2 Timothy 2:15
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
In context, this letter is directed to Timothy, composed by Paul. Timothy, whose name means “one who honors God” first appears in Acts 16: 1-3 as Paul’s disciple. Paul is considered Timothy’s “Spiritual father” since Paul refers to him as “my true child in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2). Eventually Timothy became Paul’s companion and assists in the advancement of the gospel. Paul was in prison at Rome when he wrote this letter. Timothy was in Ephesus when he received it.
The Biblical meaning remains the same, the application of the meaning is countless. Right interpretation leads to right application.— Jeffrey Perry (@bestfishingdad) August 25, 2014
2 Timothy 2:15 is one of the theme verses for the book. The other verse is 2 Timothy 4:2 “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.” When we compare the two verses we can see an emphasis on sound teaching.
How do we teach soundly? By correctly handling the word of truth. How do we correctly handle the word of truth? Look at the text, by becoming “A workman”. So there is work involved in correctly handling the truth. I cannot tell you the countless Bible studies I have attended with a similar pattern; the leader of the group reads a section of scripture and asks, “What does that mean to you?” Then everyone goes on and on what they “Feel” the passage means. I simply say, “It means what it says?”
Before we look at the steps I must emphasize that Scripture is inspired by the Spirit and we must call upon the Spirit to guide us into the truth. John 16:13 "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come."
4 steps to be a workman correctly handling the word
- We need to read the text as it was written in the time period it was composed. This is where historical context, culture, language and key regional events are beneficial. There is always a purpose for communicating and choice words are vital toward meaning.
- Identify differences from the original audience and us. For example, in the OT we see a different covenant, language, cultural traditions, and many more. Think of the differences as a river to cross, some texts are a very small river, whereas some are very wide rivers of differences. Remember the original readers would have known exactly what the author's meaning was.
- Cross the river through a universal, timeless theological principle. This principal should develop from the text, not situational or cultural, and remain relevant to the rest of Scripture. A quick example from 2 Timothy 2:15, God is true (Titus 1:2) and his word is truth (Psalm 119:160; John 17:17) God doesn't contradict himself and if our interpretation does, it is not God who is wrong but our interpretation.
- Last step is to land in our time. How should individual Christians today live out the theological principals? What changes when you live a life confident that God’s word is complete and true? The meaning remains the same, but the application is countless.
It would be hypocritical to use this verse to simply imply it's meaning solely to sound Biblical interpretation. It is much more than just coming to a better and fuller meaning of the text. The purpose for Paul to compose this verse in Chapter two is for Timothy to counter false teachers. 2 Timothy 2:25 “Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” When we stand for the truth, we are to be definite and let people know where we stand. It is said that silence is golden, but sometimes it is just yellow. How can we apply this? If you are trying to win a person to Christ or to the truth, don’t argue with him. If he disagrees with you, let him disagree with you. Just keep on giving him the word of God with meekness. Meekness is power under control.
“The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.”
~ A.W. Tozer
Are you a workman that shows reverence and relevance to the Scripture?
What are some tools you can use for a better meaning of the original accounts?
God, you are true and cannot lie. Forgive us for trusting you with our eternal lives but falling in our faithfulness of your word and promises. Forgive us when we doubt and lose confidence in you. Thank you for today's reminder that this is a book of people's lives and how you came down into mankind for us to know you and be confident that you are God and we are not. Today empower us through you Spirit to cast off doubt and grab hold of you by faith. In Jesus name, AMEN.