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What does it mean to hold to the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 12:17)?

hold to the testimony of Jesus

Revelation 12:17 states, “Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea” (ESV). Much can be said about this verse and the surrounding text, but our focus is on the question What does it mean to hold to the testimony of Jesus?

The testimony of Jesus refers to the gospel, the good news that encompasses the person and work of Christ. It is the central message of Christianity, without which we wouldn’t have the Christian faith and no one would be saved. The gospel declares that God took on human flesh in the person of Jesus to usher in His kingdom and redeem us from our sin. Humanity and the rest of creation is broken because of sin. Thus, we need redemption, brought by Jesus.

The gospel also declares Jesus to be the long-awaited Messiah who came to free His people from slavery to sin and darkness. In the gospel, we find hope for a renewed future. To hold on to the testimony of Jesus is to remain faithful to the gospel. It transcends mere intellectual assent, calling for total commitment.

In Revelation 12, those who hold to the testimony of Jesus are targeted by the dragon (Satan) during the future tribulation period. These believers will be faithful unto death as they reject the Antichrist, keep God’s commandments, and bear witness to the truth of the gospel. This time of persecution is also predicted in Daniel 7:25, as the “little horn” on the beast will “oppress the holy people of the Most High” (NLT; see also Daniel 7:21).

Today, we hold to the testimony of Jesus when we witness to others in words and deeds. This involves evangelism, discipleship, and proper Christian conduct that arises from God’s grace. We are called to build our lives on Jesus (Matthew 7:24–25; Colossians 2:6–7), seeking to become more like Him as the Spirit sanctifies us (Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 3:18). In Revelation 12:17, keeping the testimony of Jesus is linked to keeping God’s command, showing the relationship between both in a Christian’s life. The gospel motivates us to love God by keeping His commandments.

Holding to the testimony of Jesus also involves steadfastness in the face of trials. John wrote the book of Revelation to persecuted Christians, and his imagery reveals the devil as the source of this persecution. The renewed earth that God promises will be free from suffering, pain, and tears. However, in this present age we will face trials. We are called to persevere, depending on the Holy Spirit for steadiness through the storm.

Our holding to the testimony of Jesus is not in vain. Not only do we find peace in trials and joy beyond circumstance, but we also walk toward a utopia only God can give.

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What does it mean to hold to the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 12:17)?
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This page last updated: May 1, 2024