HOW TO STUDY/RIGHTLY DIVIDE THE WORD OF GOD
2 Timothy 2:15 “15 Be DILIGENT [make every effort, exert yourself, give your utmost effort] to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”
When we stand before Jesus, undoubtedly we want to hear Him say, "Well done My good and faithful student! You have learned from Me and have correctly handled and faithfully taught My Word of Truth." Warriors, when we love someone, we want their approval. Likewise, we should strive for God's approval in how we study His Word which is an outgrowth of our love for Him [a/k/a OBEDIENCE -- John 14: 23 “Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”] How many of us make EVERY effort, or EXERT ourselves, or give our UTMOST EFFORT to study God’s Word? Scripture commands it. Hard words?
For some of us, studying the Bible, even reading it, seems like something that should be reserved for preachers and Bible College graduates. Not true. Remember how the church started? It’s not rocket science! Don’t let the Enemy convince you that it’s an exercise in futility. The Holy Spirit will guide you into ALL truth! AMEN!
The Word of Truth has right divisions. One cannot be "a workman that needs not to be ashamed" without observing them. Any study of God’s Word which ignores those divisions will be in large measure profitless and confusing. The word that is translated "rightly dividing" is "ορθοτομουντα(orthotomounta)", which is a compound word of "ortho" (as in "orthodox") and "τέμνω" ("to cut"), and has the literal meaning of "to dissect correctly" (Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries, Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon).
If you are diligently working to present yourself to God as approved, there are certain things that found throughout the Bible you will notice and “rightly divide.” Some examples:
1) the way of salvation—always "by grace through faith;"
2) the nature and character of God--He never changes;
3) the nature and character of Satan;
4) the sinfulness of sin; and
5) the wickedness and deceitfulness of the human heart; etc.
There are other things that do not run throughout the entire Bible:
1) In the days of the Old Testament, worshipers brought a lamb, but this is not the case today;
2) Under the law, there were certain foods that were not to be eaten; but today every creature of God is
good and nothing to be refused (1 Timothy 4:4);
3) Some animals are ferocious and carnivorous today, but a time is coming when this will not be the case
4) God's temple used to be a magnificent building constructed by the Jews; but God's temple is a body of
believers today (1 Corinthians 3:16); etc.
Seven Questions to Assist in “Rightly Dividing” God’s Word:
1. What is the larger passage talking about, looking at the verses before and after?
If you’re studying a verse, read several verses before and after (or even a chapter) to understand the context of what you’re reading. If a single verse is removed from its position, its meaning can be significantly distorted. We must be careful of this. In addition, by considering surrounding verses and how they apply, it will be easier to discover what a difficult verse to understand is talking about.
2. Who is the author talking to and why?
Is the passage addressing a particular situation of the nation of Israel or in the church? Is it a personal letter to a single person? Is the audience before or after Christ came to earth? These questions out assist in determining what a specific verse would have meant to the original audience.
3. What timeless truths are there?
Since human nature never changes, God’s Word will always apply, because God’s Word is timeless. Once you establish the foundation of the original meaning and its context, you can begin to successfully pull out timeless truths that affect us in the 21st century. Since the Word doesn’t change it still matters today.
4. What type of writing is this?
Maybe you’re reading a personal letter, a narrative, or possibly a psalm of poetry. We certainly don’t read a news article the same way we read a poem. We approach these writings differently because of their different genres. Scripture is the same way.
5. How does it apply today (to me personally, to other believers, to the Church)?
This is where you take the timeless truths from question three and begin to apply them to your life. Jesus tells us at the end of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:24-27) that it is not just hearing the Word of God that counts, but living it. We learned yesterday that, as Christians, “WE NEED EACH OTHER,” so how scripture applies to you and others is important.
6. What words are important?
Are there any conjunctions, like “and” or “because” connecting this verse to the earlier verse? Do you spot words like “if,” “then,” and “therefore?” These words communicate connection or causation and will help you understand a verse and how it fits into the larger passage. It is also beneficial to look up the definition of certain words to gain greater insight into scripture. This is especially true here, “rightly dividing.”
7. Where else does the Bible talk about this?
Some verses may also have parallel passages, like the stories in the Gospels or passages in the New Testament quoted from the Old Testament. Looking at these passages will also aid in your pursuit of the message in scripture.
Might be a good idea to copy these 7 questions on a separate piece of paper and keep it in you Bible. We can ALL rightly divide and become students of the Word . . . it’s what God wants.