By Charles H. Welch
The apostle follows the statement that Christ is the Mediator and the One Who
gave Himself a ransom for all, with the words ‘To be testified in due time’ (1
Instead of slowly accumulating Scripture evidence, and then announcing the
conclusion to which that evidence points, we open this study with a proposition,
and then proceed to establish its truth, the bearing of this proposition upon
the words of 1 Timothy 2:6 just recorded will then, we trust, be recognized by
all. The proposition is this: ‘Every dispensational change, or every vital link
in the dispensational development is the subject of
positive witness in the New Testament’.
The word translated ‘to be testified’ in 1 Timothy 2:6 is
marturion, the noun
‘witness’ is martur,
and the verb ‘to witness’ is
martureo. Other variants
are made up by combining the root of the word with
kata down or against,
upon and sun with. Lexicographers differ
considerably with regard to the supposed etymology of the word
One deduced it from the ancient word mare
‘the hand’ another from
meiro‘to divide or
decide’; another derives it from the root mart
which means a mark, and yet another from a Sanscrit root meaning to remember. It
is evident that the origin of the word is lost in obscurity, and that it would
be very unwise and unsafe to build a doctrine upon such uncertain foundations.
No such ambiguity shadows the origin of the English word ‘witness’, it is
derived from witan ‘to know’, the synonym
‘testimony’ being derived from the Latin testes
The great dispensational change ushered in with the advent of Christ was the
change from law to grace, and this in itself was a subject of many subdivisions
as we shall see. The first witness of the New Testament is John the Baptist.
‘There was a man sent from God, whose name was John, the same came for a witness
... John bare witness ... John bare record ... I saw and bare record’ (John
1:6,7,8,15,32,34). John’s testimony is that Jesus is the Christ, the Light of
men, the Lamb of God, the King. He declares that he himself was sent as a
forerunner, in fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3-5, and preached:
‘Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matt. 3:1,2). This witness of
John, was endorsed by the Saviour Who said: ‘Ye sent unto John, and he bare
witness unto the truth’ (John 5:33). An element of miracle is found in
connection with the birth of this first witness who was to go before the Lord
‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’ (Luke 1:17). John could say ‘that He should
be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water’ (John
The second witness is John the apostle. The attention of the reader of John’s
gospel is focussed upon the ‘finished’ work of the Son of God (John 4:34; 17:4;
19:30). This last reference is John’s own testimony as to what took place at the
‘And he that saw it bare record, and his record is
true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe’ (John 19:35).
John has much precious truth to make known, and for the grace and glory
revealed in his ‘gospel’ we thank God, but let us never forget that he was also
one of a chain of witnesses who ‘saw and heard’ and whose record is an essential
link in understanding the purpose of the ages.
The witness of the early Acts is to the Resurrection. ‘Ye shall be witnesses
unto Me’ (Acts 1:8).
‘Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same
day that He was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us
of His resurrection’ (Acts 1:22).
Here there is an unbroken chain of evidence, from the baptism of John unto
the Ascension. To this, of course, could be added the supplementary witness
recorded in Acts 5:29-32, ‘and we are His witnesses of these things; and so is
also the Holy Ghost Whom God hath given to them that obey Him’. Or again as it
is written in Acts 10:39 and 41. At the conversion of the apostle Paul, another
witness appears who was destined to carry the torch of truth to its furthermost
bounds. The night following his apprehension by the Roman guard, the Lord
appeared to Paul and said: ‘Be of good cheer, Paul; for as thou hast testified
of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome’ (Acts 23:11). Here
then is a further extension of evidence, linking the apostolic witness at
Jerusalem with far-off Rome.
At his conversion, Ananias, who had been sent by the Lord, said to Paul: ‘The
God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know His will, and see
that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of His mouth. For thou shalt be His
witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard’ (Acts 22:14,15).
The witness of Paul is twofold. The first part of his testimony ended at
Ephesus (Acts 20:21), ‘testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks,
repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ’.
This testimony, however, came to an end: ‘And now, behold, I know that ye
all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no
more’ (Acts 20:25). The reason for this is given in verses 22-24. ‘And now I go
bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem ... bonds and afflictions abide me. But none
of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I
might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the
Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God’. The twofold witness of
the apostle is categorically stated in Acts 26:16. ‘I have appeared unto thee
for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness BOTH of
these things which thou hast seen (Acts 22:14,15) and of
those things in the which I will appear
unto thee’. The testimony here is unmistakable. ‘Both’ must refer to two things.
It cannot be used of one only.
‘These things’ are set over against another group called ‘those things’. ‘I
have appeared’ is placed in contrast with
‘I will appear’, and the whole commission
is concluded with a reference to the Gentiles in the present ‘unto whom now I am
sending thee’ (as an apostle apostello).
This ‘prison’ ministry to the ‘Gentiles’ constitutes the final witness of the
apostle, and leads us to 1 Timothy 2:6,7, ‘to be testified in due time.
Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle (I
speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the
GENTILES in faith and verity’. Here is a
witness which is upon oath - so solemn, so important, so opposed is the
testimony here given. The translation ‘to be testified in due time’ is too tame
a rendering to represent the apostle’s intention here. The A.V. margin draws
attention to the fact that the original does not use the verb ‘to testify’ but
the noun ‘a testimony’, and the words translated ‘in due time’ are in the
idiois ‘seasons peculiar’ or ‘its own season’. We meet the
same terms in Titus 1:1-3 where we read: ‘Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle
of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect; and the acknowledging of
the truth which is after godliness; in hope of eternal life, which God, that
cannot lie, promised before the world began, but hath in due times (kairois
idiois) manifested His word through preaching, which is
committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour’.
Again, in 2 Timothy 1, Paul writes: ‘Be not thou therefore ashamed of the
testimony (the witness still going on) of our Lord, nor of me His
prisoner ... according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in
Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest ... whereunto I am
appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles’ (2 Tim.
1:8-11). Both the passages in Titus and the one here go back to a promise and a
purpose made ‘before the world began’, literally ‘before age times’ and which
finds the time of its testimony NOW, and the instrument of its revelation Paul
in his three fold office.
of the Gentiles.
The time had come when ‘all men’, not Jews and proselytes only were the
object of Divine love. This ministry was entrusted to the apostle Paul, the only
one designated ‘The apostle of the Gentiles’. This testimony had its ‘own
peculiar season’ for making its blessed theme known.
The translation ‘in due times’ entirely hides the peculiar character of these
times from the reader. Idios means
anything peculiarly one’s own. Thus an idiograph
means a trade mark, which must of necessity be ‘peculiarly one’s own’. An
idiom is a mode of expression peculiar to a language. An
idiosyncrasy is a peculiarity of temperament or constitution, something
peculiar to and distinguishing an individual. Even the words
idiot and peculiar when taken to
mean one who is of weak intellect, are so used because such persons are ‘on
their own’, and different from the normal. The word ‘peculiar’
in like manner is derived from the Latin peculium ‘private property’.
We have it, therefore, on the highest of all authority, that:
Dispensational changes are not left to the process of deduction, they are
the subjects of witness and testimony.
The present dispensation is differentiated from all that goes before it,
by the fact that it has its own peculiar
apostle, Paul, who ministered in his own
peculiar condition ‘the prisoner of Jesus Christ’ to his
own peculiar company ‘the Gentiles’,
relative to a peculiar period ‘before
age times’, regarding a calling that has its
own peculiar seasons, which season is drawing near to its close, as a
comparison of the signs of the times with 2 Timothy 4 will make clear.
By the testimony of 1 Timothy 2:6,7, Dispensational Truth is for ever lifted
above the fog of speculation and placed upon the unimpeachable ground of
accredited testimony - for which let all true Bereans praise God and take
courage. Today, no such personal ‘testimony’ can be given. All that we can do as
preachers and teachers is to abide by these initial records, and see to it that
all our dispensational subdivisions harmonize with the witness that God has
appointed. We rejoice that we are not called upon to ‘prove’ by any process of
argument the distinctive character of the dispensation of the Mystery. Paul was
alone commissioned to make that testimony clear and he has done so for all time.