By Walton Weaver
The highest truth known by man is God. Man can learn of God’s “invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature” by observing “what has been made” (Rom. 1:20), but he cannot come to know some things about God apart from a special divine revelation. When Jesus said, “I am . . . the truth” (Jn. 14:6) he was claiming to be such a revelation. He continues in verse seven, “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; from now on you know him, and have seen him.” Philip responded by saying, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (v. 8). Jesus then said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how do you say, `Show us the Father’?” (v. 9)
How are we to understand this claim of Jesus, “I am the truth”?
Revealer and Redeemer
1. He reveals the Father. Jesus was not the Father; he was the “only begotten Son” (Jn. 3:16) of the Father. But to see him, he said, was to see the Father. How could this be? Hebrews 1:3 says the Son of God “is the radiance of his [the Father’s] glory and the exact representation of his nature” (NASB). The truth of God was being revealed and made know to men in the person of Christ. Jesus was the embodiment of truth. Because the Word had become flesh and now dwelt among men (Jn. 1:1-2,14), the Father was now being revealed through the Son. “No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God [later manuscripts read, `Son’ here, ww], who is in the bosom of the Father, he has explained Him” (Jn. 1:18). Philip had failed to understand that this was what the Son was doing. When he said, “Show us the Father,” evidently he wanted to see God with his natural eyes, perhaps by some supernatural presence. Jesus was a supernatural presence from the Father, but Philip had not seen him as yet in that way. If only he had “known” the Son, he would have known the Father also (v. 7).
Jesus had been in the midst of his disciples for months now. They had heard his words and seen his deeds (cf. Jn. 5:19-21). But their close association with him had not yet led them to discover the divine perfection of the Father in the Son. Why had they not seen? Prejudice and sin had likely hindered them so that they had not seen as clearly as they should. Jesus seems to think that Philip should have known him better. He reassures Philip, however, by saying, “From now on you know him, and have seen him” (v. 7). The new knowledge they were to have of the Father was so near and so certain that he speaks of it as already present. Future events, such as the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, in addition to the great occasion of Pentecost, would have a tremendous impact upon the minds of his disciples. With their new spiritual insight they would have a much better understanding of both the Father and the Son. Then they will see that the Son was revealing the Father to them.
2. He is redeemer. Any careful student of Scripture knows that Jesus is more than just “a mighty act of God in history” who came to reveal the divine attributes of the Father, such as his holiness, goodness, compassion, etc. The central message in the New Testament is that Jesus of Nazareth is the Savior of men. He came “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10). He did not come merely to bring God to men (by revealing his divine attributes), but to bring men to God by opening up “the way” to the Father. He was “Immanuel, which translated means, `God with us”‘ (Matt. 1:23), and as the very representation of the Father he did reveal and make known the Father to us. But more than this, as the God-man he would “save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). The fact that he was “the truth” has an important bearing upon his claim to be the Savior of the 7:24-27). His words are “spirit, and are life” (Jn. 6:63), and by them men shall be judged in the last day (Jn. 12:48).
Full and Final Truth
The full truth. He who is “the truth,” and is “full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14), is full and complete truth. No one else “among us” could have promised to send the Helper, or the Holy Spirit, to guide the apostles “into all the truth” (Jn. 14:26; 15:26 16:13). Only Jesus who is “the truth” himself could have made such a promise. This “all truth” would not only be the truth, but it would be “the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”! In Jesus “are hid-den all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3); “in him all the fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form, and in him we have been made complete, and he is the head over all rule and authority” (Col. 2:9-10). It is in him that we gain “a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself” (Col. 2:2). Our assurance that we have the full truth rests in this fact: ” . . . his power has granted unto us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and excellence” (2 Pet. 1:3).
The final truth. The fact that Jesus is the truth is proof that God has no “latter day revelations.” God is not still making known truth independently of that “all truth” into which the apostles were guided in the first century. This “body of truth,” often called “the faith” in an objective sense, has been “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). “That which is written” is our sole authority in religion, and we are not permitted to add to it, or go beyond it, nor are we allowed to take away from it (1 Cor. 4:6; 2 Jn. 9; Rev. 22:18-20). Scripture “cannot be broken” (Jn. 10:35) because what has been written is “the commandment of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:39).
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 4, p. 6
February 18, 1993