How Many Witnesses?

All too often we see doctrines created with little to no support or study poured into them. The age old declaration from the Protestant Reformation era of Sola Scriptura, or “by Scripture only” was the foundation of Protestantism. It denied any decree or doctrine not found directly within, or by logical deduction of Scripture. But what does Scripture itself say?

The invention of doctrine and theology has plagued Christianity from the start. It has led to so many denominational splits that there are now thousands upon thousands of different denominations. Judaism has this problem as well, as there is Orthodox, Ultra-Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and even Karaite sects within Judaism. In Yeshua’s time, there were Pharisees and Sadducees. Even Paul addresses this in 1 Corinthians 3, as some said, “I am of Paul,” and others, “I am of Apollos.”

But does it really matter? After all, if Scripture says something, isn’t that matter set in stone? This is a bit of a trick question. If Scripture declares something, then it cannot be broken. Messiah Yeshua Himself said this in John 10:35. There are no contradictions in Scripture, either. So if we see what appears to be a contradiction, it means we are not understanding it correctly. That, or it is a simple mistranslation. If we were to simply write up a doctrine based on one Scripture at a time, without further evidence or context, we are then forcing Scripture to say what we want it to. That is not how it is intended.

In order for a matter to be established, it must be declared by more than one witness. That is the Scriptural concept that is declared all throughout Scripture.

Deuteronomy 19:15, “15A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.” Here we have the instruction, written in the Torah, that only by two or three witnesses can a matter be confirmed.

Matthew 18:16, “16But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.” Here Yeshua Himself reiterates what the Torah says about the mouth of two or three witnesses.

2 Corinthians 13:1, “1This is the third time I am coming to you. Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” The same statement made by Yeshua is echoed by Paul. Again, by Paul, we have this statement in 1 Timothy 5:19, “19Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.” Here it is in the context of strife and accusation against an elder, but to what rule does this Scriptural concept hold? That two or three witnesses are required to establish a matter.

A stern reminder from the author of the Book of Hebrews in Hebrews 10:28 says, “28Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” Again, the same principle applies of needing multiple witnesses.

We can read in Revelation 11 about the “two witnesses.” Ever wonder why there are two? Why not one? Why not 50? Because “on the mouth of two or three witnesses, every matter is established.”

Even Abba Yahweh Himself has said in Deuteronomy 30:19, “19I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.” Heaven and earth are two witnesses.

Today, all too often, I see where doctrines and beliefs are invented almost out of thin air. People grasp at straws trying to prove things that are not Scriptural. For instance, I could take one Scripture and make an absurd doctrine out of it like so many do today. Take, for example, Leviticus 10:1-2, “1Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective fire-pans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before Yahweh, which He had not commanded them. 2And fire came out from the presence of Yahweh and consumed them, and they died before Yahweh.” Taking just this verse, I could say that burning incense is a heinous sin in the eyes of The Creator. But that would be a lie, because Yahweh Himself commanded that incense be burned in Exodus 30. The (rather obvious) context of this passage is that the fire they offered was not in the prescribed manner. That is, it was offered in a way that was not acceptable to Yahweh.

Another (and possibly better) example could be Isaiah 1:11 which says, “11“What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” Says Yahweh. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle; And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.” From this alone I could invent a doctrine stating that all offerings are wrong, and that Yahweh never wanted them to sacrifice animals. Yet this would fly in the face of many Scriptures (Leviticus 1 and others) that say the opposite. The context of Isaiah 1 shows, rather clearly, that it is sacrifices offered without a heart change that Yahweh does not want. He wants true repentance, not just a slaughtering. He wants His people to turn to Him and trust Him.

The invention of doctrines without multiple Scriptural proofs, without TRUE evidence is the problem here. All too often I see or hear things like, “Paul said…” or “Jesus did [blank] when He died, so now…” The most common are, “Jesus kept the law so I don’t have to,” and “Paul said all foods are made to be eaten.” These do not have multiple Scriptural “witnesses” and therefore cannot be established. Of course these statements are way out of context, which is WHY there are not multiple witnesses to support them. Today’s pastors give sermons based on one Scripture verse and get thousands of “oohs” and “ahs.” Modern apologetics includes reading a Bible verse, telling a joke, telling a quick anecdote, and tying it all together with some nice preachy words; but this is, in the end, worthless! Empty and vain babbling (Matthew 6:7) has taken over the “church.”

Simply put, Scripture instructs us to establish a matter only after it has been evidenced by multiple witnesses. We cannot pick and choose our way through Scripture, selecting only the things we want to believe. If you have been taught something and you believe it, you should be able to explain it. If something you have learned or something you have been taught seems like it doesn’t match up with Scripture, then go back and look it up; study it out. Scripture is a package deal and there is no door number two. That is why I ask that readers “test all things, holding fast to that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21) and “prove all spirits, whether they are of Elohim,” (1 John 4:1). I pray this blesses you. Be Berean. Shalom.

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