"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
The word "study" is challenged in this passage by supporters of modern versions. First, they claim the word is archaic and difficult to understand. Second, they claim that the Greek word, "spoudason" should be translated as "diligence." In reference to the New King James Version, Dr. Jack Lewis writes: "In II Timothy 2:15 'study' correctly becomes "Be diligent' . . . " (The English Bible, 349). James White likewise considers "Be diligent" a better translation than either the KJV's "study" or the NIV's "do your best":
"The NIV's 'do your best' seems to miss some of the force of the term, and the KJV's 'study' limits the meaning of the word far too much for the modern reader who might not understand 'study' to refer to a concerted effort at diligence and effort. Paul is exhorting Timothy to have an attitude that is marked by zeal, enthusiasm, and determination in his ministry. This attitude may well include the aspect of study, but in no way is Paul's admonishment to be limited solely to that activity." (The King James Only Controversy, 140-141).
Later, White seems to refer to 2 Timothy as meaning to be diligent in one's studies. He writes, "Allow the readers of Scripture to 'be diligent' (2 Timothy 2:15) in their own studies and come to their own conclusions." (Ibid., 257).
The English word "study" not only refers to one's endeavor to become educated, but also refers to being diligent. The 1828 Noah Webster Dictionary of the English Language lists one of the definitions of "study" as, "To endeavor diligently." A more current edition defines the word "studious" as, "diligent in study." (The New American Webster Handy College Dictionary, [New York: Signet Books, 1981], 517). We can see from this, and even from the first citation from James White, that the English word "study" means diligence. As to the Greek word "spoudason" the KJV translators knew the word meant more than book studies. The same Greek word is elsewhere translated as "diligence" in such places as 2 Timothy 4:9 and 4:21: as "endeavor" in 1 Thessalonians 2:17 and 2 Peter 1:15, as "forward" in Galatians 2:10 and 2 Corinthians 8:17, and as "labour" in Hebrews 4:11. Of course, this is no new information for students who must labor diligently in their endeavor to go forward as they study. And, again we are faced with the context itself. Our "diligence" in "rightly dividing the word of truth" comes from our "study" of Scripture, not our spiritual endeavors. Thus, only in the King James Bible is the Christian instructed to study in knowing how to rightly divide God's word.
One final note in regard to this verse. Reformer John Calvin, reading among other things French, Latin, and Greek, understood the word to mean "study" in regard to teachings from the Bible. Long before the KJV was translated into English Calvin wrote:
"Now when S. Paul hath thus spoken he addeth, 'Studie to present thyself to God an approved workeman, that needeth not be ashamed, dividing the word of truth aright' . . . So then, how shall they (those charged to preach the word of God) have the office of teaching the people of God, keepe themselves from vaine and unprofitable questions? And how may they resist them, which as busie bodies trouble the Church? Surely if they present themselves to God, and studie to do so."(John Calvin, Seromons on the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, [The Banner of Truth Trust, University Press, Oxford, 1983 reprint 1579 edition], 799).
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