What Did Jesus Mean When He Said, “I am the truth”?

REASONABLE FAITH FEARLESS-1

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Edward D. Andrews
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 140 books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

John 14:5-6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how are we able to know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.

“The truth – The source of truth, or he who originates and communicates truth for the salvation of men. Truth is a representation of things as they are. The life, the purity, and the teaching of Jesus Christ was the most complete and perfect representation of the things of the eternal world that has been or can be presented to man. The ceremonies of the Jews were shadows; the life of Jesus was the truth. The opinions of men are fancy, but the doctrines of Jesus were nothing more than a representation of facts as they exist in the government of God. It is implied in this, also, that Jesus was the fountain of all truth; that by his inspiration the prophets spoke, and that by him all truth is communicated to men.” – Albert Barnes.

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Jesus Is the Truth

“Truth is in Jesus.” (John 1:14; Eph. 4:21) The truth about salvation leads to the whole of all Christian truth, which is found in the person of Jesus. While on earth, Jesus Christ was ‘a man who has told those to whom he had witnessed the truth that he had heard from his Father.’ Jesus said to the Jews, “But because I tell the truth, you do not trust in me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not trust in me?” (John 8:40, 45-46) Jesus “committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth.” (1 Pet. 2:22) Even Jesus’ own enemies had to acknowledge openly that he taught “the way of God in truth.” (Mark 12:13-14) The apostle John wrote: “For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17) “In a sense, the rest of the New Testament is an exposition of the grace and the truth which came through Jesus.”[1] “Moses was the head of Israel: ‘The law was given through Moses’ (John 1:17). Christ is the Head of the church: ‘Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ’ (John. 1:17; cf. Eph. 5:23). Israel was baptized into Moses (1 Cor. 10:2); believers are baptized into Christ (12:13).”[2] Jesus called himself ‘the way and the truth and the life’ (John 14:6). Knowing Christ is knowing the Truth, and this liberates one from sin’s slavery (John 8:32). Jesus was so transparently true that the Pharisees resisted him.[3]

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS

When John says, “the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17), he did not mean that the Mosaic Law was flawed. The Psalmist tells us that ‘all of God’s commandments are truth.’ (Psa. 119:151) The apostle Paul tells us “the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” (Rom. 7:10-12, NASB) However, the Law served a limited purpose. Paul tells us, “Before faith [i.e., Jesus Christ] came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor[4] to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith [i.e., Jesus Christ] has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” (Gal 3:23-25) In other words, the Mosaic Law served as a tutor leading to Christ. It was a guide, guardian and a little bit of a teacher leading to Christ. ‘The Law had only a shadow [prophetic picture] of the good things to come and not the very form of things [greater realities].’ (Heb. 8:4, 5; 10:1-5) The Mosaic Law was a slight preview of the good things to come, though truthful, was not the full truth, that is, not the good things themselves; it was a shadowy outline of the good things to come, giving way to the realities that it foreshadowed. Paul made this point clear in Colossians 2:16-17, “Therefore let no man judge you about what you eat and drink or about the observance of a festival or of the new moon or of a sabbath day.[5] These are a shadow of the things to come, but the reality[6] belongs to Christ.” Therefore, the “truth came through Jesus Christ” he took the truths foreshadowed by the Law and placed them in the reality of the full or complete truth. Jesus was no shadow of anything else to come; he was the reality, “the truth.” The Mosaic Law was not the full truth, Jesus was.

is-the-quran-the-word-of-god UNDERSTANDING ISLAM AND TERRORISM THE GUIDE TO ANSWERING ISLAM.png

When Jesus said ‘I am the truth,” he was meaning far more than his making the truth known by way of his preaching and teaching. If we turn to the Old Testament, we notice scores of prophecies about the coming Messiah, the Christ, anointed one. Nostradamus was a sixteenth-century French apothecary (a person who prepared and sold medicines and drugs) and reputed seer who published collections of prophecies that have since become widely famous. Every prophecy of Nostradamus was a one-line sentence that if given enough time, it will come true. If I were to say, “One day a bald man will rule America; it is only a matter of time. The numerous prophecies in the Old Testament were true prophets of God, offering many details about his life, ministry, and death.

THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS gift of prophecy

Again, the Mosaic Law contained shadows, or prophetic patterns, that pointed to the coming Messiah. (Heb. 10:1) Would these prophecies about this coming Messiah come true, down to the last detail, many of which, were to take place when he was an infant or child and when he was being executed, namely, outside of his control? It was when Jesus ascended back to heaven, to sit down at the right side of the Father; we find that all of the prophecies about him were fulfilled, even if many of the Jewish religious leaders were slow to understand. Jesus knew his role and he had to carry that weight throughout his entire life and ministry. The apostle Paul tells us, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him [Jesus that is]. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” Hence, Jesus was “the truth.” It was as though the truth of the Father’s prophetic word came to us in the person of Jesus.—John 1:17; Colossians 2:16-17.

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[1] Larry Richards and Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 886.
[2] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Four: Church, Last Things (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2005), 531.
[3] Wayne Detzler, Living Words in Philippians (England: Evangelical Press, 1984), 121.
[4] Lit pedagogue; Gr paidagogos. The tutor in Bible times was not the teacher but rather a guardian who led the student to the teacher.
[5] Or days
[6] Or substance

 

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