What it means to Study

2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

The word ‘study’ means the application of the mind to the acquisition of knowledge, by reading, investigation, or reflection.  It is research that involves effort on the part of the individual who is seeking to grow in their understanding or wants to expand their horizons.  By studying, the person is saying ‘I want to be more than what I already am.’  The material we learn during the course of our studies is mental food; and we become what we eat.

Here in our text the apostle Paul is telling Timothy to study God’s word.  But not only Timothy, you see ever Christian should be studying God’s word.  Especially given how the name ‘Christian’ means Christ-like.  We become more like our savior by drawing closer to him.  We can endure better during the trials and temptations the stronger we have become in his word.  Our triumphs will be greater the more time we have spent with God.

Conversely, the less time spent with God the less we can resist the devil.  If we are not feasting on his word the weaker we are and thus the more susceptible to the negative influence of this world.  Less time spent on studying the Bible is more time spent away from it and probably more time hanging around sin.  And sin will rub off on us; trust me I personally know this all to well.

So how do we study the Bible then?  Same as we did in school.  Take the time to read it; don’t be afraid to invest time sitting down and just reading without using that time only as filler while you are waiting for something else.  Individuals have worn out countless Bibles over the years just reading it over and over again.  Some people have learned to when the best time of day is for them to read and looked forward to that time that they have set aside for that purpose, whether it be 15 minutes or an hour.

Another way to study the Bible is to investigate it.  Many people pick up commentaries by trusted authors to better understand what the Bible has to say.  The fun thing about that is that the Bible is so rich and deep that each commentary can deal with a specific point of view on the verse at hand giving the reader a possible different view point for every commentary they are reading.  And that is because as Peter put it in 2 Peter 1:20 “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.”  So one can study the Bible to better understand the meaning of biblical numbers, the symbols and types found in its pages, or even word studies which are a favorite of mine.  In word studies one looks up the word at hand with say a Strong’s Concordance with Greek and Hebrew numbers.  In those pages a student can find out what a word meant originally 400 years ago and better understand the text.  This is important because the English language has changed so much in the last 400 years.

The last way is reflection or meditation.  Just how does what I have just read apply to me?  What light is God shining in my life now through his word? Psalms 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  This reflection gives direction; so when we don’t ‘see’ which way to go we need to get back to the word.  We may have gotten off track or need to wait for the next step to be shown to us.

God will illuminate his will for us through his word, but what we need to do is to seek him through his word.  That’s why the verse in our text says to “Study to show thyself APPROVED unto God”.  Approved means tried or acceptable.  No studying means not approved.  Not approved, accepted, or tried means we ain’t ready for what lies ahead.  If we are not ready for what lies ahead then why should God let us move forward, especially with his blessings?  He may let us try going forward, but only in our own strength and failure will be what lies in store for us.

Studying will make one a ‘workman’ (toiler, teacher, or laborer) or someone who who is truly ready both to advance in the fight and to pass on what they have learned.  Because God will have seen that they have properly invested their time he will know that they are capable of not only seeking him but passing on the truth he has for each of us.  What it means to study is very important for all Christians to both know and follow through on.


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