2

What is the difference in meaning between "a witness to" and "a witness for"? E.g.,

  • Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God...
  • Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness of Jesus and for the word of God...

I am guessing that the preposition to refers to the witness standing outside the "event" observing the happenings, while of refers to the witness being inside the event, involved in it and witnessing from the inside.

Basically, to me, to and of depict the location of the witness in relation to observing the event. Is that the case?

2

Witness to is more of an action/verb. You use it when you say someone is being witness to hence he is witnessing.

Witness of is more of a noun form where the person has been a witness of something.

With witness to you are describing the act and with witness of you are describing the person.

  • Will the downvoter please explain what was wrong with this response? It mirrored my thought process exactly and it would be helpful to know why you disagreed with it. – Andy May 16 '14 at 16:26
2

Firstly, running a quick NGram search shows that "witness to" is significantly more common.

Aside from that, browsing through the various uses found through a websearch, it looks like "witness to" is used when expressing that "someone gave witness to something" while "witness of" is used to express that "someone is a witness of something".

This means that "witness to" is usually paired with the action of witnessing and "witness of" is describing someone who is a witness of something. In your examples:

1) Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God...

2) Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness of Jesus and for the word of God...

I would claim that (1) is correct. (2) would be more correct if it were worded as such:

2b) Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because they were witnesses of Jesus and of the word of God...

protected by Mari-Lou A Jul 4 '16 at 0:53

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.