what is truth?

The Apostle John writes that Jesus, on the night of His trial, was standing before Pilate. Jesus testified that His purpose for coming to this world was “to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37-38)

Pilate answered, “What is truth?” — and left the room, not waiting for an answer. It’s as if he said it with a scoff and a wave of his hand, cynical and frustrated. Maybe because in his political world he had witnessed so little “truth” – if any at all. Sound familiar?

Apparently, Pilate thought it was a question with no answer since he didn’t wait around. Yet, ironically, standing right before him was the very truth he was asking about – the full embodiment of God’s word – truth incarnate! (John 1:14)

letting scripture interpret scripture

The most pertinent questions from the BSF library finding what is truth on broad Bible topics/doctrines. There are just a few questions for each topic, and each answer is linked back to the question for a full accounting of footnoted scripture-blocks.

If Pilate was still around asking the question, here’s what we would highlight…

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featured scripture-block

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

A time is coming when people won’t tolerate the truth, but wanting to be pleased, will search out teachers to suit their own desires, turning away from listening to God’s word and pursue myths instead.

The closing comments of Paul’s second letter to the young evangelist Timothy.

letting scripture interpret scripture

Together with scripture-blocks, following our “any, only, all” rule is the only way we know that a God-inspired interpretation of Scripture can happen. For any passage to be “in context” means we are looking at any Scripture, only Scripture and all the Scripture together.

You might be asking, “What could stand in the way of letting Scripture interpret Scripture?” Good question…

letting commentary interpret scripture

Man’s commentary, whether from internet posts or from published works (e.g. Barnes, Matthew Henry, etc.), should not be our source for interpretation. This includes the theology of our favorite pastor or preacher. These may be helpful at times, but “the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Pr 2:6).

letting culture interpret scripture

It seems for certain texts, particularly the Old Testament and in Paul’s letters, it’s popular to force a pre-requisite knowledge of “their time” in order to make an application. Sadly, this is used to marginalize or even remove completely any modern-day application. However, God’s word “endures forever” (Ps 119:160) and warns against anyone that “takes away” (Re 22:18-19).

letting vocabulary interpret scripture

Vocabulary is vital to communication. “Word-studies” and knowing words in their original Hebrew or Greek language can be helpful to understand a passage better. However, the ultimate definition belongs to God, not to man. They are “words not taught by human wisdom” (1 Co 2:13). Scripture defines words like “joy”, “fear”, “church”, “fellowship“, “works“, and “love” very differently from Webster or Vines.

letting think-sos interpret scripture

What we “think” can be shaped by lots of things including tradition and dogma/doctrine. In fact, tradition and doctrine form the very basis for what we believe and practice. It’s here where what we “think” (or “feel”) has no place…and this may be the hardest to decouple from letting scripture – and only scripture – shape our understanding of God’s will for us.

To be clear, none of these are wrong in and of themselves. Knowing the cultural norms in which Jesus lived can enrich our understanding of His walk on earth. Paul commends the Christians in Corinth for how they were, “maintain[ing] the traditions even as I delivered them to you” (1 Co 11:2). However, drawing conclusions and making applications about Scripture based on any one of these is to do so without God’s authority and potentially to our own eternal peril.