“But after three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and tremendous fear seized those who were watching them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them: “Come up here!” So the two prophets went up to heaven in a cloud while their enemies stared at them.” (Rev 11:11–12)
I want comment on this common posttribulation interpretation.
i. The passage does not describe them as having been resurrected. Posttribbers assume this. It is odd to claim that these two persons represent the great anticipated global event of the resurrection—while there is no reference to it. That is an anticlimactic event if I have ever seen one. They themselves might be resurrected at that point, but we don’t know since the text does not signal this, except that they are taken up to heaven, which does not mean they are resurrected.
ii. Posttribbers also claim that the resurrection occurs at the seventh trumpet, which they identify as “the last trump.” Yet, the seventh trumpet occurs after the two witnesses come back to life (Rev 11:15!). This point puts a wrench in their interpretation. It should be the other way around according to their interpretation: the seventh trumpet is blown and then the two witnesses come back to life.
iii. The event of the two witnesses takes place during God’s wrath between the sixth and seventh trumpet: “The second woe has come and gone; the third is coming quickly” (Rev 11:14). Yet, Scripture is clear that the resurrection and the rapture take place before God’s wrath, not during or after it (1 Thess 4–5; Matt 24:29–31; Rev 6–7).
iv. The book of Revelation rather depicts the rapture taking place between the sixth and seventh seal (Rev 7:9–14). There is another rapture passage in Rev 14:15–18, which is located in a parenthetical section of Revelation (see Kurschner, “Semantic Boundary Markers in Revelation 12:1—15:4,” Evangelical Theological Society 2019 Annual Meeting, Johannine Literature, John’s Revelation, San Diego, CA, November 21, 2019).
Incidentally, postribulationists also believe that the resurrection occurs in Rev 20:4: “They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” This is mistaken. John is not describing that the resurrection takes place at that point. Rather, he is describing the resurrection status of the saints—that is, the ones who were faithful came to life—linking back to the resurrection event in Rev 7:9 (more on this latter point in a different post).
v. Many postribbers criticize pretribbers for allegorical interpretation of John in Rev 4:1, making John “the church” being raptured when he is called up to heaven. Posttribbers, however, practice the same allegorical maneuver themselves with the two witnesses.
The prewrath position does not need to force a resurrection or rapture in some pre-determined point in the book of Revelation. It takes a natural reading of locating the rapture and resurrection after the beast’s persecution and before God’s wrath:
“After these things I looked, and here was an enormous crowd that no one could count, made up of persons from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb dressed in long white robes, and with palm branches in their hands. . . . “Then one of the elders asked me, “These dressed in long white robes—who are they and where have they come from?” So I said to him, “My lord, you know the answer.” Then he said to me, “These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb!” (Rev 7:9, 13–14).