The angel uses an interesting combination of words, to describe the gospel. The gospel is prophetic. He calls the testimony of Jesus, which is the gospel of the Kingdom of God, the spirit of prophecy.
"Spirit" is used in the sense of character, the nature of a thing. The testimony of Jesus is the nature of prophecy. Another English word is better: essence. Perfume is sometimes called an essence, an invisible, but substantive and beautiful fragrance that is its nature.
Essence means "the nature of," like the word character. It also means "the main part, the heart and core of, the real and ultimate nature of a thing." The testimony of Jesus is the real or ultimate nature of prophecy, meaning that all prophecy points toward the conclusion of the gospel. Everything in God's purpose points in that direction.
When prophecies are given, they speak of things that are yet future and unfulfilled. The testimony of Jesus is the very essence, the heart and core, the nature, of these future events. The gospel, whatever its message, is focused on the future. We then cannot relegate the future aspects of the gospel into a low place of importance without destroying the heart and core of the message that Jesus Christ brought.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Guard the Truth!
"Spirit" indicates the vital principle of, the essential nature of, the heart and core of prophecy. In other words, the testimony of Jesus is the heart and core of prophecy. We should not define prophecy too narrowly, because prophecy means either "inspired speaking" (forth-telling) or "foretelling" (predicting). The testimony of Jesus Christ is the heart and core of inspired speaking and writing, as well as predictive speaking or writing.
Jesus' testimony consisted of two things: first, the example that He set in the way that He lived His life and what He did, as well as, second, the words that He spoke, His message. His message is the gospel - the good news of the Kingdom of God, of God's purpose, of why we were born, of Christ dying for our sins, of God reproducing Himself, of His creating us in His image and how He is doing it - and that news is spirit. It is life.
"The testimony of Jesus is the spirit. . . ." The gospel is the spirit, the heart and core, the essence, of the mind of God as it pertains to man. It contains many facets, but what He said is central to everything else in the Bible. Added to it is God's active participation in the actual creation of each potential God-being, watching over His family, molding and shaping His children into what He wants them to become.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part Five)
Prophecy plays a large part in our lives, so a Christian should understand more than just the bare basics. Verse 10 lets us know that Jesus' message—the gospel—is not only prophetic, but it is the essence of all biblical prophecy.
Testimony means "a statement given by a witness to an event." It is frequently associated with evidence presented during a court trial, but it is not limited to that. Newspapers, for instance, give accounts of what people say of some event that occurred of interest to others.
Jesus' statement—the gospel—is the message He preached during His lifetime. It is that message around which all biblical prophecy revolves; it is prophecy's heart and core. Spirit in this context means the "essence" of prophecy. Therefore, anybody looking forward to Christ's return—Christians, the church—should have more than a casual interest in prophecy.
Most of us pay more attention to the prophecy than to the prophet. This is as it should be, but on the other hand, Ephesians 2:19-20 says:
Now, therefore, you [the brethren] are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.
The church is built upon the apostles and the prophets and the words they wrote. They not only prophesied (that is, foretold events), but they also gave the most accurate accounts of ancient history. In addition, they gave us a great deal of the doctrine, the teachings, we believe and after which we pattern our lives.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophets and Prophecy (Part 1)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Revelation 19:10:
1 John :