SPECIAL TOPIC: "TRUTH" (THE CONCEPT) IN JOHN'S WRITINGS

In a sense John combines the Hebrew background and Greek background of alētheia "truth" as he did logos (cf. 1:1-14).  In Hebrew emeth (BDB 53) denotes that which is true, or trustworthy (often associated in the Septuagint with pisteuō).  In Greek it was associated with Plato's reality versus unreality, heavenly versus earthly. This fits the dualism of John.  God has clearly revealed (the etymology of alētheia is to expose, unconceal, clearly manifest) Himself in His Son.  This is expressed in several ways.

1. noun, alētheia, truth

a. Jesus is full of grace and truth (cf. John 1:14,17 – OT covenant terms)

b. Jesus is the focus of John the Baptist's witness (cf. John 1:32-34; 18:37 – last OT prophet)

c. Jesus speaks the truth (cf. John 8:40,44,45,46 – revelation is propositional and personal)

d. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (cf. John 14:6)

e. Jesus sanctifies them in truth (cf. John 17:17)

f. Jesus (the Logos, 1:1-3) is truth (cf. John 17:17)

2. adjective, alēthēs, true, trustworthy

a. Jesus' witness (cf. John 5:31-32; 7:18; 8:13-14)

b. Jesus' judgment (cf. John 8:16)

3. adjective, alēthinus, real

a. Jesus is the true light (cf. John 1:9)

b. Jesus is the true bread (cf. John 6:32)

c. Jesus is the true vine (cf. John 15:1)

d. Jesus is the true witness (cf. John 19:35) 

4. adverb, alēthōs, truly

a. Samaritan witness to Jesus as Savior of the world (cf. John 4:42)

b. Jesus is true food and drink, as opposed to the manna of Moses' day (cf. John 6:55) 

 The term truth and its derivatives also express others' testimony to Jesus, alēthēs

a. John the Baptist's testimony is true (cf. John 10:41)

b. John's (the author of the Gospel) testimony is true (cf. John 19:35; 21:24)

c. Jesus seen as true prophet (cf. John 6:14; 7:40)

 

For a good discussion of truth in the OT and NT see George E. Ladd's A Theology of the New Testament, pp. 263-269.

 

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