Rightly Divide the Word
by Henry M. Morris III, D.Min.
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)
This command is for us to "give diligence" (Greek spoudazo) for God's approval by "rightly dividing" the word of truth. That which is to be rightly divided is not in doubt: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17). The end goal is to "display yourself" as one who is, therefore, approved by God.
The key is to "rightly divide" the Scriptures. The Greek word orthotomeo, only used this one time, has several shades of meaning: to cut straight, to cut straight ways; to proceed on straight paths, hold a straight course; to make straight and smooth; to handle aright; to teach the truth directly and correctly.
Two passages emphasize the way to "divide" the Scriptures. When Isaiah asked rhetorical questions about how to learn and understand biblical knowledge, the answer was "precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little" (Isaiah 28:9-10). Thus:
Find the major pieces first.
Find the supporting elements next.
Find the pieces throughout the text.
Solomon, as the "wise preacher," noted that one who would teach the people knowledge must have given "good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs" (Ecclesiastes 12:9).
Pay attention to the words (meanings, context).
Penetrate (research) the teaching (text first, then books).
Organize the information for teaching purposes.
This kind of study preparation requires a "workman"—one who is willing to give the "diligence" necessary to produce the powerful sayings built on the "word of truth." If properly prepared, the workman will never be "ashamed." HMM III