In Rev 1:5 Jesus Christ is described as the “faithful witness”; in Rev 19:11 He is described as “faithful and true”. Rev 3:14 combines both descriptions and says He is the faithful and true witness. In these verses He is not designated by His usual and real name, but by His attributes.
In all the above verses the word “faithful” is the translation of the Greek word pistos and refers to “one you can always rely and count on”. This characteristic of faithfulness by the Lord comes from His divine nature and perfect manhood. The Lord was ever faithful during His life and ministry on earth, and "was/is faithful to Him that appointed Him" (Heb 3:2).
World rulers, because of ignorance or lack of the facts, have often been untrustworthy and have failed their people. But this One possesses all the wisdom and knowledge. His knowledge cannot change, nor be mistaken, nor be in the least inadequate, so we can count on Him.
He is reliable. He never just judges by appearance. In addition, because He is omnipotent and because His power is always guided by His holiness and wisdom, we can rely on His plans and purposes being right and just, and carried out.
We today use the word “witness” in the sense of “witnessing an event”, or in another context of being a witness for a person, bearing testimony to a person or event, e.g. at a marriage ceremony. However the Greek word translated witness in these verses in Revelation is martus from which we get our English word “martyr”. Normally we would think of a martyr as denoting a person who loses his/her life for the sake of Christ. Here Christ is called “the faithful witness” because He proclaimed His message and died in the course of that witness. The title “witness” that John gives to Jesus, then, represents His earthly work of giving His life for many, as a faithful martyr.
He was a faithful witness, because whatever He heard from the Father, He faithfully made known to His disciples. He didn’t dilute the truth, or distort it. “What He has seen and heard, that He testifies” reports John in his gospel. (John 3:32). The Lord was a faithful witness, because He confirmed by miracles the truth which He taught in words, so that He could say, “believe Me for the very works sake (John14:11). He is a witness then for God and His truth, and He can approve of nothing which the God of truth would not approve. He was a faithful witness because He announced condemnation to the sinner and salvation to the believer.
From the manger to the cross the Lord Jesus Christ was both faithful and true. Society has invented a thousand ways of conveniently blunting the sharp end of truth, but the Lord Jesus remains the faithful and true witness. Though we fail as God’s witness on earth, Christ abides unchangeably faithful and true.
We too need to imitate our Lord and be faithful in our witness for Him. Faithful to the truth, without compromise, of the gospel of salvation through faith alone. May we be known like those at Thessalonica for our “work of faith” (1 Thess 1:3).
Are we not glad that our Lord was faithful in dying for us, and that He now lives and is faithful to care for us?
God grant us grace to be faithful, like our blessed Lord, the faithful and true witness.