“Rightly dividing the Word of Truth” means to handle the Word of God correctly – to cut it straight like a master craftsman. The process of being able to do that begins much like learning a highly skilled trade. First, a person must have a desire to learn the trade. Second, a master craftsman invites someone to apprentice with him or her. After a period of training, the apprentice becomes a journeyman, which means they have enough knowledge and ability in the craft to work on their own while continuing to learn more about the craft from the master craftsman. After years gaining experience as a journeyman, they earn the right to become a master craftsman and take on their own apprentices.
Jesus is the High Master. He chose 12 men to follow Him and learn of Him. They went through the process of being apprentices and journeymen, and most eventually became master craftsmen. The same is true of the Apostle Paul. Jesus chose Paul for the skill of apostleship and trained him over a period of many years. Paul went from being an apprentice to a journeyman and eventually a master craftsman under the High Master, Jesus. As was the process then and now, Paul chose men to follow him and learn the skilled work of Christian ministry. One of those men, Timothy, began with Paul when he was a teenager, which was a traditional time for young people to begin learning a trade from a master craftsman. We see Timothy traveling with Paul in the Book of Acts (beginning with Chapter 16), learning how to serve Christ and minister in His Name. We later see Timothy traveling on his own to minister and getting back with Paul for feedback and more training. Finally, in 2 Timothy, we see Paul give instructions to Timothy about what it means to be a master craftsman in Christian ministry. Paul is about to die and go to Heaven and he shares his final thoughts and directions for Timothy.
The Word of Truth is what God says. Paul wanted Timothy to handle what God said correctly. The idea of “rightly dividing” means there is a “wrongly dividing.” Many people handle what God says incorrectly. Paul knew that Timothy had genuine faith and was gifted by God for teaching and preaching the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 1:3-7). Paul had been the model of sincere ministry for Timothy and wanted the young preacher to stay true to what he had learned (2 Timothy 1:13-14). Paul knew Timothy would face lots of opposition in his ministry and reminded him of the importance of patiently teaching the rightly divided Word of Truth in hopes that God would grant them repentance so they might know the Truth (2 Timothy 2:20-26).
Timothy would face all kinds of people in his ministry; many with bad intentions who would be “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:1-7) Evil men and impostors would grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. What would Timothy need to do to face these many challenges? It’s simple – what he already knew to do.
“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:13-17
Knowing the Word of Truth, being able to rightly divide the Word of Truth, and understanding how the Spirit of God works with the Word of Truth is how the man of God becomes complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work. That’s when he can do this —
“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:2-5
In the next part of our study, we’re going to see step by step how we can go from apprentice to journeyman to master craftsman so we too can rightly divide the Word of Truth and be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Also, read the companion apologetics study – Can I Trust the Bible?
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”