The Preterist view: They see this passage as the introduction of the beast, the enemy of God and man, and how he ascends (Psalm 87:4; 89:10; Is. 51:9; Dan. 7:3-8, 16-25). They place the emphasis on the testimony of the two witnesses (who represent the Old Testament Prophets), which was finished before they were martyred. Their opposition was from the discords of the Roman war against Jerusalem, and the eventual downfall of Jerusalem from God because of civil and religious rebellion that the two witnesses spoke against. The rejoicing of the pagans is reminiscent of how they treated Christ; now, it is the anarchist’s celebration for civil dissension (Matt. 27:27-31, 39-44; Luke 22:63-65; 23:8-12, 35-39). Some in this camp see the two witnesses’ resurrection as a look back to Christ and His resurrection; others see it as an event that already took place and is lost to history or an allegory of the battle of good versus evil. The earthquake is seen as the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
The Futurist view: There are varying views in this camp as to whether the beast in this passage is the same as in chapters 13 and 17. But, it is agreed that the beast is the enemy of the Church and/or false teachers and leaders of the Church. The point is that the beast is powerless to withstand Christ and His people. The wicked people seem to capitalize on their fiendish victory over the two witnesses, but are quickly turned to shame. The resurrection of the two witnesses is about the awe and horror seen by its viewers on T.V. Then, God causes a great earthquake that destroys Jerusalem. The glory of the Lord is seen as fear—not authentic repentance—but it may bring about real converts.
The Idealist view: They see the beast as representative of antichristian endeavors throughout the world and time, who seek to silence the godly. The completion of the testimony means God allows suffering but also sustains us through it (Matt. 16:18). The great city is representative of rebellion against God and that the triumph of the wicked will be brief. The resurrection of the two witnesses is seen as the honor they are given in heaven and the consternation of the evil people who did evil to them. Resurrection is also seen as the triumphant church as they see in 1 Thess. 4:16-18.
The Historicist view: They see the completion of the testimony not applicable to a specific age, but about the truth of the Gospel that prevails. The denial of burial is seen as papal decrees and the Lateran Councils (1179-1215) that would not let faithful people who opposed the mismanagement of the Church to be buried. This is how Wycliffe’s and Huss ‘bodies were desecrated. The beast and the great city are seen as Rome and its evil rule. Stood on their feet refers to the Reformation. The resurrection is seen as the triumph of the Reformation. The earthquake is seen as the political upheavals that happened after the Reformation.