As I was studying last night, my focus turned to 2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (KJV).”
The verse begins with the word “study,” and it finds its origin in the Greek word spoudazō. This word is frequently translated with the primary meaning of being “diligent.”
Paul’s instruction to Timothy was “Study to show…” When I reflected on these three words it occurred to me that a lack of study also shows—diligence and negligence are polar opposites.
There are three different times that Paul used a form of spoudazō in his instructions to Timothy and Titus (2 Timothy 4:9, 21; Titus 3:12). In each of these three cases, spoudazō is translated, “Do your best.”
When you read 2 Timothy 2:15, you can see three results of doing your best and being diligent in your study of God’s Word:
- You receive God’s approval.
- You will not be embarrassed or ashamed.
- You “rightly divide the word of truth.”
The two words “rightly divide” are also interesting because they come from a Greek word that is only found once in the New Testament, and it is in this verse. The word is handling or “orthotomeō,” and it means, “to cut straight; to set forth truthfully, without perversion or distortion (Munce).”
It is translated:
- “Rightly handling the word of truth” in the English Standard Version.
- “Handling the word of truth with precision” in the International Standard Version
- “Correctly teaching the word of truth” in the Holman Christian Standard Bible.
To explain this verse I have often used the example of a carpenter making a straight cut through a piece of wood; however, last night I thought of this verse in a different setting.
I think a better illustration of “rightly dividing the word of truth” is the well-manicured and carefully cut outfield of a baseball stadium. These works of art are the result of a focused and concentrated effort that involves the use of the right equipment and allotting the proper amount of time to finish the task.
I’ll leave you with this thought: How does your study show?