The Word Drawn Out. Biblical preaching requires diligent, careful exegesis. Paul wrote, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15, NASB). Paul is teaching Timothy how to gain God’s approval in the preaching ministry. As God’s worker, Timothy must diligently dissect the Word.
First, he is to be diligent. The verb, “diligent” (Gk. spoudazon), denotes, to “endeavour, labour,”208 “make every effort,”209 or “zealous effort.”210 He must “be diligent” as a “workman” (Gk. ergaten) or “laborer.” The word refers to “one who works for hire esp. an agricultural worker.”211 The picture here is not that of a successful professional, an inspirational speaker, a lecturer with a PhD, or a highly paid Pastor of a big church. Rather, the image is that of a hard-working laborer in a farm. It is a portrait of a hired hand, but a diligent one. Thus, Timothy is to make every effort, as an industrious worker.
The verb tense here is aorist imperative. This means that Paul is commanding Timothy to make a decisive choice. Timothy must begin to do it now. He is to exert all efforts eagerly as a worker. He must work hard passionately. He is to strive zealously to gain God’s approval.
The term, “approved” (Gk. dokimon), means “accepted, pleasing, acceptable.” It referred to moneychangers in ancient Greece. These moneychangers rejected shaved coins, which had less weight and value. They accepted only full weighted money for circulation. They were men of honor. They came to be called “‘dokimos’ or ‘approved.’”212
Thus, Timothy is to work hard to present himself acceptable to God. Timothy is not in ministry to please people. He is not there to gain their applause. Rather, he is to make every effort to gain the acceptance of God. This is his goal in the ministry.
The preaching profession gains either the approval or disapproval of God. God disapproves useless “fighting about words” (2 Tim. 2:14, BBE). He also dislikes “worldly and empty chatter,” which leads to more ungodliness (2 Tim. 2:16, NASB). He detests straying from sound doctrine (2 Tim. 2:18). He abhors false teaching which undermines the faith of other believers (2 Tim. 2:18). Thus, God does not automatically approve Pastors and preachers. God appointed Saul, but approved David instead. Appointment does not mean approval. Every preacher must seek the approval of God. How then should Timothy gain it? The answer is in how he handles the Word of Truth.
Second, Timothy is to dissect the Word. The phrase, “rightly dividing” (KJV) or “handling accurately” (NASB), is just one word in the Greek—orthotomounta. Its root literally means, “to cut a straight path.”213 Robertson suggests it to mean a metaphor of a tent-maker, like Paul, who cuts straight “the rough camel-hair cloth.”214 Vine explains, “What is intended here is . . . teaching Scripture accurately.”215 It means, “to dissect (expound) correctly (the divine message).”216
The verb tense here is present passive/middle participle.217 The middle/passive voice indicates the subject as doing something to itself. Timothy then is to be diligent, cutting straight the Word himself. It also speaks of continuing action. This action happens at the same time with the main verb. Thus, while constantly expounding accurately the Word, Timothy is to be diligent to get God’s approval.
In these last days, many pastors promote crooked doctrines (2 Tim. 2:16-18). Timothy, however, is to cut a straight path with the Word of Truth continuously. He must dissect the Word diligently. He is to exert every effort to exegete accurately. He is to expound the Word carefully. This is how he will gain God’s approval. In doing so, he will have no reason to be ashamed before God.
Accurate exegesis is hard work. Yet God commands it. He requires it. He approves it. He energizes it with His Spirit (2 Tim. 1:7). He gives understanding to those who carefully study His Word. Paul wrote, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything” (2 Tim. 2:7, ESV).
The sacred writers wrote in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. Hence, preachers cannot just interpret the text according to the English language. The English language does not fully capture the nuances of Hebrew and Greek. We cannot know the true meaning of Scripture, unless we study it in the original. Yet we need not memorize Greek and Hebrew. We should at least learn how to understand it through research tools.218
At the very least, the biblical preacher ought to research the exegesis of Bible scholars. To interpret the Bible alone, apart from the wisdom of godly scholars over the centuries, is to risk making your own heretical conclusions. That practice has produced every wind of doctrine and every kind of sect that we see today. Instead, we can interpret Scripture with the help of the sound exegesis of godly men of the ages. In doing so, we stand taller for Christ, for we stand on the shoulders of giants.219
The primary job of the imperial herald is to make known the decrees of the emperor, and not his own ideas.220 Similarly, the herald of God is not to invent his own message, or read his own opinion into the text. Rather, his task is to bring out the meaning of the text, no more and no less (2 Tim. 2:15). He is to speak only what God has spoken in His Word.221 He is to proclaim the written Word, the text of Scripture.
Further, he is to announce, not just a portion of the Word, but—in the fitting words of James Burton Coffman—“the total message as God gave it.”222 Paul said, “For I did not keep back to declare to you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Guzik wrote, “It is to be the content of his message, it is what must be proclaimed.”223 “Nothing else must be preached.”224
Hence, a preacher that proclaims any other message than the apostolic Gospel is not an evangelical preacher. A church that preaches any other message than the message of the Bible is not a Bible church. A truly Bible-based, Bible teaching church is a church that diligently, accurately, and systematically teaches the Bible. Every Pastor should take the time to really study the Word and prepare biblical sermons. The church should encourage him, and give him plenty of time to do it. Then the Lord will richly bless both Pastor and people.
208 Strong, Strong’s Greek Dictionary in Power Bible CD.
209 The New Testament Greek Lexicon, s. v. “spoudazo” in Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary, in <http://www.studylight.org/lex/grk/browse.cgi?letter=s&sn= 1818&pn+10>.
210 TDNT, s. v. “spoudazo” by G. Harder.
211 The Interlinear Bible. Cited __ Online: <http://www.study.light.org/isb/bible.cgi? query= 2+Tim+2%3A15§ion=0&it=kjv&ot=bhs&nt=na&Enter=Perform+Search.
212 The Interlinear Bible. Cited __ Online: <http://www.study.light.org/isb.
213 TDNT, s. v. “orthotomeo” by H. Koster.
214 Robertson, Robertson’s Word Pictures in Power Bible CD.
215 Vine, Vine’s Complete, 178.
216 Strong, Strong’s Greek Dictionary in Power Bible CD.
217 Zodhiates, The Complete, 703.
218 Greek and Hebrew lexicons, Bible versions, Bible dictionaries, Greek grammar tutorials, and Commentaries are now available free in the internet.
219 Gunn, “Sola Scriptura.” Cited__ Online: http://www.grovergunn.net/andrew/2ti0301.pdf.
220 Isidro, Annotated, 389.
221 Stott, 2 Timothy, 106.
222 James Burton Coffman, “Commentary on 2 Timothy 4,” Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament. Cited__ Online: http://www. studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=2ti&chapter=004.
223 Guzik, “2 Timothy 4,” David Guzik’s Commentaries. Cited__ Online: http://www. studylight.org/com/guz/view.cgi?book=2ti&chapter=004.
224 PNTC in Power Bible CD.