Knowing the Truth


Last time we mentioned John 8:32, but we didn’t spend much time on it. I think this verse, this sentence, is worth a closer look.

John 8:32 says,

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (NKJV)

The first word in the sentence is the word “and”, which is a conjunction or connecting word. In this case, it connects the previous phrase “you are My disciples indeed”with “you shall know the truth”. So we know that verse 32 cannot stand alone. Verses 31 and 32 need to be considered together if we are to properly understand what our Lord is saying. Here are the two verses together.

John 8:31-32

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (NKJV)

The pronoun “you” in verse 32 clearly establishes Jesus’ audience for us. We know that the people who will know the truth are “…those Jews who believed Him [Jesus].” In other words, it is believers who will know the truth. However, being a believer is not the only qualification for knowing the truth. There is also the conditional “If” in verse 31. “If you abide in My [Jesus’] word”.

Why must the believer abide in Jesus’ word in order to know the truth? What is the connection between His word and truth? The very beautiful Psalm 119 sheds some light on this for us with a declaration from the psalmist.

Psalm 119:160,

The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. (NKJV)

“But wait!”, you may say, “that’s an Old Testament verse! Isn’t it a bit of a stretch to connect the word of the God of the Old Testament with the word of Jesus in the New Testament? Maybe it would be if it weren’t for John chapter one.

I would strongly encourage you to read all of John chapter one for yourself, but for the purposes of this study I’ve included only a few verses.

John 1:1-2,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. (NKJV)

John 1:14,

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (NKJV)

John 1:17,

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (NKJV)

If you’ll take the time to meditate on these few verses you will begin to appreciate the interconnectedness of the scriptures, which should remind us to read the scripture as a whole. Our tendency is to attempt to extrude bits of truth a verse or verse fragment at a time. This microscopic approach to study is fine, but once we’ve made our observations we must step away from the microscope, zoom out and allow the whole of scripture to illuminate our understanding. But I digress.

I would never presume to think I could do an exhaustive study on any one passage of scripture. This concise, seemingly uncomplicated verse is no different, however, I would like to point out one more thing.

John 8:32 again says,

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (NKJV)

The New King James translators decided the word “make” was appropriate in the phrase “…shall make you free”. In looking at the greek, “set you free” would also be a valid way to render this verse. The point is, regardless of the word chosen, the idea is knowing the truth has the ability to change your position from one of being a captive, to one of total freedom.

Are there things in your life that hold you captive? You’ve probably discovered by now that you are powerless to set yourself free. If you are a believer in Christ, I would encourage you to stop trying to break free. Spend your efforts on abiding in Jesus’ word, allow His truth to truly make you free.

Peeking ahead we see John  8:36.

It says,

Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (NKJV)

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