Holy Bible copy

I pay close attention to what people say when they’re in life-changing situations. As a journalist I’ve interviewed people in every imaginable situation of life. Training and experience help journalists pick the best quotes or “sound bites” for stories. We seek the truth expressed authentically. We recognize when people are saying something that needs to be heard and repeated.

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

When I first read that verse soon after being saved, I knew I was reading something that needed to be heard and repeated. The Apostle Paul was writing what would most likely be his last letter on earth to someone he loved and cared about deeply. Timothy had ministered with Paul for many years. Paul was soon going to die for his faith in Christ and knew that Timothy would need strength and wisdom to continue the ministry without Paul. Timothy shared the oversight of churches with Paul and would have a lot of tough challenges ahead, so Paul wrote both of his letters to Timothy with that in mind.

Paul wrote Timothy that he needed to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” and “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:1-3) Paul also told Timothy that “the things you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” He told Timothy to “remind” God’s people about everything Paul had told them, “charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.” (2 Timothy 2:14)  Then Paul told Timothy to “be diligent” to present himself “approved” to God, a “worker” who does not need to be ashamed, “rightly dividing the word of truth.” Here’s Paul, nearing the end of his ministry on earth, about to die for his faith, telling Timothy how to present himself to God and how to work in a way that will not bring shame on his ministry.

What does it mean to “rightly divide” the Word of Truth? Why would a Bible student need to “divide” the Bible? The Greek word translated “rightly divide” is orthotomeo – “to cut straight.” It was used in the ancient world of trade (“worker”) as cutting something in a straight, proper, correct way. The word was also used for “handling” something in a correct manner. English translators have used several terms in attempting to explain the ancient meaning – correctly handles, correctly explains, accurately handling, handling with precision, teach correctly, handling aright, rightly handling, properly handling.

The Bible is the True Word of God. Those who use God’s Word in ministry should handle, explain, and teach the Bible with the greatest care – that of a master craftsman. God’s Word deserves the kind of devotion reserved for the most precious of all things. We are blessed to have in our homes and in our hands the eternal Word of Truth. There are many who treat the Bible as if it has little or no value to shape life and transform souls for God. There are others who pervert the Word of God and wrongly divide the Truths in it. The way they handle God’s Word is to “cut crooked” His Truths. We should not be among them. We should present ourselves to God as servant workers who care deeply for what’s important to Him and “rightly divide” the Word of Truth.

How do we do that? We’ll start “cutting straight” in our next study.

Also, see our companion study, “Can I Trust The Bible?”

In Christ’s Love and Grace,

Mark McGee

GraceLife Ministries

“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”