John 5:31-39 - The Five Witnesses to Jesus’ Authority and Power

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The Five Witnesses to

Jesus’ Authority and Power

I.       The Five Witnesses To Jesus (John 5:31-39)


The word witness is a key word in John’s Gospel; it is used forty-seven times.  It means to:

       AV - bears witness 25, testify 19, bear record 13, witness 5, be a witness 2, give testimony 2, have a good report  

1 John 1:1-4 - - To be a witness, to bear witness, i.e. to affirm that one has seen or heard or experienced something, or that he knows it because taught by divine revelation or inspiration.   

Testimony given for or against someone, often in a law-court setting, where there is considerable concern for the truth of the testimony.

       There are five witnesses to Jesus’ authority:

1.         The Spirit (v.32)

2.         John the Baptist (v.33-35)

3.         The Works (v.36)

4.         God Himself (v.37-38)

5.         Scriptures (v.39)

A.     The Judicial System.

1.       A Man’s Own Testimony Is Unacceptable.

a)        The Witness of a Man Has To Be Supported By Other Witnesses (v.31).

1)        An Apparent Contradiction:

Although Jesus discounts his own witness, "If I bear witness of myself," (5:31) he still implies that it is valid. He said that it is "not valid" because under Jewish law the self-testimony of any man was not accepted in court. On another occasion he had said, "Even if I bear witness of myself, My witness it true, for I know where I came from and where I am going" (John 8:14). 

(a)      John 5:31 cf. John 8:14   

1.         The apparent contradiction can be resolved because the statement in John 5 is based on legal grounds whereas that in (chapter 8) is based on personal knowledge. In consideration of Jesus' essential truthfulness, his witness concerning himself is sound, though in legal process it would not be admitted.

(b)      Three Reasons Why Jesus’ Witness is True:

1.         Jesus knew His origin and destiny while the Jews were ignorant even of basic spiritual truths, making their judgment limited and superficial (John 8:14, 15, 42; 7:25-31; 10:15; 13:1-3; 14:8-12; 16:28; 17:6-8)

2.         The intimate union of the Son with the Father guaranteed the truth of the Son’s witness (John 8:16)

3.         The Father and Son witnessed harmoniously together regarding the identity of the Son (John 8:17, 18).  Jesus is the “Faithful & true Witness” (Rev.3:14)

2)        The Legal Grounds For A Witness.

(a)      The witness of a man has to be supported by other witnesses, and at least two witnesses are required. This is one of the most fundamental laws of society throughout the world.

1.         Deuteronomy 17:6 - - putting to death one who has transgressed God’s covenant.

2.         Deuteronomy 19:15 - - there are those who bear false witness.

3.         Matthew 18:16 - - Church discipline

4.         1 Tim. 5:19-20 - - Accusation against an Elder

a.         Accusations against an elder which cannot be substantiated by credible, disinterested witnesses are not even to be investigated, but ignored, suppressed, and silenced.

b.         Exodus 23:1-3 do not circulate a false report

c.         Psalm 15:1-3 who may abide in God’s tabernacle, His holy hill?

d.         Proverbs 18:13 he who answers a matter before he hears it…

2.       Christians Must Live Above Reproach.

a)        Every Servant of Christ Must Exercise Diligence in Living Absolutely Above Reproach.

1)        Acts 6:3 – be of good reputation, full of the Spirit & wisdom

2)        1 Thessalonians 5:22 – abstain from every form of evil

3)        Titus 2:1-8 – older woman (that the Word of God may not be blasphemed); young men (that they have nothing evil to say of you).

(a)      2 Samuel 11:1-5 – Idle time, plus Opportunity, equals Trouble.

1.         Instead of leading his army in battle, he chose to remain in the comfort of his palace.

a.         Times of idleness are often times of greatest temptation (do not get spiritually lazy, for we are in a spiritual battle & we must be out in the front line fighting)!

b.         David was a king & he should have been at war (v.1)

c.         We must “Wage War On the Floor” by prayer!

d.         David Neglected His Armor (Eph.6:10)

2.         David’s Moral Lapse was Occasioned by Three Things:

a.         Neglect of his business

1.        Luke 2:49 Jesus was about His Fathers business

2.        Luke 19:13 We must do business “till He comes”  

b.         Love of ease & laziness

1.        Prov.12:27 Lazy people do not cook the game the catch; Prov.19:15; 20:4

2.        Matt.25:14-30 You wicked and lazy servant

3.        Romans 12:11; Hebrews 6:9-12

c.         A wandering eye (Eve Gen.3:6; 1 John 2:15)

1.        David’s Lust Took Over (James 1:14-15)

Deception.  Like our first parents, we try to cover our sins, but God will find us out. 

Genesis 3:7 says, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. 

Proverbs 28:13 says, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

David the adulterer became a liar and a schemer, and then a murderer.  Uriah was one of David’s mighty men (2 Sam. 23:39). While David was sinning, Uriah and his fellow soldiers were risking their lives for him on the battlefield.

Displeasure.  From the human point of view, the scheme worked, but God was not pleased. See what David wrote in Psalms 5:4 and 11:5, and note Proverbs 6:16–19 and 1 Thessalonians 4:1–8.

       Before you yield to temptation . . . look back and recall God’s goodness to you; look ahead and remember “the wages of sin”; look around and think of all the people who may be affected by what you do; look up and ask God for the strength to say no (1 Cor. 10:13).

3.         2 Samuel 12:1-15 – David’s Adultery with Bathsheba Gave Great Occasion to the Enemies of the Lord to Blaspheme.

a.         “Blaspheme” means “to rail, revile,” “to rail at, or on,” in (Matt. 27:39, “to speak evil of”).

b.         The Lord could not ignore David’s sins and give unbelievers an opportunity to say, “The God of Israel must not be very holy. Look how He tolerates sin in the life of the king!”

1.        While God forgives sin, He does not necessarily remove its consequences (Gal. 6:7).

4.         Spiritual Leadership Is A Sacred Trust.

a.         How Christian leaders conduct themselves impacts far more than their own lives. This is why they will be more severely judged (see James 3: 1).

b.         This is why Paul said, “We give no offense in anything, lest the ministry be blamed (2 Corinthians 6:3).  

c.         Many people do not come to church because they do know a Christian! 

3.       Flying Accusations.

a)        Parable of the Unjust Steward (Luke 16:1-2)

1)        Accusation is used in the passive voice, lit. signifies “to hurl across” (dia, “through,” ballo, “to throw”), and suggests a verbal assault. It stresses the act rather than the author.

(a)      The word means to bring charges with hostile intent against someone, whether falsely and slanderously or justly, but maliciously and insidiously. The word expresses “giving currency to a damaging insinuation” (Thayer, Lexicon, p. 340a).

(b)      Revelation 12:10 Satan is the accuser of the brethren

1.         Revelation 20:2 - - Devil and Satan.  “Devil” comes from a Gr. verb meaning “to slander” or “to falsely accuse.” He is a malignant liar (John 8:44; 1 John 3:8).

2.         James 3:13-18 - - When we are slandering or falsely acusing someone we are a tool of Satan.

(c)      Love believes & hopes all things (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)