"The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God." E.S.V.

There is on this site a question which looks at the meaning of the word "spirit" in this verse. Here I want to focus on "with".

Here are two "withs":

  1. with our spirit " in attendance". Much as a jury might be involved with a case. With us listening. Good News, NET Bible, Aramaic Bible in Plain English and Douay-Rheims all put "to" our spirit. Having the sense of -The Spirit bears witness to our spirit.

  2. The Holy Spirit bares witness with our spirit "doing the same, joining in, cooperating". A joint activity as in "I played tennis with a friend".

Maybe adding "in attendance", or, "doing the same" seeks to narrow down something which is open to possibility.

Does "with" fully represent the Greek or is it just the best English available?

Here are some possible areas for consideration in looking at the meaning of "with" in this verse.

  • Note the preposition is in the compound verb συμμαρτυρεῖ.
    – Perry Webb
    Apr 25, 2020 at 12:20
  • There is no preposition "with" in the Greek.
    – Dottard
    Apr 25, 2020 at 12:37
  • @Dottard Is not the concept 'with' (that is to say, the concept which English expresses as 'with') conveyed within the spectrum of meaning covered by certain Greek prepositions ? And, indeed, by prefixes as your answer demonstrates.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 25, 2020 at 19:09
  • 2
    @Dottard—Yes, there is. The English “with” is translated from the bold-faced letters in the verb συμμαρτυρεῖ. When the preposition σύν occurs in composition (i.e., with another word to form a compound), it means “with, along with, together, at the same time,.” See LSJ, σύν, D., I. Apr 26, 2020 at 2:48
  • 1
    @Dottard—Then I misunderstood your comment. There is part of a word in the Greek that can be translated into English as the preposition “with.” And, that’s all that matters, frankly. Apr 26, 2020 at 8:36

2 Answers 2


I believe “together with” may be the best translation based on the context of this passage. Paul is using “with” in the sense of testifying, as Dottard answered above, but is the Spirit testifying alone? No! He is testifying with our spirit that we are children of God, in the sense that if our spirit does not also testify to this, if our spirit is not “alive in Christ” (Ephesians 2:5), then the Spirit has nothing to testify. The testimony must be together with the testimony of our spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:3:

"Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit."

Our spirt is able to bear witness together with the Holy Spirit, who worked in our spirit to believe and that is how we know we are children of God.

  • Interesting and up-voted, but could you support this with lexical or grammatical citation ?
    – Nigel J
    Apr 25, 2020 at 19:10

The operative word is a verb not a preposition in Rom 8:16, namely συμμαρτυρεῖ (summarterei) from the root form συμμαρτυρέω (summartureo) = "to testify or bear witness with".

This verb occurs only three times in the NT:

  • Rom 2:15, who show the work of the Law, written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and the thoughts between one another accusing or also defending them
  • Rom 8:16, The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
  • Rom 9:1, I speak the truth in Christ. I am not lying. My conscience testifies for me in the Holy Spirit

Ellicott suggests:

The Spirit itself beareth witness.--What is the nature of this concurrent testimony? It would seem to be something of this kind. The self-consciousness of the believer assures him of his sonship. The relation in which he feels that he stands to God he knows to be that of a son. But, besides this he is aware of an eternal objective cause for this feeling. That cause is the influence of the Holy Spirit.

This passage makes it clear that the Apostle, in spite of the strongly mystic tone of his language elsewhere, never confuses the human and the divine.

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