Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth

Let us all agree first of all on a few thoughts:
“ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV caps mine)

Which means the entire 66 books of the Bible are God’s word of counsel and instruction for all redeemed saints to receive for their lives and not just to debate and analyze for mere sensational purposes. The coming of Grace has NOT abolished the first 39 books of the Scriptures, it has only abrogated* ALL the forms, types and shadows of the Old Covenant in honor of the reality, anti-type and substance revealed in Christ in the New Covenant.

Here are 3 scriptures below to settle that in your spirit:

Note: If we understood this, there are many things we have carried over from the old in die hard fashion, and that we are unwilling to let go even though the real thing is here. We want to have Substance and the shadow at the same time. Christ is actually dishonored when we prefer a “picture” of Him to His real Self.

*Abrogated: “to end or cancel (something) in a formal and official way; to abolish by authoritative action.” Merriam Webster dictionary

Matthew 5:17-18 KJV

[17] Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. [18] For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Luke 24:44 KJV

And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

Hebrews 1:1-2 KJV

[1] God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, [2] Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

Others: Hebrews 2:1-3, 2 Corinthians 3:14.

Eisegesis and Exegesis

There are some two words that theologians have used to show the difference between correct interpretation of Scriptures and one that is incorrect. It is eisegesis and exegesis.

According to Merriam Webster dictionary, Eisegesis is “the interpretation of a text (as of the Bible) by reading into it one’s own ideas”. While Exegesis is “exposition, explanation; especially: an explanation or critical interpretation of a text.” One interpretation is grossly influenced by previous ideas held by the individual while the other is quite objective, simply saying what the text says. 

Exegesis is …by faith

Although, it may look impossible to be totally uninfluenced by one’s previous traditions, prejudices and ideas when we come to Scriptures, we must nevertheless come by faith. For the just shall live by faith (Romans 1:17). That is, we must trust God to help us break through the kernel of our preconceived ideas to touch the very spirit/meat of God’s revelation in every scripture. 

There is no need to be fearful of any aspect of Scriptures, as if God has said certain things that are not in sync with His Character and Completeness. And sure enough, we may even have to read and reread the Scriptures and ask deliberate questions like the Bereans, who will not just take whatever a very senior apostle like Paul said. They usually went back home to read the scriptures (which at the time was the Old Testament) to confirm and critique what they heard (Acts 17:11). 

So for them, it was not whatever men said that gave meaning to God’s word; rather, it was God’s word that decides whether men are correct or not. 

2 Timothy 2:15 KJV

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.


“Study to show thyself approved unto God…”

You are not approved unto God until you have given yourself to the discipline of studying the Word of God, allowing the Holy Spirit to constantly penetrate into the very depths of your heart, separating your soul from your spirit, thereby elevating and putting in the spotlight (of your heart) the will of God for your life for you to choose (Hebrews 4:12, Romans 12:2).

“…a workman that needeth not to be ashamed…”

This is the approval that makes you that effective workman that cannot be ashamed. Why is the Spirit of God raising the issue of shame? A life that has any unfinished business with God, that constantly “dribbles” the word of God, so as not to convict him/her on any matter, is a life that will be dishonest in handling the word of God. The word of truth cannot be rightly divided by such men and women. 

“Dribbling here is when your conscience and/or the Holy Spirit has already raised a red flag over an issue and you deliberately avoid such places in scriptures that could reactivate or remind you of such red flags.”


“…rightly dividing the word of truth.”

To divide God’s word rightly, we must listen to the Spirit, who Himself influenced the human writers, to understand the scriptures. That’s why it says the letter kills but the spirit, the Holy Spirit, gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6) That life He gives is that divine capacity/power to live at the level of the portion of God’s Word that is currently illuminating us. 

Yet, no man must make this an excuse to shroud the Word of God in unnecessary mystery that mystifies our interpretations, explanations and conclusions. No. That which the Spirit reveals will bring life, not death. Life that is proven in the triumph of grace in that person’s own life and Life that upholds the harmony of God’s Word in both Old and New Testaments and does not overtly or covertly contradict the ways of God. 

In studying, we put our lives under (the influence of) the word of God so that we experience the change, from glory to glory, promised to those who keep beholding Jesus in His Word. Also, we get busy searching the scriptures to know God’s ways and God’s mind and of course to see how the theme of redemption runs through every book, from Genesis to Revelation. 

It must be clear to us as we do this that anything we don’t understand in the Old Covenant is revealed in the New and anything that looks unclear in the New Covenant is hidden in the Old. And Christ is the image that must form in the heart and passions of whomsoever is reading and studying the word of God, not even doctrine itself.

Resolving the perceived tension between Grace and works

Anywhere you see a book of the Bible emphasizing one concept over the another, it is almost always in response to heresy; and when you are responding to such things, the weight of response is on the side of the story that the heresy tries to subvert or hide. We have to bear this in mind. When Paul was dealing with us not been saved by works in Galatians, it was in response to certain Jewish teachers who are insisting that Gentiles (other nations apart from Israel) must be physically circumcised before they can be truly saved. The Holy Spirit will not allow His work of inward circumcision of the heart to be interrupted and subverted by such a return to outward forms that actually saves no one. 

And when you look at the book of James, you will see that the emphasis our brother James brought by the Spirit is works. Not that we are saved by it, but that we must prove our salvation by it. History tells us that Martin Luther rejected the book of James for a time because (I’m thinking!) he has been so preoccupied with Grace alone (Sola Gracia) and may be rightfully so, that he could not imagine that the same God who spoke of “being saved by grace alone” through one man will speak of “proving that we are saved by works” through another man. 

So, we learn that receiving the ministry of only one person can make us unbalanced because of the tendency of most of us teachers to emphasize or specialize on one aspect of the Gospel. We need to accept all those that God has approved their lives and callings in His body (Church) as faithful stewards to receive from, in order to lay hold of the whole purpose of God, which will make us complete (1 Corinthians 8:2, 2 Peter 3:15-16, Galatians 2:7-9).

Moreover, we learn that the Holy Spirit brings different emphasis according to the need of the moment. And whatever emphasis it is, the Spirit neither contradicts Himself nor the whole counsel of God. Those who have found it difficult to understand these are usually those who have been swayed by the prejudices of certain church fathers in history, that they can even be bold to declare that certain parts of Scriptures does not speak to them anymore. 

Even some have gone as far as saying the words of Jesus in the gospels does not speak to them because they believed the church started in Acts. That is going too far! There is just no basis for that. That is simply an error from one or more church fathers in history, swallowed (perhaps) by those who are trying to escape certain teachings and instructions of our LORD Jesus Christ.

Get rid of your traditional (or is it denominational?) blinders!

The truth is all of us have the tendency to be blinded by traditions; a way of doing things and applying the word of God that is common to a group, which may not be bad in itself, UNTIL it interferes with the progress of God’s people in their pursuit of God. Church leaders have a need to demystify themselves, so that their followers can be free to ignore their traditions wherever (and whenever) it clashes with the truth of God’s Word.

And truth be told, those who love to be seen as infallible among Church leaders are usually those who lead men away from Christ. I have seen men who don’t give the impression of infallibility (being above correction), choosing the path of ordinariness among their brethren, allowing a sure word in their heart to be seen as a ‘mere’ counsel, not necessarily a ‘thus saith the Lord”; yet such men have made more progress in winning people for Christ, whose progress are almost unstoppable.

If you are still holding on to any tradition of men, you may be in danger of been unable to divide the word of truth. Except if we have traditions that points us to Christ and His Word alone and not to a man’s (groups of men’s) personal belief system. In that case, by all means please remain with that tradition.

“Christ can’t be wrong, do we need to stress that? But we, being human, can be wrong; and whenever we admit our wrong, we make progress in our quest for Christlikeness”

Picture Credits: Apologetic report, Howard Carter’s blog, Slideshare, Jerome pilgrim sojourner, Augustine’s quote from Pinterest, Valley Reformed Church

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