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In the opening of Revelation we read (NIV emphasis mine):

The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

On the surface this would seem to refer to the book of Revelation itself because the text continues: "Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near."

The aorist tense of the verb translated "testifies" is perhaps a little strange, but what really throws me is that later in verse nine he describes his predicament saying:

I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

And much later in Revelation 20:4 he records, "And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God."

It seems rather certain that in 20:4 the phrase there does not refer to Revelation. And it seems likely in 1:9 that it is also not the case (it is possible to read it as he was on Patmos "because of" in the sense of "in order to receive", but this seems unlikely). What does it refer to in 1:2?

  • I would like to point out that the translation is "Biblish" not English in that it renders LOGOS as "word" which obfuscates rather than communicates what is intended. For example would we speak of the "word of the Governor"? What does that mean? It isn't English. – Ruminator Apr 12 '18 at 11:41
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You say "It seems rather certain that in 20:4 the phrase there does not refer to Revelation..." however the book of Revelation is a prophecy for a later time at which, presumably, the believers would also have heard of or would have access to the book of Revelation. So it seems certain to me that later believers would have been warned of this prophecy - especially if they sought to guard the testimony about Jesus, who is quoted in much of the book.

I believe that the " the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ" would include Revelation for later believers, but even without Revelation, many believers had already been martyred for " the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ" as chronicled in the book of Acts. Revelation adds significantly to the recorded words of Jesus, but enough of God's Word already existed prior to Revelation for souls to be beheaded (Rev 20:4), as John the Baptist illustrates.

  • +1. I find your insight interesting that the "word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ" is not limited to merely writings alone (for the martyrs in Acts died before any of the NT books were written) – Pascal's Wager Apr 12 '18 at 4:51
  • Would it be fair to summarize your answer as saying "the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ" refers to the broader early Christian kerygma including but not limited to the book of Revelation? – Soldarnal Apr 16 '18 at 14:52
  • soldarnal, I am not familiar with the kerygma except that this seems to mean the oral rather than written gospel. If that is what you mean, then yes, this would be included in my understanding of the "Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ" – Daniel Bjorndahl Apr 19 '18 at 19:15
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What does “the word of God and testimony of Jesus Christ” refer to in Revelation 1:2?

I would say that “the word of God and testimony of Jesus Christ” refer's to prophecy.

Revelation 1:9-10 New International Version (NIV), helps the reader to understand my reasoning.

I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet.

The above text informs the reader that John was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus and also refer's to John being "in the Spirit on the Lord's Day".After this he heard behind him a large voice like a trumpet,he was told by the angel, Rev 1:11

11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.

John does what he is told to do by the angel and begins to compile the book of Revelation- a prophetic book.Furter on in the book John has a conversation with the angel which is recorded in Rev 19:9-10,

Revelation 19:9-10 New International Version (NIV)

9 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

10 At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.”

I think it is clear to see from the above text that John was "in the Spirit" in the same way as recorded in Rev 1:10 when he was "in the Spirit on the Lord's Day", and at both times,being in the Spirit enables John to see, hear and write future events.In short, he writes a prophetic book namely Revelation.John has become a prophet.His prophetic gift is further established in another conversation with the same angel in Rev 22:7-9 where it is written,

Revelation 22:7-9 New International Version (NIV)

7 “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”

8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. 9 But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!”

In the above text (bold) it is clearly seen that John is referred to as a prophet.

In your question you ask,

It seems rather certain that in 20:4 the phrase there does not refer to Revelation. And it seems likely in 1:9 that it is also not the case (it is possible to read it as he was on Patmos "because of" in the sense of "in order to receive", but this seems unlikely). What does it refer to in 1:2?

I would say that your observation is correct and that John was on Patmos in the sense of "in order to receive".

We know that John held to the "Testimony of Jesus", and we also know that the Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy and John did receive prophetic information whilst he was in the spirit on Patmos, because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

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