Biblical Principle #245: Multiple Witnesses to Convict

Biblical Principles List

Principle

Under the Law of Moses, at least two witnesses were necessary to convict someone of a crime or offense.

Explanation

The Law of Moses required multiple witnesses to convict someone of a crime or offense. It could not be done solely upon the testimony of one person’s claims.

15 “One witness shall not rise against a man about any injustice or offense or sin concerning which he may be guilty; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.

Deuteronomy 19:15 OSB

This is a wise practice. Humans are such flawed creatures that, even if we have pure motives, our perception of what transpired is often poor.

I’m reminded of how often, while watching a sporting event, I will definitively conclude that something occurred and the officials “made a bad call,” obviously(!), because they ruled differently than I “saw it.” And then, we watch the replay, and I was wrong, sometimes badly wrong. Oof!

Try as we might, what we “see” often isn’t close to what really happened.

Besides this, if judgments could be handed out—especially those carrying the death penalty—based solely upon what one person said happened, this obviously provides motive to lie or bear false witness for perceived personal gain.

Furthermore, having multiple witness accounts of what transpired ensures that the individual(s) who brought the accusation or shared the unfavorable testimony regarding another’s malicious or otherwise harmful actions was properly protected from slander or undeserved ill treatment by attacking their testimony’s accuracy.

Thus, requiring multiple witnesses is a wise protection for all involved.

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2 responses to “Biblical Principle #245: Multiple Witnesses to Convict”

  1. Matt Gause Avatar
    Matt Gause

    Tim,
    This segment was a great one sir! I believe this system of law developed by God through the Israelites forms the basis of Western law, and civilization!!! The Judeo Christian basis of Western law……

    As for the wicked corrupt judges of Israel, it was postured by another teacher, that Jesus bypassed the official judges of Israel. He created his own “Judges” through the Great commission of HIS 70 and sent them out to the nations of Israel on a mission that should have been fulfilled and should have been operating under the current corrupt judges of His time in earth…. interesting concept eh?

    I absolutely love your series of works Tim

    Good Bless you and your family sir

    Matt Gause

    1. Tim Harris Avatar

      Thanks, Matt! I’m not that familiar with the history of Western law, but what I recall studying in college is that the Mosaic system of law had some influence upon Greek and Roman culture and law. We know certain Jews were influential in the Roman Empire in various periods, and expelled and persecuted at other times.

      Jesus’ behavior is curious in this regard because, part of His mission was to establish the rightful shepherding that was lacking among Israel’s unjust and hard-hearted rulers (see Ezekiel 34, for example). And yet, Jesus also did not come to oppose the Law but to fulfill it. Therefore, He had to live in full compliance and consistency with the Law’s instructions. He couldn’t deviate and set up His own structure prior to His crucifixion, unless it was in harmony with what the Law taught.

      It is exciting looking forward in anticipation of where the series is headed. I deeply appreciate your enthusiasm and support. It encourages me to keep going.

      Blessings,

      Tim

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