What is the Testimony of Jesus?

Are Mrs. White's Writings the Spirit of Prophecy?

By D. Anderson

Rev. 12:17: "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." This prophecy points out clearly that the remnant church will acknowledge God in His law and will have the prophetic gift. Obedience to the law of God, and the spirit of prophecy has always distinguished the true people of God, and the test is usually given on present manifestations. --Ellen White, Loma Linda Messages, p. 33

Adventist definition of the "Testimony of Jesus"

Testimony of Jesus >>> Spirit of Prophecy >>> Ellen White

According to Adventist teaching, the true remnant church will have a prophet. This argument was introduced as early as 1855, and for many years the SDA church boasted that the prophetic gift must be active in the church--in other words, there must be a living prophet in the remnant church. Note carefully from the quote above that Ellen White said, "the test is usually given on present manifestations." After Mrs. White's death in 1915, the Adventist church was in a dilemma because they no longer had a living prophet. So, they redefined their previous teachings, and said that Ellen White "lives on" through the writings of her books.

Who is the Spirit of Prophecy?

In 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 the Bible says the Holy Spirit is the source of spiritual gifts. One of those gifts is the gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 12:10). Therefore, the phrase "Spirit of Prophecy" would seem to apply to the One who gives the gifts--the Holy Spirit--and not to the human recipient of the gift. The Spirit of God is called by many names in the Bible. In all cases it would be blasphemy to ascribe these names to any human:

A pattern can be seen here. The Bible uses "Spirit of ..." to describe the attributes of God and His Spirit. Thus, the "Spirit of Prophecy" refers to the Spirit of God, not to any human or any human's writings.

Biblical definition of the "Testimony of Jesus"

The word, "Testimony" (Greek marturia) comes from a root word which in its various forms in Greek means "testifying," "testimony," "witness," and "martyr."

"Of Jesus" could be understood in two ways:

Notice how the apostle John understood the meaning of the word "testimony" (marturia):
This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony [marturia] is true. John 21:24
What John is telling us in this verse is that his gospel is a testimony about Jesus. Therefore, John's gospel is the "testimony of Jesus."

Now, notice how John uses marturia to describe the testimony of the believer concerning Jesus:

...for this is the witness [marturia] of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness [marturia] in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record [marturia] that God gave of his Son. And this is the record [marturia], that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 1 John 5:9-11

In these important verses we find that those who believe on Jesus have the marturia, the witness or testimony of Jesus, in them!

How is the "testimony of Jesus" used in Revelation?

[John] Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony [marturia] of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Rev. 1:2
In this verse John says he bore witness of three things:
  1. The Word of God
  2. The Testimony of Jesus Christ
  3. The things that he saw (in vision)
John goes on to say in verse 9:
I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony [marturia] of Jesus Christ.
Notice the two reasons that John gives for being imprisoned on the isle of Patmos:
  1. The Word of God
  2. The Testimony of Jesus
Clearly it was John's testimony about Jesus that resulted in his being imprisoned.

Look at Revelation 6:9:

And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony [marturia] which they held.
Notice the martyrs were slain for two reasons:
  1. The Word of God
  2. Their testimony [marturia], presumably about Jesus.

From the context of chapter 12, the testimony of Jesus clearly refers to the word of testimony of those who "loved not their lives unto the death":

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony [marturia]; and they loved not their lives unto the death. ... And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony [marturia] of Jesus Christ. Revelation 12:11, 17

Revelation 19:10:

...I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony [marturia] of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony [marturia] of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Here we find that John's "brethren" also had the marturia, or testimony of Jesus. The marturia is here described as the gift of prophecy, which is given to testify about Jesus Christ. Here are some alternate readings of the last part of Revelation 19:10
The prophetic spirit proves itself by witnessing to Jesus. (New American Bible)

Testimony to Jesus is the spirit which underlies Prophecy. (Weymouth New Testament)

Those who bear testimony to Jesus are inspired like all the prophets. (New English Bible)

The purpose of all prophecy and of all I have shown you is to tell about Jesus. (Living Bible)

The last reference to marturia is found in Revelation 20:4:

...I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness [marturia] of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
This verse parallels Rev. 6:9. Again, the two reasons for martyrdom are given:
  1. The Word of God
  2. The witness [marturia] of Jesus.

Conclusion

Throughout the New Testament we find a pattern of the "testimony of Jesus" referring to the believer's personal witness about Jesus Christ. Rather than being the prophetic utterances received from Jesus, the testimony of Jesus is the believer's personal testimony about Jesus. The "testimony of Jesus" is found in the writings of the New Testament, whose writers personally knew Christ and bore witness to Him. Furthermore, John tells us that the testimony of Jesus is found in the heart of all those who accept and believe in Jesus as the Son of God:
He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness [marturia] in himself
1 John 5:10