II Timothy 2:15


#1

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. - II Timothy 2:15

i came across this verse in another forum and it reminded me of a very heated argument my mom had with a woman over this verse and their differing beliefs. what i would like to know is correct interpretation of this verse since it appears to be different in every bible version i look at. what is the original word being used original language) for dividing and what does that word actually mean?


#2

Of course there are various differences in translations. You appear to be quoting the King James version.

The Latin Vulgate reads, "Sollicite cura teipsum probabilem exhibere Deo, operarium inconfusibilem, recte tractantem verbum veritatis." and someone with a good working knowledge of Latin will have to speak on that, but the scholarship of the DRV (which is taken from the LV) is generally known to be very accurate, which would then make the RSC-CE2 likewise accuaret since it share the reading quite well.

I often use the Douay-Rheims version which reads, "Carefully study to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth" because it brings out the meaning better IMO.

However, the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (2nd) also does a fine job with it when it reads, "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth."

These latter two would be better translations of it.

A couple of things that you might keep in mind. This verse is not speaking of the Bible alone and nothing in the passage context indicates otherwise, though many advocates of Sola Scriptura wrongly try to use it to support their belief.

They forget that this is St. Paul writing here and that he was a substantial scholar of the Old Testament and Jewish traditional writings as well, (indicated by many of his epistles) so it seems that he is telling St. Timothy to study both Scripture and Sacred Tradition in order to insure that he is "rightly handling the word of truth." Where n-C scholarship fails is in seeking to infer that this verse says something or means something that it does not...not even in context.

I hope this helps.


#3

Someone with the right credentials can tell us where dividing comes from in the English translations, and what the Greek says.

The Latin tractantem from tractō can mean "handle" or "manage" among other things. A modern cognate is Spanish tratar which can be used to mean "deal with" as in se trata de la Biblia (it deals with the Bible).


#4

The problem with Church Militant's answer is that the NT (including 2 Timothy) was written in Greek, not Latin. The Vulgate is a translation, and the DR is a translation of a translation. The Greek text reads, "σπούδασον σεαυτὸν δόκιμον παραστῆσαι τῷ θεῷ, ἐργάτην ἀνεπαίσχυντον, ὀρθοτομοῦντα τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας" (2 Tim 2:15). "ὀρθοτομοῦντα" is translated as "dividing" in the KJV. I prefer the NASB, which translates it as "accurately handling". The complete verse reads, "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 Tim 2:15 NASB). Contrast this with 2 Peter 3:16 ("as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction." NASB), It seems that Paul is telling Timothy to be "taught and stable" so that he won't distort the Scriptures.


#5

[quote="donna369, post:1, topic:335240"]
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. - II Timothy 2:15

i came across this verse in another forum and it reminded me of a very heated argument my mom had with a woman over this verse and their differing beliefs. what i would like to know is correct interpretation of this verse since it appears to be different in every bible version i look at. what is the original word being used original language) for dividing and what does that word actually mean?

[/quote]

"Hasten (σπούδασον, spoudason) to make yourself a fit offering to God, a worker unashamed who clears a road (ὀρθοτομοῦντα, orthotomounta) for the word of truth."

The Greek word spoudason literally means "hasten." The idea here is basically to 'try hard' or 'do your best'. The word orthotomounta (literally 'cutting straight'), meanwhile, refers to the cutting of a path or road (Proverbs 3:6; 11:5 LXX; Plato, Laws 810e), or the cutting of a stone. (The way the New Jerusalem Bible translates the passage shows the road construction connotation: "Make every effort to present to yourself before God as a proven worker who has no need to be ashamed, but who keeps the message of truth on a straight path.")

You might ask, why do older translations use the word "study"? In older English, the word 'study' could also mean not just to learn something, but also one's concern or objective. For example, let's say the phrase "My study was to avoid disturbing her." Nowadays we would say, "My main concern was to avoid disturbing her." Another example: "the acquisition of a fortune is the study of all." It means that acquisition of a fortune is everybody's aim. The third example is closer: "With no husband to study, housekeeping is mere play," which means "With no husband to take into account..."

"Rightly dividing the word of truth" may not accurately convey the intended sense here: it probably means not so much as "rightly dividing the Scriptures," but rather cutting straight to the point in preaching, proclaiming the straight stuff, not beating around the bush with esoterica (cf. Galatians 2:14). This is supported by what follows in verse 16 with the comments avoiding godless talk or specious reasoning (cf. 1 Timothy 2:20). In other words, St. Paul is advising Timothy to get to the point without flaw or error. Perhaps the "word of truth" is better understood to mean (in this context and Paul's use of the same expression elsewhere; cf. Ephesians 1:3; Colossians 1:5) not just the written Scriptures as it is often interpreted, but the Christian message as a whole.

This is how the passage appears in context:

Remind (them of) these things, solemnly charging before God (that they) not dispute about words (which is) useful for nothing, (but) for (the) ruin of the hearers. Hasten to make yourself a fit offering to God, a worker unashamed, clearing a straight (road) for the word of truth, but avoid profane drivel, for in an even greater measure they will go forward in ungodliness, and their message will spread like gangrene, of whom are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have deviated concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened; and they overthrow the faith of some.


#6

[quote="Cachonga, post:4, topic:335240"]
...The complete verse reads, "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 Tim 2:15 NASB). Contrast this with 2 Peter 3:16 ("as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction." NASB), It seems that Paul is telling Timothy to be "taught and stable" so that he won't distort the Scriptures.

[/quote]

The problem with you answer is that you assume too much. You assume, by summarizing "so that he won't distort the **Scriptures*" (*IF you mean that* only *Scriptures are being pointed to here) that:

  • "word of truth" = "Scriptures (and only Scriptures)...but we know from Scriptures themselves that the Gospel that was spread was both written AND oral.

  • that Paul only wrote about what was already written...because the verse you provided states "also in his letters, speaking in them of these things, which the untaught...distort, as they do ALSO...". Your answer presumes that the totality of "these things" that Paul wrote about are only in Scripture (if you mean that only Scripture is pointed to here). A glaring problem here is that much of what Paul preached was NOT in the Scriptures. For example, can you please point to the Scriptures that Paul used to defend his postion on not circumcizing the Gentiles? Chapter and verse please from the Scriptures that Paul had access to while he wrote his letters...before his letters were considered Scripture...that he used.


#7

The Protestant argument makes a moot point anyway. Diligently studying scripture will not, by itself, guarantee that one will divide or handle the word or truth accurately, as has been demonstrated by often-times great differences in opinions between credentialed scholars- both Protestant and Catholic. That guarantee can only come from the Holy Spirit who's guided her Church-the Church Jesus established- since NT times where Pharisees were unable to comprehend the Word they'd searched and studied so intensively, or when the Ethiopian eunuch need Philip's help in order to gain understanding.


#8

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