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) 401
They are explicitly called witnesses: they are the two lampstands and the
Word proceeds from their mouths.
c) Focus #3: Enduring Persecution
The third focus regards the persecution of the righteous. The explicit
references to the martyrdom of the Two Witnesses support our thesis. John
records that the beast from the abyss will â€œwill make war with them, and
overcome them, and kill themâ€ (11,7). In addition to this explicit statement,
there are also implicit indications that the Two Witnesses suffer persecution.
First, one may surmise that if the Two Witnesses have the ability â€œto
devour their enemiesâ€ (11,5), then such enemies must be conceived as
attempting to inflict sufferings upon them. For, John seemingly predicates
their powers upon the OT principle of lex talionis (32). Secondly, John notes
that the bodies of the Two Witnesses lie, â€œin the street of the great city which
spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucifiedâ€
(11,8) (33). Describing this city as â€œSodom and Egyptâ€ â€”, which greatly
complicates any effort in determining the actual city, if any â€” I suggest serves
to provide an association with places in which the righteous have suffered at
the hands of their enemies. Beale similarly claims that the description belies
â€œplaces where the saints lived as aliens under persecutionâ€ (34). That Egypt was
regarded as a place which persecutes the saints is evident from Joel 3,19. Trites
postulates that â€œThis city is called â€˜Sodomâ€™ because it is devoted to evil and
destined to destruction... It is termedâ€™ Egyptâ€™ because in it the people of God
are persecuted and oppressedâ€ (35).
Therefore, it is apparent that the Two Witnesses suffer persecution. This
persecution entails minimally their martyrdom, though I believe that a
reasonable case exists that the Two Witnesses are persecuted prior to their
d) Focus #4: Vindication of the Righteous
Finally, the vindication of the righteous in chapter 11 appears in verses
11-13 where the Two Witnesses are resurrected while their enemies â€œbeheld
themâ€ (11,12). Beale comments,
God restores the witnesses to himself after their apparent defeat at the
end of the church age. The restoration consists in an overturning of
their vanquished condition. The portrayal of the restoration depicts
God raising the witnesses from the dead before the eyes of their
enemies... It seemed that God had deserted the witnesses by leaving
them in a subdued condition... But he vindicates them by delivering
them and demonstrating that he is their covenantal protector... At the
(32) Cp. Deut 19,15; Num 35,30; Lev 24,17-21. Cf. also, Rev 16,1, 184.108.40.206.8.10.
12.17; where the verb â€œejkcevwâ€ is used for the pouring out of Godâ€™s wrath in response to
the pouring out of the blood of the saints. Cf. J.M. FORD, Revelation (AB; Garden City
(33) Identifying whether this city is actually Rome, Jerusalem, the Roman Empire, etc.,
is not pertinent to this investigation and, therefore, will not be addressed here.
(34) BEALE, Revelation, 591.
(35) TRITES, Concept of Witness, 168.