Rightly Dividing the Word
This passage of Scripture is when Paul writes to Timothy-
“Study to show thyself approved of God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15).
The student is referred to as a workman. A workman cannot intelligently do his work without a plan. He must have drawings and specifications.
Rightly dividing literally means “cutting straight.” Teachers of the Bible should make every effort to handle His truth accurately. Failure to do so will lead to divine judgment. James 3:1 “my brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. James does not give the warning of judgment to others without applying it to himself. Teachers will stand before the Judgment seat of Christ and be judged more strictly than others. Their greater influence translated into a greater responsibility. Judgment here most likely does not refer to eternal separation from God, rather it suggest a thorough judgment of teachers before Christ (Matt 5:19, Romans 14:10-12). Leadership imposes responsibility.
As we study the Word of God, we must apply both spiritual and literal principles of interpretation. The spiritual principles should include prayer from Psalm 119:18.
1. Cleansing 1 John 1:9
2. Illumination by the HOLY Spirit 1 Corinthians 2:12-16
3. The principles of literally understanding Scriptures is to interpret it according to:
a. Who is doing the talking?
b. Who is he talking too?
c. The mind of the author
d. The context of the passage
e. The basic rules of grammar
f. How does it apply to me?
g. How does it apply to the church
While the “Word of Truth” is written for all classes of people, and for our learning, it is not addressed to all people in general, but part of it is addressed to the Jews, part to the Gentiles, and part to the Church. These three classes constitute the class that humanity is divided. 1 Cor 10:31. The whole Bible was written for the instructions to the Church, it is not all written about the Church. The Church is not mentioned in the Old Testament. It was hid from the Old Testament prophets as some believe and was a mystery first revealed to Paul, as disclosed by him in Ephesians 3:1-10. The Old Testament is mostly taken up with history of one nation, that of Israel. In the first five chapters of Genesis we are given history of one nation, that of Israel. In the first five chapters of Genesis we are given the history of Creation, and 1700 years of human history. In the next four chapter we are given the account of the Flood. The tenth and eleventh chapters give the account of 400 more years of human history, and then God singles out one man, Abraham (Gen 12:1-3), and the Old Testament centers around the Jewish Race. When we take the Old Testament promises and apply them to the Church we rob the Jew of that which is exclusively theirs. For illustration, the prophecy of Isaiah is largely applied to the Church, whereas the very first verse declares that it is consenting Judah and Jerusalem. Isa 1:1.
In the New Testament the Epistles of Hebrew and James are Jewish. The Epistle of James is addressed, not to the Church, but to the twelve tribes scattered abroad James 1:1. Therefore the Prayer of Faith (James 5:13-16) for the sick is not primarily a promise to the Church but to Israel, though doubtless it will be answered for all who comply with the conditions. In the Epistle to the Hebrews many Christians stumble at the words fall away (Heb 6:4-6), and if we sin wilfully. Hebrew 10:26. But these words do not apply to Christians. They were spoken to apostate Jewish professors of Christianity who had never been born again, and who, if they did not accept Jesus as their Messiah, practically crucified Him again, and were as bad as their brethren who did crucify Him
No one would apply Romans 8th to the Jews, or Roman 11th to the Church, for in it Paul speaks not only to Israel but also to the Gentiles. Romans 11:11-13, All Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correct, for instruction, (2Tim 3:16) and what happened to Israel was written for our example, 1 Cor 10:11, but we must not apply to the Church what does not belong to it. We see then that to misapply Scripture is to not Rightly Divide the Word and tends to cause confusion and error.
When we RIGHTLY Dividing the Word of Truth, we must also distinguish the work of Christ. We are told in the Scriptures that He is a Prophet, Priest and King. But He does not hold those offices conjointly but successively. From the fall in Eden to the Cross, He was a Prophet. He is now a High Priest and He comes again He will be a King. From Eden to the Cross there was an Altar from the Cross to the Crown there is a Table (the Lord’s Table), and from the Crown to Christ surrender of the Kingdom there is a Throne.
In Heb 1:1, we read-God hath spoken at Sundry Times, as well as in Divers Manners, and if we are to understand what He has spoken, we must not only distinguish between the class of people. He has spoken to, as the Jews, Gentiles or the Church, but we must also note the Sundry times at which He spoke, and the Divers Manner.We must also distinguish between the Time Past when He spoke by the Prophets, and these Last Days in which He hath spoken to us by His Son in Heb 1:1-2. We must not separate what God has joined, as the Word of God and the Spirit of God, Christ and Salvation, Faith and Works. Neither must we join what God has separate , as Heaven and Hell, Baptism and Regeneration, Natural and Spiritual, Standing and State, the Church and Kingdom.
We must also distinguish between the Times and Seasons of the Scriptures. Daniel said of God “He changed the Times and the Season”,(Daniel 2:12), and Jesus said to His Disciples. ‘It is not for you to know the Times or the Seasons. Acts 1:7. Job testified that the Times are not hidden from the Almighty. Job 24:1. And the Children of Issachar it was said that they had an understanding of theTimes (1 Chron 12:32.) By the Seasons we are to understand the climate changes of the earth due to the movements and changing characteristics of the Sun, Moon and Stars, which God ordained to regulate the Seasons Gen 1:14. As to the TIMES we have them designated as the TIMES OF IGNORACE, Acts 17:30; the TIMES OF THE GENTILES, (Luke 21:24); the TIMES OF REFRESHING (ACTS 3:19); the TIMES OF RESTITUTION (ACTS 3:21); and the dispensation of the FULNESS OF TIMES (EPHESIANS 1:10).
When the Gentiles are in power the Jews are not. And as the Times of the Gentiles is still running, the Church cannot be in this Dispensation a governming or Kingdom power.
If God instituted the Sabbath before the Fall of Man, it seems strange that the fact is not recorded in Genesis, and that Adam was not told to observe it. Nowhere in the Book of Genesis do we read of Adam, or any of his descendant, or Noah, or Abraham observing the Sabbath. The only hint we have of a seven-fold division of days is found in Gen 7:4,10, when seven days of grace were granted before the Flood came, and in Gen 8:8-12, where a seven day period elapsed between the sending forth of the dove. The first place we read of the Sabbath is in Exodus 16:23-26, in connection with the gathering of the manna-Six days ye shall gather it; but on the Seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none. Here we have the Seventh day designated as THE SABBATH. That the Seventh Day of the Creative Week was a type of the SABBATH is clear from Exodus 20:11. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the Seventh Day; wherefore the Lord blessed the SABBATH day, and hallowed it. But we have no evidence that the Sabbath was commanded to be observed until after Exodus, and the reason is clear. God’s REST DAY was broken by the Fall of Man, and there could be no rest until redemption was brought in, and this was typically brought in by the redemption of the Children of Israel from Egypt through the offering of the Passover Lamb, a type of Christ. The purpose of their deliverance was that they might find rest in Canaan from the weary toil and slavery of their deliverance was that they might find rest in Canaan from the weary toil and slavery of Egypt Deu 5:15.
The command to observe the Sabbath was given to Israel Exclusively. It was not given to the Gentiles. It was given to Israel as the SIGN of the Mosaic Covenant. (Ex 31:13; Ezek 20:12, 19-21).
Nowhere in the Bible do you find God finding fault with any nation or people, except the Jewish nation, for not observing the Sabbath. As a Jewish ordinance it has never been abrogated, changed or transferred to any other day of the week, or to any other people.
After the Resurrection, Christ and His Disciples never met on the Sabbath, but on the First Day of the week. John 20:1, 19, Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 16:2. It is true that they went into the Jewish Synagogues on the Sabbath, but not to worship, but that they might have opportunity to preach the Gospel. The First Day of the Week is the day to be observed to rest and worship by the Christian Church.
Source of References:
Books on Rightly Dividing the Truth:
The Origin of the Bible by Bruce, Packer, Comfort and Henry.
Ps. Saints we need to know how to rightly divide correctly.