What Is The Scriptural Definition of Truth?
February 23, 2023Empowering Influence, God-in-Christ
Our tendency today is to see truth as a series of facts or doctrines that belong to an ideology or a religion. This indicates that we tend to think of truth as a set of facts or ideas we mentally accept and come to believe. You may be surprised to learn how Scripture defines truth and how the word is used. So, what is the scriptural definition of truth?
Almost without exception, the word ‘truth’ in our Bibles comes from one Hebrew word and one Greek word. The Hebrew word emeth means “firmness, stability” and is in the Old Testament 127 times. The Greek word aletheia means “essence revealed by appearance” and is in the New Testament 110 times.
When combining the Greek and Hebrew, Scripture says that truth is “a stable illustration of what is inside, as real and genuine.” For example – a gold plated vessel is not truthful because its appearance does not display its interior. A solid iron vessel is truthful because its appearance agrees with its interior. So, Scripture primarily defines truth as “a firm display of inner essence.”
Standing before a ruler of the day, Jesus said “My kingdom is not of this world (order)…I have come into this world, to bear witness to the truth (of God’s reign).” Pilate’s response to Jesus was like many today, “What is truth?” He then walked away as if he did not want to hear or view it. (a) [see endnotes for Scriptures]
Truth is honest and sincere. “Let us not love with word or tongue, but in-deed and truth.” (b) Love is more than words or actions; it includes our inner core and essence. Like worship is more than an appearance, “True worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth.” (c) True worship involves our whole being, so our mind cannot be somewhere else.
When we are experiencing God’s version of truth, the core values revealed by Jesus Christ are visibly demonstrated by our words and actions. Scripture explains this principle when speaking of faith: “For just as the body without spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” (d) If our faith is not visible, it is unproductive, or dead. Faith produces good works and our good works illustrate faith.
Faith produces good works and our good works illustrate faith.
God’s Truth In Human Life
While God is an unseen Spirit, His expression of “grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ…he has explained Him.” (e) The Gospel of John also declares: “In the beginning was the word (Greek-logos, spoken expression), and the word was with God, and the word was God…and the word became… flesh…full of grace and truth.” (f) In other words, the life and words of Jesus Christ are visible expressions of our heavenly Father’s grace (unmerited favor) and truth (revealed essence).
When the Eternal One’s expressive word took on the form of the man Jesus Christ, God revealed His inner desire for our lives. Jesus even stated: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (g) Linguists verify this verse can be translated as: “I am the truthful way to live.” Jesus illustrated God’s grace and truth in a human life, so we could better understand God’s intention and desire for each of us.
Jesus is described as “the image of the invisible God,” (h) “the radiance of His glory and exact representation of His nature” (i) and the “firstborn (pre-eminent) of all creation.” (j) Jesus is the most exact display of God’s truth in a human life. He revealed what God’s influencing reign is like in this life. This allows us to better understand how to follow His guidance.
Scripture indicates truth can, at least in part, speak of knowledge: “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Some “will turn away their ears from the truth…to myths,” instead of “handling accurately the word of truth.” (k) However, truth is much more than a thought, knowledge, doctrines, expressions, or a spiritual atmosphere.
This is why Jesus said “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (l) When we “know by experience” God’s perspective of truth, as revealed in Jesus, we experience a sampling of “eternal life.” (m) As our consciousness shifts, we partake of eternal qualities of life while on earth.
Jesus is the most exact display of God’s truth in a human life.
The Father’s Version of Truth
The first generation of delivered Israelites failed to enter the full benefits of freedom because their perceptions and experience kept them in a state of crippling fear. (n) Their lives fell short of God’s intention because they could not believe and walk into the truth God was revealing. Our early perceptions and understanding of truth can also keep us from experiencing the fullness God is revealing.
Consider this New Testament example of a growing progression: All who receive God-in-Christ are given “the right to become children of God.” (o) Then, “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (p) When we respond to our heavenly Father as adoring children, we receive from God and cease living as wild offspring. (q) And then, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (r)
Closet believers are not walking in truth because their faith is not visible. We are instructed to “let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (s) When our expressions and actions are in agreement with God’s influencing reign, we partake of the quality features and everlasting components of God’s truth.
Is God’s illustrated truth really becoming our truth? How well are we applying the words and life example of Jesus to our lives? To what degree do we understand and our lives illustrate the truth demonstrated in Jesus Christ? Are we firmly displaying an inner essence that is godly?
Our Bibles connect many values and actions to truth: the spirit of truth, love of truth, word of truth, knowledge of truth, belief in truth, and way of truth. God’s truth is very personal, intending to include our words, work, walk, worship, hearing, obedience, endurance, sincerity, and peace.
Acceptance of our heavenly Father’s version of truth becomes a firm and stabilizing factor in our lives. During this life, “We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.” (t) How well are we becoming?
Let us live our faith as expressions of God’s grace and truth. Even though our view may be a bit dim, the richer our interaction with God is, the more effective we become as maturing children. Go and walk in truth today!
Our acceptance of our heavenly Father’s version of truth becomes a firm and stabilizing factor in our lives.
a) John 18:36-38; b) 1 John 3:18; c) John 4:23-24; d) James 2:20- 26; e) John 1:17-18; f) John 1:1-3, 14; g) John 14:6; h) Colossians 1:15; i) Hebrews 1:3; j) Colossians 1:15; k) 2 Timothy 3:7; 4:4; 2:15; l) John 8:32; m) John 5:24; 6:47; n) Numbers 14:1-4; Acts 7:39; o) John 1:12; p) Romans 8:14; q) Luke 15:11-24; r) Galatians 5:22-25; s) Matthew 5:15-16; Luke 11:33-36; t) 2 Corinthians 3:18;
Keith Carroll, “The Relationship Guy”
Relational Gospel Founder
Created To Relate author