v.3-4 “And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.
These “two witnesses” are extremely intriguing characters that appear suddenly and mysteriously in Jerusalem at the start of the Tribulation, preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Jews, and with power to perform miracles reminiscent of the Old Testament prophets.
“These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.” This means to show that these chosen men of God will do their work on earth in the power of the Holy Spirit (see—Zech.4). “And they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days…” They will preach for a period of three and a half years, or in their case, during the entire first half of the Tribulation. “…clothed in sackcloth” They’ll preach in heavy affliction about the impending severe judgment of God (check–Ps.35:13; Isa.50:3).
Okay, who are they?
Most commentators agree one will be the ancient prophet Elijah for three reasons: Elijah was prophesied to return before the day of the Lord (Mal. 4:5,6); which even the Jews regard (John 1:21; Matt.16:13,14). Their ability to stop the rain (v.6) is similar to that of Elijah (I Kings 17:1). Because Elijah was carried in a chariot of fire into heaven alive and never died (2 Kings 2:9-11) seems to indicate that his ministry is yet unfulfilled.
Commentators are more divided about the second witness. Some say Enoch, one of the Bible’s earliest men of great faith, who was also taken into heaven alive (see Jude 14; Heb.11:5; Gen.5:24). Others suggest Zerubabel, the ancient head of the tribe of Judah, because of his connection to Zechariah’s prophecy about the two olive trees (Zech.4:6-9). And some say Moses because he associated himself with “the prophet” God would raise up amongst Israel (Deu.18:15-18). The power given the witnesses to turn water into blood is similar to that given to Moses (Ex.7:17). Despite the fact that Moses did die, a mystery surrounds his burial (Deu.34:5-6), along with a strange struggle that later ensued over his body (see—Jude 9).
My personal notion is that Elijah and Moses are the two witnesses. Plus all the other arguments, Elijah and Moses are indelibly linked in several ways: It was Moses and Elijah that appeared with Jesus in His transfiguration (Matt.17:1-8); and given that their ministry is to Israel, what two men better represent the “law” and the “prophets” than Moses and Elijah?