Friday, 14 August 2020
…who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Revelation 1:2
The words, “who bore witness,” refer to John from the previous verse. The word translated as “bore witness” is martureó. It signifies giving evidence, making a testimony, and so on. Here, it is in the aorist tense – he “bore witness.” He is stating that he saw and he has testified to what he had seen. And, as he says, he “bore witness to the word of God.”
It is generally agreed that this is not speaking of the personal “Word of God,” meaning Jesus Christ. Rather, it refers to either the doctrine which explains who God is, or that which God speaks out – the recorded word of God. Assuming the latter view, meaning John is stating that he has been a faithful witness to what God had revealed as His word, it can then be debated whether this is speaking of the Gospel of John or the words which are now being presented as the revelation, or unveiling, of Jesus Christ.
John could even be referring to his oral defense of the gospel of Jesus Christ, meaning everything he had presented throughout his life. He was a faithful witness of the deposit entrusted to him over the years.
The aorist tense of the verb may be a marker to signify that it is an all-encompassing thought concerning John. He “bore witness” throughout his life – in his gospel proclamations, and in his writings (inclusive of the gospel, epistles, and now Revelation) – and in any other way that was needed when the time arose (meaning in deed and action in order to bring others to a proper understanding of who Jesus Christ is).
This seems quite likely because he next says, “and to the testimony of Jesus Christ.” John will later give examples of both a general testimony, which resulted in his exile to Patmos, and of the specific testimony of recording the events of the book of Revelation –
“I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 1:9
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” Revelation 22:16
Therefore, John’s having borne witness, referred to now, appears to his having lived an all-encompassing life of faithful service to that to which he had been called – he “bore witness … to all things that he saw.”
Here, there is a difference in source texts. Some include the word “and.” Thus it would say, “and as many things as he saw.” Thus, it would signify an additional category to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Without the article, or even with the article, but using it in apposition with “the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ” – meaning – “even as many things as he saw” – it would then define the first two categories as one thought. This is the most likely idea here. It is not a separate category, but an explanation of his having seen and witnessed to the first two.
No matter what, the main focus here is on the faithful testimony of John. We can be sure that what he has seen, said, done, and recorded is from a person who was willing to devote his life to the service of God and to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The idea here is complementary to that of John 21:24 –
“This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.”
Life application: Jesus’ beloved disciple, John, is the one who bears witness “to the word of God.” This would then be a definitive claim by John that what is recorded here is Scripture. For this reason, liberal scholars will attempt to deny this was actually received and then penned by John.
If, in fact, he received it, then they would have to admit it is inspired of God. If it is inspired by God, then it is God’s word. If it is God’s word, then it is authoritative in all it contains and proclaims. However, much of Revelation concerns judgment and woe. If one wants to live out a “social gospel” or a “prosperity gospel,” then Revelation becomes an immense problem because both of these approaches to the gospel are proven false. Therefore, for them, it is easier to dismiss Revelation than to heed its warnings.
The book itself is centered on Jesus Christ. If this is so, then it is authoritative for the Christian on all matters it proclaims. Jesus Christ is the Word of God and the second member of the eternal Godhead. One cannot disassociate Revelation and all that it proclaims without diminishing the very structure and authority of the Bible.
Taking all this into consideration, it is at one’s own peril that he dismisses the authority of the book of Revelation. Further, it is at one’s own loss to not read it, study it, and heed it just like the rest of Scripture. It is for these reasons that John, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, penned the words in this verse.
God is competent, God is in control of His word, and God has provided us with this book for our warning and for our blessing. Let us look with anticipation at the marvels ahead of us in this wonderful study!
Heavenly Father, we thank You for the beautiful lessons that have been recorded in Your word. Yes, there are parts that are difficult for us to read, and many of them are considered unpalatable in our modern society, but they are Your words. Please help us to understand them and to take them in the context which You intended. May we be faithful stewards of Your word at all times. Thank You for Your precious word, O God! Amen.