John 8:31 So He said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

What does mean? Does this mean that if we obey the commandments and the words in the sermon of the mount, someday, we will know what is the truth and then that truth will set us free?


In several places, Jesus makes the strong connection between His Word and Truth. Here is a sample:

  • John 17:17 - Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
  • James 1:18 - He chose to give us birth through the word of truth …
  • Eph 1:13 - In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit
  • 2 Tim 2:15 - a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
  • Col 1:5 - … because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel …
  • 2 Cor 6:7 - … in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left …

In John 8:31-38 Jesus adds a new element to this pairing of ideas, that "the truth will set you free." The remainder of the dialogue with the Jews makes clear that Jesus is NOT discussing political freedom (from Rome or anyone else) but freedom from sin and its entanglements (or besetments) Heb 12:1. Freedom here is freedom to do the will of God and thus, freedom from the enticements of the world (1 John 2:15-17).

John 8:31ff records a difficult dialogue with the Jews about who is their real master - God or the devil? Jesus makes it clear that His Word, the Truth would set them free from their service to the devil. The NT discusses such a freedom a lot:

  • Freedom from sin that enslaves - Luke 4:18, 19, Acts 13:38, 39, Rom 6:14, 18, 22, 8:1-4, 20, 21, Gal 3:22, 5:1, 13, 14, 1 Peter 2:16, 2 Peter 2:19.
  • Freedom from the ceremonial law of Moses - 1 Cor 3:12-17, 6:12, 13, Eph 3:12, Acts 13:38, 39, gal 2:4, Rom 6:14, etc.
  • Freedom from the devil - Heb 2:14, 15 (this is really just idiom for freedom from sin)
  • Freedom from death - 1 Cor 15:56, 57

All this part of the one of the great metaphors of the NT - redemption or manumission (being set free by Jesus paying the slave price) from sin, or in the technical jargon, "atonement". See Luke 1:68, 24:21, Matt 20:28, Mark 10:45, 1 Tim 2:6, Heb 9:15, 1 Cor 6:20, 7:23, Gal 3:13, 4:5, Titus 2:14, 1 Peter 1:18, Rev 5:9.

  • All these points taken individually are true enough (truth=God's word, and freedom is about sin and death) but this answer does not address what the connection is, or the "how". How does the truth go from being a "just" word(s) to accomplishing an action? The question specifically asks about that and this answer doesn't cover it.
    – Caleb
    Jul 30 '19 at 8:26
  • @Caleb - Freedom of the truth, or "truth setting us free" is a metaphor and metaphors have no power of their own. The only "power" is in the name and ministry of what the metaphor represents - Jesus' saving grace! Christ frees us from enslavement to sin's passion and addiction. I do not understand what is enigmatic about this!
    – user25930
    Jul 30 '19 at 9:30

The Truth Will Set You Free

John 8:31-34 (ESV)

31 "So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin."

In the above verses ,Jesus was chiefly speaking to set them free from sin and death (Verse 34) and as well as the many burdens loaded on the people by their teachers -that is man made rules, and unreasonable requirements.( Luke 11:46

Today it is no different, millions of people are overcome by fears of superstitions , like Necrophobia, which is the irrational fear of funerals, tombstones or fear that the spirits of the dead will return to haunt them.Others have "death anxiety" caused by the thought of death or that they will cease to exist, many seek help from mediums or spiritual mentors, paying large sums of money to free them from such fears.

Freedom from superstition.

God's people the Israelites became superstitious and even went to the point of worshiping- Fortune- "the god of Good Luck." and the god of Destiny," How did God react: "but you did what was evil in my eyes."(Isaiah 65:11-12) Today many people believe that certain objects ,or numbers will bring them bad luck. Others seek answers from horoscopes, palmistry, or others seeking a good omen before doing something. God said: " who ever does these things is detestable to me. Isaiah wrote:

Isaiah 65:11-12 (ESV)

11 "But you who forsake the Lord, who forget my holy mountain who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny, 12 I will destine you to the sword, and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter, because, when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not listen, but you did what was evil in my eyes and chose what I did not delight in.”

Deuteronomy 18:11-12 (NASB)

11 "Or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you."

The Bible says : Resist wicked spirits-Stop seeking their advise-Study the Bible, wisdom comes from God. Proverbs 2:6

Jesus referred to the Devil as the "father of lies", (John 8:44) so seeking advise from spirit mediums and the likes is destructive .Paul wrote:

Ephesians 6:11 Amplified Bible (AMP)

11 "Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil."

Freedom from fear of the dead.

Many people believe that the spirits of their dead ancestors will come back and haunt them, and so to appease them, make various sacrifices to please them, so they will not do them any harm. Therefore , the question that arises is ,

Where are the dead ?Jesus said of his friend Lazarus:

“Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” 12 The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. 14 So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead." (John 11:11-14 NASB)

"Lazarus is dead." Jesus compared death to deep sleep, the dead cease to exist,and so are conscious of nothing and cannot cause any harm or do any good to any one nor can anyone help the. Notice that Jesus did not say that Lazarus is in paradise or being tormented in hell.

And when God confronted Adam with his disobedience, God said to him: " By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”(Gen. 3:19 NASB) Adam ceased to exist he was neither in heaven or in hell, he simply returned to dust.

Some people claim to have seen lights and tunnels, but did they actually come back from the dead? Or is it that they went so close to death that it is beyond the ability of science to measure their vital signs? " The dead are dead when they do not come back to life. The Bible on this says : "For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten."(Eccl. 9:5 NASB)

God is love (1 John 4:8) and it is unthinkable of him to punish people for ever, this is what the Bible teaches about the dead . It is also comforting also know that the dead are not able to do anyone harm or that there is any reason to be afraid of them.

Freedom from excessive fear of death.

Most people fear death and try not to think about it, but life threatening situations, like a serious illness,or death of a friend, bring us face to face with the realities of death. Paul wrote that death is an enemy 1 Corinthians 15:26 and so it is natural to fear death, however we need not have undue fear of death, for God purposes that most people that died will be resurrected. Jesus promised:

John 5:28-29 (NASB)

28" Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,[Christ's] 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment."(Also Acts 24:15)

Daniel 12:13 (CEV)

13 "So, Daniel, be faithful until the end! You will rest, and at the end of time, you will rise from death to receive your reward."

The promise of resurrection must of comforted Daniel to face death with courage and dignity.


The key to making correct decisions "that will set you free" are those that are based on God's Word the Bible,knowing the truth will set you free, from fear of the dead,fear of death, excessive fear of many things, superstitions and heresies ." For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding."(Proverbs 2:6 NASB)

  • What did Jesus mean when he said to the friendly crucified thief: " Today you will be with me in paradise"? Jan 3 '20 at 13:35

The answer lied in the following versus as Jesus explained to the Jews:

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. - John 8:34-36

The truth that would set us free is the Salvation. That God himself have set! Everyone who sins in a slave to sin. And the wages of sin is death as describe be Paul in the Book of Romans. So the Salvation that Jesus accomplish set us all free from the death! And we got to inherit what Jesus is preparing for us in the heaven. And only through Jesus alone that we may have eternal life.

It was not about obeying the commandments, or anything you do that you get the truth. But the truth is, the savior has been prophesied throughout the Old Testament. Jesus came as the living God, completing the salvation plan. And give us hope for eternal life at his Second Coming.

But we as human, has to demonstrate our love to God, for not doing what God dislike. Sinful things, disobedience, etc... and to live our life as light and salt in this fallen world while we wait for his Second Coming.

  • Please don't just respond to / rebut other answers. Use the answer space to answer the question. Good answers will rise to the top (with upvotes) and bad answers will sink out of sight (with downvotes), so making your answer content depend on other answers is not helpful. Focus on the original question and direct your response to that.
    – Caleb
    Jul 30 '19 at 8:17

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