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The Two Witnesses of the Tribulation:

Moses and Elijah

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Question #1: 

Could you please clarify what do you mean by the following:

'The physical reestablishment of God's worldwide Kingdom on earth, prophesied until John the baptist (who first heralded its coming: Matt.11:12)'.

I don't understand how the physical reestablishment of God's worldwide Kingdom was prophesied until John the baptist, who first heralded its coming. How can he first herald coming of something that has been prophesied before him? Similarly, in Matt 11:12 why does Jesus say 'since the days of John the baptist until present time' - that seems like a relatively short time? Finally regarding this passage (which, as you can see, Is still don't fully understand), the interpretation of this passage that I've got in my Bible goes as follows:

Kingdom of heaven is not closed according to the Old Law, because it is not achieved according to the heritage, but raided with personal effort as a response to the grace of vocation. Alternative interpretation given is in line with the one that you said (if I understand it correctly), according to which it's about persecution on part of unbelievers.

But even that raises a question in my head - how can unbelievers 'raid' the Kingdom of heaven? Isn't it by definition beyond their reach? You mentioned 'defensive nature of the struggle encompassed in God's plan before the cross', could you please clarify, why is the nature of the struggle defensive (I know it's a lot of question in one).

Response #1:  

As to Matthew 11:12, I am using "herald" to mean "announcement of its imminent beginning" (as heralds show up just before the king whose arrival they are announcing), as opposed to "prophesying", which I use to mean "predict to happen at some time in the distant future". John and Jesus both said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt.3:2 and 4:17 respectively), i.e., on the very cusp of becoming a reality. This potential reality of the coming of the kingdom was rejected by Jesus' generation, so that the imminence of its coming, which has always been a factor since Jesus' incarnation, remains unfulfilled and will continue to do so until Christ's second advent.

The coming of our Lord the first time began an intensification of the Plan of God in the sense that before our Lord the family of God is much like a straight line of descent (which the devil has always sought to "cut off"); to large measure, we can summarize the plan and the community of faith before the coming of the Messiah and the institution of the Church as Satan's attempts to destroy the line of the faithful, and God's faithful defense of that small community linearly replenished. But at no time did the devil expend more effort and resources against the plan of God than during our Lord's earthly ministry, for, obviously, nothing was more important to him than thwarting the Messiah. A complement to this intensified opposition by the evil one is the intensified expansion of the family of God following the cross, and that is the subtext of our Lord's meaning here (e.g., his mentioning in v.15 of Elijah which shifts the perspective to the coming of the kingdom at the second advent which Elijah heralds). After the coming of our Lord, His ministry, His death on behalf of the world, His resurrection, ascension and session, and the sending of the Holy Spirit with the gifts He provides, God "goes on the offensive", as instead of a defense of the linear progression the community of the faithful we see the family of God begin to expand geometrically in terms of numbers and also in terms of the volume of revealed truth (the former of which has significance for Satan because it means that he and his cohorts are in the process of being replaced in God's family, one for one by the Church, and while in the past it must have seemed as if the requisite number could never be reached at the rate of progression before the cross, now it is very clear that the number can be reached before the clock runs out).

As to your Bible's commentary, this is a difficult passage to interpret because it requires an understanding of so many aspects of prophecy and, on top of that, many get the Greek wrong here. Here is how I would translate:

Since the days of John the baptist until this present time, the Kingdom of God has been under violent attack, and violent men are laying hands upon it.
Matthew 11:12

In my view, to recap, this passage is Jesus' way of drawing a contrast between reality and the expectations of His contemporaries (who as yet did not understand that there were going to be two advents), making it clear with these words that instead of taking command of the kingdom now by overwhelming force, the King (and His kingdom) had first to endure the assault of the evil one (as well our Lord having to suffer as our Substitute) in order to lay the groundwork for that Kingdom to come.

Yours in the hope of the kingdom,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Hello sir,

Did you reply to the question I had asked last week? If you have not replied, then you can take your time sir, but if you have replied, then I think it has not reached me again. It has happened once before. If you have a copy of it, then please send it to me again. Sir, I am sorry if I am getting impatient and sorry for the trouble. I have pasted the question below. Thank you Sir

Hello Dr. Luginbill

Sir, I hope you are fine? Ichthys is a vast site and i am a slow reader .It is going to take me a very very long time."Who Controls our Thoughts and Emotions",in this Email response the last question i.e question n.o 4, is exactly my situation. Sometimes when i am praying very peacefully, I suddenly get angry out of control. Once it was so bad that I wanted to jump off the building. Not only while praying it happens at other times also. Questionable thoughts which I have had never before in my life come to my mind. I hear questionable words in my mind when I pray. I have been trying hard to fight these bad thoughts without much success. This has been happening even before I was a believer. Sir, I have been suffering at the hands of the evil one from a very long time (even before I came to Jesus), I don't know what special interests he had in me then? I did make mistakes, I did seek help in the wrong places. Only Jesus could help. He is helping me a lot and that is why I don't want these thoughts to come to my mind. I want to be a good witness but, I end up getting angry with people without much fault of their's. Anyways Sir, I will ask my question now. Matthew 11:7-14, why did Jesus say that John the Baptist is the Elijah who was to come? I do not have the Old Testament. It is not available here in my city. After I buy it I will start studying the Bible properly. I do not know how to thank you sir. After meeting Jesus you will be the first one I will run to meet

Thank You

Response #2: 

I have no idea why, but I did not receive the earlier email. Since, I always try to respond within a few days at the most (unless I am out of time and without email access), if you do not hear back within a very few days, please do feel free write again as there has most likely been some problem.

The issue of gaining control over one's thinking is not an easy one, but let me encourage you to keep at it. First, as you grow in Jesus, as you rapidly are, this will become easier (even if it never becomes completely automatic); keep at it because as with many things, "practice makes perfect". Secondly, please do not be overly distraught about the fact that you cannot completely keep "bad thoughts" from coming to your mind. Our spirits currently reside in bodies of corrupted flesh, and as you very correctly note we are also constantly under attack from invisible forces without. Under such circumstances, complete prevention of such things is out of the question. But you needn't worry about it overly as long as you are reacting to these thoughts in the correct way. That is to say, you many not always be able to control the irruption of such things into your consciousness, but you certainly can be consistent in rejecting them and paying them no mind. It is important to understand these things for what they are, puny attempts by the evil one working in concert with your sinful flesh in order to try and trip you up. But you are under no obligation to enjoy them, or to yield to them, or to pay any particular attention to them. You are captain of your will, even when the winds blow strong and seek to blow you from your intended course; after all, you have the Holy Spirit in you to help you "both to will and to do" (Phil.2:13; cf. Gal.5:16ff.). Thirdly, spiritual momentum will eventually make all of this much easier, and that is true both in the long and short view. The better you get (with the Spirit's help) at focusing your mind and will on the Lord Jesus and what He has set you here to do, the less such things will plague you; and when they occasionally do, the quicker you will tend to reject and defeat them, getting right back on the proper track. So please hang in there with this. We all have different areas of strengths and weakness; no two of us are exactly the same. Anger is a difficult one. Moses had a notorious temper and it got him into serious trouble on more than one occasion. The problem with it is that it can lead us to do impulsively things we would never be tempted to do if we gave the matter a serious second thought.

On John and Elijah, please see the link below, but I will give you the issue in "a nutshell" here:

"I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God (i.e., the second advent)." About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.
Luke 9:27-31 NIV

As this passage makes clear, Moses and Elijah are the famous "two witnesses" predicted by Malachi to come before the glorious advent of the Messiah (Mal.4:4-6). What Jesus' contemporaries did not understand, however, was that there would be two advents of the Messiah, coming the first time to save the world from sin through His death to sin on the cross, and then coming again a second time to rule the world in glory (cf. 1Pet.1:10-12). Moses and Elijah will be returned to life before the second advent, during the Tribulation which precedes it (Rev.11:1-14); they did not herald Jesus' first advent directly, but as it turns out Moses and Elijah are the counterparts of Jesus and John. Moses is a type of Christ (that is, he represents or typifies Christ in many of his activities in the Law), and Elijah is a type of John. So while Moses and Elijah did not themselves herald the first advent, there was indeed a herald who was, typologically speaking, Elijah, namely, John the baptist. Therefore Jesus' statement about John to the effect that "he is the Elijah who was to come" means that Malachi's prophecy was indeed fulfilled in effect by his type, John, during the first advent, and will be fulfilled literally by Elijah himself prior to the second advent. One of the "signs" that the Messiah had arrived was that His herald preceded Him. As the New Testament gives ample testimony, John was that herald (e.g., Matt.3:1-17); John is not Elijah in the personal sense, but he is Elijah in the prophetic, typological sense, fulfilling the role for the first advent that the actual Elijah will fulfill for the second advent. You can read more about this at the following link:

The Two Witnesses: Revelation 11:1-14: Moses and Elijah (in CT 3A)

The 144,000 and the Two Witnesses

Not Enoch

Note also that as John is beheaded and Jesus crucified, their typological counterparts are also put to death by the beast (cf. Rev.11:7-12). Also, the statement about John that "he is Elijah" was said by Jesus in the context of the transfiguration where Peter and John have just seen Moses and Elijah, with the presence of these two "witnesses" at the transfiguration symbolizing their Tribulation ministries which herald the coming of the Messiah at second advent.

Thank you as always for all your kind words, my friend. I continue to keep you in my prayers daily. May God continue to lead you forwards spiritually for a good reward on that day of days.

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Hello Sir,

Thank you so much for the reply. One small question, how did peter recognize Moses and Elijah? or was he just guessing?

In Him,

Response #3:  

You are certainly most welcome. All three of the accounts of the transfiguration (Matt.17:1-8; Mk.9:2-8; Lk.9:28-36), state explicitly that the two with whom Jesus spoke they were Moses and Elijah, and in all three of the accounts Peter seems to know for certain who they are. All three of the accounts state that they were talking with Jesus, and while Peter was catching the end of the conversation, he still may have listened to them for some time. So it is my guess that in the course of the extended conversation it became very clear who these men were, not from their physical appearance, but from what they actually had to say.

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

This is my understanding of John 3:13.

That no one has ascended to heaven, but Jesus (please see attached file).

Do you agree?

Response #4: 

I would certainly agree that Jesus is the only One to have "ascended to heaven". Jesus is the only One to have been resurrected and thus the only One capable of moving from earth to heaven in His physical body – His "resurrected body" (which is for Him and will be for us quite superior to what we are now experiencing). Therefore neither Paul's (2Cor.12:2-5) nor John's experience (in Revelation), nor the case of Moses and Elijah (whose bodies have preserved for their return to earth during the Tribulation) nor the situation with deceased believers who have not been resurrected but have been brought into the presence of our Lord since His ascension constitute "an ascension" (i.e., rising up to heaven in one's own body of one's own power).

In the interests of time, to avoid confusion or misunderstanding, and to preserve my sanity, I do not commit to reading all of the materials sent to me. I do answer specific questions and, as long as the discussion is conducted on a reasonable basis, do respond to alternative points of view.

What I have written about Moses and Elijah, the two witnesses who return during the Tribulation, and also about Enoch and the issue of transmutation can be found at the following links:

The Two Witnesses.

Transmutation, Resuscitation, and Resurrection.

Enoch's Walk with God.

The Bodies of Moses and Elijah. 

If you have a question about or even a disagreement with any of what is contained therein, I would be happy to address it.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #5: 

Hello Dr Luginbill,

A friend had this question, and I tried to find it thru the search engine on your website, but was unable to find it, I'm sure you have it, just that I couldn't locate it. It is regarding what Jesus said here in Mark:

This is after the transfiguration:


11And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? 12And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. 13But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.

Does anyone know what Jesus is talking about here? What was written about John the baptist (the Elais Elijah to come)?

This was my answer to her:

Talking about John the Baptist, and prophetical writings that referred to Elijah's coming, and that it happened to John just as was written...but the language difference makes it difficult to see what they were talking about regarding what was written...I'm thinking they were talking about the fact that what was written was that Elias (Elijah) would come:

Mal 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

Mal 4:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

I'll see if Dr Luginbill wrote on this one, since he knows Hebrew and Greek he would know the sentence construction and grammar etc.

Response #5:  

Always good to hear from you. Very simplistically put, the ministries of John and Jesus are paralleled by those of Elijah and Moses respectively (with Moses being a type of Christ, and Elijah being a type of John). So it is true that Elijah (and Moses) precede the Second Advent. They are the heralds of the second coming, and that is why both of them appear on the Mt. of Transfiguration, since the entire vision is a foretaste of Christ's glorious return as Peter makes clear later (2Pet.1:16-18). It is also true that "Elijah has already come" at this point in the gospels, because John was "the Elijah" heralding the first advent. All this is covered in detail in part 3A of Coming Tribulation in section V, "The Two Witnesses". One has to read all the way to the end of that study to get all the information on this topic, however, as it is seeded in here and there as appropriate.

In our Lord Jesus, whose return we so eagerly anticipate,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Hi Dr Luginbill,

Thank you for your quick response, ... I guess I wasn't very clear in the way I formed my question. What my friend was asking (and I guess I need clarification on also) is:

13But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.

Is that saying that it is written about John the Baptist that they would mistreat him? Or is He here saying that when Elias (or Elijah) is prophesied as coming in the future, that this is what Jesus is talking about. The way it is worded in English, it seems to say that it was written about Elijah that he would be mistreated, but maybe the Greek didn't say it that way, and maybe we get the wrong understanding of what this is saying? Is it just referring to the Malachi passage, the "Elias is indeed come" part of the sentence, instead of the "whatsoever they listed" part of the sentence, and only referring to:

Mal 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

Mal 4:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse

Thank you for your patience with me,

Love as in the love of the Lord Jesus,

Response #6: 

This is an ancillary issue to the one addressed last time. That is to say, what is true of the prophetic correspondence between John and Elijah in one thing is largely true of them in all things prophetic where they are related. John was mistreated (indeed, he was imprisoned for over two years), then executed (beheaded) once his ministry of heralding the first advent had been completed. Likewise, Elijah will be killed too along with Moses, when they have completed their tribulational ministry of restoration preparing Israel for the second advent:

And when they have completed their testimony, the beast who is going to come up out of the Abyss at that time will make war upon them and will defeat them and will kill them. And their bodies will [lie] in the square of the great city which in spiritual terms is called "Sodom" and "Egypt", where our Lord was crucified. And for three and a half days, people from [every] tribe and race and language and nation will gaze upon their bodies, and they will not allow their bodies to be placed in a tomb. And the inhabitants of the earth will rejoice over them and be glad and send gifts to one another, on the [false] grounds that these two prophets had tortured the inhabitants of the earth (i.e., this is how the unbelieving world will see it). And after the three and a half days, a living spirit from God entered into them, and they stood up on their feet. And a great fear fell upon those who were watching them [arise]. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here!" And they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them [do so]. And at that hour a great earthquake occurred, and the tenth part of the city collapsed, and the [number of] persons killed in the earthquake was seven thousand. And the rest [of the population] became afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe has passed. Behold! The third woe is coming quickly.
Revelation 11:7-14

So while the primary reference in Mark 9:13 by Jesus is of John who, at that time, had already been killed, the reference to Elijah is made in full cognizance on the part of our Lord that Elijah, a type of John, also is destined to be mistreated and murdered when he is resuscitated along with Moses during the Tribulation.

No need to apologize! I appreciate your determination to get to the bottom of things. Please do feel free to write back about any of this.

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Thank you, That makes it a little clearer for me...but is there a passage or verses in the Old Testament that speaks about Elijah being tortured and killed? Or was Jesus talking about a reference to what would now be considered an apocryphal reference?

Response #7:  

My understanding of this part of the prophecy is as follows. Ancient Greek had almost no punctuation. Instead, it uses specific words, word order, and other grammatical and lexical signals to cue the reader as to the beginning and end of sentences and clauses, and to their correct application. I understand the clause "just as it was written about him" to apply not to the clause "and they did to him whatever they wished to do", but rather to the clause "Elijah has come". What we have here in Greek is a parenthesis, but since there are no parenthetical marks in ancient Greek, this is left to editors to figure out. This is not the first time in the Greek text of the New Testament (or elsewhere in Greek for that matter) where I have seen this phenomenon, that is, of a clause which because of its order is misinterpreted or mistranslated because its proper application is misunderstood (Paul also occasionally places clauses in an order that has confused translators). Here is how I would prefer to render the verse:

"But I tell to you that Elijah has actually already come – and (by the way) they treated him as terribly as they pleased – just as it has been written about him (i.e., he came just as the scripture prophesies he would). Mark 9:13

Or . . .

"But I tell to you that Elijah has actually already come (and by the way they treated him as terribly as they pleased) just as it has been written about him (i.e., he came just as the scripture prophesies he would). Mark 9:13

Or maybe best . . .

"But I tell to you that Elijah has actually already come just as it has been written about him (i.e., he came just as the scripture prophesies he would) – and (by the way) they treated him as terribly as they pleased. Mark 9:13

The point of the parenthetical addition by our Lord is not to suggest that there had been any prophesy to the effect that John/Elijah would suffer, but rather that these same scribes of verse 11 who insist that Jesus can't be the Christ "because Elijah hasn't yet come" are not only wrong but suffering from hypocritical blindness, since as part of the ruling establishment they have already rejected Elijah (John) and so share in responsibility for his suffering and death.

It's a very good question on your part. Given that many of the older grammatical commentaries recognize this potential problem (I found it addressed in Meyer who references also Euthymius Zigabenus, Robert Stephens, Heinsius, Clericus, Homberg, Wolf, and Bengel as supporting my explanation here), it is surprising that the English versions don't have the courage to make this clear through a better translation. Just goes to show you the hazards of the English Bible.

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Hi Dr. Luginbill!

Are Enoch and Elijah in their normal bodies? and how are they now in heaven if the bible says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God if they are in their flesh and blood bodies? If Enoch or Elijah was translated to a glorified body, then how can they die – I mean if Elijah is killed during the Tribulation? Thanks!

God Bless,

Response #8: 

As you no doubt know, in my view the two witnesses of the Tribulation are Moses and Elijah (no Enoch). As an exceptional honor, Enoch was transmuted instead of suffering physical death, but there is no indication that his body was preserved for future service as is the case with Moses and Elijah. Please see the following links on all of this:

Transmutation, Resuscitation, and Resurrection.

The Tribulational Ministry of Moses and Elijah to Israel (in CT 3A).

The Two Witnesses

Moses and Elijah but not Enoch

Enoch's Walk with God

As in the case of every single other departed believer, Moses and Elijah currently reside in what I refer to as "interim bodies" (please see the link: Our Heavenly, Pre-Resurrection, Interim State). Human beings are dichotomous, designed and created by God always to have a body to house the human spirit (see the link: The Human Spirit). As such, we are never disembodied (except possibly for the incredibly short interval of transition from one body to the next). Even unbelievers are in interim bodies at present, and will be resurrected on the last day (albeit to a "resurrection of death" rather than one of life; e.g., the "second death": Rev.20:14; 21:8). Jude 1:9 tells us that Michael and Satan "disputed over Moses' body", and that surely means that his spirit was no longer present in it (for he had gone to paradise and was in an interim body after the fashion of Abraham and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31). Moses and Elijah are not the only ones to be temporarily brought back from the dead – in their first, earthly body, of course. We also have the son of the widow of Zarepheth brought back in response to Elijah's prayer, the son of the Shunammite woman brought back in response to Elisha's prayer, the widow of Nain's son, the rich ruler's daughter, and (the other) Lazarus all brought back by our Lord, Dorcas brought back in response to Peter's prayers, the boy who fell out of the window in Troas whom Paul revived, and of course the (apparently) large number of departed believers who were restored temporarily to life following the earthquake at Jesus' expulsion of His human spirit on the cross (Matt.27:52). In each of these cases, we have the temporary restoration of the human spirit to the (corrupt) earthly body, with the result that all of these individuals eventually died physically . . . again. While they were away from their first body, they were not "disembodied", but had been given a temporary home, the interim body, inferior to the eventual resurrection body but far superior to our present corrupt shell.

The case of Moses and Elijah is identical in every respect except one, namely, the much greater length of time between their initial departure and temporary restoration. It is for that reason, that is, the need for their earthly bodies to be specially and miraculously preserved (for they would otherwise have turned to dust), that the bodies of these two exceptional believers have been treated in this special way. But their situation is in all its essential elements exactly the same as that of every other departed believer. When they are martyred during the Tribulation, it will be a case of being put to death in a regular human body (just as with all of the other martyrs) – although in a mere three and half days later they will be miraculously resuscitated . . . again (Rev.11:11-12), as an undeniable proof of the power of God and of His ratification of all they said and did. After that, they will be immediately translated/transmuted back into the interim state (in the manner of Enoch). Thus these two witnesses have an absolutely unique experience as two of the most unique believers who have ever lived or will, to men who put Jesus first in their lives to such an extraordinary degree that they are given to glorify him with their lives and with their deaths (not once or twice, but three times each!). But they have not yet been, nor will they be at the end of those events "resurrected" or "glorified" or "rewarded" (cf. Heb.11:39-40).

No one yet has a "glorified body" except for our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only One yet to be resurrected. There are two further phases of the resurrection unto life (as 1st Corinthians 15:23-24 tells us); the next one will take place at Christ's second advent return and will comprise the Church, the Bride of Christ, all of us and all who have believed since mankind fell until our Lord comes back (e.g., 1Thes.4:13-17); the final phase will take place at the end of the Millennium and will comprise the "friends of the Bride" (Ps.45:14-15; Rev.19:9; cf. 1Cor.15:24). Not until our resurrection will we receive our inheritance and be evaluated for our reward. So as wonderful as it must be to be in the presence of our dear Lord now, none of these believers of the past no matter how great have yet been resurrect, or glorified, or rewarded.

(39) And through their faith, all of them (i.e., the great believers cataloged in chap.11) though they became witnesses [to the world] (lit., "were martyred"), yet they did not receive the promise (i.e., resurrection and reward), (40) since God was looking forward for our sakes to something better, so that they might not be made perfect (i.e., resurrected and rewarded) without us.
Hebrews 11:39-40

Yours in the Lord of life, our dear Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Hello Dr Luginbill

I am a bit confused about who is the first born from the dead between our LORD Jesus and Moses. At the transfiguration Elijah and Moses appear with our LORD. I know that Elijah was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire and never experienced physical death 2 Kings 2:11. In Jude 1:9 we see the Archangel Michael arguing (fighting) with satan over the body of Moses. Seeing Moses with Jesus at the transfiguration tells me he was resurrected, but the bible says Jesus is the firstborn of the dead Romans 8:29, 1Cor 15:20, Rev 1:5. Can you help me by clarifying this?


Response #9:  

Very good to hear from you again. You are exactly right: Jesus is the Firstborn – "from the dead" (i.e., the first to be resurrected) and the Firstborn "of all creation" (i.e., the Ruler of the Creation which He created at the Father's behest). Moses and Elijah are going to be, as I call it, "resuscitated" and brought back to life during the Tribulation (that is what is foreshadowed at the Mount of Transfiguration), but they are not, technically speaking, "resurrected" at that time, not, at least, in the sense of being given the same sort of eternal body that our Lord Jesus now has and that we (including Moses and Elijah) shall all have at the resurrection which takes place at His second advent return. After all, Moses and Elijah, "the two witnesses", will be slain by the beast (then will be resuscitated again and brought back to heaven again) during the closing days of the Tribulation's first half (Rev.11:7-12). The unique exits from this earthly life that both Moses and Elijah experienced (as you mention) took place for the very reason that they were destined to be resuscitated during the Tribulation. Were this coming back to life part of the resurrection, then 1) no special provision for preserving their original, otherwise corruptible bodies would have been necessary, and 2) antichrist would not be able to kill them by any means whatsoever. Also, 1st Corinthians 15:23 tells us that after Christ's resurrection, the next phase of the resurrection will be of "those who are His at His coming", that is to say, you and I and all of our brothers and sisters in the Church resurrected at the second advent – there is no resurrection in between.

You can find out more about all these things at the following links:

Firstborn of the dead and of all creation

Jesus the Firstborn

The Two Witnesses

I greatly appreciate your deep interest in the Word of God and your careful attention to its truths!

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10: 

I enjoyed this article, however I would propose to you one consideration. At the end you said Moses work is not done and that he is one of the two end time witnesses. I am assuming in part because he came at the mount of transfiguration? However, the scripture is clear that Moses died. Taking that into consideration and the scripture that states "it is given for man to die once…." Perhaps the end time witnesses are Elijah and Enoch as they are the only 2 men we know in scripture did not die. Just a thought.

I did enjoy your article and found it insightful.


Response #10: 

I think the critical thing about Moses' death is the fact that his body, like that of Elijah later, was not left on earth to decay (that is the significance of Jude 1:9; see the link: "The Bodies of Moses and Elijah"). After all, Moses will not be the only one to have died and to have been resuscitated by God. Jesus raised the dead (the widow of Nain's son, the rich ruler's daughter, and Lazarus, most notably); and after He rose from the dead, we find at Matthew 27:52 "The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life" (NIV). These will have been those who had been dead for some time but whose bodies had not yet completely decayed. Moses' body is preserved in heaven (that is where he "is buried"), allowing for him to be resuscitated during the Tribulation in the same mortal body he previously inhabited (i.e., his return will not be a resurrection but a resuscitation according to the well-established biblical pattern referred to above; see the link: Transmutation, Resuscitation, and Resurrection).

Thanks for the email.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #11: 

Dear Bob,

Thank you for writing back. I value open dialogue between members of the family of God very much. It is good to wrestle together in love and to grow together. Having said that, I agree, many will be resuscitated and many have been, i.e. Lazarus, those when Jesus was crucified and others. However, the two witnesses will die and be left for dead and resurrected and no one that I know of has been resuscitated/resurrected twice. While Jude says Michael wrestled for the body of Moses, we have no idea why and it is certain that Moses was dead. Hebrews 9:27 reads "Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment". Each of us must die once, and then be judged based on whether we are the redeemed or one that rejected Christ. This is not a theological discussion and certainly nothing that should cause division, I read the article you provided in the link to below. I am not sure that the conclusion that Moses is one of the two witnesses is supported. In Acts 3 Peter is quoting Moses and pointing to Jesus, not Moses returning. Jesus was the one who was a prophet like Moses. Just as Moses brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, now Jesus has made a way for us to be set free from slavery to Satan and sin. The reality is that we really cannot draw a sure conclusion of who the 2 witnesses are, the scripture does not reveal their names for sure. I just propose that it seems perhaps more likely to be Enoch and Elijah as they have not died. Again just a thought and nothing more.

Peace and Blessings in His name,

Response #11:  

I appreciate your spirit. And I agree that Moses was dead, but that is no obstacle for him being one of the two witnesses inasmuch as we have established that resuscitation is not unprecedented. Secondly, Elijah is most certainly also "dead"; he is not presently residing in his earthly body (and being absent from the body is the definition of being dead), for no one in a corrupt body can enter the third heaven. That is why the Old Testament saints abode in the subterranean paradise before the cross and were only transferred to the third heaven in conjunction with Jesus' ascension (see the link: "The transfer of believers from the paradise to the heaven at the ascension"). So Elijah's return will also be a resuscitation. His body is being preserved by God for that future occasion (hence his unique exit from this world the first time). And that is why Moses' body could not receive a normal burial. It likewise had to be removed from earth and from corruption precisely so that he might return for his future ministry. The fact that Jude talks about the disposition of Moses' body would certainly need to be explained if its preservation were not for the purpose of his return (that is the only theological reason for the event described at Jude 1:9). The point that "it is appointed for men to die once" is therefore not really any argument one way or another for this discussion. In every case of resuscitation, the person died . . . again. That is not really two deaths, since "once to die" is clearly speaking about mortality and the impossibility of abiding in our mortal bodies forever (and we have to allow for the writer of Hebrews not adding, "of course there are exceptions like Lazarus which are not really exceptions"). I suppose you do have a point that Moses will thus have been resuscitated twice, but then so will have Elijah, and I can think of no scripture or theological principle which makes this an impossibility. In any case, this is what the Bible says happens.

The link supplied dealt primarily with the issue of resuscitation. The place to find what I have to say about the two witnesses is in part 3A of the Coming Tribulation series: The Two Witnesses and the Ministry of the 144,000. There I give many reasons for identifying the witnesses as I do. Perhaps the easiest to relate concisely in an email such as this is the example of the transfiguration. On that occasion, scripture tells us clearly that the event is a prefiguring of the Second Advent of our Lord (Matt.16:28; Mk.9:1; Lk.9:27), and of course the two figures who meet with Him in that prefiguring are Moses and Elijah. Given that very clear evidence, it would certainly need to be explained why Moses accompanies Elijah in this precursor to our Lord's return rather than whatever other candidate one might have in mind for the other witness. Here is what I write about that at the link given:

5. The Transfiguration: One of the clearest proofs of the identity of the two witnesses is their appearance with our Lord at His transfiguration (Matt.16:28-17:13; Mk.9:1-13; Lk.9:27-36). That event is expressly stated to have been a prophetic foretaste of our Lord's Second Advent and the coming of His kingdom (i.e., His parousia: 2Pet.1:16; cf. Matt.16:28; Mk.9:1; Lk.9:27). Given that the passages which deal with the transfiguration mention both Moses and Elijah, the literal Moses and Elijah, in connection with this preview of Christ's return, it is natural and necessary to connect them with the two witnesses of Revelation chapter eleven who herald that very return. After the event, Jesus' disciples asked Him only about Elijah and He responded in kind. But our Lord's response, that Elijah would come "first" (i.e., before the Second Advent which His recent transfiguration had previewed), gave them (and give us) no reason to suppose that both of His famous interlocutors on the mountain would not do so. Moses' presence on the mountain with Elijah thus serves to demonstrate that, following our Lord's death and resurrection (also represented in this context: cf. respectively Lk.9:31 and Jesus' glorified, resurrection-like appearance), both will precede His return (as the two witnesses to and heralds of that return).

As to Acts 3:22, yes, Peter is pointing to Jesus returning, but in the preceding verse he mentions "the restoration of all things", and it is very clear that said restoration includes the preparatory work of the two witnesses who prepare Israel for the second advent in a parallel way to the preparatory ministry of John the baptist during the first. That is why our Lord also says at Matt.17:11, "Elijah is coming, and he will restore all things" (cf. Mal.4:4-6). So the occurrence of the idea of restoration as it relates to Moses at Acts 3:22 is no small point. It is not, I venture to add, the only point. The insert above and the other information provided at the main link will give you the complete picture. When all of the biblical information is taken into account, the identification of Moses as the other witness of the Tribulation appears, at least in my view, to be virtually irrefutable (especially in the absence of any other viable candidate).

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

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