Page 10 - September 2018 - Truth & Tidings
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Study to shew thyself approved unto God,   impressing the brethren. Its goal is that he
        a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,   might show himself “approved unto God,”
        rightly dividing the word of truth (2Tim 2:15,   not needing to be ashamed. This was to
        KJV).                                be the goal of all Timothy’s service, and
                 hen, in my early teens, I first   should be the driving motivation of all our
                 began to apply myself to the   endeavours. Like the apostle, we should
        Wserious study of the Word of        live with the daily appreciation that our
        God, I hung this verse above my desk.   service is to God and for God. Our study
        Although at that stage I had not grasped   of Scripture should have God’s approval
        all the nuances of the verse, I had, in my   as its goal.
        simplicity, recognized it for what it is – a   This approval is something more than
        clear mandate for the sustained and careful   just approbation. The word used was
        study of the Word of God.            originally applied to metal and coins.
          It is, of course, the case that the verse   It has the idea of approval as a result of
        does not speak of studying in the sense   testing. Handling the Word of truth is a
        that we have come to understand it. Up to   solemn thing: we will answer to God for
                                             the way in which we have interpreted His
        the nineteenth century, “study” could be   Word. To underscore this, Paul provides
        used to mean “to strive towards, set one’s   us with solemn examples of those whose
        mind on, devote oneself to” (OED), a sense   teaching is deformed because they have
        that it has now lost, but which accurately   not “rightly divided” the Word of truth,
        captures the meaning of the Greek word,   men like “Hymenaeus and Philetus; who
        which can also be rendered “make every   concerning the truth have erred, saying
        effort“ (NET), “be diligent” (HCSB), or, less   that the resurrection is past already; and
        satisfactorily, “do your best” (NIV, ESV). It   overthrow the faith of some” (2Tim 2:18,
        is important that we do not miss the force   KJV). These men had not passed the test.
        of the imperative. The study of Scripture   They were disapproved in their under-
        is not a task for dilettantes. It requires   standing of the truth; consequently, their
        diligence; careful, consistent, unremitting   teaching was not only defective, but dam-
        application. In a world of distractions it   aging to those who heard them. Notice the
        requires focus. In the age of the superficial   order – false interpretation leads to false
        it requires depth.                   teaching, which leads to harm for the hear-
          The diligence to which Paul exhorts   ers. Timothy is exhorted to precisely the
        Timothy is not motivated merely by the   inverse of this – correct interpretation (the
        prospect of developing knowledge or   central idea in “rightly dividing”) leads

        266 TRUTH kTidings   September  2018
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