Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth - markmayberry.net
RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH 2 TIM. 2:15 INTRODUCTION The people of God should be committed to the principle set forth in Jeremiah 6:16, which says, Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good
way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls (NASB). Achieving this end requires a proper approach to Sacred Scripture. INTRODUCTION Acknowledging its authority and inspiration, every Christian (elders, preachers, teachers, and members) must teach the word of God correctly.
Warning Timothy about the dangers of useless wrangling and doctrinal distortions, Paul said, Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:14-19, esp. v. 15). FULFILLING THE DUTY
How does one fulfill this duty? What is involved in rightly dividing (KJV, NKJV), or accurately handling (NASB) or rightly handling (ESV) the word of truth? DEFINED The Greek word orthotome, a compound of orthos
(straight, upright) and temn (to cut), means to cut straight (Thomas 3718). DEFINED Outside its one occurrence here in 2 Timothy 2:15, this word is used twice in the LXX version of the Old Testament (Prov. 3:6; 11:5), where it plainly means cut a path in a straight direction or cut a road across country (that is
forested or otherwise difficult to pass through) in a straight direction, so that the traveler may go directly to his destination (BDAG, 722). DEFINED Based on the context of 2 Timothy 2:15, it would probably mean guide the word of truth along a straight path (like a
road that goes straight to its goal), without being turned aside by wordy debates or impious talk (BDAG). DEFINED Souter suggests the following possibility: I cut (or carve) according to rule (and thus, I define according to the norm of the Gospel) (Souter, 178). Louw and Nida simply say it means to give accurate
instructionto teach correctly, to expound rightly (33.234). CHARACTERISTIC OF THE HERALD John the Baptist cut a straight path. Calling Israel to Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!, Johns message was relevant and applicable, direct and
demanding. John personified Isaiahs prophecy: The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight! (Matt. 3:1-12; cf. Isa. 40:3-8). CHARACTERISTIC OF THE HERALD He challenged the crowds, the religious leaders, tax
collectors and soldiers to make specific application (Luke 3:7-14). He courageously confronted sin wherever it was found, even in the palace of the king (Matt. 14:3-4; Mark 6:17-18; Luke 3:18-20). CHARACTERISTIC OF OUR LORD
Jesus Christ cut a straight path. Communicating the nature of discipleship (listener), He said, Take heed how you hear! After sharing the parable of the sower and the soils, the disciples began asking Jesus about the parables. CHARACTERISTIC OF OUR LORD Explaining the purpose of parables, which are designed to
illuminate spiritual truths to those who are disciples and conceal the same from those who are not, He said, Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? CHARACTERISTIC OF OUR LORD Jesus then explained the parable, identifying the sower
and the seed, and the various soils that were depicted. In conclusion, our Lord said, If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear. In other words, how one hears is important. We must make the proper application (Mark 4:10-25, esp. vv. 23-25). CHARACTERISTIC OF HIS FOLLOWERS
We must do the same: Paul admonished Timothy (and by extension, us), Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction (2 Tim. 4:1-5, esp. v. 2). CHARACTERISTIC OF HIS FOLLOWERS Faithful evangelists must communicate with clarity and
conviction (Eph. 6:18-20; Col. 4:2-4). Disciples are promised, When you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ (Eph. 3:1-5, esp. v. 4). POTENTIAL BLESSING Although diligence is required, it is entirely possible for us
to understand Gods word. Accordingly, we are enjoined, So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph. 5:17). POTENTIAL PERIL While a proper understanding of Gods word is potentially
within our grasp, it is also possible for one to misunderstand and misapply Scripture. EXAMPLES Blinded by their preconceptions (i.e., a false expectation that the Messiah would establish a physical, earthly kingdom), the disciples did not understand Jesus
prediction of His death and resurrection (Luke 9:43-45; 18:31-34; John 12:12-16). AVOIDING THE DANGER How does one avoid the danger of cutting a crooked path, i.e., misinterpreting and misapplying the teaching of Scripture? We should strive for consistency in living.
We should strive for consistency in teaching. CONSISTENCY IN LIVING To rightly divide or accurately handle the word of truth, we must avoid inconsistency in living. Hypocrites understand the message but refuse to make personal and proper application (Matt. 7:1-6; Rom. 2:1-11,
17-24). It is not enough to merely know the truth: If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them (John 13:17). CONSISTENCY IN TEACHING To rightly divide or accurately handle the word of truth, we must avoid inconsistency in teaching.
Isaiah condemned those who draw near to God in word, but not in deed; our reverence must consist of more than tradition learned by rote (Isa. 29:13-14). CONSISTENCY IN TEACHING Religious traditionalists frequently are guilty of two opposite errors: binding where God has loosed, and
loosing where God has bound (Matt. 15:1-14; Mark 7:113). Either approach is perilous (Col. 2:8). CONSISTENCY IN TEACHING May we also avoid doctrinal distortions. Urging disciples to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, Peter warned against the danger of distorting the
Scriptures (2 Pet. 3:14-18, esp. v. 16). CONSISTENCY IN TEACHING The Greek verb streblo, derived from the noun streblos (twisted), means to twist (Thomas 4761). It occurs once in the NASB, where it is translated distort
(2 Pet. 3:16). CONSISTENCY IN TEACHING Consider the following discussion and definition: Originally, twist, make taut of cables, then in various senses of wrenching dislocated limbs for the purpose of setting them, and of the use of tortuous devices in the
course of inquiries; in our literature only figuratively. CONSISTENCY IN TEACHING In biblical usage, it means (1) to cause inward pain, torture, torment; (2) to distort a statement so that a false meaning results, twist, distort (BDAG, 948).
CONSISTENCY IN TEACHING Louw and Nida simply say it means to distort the meaning of something in communicating to othersto distort, to misinterpret, to change the meaning of, to explain falsely (33.155). EXEGESIS VS. EISEGESIS
When we stretch the meaning of a text to accommodate a preconceived notion, we distort the Scriptures. In other words, do we practice exegesis or eisegesis? What is the difference? EXEGESIS VS. EISEGESIS
Someone once said, While exegesis is the process of drawing out the meaning from a text in accordance with the context and discoverable meaning of its author, eisegesis occurs when a reader imposes his or her interpretation into and onto the text. CHALLENGE
Should we assume that a given practice is acceptable, and then read our preconceived ideas into the biblical text? Those who do so stretch the text beyond its right and revealed meaning, torturing and distorting the Scriptures. Instead, let us follow the pattern of the faithful priests in the days of Nehemiah, who read distinctly from the book, in the
Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading (Neh. 8:8, NKJV).
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