Insights on Revelation 11:8-9

Revelation 11

I was asked by a reader a while back to provide my thoughts on Revelation 11:8-9, which concerns the reaction of the world to the death of the Two Witnesses. Revelation 11:8-9 states:

“(8) And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. (9) And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.” (Revelation 11:8-9)

Before I focus on Revelation 11:8-9, here is an overview of the Two Witnesses’ ministry to provide some context. To counter the False Prophet’s propagation of Antichrist’s religion, God will assign two individuals (Two Witnesses) to prophesy for 1260 days:

(3) And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. (4) These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.” (Revelation 11:3-4)

These two individuals will essentially be invincible during the 1260 days of their ministry. Therefore, it will be futile for anyone to try to harm them during this period. Anyone who tries to harm them will die. In addition, they will have authority to punish the Earth with a variety of plagues:

“(5) And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. (6) These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.” (Revelation 11:5-6)

At the end of the Two Witnesses’ ministry, the beast from the abyss (Antichrist) will make war with them and kill them (verse 7). The two corpses will lie in Jerusalem, which is the city where the Lord was crucified (verse 8):

“(7) And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. (8) And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” (Revelation 11:7-8)

Revelation 11:9 says that “people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half” (I believe it will be literally three and half days):

“And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.” (Revelation 11:9)

The initial impression one might get from reading Revelation 11:9 is that the text suggests that everyone on Earth will be able view the dead bodies in person since “people and kindreds and tongues and nations” covers virtually every way you can distinguish people from one another. However, some Bible commentaries analyzing the Greek language in Revelation 11:9 come to the conclusion that the text is conveying the idea that some people from each group referenced (kindreds, tongues, nations, etc) will view the dead bodies of the two witnesses in person rather than everyone in the world coming to the great city to view the dead bodies in person. For instance, here is a passage from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament concerning Revelation 11:9:

And they of the people. Some of the people; a part of the people –~ek twn lawn~. The language is such as would be employed to describe a scene where a considerable portion of a company of people should be referred to, without intending to include all. The essential idea is, that there would be an assemblage of different classes of people to whom their carcases would be exposed, and that they would come and look upon them.

I’m not an expert on the Greek language, but the idea that some people will view the dead bodies in person instead of everyone in the world viewing the dead bodies in person makes sense to me. However, if you believe that Revelation 11:9 actually suggests that everyone in the world is going to view the dead bodies then imagine the amount of media coverage the death of the Two Witnesses is going to attract worldwide.

I imagine that the death of two of the wicked world’s main adversaries is going to be a news event that will attract a lot of media attention. I imagine the media will broadcast images of the dead bodies worldwide to show people tangible proof that the two witnesses were indeed killed. In this sense, virtually everyone in the world will be able to view the dead bodies.

The detail that the dead bodies will lay in the streets unburied and on display gives some indication of how much the wicked people of Earth will despise the Two Witnesses. The people of Earth will show disrespect to the bodies by not giving them a respectable burial. The dead bodies will be on display so people can derive joy from the slaying of the Two Witnesses. In fact, Revelation 11:10 suggests that people will party (make merry) and send gifts to each other in happiness because their tormentors have died:

“And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.” (Revelation 11:10)

However, the celebrations on Earth will only be temporary. The wicked on Earth viewing the dead bodies will receive quite a startling “surprise” in just three and a half days after the Two Witnesses’ death. The Two Witnesses will ascend to Heaven and a great earthquake will destroy 1/10 of the great city (Jerusalem-Revelation 11:8):

“(11) And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. (12) And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. (13) And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. (14) The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.” (Revelation 11:11-14)

I hope this article was insightful for you. For more, I have an article about the identity of the Two Witnesses.

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If Bible Scholars say that the 144,000 Redeemed Israelites are to preached the Gospel during the Tribulation (which I can not find it said in scriptures), How does their ministry differs from the ministry of the Two Witnesses. I know that prophesying again means the old prophecy had come to pass and they need to preach again about another prophecies that will come to pass. Is it not enough that the Book of Revelation and other eschatological books of the Bible to reveal all the things that will happen at Great Tribulation and Second Advent? Did God missed something? Will… Read more »


I think it is inevitable that we will all have a few things wrong, as some things must be based on assumption simply because there is not enough Scripture on some things to know definitively what the answers are, such as the identity of the two witnesses.  However when they appear, we’ll know.  The best thing you can do is to take God’s Word as face value and not try to “interpret” it in some spiritual way as many do.  Let the Holy Spirit lead you and stay away from denominational theologies, as they are all man-made.  The less you… Read more »

Steven Curtiss
Steven Curtiss

In the parable of the ten virgins; of the whole community  only ten kept watch, of the ten only five were prepared.   I want my family to be prepared.

Of the 27 books of the new testament, 21 are epistles.

For denominations to fall away, and all of us to become one unto Christ, all of us will have some beliefs that we will need to repent of.  It will be easier for me to repent now when I am still learning than latter when I am stuck in my ways.

When we witness to each other what are we doing?


To Mr. Curtiss,  you have lots of questions.  I think that in the end times you will have 2 choices.  You can choose to follow the antichrist, or you can follow Jesus.  Denominations will fall away because you will have true believers, or you will have those against true believers.  In the end people will either be united in Jesus Christ, or they will be united in the antichrist.


You have a lot of questions, which is helpful for me to come up with topics for future articles.  I don’t know how long it will take for me to address them and I’m unsure whether I can address them all.  I’ll try to address what I can in upcoming articles.

Steven Curtiss
Steven Curtiss

Expand on what is going on around them at the time of their ministry.  They shut heaven that it rain not.  Does this drought dry up the Euphrates river preparing the way for the kings of the east which brings the war of Armageddon? Expand on who these men are.  They are PROPHETS.  They prophesy. They call men to repentance before the calamity that is about to begin with Armageddon.  They have power over the elements.  Does this mean that the prophets did not die with the old testament?  Will there be other prophets on earth before or after them? … Read more »