A Biblical History of 'Truth'

A word study of the original Hebrew and Greek word 'truth' provides us with a special glimpse into its important place of our lives. Hebrew reveals the Old Testament usage while the New Testament is found in the study of the Greek usage of the word 'truth.'

Old Testament

Two common OT Hebrew words of truth come from the primitive root of 'aman'. Hebrew always graphically describes its verbs. In this case, we find this root word comes from nursing and thus we also have other words meaning trustworthy, firm and steady. Reliable and faithful are the two key thoughts. One of these words is translated 'Amen' in English. It means sure, truthful and trustworthy.

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In summary, we find truth or truthfulness, faith or faithfulness as common translations for the OT Hebrew word. When we read faithfulness in the two verses just below, we should also tell ourselves 'truthful.'

"The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He." Deuteronomy 32:4, NASB.
"For the word of the LORD is upright; And all His work is done in faithfulness." Psalms 33:4, NASB.

Here are some other beautiful verses using this key OT word.

"Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them, as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens."Exodus 18:21

"24 Then the woman said to Elijah, "Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is
truth." 1 Kings 17:24, NASB.

"Listen to the word of the LORD, O sons of Israel, For the LORD has a case against the inhabitants of the land, Because there is no
faithfulness or kindness Or knowledge of God in the land." Hosea 4:1, NASB.

"These are the things which you should do: speak the
truth to one another; judge with truth and judgment for peace in your gates." Zechariah 8:16, NASB.

True instruction was in his mouth, and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity." Malachi 2:6, NASB.

Interestingly, the Hebrew word often is translated faith, trust, or believing in the Greek OT Septuagint. We cannot escape the strong connection between truth and faith. The modern world is happy to believe things that are not true. (Remember they do not believe in absolute truth so anything they believe is not reliable). So they think Christians likewise do the same. But this is not true. Biblical faith is based on that which is reliable and sure.

We see this affirmed in the way the Hebrew "amen" is used in the New Testament. One can almost feel the unwillingness of God to have faith and truth separated. Amen is used 30 times in the New Testament. Each time is a deliberate willingness to preserve the integrity of faith. We like how the Bible closes in Revelation 22:20-21,

"He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen."

The New Testament

The New Testament was written in Greek and used a number of words to translate the OT word 'truth.' The New Testament word 'aletheia' can refer to both the objective and subjective aspects of truth: absolute truth (real and therefore reliable) and a person of truth, truthful, (honest 2 Cor 7:14). The word itself is made up from two words:

  • 1) the negative prefix 'a' (no, not), and

  • 2) 'lanthano' meaning hidden or secret.

Truth then means 'not hidden.' Truth is the real state of affairs. Truth is the real picture of God, man and the world. This is the reason we define truth as God's perspective of our situation. It is the accurate and real picture. There are many false views of reality called philosophy or of man's relationship with god called religion. The Gnostic religion, an early Christian culture, got caught up with discovering what was hidden. They forgot Christ is the truth. They needed to look no further than Jesus to find God.

Let us close with some special sections from the NT with the word truth. This first section is from John. This book of 2 John is full of the word 'truth.' Evidently, this word was held more critical as people were distanced from the life of Christ. We only quote the first four verses.

"The elder to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth, for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father." 2 John 1:1-4, NASB.

This section, though again from John, contrast the source of lies with the source of truth. Note how a false reality of falsehood is created by the devil.

"You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me." John 8:44,45.

And lastly, two verses from James that enable us to be reminded of our calling to call anyone who has slid back from having God's perspective.

"My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins." James 5:19,20.

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