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John 8:13 NASB

So the Pharisees said to Him, “You are testifying about Yourself; Your testimony is not [b]true.””

But when Christ came from the wilderness John testified of him

John 1:15 NASB

*John testified about Him and called out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who is coming after me has proved to be [q]my superior, because He existed before me.’”

After John had baptized him there was also a testimony of both the Spirit and the voice from heaven

Mark 1:10 NASB

And immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens [h]opening, and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon Him;

How then did they say he testified of himself?

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  • I am struggling to understand your question. Jesus said things about Himself which is testifying about Himself. [In Jewish law such testimony was not permitted.]
    – Dottard
    Feb 14, 2022 at 10:40
  • @Dottard,Pharisees had rejected Christ's testimony on the basis that he was testifying about himself but John the baptist had already testified about Christ during his baptism Feb 14, 2022 at 11:05
  • @Dottard,two witnesses were accepted,Christ and John Feb 14, 2022 at 11:07
  • You are missing the point - as stated in the passage above, Jesus' testimony was from the Father (and possibly the Holy Spirit?) as well - see subsequent verses.
    – Dottard
    Feb 14, 2022 at 11:10
  • @Dottard,Mark 1:7-8 Feb 14, 2022 at 11:17

3 Answers 3

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Jesus did testify ‘of himself’ - via his ‘works’, and specifically (because the Pharisees didn’t acknowledge his works) via his words. He proclaimed of himself!

The Scripture does say in Proverbs 27:2, “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.” The Scripture also states that it takes the testimony of at least two or preferably three people to establish any truth (John 8:17). Jesus needed more than the witness of Himself, and He had it through the witness of the Father (John 8:18), the witness of His works (John 5:36), and the witness of John the Baptist (John 5:32-33).

However, Jesus was in a unique situation. As stated in this verse, Jesus was the only one who knew His true origin and destination. He had to testify about Himself and then let His works and His Father (through the witness of the Holy Spirit, John 5:37) confirm His words.

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So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” (John 8:13, ESV)

What this means is that the Pharisees speaking (probably excludes some, such as Nikodemus) did not accept the witnesses Jesus gave in 5:31-40. That is in addition to (1) Jesus' witness is (2) John the Baptist, (3) Jesus' miracles, and (4) the Father's witness in the Scriptures.

If I alone bear witness [1] about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33 You sent to John [2], and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works [3] that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father [4] who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. (John 5:31–40, ESV)

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Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world; the one who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (Jn 8:12). The objection that the Pharisees raised was in response to these words. They argued that since Jesus said these things about himself, his testimony could not be true. It was a legal argument and reflects a mindset wherein they were already putting Jesus on trial.

In John 5:18-31 there is a similar incident where Jesus’ opponents objected to something that he said about himself. When he was questioned for healing a sick man on a Sabbath, Jesus said, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” (Jn 5:2-17).

For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. – Jn 5:18

The Pulpit commentary depicts the unspoken disapproval and objections that underlie the debate between Jesus and his opponents:

Verse 31 [Jn 5:31]. - We can hear between the lines the cries of an excited crowd, declaring that these words are simply his own. Such testimony as this to himself must be sustained and sanctioned. Why and how can this Teacher take such ground as to assert about himself what no prophet, no rabbi, no chief priest of the people, not even the greatest man of men, Moses himself, had ever dared to claim?

In the discourse in John 5, Jesus responded to their objections by laying out the testimony that the Father gives about him through the testimony of John the Baptist, of Jesus’ works, and of Moses and Scripture (Jn 5:32-46). In the encounter in John 8, however, the focus shifts to his own testimony.

Returning to the OP’s question, the problem lies in the apparent disconnect between what Jesus considers as credible testimony and what the Pharisees consider to be so. The Pharisees were thinking strictly in terms of human testimony, of two or more witnesses other than oneself, according to their laws (Jn 8:17, cf Deut 19:15).

Jesus, on the other hand, was making the case for why the testimony that he received was “not from man,” even if that man were John the Baptist (cf Jn 3:11-13).

You have sent messengers to John, and he has testified to the truth. 34 But the testimony I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. – Jn 5:33

Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I am testifying about Myself, My testimony is true, because I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going.” – Jn 8:14

Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you people do not accept our testimony. 12 If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven, except He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. – Jn 3:11-13

Ultimately, the testimony about Jesus rests with himself and the Father.

If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies about Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true. – Jn 5:31-32

I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me.” – Jn 8:18

In John 5 Jesus said that he was not alone in his testimony. In John 8 he expands on this thought, saying that “even if” he testified about himself (Jn 8:14), his testimony is true because everything that he said and did in essence constituted the testimony of the Father.

“He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I say to the world.” 27 They did not realize that He was speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am, and I do nothing on My own, but I say these things as the Father instructed Me. 29 And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” – Jn 8:26-20

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