The Spirit of Prophecy


“Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

When John falls at the feet of the angel, he rebukes John, telling him to worship God alone.  God has spoken through the angel, but God also speaks through John and other Christians.  The angel is merely a “fellow servant” with John and his fellow Christians who hold to the testimony of Jesus.  This is “the spirit of prophecy”.  That is, John and all Christians who bear testimony to Jesus are also proclaiming the word of God, just like the angel.  Testimony to Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Often we think of prophecy as some sort of futuristic prediction.  We can be quite self-centred, thinking that prophecy is a proclamation of what God has in store for me and my life specifically in the future.  Of course God could tell us such things.  However prophecy in the Bible very rarely works like that.

Prophecy in the Old Testament is rarely about predicting the future (although that does happen).  Usually prophets speak to the people of their own time and call them back to the covenant God made with them at Sinai.  However they also look forward.  All the Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in Jesus (; ; ; ).  The Old Testaments prophets look forward to the ultimate fulfilment of their words in Jesus.  Thus the spirit of prophecy is testimony to Jesus.  The prophets spoke about Jesus and their words point forward to him and are fulfilled in him.

In the New Testament it is the same, but we point back to Jesus.  The gospel declares the person, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Thus the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.  Prophecy points to Jesus, whether it points forward or backwards.

Prophecy then is not so much about us, it is more about Jesus.  It is declaring the gospel: bearing testimony to Jesus.

There are what seem to be exceptions to this:  often Agabus is mentioned
(; ).  However most prophecy in the Bible is not so specific and predictive; Agabus is an exception to the general rule.  And furthermore Agabus isn’t just making some prediction about any old individual.  These are major movements in the early church regarding the apostle to the Gentiles and the survival of the Jewish church from famine.

I’m not saying that what I have written here exhausts the subject of prophecy.  However prophecy is primarily about Jesus.  The spirit of prophecy is the testimony to Jesus.  Do you want to prophesy?  Then tell people about Jesus!


10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,

39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,

19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). 29 So the disciples determined, everyone according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. 30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

10 While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’”