Divisions in Scripture

Twisted

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The Bible is the greatest book ever written! When properly studied, it can enable a sincere believer to “grow” spiritually (1 Pet. 2:2), be grounded in the faith (Rom. 16:25), gain victory over sin (Psa. 119:11), and be thoroughly “furnished” with all that is needed to become “perfect” (or spiritually complete and mature) in our daily walk (2 Tim. 3:16,17). No other book in the world can legitimately make such a claim or produce these results. Unfortunately, many believers do NOT know how to study the Bible in a way that will reap these kinds of blessings. The key that unlocks the truths of God’s Word is in understanding a consistent method of Bible study that God Himself emphasizes in 2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, RIGHTLY DIVIDING the Word of truth.” In this lesson, we will explore together the proof, importance, location, and identification of these divisions in Scripture.

Understanding Divisions Exist in Scripture

Recognizing divisions in Scripture is the key to understanding the Bible. The Bible is “The Word of Truth;” but unless it is rightly divided, we will not get accurate “truth” from its pages, and we will only get “truth” in direct proportion to how well we rightly divide it.

“Dividing” means to cut straight. To cut something naturally divides or separates it from what it was attached to. We can picture cutting a loaf of bread into several sections. What we divided off was certainly part of the whole loaf, but it can best serve the one who uses it if it is divided into various sizes and sections.

So it is with Scripture. God emphasizes the need to divide Scripture in 2 Timothy 2:15 if it is to best serve the purpose that He intends. So doing does NOT make any portion of Scripture less a part of the whole Bible, it simply makes it more useful. Since God is the one telling us to divide Scripture, He does not intend for us to use it as a whole, without divisions. God never intended for us to attempt to use His Word as one uninterrupted set of instructions for man without recognizing how divisions in His Word affect His instructions. The Scriptures are not a hodge-podge of stories, or information randomly put together. Nor is it like a novel with one continuous flow about the same people. Instead, God’s Word is divided into sections about different people, under different programs of divine instruction, at different times.

There is great order in God’s Word if we recognize key divisions. Those who fail to recognize these divisions cannot help being inconsistent in what they choose to obey and confused about what God expects of them. As we’ll see, each division in Scripture has important distinctions from the rest, which greatly affect our understanding and application. As H. I. Brown illustrated, recognizing these divisions is “like the multiplication tables; once learned, you use them daily” in your understanding of God’s Word.

However, as described in 2 Timothy 2:15, if we fail to rightly divide God’s Word, we’ll have reason to be ashamed. We’ll be “ashamed” before Him for our ignorance, wrong application, foolish practices, wasted efforts, stubbornness, and perhaps much more. Our goal as students of Scripture must be to be found “approved” of Him in how we handle this precious Book He’s entrusted to our care. To please God in this way will require each of us to become a “workman” (one who expends some effort to understand God’s Word) and to “study” (or be diligent and consistent in this approach) “to show [ourselves] approved unto God.”

The Bible gives these divisions a unique name; they’re called “dispensations.” Our English Bible uses the word “dispensation” four times: 1 Corinthians 9:17, Ephesians 1:10 and 3:2, and Colossians 1:25. Elsewhere in our New Testament, the same basic Greek word is translated “steward” in the Authorized King James Version. Literally the word “dispensation” means house management, an administration, or a steward, describing the way one would direct the affairs of his house. The word “steward” refers to a manager or administrator who was responsible for a household (i.e. Joseph in Genesis).

In our modern experience, we can comprehend the idea of a hospital administrator being responsible for how the hospital will be operated. We can also relate to a pharmacy dispensing or giving out prescriptions to different individuals. The pharmacy dispenses only as directed by the doctor, and it is governed by clear and ever updated regulations. Those receiving the prescriptions specifically intended for them are expected to carefully follow their directions without attempting to combine them with what was intended for someone else.

God has a very similar meaning for these words (dispensation and steward) as He uses them in Scripture. They reveal how God has managed the household of mankind in different ways throughout history, based on the specific instructions He dispensed to specific individuals or groups. 2 Timothy 2:15 is emphasizing that we’ll not need to be ashamed before God when we’re able to discern these divisions and instructions in His Word.

PASTOR JOHN FREDERICKSEN
 

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Before I jump in this discussion, I will watch the responses. (Meeting with cancer doc and traveling 8 hours anyways)
 

tmjbog

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The Bible is the greatest book ever written! When properly studied, it can enable a sincere believer to “grow” spiritually (1 Pet. 2:2), be grounded in the faith (Rom. 16:25), gain victory over sin (Psa. 119:11), and be thoroughly “furnished” with all that is needed to become “perfect” (or spiritually complete and mature) in our daily walk (2 Tim. 3:16,17). No other book in the world can legitimately make such a claim or produce these results. Unfortunately, many believers do NOT know how to study the Bible in a way that will reap these kinds of blessings. The key that unlocks the truths of God’s Word is in understanding a consistent method of Bible study that God Himself emphasizes in 2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, RIGHTLY DIVIDING the Word of truth.” In this lesson, we will explore together the proof, importance, location, and identification of these divisions in Scripture.

Understanding Divisions Exist in Scripture

Recognizing divisions in Scripture is the key to understanding the Bible. The Bible is “The Word of Truth;” but unless it is rightly divided, we will not get accurate “truth” from its pages, and we will only get “truth” in direct proportion to how well we rightly divide it.

“Dividing” means to cut straight. To cut something naturally divides or separates it from what it was attached to. We can picture cutting a loaf of bread into several sections. What we divided off was certainly part of the whole loaf, but it can best serve the one who uses it if it is divided into various sizes and sections.

So it is with Scripture. God emphasizes the need to divide Scripture in 2 Timothy 2:15 if it is to best serve the purpose that He intends. So doing does NOT make any portion of Scripture less a part of the whole Bible, it simply makes it more useful. Since God is the one telling us to divide Scripture, He does not intend for us to use it as a whole, without divisions. God never intended for us to attempt to use His Word as one uninterrupted set of instructions for man without recognizing how divisions in His Word affect His instructions. The Scriptures are not a hodge-podge of stories, or information randomly put together. Nor is it like a novel with one continuous flow about the same people. Instead, God’s Word is divided into sections about different people, under different programs of divine instruction, at different times.

There is great order in God’s Word if we recognize key divisions. Those who fail to recognize these divisions cannot help being inconsistent in what they choose to obey and confused about what God expects of them. As we’ll see, each division in Scripture has important distinctions from the rest, which greatly affect our understanding and application. As H. I. Brown illustrated, recognizing these divisions is “like the multiplication tables; once learned, you use them daily” in your understanding of God’s Word.

However, as described in 2 Timothy 2:15, if we fail to rightly divide God’s Word, we’ll have reason to be ashamed. We’ll be “ashamed” before Him for our ignorance, wrong application, foolish practices, wasted efforts, stubbornness, and perhaps much more. Our goal as students of Scripture must be to be found “approved” of Him in how we handle this precious Book He’s entrusted to our care. To please God in this way will require each of us to become a “workman” (one who expends some effort to understand God’s Word) and to “study” (or be diligent and consistent in this approach) “to show [ourselves] approved unto God.”

The Bible gives these divisions a unique name; they’re called “dispensations.” Our English Bible uses the word “dispensation” four times: 1 Corinthians 9:17, Ephesians 1:10 and 3:2, and Colossians 1:25. Elsewhere in our New Testament, the same basic Greek word is translated “steward” in the Authorized King James Version. Literally the word “dispensation” means house management, an administration, or a steward, describing the way one would direct the affairs of his house. The word “steward” refers to a manager or administrator who was responsible for a household (i.e. Joseph in Genesis).

In our modern experience, we can comprehend the idea of a hospital administrator being responsible for how the hospital will be operated. We can also relate to a pharmacy dispensing or giving out prescriptions to different individuals. The pharmacy dispenses only as directed by the doctor, and it is governed by clear and ever updated regulations. Those receiving the prescriptions specifically intended for them are expected to carefully follow their directions without attempting to combine them with what was intended for someone else.

God has a very similar meaning for these words (dispensation and steward) as He uses them in Scripture. They reveal how God has managed the household of mankind in different ways throughout history, based on the specific instructions He dispensed to specific individuals or groups. 2 Timothy 2:15 is emphasizing that we’ll not need to be ashamed before God when we’re able to discern these divisions and instructions in His Word.

PASTOR JOHN FREDERICKSEN
The dividing seems to be more about precision (straightness of the lines) than about dividing. If you are looking for a verse to support dispensations I think this is a weak one. If you believe it is about dispensations, then why are the most important details left out? The number of dispensations, the timing, how you'll know difference from one to the next. I could see many different groups being able to read their own interpretations into this. A Calvinist might say this is proof Scripture is meant to be divided into 5 primary points. A non disp. might say it means division of OT and NT. The flow of the passage does not appear to be referencing dispensations but truth vs. error. Rightly dividing the Word in vs. 15 set against following the vane babblings of vs. 16.
 

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Isn’t it ironic that the verse is all about the accuracy of teaching Scripture and they twist the meaning of this verse?

This article represents a older dispensational viewpoint. While I agree that revelation is progressive and new covenants are established in Scripture, it is wrong to view these as divisions like boxes neatly packaged.

There are commands and promises given in the Garden that still apply to 2020 people.
 
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Ransom

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“Dividing” means to cut straight.
The image is something like a skilled farmer ploughing straight furrows in the field. An irresponsible, careless farmer can't keep control of the plough; his furrows are crooked.

In other words, the approved workman treats the Word of God accurately, skillfully, responsibly, and carefully. Sure, he will find right divisions in the Scriptures. There's one between Genesis and Exodus, for example, and another between Exodus and Leviticus, and so forth. He won't find them where God never intended them.
 

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There is the Old Covenant and New Covenant... but NOT six gospels.
 

treasure_unseen

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The image is something like a skilled farmer ploughing straight furrows in the field. An irresponsible, careless farmer can't keep control of the plough; his furrows are crooked.

In other words, the approved workman treats the Word of God accurately, skillfully, responsibly, and carefully. Sure, he will find right divisions in the Scriptures. There's one between Genesis and Exodus, for example, and another between Exodus and Leviticus, and so forth. He won't find them where God never intended them.
The Greek source presents a whole that is broken into parts that should be rightly dissected. A good analogy would be to use Paul's appeal to the church body being made up of many members. It is important to cut right on the line between those parts/members so as to rightly recognize each parts function and place. It certainly doesn't mean to fit the Scriptures into man made divisions such as happens with various flavors of dispensationalism.
 
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