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Really, there is no way to “walk in the truth” without fully understanding what the Bible says about the truth.
John 18:38 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”
In the United States, there are 350,000 churches, making up hundreds of denominations. Eighty percent of these are stagnant, with nineteen percent growing only through childbirth, and less than one percent being by conversion. Moreover, there is a great divide among those Christians, who make up these churches. How can we as Christians turn this around, and find unity amongst ourselves? Each Christian, regardless of background, needs to come to a full and complete knowledge of the only true God; moving to bring their lives in harmony with his Word, the Bible.
Pontius Pilate (d. 36 C.E.) was the Roman governor of Judea who ordered that Jesus be crucified. This was the man that asked the famous question above, “What is truth?” The two men facing each other could hardly have been more different. Pilate was a skeptical sarcastic, distrustful, ambitious, wealthy politician seeking to do anything to advance his own career. Jesus was a humble teacher who rejected wealth and status and was ready to sacrifice his life so that he might save the lives of others. Clearly, then, these two men would not be in agreement, especially as to the matter of truth.
The statement that prompted Pilate to ask the question is worth considering. “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 testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.’” (John 8:37) Truth to Jesus was not relative, elusive, incomprehensible notion. Just a year earlier, teaching after the Festival of Booths, “Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you remain in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” (John 8:31-23) Where can such truth be found? On Thursday afternoon, Nisan 14th, just after the Passover feast, Jesus said in prayer to the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” The Bible of sixty-six books is the inspired, fully inerrant Word of God, which reveals the truth, and is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be fully competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17) Pilate uninterestedly rejected the opportunity to learn such truth.
Here Jesus stood before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, as a condemned criminal. Yes, Jesus was born, came into this world, for the purpose of testifying to the truth, “to give his soul as a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28) Pilate’s reply was a memorable question: “What is truth?” (John 18:38) “With this flippant remark, Pilate dismisses Jesus’ claim that he came to testify to the truth and that everyone on the side of truth listens to him.” Witherington (1995: 292) writes, “Apparently Pilate concludes that Jesus is a deluded quack whom he can banter with but not take seriously.” Carson (1991: 595) describes Pilate’s response as “curt and cynical” and thinks that his reply is terse “either because he is convinced there is no answer, or, more likely because he does not want to hear it.” Ridderbos (1997: 596) sees Pilate “shrugging his shoulders, in effect.” Hendriksen and Kistemaker observe, “When Pilate hears this remark about the truth, he shrugs his shoulders. Skeptic that he is, this subject no longer holds any interest for him. R. C. H. Lenski writes Pilate’s “tone is that of an indifferent worldling who by his question intends to say that anything in the nature of religious truth is a useless speculation.” (Lenski 1942, 2008, 1236)
Thus, the Roman governor likely asked the question with cynical disbelief, saying, in essence, “Truth? What is that? There is no such thing.” Many share this disdainful attitude toward truth today, including many Christian leaders, sad to say, as well as secular educators and politicians. Many today view truth, especially moral and spiritual truth, as not absolute, but rather relative and constantly changing or developing. Of course, this takes us back to the prophetic words of Isaiah, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!” (Isa. 5:20-21) In other words, people today believe that individuals can determine what is right and wrong for themselves. In conjunction with this, they absolutely reject the Word of God, viewing its values and moral standard as out-of-date.
Anyone who is in college today or who follows politics and current affairs will recognize that Pilate’s skeptical view of truth is quite common today. Many today believe that truth is relative. What does that mean? Matthew J. Slick writes, “Relativism is the philosophical position that all points of view are equally valid and that all truth is relative to the individual. This means that all moral positions, all religious systems, all art forms, all political movements, etc., are “truths” that are relative to the individual. Under the umbrella of relativism, whole groups of perspectives are categorized:
- Cognitive Relativism: Cognitive relativism affirms that all truth is relative. This would mean that no system of truth is more valid than another one and that there is no objective standard of truth.
- Moral/ethical relativism: All morals are relative to the social group within which they are constructed.
- Situational relativism: Ethics (right and wrong) are dependent upon the situation.”
Slick goes on to write, “Unfortunately, the philosophy of relativism is pervasive in our culture today. With the rejection of God, and of Christianity in particular, absolute truth is being abandoned. Our pluralistic society wants to avoid the idea that there really is a right and wrong. This is evidenced in our deteriorating judicial system, which has more and more trouble punishing criminals, in our entertainment media, which continues to push the envelope of morality and decency, in our schools which teach evolution and ‘social tolerance,’ etc. In addition, the plague of moral relativism is encouraging everyone to accept homosexuality, pornography on TV, fornication, and a host of other ‘sins’ that were once considered wrong but are now being accepted and even promoted in society. It is becoming so pervasive that if you speak out against moral relativism and its ‘anything goes’ philosophy, you’re labeled as an intolerant bigot. Of course, this is incredibly hypocritical of those who profess that all points of view are true yet reject those who hold the view that there are absolutes in morality. It seems that what is really meant by the moral relativists is that all points of view are true except for the views that teach moral absolutes, or an absolute God, or absolute right and wrong. Some typical expressions that reveal an underlying presupposition of relativism are comments such as ‘That is your truth, not mine,’ ‘It is true for you, but not for me,’ and ‘There are no absolute truths.’ Of course, these statements are illogical. Relativism is invading our society, our economy, our schools, and our homes. Society cannot flourish nor survive in an environment where everyone does what is right in his own eyes, where the situation determines actions and if the situation changes, lying or cheating is acceptable—as long as you’re not caught. Without a common foundation of truth and absolutes, our culture will become weak and fragmented.”
If this has been how you have viewed truth, it might very well be that you have unknowingly adopted it from school, college, social circles, movies, television, music, and the like. It is inundated the United States, the last bastion of absolute truth. Many are not aware of how much this philosophical mindset affects their life.
Where can the truth that Jesus spoke of be found? On one occasion, Jesus said in prayer to the Father: “Your word is truth.” (John 17:17) The Bible, authoritative,, written under divine inspiration, authors moved along by Holy Spirit, reveals the truth that provides both reliable guidance and sure hope for our life now and eternal life to come.—2 Timothy 3:15-17.
Pilate nonchalantly rejected the opportunity to learn the truth from the Son of God himself. What about us? Why not visit the Christian Publishing House Blog, where you will find thousands of articles on dozens of Bible subjects and learn what “the truth” that Jesus taught and all of the 40+ Bible authors taught is all about? We teach freely, and we are happy to share the truth with you. In fact, it gives us much joy.
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 B.C.E. means “before the Common Era,” which is more accurate than B.C. (“before Christ”). C.E. denotes “Common Era,” often called A.D., for anno Domini, meaning “in the year of our Lord.”
 Andreas J. Köstenberger, John, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 529.
 Andreas J. Köstenberger, John, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004).
 William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Gospel According to John, vol. 2, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 410.
 Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort, The School of Biblical Evangelism: 101 Lessons: How to Share Your Faith Simply, Effectively, Biblically—the Way Jesus Did (Gainesville, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 2004), 492.
 Ibid., 492–493.