We are told, “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 Timothy 2:15 – NASB). The King James Bible renders 2 Timothy 2:15 this way, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” As we look at the two translations we get the message loud and clear from God. He expects us to give great diligence in the study of His Word. But more than that He expects us to use proper hermeneutics while doing so. The word “hermeneutics” is defined by The American Heritage Dictionary as the “science and methodology of interpretation, especially of the Scriptures”. It is truly amazing that people read and study the Bible in an entirely different way than any other book. They throw out the rule of differentiating between literal and figurative language. They often take verses of Scripture out of their original context and twist them to substantiate some doctrine they want to believe and live by whether the Bible supports that doctrine or not.
The first thing one must keep in mind when “rightly dividing the Word” is that of the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament was the Law given by God especially for the Jews. No one but the Jews were ever under that Law unless converted from another religion. The Law was given for two specific purposes: (1) to define sin – Romans 7:13 and (2) it was a “tutor” or “teacher” to bring the Jewish people to faith in Christ as the Messiah – Gal. 3:24. Please read these verses and see for yourself that was the purpose of the Law of Moses. While Jesus was here on earth He told the people of His day that He came to “fulfill the Law” (Matthew 5:17). When Jesus was crucified, the Law of Moses was “nailed to the cross” and taken out of the way. (Colossians 2:14) It was no longer the Law for the Jews or anyone else. The New Testament contains the Law of Christ (Galatians 6:1-2). The writings of the apostles contains the will of Jesus given through the apostles guided by the Holy Spirit. (See John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:13.) The apostle Paul wrote to New Testament Christians living in the region known as Galatia where several local churches of Christ were found warning them of falling from grace when appealing to another gospel rather than the one he had taught them. As you read the whole book of Galatians you learn what these Judazing teachers were doing was trying to bind some parts of the Law of Moses on New Testament Christians who were under the Law of Christ.
The New Testament Christians were guided by the writings of the Apostles who were given authority from Jesus to bind and loose laws governing the work, worship, and organization of New Testament churches of Christ. (Matthew 18:18)
Is it not foolish to think that God would give us the revelation of His mind (1 Corinthians 2:11-13) and not expect us to read it and live by it? But, we must be sure we use it correctly for we are warned of abusing God’s word in Revelation 22:18-19.
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