Rightly Dividing the Word
Lesson 14

Jesus came to reveal God to man. He could only do this as in His life and teachings He upheld the words of the living God as revealed in Scriptures. However, the religious leaders of His day also professed to teach the words of Scripture. They claimed that as the children of Abraham, they taught nothing except as they could prove it either directly or by inference from the writings of Moses and the prophets. To the people they maintained that they were the true expositors of Scripture and as such, their lives and teachings were a reflection of the truths taught by the prophets. As Christ’s life and teachings were so different from that of the religious thought leaders of His day, there could clearly be neither harmony nor cooperation between them.

1. For what purpose did Jesus come into the world?

John 1:18
John 1:18

Note: See also Matthew 11:27.

2. What did Jesus state that He had come into the world to do?

John 18:37
John 18:37

Note: Jesus came not merely to witness to the fact that there was a God, but to witness to the truth about God. At the time of His first coming, the earth was dark through misapprehension of God. Through tradition and false teaching Satan had successfully attributed to God his own evil characteristics. Every heathen religion is a religion of fear and is based on men’s attempt to secure God’s favor through their own works. Even in the Jewish religion there was misapprehension and the very system which had been instituted to point men to the truth had been perverted, making the sacrifices become a means whereby men sought to gain God’s favor.

3. Asked by John’s disciples if He was the Messiah, what did He do?

Luke 7:20-21
Luke 7:20-21

Note: John knew that the Messiah must fulfill the scriptures of Isaiah, particularly those referring to the performance of these mighty works of healing and the preaching of the gospel to the poor. John’s own message and work was based on the fulfillment of the prophecies of this book. (See Isaiah 40:3; John 1:21-22.) Hence, Jesus knew that this very work He was doing would be to John’s mind the most convincing evidence that He was the One who should come.

When Christ accepted the invitation of Matthew to dine at his home, there were a number of other publicans who received invitations to be guests on this occasion. It greatly angered the Pharisees to see a man who claimed to believe the Scriptures and to be a teacher of the law, associate with such a class of men.

4. What did they ask the disciples?

Matthew 9:11
Matthew 9:11

5. When He responded, what did Jesus tell them they needed to learn?

Matthew 9:13
Matthew 9:13

Note: Here Jesus met them on their own ground, with the words of the prophet. See Hosea 6:6. There was scarcely a prophet they professed to believe that Jesus did not quote in support of His mission. By this means Jesus sought to help them see that they did not know the truth of the Bible, nor did they believe the teachings of the inspired men of God.

Finding that they could not condemn Jesus from the Scriptures, they sought to accuse Him of exalting Himself and of making Himself equal with God. See John 5:18. Jesus again pointed them to the Scriptures which they professed to believe and to be the expositors of.

6. What did Jesus say they must first believe before they could understand His mission?

John 5:46
John 5:46

Note: There are many who believe that the writings of the Old Testament are in some way inferior to those of the New Testament. Here we have conclusive evidence that it is was their failure to correctly understand the writings of the Old Testament that led these religious teachers to fail to fully appreciate Christ’s mission and message. At another time in a parable Jesus stated this truth again when it was stated that, “If they believe not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Luke 16:31

Another aspect of Christ’s teachings that set His teachings apart from the rabbinical teachings was the method He used to apply the Scriptures directly. He did not speak in generalities but applied the truth to those who were listening to His words in a way that could be easily understood and applied. We see an example of this when in Matthew 21:33 He quoted Isaiah 5 concerning the vineyard. He then quoted Psalms 118:22-23 to make the application.

7. Who did the chief priests and Pharisees understand He was applying the parable to?

Matthew 21:45-46
Matthew 21:45-46

Note: It was no doubt because of this direct method of application that so many sought Him out and listened to His words.

8. At another time, when officers were sent to arrest Jesus, but returned without him, what did they say of His teaching?

John 7:45-46
John 7:45-46

We also observed in an earlier lesson that when in the wilderness and confronted by temptation, Jesus met Satan with three different scriptures. He did not stop to argue with him; He simply quoted the words of God, without any comment or explanation.

9. In addition to gaining the approval of God through a study of His Word, what did Paul tell Timothy was important?

2 Timothy 2:15
2 Timothy 2:15

Note: The King James Version uses the expression, “rightly dividing.” Other versions express the thought as being the need to “handle accurately,” or “rightly,” the Word. As important as study is, it is equally important that we correctly and accurately apply that Word.

An instance where Jesus had to meet a mishandling of the Word is recorded in John 8. It was a time when the temple was filled with worshipers who had come to listen to Him. The Pharisees, believing they had just found a case that would prove them to be the true expositors of the law and cast Christ in a most unfavorable light regardless of what settlement He might make of the case, brought Him a woman caught in adultery. They now asserted that Moses and the law commanded that such a person should be stoned: but what do You say? What a challenge!

10. What did Jesus initially do?

John 8:6
John 8:6

11. After writing in the dust, what challenge did Jesus give them?

John 8:7
John 8:7

Note: Jesus never denied what Moses had said; He simply added what they had left unsaid, but what they knew Moses had also declared. According to Moses, both guilty parties were to be stoned. In saying that, “He that is without sin” should cast the first stone, Jesus was not teaching that absolute sinlessness was necessary in order to execute judgment, but He knew the background of this case, and that those men who had brought the woman to Him were implicated in the crime for which they wished to condemn her. Thus they were under the same judgment as the woman they had brought to Him. And, being convicted in their own conscience, they left.

12. How did Jesus’ teaching differ from that of the religious leaders?

Matthew 7:28-29
Matthew 7:28-29

Note: Jesus was very positive in His expressions. When He spoke of that which He knew with certainty and not something that He would repent of tomorrow, or which might not bear up under investigation, His message was to decide men’s destiny, and He spoke it without fear or favor.

13. How much of the Scripture does Paul tell us is inspired?

2 Timothy 3:16
2 Timothy 3:16

Note: Anyone who places himself in the position of attempting to distinguish between the portions of God’s Word, exalting one and belittling another, places himself in a dangerous position. God does nothing by halves. His Word is inspired and He designs that men shall take the Scriptures as His inspired Word.

“It is one thing to treat the Bible as a book of good moral instruction, to be heeded as far as is consistent with the spirit of the time; it is another thing to regard it as it really is—the Word of the living God—the Word that is our life, the Word that is to mold our actions, our words, and our thoughts. To hold God’s Word as anything less than this is to reject it.” Signs of the Times, October 17, 1906

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