How Does Biblical Truth Apply to the Character of God?

אֱמֶת (ʾěmeṯ)—Part 2

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Part 1 showed how constancy—specifically the faithfulness and reliableness of God—is at the core of biblical truth, and indeed at the foundation of all science. We now examine biblical truth more closely, and how it applies to the character of God and of Jesus.

Bible-Defined “Truth”

Meanings1 firmness, stability, durability, unchangeableness, permanence, duration, constancy, certainty, dependableness, dependability, reliableness, reliability, trustworthiness, faithfulness, fidelity, security, truth, verity
Pronunciation2 Biblical Hebrew: e-METH (ʔ eˈmeθ)
Modern Hebrew: e-MET (ʔeˈmet)
Occurrences in the Hebrew Old Testament3 x 127
First occurrence Genesis 24:27
Strong’s number 0571
Root letters אמן (ʾmn)
Also derived from the same root

אָמַן (ʾāman) = to confirm, support, uphold; to be established, be faithful, be trustworthy, be reliable; to be certain, believe, trust

אָמֵן (ʾāmēn) = verily, truly, surely (i.e., “Amen!”)

אֱמוּנָה (ʾěmûnāh) = firmness, fidelity, steadiness; steadfastness, dependability, faithfulness, trustworthiness, honesty; trust, faith, belief

+ the names Amittai, Amnon, and Amon

Greek word most often paralleled with אֱמֶת (ʾěmeṯ)4 ἀλήθεια (alḗtheia) = truth, truthfulness, sincerity, integrity, uprightness, dependability, fidelity

The Hebrew Bible conveys the concept of “truth” primarily with the word אֱמֶת (ʾěmeṯ), which occurs 127 times in the Old Testament. The closest Greek equivalent, ἀλήθεια (alḗtheia), is found 132 times in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures), and a further 109 times in the New Testament.5 Both terms mean more than factual correctness. They also convey the idea of dependability or dependableness.

God Desires and Exhibits אֱמֶת (ʾěmeṯ)

אֱמֶת (ʾěmeṯ)—mostly translated “truth” in older versions, but also meaning “faithfulness”—is a huge theme in the Bible. It is an attribute that is highly commended. Hanson (1975) writes,

ʾemeth meant originally ‘trustworthiness’ and is often used for ‘stability, constancy, enduringness’. As Glueck remarks, ‘wherever ḥeseḏ [‘lovingkindness’] appears together with ʾemeth . . . the quality of loyalty . . . is emphasized’6 . . . as a description both of God’s character and of the corresponding conduct which God requires of man. (p. 7)

He is the “God of truth7,8 (Psalm 31:59), who says, “be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2).10 He described Himself to Moses in the following terms, when He passed before him in a cloud on Mount Sinai:

. . . The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth {faithfulness11} (Exodus 34:6)12

What does this mean, “abounding in . . . truth”? It means utterly dependable and faithful in every aspect:

God is faithful and dependable; His Word is true and trustworthy.
  • He is “the true13 God” (2 Chronicles 15:3);
  • He is the one “[w]ho made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps truth {faith14} forever” (Psalm 146:6);
  • Truth {faithfulness15} goes before His face (Psalm 89:1416);
  • His truth {faithfulness17} reaches to the clouds (Psalm 57:1018; 108:419);20
  • His “words are true {truth/trustworthy21}” (2 Samuel 7:28);
  • “The judgments of the Lord are true22” (Psalm 19:923);
  • “All the paths of the Lord are. . . truth {faithfulness24}” (Psalm 25:10);
  • His “law is truth {true25}” (Psalm 119:142);
  • “The entirety of [His] word is truth {true26}” (Psalm 119:160);
  • He has “dealt faithfully” (Nehemiah 9:33);
  • “The works of His hands are verity {truth/faithful27} and justice; all His precepts are sure.
    They stand fast forever and ever, and are done in truth {faithfulness28} and uprightness” (Psalm 111:7–8);

  • The “truth {faithfulness29} of the Lord endures forever” (Psalm 117:2).

What an awesome God! No wonder Hannah enthuses,

No one is holy like the Lord,
for there is none besides You,
nor is there any rock like our God (1 Samuel 2:2)

and the Psalmist exclaims,

. . . I will praise You—and Your faithfulness {truth30}, O my God! . . . (Psalm 71:22)

Likewise, David pleads,

Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord;
let Your lovingkindness and Your truth {faithfulness31} continually preserve me. (Psalm 40:1132)

The Sons of Korah wrote the following profound lines:

Mercy and truth {faithfulness33} have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed.
Truth {faithfulness34} shall spring out of the earth,
And righteousness shall look down from heaven. (Psalm 85:10–1135)

This Psalm has strong Messianic themes and some believe it speaks prophetically of Jesus.36 Indeed, the “grace and truth” which John says filled Christ (John 1:14) appear to echo the “mercy and truth” of Psalm 85:10.37,38,39

For sure, the New Testament speaks boldly on truth—truth found in Jesus—as we shall now see.

The Dependable Witness

Think for moment about a witness. Whether for victims seeking justice, or for judges wanting to get to the truth of a matter, reliable witnesses are extremely valuable assets. Back in 1999, my wife, Kerensa, was standing next to our parked car when a young man got into his vehicle opposite and quickly accelerated backwards. Swinging round wildly and clearly not seeing our car, he smashed into it, shunting it into a gate and causing over $1,000 in damage. If Kerensa had been standing a couple of feet to one side, she would have had her legs crushed. After she turned down the driver’s measly spur-of-the-moment cash offer of about a tenth of what it would later cost to repair, the matter went to the insurance companies. Eventually my wife got a letter saying the young man claimed she had backed into him! She phoned the insurance company asking if they had called our witness, an elderly gentleman who had seen the whole incident. They hadn’t! But once they did, the matter was finally resolved justly and we got the money to pay for the repairs. We were grateful to God for protecting Kerensa, and also for providing an honest, dependable witness.

A true40 witness delivers souls,
but a deceitful witness speaks lies. (Proverbs 14:25)

Jesus speaks about a witness or testimony being “true” or not (John 5:31–32, 8:14), which a few Bibles translate with the word valid.41 Indeed valid certainly seems to fit the context here, especially in light of Christ’s reference back to the Torah (Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15) in His conversation with the Pharisees:

It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. (John 8:17)

But, clearly, the underlying reason that the testimony of two or more witnesses is considered valid is that it is more likely to be reliable and dependable, and therefore truthful. So it is with good reason that Gingrich (1983) suggests the word dependable (p. 8) in settings such as these.42

One dependable witness may be worth more than a dozen unreliable ones.

In fact we can go further than this and say that, although the testimony of two witnesses may be technically and legally valid, the actual authenticity and truthfulness of their account is entirely dependent upon whether or not they are honest, trustworthy, reliable, and dependable, known for their integrity and faithfulness in the face of possible bribery and corruption. Given this, one dependable witness may be worth more than a dozen unreliable ones! As Paul puts it, in answer to the question of whether the faithfulness of God can be nullified by the unbelief of some,

. . . let God be true but every man a liar . . . (Romans 3:4)

In other words, as the NJB renders the same verse,

. . . God will always be true even if no human being can be relied on . . . (Romans 3:4, NJB)

Indeed if we take Thayer’s definition of ψεύστης (pseústēs)—“liar” in the NKJV—in this verse as meaning “one who breaks faith, a false or faithless man” (2000), then Paul is contrasting the faithfulness/reliableness/truthfulness of God with the faithlessness/unreliableness/untruthfulness of man.

This is why Jesus on the one hand admitted,

If I testify about Myself, My testimony is not [technically or legally] valid {true43} (John 5:31, HCSB, emphasis added);

yet on the other hand He maintained,

Even if I testify about Myself . . . My testimony is [completely dependable and therefore] valid {true44}.” (John 8:14, HCSB, emphasis added)

The Real Deal

Nevertheless, Jesus does have independent testimony:

If ever a Messiah were to come from God, there could be no more profound endorsement of His credentials.
  • John the Baptist, whom “all counted . . . to have been a prophet indeed” (Mark 11:32),45 “has borne witness to the truth” (John 5:33), saying, “I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34);46
  • “But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do [e.g., preaching the Gospel to the poor, working miracles, healing the sick, delivering from demons, giving sight to the blind, making the lame to walk, the dumb to talk, the deaf to hear, even raising the dead, all in fulfillment of Old Testament Scriptures such as Isaiah 61:1–3]—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me” (John 5:36);
  • “And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me” (John 5:37)—e.g., after Jesus had been baptized “a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’” (Matthew 3:17), and later when He was transfigured, “a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’” (Matthew 17:5);47
  • “the Scriptures . . . testify of Me” (John 5:39), “[f]or if you believed Moses [i.e., the Torah or Pentateuch], you would believe Me; for he wrote about me.”

In fact, the words spoken from the cloud at Christ’s transfiguration were a double confirmation, both from God the Father, and from the Messianic Scriptures to which they alluded:

  • “This is My beloved Son” alludes to (Psalm 2:7–8)—
. . . The Lord has said to Me, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession”;
  • “in whom I am well pleased” alludes to (Isaiah 42:1)
Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles;
  • “Hear Him!” alludes to (Deuteronomy 18:15):
The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.48

Furthermore, these three Scriptures are taken from the three main divisions of the Hebrew Bible:

  • from the Torah (or Law, i.e. the Pentateuch)—Deuteronomy 18:15;
  • from the Nevi’im (or Prophets)—Isaiah 42:1;
  • from the Ketuvim (or Writings)—Psalm 2:7–8.49

WHEN THE ROAD IS ROUGH AND STEEP

When the road is rough and steep
Fix your eyes upon Jesus
He alone has pow’r to keep
Fix your eyes upon Him
Jesus is a gracious friend
One on whom you can depend
He is faithful to the end
Fix your eyes upon Him

WHEN THE ROAD IS ROUGH AND STEEP
Written by Norman J. Clayton
© 1943 Wordspring Music, LLC

All Rights Reserved. Used by kind Permission.

If ever a Messiah were to come from God, there could be no more profound endorsement of His credentials. According to the recognized and most respected prophet of His day, according to multiple miraculous deeds and lives transformed, according twice to a heavenly voice, and according to the testimony of Scripture—Jesus was the real deal!

Finally, in the last book of the Bible, Jesus refers to Himself as “the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14; see also 19:11). And towards the end of the book of Revelation, we read that “He who sat on the throne said, ‘ . . . these words are true and faithful’” (Revelation 21:5; see also 22:6). In each one of these occurrences we see the fullest sense of ἀληθινός (alēthinós),50 defined by Gingrich (1983) as “dependable . . . true, in accordance with the truth . . . genuine, real” (p. 8). Jesus is the Faithful and Dependable One, and His words are true and trustworthy.

Coming Up Next

In Part 3 we’ll look briefly at how truth is personified in Jesus, before applying all we’ve learnt about truth to the debate over origins, and what it means to have faith.

Bibliography and Further Reading for אֱמֶת (ʾěmeṯ)

Footnotes

  1. The meanings listed here represent the most common ways in which ʾěmeṯ is translated. Different Bible translations have their own preferred way of rendering the word: for instance, the NKJV predominantly uses “truth” (x92) as do the KJV (x91) and NASV (x80), whereas the NIV has roughly equal frequencies of “faithfulness” (x34) and “truth” (x29). Context also plays a part in how the term may be rendered in any given verse. But any such distinctions should be understood as small variations of a single term that is rich in meaning. The Western mindset sometimes tends to look for hair-splittingly narrow definitions, which is hardly surprising when the English language has over a million words. In contrast the Hebraic mindset is comfortable with a single word, such as ʾěmeṯ, holding together a rich mosaic of subtle variations or shades of meaning, which are nevertheless interconnected.

  2. As a pronunciation aid for those readers who are not familiar with Hebrew, a simplified transliteration is given (e.g., e-METH, in which the bold, uppercase letters denote the stressed syllable) along with one that uses symbols from the International Phonetic Alphabet (e.g., ʔeˈmeθ).

  3. A word-count for ʾěmeṯ of 127 is confirmed by the BibleWorks computer program (Version 9.0.12.390, 2013), Goodrick and Kohlenberger III (1999, p. 1368), Van Pelt and Pratico (2003, p. 18), and Wildberger in TLOT (1997, p. 137). Jepsen in TDOT (1977, p. 309) lists the frequency at 126.

  4. This means the Greek word that is most often used in the Septuagint to translate the original Hebrew term אֱמֶת (ʾěmeṯ) when it occurs in the Masoretic text. There are several different Greek words that, throughout the Septuagint, are used to translate ʾěmeṯ. However by far the most common is ἀλήθεια (alḗtheia) which, together with other “derivatives of alēth- render 100 of 127 occurrences of [ʾěmeṯ]” (Wildberger in TLOT, 1997, p. 151). In contrast, the next most common Greek match for ʾěmeṯ, which it parallels on just six occasions (e.g., Genesis 24:49), is δικαιοσύνη (dikaiosýnē [or dikaiosúnē]), meaning righteousness, uprightness, or integrity; mercy, or charitableness; or justice, or equity.

    The process of finding a common parallel Greek word for a Hebrew term can be very helpful, particularly when trying to gain a deeper understanding of the New Testament. The New Testament has come to us in Greek, but most of its key players, including Jesus and Paul, were Jews whose Bible was the Hebrew Scriptures. It is important to realize that, regardless of the language they used or the language in which their words are recorded, their thinking was predominantly Hebraic.

    So, for instance, when Paul tells the Ephesians to put away lying, he adds a quotation from Zechariah 8:16: “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor” (Ephesians 4:25). The Greek word that is translated here in Ephesians as “truth” is alḗtheia, which in Zechariah 8:16 parallels ʾěmeṯ. This tells us that in addressing the Ephesians about honesty, Paul is likely thinking of ʾěmeṯ even though the manuscripts of his letter contain the Greek word alḗtheia.

  5. A word-count for alḗtheia of 109 is confirmed by the BibleWorks computer program (Version 9.0.12.390, 2013), and Goodrick and Kohlenberger III (1999, p. 1526). However, Strong (2001, p. 1589) and Thomas (2000, p. 1505) list the frequency at 110.

  6. Here Hanson (1975) cites Glueck, N., 1967, Hesed in the Bible; Cincinnati, Ohio: The Hebrew Union College Press.

  7. Throughout this article bold typeface has been used for every English translation of אֱמֶת (ʾěmeṯ), or its most common Greek equivalent ἀλήθεια (alḗtheia), and their derivatives.

  8. The ESV, NIV, NLT, NRSV, and others have “faithful God.” See Part 1 for a fuller discussion of this phrase.

  9. In the Hebrew Bible this is v. 6 of Psalm 31.

  10. Jesus said something very similar: “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:58).

  11. Translated “faithfulness” in the ESV, NIV, NJPS, NLT, NRSV, etc; “fidelity” in the NAB; and “constancy” in the NJB.

  12. The second half of this verse (i.e. “God . . . truth”) is identical in Hebrew in Psalm 86:15, but the NKJV renders it slightly differently: “God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.”

  13. Translated “faithful” in the The Rotherham Bible.

  14. Translated “faith” (i.e., “keeps faith”) in the CJB, ESV, NASB, NJB, NJPS, NRSV, etc; “faithful (i.e., “remains faithful) in the HCSB, NIV, etc; and “faithfulness” (i.e., “keepeth faithfulness”) in The Rotherham Bible.

  15. Translated “faithfulness” in the ESV, NIV, NJPS, NRSV, etc; and “constancy” in the NJB.

  16. In the Hebrew Bible this is v. 15 of Psalm 89.

  17. Translated “faithfulness” in the ESV, HCSB, NIV, NJPS, NLT, NRSV, etc; and “constancy” in the NJB.

  18. In the Hebrew Bible this is v. 11 of Psalm 57.

  19. In the Hebrew Bible this is v. 5 of Psalm 108.

  20. The Hebrew phrase is identical in both verses, but there are cosmetic differences in the way that the NKJV translates each: “and Your truth [reaches] unto the clouds” (Psalm 57:10 [Hebrew, v. 11]); “and Your truth reaches to the clouds” (Psalm 108:4 [Hebrew, v. 5]).

  21. Translated “truth” in the CJB, NASB, NLT, etc; and “trustworthy” in the NIV, etc.

  22. While the great majority of Bibles translate ʾěmeṯ here as “true,” there are several legitimate alternative renderings. The HCSB has “reliable,” the latest NIV (2011) has “firm” replacing “sure” in the 1984 version, the NET has “trustworthy,” The Rotherham Bible has “faithful,” and E.M. Cook’s The Psalms Targum: An English Translation (2001) has “faithfulness.”

  23. In the Hebrew Bible this is v. 10 of Psalm 19.

  24. Translated “faithfulness” in the ESV, NLT, NRSV, etc; and “faithful” in the NIV, etc. Other notable renderings include “reliable” in the NET, “steadfast” in the NJPS, and “constancy” in the NJB.

  25. Translated “true” in the ESV, HCSB, NIV, NJPS, NLT, etc. Other notable renderings include “reliable” in the GWN and NET; “trustworthy” in the NJB; and “certain” in the BBE.

  26. Translated “true” in the CJB, KJV, NIV, etc. Other notable renderings include “enduring” in the NAB, “reliable” in the NET, and “faithfulness” in the NJB.

  27. Translated “truth” in the CJB, HCSB, NASB, NJPS, etc; and “faithful” in the ESV, NIV, NRSV, etc.

  28. Translated “faithfulness” in the ESV, NIV, NRSV, etc.

  29. Translated “faithfulness” in the ESV, HCSB, NIV, NJPS, NLT, NRSV, etc. The NJB has “constancy.”

  30. Translated “truth” in the KJV, NASB, etc. The NJB has “constancy.”

  31. Translated “faithfulness” in the ESV, NIV, NLT, NRSV, etc.

  32. In the Hebrew Bible this is v. 12 of Psalm 40.

  33. Translated “faithfulness” in the ESV, NIV, NRSV, The Rotherham Bible, etc.

  34. Translated “faithfulness” in the ESV, NIV, NRSV, The Rotherham Bible, etc.

  35. In the Hebrew Bible this is vv. 11–12 of Psalm 85.

  36. For example, John Wesley makes the following comments on Psalm 85:10 [Hebrew, v. 11]:

    10. Kissed—That great work of redemption by Christ, shall clearly manifest God’s mercy in redeeming his people Israel, and in the conversion of the Gentiles; his truth in fulfilling that great promise of sending his son, his righteousness in punishing sin, on his son, and in conferring righteousness upon guilty and lost creatures; and his peace or reconciliation to sinners, and that peace of conscience which attends upon it (p. 3069, Wesley, J. John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible: The Old Testament. Originally published in 1765 in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. Text retrieved August 13, 2013 from re-published version [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Christian Classics Ethereal Library] from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/notes.pdf).

    The words of Psalm 85 also resonate with the great hymn Here is Love, Vast as the Ocean, which include the following lines (the second half of the second verse):

    Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
    Poured incessant from above,
    And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
    Kissed a guilty world in love.

    According to cyberhymnal.org, the first two verses were originally written in Welsh by William Rees (1802–1883), and translated into English by William Edwards in The Baptist Book of Praise (1900). To what extent Rees was mindful of Psalm 85 I could not say for certain, but the hymn seems to echo the psalm’s themes, particularly in the second half of the second verse (see especially Psalm 85:9–11 [Hebrew, vv. 10–12]). (The words of the hymn, and information about it, were retrieved August 10, 2013 from http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/h/e/herelove.htm.)

  37. In the Hebrew Bible this is v. 11 of Psalm 85.

  38. This stands out especially in the CJB, in which David H. Stern consistently renders the couplet, חֶסֶד (ḥeseḏ) and אֱמֶת (ʾěmeṯ), as “grace and truth”—sixteen times in the Old Testament, including here in Psalm 85, and two times in the New Testament, both in John 1. The full list of all eighteen verses in which the CJB has “grace and truth” is:

    • Genesis 24:49;
    • Exodus 34:6;
    • 2 Samuel 15:20;
    • Psalm 25:10;
    • Psalm 40:11 [this is the reference for the CJB and the Hebrew Bible; in most English Bibles this is v. 10];
    • Psalm 40:12 [this is the reference for the CJB and the Hebrew Bible; in most English Bibles this is v. 11];
    • Psalm 61:8 [in most English Bibles this is v. 7];
    • Psalm 85:11 [in most English Bibles this is v. 10];
    • Psalm 86:15;
    • Psalm 89:15 [in most English Bibles this is v. 14];
    • Psalm 115:1;
    • Psalm 138:2;
    • Proverbs 3:3:
    • Proverbs 14:22;
    • Proverbs 16:6;
    • Proverbs 20:28;
    • John 1:14;
    • John 1:17.

    Notice that this includes God’s self description when He appeared to Moses on Sinai (Exodus 34:6), and its echo in David’s prayer (Psalm 86:15); in addition to the reference under discussion, with its apparent Messianic connotations (Psalm 85:11 [in most English Bibles, v. 10]).

    In contrast to the CJB’s frequency of eighteen, the most occurrences of “grace and truth” I could find in any other English translation were the two instances in John 1:14 and 17. This is because most Bibles use different words for חֶסֶד (ḥeseḏ). For instance, in the sixteen verses of the Old Testament where the CJB has “grace and truth,” the NKJV, instead of “grace,” translates חֶסֶד (ḥeseḏ) as “mercy” (x11), “lovingkindness” (x3), “goodness” (x1), and “kindly” (x1).

  39. In both Psalm 85:10 (Hebrew, v. 11; Greek, 84:11) and John 1:14 the Greek word used for “truth” is alḗtheia. However, the words translated “mercy” and “grace” reflect respectively different Greek words:

    • Psalm 85:10 (Hebrew, v. 11; Greek, 84:11) has ἔλεος (éleos), which in the Septuagint is usually equivalent to Hebrew חֶסֶד (ḥeseḏ);
    • John 1:14 has χάρις (cháris), which in the Septuagint is usually equivalent to Hebrew חֵן (ḥēn).

    Despite this distinction in the Greek, many scholars believe that the cháris of John 1:14 conveys the same sense as Hebrew ḥeseḏ.

    For instance, Stern (1992, p. 156) sees cháris as potentially equivalent not only to ḥēn but also ḥeseḏ:

    Grace, Greek charis, is equivalent to Hebrew chen (“grace, favor”) or chesed (“loyal love and kindness”).

    The translators of the three Hebrew versions of the New Testament that I was able to check, all render each of the four occurrences of cháris in John’s Gospel (i.e., John 1:14–17) with ḥeseḏ, not ḥēn: The Delitzsch Hebrew New Testament, The Salkinson-Ginsburg Hebrew New Testament, and The Bible Society in Israel’s הברית החדשה.

    Hanson (1975) is confident that the “familiar translation ‘full of grace and truth’ [in John 1:14] . . . is a quotation from Exod. 34.6” (p. 6). He explains,

    [John’s] intention is clear: the same God who showed himself to Moses at the giving of the law has now manifested himself in Jesus Christ and can be recognized as manifesting the same essential characteristics, grace and truth, or better still love and faithfulness. (p. 6)

    Neither does Thiselton (2006, p. 281) have a problem with seeing ḥeseḏ behind John’s cháris. Thiselton refers to Montgomery (1939) who holds that

    the problematic χάρις [cháris] of the New Testament renders the idea of Hebrew ḥeseḏ . . . [G]race in the New Testament . . . is not to be understood primarily from the Greek but from its lively Semitic background; Greek χάρις [cháris] was a happy find for translation, but it was not the whole of ḥeseḏ. (pp. 97, 101)

    In support of this Montgomery points to the remains of Christian Syro-Palestinian literature, in which

    Syriac ḥasdā [a cognate of Hebrew ḥeseḏ] appears to be generally used in translating New Testament χάρις [cháris], viz. at . . . John 1:14, 16 (the last case reproducing the Hebrew of Exodus 34:6). (p. 100)
  40. Translated “truthful” in many Bibles, including the CJB, ESV, HCSB, NASB, NIV, NJB, NJPS, NLT, NRSV, etc. A few prefer “faithful,” e.g., The Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition, The Geneva Bible, and The Rotherham Bible.

  41. The CJB, HCSB, and 1984 NIV, all prefer “valid” in John 5:31–32; 8:14. A few other versions flit between “true” and “valid.”

  42. Under ἀληθής (alēthḗs), Gingrich (1983) lists John 5:31f. and Titus 1:13 as examples of where it means “dependable.”

  43. Translated “true” in the NKJV and most other English Bibles.

  44. Translated “true” in the NKJV and most other English Bibles.

  45. Also recorded in Matthew 21:26 and Luke 20:6.

  46. It should be noted that, while mentioning John the Baptist as a witness, Jesus makes it clear: “Yet I do not receive testimony from man” (John 5:34a). Indeed, He subsequently cites what He describes as “a greater witness than John’s” (John 5:36). His reason, therefore, for including John the Baptist’s testimony is “that you may be saved” (John 5:34b), knowing as He did the high regard with which the people held John the Baptist.

  47. The account of the voice from the cloud, when Jesus was transfigured, is also recorded in Mark 9:7 and Luke 9:35. Furthermore, Peter, who had been present on the mountain when Jesus was transfigured, referred to this incident in his second letter:

    For we . . . were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed . . . (2 Peter 1:16–19)
  48. I am very grateful to the late Dwight Pryor for his teaching on the Jewish roots of Christianity, including highlighting the rabbinic teaching method of remez (allusion), the practice of referring to, or hinting at, passages from the Hebrew Bible, as in the account of the voice from heaven at Christ’s transfiguration. Pryor (1998) explains,

    Because of their familiarity with the Hebrew Bible, the people [of Israel at the time of Christ] could grasp a biblical reference when alluded to by a rabbi like Jesus, or when uttered by a voice from heaven. Unfortunately, we Christians of the twentieth century do not possess that sophistication of familiarity with the Hebrew Bible—which is why we fail to notice the full significance of the Bat Kol [a voice from heaven that gives a decisive revelation] recorded in Luke 9:35. We do not recognise that God cites three texts in rabbinic fashion, that tell us much about the identity, mission, and purpose of Jesus. (pp. 75–76)

    Pryor then explains in detail each remez in this account (pp. 76–78).

  49. By the way, the first letter of each of these three divisions—T from Torah, n from Nevi’im, and k from Ketuvim—spell the acronym Tanakh, which is the name for the whole Hebrew Bible (i.e. the Old Testament).

  50. ἀληθινός (alēthinós) is another adjective corresponding to the noun ἀλήθεια (alḗtheia).

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