By: Raymond Harris
Contributor: Virgil Wininger
Regarding Scripture: II Timothy 2.15
Note to the Reader – I encourage you to invest additional time reading the Epistle of Second Timothy in conjunction with this article.
Evangelists and the Word
Each of our shepherds have been asked to provide some ideas as to what they find interesting and noteworthy for examination in our articles. As we continue our examination of Second Timothy, this week’s suggestion comes from our Elder, Virgil Wininger. Brother Wininger found several items of interest from the second chapter. Ideas ranging from Paul continuing to encourage Timothy in his faithfulness to Paul telling Timothy to stay focused on the task of being an evangelist. There is much that can be learned from this second chapter, but our Elder has asked us to focus primarily on verse fifteen.
The role and responsibilities of an evangelist, such as Timothy, are complex. Like Timothy, an evangelist can be assigned, or asked to work in a certain location, or the evangelist can locate/relocate at their discretion. But an evangelist works best in any given situation when they believe they are led by Jehovah to work in a certain location.
Sometimes an evangelist may have the privilege, as Paul described, “to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation.”1 Yet, it seems that in many, if not most, instances evangelists work where others have labored as well. In either of these situations there are unique opportunities and challenges. However, regardless of the situation, the evangelist has the responsibility to carry out their role, as Timothy was encouraged to do by Paul: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”2
Study and Diligence
Since the role and responsibility is so serious for an evangelist, we should begin by asking: What does it mean that the King James Version says, “study to shew thyself approved unto God”? While this writer personally likes the way in which the King James sounds with its use of the word study, perhaps it is beneficial to examine the Greek word on which the translation is based. The Greek word for the KJV word study is found twelve times in the New Testament and is translated as: diligence, diligent, endeavor, endeavored, endeavoring, forward, labor, and study.3
Thayer’s defines this Greek word as, one: to hasten, make haste; or two: to exert one’s self, endeavor, give diligence. For use in our verse of study, it seems possible that one could combine Thayer’s two definitions into one saying that the evangelist needs “to hasten [be quick] in exerting themselves in the endeavor of working as an evangelist”.
The concern this writer has with the King James translation is that while the contemporary (modern) definition of study includes “zealous endeavor or [constant] effort”4 this particular application of meaning is the eighth definition of the word study. Instead, it seems that the contemporary focus is on the primary (e.g. first) definition: “application of the mind to the acquisition of knowledge, as by reading, investigation, or reflection”.5 Acquisition of knowledge is part of the process, but acquisition of knowledge seems incomplete in the task of study as stated in our verse.
One of the challenges that Paul states an evangelist has seems to be “rightly dividing the word of truth”. While this statement seems innocuous and innocent, this phrase actually describes “theology”. Paul knows that how the evangelist not only interprets the words but also applies the words and their meanings from the Bible to the people is important to the righteousness and general welfare of the church. This is perhaps one of the greatest challenges the evangelist has. Knowing this, Paul’s instructions to Timothy contain tremendous importance all the way through verse eight of chapter four. It is of primary importance that the evangelist be studying the Bible.6
In chapter two, Paul includes, at least one example of evangelists who have interpreted the scriptures incorrectly, those evangelists being: Hymenaeus and Philetus.7 But Paul seems to be drawing the conclusion that evangelists can and will draw conclusions that result in “profane and vain babblings”8 in “foolish and unlearned questions”.9 Paul states that profane and vain babblings cause an increase in ungodliness,10 and that foolish and unlearned questions cause strife (argumentation).11 Both of which are to be avoided by what Paul terms “the servant of the Lord”.12 While the work of an evangelist is challenging and difficult, Paul tells Timothy to “be gentle” to everyone and teach them patiently.
According to Paul’s writings in Ephesians, evangelists are a needed part of the church and help build unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God.13 The evangelists work along with others in the church in order to help bring about a “whole body fitly jointed together”.14 Additionally, according to Paul’s instructions to Timothy, the evangelist is to constantly use the Bible to instruct the church15 even when doing so is difficult.16
As we bring our study to a close, we need to keep in mind that God’s Word, while timeless, also has a vast storehouse of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. In the word’s of our Elder, “we need to keep our focus not on what we have heard about the Word, but focus on what the Word is saying.” May the LORD bless us as we continue to understand His Word and may He bless us with all spiritual understanding.17
1. “Not Build upon Another’s Labor.” Romans 15.20, KJV.
2. “Role of Evangelist.” Second Timothy 2.15, KJV.
3. “King James Version: study.” King James Concordance for spoudazo; Strong’s Number G4704, e-Sword, 8.0.6, July 15, 2009.
4. “Study and Its Eighth Definition.” Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 15 Jul. 2009. Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/study.
5. “Study.” Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 15 Jul. 2009. Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/study.
6. “Study the Bible.” Second Timothy 3.15-17, KJV.
7. “Hymenaeus and Philetus.” Second Timothy 2.17, KJV.
8. “Profane and Vain Babblings.” Second Timothy 2.16, KJV.
9. “Foolish and Unlearned Questions.” Second Timothy 2.23, KJV.
10. “Increase in Ungodliness.” Second Timothy 2.16, KJV.
11. “Foolish and Unlearned Questions Cause Strife.” Second Timothy 2.23, KJV.
12. “The Servant of the Lord.” Second Timothy 2.24, KJV.
13. “Evangelist Help Build Unity and Knowledge.” Ephesians 4.11-16, KJV.
14. “Whole Body Fitly Jointed Together.” Ephesians 4.16, KJV.
15. “Evangelists Instruct the Church.” Second Timothy 3.15-17, KJV.
16. “Evangelists Instruct When Doing So Is Difficult.” Second Timothy 4.4-5, KJV.
17. “God Blesses All Spiritual Understanding.” Ephesians 1.17-23, KJV.