Respect God’s Word

KEY VERSE: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” —II Timothy 2:15


AS WE FIND in our key verse, the King James Version reads, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth,” Professor Strong tells us the Greek word here translated “study” means ‘to make effort, be prompt or earnest’. The thought of study is implied in the text in that our earnest effort to show ourselves approved unto God is indicated to be through “rightly dividing the Word of truth.” Paul recognized the need for diligence in Bible study.

In this text Paul says the proper motive for Bible study is that we might know the will of God, show ourselves approved unto him, and be fervent in our spirit of serving him. Bible study is not an end in itself, but a means to an end, and that end is to know and to do God’s will. As Paul points out, we show ourselves approved unto God in proportion to our rightly dividing the Word of truth, and working in harmony with the instructions revealed to us.

What is meant by rightly dividing the Word of truth? Paul’s initial use of this expression is found in a very interesting and revealing context. The preceding verse reads, “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.” The three verses following the admonition to rightly divide the Word of truth read, “Shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.”

From these verses we learn that striving about words, and vain babblings do not constitute profitable Bible study. Nor were those who at that time were teaching that the resurrection of the dead had already taken place ‘rightly dividing the Word of truth’. It might well have been the teaching of this error that prompted Paul to use this particular expression, ‘rightly dividing the Word’. The Bible does teach the resurrection of the dead, but the error at that time was in claiming that it was a feature of the divine plan which had occurred in the past, rather than still to come.

The lesson emphasized is the importance of a proper recognition of the time elements in God’s plan. Failure to recognize this has led many to conclude that the Bible is contradictory and unreliable. There are three main time divisions in the plan of God. In general we speak of these as the world of yesterday, the world of today, and the world of tomorrow. The Bible uses the expressions, “The world that then was,” “this present evil world,” and “the world to come.”—II Pet. 3:6; Gal. 1:4; Heb. 2:5

While Paul’s initial use of the expression ‘rightly dividing the Word of truth’, related more particularly to time, the principle thus set forth can properly be applied to other facts in connection with the divine plan. For example, there are both earthly and heavenly promises; both symbolic and literal language is used; knowing when it was spoken, to whom, and by whom, is also important. Only by noting these distinctions will we be able to see and to appreciate the full harmony of the Word of God with respect to its teachings.

Let us remember that the purpose of Bible study is that we might know the will of God and receive inspiration to faithfulness in doing it during the present age, so that we may be co-workers with the Lord in the next age—during Christ’s kingdom—who will need not to be ashamed, because they have ‘rightly divided’ the Word of truth.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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