1. Your mention of Acts 4:31, where all were filled with the Spirit and spoke the word boldly, builds on the foundational event of Acts 2, where the Spirit comes to all (the 120 of Acts 1:14-15, which include many women), and the result is that the prophecy of Joel 2 is fulfilled (“I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy . . .”). Similarly, your comment about Paul’s use of “adelphoi” as including women sometimes as well as men is especially clear in Rom. 16, where after listing various names of male and female co-workers, Paul concludes in 16:17 – “I appeal to you, brothers (and sisters) . . .”

    In the Gospel of John, Jesus’ primary gift for his disciples, after he returns to the Father, is the Spirit of truth, who will help disciples remember and pass on Jesus’ words and witness (Jn.14-16). Thus when Jesus earlier tells the Samaritan woman that the day will come, and now is, when they will worship in “spirit and truth,” I think Jesus means in the future he will give all disciples the Spirit of truth, and whenever and wherever they speak that truth, there is worship. That future day is already starting in Jesus, as the first and foremost one “on whom the Spirit remains” (Jn. 1:32-33), and in whom the Spirit speaks (truth). As Jn. 3:34 notes, “For he whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for it is not by measure that he gives the Spirit.” This speaks of Jesus, but after Jesus is glorified, he will pour out his living water, the Spirit, on all believers (Jn. 7:37-39), the same living water he speaks to the Samaritan woman about in Jn. 4.

  2. You said, “After all, didn’t the 17th century confessions get it all right!” sigh Far too many on both sides of the baptism debate think so. The argument based on clergy/layman distinctions is further evidence that some have not removed their foot from Rome’s doorstep. Reformed AND reforming, to the glory of God. Even if it means we disagree with a statement or two in a beloved confession; that was written by sinful men in the midst of their own history and unexamined presuppositions.

    Press on, Bob!

  3. It’s truly sad that this argument would need to be made in the church today. Were it not for those arguing against lay-evangelism, it seems obvious that such a conclusion would naturally arise from a plain reading of the text.

    • Bob Gonzales


      In general I agree with Dr Waldron’s treatment of the “witness” terminology. Above I write,

      Throughout John’s Gospel this term is employed to denote the official witness that the OT Scripture writers bore of Christ (5:39), that John the Baptist bore of Christ (1:15, 32, 34; 3:26; 5:33), that Jesus bore of himself and the truth (1:8; 3:11; 3:32; 4:44; 5:31, 36; 7:7; 8:13-14, 18; 10:25; 18:37), that the Father bore of Christ (5:32, 37; 8:18), that the Spirit would bear of Christ (15:26), and that Christ’s chosen apostles were to bear of him (1:34; 15:27; 19:35; 21:24). If there were ever a role that might be too lofty for laypeople, it would be “bearing witness”!

      For that reason I found it odd that R. Scott Clark dissuades Christians from “evangelizing” the lost but encourages them to “bear witness.”

      Nevertheless, I’ve found at least one occasion in John’s Gospel where he employs the Greek term μαρτυρέω to denote the “witness” or “testimony” of an ordinary person concerning Jesus as the Messiah:

      Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony [μαρτυρούσης], “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world” (4:39-42).

      Note the parallel between the woman’s “testimony” (4:39) and “[Jesus] word” (4:41) and “what [she] said” (4:42a) and “we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world” (4:42b). So apparently the woman’s witness consisted in this: “This man Jesus whom I just met and who told me all about myself is the Messiah, the Savior of the World.”

      So I think we can say that the term μαρτυρέω, like the Greek term κηρύσσω, is used both for the more technical or official kind of gospel proclamation of ordained ministers and also for the less technical or official kind of gospel proclamation of non-ordained laypeople.

  4. It is the obligation of every Christian to be conformed to the image of Christ. We read the Gospel accounts in order to learn what Jesus said and did, and it is Paul’s desire in Philippians 2 that we have the same mind in us as Christ had. Jesus certainly preached the Gospel, but he wasn’t preaching when he shared the Gospel with the thief on the cross. He had a teaching and healing ministry that allowed him to share the Gospel message in many ways other than just preaching. If we (the body of believers) have the same mind in us as Christ we will feed the hungry, visit the sick, attend to the needs of the impoverished, and so forth rather than just warm the pews on Sunday. Martin Luther, the original reformer himself, had little regard for the epistle of James, but included in our New Testament canon is James 1:22 “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only.” I think the teachings of Jesus, the writings of Paul, and even a look at Isaiah 1 give credence to this command.

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