Written by Paul J. Bucknell on September, 27, 2022
A Biblical History of Truth
A word study of the original Hebrew and Greek word “truth” provides us with a special glimpse into the important role it plays in our lives. Study of the Hebrew language offers insights into the Old Testament texts, while the Greek language provides special understanding of word usage in the New Testament, enabling us to capture a better understanding of the meaning of truth.
Old Testament on Amen
Two common translations for the OT Hebrew word for truth derive from the primitive root (aman): truth and faithful. The Hebrew language often uses imagery to describe abstract words like truth. In this case, the root word for truth comes from “nursing” conjuring up the sense of trustworthy, firm, and steady with reliable and faithful serving as two common translations. One of these derivatives is translated “Amen” in English, meaning sure, truthful, and trustworthy.
In summary, we find “truth” or “truthfulness,” and “faith" or “faithfulness” to be common translations of the OT Hebrew word “aman.” When we read “faithfulness” in the two verses below, we could also substitute “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).
“For the word of the LORD is upright; And all His work is done in faithfulness” (Psalms 33:4).
Here are some other beautiful verses using this OT word “truth.”
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).
“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).
“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).
“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).
“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).
Interestingly, the aman is often translated as faith, trust, or believing in the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament. Wherever we turn, we cannot escape the strong connection that exists 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.) Because of their own willingness to believe whatever they want, they think Christians 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 use that preserves the integrity of faith, like the way the Bible ends, 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 Usage of Truth
The New Testament was written in Greek. There were a number of words used 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 Corinthians 7:14). The word itself is made up of two words:
- The negative prefix “a” (no, not)
- 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 only accurate view. There are many false views of reality, which can be referred to as philosophy or, as an expression of man’s relationship with god, religion. The Gnostic religion, an early Christian culture, got caught up with discovering what was hidden, and forgot that Christ is the truth. They needed to look no further than Jesus to find God.
Let’s wrap up our discussion with an evaluation of some special sections from the New Testament that use the word “truth.” The first section is from 2 John(a book full of the word “truth”). Evidently, this word was viewed more critically the longer people were distanced from the life of Christ. We will 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).
This next section from the Gospel of John, contrasts the source of lies with the source of truth. Note how a false reality of the world is presented 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 remind us of our responsibility to call out any brother or sister who has slid from God’s path,
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).
(Taken from The Godly Man)