I never meant to be a thief, but the evidence was undeniable: two small tomatoes still in my cart. I overlooked them when I rang up my groceries, which led to walking out without paying for them. Right there in the parking lot, I had a crisis. Would I just put them in my trunk and head home? Why not? We’re talking about fifty cents here! Or would I walk back in and pay for them? Put more starkly, would I decide to go my own way? Or would I live in accordance with the truth?
Truth, simply put, is “the body of real things, events, and facts.”1 It represents that which actually exists in the world. It does not concern opinion or subjective feeling but rather actuality and objective existence. The Greek word for “truth” in the New Testament is ἀλήθεια (alētheia), and it has the same basic definition as the English word: “the quality of being in accord with what is true” and “an actual event or state, reality.”2 Its importance in the New Testament is clear: Jesus and the gospel message are identified with truth, and believers therefore are to live in accordance with truth.
When the New Testament describes Jesus and the gospel message, ἀλήθεια is front and center. Jesus Himself is full of truth (John 1:14, 17). When Jesus revealed Himself to the disciples in the Upper Room, He identified himself as truth, which meant He was the only way to the Father (John 14:6). The gospel message about Jesus, sourced in God Himself, is identified as “the message of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). You won’t get far in the New Testament without learning how everything Jesus was and did—everything He is and does—is truth.
Truth also becomes the standard for those who believe in Jesus Christ: our lives must now embody truth. Because of our connection with each other in the body of Christ, we must speak truth with each other (Ephesians 4:25). In the imagery of the armor of God, truth plays a central role in how we live out our salvation (Ephesians 6:14). We must love in deed and truth (1 John 3:18). Our entire existence is now measured by our Lord; since He is truth, we must live truthfully.
Remember my tomatoes? Since Jesus is truth, the gospel about Jesus is truth, and believers are called to truth, my choice was simple. It took only a few minutes to walk back into the store and pay the $0.45 for those little red fruits. But to me, that decision affirmed who Jesus is, the impact of the gospel, and how believers are to live. It all boils down to truth.
1 “Truth.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/truth. Accessed 23 Jan. 2023. 2 William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 42. Logos Bible Software.
About the Contributors
Before beginning his faculty service Dr. Burer worked for many years with Bible.org as an editor and assistant project director for the NET Bible. He was also instrumental in the completion of the New English Translation-Novum Testamentum Graece diglot, published jointly by Bible.org and the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft of Stuttgart, Germany. An ordained minister, Dr. Burer is active in his local church and has ministered frequently with The Evangelical Alliance Mission in France. He has served as a visiting teacher at the Faculté Libre de Théologie Évangélique in Vaux-sur-Seine, France. His research and teaching interests include Greek language and exegesis, the Gospels, and Jesus studies.