Ambassadors and Witnesses

God designated the people of Israel “my witnesses”; “Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD [Jehovah]” (Isa 43:10).[1] A modern cult has hijacked that commission to Israel and entitled their organization “Jehovah’s Witnesses”! When the Lord Jesus introduced the Church Age, He said to His own, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me,” “my witnesses” (Act 1:8 RV). In reality, then, Christians are “Christ’s Witnesses.” Our remit as believers is to testify of Him who purchased us by His blood.


The two words in our title embrace our responsibilities as Christ’s representatives in a hostile world. “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ” (2Co 5:20). The word “ambassador” implies that we act as representatives, speaking on behalf of Deity. To use the language of the context, we are ambassadors for Christ; God is beseeching through us; we appeal in Christ’s stead. The fact that we are God’s envoys demands that our activities be carried out with a dignity that befits our link with the Sovereign of the universe. Some think that if we are going to win people we must be like them, including adopting their styles and appearance, but really, provided we are not showy and extravagant, the clean, tidy, appropriate appearance that befits ambassadorship will make an impact. The very appearance of Solomon’s servants, including “their apparel,” was one of the things that impressed a heathen queen about their master (1Ki 10:5).

Another characteristic of an ambassador is maturity; that thought is embedded in the original meaning of the word. For example, Paul used a word from the same family to describe himself as “Paul the aged” (Phm 9). Thus, as ambassadors we must avoid trivializing the message we carry and treat the whole enterprise with the esteem and maturity that befits our status; we should never dumb-down the gospel in a childish way.

Added to dignity and maturity, the ambassador requires bravery, for he is making representations to his Sovereign’s enemies. It is “a ministry of reconciliation” that he carries. His message is “the word of reconciliation”; his appeal is “Be ye reconciled to God” (2Co 5:18-20). Paul himself had the necessary courage for ambassadorship, so that as a result of his faithful commitment to the task he became “an ambassador in bonds” (Eph 6:20). An ambassador would often wear a chain of office. Paul’s chain was of a different character, yet he wore it with a dignity in keeping with his office as a bold, faithful representative of heaven in an aggressive world.

Another feature of the ambassador is sincerity, as conveyed in the words “beseech” and “pray” (2Co 5:20), or “appeal” and “implore” as in the ESV. A true ambassador will not present cold facts in an unemotional way. There will be warmth and winsomeness about his preaching. His presentation will never be in “take it or leave it” mode. Like Peter, he will exhort the rebels, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Act 2:40). Like Paul, his presentation of the “gospel of God” will be an “exhortation” (1Th 2:2-3). Whether in public preaching or personal witnessing, then, let us be marked by the credentials of a true ambassador – dignity, maturity, bravery and sincerity.


While the word “ambassador” is used sparingly in the New Testament, the same cannot be said for the word “witness.” Interestingly, the term is applied mainly to the apostles, but doubtless the principles connected with its usage apply to our own obligations as those who now bear the responsibility of testifying for Christ.

One passage will supply us with some guidelines to encourage us all to be witnesses. Ananias said to Paul, “Thou shalt be his witness unto all men” (Act 22:15), and in his address to King Agrippa, Paul said, “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead” (26:22-23).

Notice first the Strength for Witnessing – help from God. There is no doubt that time and energy have to be devoted to extensive effective witnessing, but the spiritual power that is needed is sourced in God. Dependence on the Spirit’s power is vital if gospel witness is to produce results (1Co 2:4; 1Th 1:5). Exhausting activity in itself will never accomplish the task.

Next, observe his Consistency in Witnessing – “I continue unto this day.” His commitment to the work of evangelism was not spasmodic. His involvement in service was not jerky, interrupted by lapses and distractions; Paul was focused.

The Objects of his Witnessing are worth noting – “both small and great.” He saw the world as his parish and individuals from every walk of life as candidates for salvation. He really believed what he wrote, that it is God’s will that all men should be saved (1Ti 2:4), and so he witnessed to all. “Small and great” are condemned by the law (2Ki 23:2). “Small and great” are destined for the grave (Job 3:19). “Small and great” will stand at the great white throne (Rev 20:12). Hence, “small and great” need someone to witness to them.

The Basis for his Witnessing was the Bible – “the prophets and Moses.” Apologetics may have their place. Contemporary illustrations can be helpful, but in reality, there is no substitute for the presentation of Bible truth and the ability to quote Bible verses, whether in public preaching or personal witnessing. “The entrance of thy words giveth light” (Psa 119:130).

The Content of his Witnessing was Christ – His sufferings and triumphant resurrection. As quoted already, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me” (Act 1:8). We present Him as the only remedy for human need. “Behold the Lamb of God.” “We have found the Messiah.” “We have found him.” “Come, see a man … ” (Joh 1:29,41,45; 4:29). These early witnesses focused on Christ!

The challenge to us all is our availability as witnesses and our readiness to testify. “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1Pe 3:15).

Must I go, and empty-handed?
Must I meet my Savior so?
Not one soul with which to greet Him:
Must I empty-handed go?[2]

[1] Bible quotations in this article are from the KJV unless otherwise noted.

[2] Charles C. Luther (1847–1924)