1 John 5:9 Commentary

 


1 John 5:9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son: ei ten marturian ton anthropon lambanomen (1PPAI) e marturia tou theou meizon estin (3SPAI) hoti aute estin (3SPAI) e marturia tou theou hoti memartureken (3SRAI) peri tou huiou autou: (we: 1Jn 5:10 John 3:32,33 Jn 5:31-36, Jn 5:39 Jn 8:17-19 Jn 10:38 Ac 5:32 17:31 Heb 2:4 6:18)(for: Mt 3:16,17 17:5)


Amplified - If we accept [as we do] the testimony of men [if we are willing to take human authority], the testimony of God is greater (of stronger authority), for this is the testimony of God, even the witness which He has borne regarding His Son.

NET If we accept the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, because this is the testimony of God that he has testified concerning his Son.

NLT Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son.

NIV We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.

Wuest - Since the testimony of men we are habitually receiving, the testimony of God is greater, because this is the testimony of God, that He has borne testimony concerning His Son, and this testimony is on record.


GOD THE GREATEST WITNESS

John Stott comments that "The importance of this verse is that it declares explicitly what has so far only been hinted, namely that God is the subject and Christ the object of the threefold testimony. The Spirit, the water and the blood all testify to Christ, and the reason why they agree is that God Himself is behind them."

In other words the Spirit, water and blood are in reality God's witness concerning His Son. This is the way the New English Bible translates the first clause - "and this threefold testimony is indeed that of God Himself.”

See W Hall Harris' comments on 1Jn 5:4b-12 for his thoughts on to whom the phrase testimony of men refers. He does not favor it as referring to men in general, the interpretation that is favored by most modern commentaries.

As an aside Kistemaker draws our attention to the fact that "In 1Jn 5:6–9, John indirectly introduces the Trinity. Notice that in 1Jn 5:6, he states that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come. In the same verse and 1Jn 5:8, John says that the Spirit testifies. And in 1Jn 5:9, he mentions the testimony of God (the Father)."

Wuest explains John’s thought as follows “Since we are in the habit of receiving the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater (and therefore should be received); because this is the testimony of God (and this applies in the case before us) that God has borne testimony concerning His Son with the present result that that testimony is on record.” That is, we receive testimony from our fellow-man. But God’s testimony is greater than man’s testimony. God testifies of the fact that He has borne testimony concerning His Son, and since He is the One who has borne this testimony, not man, that testimony should be received. The verb is in the perfect tense, speaking of a past act of bearing testimony with the result that the testimony is on record at the present time." (Word Studies from the Greek New Testament)

Steven Cole on the phrase if we receive the testimony of men - Every day we trust the testimony of fallen men, who are fallible at best. We could not deposit money in a bank, ride in a car, buy food at the grocery store, take an aspirin for a headache, or do any of the many things we do in our daily lives if we did not trust the witness of men. John is saying, “If you trust in men every day, can’t you trust what God has testified concerning His Son?” (1 John 5:5-13 Is Christianity Merely Psychological?)

If (ei) is a condition of the first class which identifies what follows as assumed to be true or as a fulfilled condition. If simply introduces what is an acknowledged fact, not a matter of doubt. It can often be translated as "since" or "in view of the fact that." In other words, it assumes that there has been reception of the testimony of men as an acknowledged fact, not a matter of doubt. One could paraphrase it this way - “if we receive the witness of men, and it is an acknowledged fact that we do….”

Williamson says "John argues here from the lesser to the greater (technically, a minori ad maius). If people receive human testimony, then they will be even more inclined to receive the testimony (martyria) of God." (1, 2, & 3 John- A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition - New Beacon Bible Commentary)

If we receive the testimony of men - Since we are in the habit of accepting as valid and reliable the testimony of men (we do it in trials in the court of law for example), how much more should we accept the greater testimony of God (in context) regarding the truth about His Son, Jesus Christ!

Some writers think that the phrase testimony of men possibly is a reference to John the Baptist's testimony of Jesus, for in John 5:32 Jesus declares "There is another (referring to John the Baptist) who bears witness of Me, and I know that the testimony which He bears of Me is true." (Context - Jn 5:32-35)

Wuest explains the phrase receive the testimony - The reception of testimony is the act of appropriating it to ourselves as something to be depended upon as the truth. John’s thought is “Since we are in the habit of receiving the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, and therefore should be received.” (Word Studies from the Greek New Testament)

Receive (2983)(lambano) means to take or grasp. It can indicate both benevolent and hostile actions, and have as object either people or things; e.g. take a wife, collect taxes, accept a verdict, take a road, and figuratively take courage. Lambano has a number of nuances but in the present context means to take to oneself someone's words, teaching, or testimony. In this passage lambano then means to receive, accept or come to believe a witness, accepting their testimony as authoritative, true and accurate. Lambano also includes the retaining of what is taken. Hence of receiving Christ (Jn 1:12; 5:43; 13:20). The phrase receive the testimony is peculiar to John (Jn 3:11; 5:34; 1Jn 5:9).

The present tense indicates we are indeed in the habit of accepting the testimony of men. Vincent adds that the "indicative mood (mood of reality) assumes such reception as a fact. If we receive, as we do." Lambano is used only 3x in John's letter (1Jn 2:27, 1Jn 3:22, 1Jn 5:9) but over 40 times in his Gospel. His first use of lambano in the Gospel links receive with believe, John writing "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in [Note the belief is into, Gk = eis - see note on significance] His name." (Jn 1:12) In John 13:20 lambano is used four times and is tantamount to believe - "Truly, truly I say to you, he who receives whomever * I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me."

The testimony of God is GREATER in the sense that although He is only one, His witness is absolute, perfect truth about His Son. God is the essence of truth; He is absolutely true, and all truth accords with God’s actions. God is all that He as God should be and His word and revelation regarding His Son are completely reliable. He is absolutely dependable, without falseness of any kind. God's testimony can be depended upon and does not fail, change, or disappoint and indeed His promises are all yea and amen in Christ Jesus (2Cor 1:20KJV) and His word cannot fail or disappoint (cp Joshua's last words to Israel before they entered the Promised Land - Joshua 21:45, 23:14). The practical aspect of God's unchanging truthfulness in His testimony is that we can stand on His promises concerning the Son of God with full assurance of faith no matter how we feel, no matter how dire our circumstances!

Jackman adds that "John is wanting to convey both the greater trustworthiness of God’s testimony because of its origin, and also its greater importance and value because of its content. It is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son." (The Message of John's Letters) (Bolding added)

Why would John want to convey greater trustworthiness? Recall that in the context of Chapter 5 the believer's faith is what wins the victory John writing that whoever "is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1Jn 5:4-5) And then John immediately begins to describe a triad of trustworthy witnesses that should substantially strengthen our faith that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, the pinnacle of which is the testimony of God. Candlish says "This faith rests on testimony; as all faith must do. And the testimony on which it rests is sufficient to sustain it; for it is Divine."

Crain adds an interesting thought on the testimony of God - In the epistle (in contrast to the Gospel) John is writing to believers, and he urges that the testimony he has been speaking of is divine testimony—the testimony of God concerning His Son (1Jn 5:9). The believer needs to have the sense of this in his soul. The power and enjoyment of the blessing that is his as a believer will be much affected by the consciousness, or lack of it, that the testimony is Divine. If it has been received only as the word of men, it will not have its full sanctifying power in the soul. We receive the testimony of competent, trustworthy men without question; but how much greater is the testimony of God! He speaks what He knows; with Him knowledge is absolute, not relative. He witnesses to the truth as He alone fully knows it. (Readings on the First Epistle of John)

Jesus made a statement similar to 1Jn 5:9 - "But the testimony which I have is greater (meizon) than the testimony of John; for (term of explanation) the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish-- the very works that I do-- testify (martureo) about Me, that the Father has sent Me." (Jn 5:36)

Hiebert - Normally we accept human testimony; as reasonable individuals we receive the words of others as trustworthy unless we have reasons to doubt the individual’s honesty. If we receive the testimony of fallible human beings, then there is no valid reason for doubting God’s testimony, because it is “greater” (meizōn), more reliable and trustworthy, more demanding of our acceptance. The term “greater” implies “both the greater trustworthiness of God’s testimony because of its origin, and also its greater importance and value because of its content.” In neglecting or rejecting this testimony, the unbeliever is less reasonable with God than he is with fellow human beings.

Colin Kruse - The first part of the verse is an argument from the lesser to the greater: if we accept human testimony, then we should certainly accept God’s testimony. What is the human testimony that the author alludes to here? It can hardly be a reference to the threefold testimony of Spirit, water, and blood. Is it an allusion to the witness of John the Baptist? In the Fourth Gospel Jesus refers to the Baptist’s testimony as ‘human testimony’ and indicates that it is much less important than God’s testimony (John 5:33–36). Does it refer to the testimony of the eyewitnesses to the Word of life (1 John 1:1), which, though trustworthy, is not of the same order as God’s own testimony. Or is it merely a general statement indicating that God’s testimony is always more important than human testimony. Probably the last is the best alternative, for the first two suggestions create new problems. There are no other allusions to the Baptist’s ministry in 1 John, and the author would not want to downplay the testimony of the eyewitnesses because he believes that to be a true report of the truth of God. (The Letters of John The Pillar New Testament Commentary)

Testimony (3141)(marturia/martyria related to martureo = to witness <> martus/martys = a witness) is that which furnishes evidence or proof. Marturia can be the witness per se. A witness is one who has first hand knowledge and so the purpose of John the Baptist was to bear witness of Messiah (the Light) so that all might believe through Him (Jn 1:7). Marturia in other contexts can refer to the content of what the witness speaks - testimony, evidence (Mk 14:55). In 1Ti 3:7 the sense of marturia is that of one's reputation (think of it as the "witness" of their life and their character before others). A witness does not speak on his own behalf, though he may share his own experience, but primarily the purpose of the witness is to tell about another.

Marturia and the verb martureo are predominantly Johannine words - Witness is also one of the major themes of John’s Gospel. Martureō occurs 33 times (cp 1x in Matthew, 1x in Luke, none in Mark) and the noun marturia 14 times (0 in Mtt, 1x in Luke, 3x in Mark).

Marturia is frequently linked with the verb martureo, the idea being that what a witness does is to testify or bear witness of something or someone (Jn 1:7, Jn 3:11, 32, 5:31, 32, 36, 8:13, 14, 19:35, 21:24, 1Jn 5:9, 5:10, 3Jn 1:12, Rev 1:2). Every combination of the noun and verb are in the writings of the apostle John.

Marturia is frequently combined with lambano (Jn 3:11, 32, 33, 5:34, 1Jn 5:9) which speaks of the testimony of the witness as being received or accepted. However a marturia can be received (accepted) or not received (accepted) (Jn 3:3:11, 32). A marturia can also be believed (pisteuo) (Jn 1:7, Jn 19:35).

A testimony is a solemn declaration or affirmation made for the purpose of establishing or proving some fact. It is interesting that the first use in the NT was in the context of false testimony against Jesus the Truth (Mk 14:55-56, 59). The first use of marturia in the OT (Septuagint = Lxx) is in the context of cutting a covenant between Jacob and Laban (Ge 31:47). It is notable that the uses of marturia in the last book written, the Revelation (Revelation was the last NT book written, most think around 90AD), clearly link martyria with true martyrdom! (Rev 6:9-note, Rev 11:7-note, Rev 20:4-note).

Webster's definition of testimony - The firsthand authentication of a fact. A solemn declaration or affirmation made for the purpose of establishing or proving some fact. Such affirmation in judicial proceedings, may be verbal or written, but must be under oath. Testimony differs from evidence; testimony is the declaration of a witness, and evidence is the effect of that declaration on the mind, or the degree of light which it affords.

See related discussion - Testimony - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology

For the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son - And how has God testified? Surely one of the most significant ways is by giving us His written Word concerning His Son.

For (hoti) means because and is a term of explanation which should always cause a pause to ponder what is being explained. Stott says "it is because (hoti) the witness is divine, that we ought humbly to receive it."

Jesus explains the testimony of God speaking to unbelieving Jews declaring…

"And the Father who sent Me, He has borne witness of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38 And you do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. 39 You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life (E.g., here are two Jewish "Sayings of the Fathers" = "One who increases Torah, increases life… One who acquires the words of Torah, has acquired life in the World to Come." = Pirqe Avot 2:7 ; "Great is Torah, for it gives life to its observers in this world, and in the World To Come." - Pirqe Avot 6:7); and it is these that bear witness (martureo = testify - in the present tense = continually give witness) of Me (Jesus was speaking of the OT Scriptures, for there was nothing else at that time and these scriptures are replete with testimonies of the coming Messiah. See Messianic Prophecies; cp Messiah the Anointed On; Josh McDowell's classic apologetic book "More than a Carpenter"); 40 and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life." (Jn 5:37-40)

 

Here are other New Testament quotes that emphasize that the testimony of God was abundantly revealed in the Old Testament Scriptures…

John 1:45 Philip found Nathanael and said^ to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

John 3:14 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.

John 5:45 "Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. 46 "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me. 47 "But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?"

Luke 16:29 "But Abraham said^, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.'

30 "But he said, 'No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!'

31 "But he said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.'"

Luke 24:25 And He said to them, "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 "Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?" 27 And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

Luke 24:44 Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 "You are witnesses of these things. 49 "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you (the Holy Spirit - Acts 2:1-4); but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high (Acts 1:8)."

Acts 26:22 "And so, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place;

Has testified (3140)(martureo from martus/martys = witness = one who has information or knowledge of something and can bring to light or confirm something) in its most basic sense refers to a legal witness. Thus the verb martureo means to be a witness, to testify, to give evidence, to give testimony, to bear record, to affirm that one has seen or heard or experienced something. The words testified related to fact, not opinion, as in a courtroom setting.

Martureo is in the perfect tense signifying the abiding effects of the Father's testimony concerning His Son.

John Stott explains the perfect tense of testified noting that "It is God who testified to His Son in history, in the water and the blood, and it is God Who testifies to Him today through his Spirit in our hearts (Ed: How? I would add - through the witness of His Word, the witness of disciples). For we accept man’s testimony, when it consists of the evidence of two or three; how much more, then, should we accept the testimony of God which is itself threefold and which, because it is God’s, is greater than any man’s?"

Hiebert adds that "With his use of the perfect tense, has testified, John declares that God has placed Himself permanently on record as bearing witness to His Son. This fact is a settled reality. He did so prophetically in the OT, speaking through the various prophets concerning the Coming one. He did so explicitly on at least three occasions as recorded in the Gospels: at His baptism (Mt 3:16–17; Mk 1:10–11); at His transfiguration (Mt. 17:5; Mk 9:7; Luke 9:35); and in the hearing of the multitude during Passion Week (Jn 12:27–29). He also did so nonverbally in the miracles at His crucifixion, as well as at the resurrection. According to Hebrews 1:1–2-note, the Son Himself was the embodiment of God’s highest and final self-revelation to mankind." (The Epistles of John- An Expositional Commentary)

It is worth noting that God the Father gave not just written testimony (the Scripture) but audible testimony (as recorded in Scripture) of the Son of God…

Matthew 3:17 (Jesus' Baptism) and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."

Matthew 17:5 (Jesus' Transfiguration) While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!"

Mark 1:11 (Jesus' Baptism) and a voice came out of the heavens: "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."

Mark 9:7 (Jesus' Transfiguration) Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!"

Luke 3:22 (Jesus' Baptism) and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."

Luke 9:35 (Jesus' Transfiguration) And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!

John 12:28-30 - (Jesus' Passion - week of His Crucifixion) “Father, glorify Thy name.” There came therefore a voice out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The multitude therefore, who stood by and heard it, were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, “An angel has spoken to Him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes.

2Peter 1:17 (Witness of an apostle at Jesus' Transfiguration) For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased "--

Steven Cole elaborates on the testimony of god - If you’re not familiar with God’s testimony, you can read it in the New Testament (Ed: I would add "and also in the OT."). Be careful, though, to read it prayerfully and with a submissive, searching heart, asking God to open your eyes to His truth (Ed comment: Ps 119:18, cp Lk 24:45, relying on the Spirit's illumination, cp The Bible and Illumination). If you come at it as a proud skeptic, demanding proof, you will come away empty, because God is not in the business of giving proof to proud sinners. If you come at it with preconceived notions of what the Savior should be like, you are likely to miss Him, because He is not a Jesus who fits your every desire and whim. You can’t make up a Jesus of your own liking. You must accept God’s testimony to the Jesus of the Bible. The Jews of Jesus’ day, including the disciples, couldn’t conceive of a Messiah who would suffer and die, even though Isaiah 53:1-12 and Psalm 22:1-31 (Ed: For example see study of Ps 22:6 - I Am A Worm and Not A Man - Psalm 22:6 - Speaks of the Messiah!), along with the entire Old Testament sacrificial system, clearly predicted such. (Ed: See also The Jewish Tradition of Two Messiahs) The risen Lord Jesus pointed out to the men on the Emmaus Road (Luke 24:25-26), “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Luke adds (Lk 24:27), “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” The Scriptures give us God’s clear testimony of His Son. What should we do with this testimony? Clearly, we must receive it or believe it personally. If we do not believe it, as John shows (1Jn 5:10), we make God a liar. If we do receive it, we have a sure foundation for our faith. (1 John 5:5-13 Is Christianity Merely Psychological?)

Barton writes that "Jesus’ self-witness would not validate his claims; according to the law, he required the witness of another. That other witness was his Father. The Father gave direct witness to his Son’s identity at Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3:17), transfiguration (Matthew 17:5), and resurrection (Romans 1:3–4). In the Gospel of John, Jesus defended his deity with a fivefold witness. In response to the Jewish leaders who had questioned his authority and assaulted his identity, Jesus indicated that he had five very reliable witnesses: (1) the Father himself (John 5:31–32, 37), (2) John the Baptist (John 5:33–35), (3) his own works (John 5:36), (4) the Scriptures (John 5:39–40), and (5) Moses (John 5:45–47). (Life Application Commentary)

Jesus describes four witnesses in John 5:31-47.

(1) the testimony of John the Baptist to Jesus (Jn 5:32–33),

(2) the works that Jesus was doing (Jn 5:36),

(3) the testimony of the Father himself (Jn 5:37–38),

(4) the testimony of the scriptures (Jn 5:39).

“If I [alone] bear witness of Myself, My testimony is not true. 32 “There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the testimony which He bears of Me is true. 33 “You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 “But the witness which I receive is not from man, but I say these things that you may be saved. 35 “He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 “But the witness which I have is greater than [that of] John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. 37 “And the Father who sent Me, He has borne witness of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38 “And you do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. 39 “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; 40 and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life. 41 “I do not receive glory from men; 42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. 43“I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another shall come in his own name, you will receive him. 44 “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another, and you do not seek the glory that is from the [one and] only God? 45“ Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. 46 “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me. 47“But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

You Can Depend On Him - Our Daily Bread

Prince Albert of England once visited the laboratory of a scientist named Lyon Playfair. According to Playfair’s biographer Sir Wemyss Reid, as the prince and the scientist stood near a caldron of boiling lead, Playfair asked, “Has your royal highness any faith in science?”

“Certainly,” answered Prince Albert. Playfair washed the prince’s hand in a special solution and then told him to use his hand to ladle out some of the hot metal. The prince plunged his hand into the caldron and scooped up some in his palm—and he wasn’t injured.

If Prince Albert could place that kind of faith in a respected scientist, how much more may we trust God’s Word! Abraham trusted God’s promise to make of him a great nation even though he and his wife were very old (Gen. 15:5-6; Heb. 11:8-12). He set an example we would be wise to follow. “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God” (Rom. 4:20).

It is not always wise to trust in the assurances made by fallible human beings. But surely we can put our confidence in the teachings, promises, and warnings of the truly dependable One.

God's promises have no expiration date.

TESTIMONY: MARTURIA
GREEK WORD STUDY

Testimony (3141)(marturia/martyria related to martureo = to witness <> martus/martys = a witness) is that which furnishes evidence or proof. Marturia can be the witness per se. A witness is one who has first hand knowledge and so the purpose of John the Baptist was to bear witness of Messiah (the Light) so that all might believe through Him (Jn 1:7). Marturia in other contexts can refer to the content of what the witness speaks - testimony, evidence (Mk 14:55). In 1Ti 3:7 the sense of marturia is that of one's reputation (think of it as the "witness" of their life and their character before others).

A witness does not speak on his own behalf, though he may share his own experience, but primarily the purpose of the witness is to tell about another.

Marturia and the verb martureo are predominantly Johannine words - Witness is also one of the major themes of John’s Gospel. Martureō occurs 33 times (cp 1x in Matthew, 1x in Luke, none in Mark) and the noun marturia 14 times (0 in Mtt, 1x in Luke, 3x in Mark).

The phrase testimony of Jesus occurs six times in the Revelation (Rev 1:2, 9, 12:17, 19:10 [twice], Rev 20:4). Some interpret this as the testimony "about" Jesus but others the testimony from Jesus.

Marturia is frequently linked with the verb martureo, the idea being that what a witness does is to testify or bear witness of something or someone (Jn 1:7, Jn 3:11, 32, 5:31, 32, 36, 8:13, 14, 19:35, 21:24, 1Jn 5:9, 5:10, 3Jn 1:12, Rev 1:2). Every combination of the noun and verb are in the writings of the apostle John.

Marturia is frequently combined with lambano (Jn 3:11, 32, 33, 5:34, 1Jn 5:9) which speaks of the testimony of the witness as being received or accepted. However a marturia can be received (accepted) or not received (accepted) (Jn 3:3:11, 32). A marturia can also be believed (pisteuo) (Jn 1:7, Jn 19:35).

A testimony is a solemn declaration or affirmation made for the purpose of establishing or proving some fact. It is interesting that the first use in the NT was in the context of false testimony against Jesus the Truth (Mk 14:55-56, 59). The first use of marturia in the OT (Septuagint = Lxx) is in the context of cutting a covenant between Jacob and Laban (Ge 31:47). It is notable that the uses of marturia in the last book written, the Revelation (Revelation was the last NT book written, most think around 90AD), clearly link martyria with true martyrdom! (Rev 6:9-note, Rev 11:7-note, Rev 20:4-note).

BDAG summarized - (1) confirmation or attestation on the basis of personal knowledge or belief = testimony (2) testimony in court (Mk 14:56, 59, Lk 22:71) (3) attestation of character or behavior, testimony, statement of approval (1Jn 5:9a; 3Jn 1:12; Titus 1:13). (4) testimony that invites death, a martyr’s death, martyrdom.

Zodhiates - A witness, certification (John 1:7), testimony (Mark 14:55, 56, 59; Luke 22:71), that which someone witnesses or states concerning a person or thing (Acts 22:18; 1 Tim. 3:7; Titus 1:13). Used of the testimony of John the Baptist concerning Jesus (John 1:19; 5:36); of the declarations of Jesus concerning Himself (John 5:31; 8:13, 14). It is a declaration by a witness who speaks with the authority of one who knows (John 5:34; 3 John 1:12).

Analytical Lexicon - marturia/martyria speaks of concrete and objective information given in proof of something = testimony; (1) active giving of a witness = testimony, declaration (Jn 1.7); (2) passive, as the witness given testimony, evidence, record (Jn 1.19); (3) as facts presented in court evidence, testimony (Mk 14.55); (4) as a good report received reputation (1Ti 3.7); (5) as divine and human witness, with Christ as the content testimony, witness (Jn 3.33); as a formula for the Gospel message the testimony or witness of (or about) Jesus (Rev 19.10).

NIDNTT - The noun martyria means making an active appearance and statements as a witness (martys), the earliest form of the basic noun being martyros in Homer… The original setting of the word-group in the Gk. world is clearly the legal sphere. Witnesses appear to give evidence in a trial in respect of events now lying in the past (cf. the analysis in 1(a)), or are called in as so-called formal witnesses in order to provide substantiation in the future, for legal transactions or for solemn confirmation in the finalizing and signing of agreements; in general these are mentioned by name and add their own signatures immediately below the text.

Webster's definition of testimony - The firsthand authentication of a fact. A solemn declaration or affirmation made for the purpose of establishing or proving some fact. Such affirmation in judicial proceedings, may be verbal or written, but must be under oath. Testimony differs from evidence; testimony is the declaration of a witness, and evidence is the effect of that declaration on the mind, or the degree of light which it affords.

Webster's definition of witness - one that gives evidence; A person who knows or sees any thing; one personally present; as, he was witness; he was an eye-witness. One who gives testimony; as, the witnesses in court agreed in all essential facts.

See related discussion - Testimony - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology

Ridderbos says marturia "primarily designates the content of the gospel in its original, historically visible and audible form. In the New Testament, witness above all refers to the communication of the ear- and eyewitnesses, to the communication of facts that were seen and heard. The pregnant significance of this usage stands out all the more when we consider that the entire complex of concepts that is associated with witness and with witness bearing is juridical in origin and that the judicial meaning of these terms sets the basic tone of their New Testament usage. A witness of Jesus Christ is a person who has been commissioned by Christ to testify on His behalf before the forum of friend and foe—indeed before the whole of history—about what he has seen and heard. At stake in witnessing, then, is the relationship between authorization and fact; “the New Testament does not know of any witness bearing that is not bound to the facts.” (Redemptive History and the New Testament Scriptures)

As an aside the frequent cost of such a "witness" is pointed up by the fact that we derive our English word "martyr" from this Greek word.

Williamson has a brief excursus on Faithful Witness and Martyrdom - In the book of Revelation, the title “faithful witness” (ho martys ho pistos) is ascribed first and foremost to Jesus Christ (Rev 1:5-note). To the church at Laodicea the risen Lord identifies himself as “the faithful and true witness” (Rev 3:14-note). Witnessing for one’s faith did not initially mean to die for one’s faith. But martyrdom eventually became a synonym for faithful witness even unto death. This was due, in part, to the expanding persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire. The early tendency to associate these ideas appears already in Revelation: “Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city” (Rev 2:13-note). The statements “be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you a crown of life” (Rev 2:10-note), and to “those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus” (Rev 20:4-note) further accentuate the growing issue of martyrdom in the late first century (adapted from Menoud 1962, 288). (1, 2, & 3 John- A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition - New Beacon Bible Commentary) See also Fox's Book of Martyrs

See excellent summary article - Martyr - Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Marturia - 37x in 33v - NAS Usage: reputation(1), testimony(30), witness(1).

Mark 14:55 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, and they were not find ing any.

56 For many were giving false testimony against Him, but their testimony was not consistent.

59 Not even in this respect was their testimony consistent.

Luke 22:71 Then they said, "What further need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth."

John 1:7 He came as a witness, to testify (martureo) about the Light, so that all might believe through him.

John 1:19 This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" (Read John's testimony in 1:20-28)

John 3:11 (Jesus to Nicodemus) "Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify (martureo) of what we have seen, and you do not accept (lambano) our testimony.

John 3:32 (John the Baptist speaking of the testimony of Jesus) "What He has seen and heard, of that He testifies (martureo); and no one receives (or accepts - lambano) His testimony. 33 "He who has received (or accepted - lambano) His testimony has set his seal to this, that God is true.

John 5:31 "If I alone testify (martureo) about Myself, My testimony is not true. 32 "There is another who testifies (martureo) of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true (cp Spirit is the truth 1Jn 5:6, testimony of God is greater - 1Jn 5:8).

34 "But the testimony which I receive (lambano) is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved.

36 "But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish-- the very works that I do-- testify (martureo) about Me, that the Father has sent Me.

John 8:13 So the Pharisees said to Him, "You are testifying (martureo) about Yourself; Your testimony is not true." 14 Jesus answered and said to them, "Even if I testify (martureo) about Myself, My testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going.

John 8:17 "Even in your law it has been written that the testimony of two men is true. (Dt 17:6, Dt 19:15, false testimony - 1Ki 21:10)

John 19:35 (John himself is speaking and giving His personal, eyewitness testimony as in 1Jn 1:1-3) And he who has seen has testified (martureo in the perfect tense = his testimony stands or endures!), and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that (term of purpose) you also may believe.

John 21:24 This is the disciple (John the apostle) who is testifying (martureo) to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

Acts 22:18 and I saw Him saying to me, 'Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.'

1 Timothy 3:7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Titus 1:13 This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith,

1 John 5:9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified (martureo) concerning His Son.

1John 5:10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. 11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

3 John 1:12 Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself; and we add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.

Revelation 1:2-note (His bondservant John) who testified (martureo) to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.

Revelation 1:9-note 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.

Revelation 6:9-note When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained;

Revelation 11:7-note 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.

Revelation 12:11-note "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.

Revelation 12:17-note 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.

Revelation 19:10-note Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."

Revelation 20:4-note 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.

 

Marturia is used only 6 times in the Septuagint (Lxx) - Ge 31:47; Ex 20:16; Deut 5:20; Ps 19:7; Prov 12:19; 25:18.

In Ge 31:47 marturia is used to translate Galeed in the Septuagint with the phrase "heap (bounos) of witness (marturia)" which described the heap of stones (Ge 31:46) which was to serve as a permanent inanimate "witness" of the covenant between Jacob and Laban. As an aside a witness was frequently associated with the cutting of a covenant (See column "Is There a Sign or Witness?" Covenant: Summary Table). My favorite use of marturia in the OT is by David who wrote "The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony (Hebrew = eduth; Lxx = marturia) of the LORD is sure (Heb = aman), making wise the simple." (Ps 19:7-note)

 

Receive (2983)(lambano) means to take or grasp. It can indicate both benevolent and hostile actions, and have as object either people or things; e.g. take a wife, collect taxes, accept a verdict, take a road, and figuratively take courage.

Lambano can mean to take to oneself someone's words, teaching, or testimony (receive the testimony) meaning to accept it as authoritative, true and accurate. (Jn 3:11 = "you do not receive our witness"; Jn 5:34 "the witness which I receive is not from man"; 1Jn 5:9 " If we receive the witness of men").

Lambano also includes the retaining of what is taken. Hence of receiving Christ (Jn 1:12; 5:43; 13:20).

The phrase receive the testimony is peculiar to John (Jn 3:11; 5:34; 1Jn 5:9).

Lambano (participle) is often used before other verbs by a species of pleonasm, i.e., using two words meaning almost the same thing in order to express the idea more completely and graphically (Mt 13:31, 33; Lk 24:43; Acts 16:3; Josh. 2:4).

Undoubtedly one of the most tragic uses of lambano is in Ge 3:8 - "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes (lust of the eyes 1Jn 2:16-note), and that the tree was desirable (lust of the flesh - 1Jn 2:16) to make one wise (boastful pride of life - 1Jn 2:16), she took (aorist active participle - active voice = volitional choice! A very bad choice!) from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

NIDNTT on classic Greek use of lambano - originally grasp, seize, is attested since Homer. (a) It means to take or grasp. It can indicate both benevolent and hostile actions, and have as object either people or things; e.g. take a wife, collect taxes, accept a verdict, take a road, and fig. take courage. It is used with a material subject, as when, for example, fear or terror seizes men. lambanō may serve to enliven the style when used pleonastically. (b) lambanō also means to receive, regularly with acc. of the thing; used to embrace all areas of life from simple things to spiritual benefit.

Moulton and Milligan have compiled the following uses of lambano from secular documents written in NT times… (1) to receive something, such as a document or money; (2) to get or obtain something, such as legal satisfaction; (3) to signify receiving of goods in business transactions; and (4) to take something or someone, such as a captive. An interesting example is a first-century B.C. note by a woman who claimed to have been severely beaten by another woman. The note from the beaten woman says, "and, if I survive, I may obtain satisfaction from her as is right." Another note says, "If you get any lentils send them to me by Katoitus" (fourth century A.D.).

What does it mean to "receive" Christ? John 1:11-12 says, "He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive (paralambano - took to oneself, to accept) Him. 12 But as many as received (lambano) Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, [even] to those who believe in His name." Based on this verse is the popular terminology that one needs to "receive Christ as one's Savior." In classical Greek lambano has two main uses. One is more active, "to take"; the other is more passive, "to receive." The more active use means to take hold of, grasp, or seize something. Examples of this use include to catch an enemy, seize an opportunity, take in hand or undertake something, apprehend with the mind, or be taken by illness. The more passive meaning is also used in a variety of ways. Examples are to have something given to you (get), receive hospitality (welcome), receive in-laws from a marriage, receive a name, receive punishment, receive profits, or receive permission for something. Lambano occurs 258 times in the NT. Of these only a few deal with receiving Christ or the testimony concerning Him. It is used in Mk 4:20 (Mt. 13:20; Lk 8:13 use the synonym dechomai in the same context) of those who receive the Word of God. In John 3:11 Jesus said to Nicodemus, "We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness." In John 3:32-33 lambano is used of receiving the testimony of John the Baptist about Jesus. He explains what it means, "He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God" (John 3:33-34). To receive testimony is to accept it as true, to believe it (see John 3:36). To fail to receive His words is the same as rejecting Christ (John 12:48). Only two times is lambano used of receiving Christ. In John 1:11-12, those who "receive" him are equated with those who "believe on his name." Jesus Himself said to the Jews, "I am come in my Father's name, and you receive me not." A few verses later He says, "For had you believed Moses, you would have believed me" (John 5:43,46). (Adapted from Salvation- Word Studies from the Greek New Testament- Gerald Cowen)

Comparison of lambano with dechomai and haireomai

(1) Dechomai - Lambano is almost synonymous with dechomai = accept or receive deliberately and readily what is offered. Dechomai conveys more fully the idea of a welcome reception. Lambáno sometimes means receive as a self–prompted action without necessarily a favorable reception (Gal 2:6) Vine adds that lambano is "almost synonymous with dechomai, is distinct from it, in that it sometimes means “to receive as merely a self-prompted action,” without necessarily signifying a favorable reception. (Gal 2:6 is literally "God does not receive [lambano] the face [prosopon] of man.")"

(2) Haireomai is more violent, to seize or remove and conveys the idea of "taking for oneself," "seizing," "comprehending," and even "selecting one alternative from among others." In the development of language, this word came to mean choosing or selecting. A pupil selected the teacher from whom he learned. Thus a related word, hairesis, meant a school of thought or a religious sect. We see it reflected in our word "heresy," a false doctrine which is chosen by its adherents. This second group of words is seen only three times in the New Testament.

 

Wayne Detzler (New Testament words in today's language) on take (lambano) - Remembering that lambano refers to "taking under one's control," it is seen most clearly with reference to the Lord. The Lord in glory is qualified to receive praise from all creatures (Rev. 5:12-note). In fact all praise, honor, and glory belongs to the Lord. Therefore He takes it as His due. The Gospel gives wonderful meanings to this word (lambano). For instance, Jesus Christ took all of our infirmities and sins on Himself (Mt. 8:17). In the same sacrificial act, Jesus laid down His life and took it up again (Jn 10:18). He was in total control of His fate; His death was determined by the divine counsels of God, not by the capricious acts of man. The Holy Spirit will take the truth of Christ and disclose it to Christians (Jn 16:14). Again, the initiative and independence resides with God. The glory which Christ received was part of the Trinitarian relationship. He receives this acclaim because He was, is, and always will be God (2Pe 1:17-note). Everything which people receive is contingent on God's grace. By faith they receive (lambano) Christ into their lives (John 1:12). By prayer they receive good gifts from God (Mt. 7:7-8-note; Jn 16:24). The Holy Spirit comes into a Christian's life as God's good gift (Jn 7:39-note), and as such the Spirit empowers that Christian for witness (Acts 1:8-note). The Lord assured Christians of the Spirit's presence before He left the earth (John 20:22). Building on this teaching of absolute dependence on God for all we receive, the Epistles and Acts underline the truth. At Pentecost Peter also emphasized that believers must receive the Holy Spirit by faith from God (Acts 2:38). He also tied this reception to conversion through basic belief and repentance. This same access to the Holy Spirit was confirmed in the foreign setting of Cornelius' home in Caesarea (Acts 10:47). Having received the Holy Spirit admits a Christian into a Father-and-Son relationship with the Almighty God. The Christian is then enabled to call God "Abba," literally "Daddy" in Aramaic (Ro. 8:15-note). Paul asserted that not only the Holy Spirit was received from God, but also the scope of ministry came from Him. In fact, Paul treated his apostolic office as a specific gift of God (Acts 20:24-note). Christians are enabled to serve God effectively because of a spiritual gift, which they have received by God's grace (1Pe 4:10-11-note). The simple word "take" has two main strains of meaning in the NT. First, God receives all the glory and honor, because it is due to Him. He receives only what He richly deserves. Second, we as Christians receive every spiritual blessing which we possess because of our relationship by grace through faith with the Lord, our God.

Illustrations of Lambano - The word "take" will be illustrated from two standpoints. First, we shall see what a Christian receives from the Lord. Theologically speaking, we receive forgiveness of sins, eternal life, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and all attendant blessings which arise out of these gifts. Practically, this word emphasizes the simplicity of salvation. It is a matter of taking and receiving. A greatly distraught woman once came into my counseling room at the church in Bristol. She was deeply disturbed because of the breakdown of her marriage. She seemed almost incapable of concentrating on the Gospel, and she refused to receive God's gift. When I next saw her she was much more calm, and she was sincerely seeking the Lord. Still she feared that she could not become a Christian. I took a coin, which was worth about 20 cents, out of my pocket. Then I gave it to her. She took it, and immediately she understood how to receive the Lord. When I last saw her, she still had that coin taped inside her New Testament as a reminder of her conversion experience.

Arthur John Gossip said, concerning this momentous transaction: "Every time well-meaning souls insist on cheapening His message, lowering the standard, explaining away the cost, and agreeing to accept Him upon easier terms than those He states, Christ openly repudiates them, and will have none of their advice."

In a lovely picture, Roy C. Naden said: "I cast off the mooring lines at a decaying wharf and pointed the bow toward the open sea of life, trusting my new Captain to take me safely to His heavenly haven." What a picturesque analogy of receiving Christ is this.

Not only do we take Christ into our lives at conversion, but He also receives us. In the pastoral ministry we often spoke with brand-new Christians. One attitude characterized them all, and it was wonder at the grace of God. Very often this line would be heard: "Why did God ever take me?" It is no wonder that John Newton called it "Amazing Grace." C. L. Mitton explained the grace of God in this way: "Grace is God's unmerited, free, spontaneous love for sinful man, revealed and made effective in Jesus Christ." Because grace places us under the banner of Christ, God receives us in His name. From the circle of Puritan penmen, William Fenner explained grace: "It is a rule of divinity, that grace takes not away nature; that is, grace comes not to take away man's affections, but to take them up." This reminds one of a simple chorus, which is a prayer:

Jesus, take me as I am,
I can come no other way;
Take me deeper into You,
Make my flesh-life melt away.

Make me like a precious stone,
Crystal clear and finely honed;
Life of Jesus shining through,
Giving glory back to You.

Summary of lambano from Analytical Greek New Testament

(1) active, as bringing under one’s control take;

(a) with the hand take hold of, grasp (Acts 27.35);

(b) take away, remove (Rev 3.11);

(c) take for oneself, take into possession (Lk 19.12);

(d) as being seized by illness, demon attack, strong emotion come on, seize (Lk 5.26);

(e) as taking a due portion of something, as taxes, tithes, or collections receive, accept, collect (Mt 17.24);

(f) as taking to oneself someone’s words, teaching, or testimony receive, accept, come to believe (Mt 13.20);

(g) figuratively take advantage of, exploit (2Co 11.20);

(2) passive, as being a recipient of something receive;

(a) materially receive, get, acquire (2Co 11.8);

(b) spiritually, as being a recipient of God’s grace, forgiveness, life, etc. receive, obtain (Ro 1.5);

(c) be selected, be chosen from one or more alternatives (Heb 5.1)

Summary adapted from BDAG

(1) Get hold of something by laying hands on or grasping something, directly or indirectly, take, take hold of, grasp, take in hand Mt 26:26; Mk 14:22; Ac 27:35. Mt 27:30, Mt 25:1,

(2) To take away, remove with or without the use of force - take away the silver coins (from the temple) Mt 27:6. diseases Mt 8:17. crown Rev 3:11. remove peace from the earth Rev 6:4

(3) To take into one’s possession, take, acquire - Mt 5:40-note, Jn 3:27, Lk 19:12, take a wife - Ge 4:19, 6:2, Mk 12:19-22, Lk 20:28-31, 1Cor 7:28. Of his life, that Jesus voluntarily gives up, in order to take possession of it again on his own authority J 10:18; Take the honor upon oneself Heb 5:4. Of those seized by force - Mt 21:35, 39; Mk 12:3, 8. Of an evil spirit that seizes the sick man Lk 9:39. Of feelings, emotions seize, come upon someone - amazement seized them all Lk 5:26. Fear Lk 7:16. Temptation -1Cor 10:13. Of hunting and fishing: catch Lk 5:5, Jn 21:6. Figuratively if someone puts something over on you, takes advantage of you 2Co 11:20. Catch someone by a trick 2Cor 12:16.

(4) To take payment, receive, accept, of taxes, etc. Collect the two-drachma tax Mt 17:24; tithes Heb 7:8; portion of the fruit as rent Mt 21:34, Mk 12:2

(5) To include in an experience, take up, receive someone into - take someone (up) into the boat Jn 6:21, receive someone into one’s house 2Jn 1:10, into his own home - Jn 19:27 Receive someone in the sense of recognizing the other’s authority Jn 1:12; 5:43, Jn 13:20

(6) To make a choice, choose, select - who is chosen from among human beings Heb 5:1

(7) To accept as true, receive something. Figuratively receive someone’s words (and use them as a guide) Jn 12:48; 17:8; receive the teaching Mt 13:20; Mk 4:16

(8) To enter into a close relationship, receive, make one’s own, apprehend/comprehend mentally or spiritually - Phil 3:12 = "Not that I have already obtained it"

(9) Special uses: the OT is the source of "receive face" = show partiality/favoritism = Lk 20:21; Gal 2:6. Consult (with someone), lit. ‘take counsel’, is a Latinism (consilium capere) Mt 27:7; 28:12; 22:15; Mt 12:14, Mt 27:1 (Comment - Compare aprosopoleptos which is used in 1Pe 1:17 - It is found nowhere else except in the Epistle of Clement of Rome and the so-called Epistle of Barnabas. It is composed of the alpha-privative a-, prosopon, "face," and the verb lambano, "receive." It means that God judges "impartially"

(10) to be a receiver, receive, get, obtain - Mt 7:8; Lk 11:10; Jn 16:24.

Receive piece of bread Jn 13:30.

Receive water of life without cost Rev 22:17-note.

Receive (dechomai) a prophet… receive (lambano) a prophet’s reward… receives (dechomai) a righteous man… shall receive (lambano) a righteous man’s reward" Mt 10:41

Receive wages Jn 4:36

Receive his own reward according to his own labor 1Cor 3:8

Receive a reward 1Cor 3:14

Receive money - Mt 28:15.

Receive eternal life - Mk 10:30.

Receive the Holy Spirit - Jn 7:39, Acts 2:38; Gal 3:14; 1Cor 2:12;

Receive forgiveness of sin Acts 10:43

Receive grace Ro 1:5

Receive the victor's prize 1Cor 9:24-25-note

Receive the crown of life James 1:12

Receive mercy Heb 4:16

Receive a successor Acts 24:27

Receive his position Acts 1:20

Receive with thankfulness 1Ti 4:4

Receive greater condemnation Mk 12:40, Lk 20:47

Receive condemnation Ro 13:2-note

Receive edification 1Cor 14:5

Receive circumcision Jn 7:23

Receive a mark Rev 14:9, 11-note, Rev 19:20-note, Rev 20:4-note

Summary of lambano - realize that some of the classifications below are somewhat subjective and you might place them in another subgroup of meaning.

(1) To take as with the hand - to get hold of something by laying hands on or grasping something directly or indirectly, take in hand

Mt. 14:19; 25:1; Mt 26:26 = "Take, eat; this is My body.”, Mt 26:52; 27:6, 30, 48; Mk 9:36;

Lk 22:17 = "Take this and share it among yourselves";

Jn 12:3, 13; Jn 13:4 = taking a towel, He girded Himself ,

Jn 13:12, Jn 13:30 = "after receiving the morsel he went out immediately";

1Cor 11:23 = "I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you";

Rev 5:8 = "when He had taken the book [the seven sealed scroll ~ the "title deed of the earth!" - see note]";

Rev 22:17-note = "let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost." - in this last use "take the water" would be equivalent to believing the Gospel).

(a) to take with the hand, lay hold of, any person or thing in order to use it

 

(i) to take up a thing to be carried - First use in the Septuagint Ge 2:26 - "Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it."; Ge 2:21 "then He took one of his ribs." cp Ge 2:22-23)

(ii) Of taking or not taking food or drink. (Mk 15:23 = "they tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh; but He did not take it"; Jn 19:30 = "Jesus therefore had received the sour wine"; Acts 9:19 = Paul "took food and was strengthened," 1Ti 4:4).

 

(iii) With the meaning of to make provision for or take with (Mt. 16:5, 7 = "take bread"; Mt 25:4 = "the prudent took oil"; Jn 18:3 = "Judas then, having received the [Roman] cohort"). To take a wife (Mk 12:19-22; Lk 20:28; Ge 11:29 - Ge 6:2 "sons of God… took wives for themselves, whomever they chose" - some think these were evil angelic beings [sons of God = angels in Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7] or members of Seth's line or powerful tyrants, perhaps demon-possessed).

 

(iv) Fig. to take upon oneself and so to bear - cross - call to discipleship (Mt 10:38); Jesus bearing our infirmities (Mt 8:17 = "He Himself took our infirmities" quoting Is 53:4 - "our griefs He Himself bore" Lxx uses phero [to carry, bear] instead of lambano).

 

(v) To take up, gather up - Mt 16:9-10 took up baskets of bread [cf. Mk 8:19-20]). Figuratively, of Jesus laying down His "life to take it again… I have authority to take it up again" (Jn 10:17-18).

 

(b) Fig, to take out from a group = to choose - "God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name." (Acts 15:14)

 

(c) To take in order to carry away; to seize, lay hold of, sometimes with idea of force

 

(i) Mt. 21:35 = "the vine-growers took his slaves and beat one," Mt 21:39 = "they took him, and threw him out of the vineyard"; compare Mk 12:3, 8; Jn 19:1 = "Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him".

 

(ii) Fig, someone "takes advantage (lambano) of you" = 2Co 11:20; " I took you in by deceit" = 2Co 12:16; NIV = "I caught you by trickery".

 

(iii) Catch fish (Lk 5:5 = "caught (lambano) nothing")

 

(iv) Fig, of a strong affection or emotion = to seize, to come upon. Lk 5:26 = "they were all seized with astonishment"; "fear gripped them all" = Lk 7:16; "No temptation has overtaken you" - 1Cor 10:13; "trembling grips [Heb - achaz - to grasp, take hold, take possession; Lxx = lambano)] them" = Ex. 15:15); "behold, a spirit [evil spirit, demon] seizes him = Lk 9:39.

 

(d) To take away by force (similar to "c" above) -

 

(i) "if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt" = Mt 5:40-note; “in order that no one take your crown” = Rev. 3:11;

 

(ii) Figuratively "to take peace from the earth" = Rev 6:4-note; "(Isaac to Esau) Your brother (Jacob) came deceitfully, and has taken away your blessing.” = Ge 27:35; 31:1.

 

(e) To take up with a person, to accept, to receive as a friend or guest, equivalent to dechomai.

 

(i) Generally - Jn 6:21 = "They were willing therefore to receive Him into the boat"; Jn 19:27 = (Jesus on the Cross to John) = “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own household" ; 2Jn 1:10 = (of false teachers) "do not receive him into [your] house".

 

(ii) Metaphorically to receive, embrace and/or follow a teacher's instructions - Jn 1:12 = "But as many as received Him" where received is equivalent to believing Jesus' testimony; Jn 5:43 = "I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive (equivalent of believe) Me"; Jn 13:20 = "he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”; Jn 14:17 = "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive";

 

(iii) Receive doctrine, sayings, the Word, the witness (testimony) - Mt. 13:20 = "this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy" (also in Mk 4:16); receive one's witness (Jn 3:11, 32, 33); the sayings or words of Jesus - Jn 12:48 = "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings" Jn 17:8 = "the words which Thou gavest Me I have given to them; and they received [them,] "; 1John 5:9 = " If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater."

 

(iv) To receive someone in the sense of showing partiality. In each of the following Scriptures the phrase "show partially" is an idiom which literally reads "receive the face" (lambano = receive, accept + prosopon = the face). Gal 2:6 = "God shows no partiality" = "God does not receive the face of man." = God shows no favoritism. Lk 20:21 = "You are not partial (lit. "do not receive face") to any"; Lev. 19:15 "you shall not be partial (lit. "do not receive face") to the poor". In Ps. 82:2 = "show partiality to the wicked" is translated in Lxx only with lambano = "accept the persons of sinners."

(f) Lambano is used in a number of phrases which are somewhat idiomatic

 

Take opportunity - Ro 7:8NET = "seizing the opportunity" (Also in Ro 7:11NET)

 

Take courage - "he thanked God and took courage" Acts 28:15 (lambano + tharoos = courage)

 

Take or receive security (bail) - Acts 17:9 = "received a pledge" (lambano + hikanos = adequate)

 

Take forgetfulness - 2Pe 1:9-note = "having forgotten" (lethe = forgetfulness + lambano)

 

Take form of a bond-servant - Phil 2:7-note (Comment - The word taking (lambano) means to take, to seize, to catch, to latch on to, to clutch, or to grasp. This word paints a powerful picture of God literally reaching out from His eternal existence, reaching into the material world He had created, and taking human flesh upon Himself in "the form of a bondservant." This is a supremely humbling thought! Amazing grace indeed!)

 

Taking or receiving a trial - Heb. 11:29-note = "when they attempted it" lit = "having received a trial"

 

Take counsel = consult - Mt 12:14 = "conspired (lambano = take + sumboulion = consultation) against Him" Mt 27:1 = "took counsel (lambano = take + sumboulion = consultation) against Jesus," Mt 27:7 = "counseled together (lambano = take + sumboulion = consultation)" Mt 28:12 "consulted (lambano = take + sumboulion = consultation) together"

 

Take an example - James 5:10 " "As an example (hupodeigma + lambano)"

 

Take remembrance = recollect, remembrance - 2Ti 1:5 = "I am mindful" (hupomnesis + lambano)

 

Take or adopt a mark - Rev 14:11 = "whoever receives (lambano) the mark of his (the antichrist's) name"

 

(2) To receive what is given or imparted, imposed, to obtain, partake of.

(a) Receive - Mt. 7:8, “everyone who asks receives (asks and receives both in present tense)” Mt 10:8 = "freely you received, freely give" Jn 16:24 = "ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full"; 1Cor. 4:7 = "what do you have that you did not receive"

 

(b) Receive an office, ministry, dignity

Acts 1:20 "let another man take his office"

Acts 1:25 literally = "to receive the share of this" ministry

Heb. 7:5 "the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office

Luke 19:12 "A certain nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom"

Acts 20:24 = "the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus"

Acts 24:27 literally = "Felix received a successor").

(c) Of persons appointed to receive tribute, rent, to collect, exact

Mt. 17:24 Literally = "those receiving the two-drachma tax"

Mt 21:34 = "to receive his produce"

Heb. 7:8 = "in this case mortal men receive tithes"

Mt. 17:25 = "kings of the earth collect customs" Literally = receive custom

3John 1:7 = "accepting nothing from the Gentiles"

(d) Figuratively to receive instruction, equal to be instructed, to learn (Rev. 3:3).

(e) Figuratively in phrases

Receive a commandment Jn 10:18; 2John 1:4)

Receive instruction (Col. 4:10);

Receive reconciliation (Ro. 5:11);

Receive a judgment (Mt. 23:14; James 3:1 where "incur" = lambano);

Receive condemnation (Ro 13:2);

Receive edification (1Cor 14:5);

Receive a mandate, command (Acts 16:24);

Receive circumcision (John 7:23).

Lambano - 258x in 243v - note concentration in the Gospels and Acts.

NAS Usage: accept(1), accepting(1), attempted*(1), bring(2), caught(1), caught caught(1), collect(1), collected(1), conferred*(2), conspired*(1), consulted*(1), experienced*(1), forgotten*(1), gets(1), gripped(1), incur(1), married(2), marry(2), obtained(1), occupy(1), overtaken(1), partial*(1), picked(2), receive(63), received(48), receives(14), receiving(6), seizes(1), shows(1), struck(1), take(24), taken(7), takes(3), taking(9), took(50).

Mt 5:40-note; Mt 7:8-note; Mt 8:17; 10:8, 38, 41; 12:14; 13:20, 31, 33; 14:19; 15:26, 36; 16:5, 7, 9-10; 17:24-25, 27; 19:29; 20:9-11; 21:22, 34-35, 39; 22:15; 25:1, 3-4, 16, 18, 20, 24; 26:26-27, 52; 27:1, 6-7, 9, 24, 30, 48, 59; 28:12, 15;

Mk 4:16; 6:41; 7:27; 8:6, 14; 9:36; 10:30; 11:24; 12:2-3, 8, 19-21, 40; 14:22-23, 65; 15:23;

Lk 5:5, 26; 6:4, 34; 7:16; 9:16, 39; 11:10; 13:19, 21; 19:12, 15; 20:21, 28f, 31, 47; 22:17, 19; 24:30, 43

Jn 1:12, 16; 3:11, 27, 32f; 4:36; 5:34, 41, 43f; 6:7, 11, 21; 7:23, 39; 10:17f; 12:3, 13, 48; 13:4, 12, 20, 26, 30; 14:17; 16:14f, 24; 17:8; 18:3, 31; 19:1, 6, 23, 27, 30, 40; 20:22; 21:13;

Acts 1:8, 20, 25; 2:33, 38; 3:3, 5; 7:53; 8:15, 17, 19; 9:19, 25; 10:43, 47; 15:14; 16:3, 24; 17:9, 15; 19:2; 20:24, 35; 24:27; 25:16; 26:10, 18; 27:35; 28:15;

Ro 1:5; 4:11; 5:11, 17; 7:8, 11; 8:15; 13:2;

1Co 2:12; 3:8, 14; 4:7; 9:24-25; 10:13; 11:23; 14:5

2Co 11:4, 8, 20, 24; 12:16;

Gal 2:6; 3:2, 14;

Phil 2:7; 3:12;

Col 4:10;

1Ti 4:4;

2Ti 1:5;

Heb 2:2-3; 4:16; 5:1, 4; 7:5, 8-9; 9:15, 19; 10:26; 11:8, 11, 13, 29, 35-36;

Jas 1:7, 12; 3:1; 4:3; 5:7, 10;

1Pe 4:10;

2Pet 1:9, 17

1John 2:27; 3:22; 5:9;

2John 1:4, 10;

3John 1:7

Rev 2:17, 28; 3:3, 11; 4:11; 5:7-9, 12; 6:4; 8:5; 10:8-10; 11:17; 14:9, 11; 17:12; 18:4; 19:20; 20:4; 22:17

A few comments on individual verses…

1Cor 10:13-note No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it. - Comment - Lambano in this passage depicts temptation as that which has the ability to seize or lay hold of one, doing so even with force or violence. We have all felt this strong wind urging us to depart from God's path of righteous living!

Lambano - 1195 verses in the Septuagint (Lxx) - Ge 2:15, 21-23; 3:6, 19, 22f; 4:19; 6:2, 21; 8:9, 20; 9:23; 11:29, 31; 12:5, 19; 14:11f, 21, 23f; 15:9f; 16:3; 17:23; 18:4f, 7f; 19:14f; 20:2f, 14; 21:14, 18, 21, 27, 30; 22:2, 6, 10, 13; 23:13; 24:3f, 7, 10, 22, 37f, 40, 48, 51, 65, 67; 25:1, 20f; 26:34; 27:3, 9, 14f, 35f, 46; 28:1f, 6, 9, 11, 18; 29:23; 30:9, 15, 37, 41; 31:1, 17, 32, 34, 45, 50; 32:13, 22f; 33:11; 34:2, 4, 9, 16f, 21, 25f, 28; 36:2, 6; 37:24, 31; 38:2, 6, 18, 28; 39:20; 40:11; 42:16, 24, 33, 36; 43:11ff, 15, 18; 44:29; 45:19; 47:23; 48:13, 22; Ex 2:1ff, 9, 22; 4:9, 17, 20, 25; 6:7, 20, 23, 25; 7:9, 15, 19; 9:8, 10; 10:26; 12:3, 5, 7, 21f; 13:19; 14:7; 15:14f, 20; 16:33; 17:5, 12; 18:2, 12; 20:7; 21:10, 14; 23:8; 24:6ff; 25:2f; 27:20; 28:5, 9, 23; 29:1, 5, 7, 12f, 15f, 19f, 22, 25f, 31; 30:12, 16, 23, 34; 32:20; 33:7; 34:4, 16; 35:5; 36:3; 40:9, 20; Lev 4:5, 30, 34; 5:1, 17; 7:18, 34; 8:2, 10, 15f, 23, 25f, 28ff; 9:2f, 5, 15; 10:1, 12; 12:8; 14:4, 6, 10, 12, 14f, 21, 24f, 42, 49, 51; 15:14, 29; 16:5, 7, 12, 14, 18, 22; 17:16; 18:17f; 19:8, 15, 17; 20:14, 17, 21; 21:7, 13f; 22:9; 23:40; 24:2, 5, 15; 25:36; Num 1:2, 17, 49; 3:6, 12, 40f, 45, 47, 49f; 4:2, 9, 12, 14, 22; 5:17, 25, 31; 6:19; 7:5f; 8:6, 8, 16, 18; 9:13; 11:12; 12:1; 13:20; 14:34; 16:6, 15, 17f, 39, 46f; 17:2, 9; 18:1, 6, 22f, 26, 28, 32; 19:2, 4, 6, 17f; 20:8f, 25; 21:25f; 25:4, 7; 26:2; 27:18, 22; 30:15; 31:11, 26, 29f, 47, 49, 51, 54; 32:39, 41f; 34:14f, 18; 35:31f; Deut 1:15, 23, 25; 2:6, 35; 3:4, 8, 14; 4:20, 34; 5:11; 7:3, 25; 9:9, 21; 10:17; 12:26; 14:25; 15:17; 16:19; 19:12; 20:7; 21:3, 11; 22:6f, 13ff, 18, 30; 24:1, 3ff, 19; 25:5, 7f; 26:2, 4; 27:25; 28:30, 56; 29:8; 30:4, 12f; 31:26; Josh 2:4; 4:8, 20; 6:18; 7:1, 21, 24; 8:1, 21; 9:4, 11, 14; 10:1, 28, 30, 32, 35, 39; 11:12, 16f, 19, 23; 15:16f; 16:10; 18:7; 21:42; 24:3, 26, 33; Judg 1:24; 3:6, 21, 25; 4:6, 21; 5:19; 6:20, 25ff; 7:8; 8:16, 21; 9:43, 48; 11:5, 13, 15; 13:19, 23; 14:2f, 8, 11, 19; 15:4, 6, 15; 16:12, 14, 31; 17:2, 4; 18:18, 20, 24, 27; 19:1, 28f; 20:10; 21:22f; Ruth 1:4; 4:2, 13, 16; 1 Sam 2:14ff; 4:3, 11, 17, 19, 22; 5:1f; 6:7f, 10; 7:9, 12, 14; 8:3, 11, 13f, 16; 9:3, 22; 10:1, 4, 23; 11:7; 12:3f; 14:32; 15:21; 16:2, 11, 13, 20, 23; 17:34, 40, 49, 51, 54; 19:13f, 20; 20:21, 31; 21:6, 8f; 24:2, 11; 25:11, 18, 21, 27, 35, 39f, 43; 26:11f, 22; 27:9; 28:24; 30:11, 16, 18ff; 31:4, 12f; 2 Sam 1:10; 2:8, 21; 3:14f; 4:7; 5:13, 21; 7:8; 8:1, 7f; 9:5; 10:4; 11:4f; 12:4, 9ff, 30; 13:8ff, 19; 14:2, 14; 17:13, 19; 18:14, 17f; 19:30; 20:3, 6; 21:8, 10, 12; 22:17; 23:6, 16; 24:22; 1 Kgs 1:33, 39; 2:35; 3:1, 20, 24; 4:15; 7:8, 13; 8:31; 9:28; 10:28; 11:1, 12f, 18, 31, 34f, 37; 12:24; 14:26; 15:18; 16:31; 17:10f, 19; 18:4, 26, 31, 34; 19:4, 10, 14, 21; 20:6, 21, 33f; 22:3, 26; 2 Kgs 2:3, 5, 8, 14, 20; 3:14f, 26f; 4:1, 17, 29, 36f, 41; 5:5, 15f, 20, 23f, 26; 6:2, 7, 13; 7:8, 13f; 8:8f, 15; 9:1, 3, 13, 17, 25; 10:6f; 11:2, 4, 9, 19; 12:4f, 7ff, 18; 13:15, 18, 25; 14:14, 21; 15:29; 16:8; 18:32; 19:4, 14; 20:7, 17f; 23:4, 16, 30, 34; 24:7, 12; 25:14f, 18ff; 1 Chr 2:19, 21, 23; 4:18; 7:15, 21, 23; 10:4, 9, 12; 11:8, 18; 14:3; 15:15; 16:29; 17:7; 18:1, 7f, 11; 19:4; 20:2; 21:23f; 23:22; 24:31; 26:27; 27:23; 2 Chr 5:4; 6:22; 8:18; 11:18, 20; 12:9; 13:21; 14:15; 16:2, 6; 18:25; 19:7; 22:11; 23:1, 8, 20; 24:3; 26:1; 28:18, 21; 36:1, 4; Ezra 1:4, 7; 2:61; 5:15; 9:2, 12; 10:44; Neh 2:1; 5:2f, 15; 6:18; 7:63; 10:30; 13:25; Esth 4:17; 6:11; 8:2, 12; Job 2:8; 15:35; 16:12; 31:37; 34:31; 35:7; 38:14; 41:4; 42:8, 17; Ps 15:3, 5; 18:16; 24:4f; 31:13; 49:15, 17; 68:18; 75:1; 78:71; 81:2; 82:2; 109:8; 116:13; 139:20; Prov 7:20; 8:10; 9:7; 11:21; 17:23; 18:22; 22:25, 27; Eccl 5:15, 19; Isa 2:4; 6:6; 8:1, 3f; 10:9f, 29; 14:2, 4; 15:7; 19:9; 21:3; 22:6; 23:5, 16; 26:11, 18; 28:4, 19; 30:28; 31:4; 33:14; 36:1, 17; 37:14; 38:21; 39:6f; 41:16; 44:15; 47:2f; 49:24f; 51:22; 52:5; 57:11, 13; 63:19; 64:3; 66:21; Jer 3:14; 9:10, 18; 13:4, 6f; 15:15; 16:1; 20:10; 23:39; 25:9, 15, 17; 27:20; 28:10; 29:6, 22; 31:4, 19; 32:3, 11, 14, 23, 28; 34:22; 35:13; 36:2, 14, 21, 28, 32; 38:10f; 39:14; 40:1f; 41:16; 43:5, 9; 46:11; 48:1, 41; 49:29; 50:24; 51:8, 26, 31; 52:17, 19, 24, 26, 31; Lam 4:16; Ezek 3:10; 4:1, 3ff, 9; 5:1ff; 10:6f; 14:10; 15:3; 16:16ff, 20, 32, 39, 52; 17:3, 5, 12f, 22; 18:8, 13, 17, 19f; 19:1, 5; 22:12, 25; 23:10, 25f, 29, 35, 49; 24:5, 16, 25; 26:17; 27:2, 5, 32; 28:12; 29:14; 32:2, 24; 33:2, 6; 36:7, 24, 30; 37:16, 19, 21; 38:13; 39:10, 26; 43:11, 20ff; 44:10, 13, 22; 45:11, 18ff; 46:18; Dan 2:6; 4:1, 19, 33; 11:12, 15, 18; Hos 1:2f; 4:8; 5:14; 13:1; 14:2; Joel 3:5; Amos 2:11; 4:2; 5:1, 12; 6:10; 9:3; Jonah 1:15; 4:3; Mic 1:11; 2:4; 6:16; Hab 1:3; 2:6; Zeph 3:18; Hag 2:12, 23; Zech 6:10f, 13; 11:7, 10, 13, 15; 14:21; Mal 1:8f; 2:3, 9, 13

Lambano has many derivatives in the Greek:

Hint - Click highlighted verbs for in depth discussion. You can also click Strong's number for access to Thayer's full definition and Liddell-Scott-Jones' full definition (scroll down for these entries). Also at the very bottom of the page is a very helpful listing of the frequency use of the word by NT book. This tool also allows you to see how it was translated in 3 versions (KJV, NAS, HCSB) and how it was parsed. Click on a version and then click on the book title and the uses in that book pop open with the English translation highlighted. Very nice!


1 John 5:8 Commentary <> 1 John 5:10 Commentary

Book