And when they shall have finished their testimony
For Christ, his truths and ordinances; when they are about to finish it, and almost concluded it, even towards the close of the 1260 days or years, in which they must prophesy in sackcloth: or else their testimony and their prophesying may be considered as two distinct things, and the one be finished before the other; their open public testimony, as witnesses, so as to be heard, attended to, and received, will be finished before the last war of the beast against them, in which they will be killed; but their prophesying will continue to the end of the beast's reign, these two being contemporary, of equal date, beginning and ending together; for they will prophesy when they are dead; being dead they will yet speak, and their very death will be a prophesying or foretelling that the ruin of antichrist is at hand; and upon their resurrection and ascension, that will immediately come on. But when their testimony is finished, by a free and open publication of the Gospel,
the beast that ascended out of the bottomless pit;
the same with that in ( Revelation 13:11 ) , with which compare ( Revelation 17:8 ) ; and which is no other than the Romish antichrist; called a beast for his filthiness and cruelty; and said to ascend out of the bottomless pit, out of hell, because his coming is after the working of Satan: he is raised up, influenced, and supported by him; he is a creature of his, and has his power, seat, and authority from him, the great dragon, the old serpent, called the devil and Satan; his original and rise are the same with those of his doctrine and worship, the smoke of the bottomless pit; they all come out of it, and they will return thither again. The Alexandrian copy, and some others, read, "the fourth beast that ascendeth" as if it was the same with Daniel's fourth beast, ( Daniel 7:7 Daniel 7:19 ) , as it doubtless is. Now this filthy and savage beast
shall make war against them;
the witnesses; a war he has been making against the saints ever since he was in power, by his decrees, his counsels, his anathemas, and by sword, fire, and faggot, ( Revelation 13:7 ) ; but this will be his last war, and it will be a dreadful one; it will be the last struggle of the beast; and though it will be attended with the conquest and slaughter of the witnesses, yet it will lead on to, and issue in his own ruin; this is "the hour of temptation", in ( Revelation 3:10 ) ;
and shall overcome them;
not by arguments taken out of the word of God, by which their mouths will be stopped, so as to be confounded, and have nothing to say, or so as to yield to him, and give up the truths and ordinances of the Gospel; but by outward force and tyranny, so as that they shall be obliged to give way, and he will take possession of the kingdoms and nations in which they have prophesied: he will first attack the outward court, the bulk of formal professors, and will prevail over them; and then, the outworks being taken, he will more easily come at the inner court worshippers within the temple.
And kill them;
not corporeally, but civilly; for as their dead bodies lying three days and a half, that is, three years and a half, unburied, and their resurrection from the dead, and ascension to heaven, cannot be understood literally, so neither the killing of them; not but that in this war there may be a great slaughter, and much blood shed, in a literal sense: but the killing spoken of seems to regard them, not as men, but as witnesses; they will not be suffered to bear an open testimony any longer; they will be silenced; they will be banished, or removed into corners; and they will not only be under the censures, excommunications, and anathemas of the Romish antichrist, but they will lose all credit and esteem among those, who once pretended to be their friends; who will be ashamed of them, and will join in reproaching and rejecting them; so that their ministrations will be quite shut up, and at an end.