CHAPTER ELEVEN from 1-14 is the second interlude or parenthesis before the seventh trumpet is sounded in 15-19, which marks the beginning of the second half of the Tribulation Period. This chapter is one of the most difficult in the whole Apocalypse. There are two witnesses, who testify for 42 months or 1,260 days; based on the Hebrew month of 30 days that is three and one half years. Either their opposition to the Antichrist is placed by commentators in the first or second half of Daniel’s Seventy Seven.
This chapter opens with the Temple of God on Earth and closes with the Temple of God in Heaven. The Temple, altar, worshipers, and Holy City have to do with the Jews and their place in the plan of God. This chapter while literal in its events most likely portrays a symbolical opening of Israel’s eyes to the Gospel and hence the salvation of all Israel.
Historicists see the Temple representing the true remnant of the Church (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:4) in the midst of the papal church at the time of the Reformation. The 1,260 days become 1,260 years, the duration of papal power. The two witnesses represent the Waldeneses, Albigeneses, and others who resisted the papacy before the Reformation.
Preterists see the 1,260 days as the period of the Jewish War, of Nero’s persecution, or both. The two witnesses are either historic prophetic witnesses against the Jews before the destruction of Jerusalem or civil and religious authority in Israel.
Idealists hold that the 1,260 days symbolizes the entire Church Age. The two witnesses are the Church.
Futurists hold to 1,260 days from the beginning to the end of the Tribulation, or two periods: first half (1,260 days) and second half (42 months). The two witnesses are individual prophets who will appear in either the first or the second half of the Tribulation. Millennialists envision the Temple of God being rebuilt in Jerusalem and playing a major part in the events of the last days.