“Your word is truth” in John 17:17?

In Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer, Jesus prays to His Father, saying, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). In this verse, Jesus communicates two important facts: God’s Word is truth—God’s Word equals truth—and it’s by that truth that God sanctifies us, or sets us apart for holy service to Himself.

In the same prayer, Jesus prays for His disciples and all who will believe in Him through the gospel (John 17:20). Believers accept God’s words (John 17:6) and accept Jesus as God’s Word (John 17:8). God is truth, and His truth brings salvation to all who accept it (Titus 2:11). Further, God’s written and living Word will sustain believers as they are in the world (John 17:14).

In the High Priestly Prayer in John 17, Jesus confirms that He brought the message of salvation to the world: “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Jesus’ mission of bringing the truth has been accomplished (John 17:4), and He turns the focus of His prayer to God working through the disciples and other believers. He confirms that believers will be rejected by the world for believing “Your word is truth,” but believers are also assured joy, God’s protection from the evil one, and sanctification by God’s Word (John 17:13–19).

The Old and New Testaments both affirm that the words recorded in the Bible are God’s words and that they are true. Since God cannot lie, His Word is truth: “As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless” (Psalm 18:30). Since God is eternal and unchanging, His Word is always the same: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35; cf. Isaiah 40:8). Jesus uses the Word as He rebukes the devil who was tempting Him: “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4; cf. Deuteronomy 8:3).

If we want to know truth, we will look in God’s written Word (2 Timothy 3:16–17) and look to Jesus Christ (John 14:62 Corinthians 4:6Hebrews 1:3). John refers to Jesus Christ in John 1:1–2, saying, “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” The Word is God’s total message, and Jesus embodied that full message, which is why He is called the “Logos,” or “Word,” of God (Colossians 1:192:9). God is truth. His Word is truth. Salvation comes by accepting Jesus and agreeing that “Your word is truth.”

Jesus said, “Your word is truth.” When we look at the Bible, we see truth. The Bible does not merely contain the truth; it is the truth. Every word is truth, in every part of the Bible. “The words of the LORD are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times” (Psalm 12:6). This is the doctrine of the verbal, plenary inspiration of Scripture.

How we respond to God’s written Word and the Word made flesh has an eternal impact on us. Since God’s Word is truth, rejecting the Bible and rejecting Jesus is rejecting God Himself. Believing, cherishing, studying, and obeying God’s Word is the key to salvation, understanding God, and living abundantly (John 10:10). No matter what we may face in this world, we are sustained by the truth prayed over us in Jesus’ prayer: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

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