2 Timothy 2:15 says, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." "Rightly dividing" is from the Greek word orthotomeo and is used only once in the entire Bible. As expected, the concordances define it as "to divide rightly" or "to cut straightly." As a tent maker (Acts 18:3), the Apostle Paul chose this word because it described quality craftsmanship, or the work of a faithful craftsman. Although there are twenty-six other words translated "divide" in the Bible, Paul specifically chose this word.
When one thinks of dividing something, it is because taking it apart makes sense. It serves a purpose. What purpose did Paul have in mind when he described a faithful workman taking apart the Word of God? It needs to be divided in order to understand it. That is why there are two Testaments, sixty-six books, chapters and verses. Each division serves a purpose. However, the division Paul had in mind was something quite different. Paul is the only writer whose use of another word oikonomia is translated "dispensation." Luke uses it three times, and it is correctly translated "stewardship." It has the sense of accountability. A dispensation is a period of time in which servants are accountable for the wise use and protection of their master's goods. Matthew 25:14-30 speaks of a wealthy man leaving his property in the hands of his servants, and their accountability upon his return. Since the parable is a picture of Jesus leaving His disciples in charge of His possessions, the logical questions is, for what goods are we responsible? The answer is light.
Adam had no Bible, but he experienced the presence of the Lord. Noah had no Bible, but God directed him in building the ark. Abraham had no Bible, but God gave him ownership of the promised land. Moses was given the first five books of the Bible. David added most of Psalms. The prophets also added to the Word. John the baptizer had all of the Old Testament. The disciples walked with the Word, and later disciples of Christ wrote the New Testament. Adam never knew what David or Matthew knew. David did not know what the Twelve knew. And apparently, the Twelve did not know all that Paul knew (Acts 15:1-27; 2 Peter 3:15-16). From Adam until the Apostle John wrote Revelation, the light was gradually revealed, man's understanding of God's plan grew.
With increased revelation or light, man's accountability or stewardship of the Truth increased. Remember that Jesus said some cities would be held more accountable than previous cities, because they received greater light, more revelation. In Luke 12:41-48, Jesus speaks of stewardship and finishes by saying, "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required...." Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will attempt to explain the concept of Dispensationalism, or seven periods of man's stewardship of revealed light.