“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
Teaching God’s Word of truth properly and effectively is not play; it is hard work! The command to “study” means, literally, to “labor earnestly.” There are far too many unprepared teachers of the Bible today, not even to mention false teachers. “My brethren, be not many masters [that is, ‘don’t many of you try to be teachers’], knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1).
A workman who has presented himself for testing, and has then passed the test, is an “approved” workman, and he will certainly have spent much time training in his profession before presuming to make application for a job. In this most important of all vocations, it is vital that the Word be “rightly divided,” for if, when the test comes, he cannot do this, he will “be ashamed” for having the presumption to engage in such a vital occupation without the necessary calling and training, or dedication.
The Lord had to train His disciples for three years before they were ready to start teaching the Word on their own. The apostle Paul also, even though he had already received the finest schooling in Israel, still had to be specially prepared for three years after becoming a Christian before he was ready (Galatians 1:15-24). The equivalent of three years’ full-time study still seems a good minimum before one should presume to take on a regular ministry of teaching or preaching the holy Scriptures.
Every Christian should seek to win people to Christ, of course, as soon as he himself meets Christ. He should also begin immediately to search the Scriptures (e.g., the Bereans, in Acts 17). But an “approved workman” needs to be thoroughly taught and to have studied in the Word himself. HMM