A brief word at the beginning of each post will help keep the purpose of these posts in mind as this blog goes forward. If you haven’t read the introductory post, I suggest that you take the time to do it before reading on. I am keeping the posts short so that they can be quickly read and digested. It is my hope that you will reflect on these articles and put them to the test. When you encounter something that seems counter to everything you have been taught or know to be true…remember the assignment….smile…be a Berean
In the last post we covered the use and meaning of the phrase the word of God in the book of Acts. Now we will shift to the phrase the word of truth. This phrase is most familiar from the often quoted and preached on verse, 2Tim 2:15. So the question once again is what is meant by Paul and others when they use the phrase word of truth? And again, the most widely accepted evangelical meaning is scripture. When anyone discusses rightly dividing or correctly handling the word of truth, they invariably mean the scripture. But is that what was meant by the phrase in the first century writings?
First off, the phrase is used four times in the New Testament writings three times by Paul and once by James; (2Co_6:7; Eph_1:13; 2Ti_2:15; Jas_1:18;) Interestingly, Paul actually defines the term in Ephesians:
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, (Eph 1:13)
Notice that Paul outright states that the word of truth is the gospel of your salvation. There can be little room for debate about what he meant in his writing and he would not have been confusing with his terms; therefore, we can believe that the meaning that he attached to the phrase in Ephesians 1:13, is the same meaning that he gave it in 2Tim 2:15 and, thereby we can reasonably assume that he meant that the man/woman of God should rightly divide and, correctly handle the gospel of salvation.
Does James back this up? The answer is a resounding yes. Look at the passage from James:
Jas 1:17-18 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (18) Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
In the above passage James is speaking of being brought forth as a kind of firstfruit. This is description of being born again by the word of truth, Jesus and/or, the gospel. In any instance, you can be sure that he is not saying that he or, the other believing saints were being brought forth by the scripture.
This is the third post in this particular thread and it’s becoming more obvious that there is some substance to my assertion. So, what is the reason for this gospel focus? The answer is simply that Jesus taught his disciples a totally redemptive view of scripture that pointed to him and, the redemption he brought. The earlier focus of the word of truth, Psalm 119:43 was supplanted by this use of the phrase. The first century Jews, especially the Pharisees, saw the Torah as the word of God based upon the 119th Psalm and Jesus and his disciples are replacing the meaning in an overwhelmingly forceful way and, they are careful not to refer to the Torah as the word of God. Now before you jump to conclusions about how I view the scripture I will begin to get at that next. We will come back to the word of God a few posts down the road however.
As usual, if you have comments or questions feel free to share them. And I would strongly suggest that you go back and read the posts that come before this so you can see how the logic is built on the evidence.