What does the Bible say about truth?
What is truth? Is truth relative? What is God’s revealed truth? This fascinating topic invites a plethora of questions and intriguing conversations. Let’s learn about what Scripture says about truth!
Christian quotes about truth
“God never made a promise that was too good to be true.” Dwight L. Moody
“It is far better to know God’s Truth than to be ignorant of it.” Billy Graham
“We know the truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart.” Blaise Pascal
“Where truth goes, I will go, and where truth is I will be, and nothing but death shall divide me and the truth.” Thomas Brooks
“The Bible must be considered as the great source of all the truth by which men are to be guided in government as well as in all social transactions.” Noah Webster
“An honest heart loves the Truth.” A.W. Pink
“The evidence for Christian truth is not exhaustive, but it is sufficient. Too often, Christianity has not been tried and found wanting – it has been found demanding, and not tried.” John Baillie
“Such is the immutability of truth, the patrons of it make it not greater, the opposers make it not less; as the splendour of the sun is not enlarged by them that bless it, nor eclipsed by them that hate it.” Thomas Adams
What is truth in the Bible?
Since the ancients hypothesized about the meaning of truth, and Pontius Pilate at the trial of Jesus retorted, “What is truth?”, people throughout history have echoed those exact words.
Today, whether people ask the question outright, their actions speak loudly enough that their belief is that truth is not a defined absolute, but is relative and a moving target. The Bible would say otherwise.
1. John 17:17 “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”
2. 2 Corinthians 13:8 “For we cannot oppose the truth, but must always stand for the truth.”
3. 1 Corinthians 13:6 “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”
The importance of truth in the Bible
Just as there are absolutes in math (2 apples + 2 apples still equals 4 apples), there are absolutes in all of creation. Math is a form of science where the absolutes have been observed and written down and calculated out. As science is simply our observation of Creation, so we are still exploring it and discovering more and more truth (absolutes) about what Creation is and how big (or small) our universe is.
And just as truth is embedded into all of creation, so does God’s Word speak to the absolutes of His rule. In fact, not only does it speak to the absolutes of who God is and His rule as Creator of all things, but His Word is declared to be truth itself. So that when we read it, we know that it refers to absolutes that are undeniably God-framed.
And so just as 2+2=4 is an absolute truth, we can also know from God’s Word this absolute truth, that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9 ESV. As well as “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” Number 23:19 ESV
5. Colossians 3:9-11 “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”
6. Numbers 23:19 “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”
Types of truth in the Bible
In the Bible, just as God inspired human authors to write out the words in various genres, so there are various genres of truths that can be found. There are:
- Religious truths: Namely, truths about our relationship with God and God’s relationship with humanity. Example: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7 ESV
- Moral Truths: Principles and rules about good behavior to know between right and wrong. Example: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets”. Matthew 7:12 ESV
- Proverbial Truths: Short sayings of common sense or folksy wisdom. Example: “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” Proverbs 18:13 ESV
- Scientific Truths. Observations about creation. Example: For he draws up the drops of water; they distill his mist in rain, which the skies pour down and drop on mankind abundantly. Job 36:27-28 ESV
- Historical Truth: Records and accounts of past events. Example: “ Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.” Luke 1:1-4 ESV
- Symbolic Truths: Poetic language used to emphasize a lesson, such as a parable. Example: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:4-7 ESV
7. Exodus 20:7 (NIV) “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”
8. Matthew 7:12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
9. Proverbs 18:13 (NKJV) “He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.”
10. Job 36:27-28 (NLT) “He draws up the water vapor and then distills it into rain. 28 The rain pours down from the clouds, and everyone benefits.”
11. Luke 1:1-4 (NASB) “Since many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3 it seemed fitting to me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in an orderly sequence, most excellent Theophilus; 4 so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.”
12. Luke 15:4-7 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
Characteristics of truth in the Bible
Truth in the Bible will take on characteristics that are consistent with how God has revealed Himself. It is important to establish these characteristics of how the worldview of Christianity understands truth in contrast to the worldview consistent with a humanist philosophy that is foundational to many in the 21st century.
In the Bible, one can find truth to be understood in the following ways:
- Absolute: As discussed above, truth is absolute. It is true all the time and stands on its own. A humanist view would say truth is relative, it moves and adapts according to the need of a person.
- Divine: Truth originates from God. As Creator of all things, He defines the absolutes. A humanist view would understand truth as originating from humanity, and therefore mutable according to the felt needs of the people.
- Objective: Truth can be rationally understood and defined. A humanist view would understand truth to be subjective, dependent upon one’s view of it, or feeling regarding it. Or it can be understood as abstract, not something that one can base convictions upon.
- Singular: Truth is understood in the Bible as a singular whole. A humanist view would see truth as bits and pieces that can be found in several different religions or philosophies (e.g. – the bumper sticker with all the religious symbols)
- Authoritative: Truth is authoritative, or instructive, for humanity. It carries weight and significance. A humanist view would say that truth is only instructive as long as it meets the needs of the individual or community.
- Immutable: Truth is unchanging. A humanist view would say that since truth is subjective and relative, then it can change to meet the felt needs of the individual or community.
13. Psalm 119:160 (NASB) “The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments is everlasting.”
14. Psalm 119:140 “Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.”
15. Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
16. Romans 3:4 “By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”
God is the Truth
As truth is absolute, divine, objective, singular, authoritative, and immutable, so all these can be said of God since God Himself is truth. Nowhere in the Bible does Scripture actually say “God is the Truth”, but we can come to that understanding based on the following passages.
Jesus, as the Son of God, proclaimed Himself as the truth:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 ESV
Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as truth:
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” John 16:13 ESV
Jesus also explains that He and the Father are one:
“I and the Father are one” John 10:30 ESV
“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” John 14:9 ESV
John describes Jesus as being full of truth:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 ESV
And John describes Jesus as true in his first letter:
“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20 KJV
17. John 14:6 (KJV) “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
18. Psalm 25:5 “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”
19. Deuteronomy 32:4 “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”
20. Psalm 31:5 “Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.”
21. John 5:20 “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”
23. John 16:13 (NIV) “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”
24. John 14:17 “the Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you do know Him, for He abides with you and will be in you.”
25. John 18:37 (ESV) “Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
The Bible is the Word of Truth
If God is truth and the Bible is the Word of God, can we safely assume that the Bible is the Word of Truth? Let’s consider what the Bible says about itself in this regard:
The clearest language on this is from when Jesus prays for His disciples and asks God to sanctify them in the truth. He prays:
“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:17 ESV
The Psalmist declared:
“The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” Psalm 119:160 ESV
“Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true.” Psalm 119:142 ESV
The wisdom of Proverbs:
“Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” Proverbs 30:5-6 ESV
Paul wrote of how the Word of truth establishes and matures believers in the truth:
Because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, Colossians 1:5-6 ESV
And likewise, James similarly speaks of how the Word of truth is what brings people into a relationship with Him:
“Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” James 1:18 ESV
27. Proverbs 30:5-6 “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. 6 Do not add to His words Or He will rebuke you, and you will be proved a liar.”
28. 2 Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
29. Psalm 119:160 (Holman Christian Standard Bible) “The entirety of Your word is truth, and all Your righteous judgments endure forever.”
30. Psalm 18:30 “As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.”
31. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
32. 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
33. 2 Samuel 7:28 “And now, O Lord GOD, You are God! Your words are true, and You have promised this goodness to Your servant.”
34. Psalm 119:43″ Never take your word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws.”
35. James 1:18 “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”
Truth vs lies Scriptures
God’s very nature being truth, is opposed to falsehood and lies.
“God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” Numbers 23:19
Satan is the father of lies and the first liar recorded in Scripture:
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5 ESV
Jesus and the Apostles warned about those who would follow in satan’s patterns of deceiving God’s people, also known as false prophets:
“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.” 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 ESV
36. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15 ESV
37. Matthew 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15 ESV
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 ESV
38. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV
39. 1 John 2:21 “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.”
40. Proverbs 6:16-19 “The Lord hates six things; in fact, seven are detestable to Him: 17 arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet eager to run to evil, 19 a lying witness who gives false testimony, and one who stirs up trouble among brothers.”
41. Proverbs 12:17 “Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit.”
42. Psalm 101:7 “No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.”
43. Proverbs 12:22 “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.”
44. Revelation 12:9 “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” Revelation 12:9
45. John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
“The truth will set you free” meaning
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 ESV
Many Christians like this passage, and celebrate this passage, but few seek to understand its meaning. And some even wonder, after they become Christians: “Why does this say I am free, yet I don’t feel free?”.
What does it mean when it says that the truth will set you free?
Let’s look at this passage in its context.
Before Jesus had said this, He made a remarkable claim about truth. He said, “I am the light of the World. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 ESV
In the Bible and in biblical times, light was understood to be the great revealer of things, including truth. For Jesus to say that He was the light of the world is the same as saying He is the truth for the world. He is the great revealer for the world to understand the truth about itself and to live appropriately according to that understanding.
God was the God of light or the source of all truth. Furthermore, God had revealed Himself with physical light in the pillar of fire before the wilderness Jews and in the burning bush with Moses. The Pharisees understood this reference to mean that Jesus referred to Himself as divine, as God. In fact, they begin to accuse Him of bearing witness to His own self and how His Father also bears witness that Jesus is the Son of God.
After Jesus teaches the Pharisees and the crowd gathered more about who He is in relationship to His Father, it states that many there believed.
And then Jesus encourages those who had believed to take their faith a step farther:
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 ESV
Unfortunately, this tripped the crowd up. The crowd consisted of Jewish Pharisees and others who had a proud heritage of being God’s chosen people through Abraham. But they were also a conquered people, no longer an independent nation of their own as in the days of David and Solomon, but a nation under the rule of Rome and Caesar, to whom they paid taxes.
They begin to argue with Jesus:
“We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” John 8:33-38 ESV
Likewise, we argue with Jesus. What do you mean, set me free? I’m not a slave to anyone. Especially if we come from a culture of independent people, such as what the United States was founded upon, we proudly say that no one owns me. Except that sin is the slave master of all. So true freedom is found when we no longer have to obey this slave master. And that freedom can only come through the truth that is shone to us through the Son of God, and as we walk in obedience to that truth, we are free from the slave master of sin.
Paul expounds on the teaching of Jesus in Galatians 4 and 5, by comparing our freedom in Christ with that of the promise through Isaac compared to Ishmael who was born to a slave. Paul admits interpreting this as an allegory (ref Gal 4:24). Accordingly, Christians are children of the promise, like Isaac, born into freedom, not into slavery like Ishmael, who was not the fulfillment of the promise.
Therefore Paul concludes:
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery… For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:1, 13-14 ESV
46. John 8:31-32 “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
48. Luke 4:18 (ESV) “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”
49. 1 Peter 2:16 “For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.”
Walking in truth
The Bible often refers to a person’s relationship with God as “walking” with Him. It implies walking in step with Him and going the same direction as God.
Likewise, one can “walk in truth”, which is another way of saying “living their life without falsehood, like God”.
Here are some examples from Scripture.
50. 1 Kings 2:4 “If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.”
51. Psalm 86:11 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.”
52. 3 John 1:4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
53. 3 John 1:3 “It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it.”
54. Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
55. Proverbs 3:3 (ESV) “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.”
Telling the truth Bible verses
As Christians are commanded to walk in the truth, in step with God, so Christians are called to tell the truth, and so emulate the character of God.
56. Zechariah 8:16 “These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace.”
57. Psalm 34:13 “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.”
58. Ephesians 4:25 “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”
59. Romans 9:1 “I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit.“
60. 1 Timothy 2:7 “And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.”
61. Proverbs 22:21 “teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth, so that you bring back truthful reports to those you serve?”
According to the Bible, it is possible for one to know the truth and to rest assured of the truth, because the truth is objective, absolute and is defined and given to us by the Creator, passed down to us through the Word of truth. Therefore, we can base our lives upon its authority, and base our convictions upon truth that is ordered and immutable since the creation of the world.