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Ephesians 4:25

"Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour, for we are all members of one body." NIV. My emphasis.

Speaking truthfully is not necessarily making Jesus the subject of ones speech. e.g. After the woman at the well said, "I have no husband", part of Jesus' reply was, "What you have said is true". She had been talking about herself.

Ephesians 4:25

"Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbour, for we are members one of another". ESV. My emphasis.

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life", John 14:6. So talking "the truth", possibly, might be, talking about Jesus.

"speaking truthfully" may or may not mean the same as "speak the truth".

What does "aletheian" mean in Eph 4:25?

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There are a number of verbal components/ideas in Ephesians 4:25.

  • The first, ⲁⲡⲟⲑⲉⲙⲉⲛⲟⲓ,is a participle describing how they are to carry out the main verb. They are to have a manner of "setting aside that which is false."
  • The main verb, ⲗⲁⲗⲉⲓⲧⲉ, tells them what they are to do. They are to speak the truth.
  • The final verb in the verse gives the reason why they are to do this (ⲟⲧⲓ): They are members of one body.

So, notice that the manner of "setting aside everything that is false" would also include setting aside true statements that mislead the hearer. Likewise, notice the motivation: if we are one body, why would one member of the body hurt another body part? Omitting key truths for the sake of deception would be doing just that.

Finally, in the greater context, a few verses earlier, Paul invites them to "speak the truth in love" (“ἀληθεύοντες δὲ ἐν ἀγάπῃ” (Ἐφεσίους 4·15 THGNT-T)). Notice how this makes the same point in different words: we speak the truth. But the manner & motivation in our hearts is ⲁⲅⲁⲡⲏ love: that which seeks the best for the other person.

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Here is my literal translation of Dph 4:25 -

Διὸ ἀποθέμενοι τὸ ψεῦδος λαλεῖτε ἀλήθειαν ἕκαστος μετὰ τοῦ πλησίον αὐτοῦ, ὅτι ἐσμὲν ἀλλήλων μέλη. = Therefore, having put off the falsehood, Speak truth each with the neighbor of him, because [we] are of one-another members.

[Note the slightly more idiomatic English of the BLB: "Therefore having put off falsehood, let each one speak truth with his neighbor, because we are members of one another."]

The highlighted text is the subject of the OP's question.

  • the verb λαλεῖτε (speak!) is imperative - a command
  • the noun ἀλήθειαν (truth) is an accusative noun and thus the object of the command to speak. It is NOT an adverb (eg "truthfully").

Note that the first two clauses are in direct contrast:

  • having put off falsehood
  • speak truth

Both "falsehood" and "truth" are accusative nouns and thus, whatever one says about one applies to the other (grammatically).

Now, it is true that the evangelist John (the beloved) teaches that truth is encapsulated in the person of Jesus Christ:

  • John 1:14 - The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of a unique one from the Father, full of grace and truth.
  • John 14:6 - Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
  • 1 John 5:11, 12 - And this is that testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

However, whether Paul was alluding to this is in Eph 4:25 can be ascertained in the previous verses of Eph 4 -

20 But this is not the way you came to know Christ. 21 Surely you heard of Him and were taught in Him—in keeping with the truth that is in Jesus22 to put off your former way of life, your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be renewed in the spirit of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one another. 26 “Be angry, yet do not sin.” Do not let the sun set upon your anger, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

Now, we observe that John also teaches that:

John 8:44 - You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out his desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, refusing to uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, because he is a liar and the father of lies.

Thus, in Eph 4:20-27 Paul appears to be contrasting two opposite and distinct ways of life:

  • a life of lies and falsehoods when we live as Satan wishes us to live
  • a life of truth in Christ Jesus as our Lord

In each case, people live the life of the one motivating the life.

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