Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 1, 1966
NUMBER 30, PAGE 6b-8

Bearing False Witness

E. C. Koltenbah

(Prov. 6:19; Matt. 15:19)

Intro. Note the change in the form of statement (Prov. 6:16-19); the first five emphasizes the sins; the last two, the sinner.

This sin is not identical to the 2nd. in this list, but a specific form of it. It has both a private and public exercise, the former involving whispering and slander, the latter often in perjury which in turn involves false-swearing, for this is the legal aspect of the matter. Thus the perjurer not only violates the command against bearing false witness, but also that of oath-breaking, i.e., swearing falsely by the name of God. Sins are related; he who practices one breaks into a big bad family and ever increases his unlawful communions.

I. The O. T. View Of Bearing False Witness.

A. Is hated of God. Prov. 6:16, 19.

B. Is forbidden in the covenant, Ex. 20:16, the commandment that guaranteed personal jus - tice.

C. May involved the 3rd. commandment, Ex. 20:7, the commandment that guaranteed a fearful and holy regard for the authority of God.

D. It involves the commandment that protects the innocent and proves the guilty. Deut.19:16-20.

E. Other texts enlighten. Prov. 12:7; 14:5,25; 19: 5, 9; 21:28; Psa.27:12.

F. Explained. The Heb. says, he that blows (utters) lies" (against another). It is used to injure, ruin, or destroy the innocent, BUT it is also used to shield the guilty!

II. The N. T. Presents The Classic Case Of Bearing False Witness - The Trial Of Jesus!

A. The Inquisition - before Annas, the Jewish choice of high priest. (Jn. 18:2-14, 19-23. )

1. What was needed?

(1) The Jews needed a charge against Jesus involving a capital crime.

(2) They needed to prosecute him by the testimony of witnesses that he was guilty of such a crime.

(3) They needed to establish it also in the Roman court in order to secure capital punishment.

2. The woeful want.

(1) Fallacy of the high priest's question -tried to get Jesus to incriminate himself. V. 19.

(2) The lawful answer - Vs. 20:-21.

a. Taught openly always; even private teaching was for publication. (Refutes later charges of seduction and sedition).

(3) Jesus sought legal procedure , but the Jews prosecuted illegally, hence tacitly admitted the appalling weakness of their case.

3. The kangaroo court - vs. 22-23.

(1) If Jesus had testified falsely charges could be legally preferred and, if proven guilty, legally punished; but he was struck illegally.

(2) If Jesus testified truthfully (he did) the official was doubly wrong (he was). Cf. Acts 23:1-3. (When do the enemies of truth proceed lawfully?)

(3) Justice falls on proven guilt; injustice flays innocence.

B. Securing the Charge - before Caiaphas, the Roman choice of high priest. Matt. 26:57, 5968; Mk.14:53, 55-65; Lu. 22:54, 63-65; Jn. 18: 24.

1. First attempt - "many false witnesses" - note the weakness of the case.

(1) Illegal - Prov.16:19, Ex. 20:16,7.

(2) Why false witnesses? Truth established Jesus' innocence.

(3) Why fail? False witnesses couldn't agree. Mk.14:56.

2. Second attempt - "certain - two - stood up." Mk.14:57-58, Matt. 26:60-.

(1) The testimony - a fallacy!

a. Made by false witnesses.

b. Misquoted Jesus. Jn.2:19. (Note: the fact that they nisquoted infers that they had come to know what Jesus actually meant.)

c. Did not agree with each other. Mk. 14: 59.

(2) The weakness of the court. Matt. 26:62-63.

a. False assumption: that this testimony established a case.

b. Cunning effort: to exhort evidence from Jesus.

c. Desperate try: to destroy a temple was not a capital crime; to build one was no crime at all.

(3) Testimony under oath. Matt. 26:63-64; Mk. 14:61-62.

a. Illegal question, No man is to be forced to incriminate himself.

b. Why answer under oath? Jesus recognized legal oaths and declared what he had taught outside the courts.

c. Psa. 2:7 confirmed the answer, but Jewish tradition aborted the scriptures by separating Messiah from Son of God.

3. The charge - "He is worthy of death". Matt. 26:64-68; Mk.14:62-65; Lu. 22:66-71.

(1) Its only strength. If Jesus had not established His claim by testimony (scriptures, John the Baptist, miracles, etc.) the court would have been right in the charge, but wrong in not proving it.

(2) Its terrible fallacy. Jesus had established his case; later sealed it by his resurrection.

(3) Its woeful setting. The persecution demonstrated with appalling illegal misconduct. They followed ungodly passions; not sanity or law, either human or divine. Quandary of the Court - the Sanhedrin's problem. Matt. 27:1-2; Mk, 15:1; Lu. 22:66- 23:1; Jn. 18:28. 1. Only one charge - blasphemy.

(1) It was capital (if guilty) before Jewish law, But he was not proven guilty.

(2) It was only a curiosity before Roman law.

(3) They couldn't legally execute without Roman law. Note that their problem was to make a public show of legality; murder would have ruined their reputation with the populance and incurred penalty of the Romans, Note further that Hebrew law prescribed stoning as capital punishment; Roman law as crucifixion. Hence, that "the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23) was known to Jesus all the while, that he must die before Roman law (Jn.12:32-33).

2, Only one aim - death.

(1) Weakness of the question - asked not to investigate, but to condemn; guilty assumed proved.

(2) Strength of the answer - the conditions. An appeal.

a. "If I tell you, you will not believe". Proven. Jn.8:59, 10:31, b. "If I ask you, you will not answer". Confirmed. Matt. 22:41-45. They dared not debate the scriptures with Jesus.

(3) Strength of the answer - prophecy. A warning. "You shall see.. ". The situation reversed: Jesus the judge; the enemies sentenced forever.

3, Only one alternative - barter with the Romans.

(1) What they could have done - repented. But they had ruled that out long before,

(2) What they did here - refused testimony of Legal defense, admitted illegal procedure, hence a fatal admission of weakness,

(3) What they determined to do - try to force Pilate's hand.

D. The Triple Charge - Evolved before Pilate. Matt. 27:11-14; Mk.M-5; Jn. 18:28-38.

1. The failure - Pilate refuses to barter. (Note the Sanhedrin's hypocrisy in avoiding ceremonial defilement while seeking to murder the innocent. Ever the cloak of hypocrisy).

(1) The law and the barter.

a. Pilate's legal right - "what accusation?

b. Sanhedrin's illegal barter - "if he were not guilty " (Hoped to secure execution without trial)

c. But he represented the emperor ("governor", lit. "procurator", Matt. 27:11 and was answerable for illegal procedure).

(2) The law and the hypocrites.

a. "go judge him yourselves" ("I don't deal in religious matters"), b. The answer - feigned respect for Roman law.

c. Its consequence - fulfilled Jesus' prophecy. Jn. 18:32.

(3) The significance of divine counsel.

a. Zeal to feign righteousness in iniquity fulfills divine prophecy.

b. The soul that destroys innocence renders indelible the flackness of its hatred.

c. Whatever is stigma in guilt is a glory to God in innocence. (Crucified in guilt a stigma; in innocence - glory to God).

2. The involvement - placing the triple charge.

(1) The new charges.

a. "He perverted our nation" --seduction!

b. "He forbade tribute to Caesar"-sedition!

c. "He claimed to be king" -- treason!

(2) The unsavory situation.

a. Jesus' judges become witnesses.

b. The witnesses assumed charges as proof.

c. They become false witnesses - "we found" --hence not witnesses," but judges with evil thoughts".

(3) The analysis developed.

a. First charge false, vague; it was phased out.

b. Second charge false; never established.

c. Third charge false, twisted; spiritual vs. political. (Note that Pilate's knowledge of 90 year's Roman administration in Palestine showed no Jewish council ever exposed any Jew who worked against Rome. Hence, this was sheer hypocrisy).

3. The Examination - Pilate's legal verdict.

(1) The only possible violation - treason. a, Pilate's query - "Are you a king?" b. Jesus' answer - "You said it"'.

c. Jesus' query-" Who told you?"

(2) The only possible solution - innocence.

a. "Am I a Jew?" Pilate knew no Jew cared for Roman law, hence Jesus was innocent as charged.

b. "What have you done?" Pilate knew the source of the charge was suspicious so must uncover it.

c. ''Are you a king then? He understood the answer; Jesus was a spiritual king in a spiritual kingdom, hence not political.

(3) The only possible verdict - not guilty!

a. "I find no fault (guilt) in this man".

b. Desperate men become profuse in accusations.

c. Jesus answers not again; Why?

(a) He could not have gained the Jews by it.

(b) He could not have effected Rome by it.

(c) He could not have prevented fulfillment of prophecy by it.

E. The Impasse - before Herod, the man to whom Jesus never spoke! Lu. 23:6-12.

1. A politician's vacillation a possible way out!

(1) Jewish pressure was hard; so was Caesar.

(2) Jesus began in Galilee; that is Herod's jurisdiction. Lu. 3:1.

(3) Here I can "pass the buck".

2. A king's fiendish glee - an opportunity for religious entertainment, Lu.23:8.

(1) Herod wanted entertainment, not truth,

(2) Jesus furnished evidence for truth, never entertained.

(3) The distance between them was too great for words!

3. An ingrate's recourse - the abuse of unholy vengeance. Lu. 23:11-12.

(1) What only a wretch would do.

(2) What even he could not do; make innocence guilty.

(3) What Pilate gained (a political friend) and lost (got the case back with the shame of mishandling it).

F. Miscarriage of Justice - the sentence of false testimony. Matt. 27:15-30; Mk. 15:6-19; Lu. 23:13-25; Jn. 18:39- 19:16; Isa. 53:8.

1. The judge barters - with the enemies of the innocent, but lost the illegal game.

(1) "Jesus or Barabbas, which?" The choice between innocence and the worst of criminality. (Who could think of choosing the latter?)

(2) But Pilate did not understand the depth of religious hatred so could not out barter the Jews.

(3) He did not understand enough of truth to realize the height of justice so could not stand by his own verdict.

2. The judge fears - for the possible truth of the innocent's claim (Jn. 19:7-8); but surrendered justice to his own shame.

(1) His fear of Justice made him search again.

(2) His love of position made him ignore again.

(3) His inward struggle made him try again.

3. The judge bows to the pressure of the wicked, but he went down with them.

(1) He washed his hands but not his heart.

(2) He passed the sentence but cast his lot,

(3) He gave his verdict but lost its import. Matt. 27:37; Mk. 15:26; Lu. 23:38; Jn. 18:19.

Conclusion: False witnesses that utter lies crucified Jesus; and they were guilty of many other sins. Their descendants are legion; they lie today. So how shall we view them?

1. Their statements are lies a. against the truth,

b. for the wrong.

2. Their attitude is evil a. love not the truth,

b. little respect for life.

3. Their motives are wicked a. seek injury or destruction of the innocent,

b. seek to shield guilt and the guilty.

4. Their acts are vile a. destroy the good

b. pervert justice.

5. Their lives are unclean a. serve the devil,

b. contrary to God.

6. Their end is accursed a. accuse like the devil (Rev.12:10

b. end in fire. Rev. 21:8).

Perjury is Satan's diatribe.

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