By Akin Ojumu

Scratching the surface is what most Christians do when it comes to the Bible. Significantly few Believers take the time to plumb the depths of the Holy Book to discover the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God in its pages. Because the average Christian knows so little of Scripture, his Christian life is marked by superficiality of worship and frivolity of devotion.

The erroneous teachings that have become so commonplace in the Church today are a direct result of the mediocrity in the sophistry of Scripture. Failing to appreciate the intricacies of the language, grammatical construct, and idioms of the Bible, many interpret what they read to fit a predetermined narrative. It’s this lack of recognition of the complexity of the Bible that causes Believers to resort to wacky mysticism and errant esotericism to explain what they read.

Because modern-day readers are insufficiently sophisticated in the subtleties of the morphology, syntax, phonetics, and semantics of the Hebrew and Greek language, they often make the egregious mistake of reading Scripture with contemporary lens instead of looking at it from the viewpoint of its original recipients. As a result, the contextual meaning of the texts being read is completely lost on the reader.

Take for instance 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.”

This is a rather familiar Bible verse to many Christians. While it’s true that many understand the meaning of this verse, not a whole lot of people know what many of the actual Greek words meant to Timothy to whom the letter was written. 

Let’s examine them, shall we.

Study to...
The word translated “Study” is the Greek word, Spoudazō. It means to give diligence, to give maximum effort, to give persistent zeal, to do your best, to be eager. Spoudazō is a reference to someone who exert himself on a task. It’s the laboring and toiling an individual puts into a particular mission.

Shew thyself...
This Greek word for “Show Thyself” is the word Paristēmi. This is a compound word, (para –alongside; histemi – stand). This is the Greek word from which we derived the word parallel. Paristēmi means to stand alongside someone or something.

Approved unto...
The word “Approved” is the Greek word Dokimos. It means proven to be worthy after testing. Literally, the word Dokimos is used to describe the quality of coins and metals with respect to whether they are genuine or counterfeit. It refers to something that stood the test; tested to be trustworthy; of sterling worth, like metal which is cleansed of all alloys. Dokimos describes the successful testing of precious metals and coins, as well as the approval of the tested objects as genuine.

There’s actually a historical tidbit about Dokimos that I found in the Blue Letter Bible.

In the ancient world there was no banking system as we know it today, and no paper money. All money was made from metal, heated until liquid, poured into molds and allowed to cool. When the coins were cooled, it was necessary to smooth off the uneven edges. The coins were comparatively soft, and of course many people shaved them closely. In one century, more than eighty laws were passed in Athens to stop the practice of whittling down the coins then in circulation. 

But some moneychangers were men of integrity, who would accept no counterfeit money; they were men of honor who put only genuine, full-weight money into circulation. Such men were called Dokimos, and this word is used here for the Christian as he is to be seen by the world.

A Workman...
The word “Workman” is the Greek word Ergatēn. It refers to a hardworking laborer, a hard worker.

Rightly dividing...
The Greek word is Orthotomeō which, in literal Greek, means “to cut straight.” It’s a compound word (orthos – straight; temno – to cut) used for any kind of straight line that had to fit together with something else. For example, cutting a straight line with a saw in carpentry, cutting a straight edge on a stone in building construction, cutting hides on a straight line to piece them together in tentmaking.

Put together, the message Apostle Paul was communicating to Timothy becomes pretty clear. In this verse, Paul was encouraging Timothy to make maximum effort (Study) so that he may someday stand alongside (Shew Thyself) the holy presence of God unashamed because he has proven himself to be worthy (Approved) by cutting a straight a line (Rightly Dividing) through the Word of God.

As a deluge of errors and false teachings sweep the Church, Paul charged Timothy not to allow himself to get drowned out by the false teachers and pretenders. He enjoined him to distinguish himself by diligently handling the Word of God accurately and correctly.

Paul warned him of the consequence of mishandling God’s Truth. Shame, disgrace, and ruin will be visited upon all those who make the Word of God crooked.


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