Bible Study 101 #8

Sunday, January 12, 2014

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

The only verse that tells you to study the Bible also tells you how to study the Bible!

Ephesians 2:11,12 explain that the “Old Testament” Scriptures (Genesis through Malachi), Matthew through John (the Four Gospels), and Acts chapters 1-8 are “time past,” and thus have no direct application to us. Verse 13 says we are in the “but now,” and that distinction between Jew and Gentile is currently rescinded (Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon). Ephesians 2:7 speaks of the “ages to come,” the future (discussed primarily in Hebrews through Revelation [for the nation Israel], but also throughout Paul’s epistles [for us, the Church the Body of Christ]).

Thus, we cannot steal Israel’s Old Testament passages and promises and pretend they belong to us. We cannot go into Christ’s earthly ministry and follow His teachings as though He was speaking to us Gentiles (when He said He was speaking to Israel only; Matthew 10:5-7; Matthew 15:24; cf. Romans 15:8). We cannot grab passages in Hebrews through Revelation and conclude they are talking to or about us, when their contexts indicate they are not. And yet, the professing Church has done just this for the last 2,000 years, and created over 38,000 rival denominations in the process!

In the context of today’s Scripture, Paul writes that false teachers, Hymenaeus and Philetus (verse 17), “concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some” (verse 18). These men were mixing our mystery program with Israel’s prophetic program. They had misled Christians to believe that they had missed the rapture (“the resurrection”) and caused them to believe that they were now living in Israel’s seven-year Tribulation (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-14). Even today, many do not “rightly divide the word of truth” (today’s Scripture)—that is, they fail to recognize the distinction between prophecy and mystery—so, they confuse doctrines (here, confusing the timing of the rapture).

Again, we must stop mixing the dispensations in God’s Word if we are to understand God’s Word….