Greek word - (marturion G3142, marturia G3141, martureo G3140)

Quiz - Choose the answer that is closest to what you think TESTIMONY is.
A - a salvation story
B - what is witnessed
C - a godly reputation
D - what God has done for you

Problem - Outdated, Misused

KJV Example - "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God." (2 Timothy 1:8)


This word has two meanings in Christian circles. I could not find either one of these in an English dictionary. One is that of telling a salvation experience or some other spiritual experience. Some churches have a testimony service or a time of testimonies when they encourage people to stand up and tell how God is working in their lives. The other meaning is that of a Christian reputation. In this sense, a person might be said to have a good testimony among his workers.

These meanings are good examples of what a testimony is, but they may sidetrack people from the core meaning of this term.

The core meaning of testimony is that of witnessing something.

Testimony comes from the Latin word, testis, which means witness.

Witness is another word that has been overused by the church. Christians are to be witnesses. Some even go out witnessing. But what does that mean?

To witness is to tell what has been seen or experienced.

A witness in court tells what he has seen. He does not tell about his opinion, his thoughts, his preferences, or what someone else experienced. He tells what he has seen, heard, smelled, felt, and tasted.

What he says about these things is his testimony.

There are three Greek words that are translated as testimony. They are all related and come from a larger family of words that mean witness.

The different Bible versions of the above verse show the confusion that comes along with this word. What is the testimony of our Lord? Many of the Bible versions consider it to be what Paul witnessed or said about Jesus. It is not. When Jesus was here on the earth, He simply told what He heard from the Father (John 5:19-20). He did not give His opinion. He did not make things up. He did not get it from what others said. He told what He witnessed of the Father. That is the testimony of Jesus.

Christians are expected to tell the things that Jesus witnessed. They are also expected to do the same thing: tell what they have experienced, what they have witnessed of God in their lives. This is their testimony.

Modern Synonym - what is witnessed

Bible Version Tally (how other versions translate this word) - testimony (31 of 52), testify (5 of 52), tell about (10 of 52), witness (3 of 52), speak for (2 of 52), message (1 of 52)

Breakthrough Version - "So you should not be ashamed of what our Master witnessed, nor of me, His prisoner, but suffer tough hardships together with me for the good news in line with God's ability." (2 Timothy 1:8)

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