Keys to Understanding the Scriptures Rightly Dividing the Word
(2 Tim 2:15 NKJV) Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
The apostle's admonition to "rightly" divide the word of truth indicates the option to wrongly divide the word. We must constantly strive to be "careful how" we hear when reading the words of God. Obviously, we must understand and remember that "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable" [2 Tim 3:16, 17 NKJV].
Spirit, Soul and Body
Beyond this fundamental realization we must also know that every word is important, it is there for a reason. Also, every word not included is not included for a reason. We must therefore take special notice whenever the writers make a point of mentioning something specific as in the following verse:
(1 Th 5:23 NKJV)Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Clearly there is a reason for defining this list of the parts of the human whole in such specific detail. Here the apostle is making clear the difference between the parts and we must begin to search the scriptures for the reason why. Keeping these parts in their proper place and relationship when reading the scriptures gives us a remarkable tool in avoiding much of the confusion which has caused division and much harm in the body of Christ. (See the article: Spirit, Soul and Body on this site for a more complete discussion of this crucial teaching.)
Jews, Gentiles or the Church of God
Another vital revelation from the apostles is the concept which the early Church struggled to understand and which the Church today still misconstrues because we have not listened to the clear writing of the apostles.
From the very beginning of the creation, God in His infinite wisdom established His plan for the salvation of mankind through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ. He chose a special group and bloodline to bring to fruition the revelation and teaching of salvation to the world. Thus He divided the people of Earth into two distinct groups. The Bible is the inspired record of how God deals with each group. In the following verse we see this clear and unmistakable list of vital importance.
(1 Cor 10:32 NKJV) Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God,
In the verse above we see clearly specified three groups of human beings as God has chosen to deal with them. After Jesus was raised from the dead an entirely new class of human came into existence, the born again disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. This completely unique group comprises the new covenant Church. Notice the following verse: (Gal 3:28 KJV) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
This group in Christ Jesus is distinct from the Jews as a nation and the non-Jewish nations or gentiles. It is vital that we distinguish between these groups when reading throughout the Bible as this revelation changes dramatically our understanding of many verses which have been misapplied for many years. (See the article: "Jews, Gentiles and the Church of God" on this site for a more complete discussion of this crucial teaching.)
Saints or Saints?
Another key is the correct application and understanding of the term "saints" as used in both the Old and New Testaments. The word "saint" simply and always means "set apart one" or "holy one". This applies to the chosen people of God, the Jews in the Old Testament. It also applies, but differently, to the born again believers comprising the new covenant Church of the New Testament. Most prophecies in the Old Testament and many of Jesus' statements to the disciples in the gospels and the Revelation, must be reevaluated in light of this distinction between the chosen people of God, the Jews, as "saints" and the "saints" in the Church of the New Testament.
The last key to rightly dividing the Word of God is to clearly establish and believe who we are when we have been born from above of the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must clearly understand our identification with Christ in His suffering, death and resurrection. In the apostolic writings of Paul to the Ephesians, Galatians and Colossians we see the phrases "in Him", "in Whom", "in Christ" and begin to realize the awesome relationship He has established with those who are His. Reading these letters and noting every place where such identifying phrases are used will show us unmistakable proof of the profound change that has taken place in every believer and the astounding authority, and responsibility, we have in this most precious of all relationships. (For more information on this vital subject see "Foundation Studies in Faith on this site.)
While this is by no means exhaustive, this list of keys to understanding Scripture can help every believer avoid confusion and the temptation to blindly follow the teaching of men instead of the clear and open revelation of those who wrote "as they were moved by the Holy Ghost".
(2 Pet 1:20, 21 KJV) Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
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