When interpreting scripture there is a good rule to follow: Take scripture at face value (literally) unless the context forces you to take it symbolically. I believe the following in this chapter are to be taken LITERALLY:

1) There are TWO WITNESSES: “I will give power to my two witnesses” (verse 3)

2) They witness for THREE AND A HALF YEARS: “They will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty day” (verse 3)

3) They will DESTROY THEIR ENEMIES WITH FIRE: “And if anyone wants to harm the, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies” (verse 5)

4) They will have power to PREVENT RAIN, TURN WATERS TO BLOOD and BRING PLAGUES: “These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the day of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire” (verse 6)

5) They will be KILLED and their DEAD BODIES WILL LIE IN THE STREETS THREE AND A HALF DAYS: “When they finished their testimony, the beast…will make war with them…and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three and a half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves.” (verses 7-9)

6) The world will REJOICE in their death: “And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth” (verse 10).

7) They will RISE FROM THE DEAD and ASCEND TO HEAVEN: “Now after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here.’ And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them” (verses 11-12).

8) A GREAT EARTHQUAKE will follow, KILLING 7,000 PEOPLE: “In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed” (verse 13)

There are commentators who choose to take some of these events SYMBOLICALLY, but to those who do I would ask, “Why would you not choose to accept these PLAIN WORDS LITERALLY, the way God intends us to take them?” I firmly believe God will raise up TWO MEN (perhaps they will be MOSES and ELIJAH, for their actions surely remind us of them…Exodus 7:14-20; 8:1-12:29; 1st Kings 17:1; 18:41-45; 2nd Kings 1:9-12) to prophesy against this ungodly world for 3 ½ years (more than likely the LAST 3 ½ YEARS of the coming SEVEN YEAR Tribulation Period, though some commentators believe it will be the FIRST 3 ½ YEARS). It will take place in the city of Jerusalem (see verses 1-2 along with verse 8). They will remain immortal until their work on earth is finished and then God will allow the beast (the ungodly ruler of the Revived Roman Empire who will be worshipped by all unbelievers…Revelation 13:1-8) to kill them and their bodies will be seen in the streets of Jerusalem for 3 ½ days. The whole world will see this (no doubt via television, computers, smartphones, etc.) and will celebrate, thinking the prophets who tormented them have been defeated. But their joy will be short-lived, for they will rise from the dead and ascend to heaven. This too will be witnessed by all of their enemies and great fear will fall upon all. God will also vindicate His holy prophets by judging the city of Jerusalem with a great earthquake, killing 7,000 residents.

In closing, I do believe that verse 4 is to be taken SYMBOLICALLY, for it reads, “These (the ‘two witnesses’) are the TWO OLIVE TREES and the TWO LAMPSTANDS standing before the God of the earth.” I had stated at the beginning that we should take scripture literally UNLESS the context forces us to take it symbolically and here is a case in point. These two men will NOT be literal “olive trees” and “lampstands.” So, what do these things speak of metaphorically? Olive trees provided oil for lamps to give light.  They speak symbolically of the two witnesses being “empowered by the Holy Spirit” so they could “bring the light of the truth as a testimony to this dark world” (see Zechariah 4; Acts 1:8; 1st John 2:20; John 15:26-27).  (431.1)  (DO)