Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth: What Does 2 Timothy 2:15 Mean?


2 Timothy 2:15 reads, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” King James Version (KJV)

Translation2 Timothy 2:15
ESVDo your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
NASBBe diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
NIVDo your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
NLTWork hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth: Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

2:14-21 Those disposed to strive, commonly strive about matters of small moment. But strifes of words destroy the things of God. The apostle mentions some who erred.

They did not deny the resurrection, but they corrupted that true doctrine. Yet nothing can be so foolish or erroneous, but it will overturn the temporary faith of some professors. This foundation has two writings on it. One speaks our comfort.

None can overthrow the faith of any whom God hath chosen. The other speaks our duty. Those who would have the comfort of the privilege, must make conscience of the duty Christ gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, Tit 2:14.

The church of Christ is like a dwelling: some furniture is of great value; some of smaller value, and put to meaner uses. Some professors of religion are like vessels of wood and earth.

When the vessels of dishonour are cast out to be destroyed, the others will be filled with all the fulness of God. We must see to it that we are holy vessels. Every one in the church whom God approves, will be devoted to his Master’s service, and thus fitted for his use.

2 Timothy 2:15| Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

  1. Study—Greek, “Be earnest,” or “diligent.”
    to show—Greek, “present,” as in Ro 12:1.

thyself—as distinguished from those whom Timothy was to charge (2Ti 2:14).

approved—tested by trial: opposed to “reprobate” (Tit 1:16).

workman—alluding to Mt 20:1, &c.

not to be ashamed—by his work not being “approved” (Php 1:20). Contrast “deceitful workers” (2Co 11:13).

rightly dividing—”rightly handling” [Vulgate]; “rightly administering” [Alford]; literally, cutting “straight” or “right”: the metaphor being from a father or a steward (1Co 4:1) cutting and distributing bread among his children [Vitringa and Calvin], (Lu 12:42).

The Septuagint, Pr 3:6; 11:5, use it of “making one’s way”: so Bengel here takes Paul to mean that Timothy may make ready a straight way for “the word of truth,” and may himself walk straight forward according to this line, turning neither to the right nor to the left, “teaching no other doctrine” (1Ti 1:3).

The same image of a way appears in the Greek for “increase” (see on [2498]2Ti 2:16). The opposite to “rightly handling,” or “dispensing,” is, 2Co 2:17, “corrupt the word of God.”

truth—Greek, “the truth” (compare 2Ti 2:18).

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