Study to Show Yourself Approved?

Study to Show Yourself Approved?

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What does study mean?

2 Timothy 2: 15 in the King James Version states “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” The King James Version is a favorite amongst some congregants because it was the version that was exposed to them by parents and grandparents.

A newer version like the NRS, which is often accepted by theological scholars as translated closer to the original text quote 2 Timothy 2:15 as follows “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

(A comparison between different translations can be found here:

Often we are quick to quote the Kings James as we tell others “Study to show yourself approved” This study we speak of (in the church setting) is often associated with reading the Bible. But what did the text mean it its original context.

The letter is addressed to Timothy who is believed to be one who traveled and worked with Paul. The text was a letter and had not been considered scripture. Timothy was being instructed how to conduct himself and apparently he or someone with him could read.

We also should know is that in the time in which Paul lived roughly 5% of the population could read. Also the Bible as we know it (Genesis – Revelation) had not been created or canonized. This did not happen until 397. For those who could read such as scribes, priests and high ranking leaders, what was available was the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and it is likely that most did not have a readily written copy available.

Furthermore, what did this letter mean later when it was being read or quoted to congregants who could not read?

Maybe this “study” was more of a self inventory or an examination of one’s self as it relates to their relationship with God. It is rare hear “Study to show yourself approved” and think hit the mirror instead of hit the books. In taking look at the text “Do your best to present yourself to God” which is probably closer to the original Greek translation, we get a different feel for the text. Although studying the word is just as important so is self reflection. Would you present yourself to God without doing a little self examination first? It is my opinion that in the long run, God may not be too concerned with how much scripture you can quote or how many times you have read the Bible from Genesis to Maps.

Maybe we should be studying ourselves more than we study our religious books?  What do you think? Let us know.