Biblical Studies With an Apologetic Purpose

Bible Apologetics – Principle of Confirmed Testimony

The Bible contains an exalted message about sin and redemption. It also is a difficult and much-debated book from a pre-scientific age. Is there anything new to be learned about it? Author and speaker Darek Barefoot says there is, thanks to a method of study called typologetics (Bible apologetics based on typology). Typologetics identifies patterns that unify Biblical documents in surprising ways.

One of these patterns is based on what Barefoot calls the “principle of confirmation” from the Old Testament, a legal requirement that matters of fact be confirmed by two or three witnesses. Key groups of witnesses in the New Testament do indeed consist of three persons each. The first example is the trio of Peter, James, and John from the group of twelve apostles. Jesus had these men accompany him when he brought back to life a young girl who had died. He also chose them to be with him as he prayed in Gethsemane on the night he was arrested. The three disciples were present at these events in order to testify about them later.

A further characteristic of this trio becomes apparent under close examination. Two members of the group, James and John, are described as brothers, sons of a man named Zebedee. In every verse in which one of the brothers is identified in the four gospels, the other is mentioned along with him. A pattern in which two members of a group are more closely associated with each other than either is with the one remaining may be called the “pair-plus-one.”

The pair-plus-one pattern is also present in another trio of witnesses. Several years after the death of Jesus a council of Christian leaders was convened in Jerusalem, as described in the book of Acts. The council had to decide whether to require Gentile converts to Christianity to adopt Jewish customs. Peter offered the evidence of his personal experience sharing the gospel with non-Jews, as did the evangelists Paul and Barnabas. Paul and Barnabas had traveled extensively as a missionary team, preaching the gospel about Jesus in Asia Minor.  The two are closely associated in the central section of Acts, and are even described as giving their testimony jointly before the council.

The pair-plus-one pattern might be found other than in groups of actual witnesses. In the Bible, monuments, documents, and even verses of Scripture are treated, figuratively, as witnesses. It happens that the three passages of the Old Testament law that set forth the principle of confirmed testimony also consist of a pair-plus-one. The same also turns out to be true of the three passages that allude to the principle in the New Testament gospels. In both cases, the pattern among the three passages stretches across different Biblical books.

Is the pair-plus-one pattern as evident in human witnesses and key passages a matter of coincidence? Further videos will produce more evidence to help answer that question.

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