Speaking The Truth Is, In Fact, Love

Many brothers and sisters in Christ struggle with this. Over the years I’ve been torn over the very same concern as I wrestled with Ephesians 4:15. The consensus among textual critics and biblical scholars for that verse gave me great comfort. For folks who don’t have Logos or are in a hurry to get to the heart of a matter, I really love BibleHub’s commentary feature, as shown here.


We can see Ellicott’s opinion that the correct rendering is ‘being true in love’ similar to how we might say ‘being true’ to or toward others today, by speaking truly and acting honestly toward them. However, the second part of Ellicott aligns almost exactly with the other foremost authors of biblical commentary:

“loving the truth, and clinging to it at all costs.”

Benson’s analysis is almost identical:

“teaching or maintaining the truth; in love toward God and one another”

Meyer’s writes:

‘ἀληθεύειν never means to strive after truth, or to hold fast the truth, to possess the truth, or the like, but always to speak the truth (comp. also Proverbs 21:3; Sir 31:4), to which, likewise, the sense of to verify, to prove as true, found e.g. in Xen. Anab. vii. 7. 25, Isaiah 44:26, may be traced back.’

Barnes, I believe, errs on his second point somewhat, or at least reduces the command to one which may others may objectively object to based on a subjective and arbitrary opinion, but his first point is, I think, sound:

But speaking the truth in love – Margin, “being sincere.” The translation in the text is correct – literally, “truthing in love” – ἀληθεύοντες alētheuontes.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown writes:

speaking the truth—Translate, “holding the truth”; “following the truth”; opposed to “error” or “deceit” (Eph 4:14). in love—”Truth” is never to be sacrificed to so-called “charity”; yet it is to be maintained in charity. Truth in word and act, love in manner and spirit, are the Christian’s rule (compare Eph 4:21, 24).

Matthew Poole chimes in:

But speaking the truth in love; or, following the truth in love:

Gill also, whom I believe is spot on:

But speaking the truth in love,…. Either Christ himself, who is the truth, and is to be preached, and always spoken of with strong affection and love; or the Gospel, the word of truth, so called in opposition to that which is false and fictitious; and also to the law, which is shadowish; and on account of its author, the God of truth, and its subject matter, Christ, and the several doctrines of grace; and because the spirit of truth has dictated it, and does direct to it, and owns and blesses it: this, with respect to the ministers of the Gospel, should be spoken openly, honestly, and sincerely, and in love to the souls of men, and in a way consistent with love, in opposition to the secret, ensnaring, and pernicious ways of false teachers; and with respect to private Christians, as they are to receive it in love, so to speak of it to one another from a principle of love, and an affectionate concern for each other’s welfare..

Cambridge also:

speaking the truth] The Gr. (one word) is wider and deeper, including the thought of living and loving truth. Alford renders “being followers of truth.” And the context is in favour of this. Not speaking truth, but avoiding false teaching, is in question. The Christian is to cultivate an instinct for Divine Truth, as against its counterfeits, in thought and in life.—R.V., “speaking truth” and (margin) “dealing truly.” in love] The holy condition under which alone the “follower of truth” would follow it truly, free from bitterness and prejudice, intent only on the will of God. It has been well said that some men find love the easier precept, some truth; but that the Gospel enjoins the harmony of both.

As a sort of TL;DR on this same subject, I was greatly encouraged by Spurgeon’s commentary and pray it would be a blessing to you. I have included it below:

7 AUGUST (1887)

Lessons from the Christ of Patmos

‘And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.’ Revelation 1:16


The word is in itself adapted to the divine end, for it is sharp and two-edged; when it is spoken by the Lord, its adaptation is seen. The gospel is very sharp when the Spirit of God lays it home. No doctrine of men has such piercing power. Take care, preacher, that you do not blunt the word or try to cover over its edge, for that would be treason to the Lord who made it to be sharp and cutting. There is much about the true gospel which offends and it should be our desire never to tamper with it, or to tone it down, lest we become enemies to the Lord’s truth. Truth which is meant to offend human pride must be stated in its own way, even though seen to produce anger and annoy self-righteousness. Doctrine which is cutting and killing must not be concealed or softened down. ‘He that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully … saith the LORD.’ People are disturbed and troubled by the real gospel: under the false gospel they can sleep into destruction. Bring out the sword: it is made to wound; let it exercise its salutary sharpness. The gospel has two edges, so that none may play with it. When they think to run their fingers along the back of it they will find themselves cut to the bone. Whether we regard its threats or its promises, it cuts at sin. Whether we move it up or down, it makes great gashes in that which ought to be wounded and killed. Let us, therefore, know that the power of the church does not lie anywhere but in the word as Jesus himself speaks it. Let us keep to his own pure, unadulterated, unblunted word and let us pray him to send it forth with power out of his own mouth into the hearts and consciences of men.

FOR MEDITATION: God’s word operates not only as a lamp (Psalm 119:105), but also as a fire and a hammer (Jeremiah 23:29) as well as a sword (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12). Vain attempts have been made to ban it (Jeremiah 11:21; Acts 4:18–21; 5:28–29, 40–42), to burn it (Jeremiah 36:20–28, 32), to blur it (Ezekiel 20:49; 33:30–33) and to blunt it (Jeremiah 34:8–17; 42:2–7; 43:1–4). It is far less effort simply to believe it (Proverbs 16:20; John 5:24)!

Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (2011). Lessons from the Christ of Patmos. In T. Kinloch (Ed.), 365 Days with Spurgeon (Vol. 6, p. 227). Leominster: Day One.


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