The words on the front screen at church were reiterated in our pastor’s message a few minutes later. What intrigued me most was the expression “witnesses.” Who were these people? Why had they chosen to be present when Paul preached? And what prompted the Apostle Paul to even use this term in his letter to Timothy in the first place?
According to scholars, the witnesses were men, women, and children who had gathered throughout Paul’s ministry to discover for themselves what this man had to say. Whether they had believed Jesus was Messiah and accepted God’s free gift of salvation wasn’t Paul’s point. He had shared the Word, and people had been present – watching, listening, and, for some, taking action based on the Gospel message.
Witness is an interesting word. It infers the ability to provide a testimony based on some experience or observation. While it often relates to legal or official proceedings, it also is connected to faith – but not just any faith. In fact, one of Microsoft’s dictionary definitions is “somebody who publically states his or her strong Christian beliefs.” So the assembly mentioned in the Scripture above would have included those who had been onlookers as the apostle shared about Jesus, and some of them would certainly became true witnesses for their Lord and Savior after they believed.
There are many places in God’s Word that talk about this topic, and one of the most famous is that “great cloud of witnesses” mentioned in Hebrews 12:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith . . . (verses 1-2a).
So this group not only includes earthly observers but also those standard bearers of our faith who have gone before us (as mentioned in Hebrews 11). Basically God gently reminds us that we’ve got a bigger audience than we ever imagined! Those faithful onlookers – including Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, and David – surround us! Along with mere mortals in our world, these heroes in the Lord’s kingdom are also our witnesses – watching and waiting to see what we will do with our lives.
I don’t know about you, but this concept alone urges me to strive harder as I serve my Savior! Champions of our faith are cheering us on – like a crowd gathered to witness an event here on earth might do! And, just like the Apostle Paul encouraged, we need to be passing on to others who we truly are and what we really believe. Each and every day people should be able to observe our commitment to Christ – for this is the best testimony we can offer.
Oh may our witness grow stronger and stronger in the days ahead! Let’s remain firm in our faith, fervently serving our Savior as we finish the race He already has planned – with His grace and for His glory!
Thought of the Week
You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor will there be one after me.