Drinking Deeply

Thursday, September 01, 2005 at 1:35 AM

Defining: Testimony

An email I just sent off:

I was reading through John 5 and came through 30-47 where Jesus talks about John testifying to Jesus and he talks about how Scripture testifies to himself as well and it got me thinking about our picture of what the word "testimony" means. I especially thought of what you said in one of your previous emails to me regarding the revival:
I am not getting a clear sense of whether or not the gospel will be shared in the revival, but if there are testimonies of God's salvation, I do not see how the gospel could be left out from any believer's testimony. Don't forget that Paul spoke of his testimony, whether about his initial meeting with Christ on the road to Damascus or about his imprisonment, to strengthen and encourage his believers at churches. Do not forget that Satan is prophesied to be finally defeated in Revelation by the testimonies of the saints.
And I thought to myself, "it seems like the biblical definition of the word 'testimony' isn't entirely the same as the one that we commonly have in our heads." It seems to me that a biblical definition of the word testimony is more something used to prove something. I am reminded of the "on the testimony of two or more witnesses a fact will be established" like in Old Testament Law. I definitely see that in Paul's "testimony" as well, where he talks about Christ's appearance to himself not to inspire others to believe in Him, but to confirm that he is an Apostle of Christ.

A quick search on Biblegateway seems to be consistent with that definition.

Our typical definition of testimony is something that's spoken to share what God has done in our lives, usually used to encourage and edify the body of believers. I wonder where that came about!

Makes me wonder if we should rework our vocabulary and use a different word instead of testimony for when people share what God has been doing in their life. (And it also makes me rethink how Satan is actually defeated in Revelation as well!)

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