The Hebrew term ʼemethʹ, often rendered “truth,” may designate that which is firm, trustworthy, stable, faithful, true, or established as fact. (Ex 18:21; 34:6; De 13:14; 17:4; 22:20; Jos 2:12; 2Ch 18:15; 31:20; Ne 7:2; 9:33; Es 9:30; Ps 15:2; Ec 12:10; Jer 9:5) The Greek word a·leʹthei·a stands in contrast with falsehood or unrighteousness and denotes that which conforms to fact or to what is right and proper. (Mr 5:33; 12:32; Lu 4:25; Joh 3:21; Ro 2:8; 1Co 13:6; Php 1:18; 2Th 2:10, 12; 1Jo 1:6, 8; 2:4, 21) A number of other original-language expressions can, depending upon the context, also be translated “truth.”
Jehovah, the God of Truth. Jehovah is “the God of truth.” (Ps 31:5) He is faithful in all his dealings. His promises are sure, for he cannot lie. (Nu 23:19; 1Sa 15:29; Ps 89:35; Tit 1:2; Heb 6:17, 18) He judges according to truth, that is, according to the way things really are, and not on the basis of outward appearance. (Ro 2:2; compare Joh 7:24.) Everything that emanates from him is pure and without defect. His judicial decisions, law, commandments, and word are truth. (Ne 9:13; Ps 19:9; 119:142, 151, 160) They are always right and proper, and they stand in opposition to all unrighteousness and error.
Creation’s testimony. The creative works testify to the fact that God exists. But, according to Paul, even certain of those people who “knew God” suppressed this truth. Rather than serving God in harmony with the truth concerning his eternal power and Godship, they made idols and worshiped these. Not being real gods, idols are an untruth, a lie or falsehood. (Jer 10:14) Hence, these persons, though having the truth of God, exchanged it “for the lie and venerated and rendered sacred service to the creation rather than the One who created.” Their turning to the falsehood of idolatry led them into all kinds of degraded practices.
In contrast to man’s sinfulness. The degraded practices of non-Jews and the disobedience of the Jews to God’s law in no way brought harm to the Creator personally. Instead, his truthfulness, holiness, and righteousness stood out in sharp contrast, and this to his glory. But the fact that man’s wrongdoing makes God’s righteousness stand out in even greater prominence provides no basis for claiming that God is unjust in executing an adverse judgment against wrongdoers. Being a creation of God, a person has no right to harm himself by sinning.
The above is the argument that Paul used in his letter to the Romans, saying: “If our unrighteousness brings God’s righteousness to the fore, what shall we say? God is not unjust when he vents his wrath, is he? (I am speaking as a man does.) Never may that happen! How, otherwise, will God judge the world? Yet if by reason of my lie [compare Ps 62:9] the truth of God has been made more prominent to his glory, why am I also yet being judged as a sinner? And why not say, just as it is falsely charged to us and just as some men state that we say: ‘Let us do the bad things that the good things may come’? The judgment against those men is in harmony with justice.” (Ro 3:5-8) God has delivered his people, not for a course of sin, but for a life of righteousness, that they may glorify Him. The apostle says later in his letter: “Neither go on presenting your members to sin as weapons of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, also your members to God as weapons of righteousness.”
What is the meaning of the statement that Jesus Christ is himself “the truth”?
Like his Father Jehovah, Jesus Christ is “full of undeserved kindness and truth.” (Joh 1:14; Eph 4:21) While on earth, he always spoke the truth as he had received it from his Father. (Joh 8:40, 45, 46) “He committed no sin, nor was deception found in his mouth.” (1Pe 2:22) Jesus represented things as they really were. Besides being ‘full of truth,’ Jesus was himself “the truth,” and truth came through him. He declared: “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (Joh 14:6) And the apostle John wrote: “The Law was given through Moses, the undeserved kindness and the truth came to be through Jesus Christ.”
John’s words do not mean that the Law given through Moses was erroneous. It, too, was truth, conforming to God’s standard of holiness, righteousness, and goodness. (Ps 119:151; Ro 7:10-12) However, the Law served as a tutor leading to Christ (Ga 3:23-25) and had a shadow, or prophetic picture, of greater realities. (Heb 8:4, 5; 10:1-5) Providing a shadow, the Law, though truthful, was not the full truth and, therefore, had to give way to the realities that it foreshadowed. This point is emphasized by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Colossians: “Let no man judge you in eating and drinking or in respect of a festival or of an observance of the new moon or of a sabbath; for those things are a shadow of the things to come, but the reality belongs to the Christ.” (Col 2:16, 17) Accordingly, “the truth came to be through Jesus” in the sense that he put the things foreshadowed by the Law into the realm of actual truth. As he himself was no shadow but the reality, Jesus was “the truth.” Jesus also became ‘a minister in behalf of God’s truthfulness’ in that he fulfilled God’s promises made to the forefathers of the Jews by ministering to the circumcised Jews and proselytes.
Similarly, the apostle Paul’s reference to “the truth in the Law” does not imply that there was any falsehood in it (Ro 2:20) but shows that the Law was not the full truth.
“The Spirit of the Truth.” The spirit that proceeds from Jehovah God is pure and holy. It is “the spirit of the truth.” (Joh 14:17; 15:26) Jesus Christ told his disciples: “I have many things yet to say to you, but you are not able to bear them at present. However, when that one arrives, the spirit of the truth, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own impulse, but what things he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things coming.”
God’s spirit would teach them everything they needed to know to carry out their work, recalling and opening up to their understanding things they had previously heard from Jesus but had not understood. (Joh 14:26) God’s spirit would also declare to them “the things coming.” This could include bringing to light the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection, as these events were then yet future and were among the things that his disciples did not understand. (Mt 16:21-23; Lu 24:6-8, 19-27; Joh 2:19-22; 12:14-16; 20:9) Of course, God’s spirit later also enabled Christ’s followers to foretell future happenings. (Ac 11:28; 20:29, 30; 21:11; 1Ti 4:1-3) Being “the spirit of the truth,” God’s holy spirit could never be the source of error but would protect Christ’s followers from doctrinal falsehoods. (Compare 1Jo 2:27; 4:1-6.) It would bear witness to the truth regarding Jesus Christ. From Pentecost 33 C.E. onward, God’s spirit bore witness by helping Jesus’ disciples to understand the prophecies that clearly proved that Jesus was the Son of God. On the basis of these prophecies, they bore witness to others. (Joh 15:26, 27; compare Ac 2:14-36; Ro 1:1-4.) Even before Pentecost, though, “the spirit of the truth” had been bearing witness to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God (1Jo 5:5-8), for it was by this spirit that Jesus was anointed and enabled to perform powerful works.
God’s Word Is Truth. God’s Word presents things as they really are, revealing Jehovah’s attributes, purposes, and commands, as well as the true state of affairs among mankind. God’s Word of truth shows what is required for one to be sanctified or made holy, set apart for use by Jehovah in his service, and then to remain in a sanctified state. Hence, Jesus could pray respecting his followers: “Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth.” (Joh 17:17; compare Jas 1:18.) Their obedience to the revealed truth of God’s Word led them into sanctification, the truth being the means by which they purified their souls. (1Pe 1:22) Thus they stood out as “no part of the world” that did not adhere to God’s truth.
‘Walking in the Truth.’ Those who desire to gain God’s approval should walk in his truth and serve him in truth. (Jos 24:14; 1Sa 12:24; Ps 25:4, 5; 26:3-6; 43:3; 86:11; Isa 38:3) This would include abiding by God’s requirements and serving him in faithfulness and sincerity. To a Samaritan woman Jesus Christ said: “The hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for, indeed, the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him. God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.” (Joh 4:23, 24) Such worship could not be based on imagination but would have to conform to what is in harmony with the actual state of things, consistent with what God has revealed in his Word about himself and his purposes.
Christianity is “the way of the truth” (2Pe 2:2), and those who assist others in furthering the interests of Christianity become “fellow workers in the truth.” (3Jo 8) The entire body of Christian teachings, which later became part of the written Word of God, is “the truth” or “the truth of the good news.” Adherence to this truth, ‘walking’ in it, is essential if an individual is to gain salvation. (Ro 2:8; 2Co 4:2; Eph 1:13; 1Ti 2:4; 2Ti 4:4; Tit 1:1, 14; Heb 10:26; 2Jo 1-4; 3Jo 3, 4) In the case of those who conduct themselves aright, the truth
“A Pillar and Support of the Truth.” The Christian congregation serves as “a pillar and support of the truth,” preserving the purity of the truth and defending and upholding it. (1Ti 3:15) For this reason it is especially important that those entrusted with oversight in the congregation be able to handle “the word of the truth” aright. Proper use of God’s Word enables them to combat false teaching in the congregation, instructing “those not favorably disposed; as perhaps God may give them repentance leading to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (2Ti 2:15-18, 25; compare 2Ti 3:6-8; Jas 5:13-20.) Not all qualify to do this kind of instructing, or teaching, in the congregation. Men who have bitter jealousies and are contentious have no basis for bragging about their being qualified to teach. Their claim would be false. As the disciple James wrote: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show out of his fine conduct his works with a mildness that belongs to wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and contentiousness in your hearts, do not be bragging and lying against the truth.”
For the Christian congregation to be “a pillar and support of the truth,” the members thereof must, through fine conduct, manifest the truth in their lives. (Eph 5:9) They have to be consistent and undeviating in right conduct, as if “girded about with truth.” (Eph 6:14) Besides maintaining personal purity, Christians must be concerned about congregational purity. When emphasizing the need to keep the Christian congregation clean from the defilement of lawless persons, the apostle Paul wrote: “Clear away the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, according as you are free from ferment. For, indeed, Christ our passover has been sacrificed. Consequently let us keep the festival, not with old leaven, neither with leaven of badness and wickedness, but with unfermented cakes of sincerity and truth.” (1Co 5:7, 8) Since Jesus Christ was sacrificed only once (compare Heb 9:25-28) as the reality of the Passover lamb, the entire life course of the Christian, comparable to the Festival of Unfermented Cakes, should be free from injuriousness and wickedness. There must be a willingness to remove what is sinful to maintain personal and congregational purity and thus to ‘keep the festival with unfermented cakes of sincerity and truth.’