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And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matt 24:14, KJV)

What does "witness" refer to in this verse? Is it a native believer, or any believer, or something else?

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This question is perhaps a better candidate for hermeneutics.stackexchange.com ? –  Steve Apr 5 at 12:19

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

According to Thayer's Greek Lexicon, the sense of witness in this passage is "that persons may get knowledge of something the knowledge of which will be good for their benefit" (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3142&t=KJV)

So Jesus is saying that the gospel will pass on knowledge of sin and redemption to its hearers; it will provide the supporting knowledge, perhaps resulting in a conviction of the heart, that allows a sinner to come to God for salvation.

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In this verse, "witness" is not a person, it describes the purpose of the preaching.

An alternative translation [NIV] makes it clearer:

"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."

(emphasis added)

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2024:14

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