2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
To be a workman that doesn’t need to be ashamed, we must exercise diligence and care to be approved in God’s sight as we carefully handle the Word of truth. The rendering of the King James Version, which was about the only English translation widely used when I was young, led most readers to think it has reference to study the Bible carefully. It does apply to that, as proven by the final clause, “rightly dividing the word of truth.” The last portion of this verse was itself grossly misinterpreted by many readers as a proof-text in support of Dispensationalism. Back then and in many circles today the Bible was divided into seven dispensations. It made for a helpful teaching outline, but the Bible itself furnishes no internal clue that God intended us to divide the Bible that way. It has led to considerable error, as when some dispensationalists teach that the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6 is not for Christians to pray today. Sometimes Dispensational interpreters engage more in “wrong subtraction” than in “right division.” I was thoroughly disabused of such a mistaken notion when I read James W. Thirtle’s book on The Lord’s Prayer, a work published in 1915. Dispensationalists get hung up on the clause in the Lord’s Prayer, “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” asserting that is not the basis or premise upon which forgiveness is based in this dispensation of Grace, or this Church Age. Therefore, Christians should not pray that prayer. Thirtle points out that the expression Jesus used alludes to Deuteronomy 15, where in the manner that debts were forgiven in Israel every seven years is the same manner we are to forgive those who have trespassed against us–immediately, with no strings attached, and with the right attitude. Once again, that last clause, “rightly dividing the word of truth,” is most significant. Among the reasons there are so many differences of opinion about what the Bible teaches is that those who are reading the Bible are often not “rightly dividing” it. That is, they fail to interpret the Bible according to the rules of interpretation, and they fail to take into account all the evidence in the Bible before they assert their mistaken claim about what it says. Such careless handling of God’s Word can lead to teaching what is actually false doctrine and even heresy. But there is no excuse for that here, for I have spelled out in simple terms yet I trust in sufficient detail just what the rules of interpretation are in the October, 2010 archives listed to the right on this page. In many discussions featured here I have demonstrated in detail how to apply those rules to answer mistaken interpretations of the Bible.
For those who desire to DIG DEEPER into this subject:
(1) Consult the cross references given in Nelson’s Cross Reference Guide to the Bible on page 1411 for 2 Timothy 2:15.
(2) Consult the cross references given in The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge on page 1432 or in Logos 5 Bible software for 2 Timothy 2:15.
(3) Lacking access to those two resources, consult the cross references for this passage as I have developed them as given below:
2 Timothy 2:15. Study. or, Be diligent. Gr. spoudazō [(*S#4704g), to use speed, that is, to make effort, be prompt or earnest (Strong): Rendered (1) endeavor: Ep 4:3. 1 Th 2:17. 2 P 1:15. (2) do diligence: 2 T 4:9, 21. (3) be diligent: T 3:12. 2 P 3:14. (4) give diligence: 2 P 1:10. (5) be forward: Ga 2:10. (6) labour: He 4:11. (7) study: 2 T 2:15]. Pr **23:12. 2 P +*1:10, 15. **3:14. to shew. or, present, as Col 1:22, 28 (CB). Gr. parestēmi, paristanō (S#3936g, Mt 26:53). Ac 27:24. Ro **12:1. **14:10. 1 C 8:8. approved. Gr. dokimos (S#1384g, Ro 14:18). Lk +**21:36. Ac 2:22. 27:24g. Ro *14:18. 16:10. 2 C *5:9. 7:11. *10:18. 13:7. Ga *1:10. Col +**1:10. 1 Th *2:4. 2 Th 1:11. Ja +1:12g. unto God. T 1:2. a workman. Gr. ergatēs (S#2040g, Mt 9:37). Ex 35:35. 39:42. Ps 78:72. Mt +*13:52. 1 C 3:10, 13-15. 2 C *3:6. *6:3, 4. 1 T *4:6, 12-16. ashamed. or, without cause for shame. Gr. anepaischuntos (S#422g, only here), not ashamed, that is, (by implication) irreprehensible; from S#153g (2 C 10:8), disfigurement, that is, disgrace; to feel shame for oneself (Strong). Ph 1:20. 1 J 2:28. rightly. Is +**8:20n. Je +*8:8mg. Mt +*13:52. Mk *4:33. +*12:24. Lk 4:18-20. +*12:42. Jn *21:15-17. Ac *20:20, 27. 1 C 2:6. *3:1, 2. 2 C **4:2. 1 Th 4:2n. *5:14. He *5:11-14. 2 P %*3:16. dividing. “rightly dividing” is the rendering of a single Greek word, orthotomeō, *S#3718g, only here. Vine notes the word is from orthos, straight, and temnō, to cut, “the meaning passed from the idea of cutting or dividing, to the more general sense of rightly dealing with a thing. What is intended here is not dividing Scripture from Scripture, but teaching Scripture accurately” (Expository Dictionary, vol 1, p. 327). The word occurs in the Septuagint at Pr 3:6 and 11:5, where the English has “direct.” The reference is not to dividing up Scripture into dispensations, and applying to ourselves only what is allegedly valid for this dispensation. Neither is it dividing Scripture on the basis of to whom it was originally addressed or spoken of, the Jew, the Gentile, or the Church of God (citing 1 C 10:32, pressing this text far beyond the bounds of its legitimate meaning and application in context), for all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable (2 T **3:16). While all Scripture may indeed not be about us, it is all for our learning (Ro +*15:4), and we have no right by such arbitrary distinctions to eliminate from our careful consideration whole sections of the Word of God. The emphasis is not upon “right division” (which in the practice of some is “wrong subtraction,” 1 Th 4:2n), but on “correct interpretation.” In context Paul is directing Timothy not to strive about words to the subverting of the hearers, but to handle the Word of God accurately so as to teach them the truth. 2 T +**3:16. Ge 15:10. Pr 25:12. Mt +*7:6. Ro +*15:4. 2 C +*2:17. **4:2. 1 P **1:20n. word of truth. ver. 9. Ml 2:6. Jn +*17:17. 2 C 6:7. Ep +1:13. Ph 2:16. 1 Th **2:13. 2 Th 2:13. 1 T +*4:13.