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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Study to show thyself approved unto God - Endeavour so to cultivate and improve thy heart and mind, that thou mayest not be a reproach to him from whom thou professest to receive thy commission.

Rightly dividing the word of truth - It is generally supposed that the apostle alludes here to the care taken to divide the sacrifices under the law; the priests studied, in dividing the victim down the spine, to do it so scrupulously that one half of the spinal marrow should be found on each side the backbone. Probably nothing was much farther from the apostle's thoughts than this view, which is now commonly taken of the subject. Indeed this scrupulously dividing does not appear to have been any original ordinance among the Jews; much stress was laid upon it in later times, but from the beginning it was not so. The word ορθοτομειν signifies,

  1. Simply to cut straight, or to rectify.
  • To walk in the right way; it is thus used by Gregory Nazianzen, who, in Orat. Apol. fugae, opposes ορθοτομειν to κακως ὁδευειν, walking in a right way to walking in a bad way. Thus, καινοτομειν signifies to walk in a new way, and κατευθυνειν to walk in a straight way. See Kypke.
  • Therefore, by rightly dividing the word of truth, we are to understand his continuing in the true doctrine, and teaching that to every person; and, according to our Lord's simile, giving each his portion of meat in due season - milk to babes, strong meat to the full grown, comfort to the disconsolate, reproof to the irregular and careless; in a word, finding out the necessities of his hearers, and preaching so as to meet those necessities.

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    These files are public domain.

    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https: 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    Study to show thyself approved unto God - Give diligence 2 Peter 2:10, or make an effort so to discharge the duties of the ministerial office as to meet the divine approbation. The object of the ministry is not to please men. Such doctrines should be preached, and such plans formed, and such a manner of life pursued, as God will approve. To do this demands study or care - for there are many temptations to the opposite course; there are many things the tendency of which is to lead a minister to seek popular favor rather than the divine approval. If any man please God, it will be as the result of deliberate intention and a careful life.

    A workman that needeth not to be ashamed - A man faithfully performing his duty, so that when he looks over what he has done, he may not blush.

    Rightly dividing the word of truth - The word here rendered “rightly dividing,” occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means, properly, “to cut straight, to divide right;” and the allusion here may be to a steward who makes a proper distribution to each one under his care of such things as his office and their necessities require; compare the notes at Matthew 13:52. Some have supposed that there is an allusion here to the Jewish priest, cutting or dividing the sacrifice into proper parts; others, that the allusion is to the scribes dividing the law into sections; others, to a carver distributing food to the guests at a feast. Robinson (Lexicon) renders it, “rightly proceeding as to the word of truth;” that is, rightfully and skillfully teaching the word of truth. The idea seems to be, that the minister of the gospel is to make a proper distribution of that word, adapting his instructions to the circumstances and wants of his hearers, and giving to each that which will be fitted to nourish the soul for heaven.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". https: 1870.

    The Biblical Illustrator

    2 Timothy 2:15

    Study to show thyself approved unto God.


    The word which he uses ( σπουδάζειν) is one which scarcely occurs in the New Testament, except in the writings of St. Paul. And the corresponding substantive is also much more common in his Epistles than it is elsewhere. It indicates that ceaseless, serious, earnest zeal, which was one of his chief characteristics. And certainly if the proposed standard is to be reached, or even seriously aimed at, abundance of this zeal will be required. For the end proposed is not the admiration or affection of the congregation, or of one’s superiors, nor yet success in influencing and winning souls; but that of presenting one’s self to God in such a way as to secure His approval, without fear of incurring the reproach of being a workman who has shirked or scamped his work. The apostle’s charge is a most wholesome one, and if it is acted upon it secures diligence without fussiness, and enthusiasm without fanaticism. The being “approved” implies being tried and proved as precious metals are proved before they are accepted as genuine. (A. Plummer, D. D.)

    The minister approved of God

    I. In what way and manner a minister ought to show himself approved of God. It appears to me that something more is required to convince men that a minister has the smile of God than his own belief. Our text evidently implies that by his work a minister must show that God is with him. In his work four things will be found which tend to show this.

    1. Its quality. It must be such as God commands.

    2. Its quantity; which shall evince diligence.

    3. The difficulties attending its performance; which is the trial of sincerity.

    4. The spirit in which it is done. It is a work which requires a spirit of compassion and kindness.

    II. What are the signs of a minister’s approval of God which should be accepted by persons?

    1. I would place conversions as an evidence of Divine approval. They show Divine favour. The moral miracle of a true conversion evinces the Divine presence and power equally with any other miracle.

    2. The convictions of truth and duty, which are made by his preaching to the consciences of sinners.

    3. The last sign we shall notice of God’s approbation of His minister, is the effects of his preaching on the hearts of them that believe. Those that are spiritual can judge whether his preaching is scriptural. (W. Moore.)

    God’s approval

    Advert continually to His presence with reverence and godly fear; consider Him as always looking on the heart; trust in His almighty protection; believe in Him as a holy sin-hating God and reconciled to sinners of mankind only in Jesus Christ; value His favour above all the world, and make it the settled sole aim of your lives to approve yourselves to His pure eyes. (T. Adam.)

    Desire for God’s approbation

    “If you were an ambitious man,” said a person one day to a minister of talent and education, who was settled in a retired and obscure parish, “you would not stay in such a place as this.” “How do you know that I am not an ambitious man?” said the pastor. “You do not act like one.” “I have my plans as well as others--the results may not appear as soon, perhaps.” “Are you engaged in some great work?” “I am; but the work does not relate to literature or science. I am not ambitious, perhaps, in the ordinary sense of the term. I do not desire to occupy the high places of the earth, but I do desire to get near my Master’s throne in glory. I care but little for popular applause, but I desire to secure the approbation of God. The salvation of souls is the work He is most interested in, and to the successful prosecution of which He has promised the largest rewards.” (H. L. Hastings.)

    “Vibration in unison”

    “Something is the matter with your telephone; we can hardly hear you,” was the response, that in a faint voice came to us from the Central Office when we had answered their signal ring with the usual “Halloo!” A few minutes afterwards a young man from head-quarters stepped into our study, and taking the telephone in his hand commenced to investigate. “Yes, here it is,” he exclaimed, as he began to unscrew the ear-piece. “The diaphragm is bulged, and dust has collected around it to such an extent that it does not vibrate in unison with ours up in the office, and that spoils the sound. You see,” he added, while brushing the instrument, “that the telephones at both ends of the wire must act in harmony or there will be no voice. There,” he said, “it is all right now.” And sure enough the lowest word could be distinctly heard, There was, of course, nothing remarkable in this incident, and yet the words “vibrate in unison,” “must act in harmony or there will be no voice,” suggested higher thoughts as well. The human heart is God’s telephone in man. Through it He purposes to speak to our inner consciousness; and when our conscience, our affections, and our desires “vibrate in unison” with the breath of His lips we can hear His voice within us.

    A workman that needeth not to be ashamed.

    The single word which represents “that needeth not to be ashamed” ( ἀνεπαίσχυντος). is a rare formation, which occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Its precise meaning is not quite certain. The more simple and frequent form ( ἀναίσχυντος) means” shameless,” i.e., one who does not feel shame when he ought to do so. Such a meaning, if taken literally, would be utterly unsuitable here. And we then have choice of two interpretations, either

    The gospel workman

    I. Look, first, at the designation the Christian minister must try to earn for himself, to be “a workman approved of God,” one whose work will bear trying in the fire; having nothing counterfeit about it, but discovering the fine gold of an unadulterated service--truthful, hearty, honest towards God and man.

    1. Such a man will strive to be approved of God for his diligence, his earnestness, the anxious concentration upon the duties of the ministry of all the powers which God has given him.

    2. “Approved of God,” again, a minister should strive to be for his faithfulness. Now, this faithfulness, in relation to the stewardship of souls, consists in a bold and unfaltering adherence to the terms of our gospel commission; in a jealousy, before all things, for the honour of the Lord we serve; in a deter mination that, neither in public nor in private, will we exercise any timid reservations whether men will hear or whether they will forbear.

    II. But the text invites us, in the next place, to consider the Christian minister in His office as a public teacher.

    1. Where note, first, it is the “word of truth” he has to divide; an expression with which we may compare the language of the same apostle on another occasion, where he says, “When ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as is in truth the word of God.” This mode of speaking of Holy Scripture seems well calculated to meet that irrepressible craving for certainty on moral subjects, which is the first need of the awakened mind.

    2. But this word or truth, we are told, is to be “rightly divided”; that is, we may interpret the expression, to have all its parts distributed and disposed after some law of connection and coherence and scientific unity. The general spirit of this injunction goes to reprove all that mutilated or partial teaching in which, through an over-fondness for particular aspects of theological truth, a man is betrayed into negligence, if not into culpable reticence, about all the rest.

    III. But I proceed to the last point which calls for notice in our text, or that which leads us to contemplate the Christian minister in his personal character and qualifications.

    1. “Needeth not to be ashamed,” in regard of his mental culture, and attainments,, and general fitness to cope with the demands of an intellectual age.

    2. “Needeth not be ashamed,” once more, in regard of his personal and experimental acquaintance with the truths he is ordained to teach. Every profession in life has its appropriate and distinctive excellence. We look for courage in the soldier; integrity in the merchant; wise consistency in the statesman; unswerving uprightness in the judge. What is that which, before all things, should distinguish the Christian minister, if it be not pre-eminent sanctity of deportment, and the spirit of piety and prayer? (D. Moore, M. A.)

    Rightly dividing the word of truth.--

    Cutting straight

    Literally “cutting straight.” The figure has been very variously derived; from a priest dividing the victim, the steward distributing the bread or stores, a stonemason, a carpenter, a ploughman, a road-cutter. The last has been most frequently adopted. Perhaps they are right, who, like Luther and Alford, consider that the figure had become almost lost sight of in common usage, and that the word had come to mean little more than to “manage” or “administer.” (Speaker’s Commentary.)

    Fearless faithfulness

    The metaphor is taken from cutting roads. The characteristic of the Roman roads would be well known to the apostle, and this idea is given in the margin of the revision “holding a straight course in the word of truth.” The expression denotes a fearless faithfulness--a simple straightforwardness in the proclamation of the truth of God, whatever may be the opinions or the conduct of men. The Word has to be preached whether men will hear or whether they will forbear. (R. H. S.)

    Defection dangerous

    I am disposed to think that we may perhaps class this among the medical words with which these Epistles abound, and see in it a reference to the work of the surgeon, in which any deflection from the true line of incision might be perilous or even fatal. The reference in 2 Timothy 2:17 to the gangrene or cancer seems to carry on the train of thought. (E. H. Plumptre, D. D.)

    Right handling

    The idea of rightness seems to be the dominant one; that of cutting quite secondary; so that the Revisers are quite justified in following the example of the Vulgate (recte tractantem), and translating simply “rightly handling.” But this right handling may be understood as consisting in seeing that the word of truth moves in the right direction, and progresses in the congregation by a legitimate development. (A. Plummer, D. D.)


    St. Paul summons Timothy to a right straightforward method of dealing with the Divine word. He would have him set out clear lines for the intellect, a plain path for the feet, a just appeal to the emotions, a true stimulant of the conscience. (H. R. Reynolds, D. D.)

    Rightly dividing the word of truth

    I. The Vulgate version translates it--and with a considerable degree of accuracy--“Rightly handling the word of truth.” What is the right way, then, to handle the word of truth?

    1. It is like a sword, and it was not meant to be played with. It must be used in earnest and pushed home.

    2. He that rightly handles the word of God will never use it to defend men in their sins, but to slay their sins.

    3. The gospel ought never to be used for frightening sinners from Christ.

    4. Moreover, if we rightly handle the word of God we shall not preach it so as to send Christians into a sleepy state. We may preach the consolations of the gospel till each professor feels “I am safe enough: there is no need to watch, no need to fight, no need for any exertion whatever. My battle is fought, my victory is won, I have only to fold my arms and go to sleep.”

    5. And, oh, beloved, there is one thing that I dread above all others--lest I should ever handle the word of God so as to persuade some of you that you are saved when you are not.

    II. But my text has another meaning. It has an idea in it which I can only express by a figure. “Rightly dividing, or straight cutting.” A ploughman stands here with his plough, and he ploughs right along from this end of the field to the other, making a straight furrow. And so Paul would have Timothy make a straight furrow right through the word of truth. I believe there is no preaching that God will ever accept but that which goes decidedly through the whole line of troth from end to end, and is always thorough, earnest, and downright. As truth is a straight line, so must our handling of the truth be straightforward and honest, without shifts or tricks.

    III. There is a third meaning to the text. “Rightly dividing the word of truth” is, as some think, an expression taken from the priests dividing the sacrifices. When they had a lamb or a sheep, a ram or a bullock, to offer, after they had killed it, it was cut in pieces, carefully and properly; and it requires no little skill to find out where the joints are, so as to cut up the animal discreetly. Now, the word of truth has to be taken to pieces wisely; it is not to be hacked or torn as by a wild beast, but rightly divided. There has to be discrimination and dissection.

    1. Every gospel minister must divide between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace.

    2. We need also to keep up a clear distinction between the efforts of nature and the work of grace. It is commendable for men to do all they can to improve themselves, and everything by which people are made more sober, more honest, more frugal, better citizens, better husbands, better wives, is a good thing; but that is nature and not grace. Reformation is not regeneration.

    3. It is always well, too, for Christian men to be able to distinguish one truth from another. Let the knife penetrate between the joints of the work of Christ for us, and the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Justification, by which the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, is one blessing; sanctification, by which we ourselves are made personally righteous, is another blessing.

    4. One other point of rightly dividing should never be forgotten, we must always distinguish between the root and the fruit. “I want to feel a great change of heart, and then I will believe.” Just so; you wish to make the fruit the root.

    IV. The next interpretation of the apostle’s expression is, practically cutting out the word for holy uses. This is the sense given by Chrysostom. I will show you what I mean here. Suppose I have a skin of leather before me, and I want to make a saddle. I take a knife, and begin cutting out the shape. I do not want those parts which are dropping off on the right, and round tiffs corner; they are very good leather, but I cannot just now make use of them. I have to cut out my saddle, and I make that my one concern. The preacher, to be successful, must also have his wits about him, and when he has the Bible before him lie must use those portions which will have a bearing upon his grand aim.

    V. One thing the preacher has to do is to allot to each one his portion; and here the figure changes. According to Calvin, the intention of the Spirit here is to represent one who is the steward of the house, and has to apportion food to the different members of the family. He has rightly to divide the loaves so as not to give the little children and the babes all the crust; rightly to supply each one’s necessities, not giving the strong men milk, and the babes hard diet; not casting the children’s bread to the dogs, nor giving the swine’s husks to the children, but placing before each his own portion.

    VI. Rightly to divide the word of truth means to tell each man what his lot and heritage will be in eternity. Just as when Canaan was conquered, it was divided by lot among the tribes, so the preacher has to tell of Canaan, that happy land, and he has to tell of the land of darkness and of death-shade, and to let each man know where his last abode will be. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

    Appropriate truth

    Paul no doubt meant by this simile, that as a father at the dinner-table cuts and carves the meat, and divides it in proper shares to his family--a big piece for the grown-up son who works hard, and a small tender bit for the wee bairn who is propped up in a high chair next the mother--so all Christian workmen should divide religious truth, according to the capacity and the wants of the people amongst whom they labour. We are told in a fable that a half-witted man invited a number of creatures to a feast, at which he gave straw to the dog, and a bone to the ass. So, unless we think and reason, we shall be giving the wrong sort of food to the people who look to us for spiritual nourishment. When you are invited to visit the death-bed of a man whose life has been self-indulgent and occasionally vicious, and you see the tears of repentance in his eyes, it is a blunder to read him an account of the last judgment in the 25th of Matthew; but it is rightly dividing the truth to open the 15th chapter of Luke, and tell him the touching story of the father’s love to his penitent prodigal son. If you are asked to preach religious truth to a sceptic, do not ask him to believe that the whale swallowed Jonah; or that, one day, the sun stood still while an army fought out its battle. It would be like giving straw to a hungry god. Tell the sceptic the Divine parable of the humane Samaritan, and say, “If you copy the spirit of that man, you shall find it one of the gateways to God.” Would you influence for good a young man who is leaving home for the great city? Then, tell him the story of virtue as exhibited in the life of Joseph, who as a son, a brother, a slave, a servant, a overseer, a prisoner, and a prince, benefited man and glorified God. If you have to speak to children, tell them of the child Samuel, who prayed to God, and was consecrated to His service in one of the most illustrious lives of the Old Testament; and when you wish to impress upon a child that he should trust in God, read and expound to him the psalm which begins with the thrilling words, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”; and tell him of the sacred Saviour who took the little ones in His arms and blessed them, saying, “Of such little children is the kingdom of heaven.” If you are asked to go to a prison and speak to the convicted wretches, tell them of the poor, naked, dying thief on the cross who saw Jesus, believed in Him, prayed to Him, and the same day was received into paradise. And are you moved to give a word to the outcasts? Then, give them their share of suitable spiritual food. Tell them of Mary Magdalene whose heart was cleansed from its impure demons and filled instead with sacred love. And when the penitent outcasts weep while you speak of the Divine love, one may reply, “But, sir, no good woman will befriend such as we have been!” Then, tell them that when Mary Magdalene was converted she became the companion of the mother of Christ; and that if they trust in God and do the right, He will make a sacred path for them through the world and make them perhaps as useful and as honoured as the Magdalene whose service to Christ and His mother is the charm of the world. Yes; there is in this grand gospel history a share of food for everybody; and it should be for us to find it and bestow it according to the needs of the people. (W. Birch.)

    Rightly dividing the word of truth

    Truth is of various kinds--physical, mathematical, moral, etc.; but here one particular kind of truth is referred to, called the word of truth--that is, the truth of the Word of God--the truth of Divine revelation--theological truth. The Bible was not given to teach men philosophy, or the arts which have respect to this life; its object is to teach the true knowledge of God, and the true and only method of salvation.

    1. The truths of God’s Word must be carefully distinguished from error.

    2. But it is necessary to divide the truth not only from error, but from philosophy, and mere human opinions and speculations.

    3. The skilful workman must be able to distinguish between fundamental truths, and such as are not fundamental.

    4. Rightly to divide the word of truth, we must arrange it in such order as that it may be most easily and effectually understood. In every system some things stand in the place of principles, on which the rest are built. He who would be a skilful workman in God’s building must take much pains with the foundation; but he must not dwell for ever on the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, but should endeavour to lead His people on to perfection in the knowledge of the truth.

    5. A good workman will so divide the word of truth, as clearly to distinguish between the law and the gospel; between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace.

    6. Another thing very necessary to a correct division of the word of truth is that the promises and threatenings contained in the Scriptures be applied to the characters to which they properly belong.

    7. But finally, the word of God should be so handled that it may be adapted to Christians in different states and stages of the Divine life; for while some Christians are like “strong men,” others are but “babes in Christ, who must be fed with milk, and not with strong meat.” (A. Alexander. D. D.)

    The right division of truth

    We will suppose a workman dealing with the yet unrenewed and unshapen material--with the unconverted of his hearers; and we will study to show you how, if he would “rightly divide the word of truth,” and approve himself of his Master, he must use different modes according to the different characters upon which he has to act. To illustrate this we may refer to a passage in St. Jude, where the apostle thus expresses himself “Of some have compassion, making a difference; and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.” Here you have gentle treatment prescribed; and you have also harsh treatment. Let us see how both will be employed by “a workman, that needeth not to be ashamed.” Of some, the minister is to “have compassion.” Is he not to have compassion of all? Indeed he is. Let him lay aside instantly the ministerial office; let him be pronounced utterly wanting in the very first qualification for its discharge, if there be the sinner whom he does not pity, for whom he is not anxious, or whose danger does not excite in him solicitude. All are to be regarded with a feeling of pity, but all are not to be treated with the same mildness and forbearance. Behold that young man whose family is irreligious, who, with perhaps a sense of the necessity of providing for the soul, is laughed out of his seriousness by those who ought to be urging him to piety--hurried to amusements which are only fitted to confirm him in enmity to God, and initiated into practices which can issue in nothing but the ruin of the soul. I could not treat that young person sternly. I could not fail, in any intercourse with him, to bear in mind his peculiar disadvantages. And though it would be my duty--else could I be “studying to approve myself unto God”?--to remonstrate with him on the madness of allowing others to make him miserable for eternity, the very tone of my voice must show that I spake in sorrow, and not in anger. Or, behold, again, that man in distressed circumstances, on whom press the cares of a large family, and who is tempted perhaps to gain the means of subsistence through practices which his conscience condemns--Sunday trading, for example. Could I go to the man in harshness and with severity? I must not, indeed, spare his fault. I must not allow that his difficulties are any excuse for the offence. I had “need to be ashamed as a workman,” if I did this; but, surely, when I think on his peculiar temptations, and hear the cries of his young ones who are asking him for bread, you will expect me to feel great concern for the man, and so to “divide the word of truth,” as to show that concern, by the manner in which I reprove his misdoing. Or, once more, a man of no very strong intellect, and no very great reading, is thrown into the society of sceptical men perhaps of brilliant powers, and no inconsiderable acquirements. Why, he will be no match for these apostles of infidelity! His little stock of evidence on the side of Christianity will soon be exhausted; and he will not be able to detect the falsehoods, and show the sophistries of the showy reasoners; and presently, by a very natural, though most unfair process, he will be disposed to conclude that what he cannot prove wrong must be right. Towards a man thus seduced our prevailing feeling will be compassion--a feeling which you cannot expect us to extend towards those who have seduced him, except in the broad sense that we are aware of their danger, and would snatch them from ruin. Again, it is melancholy to think how many an inquirer may have been repulsed, how many a backslider confirmed in apostasy, how many a softening heart hardened, how many a timid spirit scared by the mode in which the truth has been pressed on their attention. It requires great delicacy and address to deal successfully with a very sensitive nature; more especially where--to use the language of the world--there is much to excuse the faults which we are bound to rebuke. But if there be a right division of the word of truth, it is evident that whilst some of you may require the gentle treatment, others will need the more severe. There are cases of hardened and reckless men, reckless men, of the openly dissolute and profane--men living in habitual sin, and showing unblushing contempt for the truth of God. And we must not so speak as to lead you to suppose us sure that there are none amongst yourselves requiring the harsh treatment. There are men who cannot possibly be in any doubt as to the wrongness of their conduct, who cannot plead ignorance in excuse, or the suddenness of temptation, or the pressure of circumstances; but who have a decided preference for iniquity, and a settled determination to gratify their passions, or aggrandise their families--pursuing a course against which conscience remonstrates, and who would not themselves venture to advance any justification. And if we would “rightly divide the word of truth,” what treatment must we try with such men? Oh! these men may yet be saved! The word of truth does not shut them up to inevitable destruction. We are not despairing of any one amongst you, and we will not. We can yet again bring you the message of pardon. And thus whilst directed to make an effort to save you, and, therefore, assured that you are not past recovery, the word of truth enjoins severe and peremptory dealing. These are those of whom St. Jude uses the remarkable expression--“Others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.” (H. Melvill, B. D.)

    Adaptation in preaching

    King Oswald, of Northumbria, sent for missionaries from the monastery of Iona. The first one despatched in answer to his call obtained but little success. He declared on his return that among a people so stubborn and barbarous success was impossible. “Was it their stubbornness or your severity?” asked Ardan, a brother sitting by; “did you forget God’s word to give them the milk first and then the meat?” (H. O. Mackey.)


    A divine ought to calculate his sermon, as an astronomer does his almanac, to the meridian of the place and people where he lives. (J. Palmer.)

    Close preaching

    Do you not know that a man may be preached to liturgically and doctrinally, and never be touched by the truth, or understand that to which he listens? Suppose I were to preach to you in Hebrew, how much would you understand? Now, when I preach so that a banker, who has all along been sitting under the doctrinal preaching, but has never felt its application to his particular business, feels the next day, when counting his coin, a twinge of conscience and says, “I wish I could either practice that sermon or forget it,” I have preached the gospel to him in such a way that he has understood it. I have applied it to the sphere of life in which he lives. When the gospel is preached so that a man feels that it is applied to his own life, he has it translated to him. And it needs to be translated to merchants and lawyers, and mechanics, and every other class in society, in order that all may receive their portion in due season. (H. W. Beecher.)

    Eccentric souls to be saved

    Success in soul winning is only given to skill, earnestness, sympathy, perseverance. Men are saved, not in masses, but by careful study and well-directed effort. It is said that such is the eccentric flight of the snipe when they rise from the earth, that it completely puzzles the sportsman, and some who are capital shots at other birds are utterly baffled here. Eccentricity seems to be their special quality, and this can only be mastered by incessant practice with the gun. But the eccentricity of souls is beyond this, and he had need be a very spiritual Nimrod, a “mighty hunter before the Lord” who would capture them for Christ. (H. O. Mackey.)

    False exposition

    Few sermons are more false or dangerous than those in which the teacher professes to impress his audience by showing “how much there is in a verse.” If he examined his own heart closely before beginning, he would find that his real desire was to show how much he, the expounder, could make out of the verse. But entirely honest and earnest men often fall into the same error. They have been taught that they should always look deep, and that Scripture is full of hidden meanings; and they easily yield to the flattering conviction that every chance idea which comes into their heads in looking at a word is put there by Divine agency. Hence they wander away into what they believe to be an inspired meditation, but which is, in reality, a meaning less jumble of ideas, perhaps very proper ideas, but with which the text in question has nothing whatever to do. (John Ruskin.)

    “Pray that sermon”

    A young beginner at preaching, after throwing off a highly wrought, and, as he thought, eloquent gospel sermon in the pulpit, in the presence of a venerable pastor, solicited of his experienced friend the benefit of his criticisms upon the performance. “I have but just one remark to make,” was his reply, “and that is, to request you to pray that sermon.” “What do you mean, sir? I mean, literally, just what I say; pray it, if you can, and you will find the attempt a better criticism than any I can make upon it.” The request still puzzled the young man beyond measure; the idea of praying a sermon was a thing he never heard or conceived of; and the singularity of the suggestion wrought powerfully on his imagination and feelings. He resolved to attempt the task. He laid his manuscript before him, and on his knees before God, undertook to make it into a prayer. But it would not pray; the spirit of prayer was not in it, and that, for the very good reason--as he then clearly saw for the first time--that the spirit of prayer and piety did not compose it. For the first time he saw that his heart was not right with God; and this conviction left him no peace until he had “Christ formed in him the hope of glory.” With a renewed heart he applied himself anew to the work of composing sermons for the pulpit; preached again in the presence of the pious pastor who had given such timely advice; and again solicited the benefit of his critical remarks. “I have no remarks to make,” was his complacent reply, “you can pray that sermon.” (Sword and Trowel.)

    In the closet

    Of Mr. John Shepherd, of the United States, it is recorded that he was greatly distinguished for his success in the pulpit. When on his death-bed he said to some young ministers who were present, “The secret of my success is in these three things:

    1. “The studying of my sermons very frequently cost me tears.

    2. Before I preached a sermon to others I derived good from it myself.

    3. I have always gone into the pulpit as if I were immediately after to render an account to my Master.” All who knew that devoted man would have united in expressing his secret in three words, “In the closet.” (Sword and Trowel.)

    Nor by the depth either

    A young minister having preached for Doctor Emmons one day, he was anxious to get a word of applause for his labour of love. The grave doctor, however, did not introduce the subject, and the young brother was obliged to bait the hook for him. “I hope, sir, I did not weary your people by the length of my sermon to-day?” “No, sir, not at all; nor by the depth either.” (Sword and Trowel.)

    A useful preacher

    I know a clergyman who valued as one of the best testimonies to his pulpit ministry the remark of a servant, overheard by a friend, after a sermon specially addressed to servants: “One would think he had been a servant himself.” (J. C. Miller, D. D.)

    Advice to preachers

    On the fly-leaf of a Greek Testament used by Dr. John Gregg, Bishop of York, are carefully written out the following memoranda for his own guidance. They will be found interesting to those who aim at speaking in appropriate language on a subject previously studied and thought over, and they will know that the hints given are the results of much experience: “Much depends on vitality and vigour of body, much depends on the mood and spirit in which you are; therefore pray, and feed your mind with truth, and attend to health. Much depends on subject; therefore select carefully. Much on preparation; therefore be diligent. Much on kind and number of hearers. Much on method; therefore arrange. Much on manner; therefore be simple and solemn, spirit earnest, tender and affectionate. Much on language; therefore be choice. All on the Spirit; therefore invoke His presence, and rely on His power, that you may expect docere, placere, movere. Energy depends on the state of mind and body, ease on calmness and self-possession; lifts on constant intercourse with people and variety of ranks, and much practice. Read aloud various passages and portions. Think much, and read select authors. Converse with refined and well-informed persons. Prepare well for each public occasion. Exercise your powers in public often, and always do your best. Let your public manner be an enlargement of your private, and let that be natural and simple, graceful without awkwardness or affectation.”

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    Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Timothy 2:15". The Biblical Illustrator. https: 1905-1909. New York.

    Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

    Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth.

    Practically all of the exegesis one encounters on this verse regards the Greek words here rendered "handling aright," and in the KJV, "rightly dividing" the word of truth. The words have the following basic meaning:

    The compound verb (rightly dividing) means to "cut straight." Vincent defines the word, "to hold a straight course" (as plowing a straight furrow); and the Greeks used the word for "expound soundly."[22]

    The old expositors understood this as a reference to making the proper division between the law and the gospel, between the Old Testament and the New Testament; and, in view of the basic meaning of the words here rendered "handling aright," there is absolutely nothing wrong with such an exegesis. Certainly no preacher can "cut it straight," "tell it like it is," or employ "sound exegesis," without making these very distinctions clear in his preaching. How deplorable, therefore, is the attitude of some expositors who use the newer versions to poke fun at the old interpretations. As Lenski put it, "Certainly plenty of exegesis is crooked enough to call for careful cutting to set it straight."[23] Alan G. Nute summed up the meaning of this verse as "An appeal for a straightforward, balanced exegesis of holy Scripture."[24]

    [22] Kenneth S. Wuest, Word Studies from the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973), Vol. II, 2Tim., p. 135.

    [23] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 799.

    [24] Alan G. Nute, A New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969), p. 521.

    Copyright Statement
    James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

    Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https: Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    Study to show thyself approved unto God,.... The Alexandrian copy reads, "to Christ"; see Romans 16:10. Not unto men, as pleasing them; for such who study to please men, are not the servants of Christ; and sometimes those that are approved to and by men, are disapproved of by God and Christ: but unto God, showing all fidelity and uprightness; speaking out the Gospel openly, and freely, with all sincerity, as in the sight of God; commending themselves to him, and to every man's conscience, by manifestation of the truth; and such will hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant" another day.

    A workman that needeth not to be ashamed; the ministry of the word is a work, and it is a good work; and those that perform it aright are worthy of honour and esteem; and it requires industry, diligence, and application, and for which no man is sufficient without the grace of God; and those who are employed in it are workmen, workers together with God, and labourers in his vineyard: and such who are faithful and diligent ones, "need not to be ashamed"; such do not cause shame, neither in themselves nor in others, as false teachers do, who foam out their own shame, and as negligent ministers of the word, and such whose lives are not agreeable to the doctrines they preach; nor have they any reason to be ashamed, neither of the Gospel, which they preach, nor of their sufferings, which they endure for the sake of it, nor of their upright ministrations of the word; and as they are not afraid to suffer shame for the sake of Christ now, they will not be ashamed before him at his coming.

    rightly dividing, or "cutting"

    the word of truth; that is, the Scriptures of truth, Daniel 10:21 which come from the God of truth, are concerning Christ, who is the truth, and are dictated and led into by the spirit of truth, and contain in them nothing but truth: to divide the word, is not merely to divide the text into its proper parts, though care should be taken that this be done aright; and some think that the allusion is to the verses of the Hebrew Bible, which are called פסוקים, "divisions", sections, or cuttings, from the word פסק, "to cut" or "divide", being cut or divided one from another; hence those that were employed in the law, and were conversant with the sacred writings, and exercised therein, were called פוסקים בתורת, "cutters", or "dividers of the law"F5Vid. Fuller Miscell. Saora, l. 3. c. 16. ; and so בעל פסוק is one that is well versed in the Bible, and knows every part of it, and readily uses it, in speaking or writing; and such an one was Timothy, 2 Timothy 3:15 though I rather think the apostle refers to a wrong way of dividing the Scriptures by the Jews, to which he opposes the right dividing of them. They had used not only to take away a letter out of one word, and add it to another, and so expound the text, but to remove words in it, and make that which went before to go behind, and that which was behind to go before; and this they call a sharp knife, which חותך ומפסיק הכתוב, "cuts and divides the Scriptures"F6Halichot Olim, port. 4. c. 3. p. 192. : but this way, which his countrymen used, the apostle would not have Timothy, and other Gospel ministers, make use of; for this is not rightly to divide, but to mangle and tear in pieces the word of truth. Moreover, to divide the word of truth, or to cut it, is to cut it open, and dissect its several parts, and search and look into the inside and bottom of it, for to find out every truth contained in it, and lay them open to others; and may be, as some have thought, an allusion to the cutting open the sacrifices, and laying the parts of them aright, and in a decent manner: to which may be added, that since ministers of the Gospel are stewards, and who, when wise and faithful, give to everyone of the household their portion of meat in due season; the metaphor may be taken from such, and from masters and governors of families, who cut up the food, and distribute it to each, according to their age and appetite; and so the ministers of the Gospel are to distribute the spiritual food of the word to babes in Christ, and to grown Christians, according to their capacities, and suitable to their cases and circumstances, dividing to everyone what is proper for him: in short, one that divides the word of truth rightly, is, as the Vulgate Latin version renders it, one that "rightly handles"; or, as the Syriac version, that "rightly preaches the word of truth"; who gives the true sense of Scripture, does not pervert and wrest it, and take from it, or add to it; who points out the truth in it, and shows unto men the way of salvation, and plainly and faithfully preaches the Gospel contained in it, without keeping back anything that is profitable, but declares the whole counsel of God. This same Greek word is used by the Septuagint in Proverbs 3:6 where it answers to the Hebrew word ישר, which signifies to direct the way, and make it plain; and may here design a plain and open interpretation of the word of God: and to answer these several characters in the text should be the studious concern of every Gospel minister; and study is necessary thereunto; it requires great care that a man take heed to himself, and to his doctrine; and great industry, diligence, and application, and much reading, meditation, and prayer.

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    A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

    Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https: 1999.

    Geneva Study Bible

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

    (9) The fifth admonition: a minister must not be an idle disputer, but a faithful steward in correctly dividing the word of truth, in so much that he must stop the mouths of other vain babblers.

    (e) By adding nothing to it, neither deleting anything, neither mangling it, nor rending it apart, nor distorting it: but marking diligently what his hearers are able to bear, and what is fit to edifying.

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    Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https: 1599-1645.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

    StudyGreek, “Be earnest,” or “diligent.”

    to showGreek, “present,” as in Romans 12:1.

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

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

    workman — alluding to Matthew 20:1, etc.

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

    rightly dividing — “rightly handling” [Vulgate]; “rightly administering” [Alford]; literally, cutting “straight” or “right”: the metaphor being from a father or a steward (1 Corinthians 4:1) cutting and distributing bread among his children [Vitringa and Calvin], (Luke 12:42). The Septuagint, Proverbs 3:6; Proverbs 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” (1 Timothy 1:3). The same image of a way appears in the Greek for “increase” (see on 2 Timothy 2:16). The opposite to “rightly handling,” or “dispensing,” is, 2 Corinthians 2:17, “corrupt the word of God.”

    truthGreek,the truth” (compare 2 Timothy 2:18).

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    This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https: 1871-8.

    Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

    Give diligence (σπουδασονspoudason). First aorist active imperative of σπουδαζωspoudazō old word, as in 1 Thessalonians 2:17; Galatians 2:10.

    To present (παραστησαιparastēsai). First aorist active infinitive of παριστημιparistēmi as in Colossians 1:22, Colossians 1:28.

    Approved unto God (δοκιμον τωι τεωιdokimon tōi theōi). Dative case τεωιtheōi with δοκιμονdokimon predicate accusative, old adjective (from δεχομαιdechomai), for which see note on 1 Corinthians 11:19; 2 Corinthians 10:18.

    A workman (εργατηνergatēn). See 2 Corinthians 11:3; Philemon 3:2.

    That needeth not to be ashamed (ανεπαισχυντονanepaischunton). Late double compound verbal adjective (αa privative, επαισχυνωepaischunō), in Josephus and here alone.

    Handling aright (ορτοτομουνταorthotomounta). Present active participle of ορτοτομεωorthotomeō late and rare compound (ορτοτομοςorthotomos), cutting straight, ορτοςorthos and τεμνωtemnō), here only in N.T. It occurs in Proverbs 3:6; Proverbs 11:5 for making straight paths (οδουςhodous) with which compare Hebrews 12:13 and “the Way” in Acts 9:2. Theodoret explains it to mean ploughing a straight furrow. Parry argues that the metaphor is the stone mason cutting the stones straight since τεμνωtemnō and ορτοςorthos are so used. Since Paul was a tent-maker and knew how to cut straight the rough camel-hair cloth, why not let that be the metaphor? Certainly plenty of exegesis is crooked enough (crazy-quilt patterns) to call for careful cutting to set it straight.

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    The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

    Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https: Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

    Vincent's Word Studies

    Study ( σπούδασον )

    Originally, make haste. In Paul, Galatians 2:10; Ephesians 4:3(note); 1 Thessalonians 2:17.

    To shew thyself approved ( σεαυτὸν δόκιμον παραστῆσαι )

    Παραστῆσαι , better, present. In Pastorals only here and 2 Timothy 4:17. Often in Acts and Paul. See on Acts 1:3; see on Romans 16:2; see on Ephesians 5:27. Δόκιμον approvedonly here in Pastorals, five times by Paul. See on James 1:12. See on δοκιμή approvedness Romans 5:4; and see on δοκιμάζειν toapprove on test, 1 Peter 1:7.

    A workman ( ἐργάτης )

    In Paul, 2 Corinthians 11:13; Philemon 3:2. In Pastorals, 1 Timothy 5:18.

    That needeth not to be ashamed ( ἀνεπαίσχυντον )

    N.T.oolxx, oClass. Lit. not made ashamed, as Philemon 1:20. A workman whose work does not disgrace him.

    Rightly dividing ( ὀρθοτομοῦντα )

    N.T.ooClass. In lxx, Proverbs 3:6; Proverbs 11:5; both times in the sense of directing the way. From ὀρθός straightand τέμνειν tocut. Hence, to cut straight, as paths; to hold a straight course; generally, to make straight; to handle rightly. Vulg. recte tractare. The thought is that the minister of the gospel is to present the truth rightly, not abridging it, not handling it as a charlatan (see on 2 Corinthians 2:17), not making it a matter of wordy strife (2 Timothy 2:14), but treating it honestly and fully, in a straightforward manner. Various homiletic fancies have been founded on the word, as, to divide the word of truth, giving to each hearer what he needs: or, to separate it into its proper parts: or, to separate it from error: or, to cut straight through it, so that its inmost contents may be laid bare. Others, again, have found in it the figure of dividing the bread, which is the office of the household steward; or of dividing the sacrificial victims; or of cutting a straight furrow with the plough.

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    Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https: Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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

    A workman that needeth not to be ashamed — Either of unfaithfulness or unskilfulness.

    Rightly dividing the word of truth — Duly explaining and applying the whole scripture, so as to give each hearer his due portion. But they that give one part of the gospel to all (the promises and comforts to unawakened, hardened, scoffing men) have real need to be ashamed.

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    Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https: 1765.

    Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

    15Study to shew thyself to be approved by God Since all disputes about doctrine arise from this source, that men are desirous to make a boast of ingenuity before the world, Paul here applies the best and most excellent remedy, when he commands Timothy to keep his eyes fixed on God; as if he had said; “Some aim at the applause of a crowded assembly, but do thou study to approve thyself and thy ministry to God.” And indeed there is nothing that tends more to check a foolish eagerness for display, than to reflect that we have to deal with God.

    A workman that doth not blush Erasmus translates ἀνεπαίσχυντον that ought not to blush.” I do not find fault with that rendering, but prefer to explain it actively, “that doth not blush;”, both because that is the more ordinary meaning of the word as used by Greek writers, and because I consider it to agree better with the present passage. There is an implied contrast. Those who disturb the Church by contentions break out into that fierceness, because they are ashamed of being overcome, and because they reckon it disgraceful that there should be anything that they do not know. Paul, on the contrary, bids them appeal to the judgment of God.

    And first, he bids them be not lazy disputants, but workmen. By this term he indirectly reproves the foolishness of those who so greatly torment themselves by doing nothing. Let us therefore be “workmen” in building the Church, and let us be employed in the work of God in such a manner that some fruit shall be seen then we shall have no cause to “blush;” for, although in debating we be not equal to talkative boasters, yet it will be enough that we excel them in the desire of edification, in industry, in courage, and in the efficacy of doctrine. In short, he bids Timothy labor diligently, that he may not be ashamed before God; whereas ambitious men dread only this kind of shame, to lose nothing of their reputation for acuteness or profound knowledge.

    Dividing aright the word of truth. This is a beautiful metaphor, and one that skillfully expresses the chief design of teaching. “Since we ought to be satisfied with the word of God alone, what purpose is served by having sermons every day, or even the office of pastors? Has not every person an opportunity of reading the Bible?” (173) But Paul assigns to teachers the duty of dividing or cutting, (174) as if a father, in giving food to his children, were dividing the bread, by cutting it into small pieces.

    He advises Timothy to “cut aright,” lest, when he is employed in cutting the surface, as unskillful people are wont to do, he leave the pith and marrow untouched. Yet by this term I understand, generally, an allotment of the word which is judicious, and which is well suited to the profit of the hearers. Some mutilate it, others tear it, others torture it, others break it in pieces, others, keeping by the outside, (as we have said,) never come to the soul of doctrine. (175) To all these faults he contrasts time “dividing aright,” that is, the manner of explaining which is adapted to edification; for that is the rule by which we must try all interpretation of Scripture.

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    Calvin, John. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https: 1840-57.

    James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary


    ‘Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be asbamed.’

    2 Timothy 2:15

    Workmen we are in the high and in the holy sense, ‘fellow-workers with God.’ May God put it into my power to speak some words of encouragement, to give some words of caution, to utter some words of direction which, falling upon the soil of a prepared and loving and sympathetic heart, may bring forth fruit to the honour and glory of God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    I. What is the workman’s task, set before us as Sunday-school teachers? His task is this, and simply this—the rearing of children for God; his task is this, and simply this—the arming, equipping, and preparing the young of our great cities or of our lonely hamlets with these weapons from the Divine armoury whereby they shall be able to do a good battle against sin, the world, and the devil, and to continue Christ’s faithful soldiers, and serve Him even to their life’s end.

    II. The tools to be employed.

    (a) First among these tools I would place, not only in order but in prominence and supremacy, the Holy Scriptures of the blessed God. Whatever else we may work at or work with, if our Sunday-school teachers are not diligent in imprinting upon the youthful nature the power and blessedness of God’s most Holy Word, their teaching and their most holy work will go for little.

    (b) And let our attention be directed, too, towards the imparting of the Word of God, not as the dry bones of an ecclesiastical history, or as abstruse symbolism, or as cold and negative philosophy. Let us make the Lord Jesus the animating principle and power of every word we teach from out of the Word of God.

    (c) The Prayer Book and the Catechism should form definite elements in the teaching of our Sunday-schools.

    III. The workman’s character.

    (a) There must be prayerfulness.

    (b) There must be intelligence.

    (c) There must be patience. Sometimes we get restless, impatient, and we sometimes get indignant. The moment we do our power for usefulness is almost instantaneously paralysed.

    Rev. Prebendary Cross.


    ‘St. Paul looked down the long current of that Church’s history, and he was able to see, and because of that vision was able to enforce, with all the stern dignity of masterful power, that what that Church wanted in his day—and in all ages—was a body of men who would labour faithfully for the truth of the everlasting God; and, therefore, with almost his dying breath, with a hand not so much palsied with age as unnerved by the approaching trial that was awaiting him, he committed to writing this last, this stern and yet almost tender admonition.’



    I want you to think about this text as it applies to our ordinary work. Our ordinary work may be simply the drudgery of life, or it may be transformed and altered and made an offering which God Almighty will accept and reward.

    I. Ordinary work.—We who come to church, most of all we who are communicants, ought to do our work so splendidly that people will say when they see us doing our common work, ‘Oh, I did not think much of religion; I used to think it was a matter of form, and very good for a Pharisee, but now I see that that man or that woman who goes to church and receives the Sacrament, that that man or that woman brings a brightness and a spring and an earnestness and a thoroughness into the work which others who are not moved by the power of religion do not.’ Is that so with you?’

    II. Work in our souls.—St. Paul would have me, when I read these words, think about my religion as work. Now that is just where most people do not think about religion. What I want to do with the thoughts of my Judge coming, and what I want to see you do, is this: to think perhaps if you would on your knees about your religion as work. Is it work? Now, come, be honest—is it work? Some people’s religion is merely pleasure. Some people’s religion is merely relaxation. They come to church because of the music, or come to church because of the pleasure of hearing the Word of God, and so on. But what I want about my religion is that it should be work. Now, how far is your religion work? I will tell you how far it ought to be work. Do you know anything about the struggle to be a good man? Do you know what it is to get on your knees with some horrid sin, such as temper, or worse, before you, binding you fast in its horrible chains, and working in prayer? Do you know what it is to go into this busy, noisy city, and when the temptation comes with its whole force a thousandfold stronger, perhaps, because you have been wrestling in prayer, then to fight against it and nail the temptation to the Cross of Christ?

    III. Work in self-sacrifice.—There is one other way in which I would have you test yourselves, and that is about our willingness to sacrifice things for God. No man who has led a selfish life can have a share with Him Who emptied Himself of all and was bound to the rude planks of Calvary. You cannot be, as some one has said, delicate members of the thorn-crowned head. What about yourself? What do you know about sacrifice? It is hard to give up things. It is a hard thing to give up our will and our pleasure for others. It is a hard thing to give up our money to God’s cause. What do you know about sacrifice? Please God, much. Only since He is coming to give to every one according as his works shall be, since He is saying to you and to me, we must be a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, surely we will kneel down to Him and ask Him to give us more richly of the grace of sacrifice, working in order that the nails which nailed Him may nail us also to the Tree, working so that in our measure, when we come to die, we may be able to say, ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’

    —Rev. Canon T. B. Dover.

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    Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". Church Pulpit Commentary. https: 1876.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

    Ver. 15. Study to show thyself] There are crept into God’s sanctuary such Levites to divide the word, that are not worthy the place of Gibeonites to cleave wood; like those unlearned logicians in Plato, Lacerant doctrinas, sicut caniculi panniculos, saith he; they tear up a text, and torment it, they wrest the Scriptures and wrong them, set them upon the rack, and make them speak what they never meant. These should be driven from the work, as those bastard Levites were by the Tirshatha, Ezra 2:63.

    Rightly dividing the word of God] The Syriac renders it, "Rightly preaching the word." Aeschines saith, an orator’s oration and the law (so a preacher’s sermon and the word) must be unisons. {a} And if Galen could say, that in anatomizing man’s brain, physicians must carry themselves as men do in the temple, how much more must divines do so, in dividing God’s Holy Word! The metaphor seems to be taken either from the priests of the law, who were to cut up the sacrifices accurately, and to lay them upon the altar orderly; or else from householders, that cut and carve to every one at table their share of meat. So must ministers, and not do as he in the emblem, that gave straw to the dog and a bone to the ass, but see that every one have their proper portion: this is workmanlike, such as need not be ashamed.

    {a} χρη το αυτο φθεγγεσθαι τον ρητορα και τον νομον. Aesch.

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    Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https: 1865-1868.

    Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

    2 Timothy 2:15. Rightly dividing the word of truth. The Vulgate, no doubt, has given in general the true sense of this expression, by rendering it, Recte tractantem verbum veritatis, "rightly handling the word of truth:" but it is not so easy to determine, whence in particular the metaphorical word ' Ορθοτομουντα, cutting aright, or straight, is taken. Some suppose it alludes to the cutting up and dividing the sacrifices by the Levitical priests; others, to the dividing and dispensing food at a table, or to the distribution made by a steward, in delivering out to each person under his care such things, as his office and their necessities required. Compare Luke 12:42. Price refers it to the exact cutting, or polishing of stone or marble: Chrysostom, Theophylact, and OEcumenius explain it of cutting off all superfluous and useless matter in preaching God's word, (as curriers do, in skins that they are preparing for use; compare 2 Timothy 2:16.) but Theodoret thinks it is a metaphor taken from husbandmen. "We commend (says he,) even those husbandmen who cut straight furrows: so, that preacher is worthy of praise, who follows the rule of the divine oracles." And to this last interpretation I must confess myself most inclined,—because our blessed Lord himself illustrates the duty of a minister of his gospel by a similar allusion, Luke 9:62.—because St. Paul had just before called Timothy Εργατην ; which, though applied to other workmen, properly signifies a husbandman; — and also because the word ορθοτομειν in the LXX. signifies to cut, or make straight, in the only two passages of that version where it occurs; namely, Proverbs 3:6; Proverbs 11:5. To all which we may add, that, though it may be doubted whether the verb ορθοτομειν be ever in the Greek writers applied to husbandmen's ploughing, yet in Theocritus, Idyll. x. l. 2 we have the term ογμον αγειν ορθον, to draw, or make a straight furrow.

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    Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https: 1801-1803.

    Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

    15.] The connexion is close:—by averting them from vain and unprofitable things, approve thine own work, so that it may stand in the day of the Lord. Strive (reff.) to present thyself (emphatic, as distinguished from those alluded to in the preceding verse) to God approved (reff.: tested by trial, and found to have stood the test. Not to be joined with ἐργάτην, as Mack), a workman (a general word, of any kind of labourer, used (see reff.) of teachers perhaps from the parable in Matthew 20) unshamed (by his work being found unworthy: cf. Philippians 1:20,— ἐν οὐδενὶ αἰσχυνθήσομαι, and 1 Corinthians 4:4; “cui tua ipsius conscientia nullum pudorem incutiat.” Beng. Kypke quotes from Jos. Antt. xviii. 9 [it should be xviii. 7. 1, see Moulton’s Winer, p. 296, note 1], μηδὲ δευτερεύειν ἀνεπαίσχυντον ἡγοῦ, ‘neque credas id pudore vacare, si secundum teneas locum.’ Chrys., al., would take the word actively, ‘not being ashamed of his work,’ τουτέστι, μηδὲν ὅλως αἰσχύνου πράττειν τῶν εἰς εὐσέβειαν ἡκόντων, κἂν δουλεῦσαι δέῃ, κἂν ὁτιοῦν παθεῖν, Chrys.: and so Agapetus, in Wetst., παρʼ ἄλλῳ εὑρεθέντα μηδαμῶς παρορᾷ, ἀλλὰ μανθάνει μὲν ἀνεπαισχύντως: but the above seems more according to the context. The opposite to ἐργ. ἀνεπαίσχυντος is ἐργάτης δόλιος, 2 Corinthians 11:13), rightly administering (the meaning of ὀρθοτομέω is very variously derived and explained,—‘recte secare’ being unquestionably the rendering. (1) Melanchthon, Beza, Grot., al., suppose the meaning deduced from the right division of the victims, Leviticus 1:6 ff.: (2) Vitringa (de Synagog. p. 714, De W.), Calv., al., from the cutting and distributing of bread by the steward or father of a household: ‘ac si pater alendis filiis panem in frusta secando distribueret.’ (3) Pricæus, ‘a lapicidis, quos melius ἐργάτας vocaveris quam victimarios illos. Eurip. de Neptuno Trojam ædificante, λαΐνους πύργους πέριξ ὀρθοῖς ἔτεμνε κανόσιν,’—Apuleius, ‘non, inquit, e monte meo afferam lapidem directim cœsum, i.e. ὀρθοτετμημένον. Glossarium, directum, κατὰ κανόνα ὀρθωθέν:’ (4) Thdrt. ( ἐπαινοῦμεν τῶν γεωργῶν τοὺς εὐθείας τὰς αὔλακας ἀνατέμνοντας), Lamb-Bos, al., from plowers, who are said τέμνειν τὴν γῆν, σχίζειν and ἐπισχίζειν ἀρούρας: (5) Most Commentators, from the more general form of the last explanation, the cutting a way or a road: as ‘ καινοτομεῖν, novam viam secare, nova via incedere,’ so ‘ ὀρθοτομεῖν, rectam viam secare,’ but here used transitively, the λόγος τῆς ἀληθείας being itself the ὁδός: so in Proverbs 11:5, δικαιοσύνη ἀμώμους ὀρθοτομεῖ ὁδούς, and Eurip. Rhes. 422, εὐθεῖαν λόγων τέμνων κέλευθον: Galatians 2:14, ὀρθοποδεῖν πρὸς τὴν ἀλήθειαν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου. So De W.: but Huther objects, and I think with reason, that in all these places the idea of a way is expressly introduced, and that without such expression we cannot supply the idea in λόγον. (6) Huther’s own view, that, the original meaning being ‘rightly to divide,’ the idea of τέμνειν was gradually lost, as in καινοτομεῖν, so that the word came to signify ‘to manage rightly,’ ‘to treat truthfully without falsifying’, seems to approach the nearest to the requirements of the context: the opposite being, as he observes, καπηλεύειν τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ, 2 Corinthians 2:17. (7) The meaning given by Chrys. and Œc.— τέμνε τὰ νόθα, καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα μετὰ πολλῆς τῆς σφοδρότητος ἐφίστασο καὶ ἔκκοπτε, does not seem to belong to the word. (8) It is plain that the patristic usages of it, as e.g. in the Clementine Constt. vii. 33 (Grot.) ὀρθοτομοῦντας ἐν τοῖς κυρίου δόγμασι,—Clem. Alex., Strom. vii. 16 (104), p. 896 P., τὴν ἀποστολικὴν καὶ ἐκκλησιαστικὰν ὀρθοτομίαν τῶν δογμάτων,—Greg.-Naz. apol. fugæ, pp. 23, 28 (Kypke, from Fuller), opposing to ὀρθοτομεῖν, κακῶς ὁδεύειν,—have sprung from this passage, and cannot be cited as precedents, only as interpretations) the word of the (the art. seems here better expressed: cf. 2 Timothy 2:18 below, and the usage throughout these Epistles, e.g. 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Timothy 4:3; 1 Timothy 6:5; ch. 2 Timothy 3:8; 2 Timothy 4:4; Titus 1:14) truth.

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    Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https: 1863-1878.

    Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

    2 Timothy 2:15. Continuation of the exhortation to Timothy.

    σπούδασον σεαυτὸν δόκιμον παραστῆσαι τῷ θεῷ] σπουδάζειν expresses the eager striving, as in Ephesians 4:3, 1 Thessalonians 2:17, etc., and has a suggestion of making haste, 2 Timothy 4:9; 2 Timothy 4:21; Titus 3:12.

    δόκιμον, equivalent to probatus, tried, is absolute, and should not be taken with ἐργάτην (Luther, Mack). A more precise limitation is given in the next words: παραστῆσαι τῷ θεῷ; comp. Romans 6:13; Romans 6:16, and other passages in the Pauline epistles; here it has the additional meaning: “for the service of.” Hofmann gives an unsuitable construction by joining τῷ θεῷ—in spite of παραστῆσαι—with δόκιμον (= “approved by one”), separating ἐργάτην ἀνεπαίσχυντον from one another, and connecting ἐργάτην with δόκιμον, so that ἀνεπαίσχυντον forms a second predicate to ἐργάτην, ὀρθοτομοῦντα κ. τ. λ. being added as a third. All this not only assigns to δόκιμος a meaning which it never has in the N. T. (not Romans 14:18; comp. Meyer on the passage), but separates παραστῆσαι from the τῷ θεῷ standing next to it, although Paul almost never uses the word without adding a dative of the person (comp. in particular, Romans 6:13; Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 8:8; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:27).

    ἐργάτην ἀνεπαισχυντον] ἐργάτης specially de opere rustico; used, besides, of the work in the field of God’s kingdom (2 Corinthians 11:13; Philippians 3:2).

    ἀνεπαίσχυντος; in the N. T. a ἅπαξ λεγ., and in classic Greek used only in Sp. as an adverb with the signification: “immodestly, shamelessly.” It is synonymous with ἀναίσχυντος, which in classic Greek is used only in a bad sense: “one who is not ashamed when he ought to be.” It cannot, of course, have this meaning here. The most reliable interpretation is to keep by the fundamental meaning of the word taken in a good sense: “who is not ashamed, because he has nothing to be ashamed of.” Bengel: cui tua ipsius conscientia nullum pudorem incutiat; de Wette, Wiesinger, van Oosterzee, Plitt translate it simply: “who has nothing to be ashamed of.” Hofmann arbitrarily explains it as equivalent to: “of whom God is not ashamed,” a meaning suitable to the context only if δόκιμος be taken in the sense he maintains. The next words make the definition still more precise: ὀρθοτομοῦντα τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας] ὀρθοτομεῖν, ἅπαξ λεγ., is rightly explained by most as recte tractare (which is the actual translation of the Vulgate); but there is very great variety in the derivation of the notion. Melanchthon, Beza, and others derive the expression ab illa legali victimarum sectione ac distributione Leviticus 1:6; Vitringa, from the business τοῦ οἰκόνμου, cui competat panem cibosque frangere, distribuere filiis familias; Pricaeus, a lapicidis; Lamb. Bos, from the ploughers, qui arantes τέμνειν τὴν γῆν, σχίζειν et ἐπισχίζειν ἀροῦρας dicuntur, yet in such a way that is committed to those qui rectas vias insistunt. De Wette (Wiesinger agreeing with him) maintains the latter; recte secare viam, λόγον being put for ὁδόν. Certainly τέμνειν is often joined with ὁδός, κέλευθος; but it does not follow that in ὀρθοτομεῖν by itself there is contained a reference to the way.(32) As little can we say that any other of the references is contained in it. The word in itself means: “cut rightly,” or, according to Pape: “cut straight, in straight direction;” then, the notion of τέμνειν falling into the background, as is often the case with καινοτομεῖν, it has the more general signification: “deal rightly with something so as not to falsify it.”(33)

    Hofmann’s explanation is curious: “cut straight through the word of truth, i.e. cut it, so that it is a straight cut, passing into the heart of it, whereas a slanting cut would not reach the inner part of the word of God, but only touch the outwork.” This explanation—apart from other reasons—is refuted by the fact that ὀρθοτομεῖν has not the signification: “cut through the middle point.” The Gloss. ordinar. explains it: secundum competentiam singulorum, ut: altis spiritualia, lac distribuere parvulis, so that Paul is directing Timothy to preach the word according to his hearers’ capacity of understanding. This is the meaning also according to Luther’s translation: “who rightly parts the word of truth;” but the thought is entirely foreign to the context.(34)

    Chrysostom explains it by τέμνειν τὰ νόθα καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα ἐκκόπτειν; so, too, Oecumenius; but this is unsuitable, for there is nothing false in the λόγος τῆς ἀληθ., and therefore nothing to be separated from it.

    The expositors are quite wrong who refer the expression to a life in accordance with God’s word = κατὰ τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ὀρθότατα βιοῦν.

    The right interpretation makes it the simple opposite of καπηλεύειν τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ, 2 Corinthians 2:17.(35)

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    Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https: 1832.

    Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

    2 Timothy 2:15. σπούδασον, be diligent [study]) A word suited to the character of the whole epistle.— σεαυτὸν, thyself) An antithesis to the work [2 Timothy 2:21], of which workman is the conjugate.— δόκιμον) approved unto God; not reprobate unto every good work, Titus 1:16, but having his work perfect, James 1:4. Hesychius: δόκιμον, χρήσιμον, τέλειον.— ἐργάτην ἀνεπαίσχυντον, a workman not ashamed) to whom thy own conscience can occasion no shame. The Scholiast quoted by Pricæus explains ἀνεπαίσχυντον by παῤῥησιαζόμενον; comp. Philippians 1:20. ὀρθοτομοῦντα follows, viz. one who will extend the word of truth among all others.— ὀρθοτομοῦντα) Here many are of opinion that the idea of cutting is implied; but the Vulgate translates it, “recte tractantem,” rightly treating or handling: an excellent rendering; comp. LXX, Proverbs 3:6; Proverbs 11:5, ὀρθοτομεῖν ὁδοὺς, the same as in Latin, secare viam, “to travel a road,” to make one’s way.(6) Nor do κενοτομία, κερτομία, mean cutting in the literal sense ( κεαρ, the heart is cut, metaphorically, by κερτομίαν), nor καινοτομέω, ῥυμοτομέω ἰθύτομος οἷμος. The literal meaning and force of the ὀρθὸς is rather to be retained in ὀρθοτομοῦντα: for in the passages quoted [where ὀρθοτομεῖν is in the LXX.] we find the Hebrew word יַשֵׁר, and this form of the verb might have been expressed by the same Greek verb in 2 Chronicles 32:30, concerning a water-course, and Psalms 119:128, concerning the Divine word itself. Therefore the meaning of Paul is, that Timothy may prepare a right course (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 hand, teaching no other doctrine, 1 Timothy 1:3 ; and in this view the antithesis of the word, will go forward,(7) which presently occurs, 2 Timothy 2:16, is more clearly perceived.— τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας, the word of truth) The antithesis occurs presently after, κενοφωνίας, of which the first part of the compound, signifying empty, is opposed to truth ( ἀληθείας); the last part, involving vehemence of voice, is opposed to the temperate word ( τὸν λόγον).

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    Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https: 1897.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    Study to show thyself approved unto God; let it be thy study, not to please men, to get their hum and applause for speaking quaintly, learnedly, or smoothly, but to approve thyself to God, who is thy Master in this work, and whom thou oughtest to serve.

    A workman that needeth not to be ashamed; a workman that doth his work so well, and faithfully, that he need not be ashamed, whoever looketh and judgeth upon it.

    Rightly dividing the word of truth; oryotomounta, rightly cutting out; we translate it rightly dividing: it is not material whether the metaphor be drawn from the priests right cutting out their sacrifices, so as all had their shares in them; or from carpenters cutting out their timber, cutting off the sappy part, and by a right line dividing the other parts; or from cooks, or carvers, or parents rightly dividing a dish of meat among several guests or children; or from those that use to cut out ways; or from husbandmen cutting out furrows, &c. The sense is, rightly handling the word of God, and giving to all their portion. For their notion who would make the sense of it, cutting out a right way for others by thy example, because the word oryotomein sometimes signifies to cut a right way, it no way agreeth to the text, for whatever the verb signifies alone, he is meanly skilled in the Greek that knows not it cannot have that sense, being joined (as here) with ton logon thv alhyeiav, the word of truth.

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    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https: 1685.

    Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

    Dividing the word of truth; communicating to each the portion suited to his wants.

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    Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "Family Bible New Testament". https: American Tract Society. 1851.

    Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

    15. σπούδασον σεαυτὸν δόκιμον παραστῆσαι τῷ θεῷ. Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God. For the phrase παριστάνειν τῷ θεῷ cp. 1 Corinthians 8:8; and for a salutary warning as to the true meaning of δόκιμος cp. 2 Corinthians 10:18, οὐ γὰρ ὁ ἑαυτὸν συνιστάνων, ἐκεῖνός ἐστιν δόκιμος, ἀλλὰ ὅν ὁ Κύριος συνίστησιν.

    ἐργάτην ἀνεπαίσχυντον, a workman who is not to be put to shame, sc. by the poor quality of his work. ἀνεπαίσχυντος (ἄπ. λεγ. in the Greek Bible) is thus taken passively by Chrysostom, and the resulting sense seems to be more harmonious with the context than the rendering of the English versions, “that needeth not to be ashamed.”

    ὀρθοτομοῦντα τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας, rightly dividing the word of truth. The exact meaning of ὀρθοτομεῖν here (it does not occur elsewhere in the N.T.) is uncertain. The analogy of the only two places where it is found in the LXX. (Proverbs 3:6; Proverbs 11:5) has suggested to some that the metaphor is that of laying down a straight road, the road of Truth, from which heretics diverge on this side and on that. But we cannot read the idea of ὅδος into λόγον where it is not suggested by the context. The image here seems rather to be that of a man cutting the λόγος τῆς ἀληθείας into its right pattern, the standard provided being the Gospel. This is practically involved in the vaguer rendering given by the Revisers handling aright the word of truth (the Vulgate has recte tractantem); but the literal and primary meaning of ὀρθοτομεῖν cannot be to handle aright. The words at once recall 2 Corinthians 2:17, καπηλεύοντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ, but the metaphor employed there is quite different from that in the writer’s mind here.

    St Paul offers what amounts to a definition of ὁ λόγος τῆς ἀληθείας in Ephesians 1:13, viz. τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς σωτηρίας ὑμῶν; cp. 2 Corinthians 6:7.

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    "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https: 1896.

    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

    15. Study—Be earnest or zealous.

    A workman—A labourer, whether husbandman or artisan.

    Rightly dividing the word—Commentators greatly differ as to the figure. Melanchthon supposed the allusion to be made to the priest dividing the sacrificial victim; but this suits not the word workman. A similar objection lies against Calvin’s applying it to a carving carver cutting bread. The applying it to a ploughman cutting a furrow makes no apposite illustration. The most suitable is the image of a carpenter or architect rightly, with square and compass, dividing the parts of a timber. The thought as regards the preacher is not so much that he divides for each class of persons their own appropriate share; but that he so distributes the doctrines of the gospel as to give each its proportion, place, and measure, so as to preserve the symmetry of Christian truth, in order to assign to each class of errorists their proper representation and antidote.

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    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https: 1874-1909.

    Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

    ‘Give diligence to present yourself approved to God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth.’

    Positively he is to ‘study zealously’ to present himself before God as one who is ‘accepted after testing’, that is, as one who is the genuine and well-proved article. He must recognise that what he believes and teaches must pass the test of the inspection of God. He must be like the workman who can watch confidently while his work is subjected to examination, in order for it to gain approval. And he will do this by ‘cutting a straight road’ (see the same verb in Proverbs 3:6; Proverbs 11:5 LXX) with regard to the word of truth, and avoiding any diversion. Thus ‘rightly handling’ it, and not going off at a tangent.

    For ‘the word of truth’ compare Ephesians 1:13; Colossians 1:5 where it represents the Good News of salvation as contained in the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:15-16) and the teaching of Jesus. Note the contrast with the gangrenous ‘word’ of 2 Timothy 2:17 and the connection with ‘the truth’ from which the false teachers have erred (2 Timothy 2:18).

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    Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https: 2013.

    Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

    Positively, in contrast, Timothy should be "diligent" (lit. zealous) to make sure that when he stood before God he would receive the Lord"s approval and not be ashamed (cf. 1 John 2:28). [Note: Cf. White, 4:165.] Most important in gaining this goal was the way he would proclaim God"s truth. He must teach it consistent with God"s intended meaning and purpose. "Handling accurately" (lit. cutting straight) is a figure that paints a picture of a workman who is careful and accurate in his work. The Greek word (orthotomounta) elsewhere describes a tentmaker who makes straight rather than wavy cuts in his material. It pictures a builder who lays bricks in straight rows and a farmer who plows a straight furrow. [Note: Robertson, 4:619.] The way a minister of the gospel presents the Word of God was of primary importance to Paul, and it should be to us. The Greek word ergaten (workman) stresses the laborious nature of the task rather than the skill needed to perform it.

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    Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https: 2012.

    Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

    2 Timothy 2:15. Study, Strictly, ‘be eager, be zealous.’

    Approved, i.e. tried and standing the trial.

    Rightly dividing. The literal meaning, ‘cutting straight,’ admits obviously of many figurative applications, and the word has been referred accordingly to the work of the sculptor, the road-maker, the carpenter, the ploughman, the carver at table, the sacrificing priest. Of these, that of the ploughman seems to give the best meaning; but I am disposed to think that we may perhaps class this among the medical words with which these Epistles abound, and see in it a reference to the work of the surgeon, in which any deflection from the true line of incision might be perilous or even fatal. The reference in 2 Timothy 2:17 to the gangrene or cancer seems to carry on the train of thought.

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    Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https: 1879-90.

    The Expositor's Greek Testament

    2 Timothy 2:15. σπούδασον: Give diligence to present thyself (as well as thy work) to God, approved.

    ἀνεπαίσχυντον: Chrys. takes this to mean a workman that does not scorn to put his hand to anything; but it is better explained as a workman who has no cause for shame when his work is being inspected. In any case, the word must be so explained as to qualify ἐργάτης naturally; and therefore it cannot be interpreted by a reference to 2 Timothy 1:8 ( μὴ ἐπαισχυνθῇς), of the shame that may deter a man from confessing Christ.

    ὀρθοτομοῦντα: ὀρθοτομέω is found in reff. as the translation of ישׁר (Piel) direct, make straight, make plain. “He shall direct thy paths,” “The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way”. This use of the word suggests that the metaphor passes from the general idea of a workman to the particular notion of the minister as one who “makes straight paths” ( τροχιὰς ὀρθάς) for the feet of his people to tread in (Hebrews 12:13). The word of truth is “The Way” (Acts 9:2, etc.). Theodoret explains it of a ploughman who drives a straight furrow. Similarly R.V. m. (1), Holding a straight course in the word of truth. Chrys., of cutting away what is spurious or bad. Alf. follows Huther in supposing that the idea of cutting has passed out of this word, as it has out of καινοτομεῖν, and renders, rightly administering, as opposed to “adulterating the word of God” (2 Corinthians 2:17). Other examples of words which have wholly lost their derivational meaning are πρόσφατος and συκοφαντέω. The imagery underlying the A.V., R.V.m. (2), rightly dividing, is either that of the correct cutting up of a Levitical victim (Beza), or a father (Calvin), or steward (Vitringa), cutting portions for the food of the household. The R.V., handling aright, follows the Vulg., recte tractantem, and gives the general sense well enough. The use of ὀρθοτομία in the sense of orthodoxy, in Clem. Al. Strom. vii. xvi., and Eus. H. E. iv. 3, is probably based on this passage.

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    Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https: 1897-1910.

    Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

    2 Timothy 2:15. Study to show thyself approved, &c. — Greek, σπουδασον σεαυτον δοκιμον παραστησαι τω θεω, literally, be zealous, make haste, or diligently endeavour, to present thyself approved to God, what ever men may judge of thee and thy services; a workman that needeth not to be ashamed — Either on account of unfaithfulness, unskilfulness, lukewarmness, negligence, or sloth; rightly dividing the word of truth — Greek, ορθοτομουντα, literally, rightly cutting up the word — In allusion, as some think, to the action of the Jewish priests in dissecting the victims, and separating the parts in a proper manner, as some were to be laid on God’s altar, and others to be given to those who were to share in the sacrifices. Or rather, the metaphor may be taken from the distribution made by a steward in delivering out to each person under his care such things as his office and their necessities require; or to the action of one who carves at a table, and distributes meat to the guests, according to their ages, and their state of health. In this manner the apostle himself divided the word to the Corinthians, feeding them with milk, as babes in Christ, and not with meat, as not being then able to bear it. See Hebrews 5:12-14. The Vulgate version renders the clause, recte tractantem, rightly handling the word, which gives the apostle’s meaning very well. Thus those ministers handle it who duly explain and apply the whole gospel, so as to give each hearer his due portion. But they that give one part of the gospel to all, (the promises and comforts, suppose, to unawakened, hardened, and scoffing sinners,) have real need to be ashamed. To divide or handle the word of truth aright, implies that it be done, 1st, With evidence and demonstration, so as to convince the conscience, Acts 2:37; 1 Corinthians 2:4. 2d, With sincerity and faithfulness, delivering the whole counsel of God, Acts 20:27. 3d, With power and authority, Matthew 7:29; 1 Thessalonians 1:5. 4th, With wisdom and seasonableness, as men are able to bear it, Mark 4:33; John 16:12. 5th, With meekness, gentleness, love, and all winning insinuations, 2 Timothy 2:24-25; 1 Thessalonians 2:7. 6th, With courage and boldness, Jeremiah 1:17; Ephesians 6:19.

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    Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https: 1857.

    George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary



    Probabilem, Greek: dokimon.



    Recte tractantem, Greek: opthotomounta.

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    Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https: 1859.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    Study = Be diligent. Greek spoudazo. See Galatians 1:2, Galatians 1:10.

    shew = present, as Colossians 1:22, Colossians 1:28.

    approved. Greek. dokimos. See Romans 14:18.

    unto = to Dative case.

    workman. Greek. engrates. This word is translated "labourer ten times; "worker", or "workman", six times. that, &c. = without cause for shame. Greek. anepaischuntos. Only here.

    rightly dividing. Greek. orthofomeo. Only here.

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    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https: 1909-1922.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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

    Study , [ Spoudason (Greek #4704)] - 'Be earnest.'

    To show , [ parasteesai (Greek #3936)] - 'present,' as in Romans 12:1.

    Thyself - as distinguished from those whom Timothy was to charge (2 Timothy 2:14).

    Approved - tested by trial [ dokimon (Greek #1384)]: opposed to "reprobate" [ adokimon (Greek #96): one who cannot stand the test] (Titus 1:16).

    Workman - alluding to Matthew 20:1, etc.: implying the laboriousness of the office (2 Timothy 4:5).

    Not to be ashamed - by his work, not being "approved" (Philippians 1:20). Contrast "deceitful workers," 2 Corinthians 11:13.

    Rightly dividing , [ orthotomounta (Greek #3718)] - 'rightly handling' (Vulgate). literally, cutting straight,' as a road or furrow (Theodoret). Or, as a steward (1 Corinthians 4:1) cutting and distributing bread among a household (Vitringa) (Luke 12:42). But the "rightly" suits better the former image. Septuagint, Proverbs 3:6; Proverbs 11:5, use it of 'making one's way:' so here, "the word of truth" is a road to be laid out straightly: Timothy must not deviate from this right line to the one side or other (Isaiah 30:21; Isaiah 40:3); 'teaching no other doctrine' (1 Timothy 1:3). The same image appears in "increase" (note, 2 Timothy 2:16). The opposite is 2 Corinthians 2:17, "corrupt the Word of God."

    Truth - Greek, 'the truth' (cf. 2 Timothy 2:18).

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    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https: 1871-8.

    The Bible Study New Testament

    Do your best. This is required of every Christian! [In ancient English, study meant to do your best.] To will full approval. "It is God whom we must please, not the Circumcision party or anyone else!" Who correctly teaches. This means: (1) presenting the truth clearly and accurately; (2) giving milk to those who need it (Hebrews 5:11-14; 1 Corinthians 3:1-2).

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    Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "The Bible Study New Testament". https: College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

    (15) Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed.—Timothy, and those in the position of Timothy, were to show themselves approved unto God, by turning others, over whom they possessed influence, from the pursuit of vain and unprofitable things. Then their work would be the work of workmen tested by trial, and would be found to have stood the test. (Comp. here 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, where the final testing of the work done by God’s workmen, such as Timothy, is spoken of in very clear, heart-searching language.) His own words in the First Epistle to the Corinthians were evidently in St. Paul’s mind when he wrote down this direction to Timothy.

    Rightly dividing the word of truth.—Better rendered rightly laying out the word of truth. The Greek word translated in the English version “rightly dividing,” literally signifies “cutting a straight line.” It seems most correct to regard it as a metaphor from laying out a road (see Proverbs 3:6, in the LXX. rendering, where the word is so used), “or drawing a furrow, the merit of which consists in the straightness with which the work of cutting, or laying out, is performed. The word of truth is, as it were, a road which is to be laid out straightly and truly.” So Ellicott. To affirm (see Alford and Huther-Meyer) that the notion of “cutting” had been gradually lost, and that the word already in the time of St. Paul signified simply “to manage rightly,” “to treat truthfully without falsifying,” and that the exact opposite is to corrupt or adulterate the Word of God (2 Corinthians 2:17), seems premature. (Comp. Eur. Rhesus, 422, ed. Dindorf.)

    In the third century, Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, 7), for instance, certainly uses the word in a sense in which the idea of “cutting” has been lost, when he writes orthotomia (a substantive) as an equivalent for orthodoxia—orthodoxy. It is not improbable that the use of the word here by St. Paul gave the word a fresh starting-point, and that gradually the original meaning passed out of sight.

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    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https: 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
    Hebrews 4:11; 2 Peter 1:10,15; 3:14; *Gr:
    Acts 2:22; Romans 14:18; 16:10; 2 Corinthians 5:9; 10:18; Galatians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:4
    a workman
    Matthew 13:52; 2 Corinthians 3:6; 6:3,4; 1 Timothy 4:6,12-16
    Matthew 13:52; Mark 4:33; Luke 12:42; John 21:15-17; Acts 20:27; 1 Corinthians 2:6; 3:1,2; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; Hebrews 5:11-14

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    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:

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

    Five items: Study - to show yourself approved before God - a workman - need not be ashamed - rightly dividing the word of truth.

    "Study:" An affront to many preachers that trust the Holy Spirit to move them when they get to the pulpit! God says "study" - that contradicts the thought that we should just sit back and allow the Spirit to send the message when we get before the people.

    We knew of a church that had gone charismatic in the leadership and many of the congregation. The pastors famous line was that he didn't prepare his messages, that the Spirit gave them to him as he stepped into the pulpit.

    Many of the congregation wondered out loud why the Spirit kept giving him the same sermon - he was always preaching on the same subject and seldom changed the content.

    Study has the idea of preparation, of gaining knowledge, and finding truth, not sitting on your sofa waiting for the Spirit to do it for you.

    This verse also should be an affront to those that prepare a lesson in an hour or so - planning to feed the flock. You don"t prepare most good meals in that short of time, how can you think you can feed a flock on such meager preparation?

    There is even another side to study - study does not require two weeks full time to prepare an hour message either. Some believe that they are called to preach and nothing else - study and preach and that is sufficient to the position. Nice job if you can get it, but that much study is way more detail than most flocks have need of.

    To show yourself approved before God. Well, now that is a great motivator to study! Do it so that you can stand before God and find approval. The implication seems to be if you don"t study you will not find approval. That has some serious ramifications.

    The pastor/teacher that is too busy to prepare properly is not doing the Lord"s will.

    A balance - be properly prepared to the work at hand would seem to be the thought. There may be some situations where an hour preparation for a few comments at the end of a children's program would be appropriate, but and hour for a sermon to feed the flock is not enough to get started in.

    Study to show yourself approved - the implication if you don't study you may not be approved.

    Just a few comments further on the lack of proper study. First of all if you don"t prepare properly then your flock is not being properly fed. They are under nourished. They are hungry, they are not getting what they need to exist, they are trying to operate in the world under prepared.

    Now that gives a little emphasis for the under preparer - or should.

    If there isn"t proper preparation then the preparer is not properly prepared spiritually nor physically for the task at hand. He will not be in a proper frame of reference to do the work that God has called him/her to do.

    One further comment on under preparation. There are many that do not know their flock well enough to prepare properly. Some flocks contain new and old believers, people that need milk while others needing meat. The pastor/teacher that feeds everyone milk fails, and one that feeds everyone meat fails. Again, a balance is required.

    It is like it is assumed that if there is a person that needs milk, then all will be fed milk. This under nourishes the rest of the flock and should definitely be avoided.

    Just another comment or two on study - some of the terms used to describe this word in the lexicons are endeavor, labor, diligence, and exert - not just a quick look, not just a surface scan and most certainly not a fifteen minute preparation for a half hour sermon or study.

    A workman - sounds like we are expected to work. What are the characteristics of a workman? Even today.

    Following directions.

    Doing the work for others.

    Labor intensive.


    Rewardless quite often.

    Drudgery - boring - day in day our - same - o - same - o.

    These qualities may well relate to that study and approval aspect.

    "Need not be ashamed." What a position to be in - to be standing before the Lord and feel shame for that which was done or not done in this life.

    I can"t think of a worse scenario for the believer to find himself in. God is the most important part of our lives and to say we serve Him, while not doing our best in His calling will most certainly cause shame. There will be no excuse - no reason for being too busy that will suffice.

    "Rightly dividing the word of truth." This gets back to the original thought of study. You can"t rightly divide the Word if you haven"t studied and prepared.

    Can you imagine the chaos I would cause at the local Safeway grocery store if I were to get a job in the butcher's department - I know nothing about cutting up an animal other than that I might need a knife and a saw. How dare people attempt to rightly divide the Word of God without some study, some preparation?

    What does it mean to divide the Word? Some might suggest the division into dispensations - some might suggest the division into covenants etc. but I think there is something else that we need to look at.

    It is looking into the text and discovering what it says and what it means. There is the element of dividing truth from falsehood as well. Many have given interpretation of the Word, but not all is truth. Dividing out the false before delivering it to the people is imperative.

    I might add that divide does not allow for the concept of stir in. Many stir in things that ought not to be within the confines of a Biblical study. Giving credence to anything that is not clearly taught in Scripture is not dividing, it is multiplying.

    Barnes adds a thought that is worth bringing up. He relates dividing as in division of correct proportions to each member under his care. Giving food to each person as they have need. He mentions that some commentators relate this to the division of the sacrifices of the Old Testament into the correct portions.

    This should put a lot of weight on the pastors/teachers of our churches!

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    Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:15". "Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books". https:

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