Requiring the 1260 days mentioned in both these two narratives to represent
the same period of time forces a re-evaluation of the intended meaning of
Matching the structures found in both these accounts we are presented with
1) Prophesy 1260 days = Woman in the wilderness 1260 days.
2) Death of Witnesses = Satan descends to the earth.
3) Dead 3.5 days = Other offspring persecuted over
a period of 'a time, times
and half a time' (ie 3.5 times).
As can be seen this arrangement highlights an important issue.
It presents the essential relationship between the periods '1260 days'
and '3.5 times'. It shows the 1260 days end when the witnesses die (and
when Satan descends to the earth) and that this is when the period of 3.5
times starts! The terms '1260 days' and '3.5 times' are not describing the
same time period, but two sequential time periods.
It also shows the 3.5 days are a symbolic representation of the period of
3.5 times, during which Satan persecutes the woman's other offspring.
I know at this point the teaching of this web page will start to come into
conflict with previously held beliefs. So many Christians have been taught
the two witnesses are literal people. They have believed this for so long
that it has become central to their belief system. It has become an emotive
issue! (Nevertheless, false beliefs need to be corrected.)
Once one understands that the period of 3.5 days is a symbolic
representation of the longer period of '3.5 times', and not a literal
3.5 days, then it becomes necessary to seriously consider whether the
two witnesses are themselves symbolic.
Before trying to identify the two witnesses we should look briefly at the
period of '3.5 times'. The term is also found in Dan 7:25 and Dan 12:7.
Dan 7:25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,
shall persecute the saints of the Most High,
and shall intend to change times and law.
Then the saints shall be given into his hand
for a time and times and half a time.
Dan 12:7 Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was
above the waters of the river, when he held up
his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and
swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be
for a time, times, and half a time; and when the
power of the holy people has been completely
shattered, all these things shall be finished.
It seems the term is associated with the period of greatest trial, the
time when the work of Satan will be at its most destructive.
Having seen the two witnesses prophesy prior to the great tribulation,
we can observe that this arrangement agrees with the teaching of the
seventy weeks prophecy. In Daniel 9:26 the Messiah is cut off before
the city and the sanctuary are destroyed.
Placing the period of 1260 days prior to the period of tribulation raises
another question. What period of time is being represented by the 1260
To assist in answering this question it is necessary to consider the
identity of the witnesses.