The two witnesses of Revelation 11 are also called two olive trees, two lampstands, and two prophets. Two olive trees are mentioned in Scripture before, both by Zechariah and by Paul. They are not clearly identified in Zechariah; the angel calls them the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth. Paul identifies the two olive trees as the Chosen People, i.e., Israel and the Gentile Church.
Prophets are those who speak God’s word into the world.
Many historicists say the two witnesses are the Old and the New testaments. And I do agree that the two testaments are two witnesses to the world. But I think the picture being drawn by Revelation 11 is broader than that.
There are two witnesses, two olive trees, two lampstands, and two prophets, who do everything described and who are then killed, and resurrected. A witness testifies, so two witnesses are two testimonies: the written Word, both the Old and the New covenants. So the two testaments, yes; but also Israel, and the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The common denominator is God’s Word voiced into the world, by one) the testimony of the written Word, and also by two) the testimony of the People of God; which is not just the Christian Church only, but God’s covenant people Israel, whom He has not abandoned.
To be continued …
Update: continued in Revelation 11: identity of the two witnesses (final)