Rightly Dividing "rightly dividing" Reclaiming 2nd Timothy 2:18 from Dispensationalism Ever since Scofield's special and limited use of 2 Timothy 2:18 a trend has been set in interpreting that phrase "rightly dividing" in an eschatological and dispensational sense. Scofield says this in the beginning of his tract "Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth": "In 2 Timothy 15 [the Bible student] is told what is required of him as a workman: "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." "The Word of truth, then, has right divisions, and it must be evident that, as one cannot be "a workman that needeth not to be ashamed" without observing them, so any study of that Word which ignores those divisions must be in large measure profitless and confusing. Many Christians freely confess that they find the study of the Bible weary work. More find it so, who are ashamed to make the confession." "The purpose of this pamphlet is to indicate the more important divisions of the Word of truth...." For Scofield, "dividing" leads to "divisions" and that translates, we are told, into dividing the Word of God into it's proper sections and time periods. But 2 Timothy 2:18 is not about divisions at all. The more accurate handling of the word "orthotomeo" would be either "handling accurately" or "cutting straight" the Word of Truth. Jamieson, Faussett & Brown is real helpful here in putting the verse back into its proper setting: " rightly dividing - "rightly handling" [Vulgate]; "rightly administering" [ALFORD]; literally, cutting "straight" or "right": the metaphor being from a father or a steward (1 Corinthians 4:1) cutting and distributing bread among his children [VITRINGA and CALVIN], (Luke 12:42). The Septuagint, Proverbs 3:6 11:5, use it of "making one's way": so BENGEL here takes Paul to mean that Timothy may make ready a straight way for "the word of truth," and may himself walk straight forward according to this line, turning neither to the right nor to the left, "teaching no other doctrine" (1 Timothy 1:3). The same image of a way appears in the Greek for "increase" (see on 2 Timothy 2:16). The opposite to "rightly handling," or "dispensing," is, 2 Corinthians 2:17, "corrupt the word of God."" So what is the point of all this? Scofield, Larkin and those who follow their lead, consciously or not, are guilty of obscuring the true meaning of this verse in order to buttress a system, just because "dividing" is conveniently used in the KJV of this verse. Do a search on "rightly dividing" on the Net and you will find that the majority of pages understand the phrase to refer exclusively to dispensationalism. Typical among the web pages is this: "Christians need to know which scriptures apply to them, and which do not. The Apostle Paul expected Christians to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15)." But read the whole Timothy passage and you will see that this is not what Paul was talking about. The issue was about being either a sincere or false handler of the Word of God, not being Dispensationalist or not. "handling the truth accurately" means not handling it like a charlatan (as in 2 Cor. 2:17) or in a display of worldly wisdom (verse 14), but being straightforward in the presentation of it. A sincere speaking of the Word from unfeigned hearts (2 Cor. 4.ff). According to the Bible, those who do not handle the Word are not non-dispensationalists, they are false teachers and, if they persist unrepentantly on this course, in danger of being reprobates, wresting the Word of God to their own destruction and to that of others as well. "Orthotomeo" may mean: 1." Cutting straight" paths for the truth. In this case it would line up with John the Baptist's "Make straight the paths of the Lord". The idea being that we ourselves need to be straightforward and upright, since we are bearers of the perfect Word. If this is the meaning, Paul may have been thinking of his tentmaking trade, where fabric sections must be cut straight in order to be fitted together. The different passages of the Bible must be handled accurately to understood the whole counsel. 2. It may have a dispensational meaning (though not in the modern sense) of a steward dispensing, bringing out of his treasury of the Word of God instruction that is fitting to the purpose and need of the moment. Matt.13:51- 52: "Jesus said unto them, Have you understood all these things? They say unto him, Yes, Lord. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which brings forth out of his treasure things new and old." (See also Luke 12:42) These are possible meanings of the Greek word "orthotomeo". The modern dispensational co-opting of the term - and the verse - is not feasible. It is a means of accounting for a system that is not found in Scripture. But let's end on a positive note. After careful study of this word "orthotomeo" we can discover, ironically to some, that it is not at all about division, but about unity! A proper understanding of this concept leads us to see the unified Word of God, and the unified people of God - Jew and gentile - enjoying the same blessings of eternal life from our one God.