John 5:34—Did Jesus accept human testimony about who He was?

Problem: In this verse Jesus rejected human testimony about Himself, insisting, “I do not receive testimony from man.” But elsewhere He accepted Peter’s testimony that He was the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matt. 16:16–18). In fact, even in this same book (John 15:27) Jesus said to His disciples, “And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”

Solution: The difference in these statements is due to the circumstances of the testimony. He did not accept mere human testimony to establish who He was, but He did accept it to propagate who He was. God, by miraculous acts, established who Jesus was (cf. Acts 2:22; Heb. 2:3–4), not human beings. On the other hand, once humans discovered what God had disclosed, their testimony was valid. Even after Peter’s great confession, Jesus reminded him that “flesh and blood has not revealed this to you” (Matt. 16:17). The matter can be summarized in this way:

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.