Truly, truly, I say to you…
February 25, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
Twenty-five times in the Gospel of John we hear from the lips of Jesus this introductory statement, “Truly, truly, I say to you…” It’s unique to John that the word “truly” is repeated; the other Gospel writers record only one “truly.” What does this phrase mean? Why does Jesus use it?
Simply put, the phrase means, “I am solemnly telling you the truth.” The word “truly” is the Greek word amen. When we use this word at the end of a prayer, it is an expression of faith, appealing to God, “Let it be so.” When Jesus uses “amen” at the beginning of a statement (and in the Bible, he is the only one who does so), it is an assertion that he is making a solemn declaration. Jesus wants his hearers to listen carefully to the statement he is about to make. This doesn’t invalidate other teachings of Jesus; it adds weight to the present statement.
The purpose for Jesus using this solemn assertion varies for the context.
Jesus warns his listeners of spiritual destitution. In John 3:3 he says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Again, in John 8:34 he says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” Statements like these land heavy on us. They emphasis a spiritual condition that is unsurmountable by human effort.
Jesus teaches his listeners about who he is. He reveals his divine nature in John 8:58 when he says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” Then he emphasizes his salvific mission by saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep” (10:7).
Jesus affirms the great promises he offers. The Gospel of John is full of gloriously good promises. We can hope in all of the promises of Christ because he is trustworthy and good. There are a few promises, however, Jesus solemnizes with this introductory statement. In John 8:51 he says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” And in John 16:23 he promises, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” Such promises seem far-fetched apart from Christ. But in Christ, they are to be cherished.
When we come across Jesus’ introductory formula, “Truly, truly, I say to you…” we should pause and consider his words carefully. His words will humble as we understand our spiritual conditions. His words will draw out of us wonder and faith at who he is. And his words will sustain hope as we cling to his promises.