In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. [2 Corinthians 13:1 KJV (TR undisputed)]

The establishing of truth by 'two or three witnesses' is attested by Moses, Deuteronomy 19:15, by Jesus of Nazareth, Matthew 18:16, by Paul the Apostle, 2 Corinthians 13:1 and by the writer to the Hebrews, Hebrews 10:28. So at least three witnesses agree on the validity of the statement.

As to my own faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, I have the witness of holy scripture, the Hebrew scriptures being zealously and jealously preserved throughout history and the Greek scriptures being providentially preserved in over five thousand documents, well nigh one hundred thousand quotations of 'Patristic Citation', thousands of Lectionary quotations and many translations into other languages particularly Old Latin, Syriac and Coptic.

But I also have a witness within to truth. There is a spirit within which manifests itself as being stronger than the human nature with which I came into the world, inherited from my natural parents. Once the law came and slaughtered me (see Romans Chapter 7) and once the knowledge of Jesus Christ (through a faith which works by love) was established within me, I came to realise a presence within which is stronger than nature.

Jesus Christ promised that the Spirit would come and would lead into all truth, John 16:13.

And so I find, for I am led in my studies and led in my understanding in a way that is very, very different from absorbing knowledge as at school or college. It is to the whole man. It is the 'forming of Christ within', Galatians 4:19.

This is not epistemological. It is not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

This is the Tree of Life. Or, so I find.

Then I have yet another branch of witness, for I find I am not alone in my faith and in my experience. I find myself keeping company, as it were, with Athanasius (328-373) with Martin Luther (1483-1546) with John Calvin (1509-1564) with John Hooper (1495, martyred in 1555) with John Bunyan (1628-1688) with William Huntington - a true father in the faith to myself - (1745-1813) with J C Philpot (1802-1869) with Dean John Burgon (1813-1888) with Herman Hoskier (1864-1938) with J K Popham (1905-1937) and with John Metcalfe (1931 and still not departed).

Time would fail to list all of this veritable cloud of witnesses. And this is not an intellectual agreement over points of doctrine, only. For I find also an agreement of experience. These men also attest to the Spirit within. It appears that we all 'drink into one Spirit', 1 Corinthians 12:13.

My faith is not a matter of my personal opinion. Nor is it a matter of personal logic, that is to say of my own epistomology.

My faith is founded on the attestation of three witnesses, the latter of which is a multiple testimony.

Is this agreed by present-day Protestantism - that each individual Christian has the benefit of two or three witnesses to fundamental truth ?

2 Answers 2


Every human being has these three witnesses: The natural world, the Word of God, and the people of God.

In Romans, Paul tells us that every person is without excuse regarding knowledge of God's eternal power and Godhead:

Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse - Romans 1:19-20

This is echoed in Psalm 19 as regards the natural world and also with the addition of God's Word under various monikers:

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

And in John 13:34-35 we have Jesus, the Word of God in flesh, commanding those who have believed in these two testimonies to love one another as a testimony to others.

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Interestingly, Paul declares that loving one another in this way is the fulfillment of the the second witness, the Law:

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. - Galatians 5:14

So, in a very meaningful way the Church fulfills the first two testimonies and is, itself, a third. And by Church it is not meant some man-made edifice nor dogmatic hierarchy of teachings or rules. The Church, those called out ones, called out of darkness and unto light, brought from death unto life, born again by the grace of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and scattered amongst and within so many denominations (often times in spite of the denomination) is both old and new creation fulfilling the Word through love and testifying to a dying world of the surpassing greatness of the Lord Jesus...Son of God and Son of man.


  • I have referred to the baptism of repentance, to the forming of Christ within (by faith) and to the 'drinking into one Spirit' in union. You are referring to that which is natural in the created nature and to (what appears to be) the obeying of natural law. Also, I was looking for that which Protestantism, generally, regards in connection to what I have stated. So, I do not see the relevance of what you have written, true though some of it certainly is. I state that a Christian has . . etc (in a state of repentance and faith and communion). From the start, you say every human being . . .
    – Nigel J
    Sep 17, 2021 at 15:58
  • The 3 witnesses are there for all and those who accept them as such are (or become) Christians while those who reject them are rejected of God and without excuse. Ultimately the witness either edifies or stands in judgement of every person. That is what I meant. I'll happily delete this if you determine I've wildly missed the mark. Sep 18, 2021 at 12:21

I split hairs when distinguishing between "truth" and "facts." I define truth broadly to mean those things which are, regardless of anyone being aware of them. I define facts as those things which can be attested to by trusted sources.

For example, it was true that the earth is round (no offense to any flat-earthers reading this), even before mankind considered it could be anything else. We didn't have the facts (that is, the empirical observations of astronomers or theories of cosmologists) until relatively recent years. God has always known the shape of the earth, but we didn't necessarily know this until we physically (i.e. empirically) observed it. At the moment we did, the "roundness" of the earth went from simple truth to proven fact. Today, evolutionary theory is taught in many schools as either truth or fact (or both). While I have my own assumptions as to whether it is true or not, using the "scientific" methods many secular scientists use today, they present their conclusions as "facts," whereas the truth is ultimately known by God.

But I digress. If your question is about how we can know something is true (as opposed to fact) based on the account of witnesses, then it really comes down to the quality (i.e. credibility) of the witnesses.

No one but God observed the creation of the universe. Yet, He is our witness to those events, and by faith, we hold His record/witness in Genesis as truth, despite failing the criterion of "two or more witnesses." Creation happened; It's true. But our scientific knowledge is limited, so our ability to establish empirical evidence for the creation events is thusly limited.

It should be noted that the passage you're referencing (Deut. 19:15) is a legal passage in Mosaic Law. It's not dealing with witnesses of the truth of Scripture or the truth of someone's salvation. It's dealing with extremely practical things, in this case, accusations of civil crimes within the nation of Israel. The New Testament reference you make (2 Corinthians 13:1) is of Paul attesting to the existence and identity of Christ as witnessed by Paul and attested to on at least three occasions. Paul is not really arguing that Christ is who He said He was because of his thrice visiting Corinth, but rather Paul's reference back to Deuteronomy was to show the sincerity and importance of his claim of who Christ was. Indeed, someone saying the same thing three times does not constitute "two or three" witnesses.

I believe (and this is my view, not necessarily that of Scripture) that Paul was referencing Deuteronomy to show that he was scholarly aware of the Mosaic Law, adding to it his own personal encounter with Christ in order to validate his claims about Christ.

  • 3
    My question was about what Protestants thought about the subject. This all appears to be your own, personal, opinion.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 16, 2021 at 21:03
  • Please see the Tour and the Help (below, bottom left) regarding the purpose and the functioning of the site. SE-C is a site of comparative religion, in which the very broad spectrum of self-identified 'Christianity' is examined.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 17, 2021 at 7:47
  • Minor point: Yes, God was Himself the only witness/observer to the creation. God is "in three persons, blessed Trinity," however. Jesus, without whom "nothing was made that has been made," was also a witness, as was the Holy Spirit of God, who "hovered over" the "formless void," prior to the second creation--the first creation being the material universe (or the portion thereof) that God revealed to be formless and void. In a sense, then, there were two creations, with one of them being a new- or re-creation. Sep 17, 2021 at 11:02

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