Lou: In Revelation 12:17 it speaks of those who “have the testimony of Jesus” (KJV). What is this “testimony of Jesus” that the remnant will have?
Graham: That phrase is also translated, “Bear testimony to Jesus,” in some versions (RSV). But you can take it either way. In one version of this phrase, the Remnant hold fast to Jesus’ testimony about His Father. They believe that what Jesus said about His Father is true. In the other version, the remnant bear witness to Jesus. They believe in Him, and it’s their privilege and pleasure to bear witness to Him, the One who brought them the truth. So it can work either way, you don’t have to get into the technicalities of the Greek. Whichever way you take it, it makes sense. You find these kinds of double meanings everywhere in the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation.
Lou: Is that same thing true when we come to Revelation 14:12? It speaks about “those who keep the commandments of God and have ‘the faith of Jesus.’”
Graham: The Greek there is a genitive, “of Jesus.” The Greek genitive expresses relationship or belonging. It can be translated in this case as the faith that Jesus had or as “faith in Jesus.” The Greek technical point is exactly the same as in 12:17. It could go either way. You can have the faith in God that Jesus had, or faith in Jesus as the One who brought the truth about the Father. If you have either one you’re going to arrive at the same place. So I like to translate it both ways.
Lou: You have spoken about Satan not coming with forked tail and hooves and a pitchfork, but masquerading as an angel of light. That raises the question, if he comes as an angel of light, how are we going to recognize him? You mentioned strategies and insights we might have tucked away because we think they are going to work for sure. But he’s going to be more clever than that, so I have an uneasy feeling. How will we recognize him? Especially when nearly the whole world is going to be worshiping him (Rev 13:8). What are the best ways to identify the Devil and his work?
Graham: The answer lies in the one central issue in the Great Controversy, the question of authority. The goal of God’s authority is peace and freedom throughout the universe. That’s one thing Satan cannot counterfeit. If Satan were to say, “You may investigate me and study the evidence,” he would be exercising authority the way God does. But when we start investigating the Devil he loses, so he won’t do that. When we compare how Satan and God exercise authority, therefore, we will be able to perceive that Satan is the adversary.
Lou: So the key is not how well he can perform things that dazzle and catch our attention?
Graham: That he can do easily.
Lou: So we need to see behind the theatrics to the way Satan exercises authority and the character that motivates his behavior.
Graham: You see, such theatrics could deceive the very elect, if that were possible (Matt 24:24). But it’s not possible. The elect are so settled into the truth about God’s way of running the universe that they perceive the falsity of the Devil’s way.
Lou: Your mention of Revelation 13 raises a question about the beast and the mark of the beast. “Do you think that anyone has the mark of the beast now?”
Graham: That depends on what the mark of the beast is. I think that the best way to understand the mark of the beast is to consider first the seal of God. And in the next chapter we will consider in some detail what it means to be settled into the truth.