Revelation 11:13

a great earthquake
There are numerous earthquakes during the Tribulation. A previous great earthquake attended the opening of the sixth seal (Rev. Rev. 6:12+). As great as this earthquake is, a still greater earthquake—the greatest of all recorded history—is yet to follow at the pouring forth of the seventh bowl judgment (Rev. Rev. 16:17+).

a tenth of the city fell
In the subsequent earthquake associated with the seventh bowl, Jerusalem is said to be “divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell” (Rev. Rev. 16:19+). In this lesser precursor to the final great earthquake, only one tenth of the city falls. Only a portion falls resulting in a relatively lesser death toll in order to provide opportunity for those remaining to respond in repentance and turn to God.

people
ὀνόματα ἀνθρώπων [onomata anthrōpōn] , names of men, as in the number of individuals. Some understand this as an allusion to the removal of their names from the Book of Life.1

the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven
Since the ministry of the two witnesses occurs during the first half of the final week of Daniel, they are overcome by the beast near the midpoint of the Tribulation (see The 70th Week in Relation to the Book of Revelation ). During this period, it appears that the covenant of the Antichrist is in effect (Dan. Dan. 9:27) and the Jews have control of the Temple, except for the outer court, and are able to worship and offer sacrifices there (Rev. Rev. 11:1-2+). Thus, the covenant has not yet been broken, the Abomination of Desolation has not yet transpired, and the most intense Jewish persecution has not yet occurred (Mtt. Mat. 24:15-21; Rev. Rev. 12:6+, Rev. 12:14+, Rev. 12:17+). Thus, it is likely that the majority of the population of Jerusalem is still Jewish up to the point that the two witnesses are killed and resurrected. This would make sense since, as we have noted, the ministry of the two witnesses is very similar to Jewish prophets of old, both in their God-given powers and their wearing of sackcloth. Although the ministry of the two witnesses obviously affects the entire world, it is uniquely Jewish and seemingly designed to have the greatest impact upon those who are Jews and who have not yet accepted Jesus as Messiah. When a tenth of the city falls, the remaining population is said to give glory to the God of heaven. Their response to the final ministry of the two witnesses—their resurrection—and the subsequent earthquake is markedly different than that of the earth dwellers in general as recorded elsewhere in the book of Revelation for these apparently repent. The text says they fear and give glory to God! In concert with the 144,000 sealed of Israel (Rev. Rev. 7:4-8+), this would appear to be further evidence of the ongoing spiritual regeneration of the Jews which Paul so plainly predicted:

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” (Rom. Rom. 11:25-27)

The two witnesses are special servants of the Deliverer and through their ministry ungodliness was turned away from a portion of Jacob. In the midst of the time of Jacob’s trouble, remaining aspects of the New Covenant as it relates to the Jewish nation (Jer. Jer. 31:33-34) are being fulfilled in preparation for the Millennial Kingdom to follow. Although some commentators connect the resurrection of the two witnesses with Ezekiel’s promise of the spiritual regeneration of Israel (Eze. Eze. 37:1), it is more correct to connect the repentance of this Jewish remnant in Jerusalem with Ezekiel’s passage, although complete fulfillment will not be realized until the Second Coming of Christ.

Notes

1 “In the letter to the church in Sardis, the Lord stated that He would not blot out of the scroll of life the names of the overcomers (Rev. Rev. 3:5+). Is this not further proof that there is a book containing the record of every individual who is ever born into this lost world?”—Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), Rev. 11:13.

Read Revelation 11