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Can I Get A Witness?!
What IS Witnessing?
After the resurrection of Jesus, He appeared to His disciples just before He ascended into the heavens, telling them to wait in Jerusalem for the promise to come, which was the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1:8 Jesus told them, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." Well, that promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, at which time the Apostles' message was so anointed, 3000 Jews accepted their Messiah that day!
Ever since, believers continue this great commission of witnessing to the world until He comes again. But, what exactly IS witnessing? Did you know there are several meanings for the word all throughout the Bible? I’d like to share with you the various aspects of being a witness for Christ.
The first witnesses were of course, the Apostles. They literally saw Jesus, witnessed His works, His miracles and His teachings. They witnessed the crucifixion and His resurrection. In Acts 1:8 the Greek word for witness is martus (mar’-toos): of uncert. Affin.; a witness (lit. [judicially] or fig. [gen.]); by anal. A “martyr”:-martyr, record, witness.
The Apostles were told to take the gospel message to the Jews first. In Jewish Law, truth is confirmed by the mouths of two witnesses (John 8:17). This is most likely why the Apostles traveled in pairs. Here is an example of Peter’s witness to the Jews:
Acts 10:39-41 “We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.”
Years later, God called Saul, a Jewish Pharisee of the Tribe of Benjamin, as an Apostle to witness first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles. He’d never met Jesus nor witnessed the events of His crucifixion or resurrection. Jesus appeared to Saul as he was heading to Damascus and told him in Acts 26:16, “Get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you.” Just like today, Paul had to rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to be an effective witness for our Lord.
Another awesome aspect of this type of witness is Paul’s consistent claim that “God is my witness!”
Rom 1:9 “For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you.”
And, not only is God our Witness, but everyone that knows us. Paul’s disciple, Timothy received letters from him that included passages as follows:
1 Tim 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
And lastly, this type of witness can apply to martyrdom as shown in the prophetic book of Revelation:
Rev 11:3 “And I will grant authority to My two witnesses [martyrs], and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."
Now, let’s observe the other Greek words for “witness”, which often translate “testify” or “testimony”:
amarturos (am-ar’-too-ros): from I (as a neg. particle) ; unattested:-without witness
Acts 14:16-17 “In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness."
diamarturomai (dee-am-ar-too'-rom-ahee): to attest or protest earnestly, or (by impl) hortatively:-charge, testify (unto), witness
This type of witnessing is not pleasant. It denotes the giving of solemn news or having to warn people. Can you imagine how the Apostles felt when witnessing to the Jews? How hard would it be to tell them THEY crucified their Messiah or to warn them about judgment to come? Surely, the Apostles were knocking on death’s door every time they opened their mouths.
Acts 18:5 “But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.”
Acts 10:42 “And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.”
1 Th 4:3-6 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.”
katamartureio (kat-am-ar-too-reh’-o): to testify against:-witness against
Mat 26:62 “The high priest stood up and said to Him, "Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?"
Mat 27:13 “Then Pilate said to Him, ‘Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?’"
martureo (mar-too-reh’-o): to be a witness, i.e. testify (lit. or fig.):-charge, give [evidence], bear record, have (obtain, of) good (honest) report, be well reported of, testify, give (have) testimony, (be, bear, give, obtain) witness
This type of witnessing is that of speaking the truth; being honest. Consider the Apostles and Christ Himself bore true testimony, which was NOT received by the Jewish people:
John 3:11 “Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony.”
John 3:32 “What He [Jesus] has seen and heard, of that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony.”
While no one receiving our testimony can seem quite discouraging, how did Jesus’ truthful testimony affect the Samaritan woman at the well?
Joh 4:39 “From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all the things that I have done.’"
While the Samaritans believed unto salvation, Jesus also knew and spoke the truth about Judas in John 13:21 “When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me." That was the solemn truth.
Even Paul testified to King Agrippa as he faced trial that the Jews could witness as to his credibility:
Acts 26:4-5 “So then, all Jews know my manner of life from my youth up, which from the beginning was spent among my own nation and at Jerusalem; since they have known about me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion.”
And look at John’s third epistle to the saints, just before he was exiled to the island of Patmos:
3 John 3-6 “For I was very glad when brethren came and testified to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.”
marturia (mar-too-ree’-ah): evidence given (judicially or gen.):-record, report, testimony, witness
This type of witnessing points primarily to the persecution of the saints when judged by the world, and the promise of overcoming such persecution, even unto death.
Persecution – Motive of death
Mar 14:55 “Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death”
The Apostle John was exiled to the island of Patmos because of his testimony, where he wrote the book of Revelation and states in 1:9, “I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.”
John goes on to write about the persecution of the saints in the book of Revelation:
Rev 11:7 “When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them.”
Rev 12:17 “So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
On the other hand, John also wrote about the overcoming of the saints in the book of Revelation:
Rev 12:11 “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”
Rev 20:4 “Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”
marturion (mar-too’-ree-on): something evidential, i.e. (gen.) evidence given or (spec.) the Decalogue (in the sacred Tabernacle):-to be testified, testimony, witness
This type of witness seems to point to signs of confirmation or evidence, signs of conduct in believers, as well as accountability of those to whom the signs are manifested.
When Jesus healed a blind man, He told him in Mat 8:4 “See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
1 Cor 1:6-8 “even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Signs of Conduct
2 Cor 1:12 “For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.”
Testimony Leading to Accountability
Mar 6:11 “Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them."
pseudomarture (psyoo-dom-ar’-toor): a spurious teacher, i.e. propagator of erroneous Christian doctrine:-false teacher
1 Cor 15:13-15 “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified [martureo] against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised.”
pseudomartureeo (psyoo-dom-ar-too-reh’-o): untrue testifier, offer falsehood in evidence:-be a false witness
Mat 19:18 “Then he said to Him, 'Which ones?' And Jesus said, 'You shall not commit murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness'”
Mar 14:56-57 “For many were giving false testimony against Him, but their testimony [marturia] was not consistent. Some stood up and began to give false testimony against Him.”
pseudomarturia (psyoo-dom-ar-too-ree’-ah): untrue testimony:-false witness
Mat 15:19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”
Mat 26:59 “Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death.”
summartureo (soom-mar-too-reh’-o): to testify jointly, i.e. corroborate by (concurrent) evidence:-testify unto, (also) bear witness (with)
This type of witness is that of the Spirit of God with the spirit of man:
Rom 2:15 “they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them”
Rom 8:16 “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God”
Rom 9:1 “I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit”
sunepimartureeo (soon-ep-ee-mar-too-reh’-o): to testify further jointly, i.e. unite in adding evidence:-also bear witness
Speaking of signs, did you know this is for the purpose of God witnessing WITH us?
Heb 2:4 “God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”
Can I Get A Witness?!
I hope this study has been enlightening to you. We can now see that witnessing includes the following:
- We are to continue the testimony of the Apostles.
- We are to testify as to what the Holy Spirit reveals to us.
- When we walk according to the Spirit, we have confidence that God is our Witness!
- Our brethren are witness to our confession of faith and conduct.
- Witnessing sometimes includes martyrdom.
- God bears witness of Himself.
- We must not be afraid to tell the truth (solemnly) and give warnings.
- There will be those who testify against us because of our witness for Christ.
- We must speak the truth and rejoice in the truth.
- Witnessing for Christ will bring persecution, even unto death; yet we will be raised to live and reign with Christ!
- Signs and wonders follow them that believe. These include physical, spiritual and behavioral signs, also leading to accountability.
- There are those who teach falsely, give false testimony and bear false witness against others. These are the antitheses of true witnesses.
- The Holy Spirit uses our conscience to bear witness with us, either accusing or defending us. He also bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God!
- God testifies with us through His Spiritual gifts, signs and wonders.
May God bless you as you continue the Great Commission as found in Mark 16:15-19:
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." AMEN!!