Summary: In the mouth of two or three witnesses a word is established.
This [is] the third [time] I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. (KJV)
Paul is speaking to the Corinthian saints and declares that each of his visits to them constitutes a separate witness of his message. The word ‘established’ means ‘strengthened.’
1) To cause or make to stand, to place, put, set (like sitting in a chair)
2) To make firm, fix establish (like sitting firmly in a chair; or standing firmly)
3) To establish a thing, cause it to stand
4) To set or place in a balance
This is the third time I am coming to visit you. As the Scriptures say, "The facts of every case must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. [NLT]
Quoting Deuteronomy 19:15
From WEBSTER’S we find this definition of witness:
1wit-ness ’wit-nes n [ME witnesse, fr. OE witnes knowledge, testimony, witness, fr. wit intelligence] (bef. 12c) 1: attestation of a fact or event: testimony 2: one that gives evidence; specif: one who testifies in a cause or before a judicial tribunal 3: one asked to be present at a transaction so as to be able to testify to its having taken place 4: one who has personal knowledge of something 5 a: something serving as evidence or proof: sign b: public affirmation by word or example of usu. religious faith or conviction. 2WITNESS vt (14c) 1: to testify to: attest 2: to act as legal witness of 3: to furnish proof of: betoken 4 a: to have personal or direct cognizance of: see for oneself
In the Mosaic Law, it was required that two witnesses establish legal evidence. (Deut. 17:6, Deut. 19:15)
Jesus even confirmed this law in Matthew 18:15-16 – confirming how to handle a brother or sister who have sinned against you.
So, when you witness a word and agree with a 2nd or 3rd party on that word, you are legally establishing that word as truth!
Establishing a Word requires no less than two witnesses. Paul quotes the Law of Moses indicating the need to have two or even three witnesses to establish a word.
From a Legal Standpoint:
I Timothy 5:19 says: “Do not listen to an accusation against an elder unless it is confirmed by two or three witnesses.” (NLT)
Hebrews 10:28-29 says: “For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit Who brings God’s mercy to us!” (NLT)
The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus into implying that He could not be Who He said He was since He had no witnesses. And, according to the Law of Moses, there had to be two or three who bear witness of that Word – that He was Who He said He was.
The Pharisees were trying to find a loophole in the fact that the Word – the Living Word – was established by three witnesses! I John 5:7-12
Jesus – the Word –was established out of the mouth of two or three witnesses! The Father, the Son Himself and the Holy Spirit!
The Jewish rulers tried this with Jesus just a few chapters earlier. Look at Jesus’ words to them in John 5:31-32
Jesus – knowing the Law – stated that He could not –in the eyes of man – bear witness of Himself alone – for His own witness is not a valid witness – since the law requires the word of no less than two witnesses. That’s why He said in verse 32: “There is another Who bears witness of Me…”
Continue reading John 5:33-38
They could not receive the witness of the Father –because the Father’s Word was not in them. (Verse 38) So, even if God’s Word confirmed that Jesus was the Messiah, they still wouldn’t receive the Word – because they didn’t know His voice.
So we’ve got our legal minimum of two witnesses: the Father and the Son. But why stop at two; why not the full complement of "three witnesses" Moses commanded?
Skip over to John 15:26-27“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.” [NKJV]
In God’s court of His Law (His Word) – the Father, Son & the Holy Ghost have legal right to corroborate the Word (Jesus)!