For our Bible study today, we come across a very well-known and emphasized text of Scripture. In this text, the Apostle Paul is instructing a young Pastor Timothy on the need to “rightly divide the Word of Truth”, as he ministers to the Ephesian the church and the citizens of Ephesus.
What did Paul mean when he gave these instructions to Timothy?
Was he telling Timothy of the need to divide the Word between true teachings and errors that the Bible contains? There are many that wrongfully believe this is so.
Or perhaps, Paul was telling Timothy of the need to divide the Scriptures into several different time periods characterized by different methods of Godly interaction with men? Our dispensational brothers would tell us this is the case.
In our study this morning we will be looking at the Scriptural meaning of the phrase “rightly dividing the Word of Truth” and its application for all who seek to serve the Lord and share His Word with others.
2Ti 2:15 – “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Obviously, this study will center on the meaning of the phrase “rightly dividing”. The only possible way to come to a proper understanding of this phrase is to come to an understanding of the MEANING of these words and their USAGE in the context of our passage…
The meaning of the words “rightly dividing”.
This two word phrase is translated from one word in the Greek. This word is “orthotomeo”. The meaning of orthotomeo is very interesting indeed. This word comes from a fusion of two Greek words… “orthos” and “tomoteros”.
“orthos” carries with the ideas of straight, upright, level, honest, not twisted, not distorted.
“tomoteros” carries with it the idea of cutting, sharpness, dissection.
From this vocabulary we can see the basic idea Paul was getting across to Timothy was the need to “cut into” God’s Word, closely examine it, and then share his findings with others. It would be much like a biologist that is using a very sharp knife to carefully dissect an animal to come to a better factual understanding of its internal organs and contents.
Also, Timothy was never to approach God’s Word with a bias or a predisposition about its contents. He was to simply accept the teachings of the Word, accept them as truth, and then fairly reflect his discoveries to his listeners without twisting his findings in any way. Timothy’s teachings were to simply reveal the contents of the Word, not twist the Word to align it with his personal desires and beliefs.
In summary this terminology teaches us that Timothy was to take great care in coming to an understanding of the Scriptures and in revealing its contents in an unbiased, truthful fashion.
The usage of the phrase “rightly dividing” in the context of our passage.
Please keep in mind, the thought found in this passage actually begins in verse 14 and carries through to verse 19. In this passage we see two basic themes being covered over and over again…
#1. The need to teach the truth and ONLY the truth.
This subject is found in verses 15 & 19:
15) Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
In this verse, we see the need to study diligently, come to an understanding of the truth and teach the truth we have learned, so as not to stand ashamed before Christ.
(19) Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
Here, we see that one of the outstanding characteristics of God’s people is the need to depart from iniquity in our personal life. This includes departing from false teaching that only harms men.
#2. The harm that is done through the false teachings of men.
This theme is found in the following verses:
(14) Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.
False teaching is of no profit to the minister or those who sit under his ministry. On the contrary, false teaching only disrupts and sabotages those who are striving to come to an understanding God’s Word in truth.
(16) But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
(17) And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;
(18) Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
Here, Timothy is told to brush off wicked and fruitless discussions that only lead to an increase in opposition to God.
False teaching devours the listener like gangrene, resulting in uselessness and a poisoning of the hearer. Teaching error propagates untrue beliefs and can even overwhelm the set of Godly truths that were previously learned. In other words, error not only deceives those who have learned no truth, but also can confuse those who have assented to the truth.
These were all destructive results of teaching error which emphasized to Timothy the need to come to a proper understand of the truths of God’s Word and then, faithfully, reveal them to his hearers.
Folks, all of us have some type of ministry that God has given to us. In every case, our ministry should involve revealing God’s Word to others through our lives, whether by our words or our actions or a combination of both.
For us to faithfully proclaim the Word of God, we should concentrate on these instructions given by the Apostle Paul to Timothy…. carefully study the Word and then, with equal care, share what we have learned with others.
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