What Does It Mean to “Speak” the Truth?

By Mark D. Roberts

December 19, 2018

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Ephesians 4:15-16


A man reading.In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, I suggested that we desperately need the kind of speech commended in Ephesians 4:15. In this verse, we are to be people who are “speaking the truth in love.” Today, we begin a close study of this phrase, focusing on what it means to “speak” the truth.

If you were to look at the original Greek of Ephesians 4:15, you might be surprised to find that the Greek verbs meaning “to speak” do not actually show up here. Instead, we find the verb aletheuo, which is related to the word aletheia, meaning “truth.” An overly literal translation might read, “truthing in love.” This has led some commentators to suggest that Paul has in mind both speaking and living the truth when he uses the verb aletheuo. Though there can be no doubt about the need for active living of the truth (as captured by the phrase “in love”), it’s likely that aletheuo means “speaking the truth.” Unlike those in verse 15 who deceive people with the falsities they utter, we are to speak the truth.

As he writes this, Paul envisions people who are close enough to each other that they can communicate orally. Face-to-face interactions continue to be a major context for our truth speaking. Yet this passage surely relates to other forms of verbal communication, such as letter writing, blogging, emailing, tweeting, Skyping, texting, and so forth. Our words, whether spoken or written, whether embodied or digitized, matter. They matter to our fellow Christians. They matter to the church. They matter to our neighbors. They matter to the world. They matter to God. With our words, we can tell the truth or lie. With our words, we can love or hate. With our words, we can help our fellow believers to grow or we prolong their infancy.

Today, I am reminded of how my words can make a difference for good or for evil. I am renewing my commitment to glorify God in everything I say and write, so that my words might express truth and love.

Something to Think About:

How aware are you of the power of your words?

Do you speak as if your words really mattered?

What helps you to speak in a way that honors God and serves others?

Something to Do:

As you go through the day, pay attention to the words you use and the words you hear. Think about their meaning and power. Consider their impact on other people.


Gracious God, words are so familiar and common. I can easily forget their power and neglect their importance. Yes, I can even say things that hurt. But, more often, I speak in ways that are empty and thoughtless. Rather than bringing light, my words can add to the darkness.

Help me, O Lord, to weigh my words wisely. Speak to me and through me, so that I might say what is true, what is honoring to you, and what is edifying to your church. Even this day, help me to take my words seriously, to use them for good and for your glory. Amen.


Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
Speaking the Truth from the Heart

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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