“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.”- 1 Timothy 2:5-6
I began to contemplate and pray over that verse. The thing that jumped out at me was how differently Paul uses the word “testimony” than we do.
Today, we’d use the word “testimony” to describe a series of words, a monologue where we describe what Jesus has done for us. Our reason for offering up a testimony is usually to convert others. Often times we recognize that we need to do more than offer up words, but the thing is this: we still use “testimony” to describe the words we use. We say things like “We need to act Christ-like and then offer our testimony once we’ve built trust.” Testimony and action are seperate things.
The thing I notice is that the ransom is the testimony. This means, at the bare minimum, testimony and action are one and the same. If Jesus ransom of me is part of his testimony, then the things I do (and not just the words I say) are part of mine. On this understanding, the statement above is quite redundant. I wouldn’t act Christ-like first and then offer my testimony. I’d act Christ-like (partially) because it’s part of my testimony.
Perhaps there’s an even wider observation to be made. Sometimes I feel like we obsess on the cross. It’s as if the teachings before, they were a nice little appetizer. And the reseruction after was a tasty desert. But the crucifixion itself: that’s the meat and potatoes, that’s the entree itself.
In short, We identify those few hours as the atonement itself, usually.
But if we take this verse seriously it seems like there is an implication. If the testimony of Jesus is the same thing as his ransom of us, then the atonement took much longer than those few hours that Jesus hung on the cross. It was begun before his birth and it continued after his death. The atonement is ongoing, today, and Jesus teachings, both pre-Easter and post-Easter, these are intregal parts of the atonement itself.
There’s probably all sorts of implications for us in this. If we take this holistic view of what testimony is, then the very act of conversion becomes a wider drama, not a thing we can locate at only one place and time.
Choosing to follow Christ is just as important as the crucifixion itself. But these are both singular actions which exist in a wider drama.