Study to Grow
By Randy Dillon
Acts 1: 9-11
In the Jewish legal system it was required that two witnesses must give the same testimony for a legal action to be substantiated in a court of law. If two witnesses could not give corresponding statements of fact, then no verdict of guild could be given. This could of course be subverted as in the case of the two false witnesses against Jesus at his trial. There are three events in the New Testament in which two witnesses supernaturally gave testimony of divine truth. One occurred during the life of Jesus at the Transfiguration Matthew 17:1-8). A second occurred after His 40 day post-resurrection ministry and Ascension following His resurrection (Acts 1:9-11). A third is prophesized in the future when two witnesses will preach, be slain, then resurrected and return to heaven (Revelation 11:3-13).
At the Transfiguration we see that the two witnesses are identified as Moses and Elijah. Moses represents the Law and Elijah represents the prophets. This stands as a testimony to Jesus fulfillment of the Law and Old Testament prophecy. In the three occurrences of two witnesses it is only in this event that the names of the witnesses are given.
In the second occurrence (Acts 1) the author, Luke, relates that after Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples who saw this were amazed and looking up, Two men in bright, white apparel questioned why they were gawking when Jesus would someday return in the same manner in which He left. No names are associated with the two men, but many commentators believe these are angels sent to remind the disciples of their duty to share the gospel.
Turning to the third occurrence in The Revelation, pour attention is drawn once again to two unnamedwitnesses who preach the truth, are slain, then resurrected after three days and ascend into heaven. Scholars do not agree on who these men are. Some say they are Moses and Elijah just st at the Transfiguration. Others believe they are Enoch and Elijah since neither suffered death but were instead taken bodily into heaven. These witnesses are prophesizing of Jesus' return and the sins that are leading humanity astray.
What are the common threads to be found in these three appearances? Certainly all three instances of the appearance of witnesses are divine manifestations of heavenly inhabitants. All three involve directions being given to men: by Jesus at the Transfiguration, by men (angels) at the Ascension and by the miracle working prophets in Revelation. All three involve a charge to spread the gospel of Christ or accept His ministry of reconciliation of an unregenerate world to the Father. All three involve supernatural events: Jesus in a glorified state at the Transfiguration, Jesus rising bodily into heaven at the Ascension and the Revelation witnesses being resurrected and re-entering heaven.
As previously mentioned, these three events fulfill the expectations of the Jewish legal system by having two witnesses at the appearance to validate the truthfulness of what happens and what is said. Additionally, these supernatural witnesses are an encouragement to the followers of Jesus both during His earthly ministry, after His ascension and in the troubles time to come e three events are also instructive to Christians today. We also bear the responsibility of witnessing the good news to a lost world. Though we may not enjoy the physical presence of heavenly witnesses, we have the spiritual presence of the Holy Spirit and the nature of Jesus as our savior and lord to guide us.