In the opening of Revelation we read (NIV)

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.

In Revelation 22:8 we read,

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 opening of Revelation, John is saying that he testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, and in Rev 22:8 he is saying,

8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things.

John heard and saw things in the book of Revelation an example being Rev 20:11,

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them

And then again we read in Rev 19:1,

After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,

The words heard and saw are in frequent use in the above scriptures, as well as in other parts of the book of Revelation.

My question is, In the opening of Revelation we read that John testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Why does John not say that he testifies to everything he Heard—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

My question is motivated by this question

  • 3
    Can't see any reason for the down-vote so I up-voted to cancel it.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 13:25
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    +1 There's a very strange connection between what John hears and sees throughout the book. It's very interesting, and it cannot be accidental. At times when you think it should be "hear" what happens is he "sees", and vice versa. It cannot be accidental.
    – Rajesh
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 16:05
  • Is this not explained in the previous question you reference - what John saw is the testimony of Jesus - the visionary gift of prophecy.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 20:42
  • Read the question again and then ask your self this, "would you say to someone, that you saw the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ". or would you say " I heard the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ." "I myself would go for the i heard the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ". John words it in a way as to to get the reader thinking by saying "John testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ." Think about it, where does John SEE "the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ". He does'nt ,but he hears it.
    – Bagpipes
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 22:00
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    @ Dottard, Thanks for reply, i will direct you to this scripture. Luke 24:45 (NIV) Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
    – Bagpipes
    Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 8:31

4 Answers 4


Quite simply, because in order for what he heard to have any meaning for his readers, John had to describe the visual context wherein he heard those words. If he had only repeated the words he heard, they would have come over as confusing, or even meaningless. He needed to give an audio-visual presentation, without help of paint, cellulose, cartoons, or computer graphics. Because the Holy Spirit was inspiring his writing, he was able to succeed brilliantly, just using words.

I don't know if anybody has yet done this little exercise, but if only the words John heard were in that book, with none of the visions portrayed to his mind's eye depicted in words, that last book of the Bible would be a lot shorter. And it just would not make any sense. The visions are essential to give meaning to the words spoken to him by the angel and by Christ.

This is made clear at the start, when John says that this revelation of Jesus Christ was to show him future events (1:1). Once what he had been shown was written down, readers would then 'hear the words of this prophecy' and be blessed if they kept them (1:2). Then, consider from verse 10 to 19, more of this strange combination of being shown something visual, which is inextricably linked to the words he then heard.

John "was in the Spirit" when he heard behind him a great voice, as of a trumpet. That caused him to turn right round for he was facing the wrong way. To understand, he had to look behind him. He'd heard, "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. What thou seest, write in a book..." The voice behind him caught his attention so that he wanted to see from where that great voice emanated, and he also needed to see what he was to write about. Given that there was no photography, words were all John had to do as he was commanded - to write what he was going to see.

When John turned around, he saw seven golden candlesticks, and in the midst of those individual candlesticks, this glorious one, "like unto the Son of man", holding seven stars in his right hand, and with a sharp two-edged sword coming out of his mouth. The vision had started, to such staggering effect that John fell as though dead at the feet of this glorious one, who reassured him of being the resurrected Christ. Then he told John:

"Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter."

The visuals were then explained, showing how interwoven the visuals were to understanding the words that followed. So, John wrote what he saw, and as it was an audio-visual from heaven (supremely more awesome than anything film-makers have ever come up with) both had to be depicted and stated, purely in words.

Imagine seeing a film about creatures from heaven coming down to earth to cause mayhem before they are destroyed by God, but with no sound-track. How much of the visuals could you correctly understand? Or, suppose you only heard the sound-track without any visuals - ditto. John was enabled by the Holy Spirit to see, to hear, and to be given the right words to enable us to understand the message of revelation, of future events. That is why the book of the Revelation combines supernatural visions of unseen, heavenly realities, with words of explanation. Both have to be written about - the things seen, and the messages heard.


Why does John say "he saw", instead of "heard", regarding the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ?

He said "he saw", because he was under a direct command from the angel to write what he saw. The angel did not tell John to write what he saw and heard, but only what he saw.

Revelation 1:17:20 (Niv),

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. 20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Compare: Revelation 22:6-9, where John is not under a direct command from the angel, but speaks on his own, by way of his own testimony.

John and the Angel

6 The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.”

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!”


John is bearing witness to things he saw, because God is uncovering much before it happens.

One had to remember that the Jews would not believe unless they saw signs and wonders.

Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe.” John 4:48

There will be a lot of signs and wonders performed by false Christ's and false prophets. So I'm going to show you what the signs will look like. Be on guard. You will see these ahead of time.

For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Matthew. 24:24

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders,

They pay attention too signs and wonders. They love to hear about signs and wonders.

and the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. Acts 8:6

For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. Rev. 6:14

And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. Acts 2:19

And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. Rev. 19:20

Notice how quiet the assembly got when Paul started talking about signs and wonders.

And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. Acts 15:12

Israel always loved signs and wonders from the day they were brought forth. Perhaps that's why they went after a Gentile gods so often because of some of the signs and wonders that were performed by the false gods as well.

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” Mathew 12:38

An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”

His disciples believed in him because of the signs he did.

This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. John 12:11

The angel is showing John what to look out for when people see these signs, even from heaven.

13And the second beast performed great signs to cause even fire from heaven to come down to earth in the presence of the people. 14Because of the signs it was given to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived those who dwell on the earth, telling them to make an image to the beast that had been wounded by the sword and yet had lived. Revelation 13:13

Signs and wonders are things that can be seen and therefore deceive.

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. Deuteronomy 3:1

it performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, Rev. 13:13

There are so many more scriptures I could quote but enough said.

In answer to your question then, "why does he say what he saw" instead of what he heard regarding the word of God.

Perhaps it is because they believe signs and wonders above what they hear.

Therefore signs and wonders are given and shown what will happen before they do.

Hope is seen first and then a voice is heard.

the first heaven and earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. Rev. 21:3

It's easier to see things in one's mind, that give one hope.

Look at what is shown to inspire hope, to endure the sufferings many will go through.

Then the angel showed me a river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2down the middle of the main street of the city. On either side of the river stood a tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit and yielding a fresh crop for each month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be within the city, and His servants will worship Him. They will see His face,

Rev. 22:1-4


This is mostly confusing due to a quirk of translation into English. The original is:

Ἰωάννῃ, ὃς ἐμαρτύρησεν τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τὴν μαρτυρίαν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὅσα εἶδεν.

which might be woodenly translated, keeping the same word order, as:

John, who attested to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, as many things as he saw.

"the word of God" is a direct object of "ἐμαρτύρησεν" ("attested") not "εἶδεν" ("saw").

It might still be slightly confusing to follow that up with "ὅσα εἶδεν" ("as many things as he saw"), and the other answers give some guesses as to why that might be, but the apparent conflict in English isn't nearly as immediate in Greek. It might be better written in reverse from the NIV: "John, who testifies to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ--that is, everything he saw."

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