WHAT IS TRUTH?: An Answer to John 18:38 Given in the Gospel of Nicodemus

Gospel of Nicodemus PDF

Directory Index for Studies in the Gospel of Nicodemus

Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.”

John 18:38 (NKJV)

Should the verses given within the Gospel of Nicodemus 3:11-14 be considered valid in accordance to what we can discern in our Bibles? Despite the popular misconception of this text, thorough study of this Gospel strongly suggests otherwise. 

Scholars date the origins of the Gospel of Nicodemus (aka the Acts of Pontius Pilate), to around the mid-fourth century AD; though the text claims to be written by Nicodemus himself — most famously known for his acquaintanceship with Jesus in the Gospel of John.

The interesting thing about this apocryphal work is it dates from a time when zealous Christians would commonly fabricate manuscripts; being catalogued today in what we know as the Nag Hammadi Library. So it’s no surprise why many seasoned lovers of the Word, who usually lift up apocrypha like Enoch and Jubilees, are not doing open studies on this gospel; likely overlooking the work as just another false text swaying contrary to God’s Word — as many Gnostic texts show to do.

Though despite the Gospel of Nicodemus’ origins, the fact of the matter is when actually studying the text, it consistently proves to be doctrinally sound, Inspired, and even revelatory — at an astounding level!

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Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.

Proverbs 4:7 (NKJV)

With all due respect to the superior authority of our standard biblical canon, the account we read in John 18:38 can’t help but seem blatantly lacking. Of course the intent of this article is not to question the integrity of John 18:38, but to merely show the solid validity of the content given within what we read in the Gospel of Nicodemus. Thus simply leaving those seeking wisdom and the ways of our God Elohim with a pearl worthy to shine forth within the lamp upon our feet, lighting our path of understanding.

For wisdom is better than rubies,
And all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her.

Proverbs 8:11 (NKJV)

The fact is, what we read in the Gospel of Nicodemus 13:11-14 precisely reflects — and even sums up — what we find within standard Bible Prophecy:

The Bible teaches us Satan is the prince of this earth, having full reign and dominion; as we reside here as mere pilgrims and sojourners, trapped in the fallen state of sin we inherited through Adam and Eve, until the time of God’s redemptive judgement — thus the return of Christ.

47 The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.
48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

1 Corinthians 15:47-53 (KJV)

The words of Jesus Himself slowly reveal this mystery throughout the Gospels, as we are ALL inherent sinners in need of a savior; as His precious sinless blood paved the way into the coming Kingdom for those who believe, and have chosen to follow Him as a living sacrifice here on earth for the Gospel’s sake. It can never be repeated enough — you can not enter heaven without accepting the redemptive work of our true Lord and Savior, who is the image of God [Romans 10:9-13].

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. 
Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

1 John 5:4-5 (NKJV)

As we can establish confirmation in what is recorded within the Gospel of Nicodemus 3:11-13, Pilate saith to him, What is truth? Jesus said, Truth is from heaven. Pilate said, Therefore truth is not on earth. we find the punchline given within Verse 14 no more difficult to scripturally backup as well: Jesus said to Pilate, Believe that truth is on earth among those, who when they have the power of judgement, are governed by truth, and form right judgement.

In context, Verse 14 is referencing a time when Satan’s dominion is handed over to the Kingdom of God — a time prophetically at our very doorstep! 

The statement Jesus makes here can clearly be found as truth, not only through New Testament prophecy, but the Old Testament as well; after all, The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth [John 1:14].

The clearest case can be found within the contents of Daniel 7:

But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.’

Daniel 7:18 (NKJV)

21 I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, 
22 until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.

Daniel 7:21-22 (NKJV)

Then the kingdom and dominion,
And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven,
Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High.
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’

Daniel 7:27 (NKJV)

A full spectrum prophetic view of the Kingdom of Heaven’s coming reign can be found within the closing chapters of the Book of Revelation within the New Testament. Jesus’ answer to Pilate in Nicodemus 3:14, could also very well be referencing the Millennial Reign of Christ described in Revelation 20:4, And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Other clear confirmations can be found scattered within Christian prophecy from what Jesus states in Verse 14 as well:

So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Matthew 19:28 (NKJV)

Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 

1 Corinthians 6:2 (NKJV)

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In closing, this study not only confirms the truth of the promises Jesus left to us within the Gospels of the coming Kingdom, but also the validity of a highly overlooked and underrated text, the Gospel of Nicodemus. Despite whatever opinions one may have of John 18:38, what is for certain is this text deserves more attention from Believers than being just another corrupted Gnostic text from which it’s sadly known to be…

Categories: Apocryphal Studies, Biblical Studies, Studies in the Gospel of Nicodemus

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