What Did the Apostle Paul Mean by "Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth"?

Updated on August 12, 2018
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Introduction

The phrase “rightly dividing the word of truth” in Timothy 2:15 is unique to the King James translation. It has caused some to believe that we are to take the Word of God and somehow divide or separate passages and or books and determine who or what audience they are intended for. As a result, this verse has become a springboard for a completely different way of reading and applying scripture.

My purpose with this article is to show that this interpretation is actually a classic example of the old adage "A text without a context is a pretext for a proof text". It is a dangerous thing to take a single text from scripture and make a doctrine from it, especially if that passage has been read out of context.

Background of 2 Timothy 2

In this chapter Paul is giving instruction to Timothy on how to continue in the work of the ministry in his absence. He tells Timothy to convey the things that he has learned from him and pass them down to those whom Timothy is ministering to. He tells him to endure, to be a good soldier of Christ, not become entangled with the affairs of this life, to only concern himself with pleasing God and that he will enjoy that which he labors for.

Paul then goes on to say that even though he might be imprisoned like a criminal, that the gospel itself cannot be confined. Paul sates that he is willing to endure all things for the sake of the elect of Christ, that they might obtain salvation.

Paul then sets a wonderful tone by exclaiming the promise that we all have; that if we die to this world and are willing to endure hardships, that we would have eternal life with Christ. Even though we are unfaithful, Christ is faithful and that He cannot deny us if we live in Him.

Paul knew that this was the very essence of faith and of the gospel message, that it is a message that all believers would need to hear and comprehend. The hardships that the church was enduring and was yet to endure would test the faith and resolve of those who believed in Christ.

In verse 14 Paul pleads with Timothy to charge them with these very important aspects of the Christian faith, then Paul gets into an area that he knew would be an issue among believers; the striving and arguing with one another that does not profit or benefit the body of Christ. Paul knew very that this would lead to ruin and dissolution the the hearers of the gospel.

Just think for a moment about the impression that those who are not Christians get of us when they witness us being divisive over trivial words and things. How much pleasure Satan must get when we argue among ourselves over doctrines and words when it is the simple gospel message that the world needs to hear and by which they are saved. If we can not speak to each other with kindness and love, then our faith and testimony will appear to be hypocritical to others. We are commanded to love one another, we are not licensed to berate or be hateful to anyone.

Paul then reminds Timothy of how Hymenaeus and Philetus had strayed from the truth and were teaching falsely that the resurrection had already taken place. Paul encourages Timothy to seek only things that are pure and holy, to be patient and gentle.

Paul’s counsel to Timothy should serve as sound advise to us today as well. As the old saying goes, “it is much easier to attract flies with honey, than vinegar”. Non-believers should be attracted to Christ through our behavior and love, rarely has a person been converted to the faith by the witness of one who does not abide in the spirit of love.

Textual Analysis

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.

Now we get to the crux of this topic. In verse 15 the KJV has Paul telling Timothy to study that he might be approved of by God, a workman (G2040 ergatés) which is a reference back to verses 5 and 6, this word ergatés is elsewhere used as “field workers”, “laborers”, etc., who should not be ashamed, and rightly dividing (G3718 orthotomeō) the word of truth. The Greek word orthotomeō only appears once in the New Testament. The Strong’s Concordance defines it like this:

  1. to cut straight, to cut straight ways A to proceed on straight paths, hold a straight course, equiv. to doing right
  2. to make straight and smooth, to handle aright, to teach the truth directly and correctly

One can only guess why the KJV translators chose the phrase “rightly dividing” instead of “rightly teach” or “cutting straight”, I would suggest that in 1611 “rightly dividing” might have had a different meaning than how we use it today. Given the context of this verse and the surrounding text, I think that it is appropriate that we closely examine the true meaning of this phrase.

Although the word orthotomeō was not used, a similar message was given by John the Baptist when he quoted Isaiah by stating “Make straight the way of the Lord” in John 1:23. John used the word G3588 euthunó, which means:

  1. to make straight, level, plain
  2. to lead or guide straight, to keep straight or direct: A of the steersman or helmsman of a ship B of a charioteer

So, we have two people who are both giving instruction make a clear and straight path. The meanings are identical with the same intention in mind. They are in effect stating that no obstacle should be allowed to get in the way of what is truth.

I would like to attempt to point a few things concerning what is out of context:

  1. The idea of separating or parsing scripture is not in context.
  2. There is no mention of discerning what is prophetic vs what is a mystery, or discerning what is for the church vs what is for the Jews, etc.

  3. When Paul wrote this, the only scripture that could have been parsed would have been what we call the Old Testament, the gospels and epistles did not exist as collective body of work at that time.

  4. If the word orthotomeō truly meant to parse or separate, we should expect to find it, or a word of the same common root when the words divide, divided or dividing are used elsewhere in scripture.

On the fourth point I would like to expound a bit. Let’s look at where derivations of the word divide appear elsewhere in the King James and see what Greek word was used for its transliteration:

Dividing

  • 1 Corinthians 12:11 - G1244 diaireó - def: I divide into parts, cut asunder, distribute. The context of this passage definitely deals with something being separated or parsed, the gifts of the Holy Spirit among the body of Christ.

  • Hebrew 4:12 - G3311 merismos - def: (a) a distributing, a distribution, (b) a parting, dividing, severance, separation. The topic of this passage also deals with separating, the two-edged sword that separates the spirit and soul, joints and marrow.

Divide

  • Luke 12:13 - G3307 merizó - def: I divide into parts, divide, part, share, distribute; mid: I share, take part in a partitioning; I distract. This passage involves the dividing of inheritance.

  • Luke 22:17 - G1266 diamerizó - def: I divide up into parts, break up; I distribute. The breaking of the bread at the last supper.

Divided

  • 1 Corinthians 1:13 - G3307 merizó - def: I divide into parts, divide, part, share, distribute; mid: I share, take part in a partitioning; I distract. This passage involves whether or not the body of Christ is divided.

  • Matthew 12:25, 26 - G3307 merizó - def: I divide into parts, divide, part, share, distribute; mid: I share, take part in a partitioning; I distract. Refers to divided kingdoms.

  • Matthew 25:32 - G873 aphorizó - def: I rail off, separate, place apart. This deals with the separation of the sheep.

  • Mark 3:24-26 - G3307 merizó - def: I divide into parts, divide, part, share, distribute; mid: I share, take part in a partitioning; I distract. Same as Matthew 12:25, 26

  • Mark 6:41 - G3307 merizó - def: I divide into parts, divide, part, share, distribute; mid: I share, take part in a partitioning; I distract. Dividing of the loaves and fishes.

  • Luke 11:17, 18 - G3307 merizó - def: I divide into parts, divide, part, share, distribute; mid: I share, take part in a partitioning; I distract. Same as Matthew 12:25, 26

  • Luke 12:13 - G3307 merizó - def: I divide into parts, divide, part, share, distribute; mid: I share, take part in a partitioning; I distract. In regards to dividing inheritance.

  • Luke 12:53 - G1266 diamerizó - def: I divide up into parts, break up; I distribute. In regards to a house (family) that is divided within itself.

  • Luke 15:12 - G1244 diaireó - def: I divide into parts, cut asunder, distribute. The story of the prodigal son’s inheritance.

  • Acts 13:19 - G2624 katakléronomeó - def: I give as an inheritance, distribute by lot. Paul recounted the the dividing up of the promise land in the synagogue.

  • Acts 14:4 - G4977 schizó - def: I rend, divide asunder, cleave. Speaking of the people of Iconium being divided between the apostles and the Jews.

  • Acts 23:7 - G4977 schizó - def: I rend, divide asunder, cleave. The dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

  • Revelation 16:19 - G1096 ginomai - def: I come into being, am born, become, come about, happen. Talking about Babylon splitting into three parts.

Divideth

  • Luke 11:22 - G1239 diadidómi - def: I offer here and there, distribute, divide, hand over. This regards the spoils taken by the stronger man.

Divider

  • Luke 12:14 - G3312 meristés - def: a divider, partitioner, distributor. In regards to dividing inheritance.

My point is this: Paul and other New Testament writers had repeatedly used words that most definitely meant to parse or separate, most commonly schizó, diamerizó and merizó or derivations of, yet Paul chose not to use any of the words that had previously been used in the Greek to demonstrate his point. Instead, Paul chose a word that is only used once in all of the New Testament, thus we must closely examine what this word means and how we should apply it to this passage.


Paul’s Intent

Paul’s instruction to Timothy was that he be a man who would be able to witness by example and that he would be wise in properly administering the gospel by being able to prove that Jesus Christ was indeed the Son of God, the promised Messiah. Paul wanted Timothy to be able to carry on in the work of the great commission in a responsible and effective way without getting entangled in things that would only inhibit his progress. Orthotomeō certainly seems to be a sort of engineering term used to convey a visual image to Timothy of a clear and unobstructed path, that is why he encouraged him to stay clear of useless debates over senseless things and avoiding false teachings.

The Word Of Truth Is Not Divided

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness - 2 Timothy 3:16

I find it hard to believe that if Paul had meant that scripture is to be divided, that he would have made this statement, especially within the same letter to Timothy.

If you were to search the internet for “rightly dividing the word of truth” or “2 Timothy 2:15”, you will find a plethora of websites and videos dedicated to explaining that we are to divide scripture and to know that some parts of scripture are for the Jews and others for the church. They will explain to you that since Paul’s dispensation was to the Gentiles that we are to follow only Paul’s writings and that other books such as the gospels, Hebrews, James, Peter, Jude, etc are for the Jews. Really??? The gospels don’t pertain to us gentile believers? We are not to follow Christ and His teachings? Are we not to go out into all the world and makes disciples of Christ?

1 Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

We are not baptized in the name of Paul, but in the name of Jesus Christ. We bear the name “Christians”, not Paulites or Paulinians. Paul is stating that the Corinthians should follow his example by being followers of Christ. We are to take up the cross of Jesus and follow Him.

Source

The Results Of This Teaching

Unfortunately, there is a very popular teaching that denies that we gentile believers are children of Abraham, and thus are not considered to be Israel in the eyes of God. But Paul had something to say that is contrary to this belief.

Romans 9:6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants will be named.” 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.

In Paul’s mind, being called a child of Abraham had nothing to do with ethnicity, but everything to do with faith. Likewise, being called Israel was also not an issue of ethnicity, either. The children of promise that Paul spoke of was refering to those who are in Christ, and if we are in Christ, then we are Abraham’s descendants.

Paul tells us in Romans 11 that gentile believers have been grafted into the remnant of Israel that still remained in the root, which is Christ. Gentiles have been adopted into the commonwealth of the true Israel and share in the promises as heirs.

Peter expounded on this concept when writing to those who are in Christ:

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

Paul concluded Romans 11 with this thought:

Romans 11:31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

Am I promoting what some call “replacement theology”? No, not at all! I am promoting that all Jew and Gentile believers are of the same tree whose root is Christ. A child that is adopted, does not replace the natural children of the parents. There is only one body of Christ and it consists of both Jewish and Gentile believers

Paul alludes to the idea that there are two “Israels” if you will, those who were physical descendants of Jacob, and those who are Israel by faith. For example, Ruth was a Moabite and Rahab a Canaanite, yet both we counted as Israel and were in the lineage of David and Christ.

Conclusion

I am not attempting to say that the King James is not accurate in regards to 2 Timothy 2:15, rather that the meaning of “dividing” has transformed in its meaning over time and that some people today have made a doctrine that is not fundamentally sound based on a word which meaning has changed over the last 400 years. Just like the closing theme song of The Flintstones used to say “We’ll have a "gay" old time” had nothing to do with homosexuality, but in the 1960’s, which was just a few decades ago, meant a lighthearted and carefree time.

Additionally, I will cling to every red letter in my Bible more tightly that every other black word in the Bible combined. No one will take that away from me, nor should they you!

Thank you for reading this article and I look forward to your comments.

Poll on this topic.

Do you believe that Paul instructed Timothy to divide or separate the word of truth?

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© 2018 Tony Muse

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    • Tony Muse profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Muse 

      5 days ago from Texas, USA

      Hello Vernon,

      Thank you for taking time to read my hub. You are correct, context is always critical. As far as the "date-setters", there will always be another "rapture date" right around the corner. It is my opinion that these people do more harm for the spreading of the gospel than good.

      Blessings!

    • profile image

      Vernon Candiotes 

      5 days ago

      Well researched and argued! Not wanting to name names....one of the chief proponents of RD/date-setting fiasco of 23 September 2017 (Rapture) is furiously teaching the church about the two gospels and what pertains to us and what doesn't. I do believe that one should apply the exegetical hermeneutic of audience relevance with regard to who? what? when? where?how? With a prayerful attitude, applying a logical hermeneutic and Holy Spirit guidance, the RD doctrine is easily debunked.

    • Tony Muse profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Muse 

      4 weeks ago from Texas, USA

      Hi Derick,

      I would agree that context and audience are extremely important. While much of the Bible wasn't written about us, we can still take application from it. Jesus sternly rebuked the Pharisees for being hypocrites, does that make us hypocrites? Not really, but at the same time we should always be careful lest we fall into the same behavior as they did.

      I also believe that some parts of scripture are written from man's perspective; leaning on his own understanding. Books like Job and Ecclesiastes are good examples of this.

      I think that it is good for us to read all of scripture. These books were written by people who were inspired by God. WE can learn how God deals with both the righteous and the evil. We can learn of God's long-suffering towards us, and most importantly, we can learn about God's enduring love for His creation.

      Blessings!

    • profile image

      Derick 

      4 weeks ago

      I heard a Pastor talk about this very topic. To me it made sense. I was always taught the whole bible from Genesis to Revelations was %100 true and to be applied to my life. This pastor used the rightly dividing scripture to also say you can wrongly divide. He said sone stuff in the bible is talking to sinners, some to Israel, and some to believers. Another interesting point he said was all scripture is truly stated but not a statement of truth. For example when Job says the Lord give and the Lord taketh away, thats what Job thought and thats what was recorded in scripture, but the Lord doesnt give and take away does He? Arent all gifts from the Lord irrevocable (romans 11:29) what are your thoughts on whether everything in the bible is for God's children? Or does it all depend on the context?t

    • Tony Muse profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Muse 

      8 weeks ago from Texas, USA

      Hi Woodrow, except for the fact that the original Greek did not use the word "dividing", but orthomounta. 2 Timothy 2:15 is the only place that records this word. If Paul truly meant to mean "dividing" as is understood in the English language, then he likely would have used one of the Greek words repeatedly used in the New Testament to convey this thought.

      Am I doing the Devil's work? No, I do not think so, and even I were, it would be for the Lord to decide, not man.

      Regards

      Tony Muse

    • profile image

      WOODROW NICHOLS 

      8 weeks ago

      Context is all about the "Con" and none about the "Text."

      If a verse clearly states something then it means what it says, and I won't use the bogus argument of context to change its unambiguous meaning. You are lying about the Bible when you say a verse doesn't mean what it says or only apparently contradicts itself. This is the Devil's Work.

    • Tony Muse profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Muse 

      2 months ago from Texas, USA

      Hi Daniel,

      Thank you for reading my article and your comment. Very interesting way of looking at it. In truth, there is a commonality that runs through all of scripture, and that is Jesus Christ. Now, was that the message that Paul was conveying to Timothy? I believe that Paul had trained Timothy in the art of showing that all of scripture, which would have the been the Old Testament at that time, pointed to Christ as being the promised Messiah. Paul was an expert in this and he tried to teach this in the synagogues as well as did Christ. To be honest, I'm not sure that mathematics factor into this particular passage. Pardon the pun.

      Peace and blessings!

    • profile image

      Daniel Squires 

      2 months ago

      Hey Tony -

      Do you remember factoring in math class? - where you divide numbers with other numbers until all that is left are the numbers that can only be divided by the number one or itself - prime numbers? I've always looked at 'rightly dividing the word' as a similar exercise: that when we study God's word we are to in a sense 'divide' or 'factor' a passage of scripture with other scripture to reveal the common essential truth or truths. From this perspective, it is the opposite of separating scripture from other scripture - it is looking at scripture to see where it is in common with other truth contained in scripture.

    • Tony Muse profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Muse 

      2 months ago from Texas, USA

      Hi Connie,

      Thank you for taking the time and commenting. I am glad that were able to find this article useful in your studies.

      Yes, I understand your position concerning all of scripture being inspired. My comment was intended to be in the context of rebuttal against those who claim that the gospels were not written to or for the church. I do believe that all of the Biblical writers were inspired by God and I do not discount the value of the rest of the Bible, even so, I do give greater emphasis to the words of Christ as I believe that the Old Testament pointed to Christ and the New Testament speak of Christ. He is the very fulcrum of all of scripture.

      Blessings!

    • profile image

      Connie 

      2 months ago

      I found your article very interesting and had many slap my forehead “duh” moments while reading it. I have a son who pastors a church and has changed his doctrine based on this very verse and the statement “rightly dividing.” I’ve been doing research myself and your article was extremely helpful. However your statement that you treasure every red letter over every black letter of the Bible causes me halt. You quote 2Timothy 3:16 how ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God yet you treasure the red letters more. Yes I understand those were words spoken by Jesus but the entire Bible is God breathed. The entire Bible IS the very Word of God. John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Every book of the Bible was written by a human author who was inspired by God, even the books that contain the red letters. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all quote Jesus but their quotes are not word for word the same. They quote Him as they are inspired to do so. You may want to rethink that stand on the red verses black letters.

    • Tony Muse profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Muse 

      2 months ago from Texas, USA

      Hi Bob,

      Am I "correcting the Bible"? No, that was not my intention. My intention was to correct how some have misinterpreted its meaning in this particular passage by showing that the concept of parsing scripture was in no way in context of what Paul is telling his companion, Timothy. There is a big difference.

      Peace and Blessings to you.

    • profile image

      Bob donaldson 

      2 months ago

      Bible correctors claim they always know better than the Holy Spirit.

      They have no fear of God

    • Tony Muse profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Muse 

      2 months ago from Texas, USA

      Hi Jeff,

      Thank you for reading my article and your comments. I have to admit that I have never considered connecting the idea of "dividing" the word of truth with legalism. It has been my experience that people who support this rendering of 2 Timothy 2:15 to be those who lean towards the idea of a dual-covenant system; that God deals differently with the Jews and the Gentiles/church.

      I would appreciate a more little details on your hypothesis, if you have the time.

      Blessings and Merry Christmas!

      Tony

    • profile image

      Jeff 

      2 months ago

      Good work Tony.

      I think we're all familiar with the advice that a doctrine should not be built on a single verse. So when a doctrine is built on a single translation of a single verse then we're on even shakier ground. Add to this how you've shown that the original word does not even refer to dividing and now there is no foundation for the doctrine whatsoever.

      As with all bad doctrine there is always a reason it is attractive. Finding what this attraction is often explains that attraction. Long story but I think in this case the attraction is that people don't like the fact that "faith without works is dead".

    • Tony Muse profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Muse 

      3 months ago from Texas, USA

      Hi Sheila,

      Thank you for reading my article. Do I believe that Romans 9 is a chapter about predestination to salvation? No, I do not. Do I believe that Paul saying that some are predestined to carry out certain acts of service for His purpose? Yes.

    • profile image

      Sheila strickler 

      3 months ago

      Is Romans 9 a predestination chapter?

    • Tony Muse profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Muse 

      3 months ago from Texas, USA

      I received an email from a person that I will only identify as "SJ". The reply email that this individual used was fake as it immediately bounce back. it read as follow:

      "Another bible corrector

      There is no fear of God in people who do not take Gods word at face value

      He has His pure and preserved words kept for all generarations words that are above His name even

      Yet moron man thinks he knows more through his learning for he has been to a theological cemetery

      This will not help those for will not Jesus say

      Go away I never knew you"

      My response to SJ:

      Hello SJ,

      I will assume that you are both a King James only person as well as a Dispensationalist who ardently defends the concept that the gospels and books like James and Hebrews were written to and for the Jews while the Gentile church should simply follow Paul. I will tell you this: I treasure every red letter in my Bible more than every all other black-letter words in the Bible combined and neither you or anyone else can take that away from me. Paul warned in 1 Corinthians 3 not to be followers of men, but that we should all be followers of Christ. So, by that statement alone, those who state that the gospels are are only to and for the Jews are in error. Paul also wrote in 1 Timothy 3:16 that ALL scripture is of inspired by God and is profitable.

      I praise God that I only have to concern myself with being able to stand before God and not before men.

      Blessings and have a good day.

      Tony Muse

      Readers,

      It was not my intention to "correct the Bible", only to set straight how some, in my opinion, have taken the words of Paul out of context in order to promote a particular teaching that is contrary to the intended message and the context of scripture as a whole.

    • Tony Muse profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Muse 

      3 months ago from Texas, USA

      Hi Teresa,

      Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I have have always found it to be more beneficial to let scripture explain itself rather than relying on other men to to explain it for me. The Bible is always our best teacher. It is my opinion that creating doctrine from one particular text, or in this case, a single word, it never a wise thing to do. The context of Paul's message had nothing to do with the concept of divided scripture and as far as I can tell, and there are no other passages that support this practice. In fact, it was Paul that wrote that "all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

      Blessings

    • Tony Muse profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Muse 

      3 months ago from Texas, USA

      Thank you, Jerry. I am glad that you found this article beneficial in your studies. I am curious as to whether or not your pastor had similar conclusions. :-)

      Peace and Blessings!

    • profile image

      Teresa 

      3 months ago

      I think you should listen to EC Moore or Richard Jordan, they could teach you a few things. Totally disagree with your article.

    • profile image

      Jerry P. 

      3 months ago

      Tony, I enjoyed your article. I agree with your assessment and conclusions. My pastor was discussing this very verse (2 Tim. 2:15) at this mornings service. Thank you very much, brother, for your time and effort dedicated to God's precious message. Many continued blessings. Jerry P.

    • Tony Muse profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Muse 

      4 months ago from Texas, USA

      Derek,

      No worries, I'm sure that I would have assumed the same thing. you did. I believe that your post was on there for a time, I really don't know when it was taken down.

      My primary disagreement is that the "age of grace" leads the believer that those before the cross were saved by works. It is very clear to me that all mankind was saved by grace through faith. If we are to say that those before the cross were saved by works, then they are all condemned in their sins.

      I disagree that coming of the kingdom of God is a future event.

      The concept of a kingdom that lasts 1,000 years

      I disagree that God has a different purpose for Israel and the church.

      I disagree that the church was an afterthought.

      I disagree that the church will be raptured to heaven for seven years while Jews and unbelieving Gentiles face an antichrist government and that some will be drawn to Christ after He returns... Again.

      I'm not surprised that you haven't heard of Inclusion Theology. Those in Dispensational circles teach that if you don't see a distinction between Israel and the church that you must believe in Replacement Theology; that the church has somehow "replaced" Israel as God's chosen people. But I am convinced that it was God's plan all along that the Gentiles be brought in to share in the commonwealth. Paul teaches in Romans that Gentiles believers are part of the same tree along with Jewish believers. The root of that tree is Christ. We, as Gentile believers, have been adopted into the family of God. One who is adopted does not replace the natural children.

      Paul as expounding on the this passage:

      Romans 9:6-9

      6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants will be named.” 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.

      Paul makes it clear to me that only those who are in Christ are to be called Abraham's descendants and called Israel by God.

      I hope that helps.

      Peace!

    • profile image

      Derek 

      4 months ago

      Tony,

      Thanks for the quick reply. Sorry about the HTML confusion. I'm not savvy to message board restrictions. Thanks for the clarification and sorry for the misunderstanding.

      I'm interested in what you believe are the conclusions Dispensationalism leads to. But we can discuss that another time.

      I'm curious: in a nutshell, what is Inclusion Theology? First I've heard of it.

      Thanks

    • Tony Muse profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Muse 

      4 months ago from Texas, USA

      Derek,

      Actually, I didn't delete it. I had approved the message, but I "think" that posting links to outside articles is taboo on HubPages. Perhaps the admins on HubPages deleted it. If you read the conditions of comments, you will read:

      "No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites."

      Apparently your link violated that agreement. That is out of my control, sorry...

      I don't care to get into an argument, either. But, I will say that I do not agree with the conclusions that Dispensationalism leads to. I believe that the Bible can be rightly understood simply by understanding audience, time and context. If one is diligent to read the epistles like Romans and Hebrews, they should be able to understand the types and anti-types that are represented in the Old Testament and how they pointed to and were realized in Christ.

      My goal with this article was to show that separation of scripture was not in context with what Paul was conveying to Timothy. Building a complex doctrine on one single phrase in scripture that has no supporting context or scripture is never wise, in my opinion.

      Just in case you are wondering, I do not agree with Supersessionism aka "Replacement Theology", but I don't agree with Dual-Covenant Theology, either. My stance is that Inclusion Theology is what scripture teaches.

      Peace be unto you.

    • profile image

      mccammon@coxinet.net 

      4 months ago

      Hi Tony,

      I see that my email has been removed and along with it the reference to Charles Welch's article on right division. If you're not open to discussing this topic then I won't bother you about it. Just let me know: privately if you wish. But removing the email shows a sign of weakness in your position.

      I'm not looking for an argument. I just thought it odd that you didn't address in your article your disagreement with the strongest supporter for the "rightly dividing" position that you disagree with. That would be Charles Welch.

      You stated that you especially like the following from that article: "In other words, whether found in Genesis, Romans, Ephesians or the Revelation, "Dispensational Truth" is all the truth there is."

      Did you also like his distinguishing comment: "Right division distinguishes dispensations. It does not confound Kingdom with Church, Gentile with Jew, Mystery with Gospel, Earth with Heaven."?

      Did you also like his distinguishing comment: "If we misinterpret Israel as of the Church; if we confound the Bride with the Body; if we preach the gospel of the circumcision to the Gentile to-day; if we do any of these things, we rob the Word of its Truth."

      When we fail to distinguish these separate topics we make scripture confusing.

      Mr. Welch went on to say:

      "The books of the Bible were all originally addressed to some particular hearer or company, and before we take all that is written in the Scriptures as truth for ourselves, we should observe several things which in reality will be but the application of ‘Right Division’. If we hold the faith that is common to evangelical protestants we shall strenuously maintain the great doctrine of Justification by faith apart from works of the law, and by so doing we of necessity ‘divide’ the Word of truth, for the law of Moses is equally as inspired Scripture as is the epistle to the Romans. And so the principle of right division enables us to say:

      ‘While the Word of God is written FOR all persons, and FOR all time, yet it is true that not every part of it is addressed TO all persons or ABOUT all persons IN all time’ (How to Enjoy the Bible, Dr. E. W. Bullinger)."

      What has just been quoted, this is "rightly dividing" the word of truth. Keep in mind that while all scripture is written for us, it is not all written to us. "Read the address on the envelope" is a good tool to have in your toolbox.

      Tony, God has blessed you with a sound mind as shown in how aptly you represented your position in this article. But don't forget Apollos who needed to understand "the way of God more perfectly".

      In brotherly love,

      Derek

    • Tony Muse profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Muse 

      4 months ago from Texas, USA

      mccammon@coxinet.net

      I especially like the the following from that article: "In other words, whether found in Genesis, Romans, Ephesians or the Revelation, "Dispensational Truth" is all the truth there is’."

      Thank you for sharing.

      God bless!

    • Tony Muse profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Muse 

      5 months ago from Texas, USA

      Hi Paula,

      Thank you for reading my hub. It is ashamed that you are not a HubPages member as I am not sure that you will read my reply to unless you checks back.

      You have gone off topic a bit, for this hub was primarily concerning the actual intent of Paul telling Timothy to rightly handle the word of truth. But, I will briefly answer your questions.

      In regards to Romans 11 and verse 26 in particular, as I have a feeling that it this verse in particular that you alluding to, I would invite you to read the rest of verse 26 and on to verse 27. If you simply stop with "and so all Israel will be saved" then you might be led to believe that in some point in time, that every Israelite alive will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, repent and be saved, but Paul never states that idea. In fact, back in verse 14 Paul says that it was his hope that "some" of them might be saved.

      The thought that Paul is setting up in verse 26 is the fulfillment of Isaiah 59:20, 21, Isaiah 27:9 and Jeremiah 31:33-34, which is also reiterated in Hebrews 8:10, 12. The Deliverer has already come from Zion, through His sacrifice He has already removed ungodliness from Jacob, the new covenant made with His blood was and is the new covenant which was offered to the Jew first, then the Greek. All Israel, those who maintained their faith in the Promise, were saved, and all those turn to Christ since have also been saved. Is God done with "finished" with the Jews? No! But neither is God finished with unbelieving Gentiles, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists or even hardcore atheists. The concept of all of national Israel being saved, whether with or against their will, is completely foreign in scripture.

      As I had mentioned in my hub, in Romans 9 Paul defined the true Israel and the true descendants of Abraham as being those who maintain their faith in the Promise, which is Christ. The remainder of Romans 9-11 is built upon that foundation.

      Ask yourself this simple question: When were the books of Ezekiel, written? Ezekiel was a contemporary of Daniel and was written before the exiled Jew had returned from their Babylonian exile. God fulfilled His promise to bring them back into the land as prophesied to Jeremiah.

      I am not anti-Semitic and I have not said a single word that demeans the Jewish people. I believe that Replacement Theology is wrong and so is Dual-Covenant Theology. What I believe in and would promote is Inclusion Theology, and that is exactly what Paul was teaching in Romans 11.

      I have done my share of studying the date of the writing of Revelation and I can honestly say that all conclusions are primarily speculative. The book does not give any time references in which to pin it to so I think that we would all be best to leave it at that.

      Who are "God's chosen people"? I think that Peter answers that question in 1 Peter 2:9

      But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

      Peter had just finished talking about the stone which the builders had rejected as a contrast to those who have their faith in Christ. God's chosen people are those from every race who have placed their faith on Christ. God is not a racist and never was. He chose the Abraham to be the one from whom His Son would come from and God's preservation of the nation of Israel was predicated on His promise to Abraham.

      Even with the direct line of Christ there were two non-Israelites; Ruth - Moabite and Rahab - Canaanite. These were two foreign women who feared God and were counted as Israel because of it.

      And, what of Genesis 12:1-3?

      1 Now the Lord said to Abram,

      “Go forth from your country,

      And from your relatives

      And from your father’s house,

      To the land which I will show you;

      2 And I will make you a great nation,

      And I will bless you,

      And make your name great;

      And so you shall be a blessing;

      3 And I will bless those who bless you,

      And the one who curses you I will curse.

      And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

      This blessing was for Abraham. All of the families of the earth being blessed was because of his Seed, Christ. This passage has often been misquoted to apply to the nation of Israel, that is not the context of this passage.

      To reiterate who the children of Abraham are:

      Matthew 3:9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.

      Matthew 8:11 I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven

      Luke 13:28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out.

      John 8:31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”

      34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38 I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”

      39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. 40 But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. 41 You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”

      Peace

    • profile image

      Paula 

      5 months ago

      Be curious how you exposit Romans 11. Also 2 Tim 2:15 is to rightly handle to Word of truth. I know we have an instruction to be as the Bereans and check what we hear and compare scripture with scripture. The covenant God gave to Abraham Gen15:18-21 was in part a physical covenant that specifically included land. In scripture there typically are two seemingly opposing doctrines like free will and election and both are true and validates by two or three “witnesses” when cross checking the scripture. We indeed are graphed in to the olive tree through faith but God is not finished with the nation of Israel and as Zechariah 12:10 says “they(the house of David) will look on me the one they have pierced and mourn Ezekiel 36:25-27 God says after He brings Israel back in the land He will sprinkle clean water on them. Replacement theology is dangerous. It set up the churches in Germany to look the other way when the Nazis came to power. Anti semitism is a stench in the nostrils of God. I’ve done a thorough study of the dating of Revelation and it was definitely written around 95AD. Reformed theology that pushes the replacement of Israel by the church is a house of cards built on sand if Revelation wasn’t written before 70AD. And responsible scholarship does not support it. Read Mark Hitchcock. He did his doctorate on this and he is a very nice man. I do not mean to be contentious but we are to earnestly content for the faith. Thinking God is done with his chosen people because we gentiles have had the grace to be grafted into his promises is error. I want to live in blessing. “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you” Gen 12:3

    • Tony Muse profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Muse 

      11 months ago from Texas, USA

      Thank you Tamarajo. You are very correct, doing any kind of in-depth study before we had such great internet resources would have been quite cumbersome and expensive. Thank you for reading my hub!

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 

      11 months ago

      What a privilege to have access to so many online sources that we might search the Scriptures in their original languages to see if these things are so. This is a lovely study that exhibits the beauty of that privilege that we might see His truth rightly.

    • Tony Muse profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Muse 

      11 months ago from Texas, USA

      Thank you, Margaret. I firmly believe that textual and contextual analysis es very important when reading scripture. I hope that you have a blessed weekend in celebration of the resurrection in which we have our hope!

    • revmjm profile image

      Margaret Minnicks 

      11 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Tony from Texas, I read your article and was amazed how clearly you explained your points. Hopefully, others will find it as educational as I did! Continue writing great hubs like this one.

    • Tony Muse profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Muse 

      11 months ago from Texas, USA

      Hxprof - Thanks for reading my hub. Yes, interpretations can get pretty far-fetched when you are grasping at straws to affirm your exegesis.

    • profile image

      Hxprof 

      11 months ago from Clearwater, Florida

      Agree with you about the "word of truth". It's amazing to me what kinds of deception can be concocted by an incomplete view of scripture.

    • Tony Muse profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Muse 

      12 months ago from Texas, USA

      Thanks Charlie, I have been told multiple times that I am not "rightly dividing the word of truth", in every case it was in regards to the fact I stood by my belief that all scripture is beneficial for us today.

    • celafoe profile image

      charlie 

      12 months ago from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth in between the oceans

      good article, I was not aware that so many were again following these tales of apostate man

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