Bible Engagement Blog

Correctly Handling the Word of Truth


One of the last things Paul told Timothy was, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” 2 Timothy 2:15.

Note the phrase “correctly handles the word of truth.” The Greek word for “handles” is orthotomeō. It only appears once in the New Testament. Strong’s Concordance defines orthotomeō like this: to cut straight, to proceed on straight paths, hold a straight course, to handle aright, to teach the truth directly and correctly. Visually, we should picture it as a clear and unobstructed pathway, i.e. no impeding obstacles.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were no obstacles to correctly handling the word of truth? Unfortunately, many obstacles need to be overcome. Maybe the biggest is the misguided notion that everyone’s opinion should be valued. But truth isn’t subjective, it’s objectively knowable. We do not have the liberty to make the Scriptures mean whatever we want them to mean.

So how do we handle the word of truth fittingly and appropriately? Here are five foundational guidelines:

  1. We should begin with understanding the master plan. When we study Scripture, we must determine where it fits into God’s plan. Every verse of Scripture must be understood in the context of its passage, every passage in the context of the chapter, every chapter in the context of the book, every book in the context of the Testament, and the Testament in the context of the whole Bible.
  2. We must be governed by the overarching principle of Scriptura sui interpres (Scripture interprets itself). Remember that God’s Word is living and active (cf. Hebrews 4:12). Throughout the Bible we see Scripture quoting Scripture. Scripture itself is the best theology professor to teach truth. When we carefully contemplate and consider different accounts of Scripture, the Scriptures will enable us to understand and correctly handle the word of truth.
  3. We must do it in community. When we handle truth, we must consider and interact with the writings/teachings of theologians past and present (insofar as they agree with Scripture). There is no new truth. God has revealed truth to Christians down through the ages. As a guiding principle, if we think we have a new interpretation, we’re probably wrong.
  4. We must look for Jesus. The theme of the Bible from beginning to end, though sometimes hidden or obscure, is Jesus (cf. John 5:39). Jesus is Truth (cf. John 14:6). To rightly comprehend and apprehend the truth, we must engage with Scripture the Emmaus Road way (cf. Luke 24:13-35), i.e. open the Scriptures to see Jesus (cf. Luke 24:27).
  5. We must ask God to illuminate the Scriptures. To correctly handle the word of truth we need insight and understanding from the Holy Spirit (cf. John 14:26). It’s only when the Holy Spirit shines His light on a text, that we’re able to properly analyze, accurately explain, and rightly apply the Scriptures.


There’s much more that could be said. Please add your comments.

© Scripture Union Canada 2019

2 Corinthians 4:5

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2 thoughts on “Correctly Handling the Word of Truth

  1. My name is Glenn Speight. I am the father of Sam who stayed with you and your wife a couple of weeks ago with his new wife (your niece) Sandra and her two boys.
    This article is uncannily timely as we are right in the middle of an issue where one of our elders (we hold him in good esteem) has resigned due to the clarification of the church’s stance on teaching by women.
    Frankly, it came as a surprise to me as I had assumed that because women have never preached from the pulpit that 1 Timothy 2:12 was being adhered to.
    The good thing in all of this is that there is no ill feeling and it has caused us to examine Gods Word even more. We have a dynamic Bible group who meet at various homes every week and we are making this a priority.
    With Best regards

    • Hi Glenn,
      Great to hear from you and I’m so pleased we’ve connected via the family link.
      It was a joy for us to meet your son and to see how well Sam and Sandra are getting along.
      I understand from Sam that your roots are in the Plymouth Brethren. Many years ago, we had the privilege of planting a church in Orillia, Canada, with Vision Ministries Canada, a Plymouth Brethren church-planting movement.
      Now I have the joy of serving with Scripture Union and Scripture Gift Mission.
      Thanks again for sharing and connecting.
      Every blessing!
      Warmly in Jesus,

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