2 John 1:1-3 by Robert Dean
Series:2nd John (2002)
Duration:55 mins 35 secs

Truth: Absolute


What is truth? (cont.)

  1. Chesed brings together a number of ideas. It emphasises grace, undeserved merit, unmerited loyalty or faithfulness of God, undeserved love. It focuses on the fact that it is grounded on God's character. So chesed, while it emphasises God's loyalty, it is a loyalty that is based on His righteousness. A love that is not based on righteousness is a love that is going to lose its foundation. Remember that foundation and stability is part of that key word emet which relates to truth. So this shows the intricate interconnection of these attributes. God's love is unmerited, it is based on who He is, on His own righteousness and His own character, and the fact that it is based on truth gives that stability. It never shifts, it never changes.
  2. Chesed itself is a personal attribute. Only a person can love. 
  3. Truth is then related to the love of God for His creatures.
  4. As such, truth is related to the revelation of the person to His creatures. Truth is revelation; truth has to do with the revelation of God and His thinking to His creatures. 2 Samuel 7:28 NASB "Now, O Lord GOD, You are God, and Your words are truth, and You have promised this good thing to Your servant." What God speaks is truth because it comes from His character. When God speaks he cannot speak anything that is less than truth. What God says is the truth by which we evaluate and interpret all other data in creation because God's words bear this divine authority in and of themselves, they are absolute truth. Psalm 25:5 NASB "Lead me in Your truth …" That is a verbal leading, not just some kind of "I feel like God wants, I feel like God wants, God is leading this to me today." So then God is leading by some non-verbal impression, a sort of intuitive flash. That is not what this is talking about. "Leading me in Your truth" is talking about the fact that there is specific, objective revelation including prohibitions and mandates that lead us, that direct our lives and our thinking. "… and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day." Psalm 43:3 NASB "O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places." There is a connection here between light and truth. Light illuminates our thinking. Truth is power because it is truth; truth with a capital T has an inherent authority and witness to it, and it therefore enlightens man's mind to how things actually are. Psalm 119:43 NASB "And do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, For I wait for Your ordinances…. [142] Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth…. [151 You are near, O LORD, And all Your commandments are truth… [160] The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting." So God's revelation is absolute truth, it becomes the standard by which we evaluate and judge all other things.
  5. That then becomes the foundation and motivation for obedience to God. When we understand that His revelation is absolute truth that then motivates us to obey God because we have truth. 1 Samuel 12:24 NASB "Only fear the LORD and serve Him in [by means of: application] truth with all your heart [thinking]; for consider what great things He has done for you."
  6. We see from this that the Old testament concept of truth is grounded in the person of God and related to His righteousness, justice and love, i.e. His integrity, which is all revealed to us by grace. In contrast to this, in Islam truth isn't what Allah is but what Allah says.

Truth in the New Testament

  1. In the New Testament the Greek word is aletheia [a)lhqeia] and this is the word that is primarily used to translated the Hebrew emet. In order to understand aletheia we have to see what the Old Testament says about truth. So the foundation for the Greek aletheia in the New Testament is Old Testament truth. Truth is used primarily by Paul and John in the New Testament. It is only used seven times in the other Gospels but in actuality we have to take two of those out because they are repetitions, so really it is only five times. Yet Paul uses the word forty-four times in his seventy-seven chapters of the Pauline epistles, and John uses it thirty-seven times in his twenty-seven chapters. So obviously in terms of emphasis John is the one who is talking about truth. John says that the incarnation reveals truth: The law was given through Moses but grace and truth were realised through Jesus Christ. So it is in the person of Jesus Christ that we know truth. Once again we see the incarnation of truth. Truth is not just abstract, now it is substantiated and incarnated in a person. So Jesus is truth incarnate. John 3:21 NASB "But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God." That is, if you come to the truth and you apply the truth that you know, then light increases; your understanding increases and that continues to produce growth. We are to worship God, John 4:23 NASB "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in [by means of] spirit and [by means of] truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers." So it is by absolutes that are revealed in God's Word. The truth there is that which is revealed in His Word. John 8:32 NASB "and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." The truth here is the Word of God and the principle is that real freedom only begins with the Word of God in the soul. True freedom is not possible until one is first freed in a spiritual sense by faith alone in Christ alone. John 14:6 NASB "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me'." He says three things about Himself: He is the way, meaning He is the only way to God, secondly He is the truth, He identifies Himself with truth and once again we see that truth is something that is personal. Who is Jesus? John 1:1 NASB "In the beginning was the Word [logos/logoj], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… [14] And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." So the logos is then incarnate and He is full of grace and truth, and then Jesus who is the Logos says, "I am truth." So logos equals the truth and the logos is the Word or communication. So when Jesus says, You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free, once again we have one of those interesting little double entendres that John loves. It is not only knowing the Word in terms of knowing what is revealed in the Scripture but knowing Jesus Christ, having that personal relationship with Him, that is what sets us free. And He says that He is the truth. So then we connect Word, communication, revelation of God with truth and with the person of Jesus Christ. Then we look at the third person of the Trinity is John 14:17. He is the Spirit of truth, and this describes the function of the Spirit in revelation. He is the one who reveals truth through inspiration, through the human authors. "{that is} the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him…" John 15:26 NASB "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, {that is} the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me." So the third person of the Trinity is related to absolute truth. Then in John 17:17 Jesus prayed NASB "Sanctify them in [by means of] the truth; Your word is truth." We can't understand and implement the Word of God without a relationship with the Spirit of God. That is why it is important to be in fellowship, to confess our sins before we learn the Word of God, to keep daily or regular accounts of our sin, using 1 John 1:9 every time we are aware of sin.
  2.  Truth outside of John. Paul connects exchanging truth for a lie with idolatry. In Romans chapter one the unbeliever suppresses the truth, vv.18-20. Men reject God, reject His existence, and those who are negative at God-consciousness suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Then they exchange the truth for a lie. Then the next thing developed in that section is that they begin to worship the creature, anything in the created realm whether it is a concrete bird or animal or whether it is more or less an abstract concept—money, happiness, personal pleasure; all kinds of things. Idolatry is set against the truth revealed in the Scriptures. The point that John makes in 1 John where he warns in the very last verse of the epistle not to practice idolatry. In the context the idolatry he is talking about is misrepresenting the person of Jesus Christ.
  3.  Truth in 1 John. John had a lot to say about truth in the first epistle. The first thing he said was, 1:6 NASB "If we say that we have fellowship with Him and {yet} walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice [do] the truth." If we don't apply the truth, live consistent with God's revelation, then we are not in fellowship. [8] "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us." We can be out of fellowship, in which case we don't have any relationship with the truth. [2:4] "The one who says, 'I have come to know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." He doesn't have a relationship with doctrine in his soul; he is not applying it. [2:5] "but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of [for] God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him." Being "in Him" is being in fellowship with Him because we keep His Word. By keeping His Word we demonstrate that we have a relationship with truth.
  4.  Summary: Truth in the New Testament, therefore, is personal, the revelation of God, and it is related to divine integrity. This is the same thing we see in the Old Testament.
  5.  Truth, then, is an absolute. The Bible grounds truth in God Himself, it never changes. What was true a thousand years ago is just as true today and will be just as true a thousand years from now.

2 John 1:1 NASB "The elder to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in [by means of] truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth." So truth is related to the character of God. Truth was incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ. Truth is related to the revelation of God. So in order to truly love we have to love by means of doctrine. That means we have to know the Word, we have to understand doctrine, and our thinking has to be shaped by what is revealed in God's Word. So we love by means of truth. He adds, "All those who have known the truth love." In other words, if there are two believers and they both have a love for the Word of God and they both have reached maturity, then they can exercise genuine love for one another. There is no such thing and there is no room in the spiritual life for personality conflicts.

2 John 1:2 NASB "for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever." This is dia [dia] plus the accusative, "because of," or on account of "the truth which abides in us. So not only do we love by means of truth but we love because of the truth that is in us. This is the motivation, the doctrinal orientation that we have, the doctrine that is in our soul. The doctrine that we learn motivates us. It motivates us to love God. When we love God because we understand impersonal love for God and understand that His love is a perfect love, a love that has perfect integrity, that conforms perfectly to His righteousness and His just5ice, then that in turn becomes the foundation in us for loving one another.

Then John gives his salutation. 1:3 NASB "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." He comes right back and ties these things together. So in these three verses truth is mentioned four times and love is mentioned two times. The major emphasis here is love by means of truth. Grace is undeserved merit, it is God's love towards the creature which is not deserved, not merited, is not earned; it is unearned favour. Mercy is the application of grace, the Greek word eleos [e)leoj]. It is treating people not as they deserve but as they should be treated as objects of God's love and creatures for whom Christ died. Peace is the result of having received grace and mercy. In the Greek it is the word irene [i)rhnh], but remember the New Testament must be understood in light of its Jewish background. It is shalom in the Hebrew and ultimately it relates to that peace with God. This is not peace in the sense of an absence of armed conflict. Jesus also said He came with a sword to divide families. We need to reconcile those things. In the Bible peace is never used in the sense of an absence of armed conflict. It is primarily used to refer to the absence of enmity between God and man. Second, it is used in contrast to fear and worry and anxiety. So there are two emphases. One is the absence of conflict with God and the other is a stability, contentment related to joy and happiness that comes because we know that God is in charge of the details of our life, and therefore we are not going to worry about it or be anxious about it, or be motivated by fear. So grace an mercy emphasise God's initiative; peace emphasises the result of God's initiative. Peace will be with us, it comes from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, indicating that Jesus Christ and God the Father is the source of all grace and peace. Jesus Christ is identified as the Son of the Father. John is precise in emphasising who Jesus Christ is.