Q. Hi Jack, enjoy your website. What is rightly dividing the word of truth? I’ve heard it said its just keeping Paul’s letters separate from the rest of the bible and I can see that as far as our being saved by grace thru faith. After that there’s a lot of good things to put our faith to work on in the other books but how do you divide them? Thanks
A. The phrase “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth” comes from 2 Timothy 2:15 and is Paul’s admonition to Timothy to keep the believers entrusted to him from taking Scripture out of context and from quarreling among themselves about the meanings of individual words.
Probably the most famous use of this phrase was by C.I. Scofield who titled his monumental book on dispensationalism by that name in 1896. Dispensationalists believe that God’s word can by divided into seven distinct eras (dispensations) that explain the differences in the way He’s dealt with us through the ages. We are currently in the Dispensation of Grace, for example. Here’s a link to a brief explanation of the dispensations.
I’m not familiar with any legitimate use of this verse to justify distinguishing Paul’s writings from the rest of Scripture. In fact Paul asserted that he had taught “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) when preaching among the Gentiles. He was defending himself against claims by “Judaizers” that he was giving Gentiles a watered down version of the Gospel, and that he should have been bringing them under the Old Testament Law before admitting them into Christianity. Paul’s position was officially supported by church leaders.(Acts 15)
But that hasn’t stopped people over the centuries from incorrectly teaching that God’s grace is not really sufficient, and that there’s work required of us to either gain or keep our salvation.