Revelation 12:17 "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."
At the end of the prophecy in Revelation 12, the end-time ruling power persecutes the remnant of the woman's seed. A woman represents a church in Bible prophecy (see Revelation 12). A remnant is the last part of something, the very end. The remnant is the last of her (the church's) offspring (churches) (see the 7 Churches). As a child ("seed") of the woman, the church will resemble its mother and continue to promote the beliefs of the apostolic church and the wilderness church (contrast this woman and her offspring with the harlot and her unfaithful daughters in Revelation 17). The remnant not only shares the characteristics of her mother, but also has several additional traits that are specifically highlighted. The following lists provide insight into the identity of the remnant.
Characteristics of the Remnant
|The Remnant's Traits|
|It is a church ("her seed").||A woman symbolizes a church. Just like the children of the impure mother (17:5) represent unfaithful churches, the last ("remnant") child ("seed") of the pure woman represents a faithful church. Many true believers are within unfaithful churches (Babylon - 18:4). There are also unfaithful individuals in the remnant church (Laodicea - 3:14-19), but the remnant is nevertheless entrusted to call God's people out of Babylon.|
|It appears after the 1260 years ("a time, and times, and half a time").||The 1260 year time period went from 538 AD to 1798 AD, so the remnant appears sometime after 1798.|
|It is the last church ("remnant").||Of God's church through 7 time periods (7 Churches), it is the 7th and remains until Jesus returns (see the 7 Churches).|
|It teaches righteousness by faith ("clothed with the sun").||Jesus' perfect life is their substitute and His power molds their character to be like His (see symbols of sun and clothing).|
|It stands firm on the Bible ("moon under her feet").||The unerring Word of God lights its path and future revelation must not contradict it (see symbol of moon).|
|It is organized for success ("crown of 12 stars").||It has messengers coordinated and empowered by God to spread the gospel to all the world (see symbol of crown of 12 stars).|
|It shares the 3 Angels' Messages.||It appears during the end-times and keeps God's commandments (12:17), just like those who labor to share the 3 Angels' Messages (14:12-13).|
|It experiences a great disappointment through misunderstanding.||The beginnings of the end-time church are revealed in the prophecy of the Little Book in Revelation 10.|
|It teaches obedience, through faith, to all 10 of God's commandments ("keep the commandments").||The end-time church will keep the commandments. God's law, written in stone and on the hearts of those who submit to His molding (Heb. 8:10, 10:16), includes the 4th commandment to keep the 7th day holy (Ex. 20:8-11, Heb. 4:4-11, Mk. 2:27-28, Acts 13:42-44, 18:4). Obedience is not to earn salvation, but because of love for Jesus and His law. "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15) (see also Ps. 40:8, 2 Pet. 1:3-11). Elsewhere in Revelation, those who keep the commandments also have the faith of Jesus. They can only keep the commandments because they also have faith in Jesus" power to enable them to do so. "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12).|
|It manifests the spiritual gift of prophecy ("testimony of Jesus").||The angel told John "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (19:10). He also said "I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus" (19:10), repeated later as "I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets" (22:9). This refers to actual prophets, not just people who share a prophet's words. Prophets were set apart in title, function and how they received communications (1:2). Because of this gift, the remnant can uplift Jesus, the Bible, His law and prophecy in a special way, and effectively carry the last warning message to the world. See Testing the Prophets.|
|It is persecuted ("dragon...makes war" - 12:17).||The remnant enjoys freedom initially (under the earth beast - Rev. 13), but is eventually persecuted (when the earth beast speaks like a dragon).|
|It is willing to give up its life ("loved not their lives unto the death" - Rev. 12:11)||Those who have a personal experience with Christ, do not compromise truth and are willing to die for Him (more about the accused brethren).|
The analogy of ancient Israel:Babylon took ancient Israel captive for many years, after which a remnant returned to Jerusalem (Ezra, Neh.), rebuilt the temple, repaired breaches in the wall and called others home out of Babylon (word origin is babel, meaning confusion). Likewise, spiritual Babylon took Christians "captive" for 1260 years (538-1798 AD), after which a remnant: (A) returns to a pure faith, (B) restores the truth of Jesus' ministry in the heavenly sanctuary, (C) repairs the breach in God's law ("the sabbath" - Is. 58:12-14) and (D) calls the rest of God's faithful people to leave the confusion of end-time fallen churches and join the remnant (18:4).
The difference between the remnant and God's people:The remnant is God's end-time church, an organized entity through which He spreads the gospel. God's people are individuals throughout all churches, who are faithful to Him and follow Him according to what He has revealed to them. Notice that many of God's people are in Babylon and called by the remnant to come out of it. "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Rev. 18:4).
God's faithful people (wheat) and those who are unfaithful (tares) are both in God's remnant (faithful church). Likewise, God's faithful people and unfaithful people are both in Babylon (unfaithful churches). Those in the remnant are tasked with the responsibility and privilege of inviting and warning God's people in other churches through the sharing of the 3 Angels' Messages.
The identity of the remnant:The only church fulfilling every description of the remnant (see table above) is the Seventh-day Adventist Church. God has faithful followers in all denominations/religions, and the remnant is commissioned to share the 3 Angels' Messages with each of them, as well as with the whole world (Matt. 24:14). It is a special calling and sacred responsibility.
Claiming to be the remnant may sound arrogant to some. People within ancient Israel fell into the trap of feeling superior to other followers of God. Israel had been chosen as God's instrument to share God's truths with the world. The people within Israel were not superior to those outside of Israel, however Israel as a nation was the "church" through which God chose to share the knowledge of Him with others. In the apostle's day, there was one church that was organized to share the gospel with the world. God always has a church, one church, an organized entity through which He works in a special way. This does not preclude other churches and individuals from working for God and being used for His purposes. But, He works to bring all into one fold.
The remnant church, the one that is fulfilling all of the identifying characteristics, cannot deny the truth of its calling and responsibility. None within it have any reason for arrogance. Let all who join it to sound the last warning message be truly humbled and delighted as they serve God in the closing work of the gospel.
More about the "Testimony of Jesus"The angel who is speaking to John in Revelation 12:17, later plainly tells him the meaning of the "testimony of Jesus". "And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10). The "testimony of Jesus" is the spirit of prophecy. In other words it is the witness of Jesus to His church through the medium of prophecy.
At the beginning of the book of Revelation, the angel and John are said to bare record of the testimony of Jesus, which is written down in this prophetic book (Rev. 1:2). Both the angel and John had the testimony of Jesus and were thus identified as prophets. Notice how the angel repeats a similar statement to clarify this meaning: "Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God" (Revelation 22:9). Whereas, in Revelation 19:10, the angel identifies himself as "thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus," he now identifies himself as "thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets". These parallel expressions further link that the "testimony of Jesus" means having the prophetic gift.
The spirit of prophecy, which John and the angel had, refers to actual prophets, not just people who share a prophet's words. Prophets were set apart in title, function and how they received communications (1:2). Like John and the angel, the Remnant church also has the testimony of Jesus, which means it also manifests the gift of prophecy. This results in the remnant church being enabled and equipped to teach and uplift prophecy in a special way to the world.
The remnant church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was co-founded by Ellen G. White (1827-1915). She manifested the prophetic gift and received many visions and messages from God for His people. More information can be obtained on the White Estate website.
As with all prophets, Ellen G. White must be tested against the Biblical qualifications of a prophet (see Testing the Prophets). The Bible instructs us to "try the spirits" (1 Jn. 4:1), which means to test, prove, examine and verify. Prophets are sent to God's people when something is about to happen. The prophet is sent to help guide and preserve God's people through current events and approaching disasters. It is not surprising that He would send a prophet to His people during our day, the time of the end.
The writings of Ellen G. White give evidence in every detail that they meet the Biblical requirements of a prophet. She passes every test. Her writings point each person to Jesus and His Word. The law is upheld and all are urged to repent and submit to our loving God who provides healing and life. Her writings have guided God's people through the organization of the remnant church and its proclamation of the 3 Angels' Messages. Her predictions come to pass without error. Many witnesses in her day testify to the miraculous nature of her visions.
Learn more from the White Estate about how Ellen G. White meets the Biblical qualifications of a prophet.
Read her book Steps to Christ or her other writings online.
Return to Revelation 12.