Church – One Organization, or Many? is of tremendous importance. If you have not yet read this book, you will be unable to comprehend the magnitude of many of these points made. Read it as soon as possible.)
To Whom Do the Final Two Prophets Report?
Again, since prophets hold the second highest office in the Church, this re-introduces, “Where is the apostle with whom the Two Witnesses interact?”
This question never arose before 1986, because the entire Church had thought for many years that Mr. Armstrong would be alive when the Two Witnesses appeared. Since he is gone, and almost all have assumed there will be no other apostle to whom the Two Witnesses can report, this question arises: “How can these men carry out this duty?”
While the Two Witnesses have not appeared as yet, they must report to, and work under—at least until their commission begins—a human apostle. Prophets certainly could not report to an evangelist or to any other lower office and, because they hold offices only given by Christ within His Body, they must come from inside His one Church. (Incidentally, this interaction becomes one more reason there would have to come another apostle after Mr. Armstrong.)
No one ever wondered if the Two Witnesses would come from outside the WCG when it was on track, and none should doubt that they will come from the one unified true Church and Body today.
Old Testament Prophets Reported to Whom?
A question arises. What about the Old Testament prophets? Who was the apostle with whom they interacted?
Since the Bible reveals that all true prophets report to an apostle, two of the greatest prophets ever would hardly be exceptions, or Christ would break His pattern. How does this teaching harmonize with the above questions? Apart from the fact that the office of apostle had not yet appeared, because the New Testament Church of God had not yet appeared, there is another simple answer!
Consider! God always worked directly with Old Testament prophets. The God of the Old Testament (long understood to be Jesus Christ), often worked face-to-face with those whom He was using. Sometimes He appeared as Melchizedek, as when He was speaking to the patriarchs.
You will notice a pattern throughout the books of the prophets. Each starts with phrases like, “The Word of the Lord came expressly unto Ezekiel…” or “The words of Jeremiah…to whom the Word of the Lord came…” or “The Word of the Lord that came to Micah…” and so forth.
Notice Hebrews 3:1: “Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” We know God’s Old Testament servants looked forward to Christ’s sacrifice as their Savior. They also looked forward to Him as their High Priest—as well as their Wonderful Counselor, King of kings and Prince of Peace, among other titles He will hold (Isa. 9:6). The Church has long known this. Would these prophets have not also looked forward to Jesus Christ as God’s New Testament Apostle? He has probably always held the role of Apostle, since the Father had been “sending Him” (remember, an apostle is “one sent”) to Earth with messages for thousands of years prior to His First Coming.
Whether Christ has always been an Apostle or became one at the birth of the New Testament age may not be absolutely clear, but we do know that He “is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8) and He “changes not” (Mal. 3:6). Here is the point! All Old Testament prophets reported directly to an Apostle—Jesus Christ!—who would one day be just as much their Savior, High Priest, Apostle, etc., as ours. This is consistent with what the Bible teaches and Mr. Armstrong taught.
Are One or Both Witness(es) Also Apostle(s)?
Some believe one of the Two Witnesses may be an apostle. The idea is that this would solve the problem of to whom the other can report. When Mr. Armstrong was alive, we thought this was a possibility because most could not imagine he would not be one of the Witnesses. I certainly thought this, and for a long time. But I had not really thought through what it meant in this regard that Mr. Armstrong was an apostle, not a prophet.
Again, an apostle is “one sent” or “a messenger.” I felt that men God calls “MY Two Witnesses” are certainly HIS “messengers”—and they certainly are directly sent by God. This was a reason it did not seem a stretch to believe at least one Witness could be an apostle. But Jeremiah, in his commission “to the nations,” and Ezekiel, in his commission to “the house of Israel,” were both specifically described as “sent” by God. Of course, these men were not apostles. But it is correct to say all prophets were directly sent by God. However, prophets were never sent to the world as a whole with the gospel as Christ’s designated ambassador.
This becomes another reason it is evident neither of the Witnesses will be apostles. Think. If they, one or both, were, why does God specifically reference them with use of what would be their lower office of “Prophet”? If they were apostles, God would surely say this. Besides, when has God ever given a man two offices at one time? NEVER!
Let’s bring this to conclusion. The speculation and confusion about “origin” of the Two Witnesses ought never be. The mystery shrouding the identity of these two final servants can be removed.
Let’s strip it away! Let’s speak plainly.
Christ is not divided—and The Restored Church of God IS the one, unified, organized, uncompromising true Church and Body of Christ on Earth today! This Church is the only place Christ’s government can be found. This means that the Two Witnesses will be given (Eph. 4:11) their office by Christ from within this church! He simply would not do it any other way—to do so would work against Himself, including the entirety of I Corinthians 12, among many other scriptures. It would also work against everything the Church understood from Mr. Armstrong about the government of God.
Let me repeat: I state without apology and with God’s authority that both of the Two Witnesses will be members of The Restored Church of God! There is no doubt! (Again, the popular theory that one will be Philadelphian and one will be Laodicean is silly at best, ludicrous at worst. Amos 3:3 declares this much!) It cannot be known whether these men are in The Restored Church of God yet, but if not, they will have to come here, and must do this well before the Tribulation, and well before learning they have been selected by Christ for great responsibility. We saw that I Corinthians 12:27-28 makes absolutely clear that they will not—actually cannot!—be given their offices when they are outside the Body of Christ!
Everyone within Christ’s Body—God’s one undivided Church—will have no doubt about their arrival. All others will be in confusion. I repeat for emphasis, without understanding this point, the reader will never be able to correctly discern the only possible origin of the Two Witnesses—that these are two men given the office of prophet within the Body of Christ. Simple recognition of what is Christ’s Church and what is His Body makes understanding their origin easy. To those who know the location of God’s Church, no discernment will be involved—or needed. It becomes vital then to identify the true Church. This is where The True Church – One Organization, or Many? is crucial. You may also wish to read my book to those learning the truth for the first time Where Is the True Church? – and Its Incredible History! It carefully explains how to find the only Church Christ built.
Think for a moment. During the period when the Worldwide Church of God was on track, none ever doubted that the Two Witnesses would come from inside it. No one thought for a second that they would come from any place outside where Christ was leading. No one ever speculated that they would come from Sardis, an era outside Philadelphia, let alone from any of the WCG’s many earlier little rebellious offshoots that had developed over time. Laodicea is in at least as bad and possibly worse shape than was Sardis when Mr. Armstrong left it. All of its groups are also in worse shape than the little offshoots of the liberal 1970s.
Yet, as we have seen, these two final prophets must also report to an apostle to be consistent with what the Bible reveals and Mr. Armstrong understood. This means that there must have been another apostle trained and sent at the end of the age, and that he must be in The Restored Church of God.
That is the case! This is a bold statement. Is it true? Make absolutely no mistake in this, regarding your personal responsibility to get the facts in this matter. It is for the reader to examine and determine the truth of this—to see whether Christ has given the office of apostle, based on the fruits, or if I have taken this office and authority to myself. What are the facts, the evidence, the proofs of such an office? You should demand such. Scores of thousands of God’s people once professed to know an apostle when they saw one. What, if anything, has changed your thinking? (You are encouraged to examine the sermon series in the Splinter Explanation Packet titled “21st-Century Apostle,” as well as those explaining the Watchman and Messenger roles.)
A final thought: Circumstances forced me to research and come to much more fully understand the office of prophet than anyone else today. This extensive process has allowed me to teach you the truth of that office—from the Bible and from what Mr. Armstrong taught. The result in part became the book Is “That Prophet” Alive Today? – The Rise of False Prophets, as well as portions of The Government of God – Understanding Offices and Duties. Mr. Armstrong spoke often of how Christ had carefully trained him. All of this has helped prepare—train—me to understand how my office will someday interact with the two final prophets Christ will select and train within this Church!
The reader now has studying to do.
When the Tribulation Begins?
We may ask: To whom do the Two Witnesses report during the Tribulation, when the Philadelphian remnant is at the Place of Safety? Remember, by the time the Great Tribulation arrives these men will have already received extraordinary power in order to represent God—visiting, addressing and warning nations of the world. In all likelihood, although we cannot know for sure, the Two Witnesses will probably not after a point interact much, if at all, with the human apostle during the Tribulation. Let’s examine this to see why.
In Revelation 11, Christ calls these prophets “MY two witnesses” (vs. 3). Combine this with Zechariah 4:14. This chapter refers to these men several times and culminates with verse 14: “These are the two anointed ones, that stand BY the Lord of the whole earth.” (We saw Revelation 11:4 confirms of whom Zechariah 4:14 speaks.)
This passage reveals that these two men have a special, direct relationship and proximity to Christ. All three stand together. It is obvious that the Two Witnesses report directly to Christ in carrying out their duty. If you consider this role, it should be even clearer why they must report to Christ, and why they work so closely with Him. Their circumstances are unique in all history. Consider: Fire comes from their mouths to devour their adversaries. The power Christ gives them is so great they cannot be killed by anyone or anything for 3½ years. This alone makes them unique.
Their role also differs from all previous prophets in several additional ways. No other prophets lay unburied for 3½ days. No others were resurrected, or perceived by the entire world to “torment them” (again, Elijah is a possible exception). These points alone demonstrate these are not ordinary prophets, for which the usual “rules” of function apply. Still, they do work directly—face-to-face—with a living Apostle—Christ! And they may still, in some way, report to the human apostle at the Place of Safety.
Signal to the World
The Two Witnesses have not yet appeared. Neither will they arrive in the way popular opinion suggests. Christendom thinks it will embrace these men. How wrong is this view! I repeat, many people today claim to be the Two Witnesses. Now think. More—and very powerful—demon-sent and inspired counterfeits will arise. Remember, the Witnesses are foretold to perform powerful miracles. But Jesus warned of false prophets just before His Return, who would in some cases perform false miracles. Surely one or more well-known, higher profile counterfeits of the Two Witnesses—who would of course claim to be prophets—will appear, and probably soon.
It is easy to see how today’s disagreement and confusion in the world is paving the way to their acceptance. Think how easy it will be to fool the masses whom we have seen are so ignorant of the who, what, from where and when regarding these final great prophets. Sadly, disagreement and confusion in the splinters of the seventh era about the Two Witnesses are also setting up many of God’s people to be no less fooled.
The Bible indicates most will likely believe the Two Witnesses are the Beast and miracle-working False Prophet, whom an adoring world will worship. And the Beast and False Prophet may in fact be received by millions as the Two Witnesses! Such will be the power of the devil’s final deceit. Springing from today’s confusion over the Two Witnesses’ origin, II Thessalonians 2:10-11 shows the entire Christian world—and in fact the whole world—is being set up for mass delusion!
But you have been warned, and now know the truth. Jesus warned, “Watch and pray always that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things” (Luke 21:36). You now know better what to watch for!
What will you do with this knowledge?