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Bible Dictionaries

Morrish Bible Dictionary

Witness

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The testimony or evidence adduced or given in confirmation of an assertion, and so often used judicially. The term also sometimes speaks simply of an expression of mind or feeling. Until God intervenes in power to establish His own purpose in regard to this world, He maintains a testimony to that which He will assuredly accomplish.

The words μαρτυρέω, μαρτυρια, and μαρτύριονare translated both 'testimony' and 'witness.' The idea runs all through the scriptures in respect both to God Himself and to His people. Paul declared before the heathen at Lystra that God 'had not left himself without witness' as to His existence and His goodness, in giving rain and fruitful seasons, filling their 'hearts with food and gladness,' Acts 14:17 . The invisible things of God are testified of, "being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, or divinity." Romans 1:19,20 .

God having for fifteen hundred years manifested His patience towards the guilty antediluvian world, He, after warning the people by the preaching of Noah, bore witness to His righteousness and His power by the deluge, and at the same time manifested His grace in saving Noah and his family in the ark.

The witness which God vouchsafed of Himself to Abraham was that He was 'THE ALMIGHTY GOD'; to Moses it was 'I AM THAT I AM'; and to Israel, 'JEHOVAH.' The ark was often called the "Ark of the testimony," and the tabernacle was the "Tent of witness," the witness of good things to come. To Nebuchadnezzar God was witnessed to as the 'GOD OF HEAVEN.' To the Christian He is 'GOD AND FATHER.'

Israel were of old God's witnesses, and will also be in the future.

When Christ was on earth He bore witness to God as LOVE and LIGHT. The Lord Jesus is declared to be "the faithful and true witness," Revelation 3:14 ; and His works and His words were witnesses that He had come from God. The Father also bore witness to Him as His beloved Son, in whom He was well pleased. The Lord Jesus confessed before the Jewish council that He was the Son of God, and before Pilate that He was the King of the Jews. Matthew 26:63,64 ; Matthew 27:11 .

Peter and John were witnesses of the truth before the council, so that they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13 . Stephen also was a true witness, and his testimony led to his becoming a martyr (μάρτυς). In Hebrews 11 is given a 'great cloud' of witnesses to the principle of faith in Old Testament saints, some of whom were also martyrs. God will to the last have a testimony on earthas seen in His 'two witnesses' of Revelation 11 .

In Christianity there are said to be three witnesses — "the Spirit and the water and the blood: and these three agree in one" — they affirm that God has given to the believer "eternal life, and this life is in his Son." "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself." 1 John 5:8-11 .

The Church, in the absence of the Lord Jesus, is the vessel of the testimony of Christ, hence Christians should be in their whole life and deportment true witnesses to the rejected Christ. The testimony of the church is characterised by — separation from the world; devotedness to the interests of the Lord Jesus on earth; faithfulness to the truth; unblamable moral conduct; and indeed, as the pillar and ground of the truth, by everything that becometh godliness.

Under the law of Moses it was enacted that in all charges of guilt two or three witnesses were necessary. Deuteronomy 17:6 . In the church the same order is maintained, "in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word [or matter] be established." Matthew 18:16 ; 2 Corinthians 13:1 ; 1 Timothy 5:19 .


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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Witness '. Morrish Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/mbd/w/witness.html. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, August 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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