John 8:17-19 King James Version

It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.

The Pharisees' confusion regarding Jesus' true identity is revealed in their inquiry about the whereabouts of Jesus' father.

When the Pharisees questioned Jesus about the other man, the emphasis on the Father bearing witness to Jesus, as if He were just another man, underscores what?

  • I have no Christian vocabulary. Then I understood that Jesus said that the Father was a man too.
    – Betho's
    Dec 25, 2023 at 21:25
  • Should he refer to him as a woman?
    – Michael16
    Dec 26, 2023 at 5:44
  • 1
    The witness of two (men) is true. I am one that bear witness and the Father bears witness. (Which makes two.) There is no 'confusion' from this place. The 'confusion' comes because of the slander (seen elsewhere reported by John) that there was a 'Samaritan' involved. That was the 'confusion'. It is nothing to do with the Deuteronomy text.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 26, 2023 at 12:16
  • Son of a man is a term υιός του άνθρωπου by which (also) god addresses prophets. άνθρωπος means Adam in Genesis but literally it means the one who looks and reflects on what he sees (seeing οπός the light ανθ), another version of an overseer in paradise (different to other sons of god - egregors εγρηγοροι). Maybe here’s the key to your question.
    – grammaplow
    Dec 26, 2023 at 12:22
  • Another thing to consider is that the baptism of John is the baptism of the dead. So although by mosaic law Jesus was a son of Joseph (a man) he has a (new) Heavenly Father after the baptism, metanoia and descent of the Holy Spirit. And this is what Pharisees couldn’t see. Apocrypha Ascension of Isaiah gives context on that.
    – grammaplow
    Dec 26, 2023 at 12:36

3 Answers 3


The operative word in John 8:17 is ἄνθρωπος (anthropos) which can mean any "person", not necessarily male. (See BDAG). It can also mean "mankind" or any individual of any kind.

Thus, Jesus, in referring to God as a "person" or "individual" (as the Greek word means) is not doing any violence to the language or meaning.

[Side note: it is the Greek word ἀνήρ, or, ἀνδρός that specifically means a "male", or, "husband".]

Lastly, recall that Jesus' favorite title for Himself is ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ("The Son of Man", using the same word), followed by "The Son of God".

  • I liked your argumentation, but I had difficulty fully understanding it. After it, I believe I might be interpreting Jesus' statement in the same way the Pharisees misunderstood it. If that's the case, you answered the question correctly.
    – Betho's
    Dec 25, 2023 at 21:22
  • 1
    @Betho's - sometimes the pharisees appear to have deliberately misunderstood.
    – Dottard
    Dec 25, 2023 at 23:33
  • Or John deliberately portrays them that way ;-) Dec 26, 2023 at 2:24
  • I did ot understand the last words . . . . 'followed by "The Son of God". I do not recall Jesus ever stating those words.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 26, 2023 at 7:49
  • I wonder if you could possibly give some more information regarding anthropos. You say 'see BDAG' but you do not cite it. Neither Thayer nor Strong Biblehub give any indication that anthropos could mean 'person'. All the references I can find are to man, mankind, a man etc.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 26, 2023 at 7:52

Nowhere does Jesus say that His Father is a man!

Quoting from the Law and adding “men” by Jesus doesn’t mean that He said His Father was a man. On the contrary!


  1. First Jesus said even if He witnesses (alone) concerning Himself, His witness is true. Why?

“Even if I witness concerning Myself, My witness is true; for I know from where I came, and where I go” (verse 14).

He explains:

“You are from below; I am from above. You are from this world; I am not from this world” (verse 23).

What Jesus implied here is that He is more than a mere man. He came from heaven and so His one witness was weightier than the witness of men!

  1. Yet, Jesus quotes from the Law and says that your Law states that “the witness of two men is true” (verse 17).

What Jesus says here is this, in my understanding:

My lone witness is more than enough because I came from above. Still, to satisfy your legal requirement of two witnesses, here take the witness of Myself (which is more than enough of two because, since I came from above, I am more than a mere man) and that of My Father (who is way more than all men).

Here Jesus did not even imply that God was a man because, as a perfect Jew, He knew Hosea 11:9, where Yahweh says:

“For I am God, and not man, the Holy One in your midst”!!

  • The Hebrew in Hosea 11:9 does not seem to warrant adding "a". Should not the translation be "for I am God and not man, I am the Holy One among you"? When God takes an oath in his name (for there is no name higher), he never breaks it, as do men. His holy nature prevents him breaking his oath, unlike unholy men who, the more they break their oaths/covenants, the more litigation arises in society. When God swears, his holy oath assures that he will not change his mind, as do men, for he is God and not man. +1
    – Anne
    Dec 30, 2023 at 11:12
  • 1
    Thank you Anne for your support. I have updated my answer as per your comment. (Instead of LITV, I have used MKJV for the quote). Dec 30, 2023 at 12:53
  • The verse in Hosea says I am El, not Elohim. Do you see the significance to “God” choosing to identify Himself with the singular instead of the more common plural? “I will not execute my burning anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God (El) and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.” Dec 30, 2023 at 14:18
  • Does that make any real difference, Revelation Lad? What about instances when Yahweh says, “Hear, My people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you; I am God (Elohim), your God (Elohim)” (Psalms 50:7)? Dec 30, 2023 at 15:48

We may have a problem here in the transmission of Jesus' words from Hebrew/Aramaic to Greek. The actual text of "the law" is as follows:

Deuteronomy 19:15

One witness alone shall not stand against someone in regard to any crime or any offense that may have been committed; a charge shall stand only on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

When Jesus actually said what is reported in John 8:17 in his own language, he may have said not "two men" but "two witnesses." This would eliminate the problem the OP mentions, since God can be a witness without being a man. Moreover, even if Jesus used the term "man" it is clear that he meant "a person who is witness." (see @Dottard's answer)

  • 1
    Martus Strong 3144 would be the Greek word 'witness' to express ed Strong 5707 the Hebrew word 'witness'. But the recorded word is anthropos and the question is 'Why is that reported' ?
    – Nigel J
    Dec 26, 2023 at 12:07

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