“And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:17).
As we have previously discussed, the very essence of the prophetic word revolves around the Testimony of Jesus. The grand finale of Scripture records a great battle between the Overcomers and the Spirit of Antichrist concerning the Testimony of Jesus.
What is the Testimony of Jesus? Why does the prophetic word revolve around this Testimony? Why does this Testimony attract so much rage, spiritual conflict and opposition? And what does it mean to have or to bear this Testimony?
John gives us a precise definition, but it requires the use of a concordance to unlock the meaning. If you simply look up the word “testimony” you only find a few relevant verses. For some inexplicable reason, the translators who gave us the King James Version decided on several occasions to translate a single Greek word into multiple English words. This means we have to take an extra step in our study, but it is not too difficult.
If we look up the word testimony we find it is a translation of the Greek word martyria. This is where we get our English word “martyr” from. If we trace all New Testament occurrences of the Greek word martyria we see that it appears 38 times and is translated four different ways in the King James Version: witness (15 times); testimony (14 times); record (7 times); and report (2 times).
So with this bit of detective work out of the way, we can now correctly determine exactly what John meant by the Testimony of Jesus. He explains it in his first letter:
“This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness (martyria), because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record (martyria) in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness (martyria) in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness (martyria) of men, the witness (martyria) of God is greater: for this is the witness (martyria) of God which he hath testified (martyreō) of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness (martyria) in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record (martyria) that God gave (martyreō, testified) of his Son. And this is the record (martyria), that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 Jn. 5:6-12).
In this case we see the translators decided to use three different English words (witness, record, and testify) for the exact same Greek word (martyria), all in a single passage. Do you see how this makes it difficult to interpret?
How should it be translated? We can start by assigning the same English word (testimony) wherever the one Greek word (martyria) appears. If martyria is in the verb form (martyreō) then we will assign it a single English verb form (testify). That way we can compare apples to apples, oranges to oranges, and make the necessary connections. Here is what we have now:
“It is the Spirit that testifies, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that testify in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that testify in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”
Isn’t this easier to understand? Let us keep reading:
“If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater: for this is the testimony of God which He hath testified of His Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the testimony in himself: he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the testimony that God testified of His Son.”
And now comes the answer to the big question: what is the testimony of Jesus?
“And this is the testimony, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
“This is the testimony.” So, later when John writes that “the testimony (martyria) of Jesus is the essence of prophecy,” we know what the Testimony is: the Life is in the Son. If you have the Son, you have the Life; if you don’t have the Son, you don’t have the Life.
What does that mean? It means that all are saved in Jesus and none are saved outside of Him. It perfectly supports the very words of Jesus, also recorded by John: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no one comes to the Father except by Me” (Jn. 14:6). This statement points to the revelation of the Eternal Purpose of God: that in all things Christ must have the preeminence. God has set the Son in the ultimate place of authority, establishing that all are saved in Him and none are saved without Him.