- Jul 31, 2013
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God,
a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
(2 Timothy 2:15, nkjv)
that phrase 'rightly dividing' is a single word, orthotomeó, from ortho ((right or accurate)) and temno ((to cut)). it's only found once in the whole Bible, right here.
the sword we are armed with is the Word of God. a sword is used to cut -- we're not talking about cutting the sword in half; we're talking about wielding it.
a double-edged sword has a cross section like a long thin diamond-shape. when you cut something with it, you want the long axis of the sword's cross-section directly in line with the motion of the blade. when you don't have the sword aligned with the motion of your swing, it does not cut effectively ((i.e. you are not 'rightly dividing' or 'accurately handling' or 'cutting straight'))
in the diagram above the red line represents the direction the sword is travelling when it is swung. the gray box is the thing you are striking/cutting. the black diamond-shape is the a cross-section of the blade.
if you do not have good edge alignment you won't cut straight. part of the energy of the sword isn't being transferred into the cut; it's forcing the blade sideways when it hits the target. if your edge alignment is terrible, like the 3rd image, you may not cut at all - your sword might twist even further off-line, wrenching in your hand, and smack the target with the flat.
think like you're trying to hammer a nail into a board. you want ideally to hit the nail straight with the hammer, not sideways. if you hit the nail sideways ((relative to the axis of the nail)) you just push the nail sideways and either gouge out a channel in the wood with it, or bend the darn thing, rather than driving it straight into the wood.
same concept with a sword. you want to cut straight. you need to accurately handle it. you need to keep the edge of it directly in line with the arc of the swing.
this is ((IMO)) what Paul is talking about when he says 'cut straight with the word of truth' -- he's not talking about putting the Bible in a paper shredder. he's telling Timothy to practice good spiritual swordsmanship, like "a good soldier" ((2 Timothy 2:3-4))
a soldier, especially one whose weapon is a sword, knows that they must cut straight and true. he doesn't cut his spear in half, he thrusts straight with it. he doesn't break his sword into pieces, he wields it skillfully, in a practiced and adept way.
what's the problem with Hymenaeus and Philetus? ((2 Timothy 2:16-18)) -- they are not aligned with the Spirit; they are mishandling the sword of the word of truth. their problem isn't that they didn't divide the Bible in half in the right place, but that they way they used the word was not in line with the truth.
so this verse doesn't mean we should treat the law and the prophets like they were written by a different God. it doesn't mean we should treat Jesus like He preached a different gospel than Paul. it means we need to use the scripture the right way - with understanding and deftness, not like an untrained conscript, but like a well-practiced, adroit & skillful warrior.
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