Why are Ellen White's writings called the Spirit of Prophecy?

Questions & Answers January 15, 2017

Q: Why are books by Ellen White branded as the “Spirit of Prophecy” while Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy in Revelation 19:10? — Anyar, from South Sudan

A: According to the angel who spoke to John in Revelation 19:10, the spirit of prophecy is not Jesus Himself but “the testimony of Jesus.”

What, then, is “the testimony of Jesus”? The angel says that it is something John’s “brethren” have, whom the angel later calls “the prophets” (Revelation 22:9). In other words, the testimony of Jesus is the inspired message of Jesus to His people through the prophets. That’s why it’s connected with “the word of God” and “all things that he [John] saw” in Revelation 1:2.

Another important mention of “the testimony of Jesus” is found in Revelation 12:17, which describes God’s end-time remnant people as those “who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

According to this prophecy, there are two key qualities by which God’s remnant church can be identified and by which they are distinguished from the countless other Christian churches that exist today: (1) they keep the Ten Commandments, including the seventh-day Sabbath (see Exodus 20:8-11), which is Saturday, and (2) they have messages from Jesus through “the spirit of prophecy.”

Seventh-day Adventists recognize that the gift of prophecy was manifested in the ministry and writings of Ellen G. White. While technically, “the spirit of prophecy” refers to inspired messages from God (or Jesus) throughout history, we refer to the writings of Ellen White as “the Spirit of Prophecy” in order to draw special attention to the inspired messages God has given us in the last days, which are a fulfillment of Revelation 12:17.

Interestingly, Ellen White uses “spirit of prophecy” both ways, to refer to inspired messages from God in Bible times (see “Patriarchs and Prophets,” p. 366) as well as to her own writings (see “Selected Messages,” book 3, pp. 30, 38; “Testimonies for the Church,” vol. 4, p. 12), which, as we have seen, is in harmony with the Bible’s own use of the term.