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Revelation 1:2

bore witness
An epistolary aorist, referring to the perspective of the readers of this book once it had been completed.1

who bore witness to the word of God
The phrase word of God is a signature of the Apostle John and occurs in John John 1:1; 1Jn. 1Jn. 1:1; 1Jn. 2:14; 1Jn. 5:7 TR; Rev. Rev. 1:2+; Rev. 19:13+. This is strong evidence that John the Apostle is indeed the author of this work, as tradition holds. There are many parallels between Jesus and God’s revealed word:

Among the parallels between Jesus and Scripture are 1) their eternality; 2) their production by the Holy Spirit; 3) a divine message embodied in earthly form; 4) the accommodation of man’s limited intellect; 5) perfect—without sin; 6) having unique divine authority; 7) rejected by man; 8) victorious over foes; 9) revealed by faith; 10) bearing witness one to another; 11) the sole means of revelation of the Father; 12) called the Word of God.2

In the same way that Jesus was fully human and yet without error (divine), the written word of God was given through human vessels who were superintended by the Holy Spirit so that the result is inerrant.

testimony of Jesus Christ
There are two ways which the testimony of Jesus Christ may be understood:
  • Jesus is the Subject - The testimony was provided by Jesus. He is its source (subjective genitive). Both here and in Rev. Rev. 19:10+, the grammatical evidence points toward taking this as the subjective genitive (the testimony born by Jesus Christ—which God gave Him).3
  • Jesus is the Object - The testimony is about Jesus (objective genitive). He is the One revealed by the testimony. John was banished to Patmos “for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. Rev. 1:9+). This almost certainly refers to persecution resulting from his testimony about Jesus. When the fifth seal is opened, John sees martyrs “who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held” (Rev. Rev. 6:9+). When the two witnesses finish their testimony, the beast ascends from the bottomless pit and overcomes them (Rev. Rev. 11:7+). The saints who overcome Satan do so by the (spoken) word of their testimony (Rev. Rev. 12:11+). The enraged dragon goes forth to make war against those who “have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. Rev. 12:17+). At the start of the Millennial Kingdom, John sees “the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus (μαρτυρίαν Ἰησοῦ [martyrian Iēsou] , testimony of Jesus)” (Rev. Rev. 20:4+). In these situations, Scripture records persecution as the result of holding the testimony. This cannot refer to merely receiving a testimony from Jesus. It must refer to giving that testimony forth in the face of opposition. This objective sense would also be in accord with what John records concerning the role of John the Baptist (John John 1:7). Many other passages indicate that Jesus is the primary object of prophetic revelation: the “volume of the book” is written of Him (Ps. Ps. 40:7; Luke Luke 18:31; Luke 24:27, Luke 24:44; John John 5:39, John 5:46; Acts Acts 8:35; Acts 10:43; Heb. Heb. 10:7).
A survey of various passages concerning the testimony of Jesus Christ indicates that Jesus is both the subject and the object of testimony. Prophetic motivation is from Jesus: “the Spirit of Christ . . . testified” (1Pe. 1Pe. 1:11). It is also about Jesus: “indicating . . . beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow” (1Pe. 1Pe. 1:11). The relationship of the saints to the testimony of Jesus concerns both aspects: (1) we receive the testimony provided by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ; (2) we are charged with delivering the testimony concerning Jesus to others. The ministry of the saints can be found entirely within the phrase: Knowing Him to make Him known. If either part of this “ministry equation” is neglected, our testimony suffers.4

Notes

1 A. T. Robertson, Robertson’s Word Pictures in Six Volumes (Escondido, CA: Ephesians Four Group, 2003).

2 Rene Pache, The Inspiration & Authority of Scripture (Salem, WI: Sheffield Publishing Company, 1969), 35-40.

3 [Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1992), 58-59], [Robertson, Robertson’s Word Pictures in Six Volumes].

4 Most often, we are too eager to make Him known without truly knowing Him (Luke Luke 10:38-42). When we do this, we misrepresent our Lord and present a caricature of God to a skeptical world.

Read Revelation 1:2