What is Truth? Part 1

When you hear the word truth, what comes to mind? Please pause a moment and consider this question: What is the topic of truth about for you?

Mountain and lake

Please read John 16:12-15 (this was the Gospel reading for Sunday, May 26th, the first Sunday of “Ordinary/Extraordinary” time).

12“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you.15All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

Notice what Jesus says about the truth: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”

John’s Gospel has a lot to say about truth. It uses the word truth 26 times. Matthew’s Gospel uses it once; Mark and Luke each use it three times. So, yea, John has a lot to say about truth.

Here are some pivotal instances:

John 8:32 “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” Notice Jesus says “knowing” the truth shall set you free; not just “the truth” shall set you free.

John 14:6, the well-known, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:16-17 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Parakletos [Advocate, Comforter, Guide, Leader], in order that he be with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world is not able to receive, because it neither sees him or knows him.”

Finally a text from the First Letter of John (this was probably written by the same author, school, or community as John’s Gospel): First John 2:27, “As for you, the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and so you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in him.”

Have you noticed the emphasis upon relationship? All of these texts (and they are consistent with all of John’s references to truth) focus on the importance of relationship as the basis of truth rather than facts, information, knowledge, concepts, and the like. For sure information is essential! There is no relationship without information. But information is not “truth.” Truth is found in relationship.

This begs the question of what “truth” actually is, or, asked differently, what is the truth?

I leave that for our pondering.

But here’s the point of today’s theme: our spiritual practice of engaging the Scripture is all about refining our openness to the Spirit of truth dwelling within us, that is, our relationship with the Spirit Who is Truth. Recall the posts of The 50 Days that invited us to wake up, then to abide and dwell in the Spirit, then to be led moment by moment by the Spirit. Practice, practice, practice waking up, abiding, being led. The Spirit of Jesus really does dwell within us. Could this really be the truth?

One last thought: I’ve often thought Beauty is the highest Truth. What do you think? Why?


Please engage any of the passages in this entry. Notice where you’re drawn in and let that launch your conversation. Be blessed!  [If you are new to our blog, a description of our method of “engaging,” which is a method for readying and praying with the Bible, can be found here.]

Grace and Peace,


More to come …

About jclark

The Rev. Jim Clark is the Rector of the Episcopal Parish of St. Barnabas on the Desert in Scottsdale, Arizona.


  1. Janice Tindall says:

    Ah, that poses as tough a question as “What is Truth”: “What is Beauty?” They certainly are related, especially if you are talking about inner beauty, but the same? I’m not sure. You keep giving me more food for thought!

  2. Connie Weatherup says:

    Here is one perspective on “Truth”–the words from Les Miserables where Valjean and Fantine sing the words:

    Take my hand
    And lead me to salvation
    Take my love
    For love is everlasting
    And remember
    The truth that once was spoken:

    To love another person is to see the face of God—–

  3. Alice MacArthur says:

    When I hear that question, “What is Truth” I see Pilate asking that of Jesus, who remains silent. I always think, “You are looking at the Truth!”

  4. Elizabeth Garas says:

    With a humble heart, I’ll give this a whirl, Father Jim….

    In another passage, Jesus said, “I and The Father are One”, and He also said in this passage, “I am The Way, The Truth and The Life”. This seems to imply to me , therefore, that He (Jesus) and The Father are The Way,The Truth and The Life since he was in relationship (or One) with The Father. “THE” truth seems to say that there is one Ultimate Truth above all other “truths”.

    On returning to His Father after the Crucifixion, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be our truth counselor, comforter, advocate, hope, security and guide. Since The Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are One in relationship, then as we receive this gift of the Holy Spirit by faith, we are in relationship with The Father and Jesus as well, by virtue of the fact that we receive the Spirit of Truth to dwell within us. This Spirit of Truth conforms to reality and can be trusted…it cannot be erroneous, it cannot be self-contradictory and it cannot be deceitful.

    Regarding “beauty”, I see beauty as a reflection of God’s Glory and as a gift… just a foretaste of what’s yet to come. Come Holy Spirit………….

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