“Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.” (John 3:33, ESV)
I have no idea why this song popped into my head when I started thinking about what it means to set a “seal” to something, but what are you going to do? In a weird way, Stevie Wonder is on the right track; he understands what ownership is and what it means, too bad his words are focused on the wrong thing.
John, on the other hand, fully understood [at least after the resurrection] what it meant to set a seal to the fact that God [And not your current love interest. Sorry, Stevie] is true.
The verb “to set a seal” (σφραγίζω) means: “to certify that something is so, attest, certify, acknowledge” (BDAG – Don’t ask. Greek lexicon), or as Louw-Nida defines it: “to demonstrate by authentic proof the truth or validity of something—‘to make known, to confirm, to show clearly.’” One commentary says: “The metaphor used is that of placing a seal on a legal document, thus indicating approval.”
It might help if we see how different English bible versions translate the expression:
- To attest that God speaks the truth – New English Bible
- Certifies that God is truthful – New American Bible
- Has affirmed – Holman Christian Standard Bible
- Has confirmed clearly – New English Translation
- Has accepted it as certified – New International Version
I kind of like has affirmed the best. In other words the one who receives the testimony of the Son of God has affirmed that God is true. True, by the way, is emphasized in the Greek. The verb form used in has affirmed denotes an act that is finished. When we come to faith in Christ then we have settled the matter of God’s truthfulness. He is true.
I like how A. W. Pink puts it:
Those who receive Christ’s testimony as true, take it unto themselves. They rest their souls upon it. They make it their own. They allow nothing to make them doubt what He has said. No matter whether they can thoroughly understand it or no; no matter whether it seems reasonable or unreasonable, they implicitly believe it. Whether their feelings respond or not, makes no difference—the Son of God has spoken, and that is enough.
The Son of God has spoken. Is that enough for you, dear reader?