So, this week, I’ve attempted to “study” 2 Timothy 2:15 in order to show that Paul did not exhort Timothy to “study the Bible” in that passage. Of course, the very exercise that I undertook shows that I think that the study of Scripture is extremely profitable and important. My blog series was not an attempt to dissuade anyone from studying, but instead to point out that Paul had a different point in mind when he penned 2 Timothy 2:15 to his young apostolic co-worker Timothy.
I’m glad that Dave Black caught my point and wrote about it this morning on his blog (Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 9:38 a.m.). This is what he wrote:
Seems that the “study” in “Study to show yourself approved unto God” is a mistranslation. My thoughts, for what they’re worth…
The Christian faith is unapologetically intellectual. But 2 Tim. 2:15 is not the right place to go for proof of this. Not that Christians shouldn’t study. Augustine once wrote, “Everything that is believed is believed after being preceded by thought.” In all of my publications I have tried to show the indispensability of sound logic to Christian living. Christian thinking is anchored in the Scriptures — hence the necessity of knowing the biblical languages. From the beginning of the Reformation, the church has nurtured an active intellectual life. I reference Alan’s post not simply to show how easily we are misled by translations. (We’ve all had that happen. Growing up in Hawaii I recall making sure to slurp the last drop of grape juice during communion. After all, had not the Savior commanded, “Drink ye all of it”?) My purpose is to remind us just how commonplace misunderstandings can be. The threat is a grave one. It is grave in that we sometimes have those leading our churches whose ability to deal honestly with the biblical texts is obviously in question. Again, to quote Augustine, “Treat the Scripture of God as the face of God.” The more profoundly one understands Scripture the more deeply one relates to its Author and great Subject. And vice versa.
I think that for all of us, there are those passages of Scripture that we simply know what they mean without thinking about them… they’re obvious… we’ve understood them our whole life…
And, perhaps, that is the very passage of Scripture that we should study…
But, never see study as the goal… study does not make us approved by God… study does not make us an unashamed worker… study does not indicate that we are “rightly handling/dividing the word of truth.”
Instead, while we’re studying, let’s remember Paul’s exhortation to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15… no, not an exhortation to study the Bible… but an exhortation to continue living by the “word of truth,” the gospel, because we are an approved person and an unashamed worker.
By the way, one of the things that I’ve appreciated about Dave Black as I’ve known him the last few years is that he’s a great example of this… both him and his wife. Yes, they study the Scriptures relentlessly and carefully… but they also live the gospel with their students, friends, neighbors, and strangers.
Series on 2 Timothy 2:15
- Study to show thyself approved unto God?
- Did Paul tell Timothy to “study” in 2 Timothy 2:15?
- In 2 Timothy 2:15, what does Paul mean by “word of truth”?
- What did Paul mean by “rightly dividing the word of truth” in 2 Timothy 2:15?
- 2 Timothy 2:15 – Putting it all together