The Berean Expositor
Volume 54 - Page 58 of 210
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"If I testify about Myself, My testimony is not valid. There is another Who testifies in
My favour, and I know that His testimony about Me is valid" (5: 31, 32).
As Professor F. F. Bruce says, "a testimonial to oneself is no testimonial. No one can
witness his own signature". "Self-praise is no recommendation" says the adage, and this
is true. In God's law the testimony of a witness was not received in his own case
(Deut.xix.15). The Lord's opponents accused Him of exalting Himself (John 8: 13),
but He could answer, "even if I do bear testimony of Myself, My testimony is true", for it
was confirmed by the Father's testimony (John 8: 14, 18). In addition to this He had
the witness of the Baptist (5: 33), the witness of the Scriptures (5: 39), and the witness of
Moses in particular (5: 45), so His witness was amply confirmed by others who were
utterly reliable.
As Christ referred to the faithful witness of John the Baptist, He described him as a
lamp that gave light (5: 35). The Baptist was not the light. Only the Lord Himself was
that light, but John was like a lamp whose wick is fed with oil and this shone in the
darkness. Every believer is called to be a light-bearer in a world of darkness and
unbelief. No child of God is excused for not letting the light of testimony to Christ and
the Truth shine out.
The Lord now refers to the testimony of the Father which eclipsed the witness of the
Baptist, for it was the Father Who had given the Son the mighty works or signs to
accomplish, and these testified to the fact that He was the Sent One of God (Acts 2: 22).
The religious leaders had never seen the Father nor heard His voice and Christ asserted
that they had not His Word remaining in them, and this was proved from the fact that
they did not believe the One Whom the Father had sent (John 5: 37, 38).
This was so, notwithstanding that they considered themselves the guardians of the
holy Scriptures, all of which pointed to Him Who was their Saviour and Messiah. The
Lord Jesus had to tell them:
"You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess
eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me
to have life" (5: 39, 40).
The word "study" (search A.V.) can be either present active indicative or present
active imperative. Either make sense here, but the reason given "because you think by
them you possess eternal life" supports the indicative rather than the imperative,
although, read as a command, it is certainly good advice.
The tragedy was that the religious leaders searched the Scriptures (the Old Testament),
the Word of God, but missed the living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Scriptures are
able to make the readers wise as regards salvation, but this salvation comes only "through
faith in Christ Jesus" (II Tim. 3: 15).
"I do not accept praise from men, but I know you, I know that you do not have the
love of God in your hearts" (John 5: 41, 42).