According to Revelation 12:10,11, a loud voice from heaven announces that the ‘accuser of our brothers’ has been ‘hurled down’, and that ‘they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.’
The idea of ‘testimony’ is often taken to mean ‘speaking about what God has done for me in my life.’ A quick Internet search will throw up web sites devoted to, for example, ‘publishing testimonies of persons who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, and who have experienced miracles in their lives.’ And doing so under the banner of Rev 12:11.
No doubt personal ‘testimonies’ of this kind can be helpful and appropriate things to do. But this is not what Revelation 12:11 means by ‘testimony’, nor what a lot of other passages in the New Testament mean by that term.
A glance at some of the parallel texts in Revelation should be sufficient to demonstrate this:-
- Revelation 1:2 …who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
- Revelation 1:9 I, John…was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
- Revelation 6:9 …those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.
- Revelation 12:17 …those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
- Revelation 17:6 …those who bore testimony to Jesus.
- Revelation 19:10 …your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
- Revelation 20:4 …those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God.
It seems clear that ‘testimony’, at least in the Revelation, is not primarily speaking about my subjective experience, but rather it is bearing witness to the objective message of Jesus and the salvation he has wrought (note especially the repeated reference to ‘the testimony of Jesus’).
George Eldon Ladd explains the relevant phrase in Rev 12:11 as follows:-
‘Essentially the testimony is that which Paul described as “the word of the cross” (1 Cor 1:18), and which becomes of power when received in faith (Rom 3:25; 10:17). Confessors of Christ participate in the conquest of the Lamb over the Devil, sin, and death, as the own him as Redeemer and confess him as Lord.’
It is striking that, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter said virtually nothing about the experience that he and his fellow-disciples had just had. Rather, he points immediately from this to Scripture, and to the Jesus (Acts 2:14-36).