Sunday, September 16, 2007

Rightly dividing

About a week ago, I wrote about a particular issue that's never too far from my mind that has to do with reading the Bible in context (including, and even especially Jesus' words), and "rightly dividing" (or "correctly handling") the word of truth, as Paul reminds Timothy to do in 2 Timothy 2:15. I've had a few "real life" (person to person) conversations about this, and many online conversations as well. I wasn't necessarily going to visit this again here for a while, but I just thought I'd make mention of two other blogs on which this has come up recently.

In a blog post over at Grace in Flood that started out on the topic of Tithes and Offerings, the topic of 'rightly dividing' and 'correctly handling' was brought up in the comments section. See the post entitled, "This weeks question."

A blog post from Steve McVey today directly tackles this as well. Steve tells of how he handled a recent situation in which a man questioned him on all of this. The man told him he was twisting the words of Jesus, but I love how Steve skillfully turned it right back around through what I believe is the rightly dividing of the word of truth. See his post entitled, "Rightly Dividing The Word."

I always love to exchange thoughts on this subject. Any thoughts on all this?


  1. I loved Steve's post. It's a wonderful example - about the rich ruler.
    I went to that chapter (Luke 18) and read it again and it's clear like crystal. From his frustration the rich man asks Jesus, if this is the case who in the world can be saved? What blew me away was Jesus's response:
    What is impossible with men is possible with God. (verse 27)
    Wow! That one verse tells us we just can't make it. God's required righteousness is unachievable by human efforts. And He indirectly tells us - So He is going to go to the cross to make it possible. Isn't that incredible? How important it is to see this incident from the right context!

  2. YES! It's a great desire of mine to point out to people the context of the words of Jesus that you put in bold. Not that they can't be applied in other situations in life (as long as it remains in line with the word of God), but indeed this answer of Jesus was a direct response to a question about salvation (!) and it was directly after confronting the self-righteous rich young ruler with the law!

  3. Hey Joel, I followed you here from Gary Kirkham's blog.

    Regarding Steve's post about keeping Scripture in context, that's good. I'd love to see more of this from Christians.

    There is a danger, however, and that is to "rightly divide" only the parts we don't like, based on our current theology for this snapshot in time. (e.g. Don't like what Jesus/Paul/Moses said? Explain it away via saying he was speaking to a particular group of people.)

    For example, Steve mentioned some passages about the Law, and how Jesus wasn't saying it was a way to salvation. That's a good point he makes there.

    However, for a Jewish person such as myself, I'd like to "rightly divide" Paul's words as well. For example, his letter to Galatia is not slamming the Law or saying it's abolished, but rather, he was speaking to a particular group of people who believed the Law (in particular, circumcision) could save you.

    Yet, Christians will often tell me to look at Galatians and they'll say, "See? The Law has passed away, it's gone! What are you doing trying to follow it still?! Judaizer!"

    I suspect Steve would not rightly divide the pieces of theology he disagrees with. Of course, I don't know Steve, so I can only guess at this based on experiences with others.

    What do you think, Joel?

  4. Judah,

    "I through the law died to the law so that I could be married to another." I'm not so sure that if you died to something you should still be hanging around it, like the Galatians had been doing, especially if the reason you died to it is because you wanted to marry Someone else.