Rob Dalrymple, «These Are the Ones», Vol. 86 (2005) 396-406
The thematic features relating to John’s depiction of the righteous in the
intercalations of Rev 11,3-13 and 7,1-17 as well as how these features might
affect our understanding of Revelation 7,1-17 are examined. Four foci pertaining
to the righteous are explicitly present in the account of the Two Witnesses (11,3-
13). All four foci, also, materialize in the description of the 144,000 (7,1-8) and
the Great Multitude (7,9-17). However, when we examine Rev 7,1-8, we find that
John only incorporates the first two of the four foci (Divine Protection and
Witnesses) while in the account of 7,9-17, only the latter two appear (Enduring
Persecution and Vindication of the Righteous). If, however, we read Rev 7,1-17
as the account of one group, then the thematic parallels with the intercalation of
Rev 11,3-13 are retained.
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These Are the Ones â€¦ (Rev 7) 399
11,5 (19). There John asserts that they have supernatural abilities to defend
themselves â€” though only for the duration of their ministry (11,7) â€” against
Confirmation that divine protection is in view derives from the relation
with the measuring of the Temple (11,1-2) and the Two Witnesses. Though I
suggest that there are valid reasons for associating the provision of protection
afforded the Two Witnesses with the measuring of the temple in 11,1-2, it
extends beyond the scope of this essay to demonstrate this. Nonetheless,
allow me parenthetically to refer to the thoughts of G. K. Beale and G. B.
Caird. First, Beale asserts that â€œVerses 3-6 explain the primary purpose of the
â€˜measuringâ€™ in vv. 1-2. That is, Godâ€™s establishment of his presence among
his end-time community as his sanctuary is aimed to ensure the effectiveness
of their prophetic witnessâ€ (20). Similarly, Caird claims that â€œThe object of
measuring the Temple was to ensure that Godâ€™s Two Witnesses should have
free scope to complete their testimony without hindrance from inner doubts or
outward coercionâ€ (21).
Thus, the point that the righteous receive divine protection appears
justified. Assuming the validity of the association of measuring the temple in
11,1-2 with the Two Witnesses only solidifies this conclusion â€” assuming of
course that, â€œmeasure the temple of God, and the altar, and those who worship
in itâ€ (11,1), connotes divine protection (22).
b) Focus #2: Witnesses
God clearly establishes the Two Witnesses to proclaim the gospel. In 11,3
it states that â€œthey will prophecyâ€ (11,3). In addition, they receive the explicit
title of â€œTwo Witnessesâ€ (11,3). John identifies the Two Witnesses as the â€œthe
two lampstandsâ€ (11,4). That this indicates their call to a prophetic mission
receives almost unanimous acclaim (23). One need only refer to the opening
chapters of the Apocalypse itself, where John explicitly identifies the seven
churches as â€œseven golden lampstandsâ€ (1,12), to see the use of lampstands as
imagery connoting the witnessing activities of the Church. This also receives
support from the use of lamp in the OT and NT, the Apocrypha, and non-
biblical writings as figurative expressions for the Word of God, the message
of the prophets, and the presence of God (24).
The fact that there are two Witnesses, also supports the premise that their
primary function is to bear testimony (25). The presence of two witnesses is
(19) Schussler Fiorenza suggests that â€œRev 11,5-6 metaphorically elaborates their
prophetic power and protection by Godâ€ (Revelation, 77).
(20) G.K. BEALE, The Book of Revelation (NIGTC; Grand Rapids 199) 572.
(21) G.B. CAIRD, A Commentary on the Revelation of St. John the Divine (New York
(22) Cf. L. MORRIS, The Revelation of St. John (TNTC; Grand Rapids 1987) 142;
CAIRD, Revelation, 131-32; R.H. MOUNCE, The Book of Revelation (NICNT; Grand Rapids
1977) 219; BEALE, Revelation, 558-59, 570-71.
(23) This is certainly a strong reference to the Holy Spirit through the relation of
lampstands and Zech 4,2-6, but this feature transcends the objectives of this work. Cf.
BEALE, Revelation, 206-07.
(24) Cf., Zech 4,2-6; Matt 5,14-16; John 5,35; Sir 48,1; Targ. Ps.-J. Zech 4,7.
(25) Morris suggests that â€˜the number two may stand for adequacy of testimonyâ€™
(MORRIS, Revelation, 143). Caird similarly suggests that â€œThe Christian martyrs will