Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth


The Word of God is important in our lives and must be studied correctly,  our souls depend on it.  Here is a lesson I taught a few years ago on “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth”.


Isa 28:9       Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk……….

Isa 28:10     For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

John 5:39    Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

2 Tim 2:15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.



Divide:           1 a : to separate into two or more parts, areas, or groups <divide the city into wards> b : to separate into classes, categories, or divisions <divide history into epochs> c : cleave, part <a ship dividing the waves>
2 a : to separate into portions and give out in shares

Ever divide something?  We all have.

Split a sandwich…. You cut, I get to choose the first piece.  Notice how evenly divided it is?

Often the Bible says one thing by saying another.  This is the case in 2 Tim 2:15.  Paul admonishes us to study the word of God and divide it correctly.  By saying this, he is also saying there are those that divide (or interpret) it incorrectly.

“Study”:                    to use speed, that is, to make effort, be prompt or earnest: – do (give) diligence, be diligent (forward), endeavour, labour, study

“Rightly dividing”     comes form a Greek phrase which means: to make a straight cut, that is, (figuratively) to dissect (expound) correctly (the divine message): – rightly divide

Why “divide” the Word of God?   The Bible contains 66 books, 1189 chapters, 31,103 verses and 788,280 words.  That’s a lot to lean and study.  This can be a “heavy load”.  Often we divide work to make a task easier.  We can do the same with the Word of God.  Don’t study it all at once, but a part at a time.  Study a verse, or a chapter or a topic.

When we study the word of God, we must be careful to do it correctly.  Why?  Because our souls and the souls of others depend on it (John 5:39)

We must all be ever learning, that is, growing in knowledge, pressing forward in our knowledge of Christ.  But we must not be unstable, following every new notion, under the pretense of advancement in knowledge.  People like this never come to a right understanding of the truth of Christ.

(2Ti 3:7)  Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

They become so “heavenly” smart they are no “earthly” good.


Divisions of the New Testament

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John:     Biographies of the life of Jesus Christ

  1. Tell of His life and events on earth.
  2. Tell “WHAT” he told the disciples do.


Acts:    History

  1. Tells “HOW” the disciples did “WHAT” Christ told them to do.
  2. This is the only book that describes exactly what the early church did.


Romans-JudeLetters written to “saved” individuals or to Churches; dealing with problems or clarification of doctrine.

Rom 1:7  To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints:

1 Cor 1:2  Unto the church of God which is at Corinth,

Gal 1:2  And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:

Eph 1:1  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, …

1 Tim 1:2  Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith:

Titus 1:4  To Titus, mine own son after the common faith:

1 Pet 1:1  Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

1 Pet 1:2  Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, …


There is NO recorded instance where an epistle was written to an un-saved person or group of people.  How can we use these book as the “plan of salvation”, if the people were already saved?


Revelation:      Prophesy

  1. Talks about past events
  2. Talks about future events.
  3. Is a companion book to Daniel
  4. Uses a lot of metaphors.  (a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them)

The divisions here were similar to when we built the Sunday school addition.

  • A few years ago Bro. Johnston and the leadership got together and said “We need more Sunday school room space”.  They talked about it, studied and planed it.  They came up with “WHAT” was to be done.  “We need 3 class rooms, a Nursery, a couple of bathrooms, an office, some storage area, and, if possible, a place for evangelists to stay.”  This is what was done in the Gospels.  Christ told the disciples “WHAT” was to be done.
  • The plan was given to Bro. Sauters.  He, along with Bro. Pettit and Bro Johnston and a few others came up with the actual design.  “Let’s build a 26×72’ addition, 3 rooms 15×20,  a nursery 15×15’, an office 12×20, 2 bathrooms, 1 in the office, one next to the nursery, a 5’ wide hallway, etc.  (Get the picture?).  We had to decide how to frame it, wire it, plumb it and finish it.  Each of these phases involved the expertise of different people.  All did their work in their particular way, but it had to fit the “Plan”.  This was “HOW” the addition was built.  The book of ACTS is “HOW” the disciples implemented the plan that Christ left them.  Their implementation was the pattern that was to be followed generation after generation.
  • Now we all talk about how nice the addition looks.  “Geeee, your office look great, I love the border”.  ‘Did you see the paintings Sis. Marie did”.  “I wonder when they are going to put up the last piece of baseboard in the pre-teen class?”  “Looks like the nursery is already too small.”

We all see different things and say things differently when seeing the same thing, but we are all talking “ABOUT” what has already been done.  The epistles are like this.  They are saying things “ABOUT” what was already accomplished.

So, how do we “Rightly Divide the Word of Truth”?


1.  One scripture cannot contradict another.

GAL 6:2      Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

GAL 6:5      For every man shall bear his own burden.

Even though these two verses appear to contradict each other, careful studying shows the following:

The first verse refers to excessive burdens that we share with one another; the second verse refers to the normal amount of care that each of us can carry on our own. It is not reflected by the KJV, but the Greek word translated “burden” in 6:2 (baros) is different from the one in 6:5 (phortion). The first refers to heavy loads that are difficult to carry; the second refers to anything that is carried, with no connotation of difficulty. The latter is the same word used in Matt. 11:30, where Jesus says that His “burden” is light.


2.  Cannot be taken out of context.

(Mar 16:18)  They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Some say this justifies handling snakes and drinking poison during a church service.  The correct context is talking about the protection that God will give to his people “IF” they should come in contact with danger.

This was shown in Acts

(Act 28:3)  And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid [them] on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.

(Act 28:4)  And when the barbarians saw the [venomous] beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.

(Act 28:5)  And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.

(Act 28:6)  Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.


3.  Cannot contradict a “general” theme of the bible.

Eph 5:26  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,.

Some say water baptism is not required, but the “word” baptizes.

Here the misinterpretation of this scripture is contradictory to many other scriptures.  The writer was talking about the cleansing power of the word of God to the church.  The general theme in the Bible is “water” baptism

Acts 1:5  For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

John 3:23  And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

Acts 8:36  And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

Acts 10:47  Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

1 Pet 3:20  Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

1 Pet 3:21  The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:


4.  Don’t interpret scripture to “fit” a man made tradition.

The Bible warns of this in:

Col 2:8  Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

 Some say “It doesn’t matter what you say when you baptize someone or how you do it.”  And they use scripture to “prove” it.


What did Christ say about baptizing?

Mat 28:19  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

This is the “WHAT”, the Great Commission.

In Acts, Peter preached the first sermon and stated:

Act 2:38  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

This was “HOW” it was to be done.

You may say “What gives Peter the authority to change Christ’s commandment?”

Mat 16:19  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Peter was given the authority to do what was necessary to perform the task he was told.  Christ was saying “Peter, you know what to do and how to do it, now GO!”  Peter walked and talked with Christ.  He was part of the “inner circle”.  He had first hand knowledge of what Christ expected.

On Jan 31, 2001  the congregation of this Church said:  “Pave the parking lot, build Sunday School rooms, re-do the fellowship hall”.  At our annual business meeting, this was a statement of “WHAT” was to be done.

Then Bro. Johnston said:  “Bro. Sauters, you are in charge of construction.  You know “WHAT” is to be done, and you have knowledge of “HOW” to do it.  Now get busy!”

Peter was given a plan; one he had to follow.  Bro. Sauters was given a plan; one he had to follow.

We may not always “agree” with the plan or the one in charge, but we must follow it anyway.

Just because we do not agree with a plan, that does not give us the authority to change it.

What did the early Church do:

Day of Pentecost

Act 2:41  Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls.


Act 8:5  Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them

Act 8:12  But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Act 8:16  (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)


Act 10:44  While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

Act 10:45  And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Act 10:46  For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

Act 10:47  Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

Act 10:48  And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.


In closing

Man did not like this plan, so he changed it.  (I’ve taught on this subject before).  The Bible warns of this:

Col 2:8  Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

One may say “What difference does it make?”  The difference is your soul is at stake.  We are warned:

Rev 22:18  For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

The devil has caused many to be deceived.  We must:

2 Tim 2:15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad to be in the minority and follow the Word of God, not the traditions of a man!