How Are We to Study? “Rightly Dividing the Word”

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth (II Timothy 2:15).

There is a divinely approved approach to the study of God’s Word, a certain way which we are to study the Scriptures: we are to rightly divide them.

Miles Coverdale (1488-1569) articulated well the important principles of right division:

It shall greatly help ye to understand Scripture if thou mark not only what is spoken or written, but of whom, with what words, at what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstances, considering what goeth before and what followeth after.

The Bible must be divided and this is not just dividing that we see here, but rightly dividing. That is, we are to look for the many dividing marks of God which are in the Scripture. We must learn to make a difference where God Himself makes a difference!

Let us look at an example of GOD making a difference:

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery (Ephesians 3:2-3).

If one wants to be an approved workman he must begin by understanding what God’s program is for today. This can be known only through the ministry of Paul. The “dispensation of the Grace of God” was given to Paul for us. This dispensation was a “mystery” that was made known to Paul by divine “revelation.”

Clearly here God makes a distinction regarding Paul’s message, as He revealed that “which was kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25). This is in contrast to Peter’s message which had been “spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). To make note of this distinction is to learn to make a difference where God makes a difference.

God makes a difference between the apostleship of Paul and Peter.

For I speak to you gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the gentiles, I magnify mine office (Romans 11:13).

… The Gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me [Paul], as the Gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter (Galatians 2:7).

Scofield made this comment concerning Paul’s distinction:

In his writings ALONE we find the doctrine, position, walk and destiny of the church (Scofield Reference Bible page 1252).

William R. Newell also has said,

The failure or refusal to discern the Pauline Gospel as a separate and new revelation and not a “development from Judaism” accounts for two-thirds of the confusion in many people’s minds today as regards just what the Gospel is … You can judge any man’s preaching or teaching by this rule – Is he Pauline? Does his doctrine START and FINISH according to those statements of Christian doctrine uttered by the Apostle Paul? (taken from Paul’s Gospel).

Dear believer, let us not guess when it comes to the important question of God’s Word, but let us take the time to “LOOK IT UP!” We will find our instructions as members of the Body of Christ in Paul’s letters of Romans through Philemon.

We cannot just arbitrarily take truth from other dispensations and build an approved spiritual life. Remember the words of Paul in Romans 2:16:

In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.”

Never guess, look it up!

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook

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