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Monday, May 24, 2021

Rightly Dividing the Word of God's Truth

By Gerald Cowan
 
     One of the most misunderstood points about the Bible for many believers is how it is divided into various parts. Rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV, NKJV) is not merely about the various books. We commonly say there are 66 books that make up the one Book, the Bible. These books were written by many different persons, perhaps as many as 40, over a period of about 1400-1500 years, but under the inspiration of the One God, so that what they wrote are simply parts of the one Book of God, the Bible. Of course that is an important bit of information. It is even more important to understand that various laws, covenants and other arrangements were made by God to govern His people at various times (Hebrews 1:1-2). If one knows that, he must try to fit the appropriate writings under the covenant to which they apply and the particular people to whom they apply.
     What is commonly called the Old Testament is actually improperly named and divided. There is at least a part of Genesis that precedes the covenant of God with and through Abraham, which is what we commonly mean when we speak of the Old Testament or Covenant. There are parts of the Bible which refer to people not covered by the Abrahamic covenant. Did Jonah preach to Nineveh that they must become proselytes to Judaism? He did not. God had an arrangement with the Gentiles/non- Jews that would have effected their salvation had they been willing to abide by it. See Romans 1:18ff, 2:15-16. Think of Melchizedek, a priest of God, but not a Jew (Genesis 14:17-20, Hebrews 7:1) and Balaam, a prophet of God, but not a Jew (Numbers 22:5, 2 Peter 2:15). What we call the New Testament is actually improperly named and divided too. The first four books – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – are biographical accounts of Jesus. But Jesus was born, lived, and died under the old law (Galatians 4:4). Much of what he said prepared for and would become part of the new law, but the new covenant and all that goes with it did not become effective until the day of Pentecost, 50 days after the death of Jesus (Acts 2). Rightly dividing the word of God is better translated handling aright (ASV), accurately handling (NASB), as one who correctly handles (NIV). The correct idea is always to make proper use of the word of truth and not to misuse or abuse it in any way. The principle certainly applies to any translation of the word too. Many who claim to divide it properly do not use it correctly.
- Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel Meetings and he may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com


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