V. A WORKMAN
In verse 15 Paul says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, an unashamed workman, cutting straight the word of the truth.” Here Paul indicates that the inoculator is to be a workman. As a carpenter, this workman must cut straight the word of the truth. This means to unfold the word of God in its various parts rightly and straightly without distortion. Just as a carpenter has the skill to cut wood in a straight way, so the Lord’s workman needs the skill to cut straight the word of truth. This is necessary because in the decline of the church so many truths are twisted and presented in a warped, biased form.
“Contentions of words” (2:14), “profane babblings” (v. 16), the eating word of gangrene (v. 17), and “foolish and ignorant questionings” (v. 23) are often very much used by the Devil (v. 26) in the down current among the churches to produce contentions (v. 23), to ruin the hearers (v. 14), to promote ungodliness (v. 16), and to overthrow people’s faith (v. 18). Hence, there is the need of the word of the truth rightly unfolded to enlighten the darkened ones, inoculate against the poison, swallow up the death, and bring the distracted back to the right track.
Among Christians today, only the superficial aspects of the truth are not twisted. Virtually all the deeper things of the truth have been distorted. Concerning these things, many have not cut the word of truth straightly, but cut it in a way that is curved and biased. Therefore, we should be not only teachers, soldiers, contenders, and farmers, but also workmen, carpenters, cutting straight the word of the truth. The truth here does not merely denote biblical doctrine; it refers to the contents and the reality of God’s New Testament economy. The main elements of this truth are Christ as the mystery of God and the embodiment of God and the church as the mystery of Christ and the Body of Christ. We all need to learn to cut straight the word of truth with respect to Christ and the church.
Certain of the Brethren teachers interpret Paul’s word about cutting straight the word of truth to mean dividing the Bible into various dispensations: innocence, conscience, human government, promise, law, grace, and kingdom. The Bible can be understood according to these dispensations. However, arranging the Word into dispensations is not what Paul means in 2:15 about cutting straight the word of the truth. As used in the three books of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, the word truth has a specific significance: it denotes the contents of God’s New Testament economy. Not realizing this, many readers of the Bible think that in 2:15 Paul is speaking of truth in a general way. But we need to understand the word truth in this verse according to its usage in the three books of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. First Timothy 3:15 says that the church is “the pillar and base of the truth.” This truth is the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh. The church should bear, uphold, this truth, this reality. Numerous times in these three Epistles Paul speaks of the truth. For example, in 1 Timothy 2:4 he says that God “desires all men to be saved and come to the full knowledge of the truth.” The word of the truth in 2 Timothy 2:15 refers to the healthy words of God’s New Testament economy. As workmen, we should learn not merely to divide the Bible into dispensations. This is too superficial. We must learn to unfold the word of the truth concerning God’s economy. If we would do this, we need to consider carefully Paul’s use of the word truth in these three Epistles. If we consider these books carefully, we shall see that truth here denotes the reality of the contents of the New Testament economy of God. Therefore, to cut straight the word of the truth is to unfold without bias or distortion the reality of God’s economy revealed in the New Testament.
(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon, Chapter 15, by Witness Lee)