"In truth thou canst not read the Scriptures too much; And what thou readest, thou canst not read too well; And what thou readest well, thou canst not too well understand; And what thou understandest well, thou canst not too well teach; And what thou teachest well, thou canst not too well live." ALL SCRIPTURE is inspired by God, and is beneficial for teaching, for exposure, for discipline (training) in righteousness, that the man of God may be equipped, fitted out for every good act (2 Tim. 3:16,17). Paul in his last letter to Timothy was girding his child in the faith for the duties which would devolve upon him after Paul's decease. Timothy was to hold fast the form of sound words which he had heard from Paul (1:13) ; he was to see to it that men who were competent to teach others, would also have these truths committed to them (2:2); and he was to endeavor to present himself to God an unashamed, qualified worker, correctly cutting the word of truth (2:15).
The admonition to "rightly divide" tells him what we all need to know and to do with the sound expressions presented to us by Paul. Its purpose is to forestall the "Wrongly divided" word as we see it in the example Paul gives us, when men would swerve or err concerning resurrection truth, putting resurrection in the past instead of leaving it for the future (2:18). All who swerve as to the truth were with meekness to be instructed, because of the possibility that God would grant those thus instructed repentance to an acknowledging of the truth From which they had deviated (2:25). Those who refused to retain the pattern of sound words, who wrongly divided the word of truth, who evinced no change of mind as to their errors, were referred to as those who are ever learning, yet are never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth (3:7). The two contemporary examples, Hymeneus and Philetus, are here matched by two ancient examples, Jannes and Jambres, who went a studied step further--they resisted the truth (3:8). The record of Moses and Aaron before Pharoah and his magicians in Egypt, and the opposition they encountered by these resisters of the truth may be seen in Exodus chapters seven and eight.
What, then, is the Divine remedy for such a seemingly incurable disease? When men will not tolerate sound teaching, but instead, after their own desires, heap to themselves teachers who will instruct them in unwholesome doctrine, with the result that their hearing is directed away from the truth and turned toward Myths -- what shall the man of God do? To what does he have recourse? This contingency has been provided for by God's wisdom as shown in His order of the day. Preach the Word! Herald the Word! Proclaim the Word! Stand by it whether the occasion seems opportune or inopportune, expose, rebuke, entreat, with all patience and teaching (4:1,2).
In our study, we find that each chapter has its key verse and embodies a remedy for a specific problem. It is Paul in his position as an "apostle" who gives us a "pattern" of sound words (1:13). It is Paul who tells us what an "approved" man must do with the word of truth when he tells us to "partition" it properly (2:15). It is Paul who tells us that when there is "apostasy" prevalent among the people, we should use the "profitable" word (3:16). It is Paul who counsels us, in view of the "appearing" of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we should be "proclaiming" the Word.
For ease of retention in the mind, each word in the groups given below begins with the same letter: apostle, approved, apostasy, appearing; pattern, partition, profitable, proclaim. Our thought may be set off in the following fashion, as an aid for the eye-minded.
postle---------------- attern (1:13)
postasy--------------- rofitable (3:16)
ppearing-------------- roclaim (4: 2)
For times like these God has given us His Word which is God-breathed or God-spirited. Thus, Scripture is inspired by God, and is beneficial not only for salvation (3:15), but also for teaching, for exposure, for correction, for discipline or training in righteousness, that the man of God may be equipped, fitted out for every good act (cf 2 Tim.3:16,17). Even more graphically, the power in the prepositions of Paul is seen if we read as follows: into eis salvation through dia faith which is in en Christ Jesus...toward pros teaching, toward pros exposure, toward pros correction, toward pros training in righteousness...fitted out toward pros every good act.
The tragedy lies just here: the keen edge of the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, has been blunted by man's discordant translations, by his careless interpretations resulting from faulty hermeneutics, and by hearts that are hard and hostile toward Him. The Word is boldly criticised by man, instead of being humbly accepted as the critic of man (Heb.4:12,13; 5:12-14).
Such symptoms as prayerlessness, lack of attendance at worship services and study groups, indifference to the responsibility (response-ability) incurred as believers in God are but outer evidence of an inner disease. The disease itself is the neglect by His sons of the study of His Word. "Concordance" is a word not present in our sick man's vocabulary, a tool not found in his library. Hence there is little careful, prayerful, disciplined, systematic, scientific study of God's Word along scriptural lines: the rules of study laid down in the sacred Scriptures themselves are so often not scrupulously observed.
The pattern of sound words is discarded, texts are divorced from their contexts, scriptures are twisted so that their meaning is distorted, truth is embalmed and error embraced. We have substituted our ways for His ways, our thoughts for His thoughts, our will for His will, our plan for His purpose, our works for His righteousness, our law for His grace, our strident tone for His still small voice, until God's infallible and inspired Word is defaced and mutilated and His truth and teaching become a dilapidated remnant, a mere shadow of the wholesome and beautiful pattern of sound words which they are when not tampered with by man. Neglect of the reading, the studying, the believing of His Word, and behaving accordingly, is the underlying cause of our present distress.
We, as Christians, are weak and sick because, although claiming to possess the new humanity, we have failed to feed on the new man's food, the inspired Word of the living God. We have refused the nourishment God has provided for the inner man, whose food must be that selected for him by God Who has supplied rich vitamins and healthful minerals in the divine diet which He has prescribed. But we, unlike Daniel, prefer the king's dainties -- the sickly-sweet cake of religion -- which does not nourish and strengthen and build as does the healthful, unadulterated Bread of life. The food on which the outer man grows will starve the inner man; conversely the food on which the inner man thrives is not relished by the outer man.
Dare God depend on you for a defense of His Word with the knowledge you now possess? Do you know only what your church teaches, or do you rather know what His Word teaches? Can He trust you with what He has entrusted to you -- His Word? Do you search it? Do you revel in it? Do you love it? Do you defend it? Are you versed in it to the limit of your time and talent and strength? If not, why not? Does your excuse sound like one that will satisfy Him at the bema of Christ? If it does not, wouldn't it be well to do something about it, starting right now?
Suppose you want to quote an example of a misleading blunder in the AV, such as the one found at the end of the second Ephesian prayer (3:21), "...throughout all ages, world without end." Suppose you want to give the literal translation for these words, i.e. "...into all the generations of the eon of the eons," would you be able to explain that in the AV the Greek word for eon aion is rendered by over a dozen different English words? Could you give examples for such discordant renderings (world, without end, eternal, ever, for ever, for ever and ever, etc.)? Would you be in a position to explain that the Greek word for eon is no equivalent for "eternity" and other related terms, and that there are several eons mentioned in God's Word?
Again we ask, are you versed in it to the limit of your time and talent and strength?
The Lord willing, in the next issue we will present some aspects of the biblical doctrine of the eons in such a way that you will be enabled to search His Word for additional evidence which you may use whenever you are called up to defend what God has said.