Tuesday, April 25, 2006

men who must be silenced

It is fitting and appropriate that Paul warns us of false teachers just after we are given standards for qualified elders. In Titus 1:10-16 we see Paul’s warning to Titus about what type of men he will find promoting false doctrines as well as an idea of what these men are teaching.

"For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain."
(Titus 1:10,11 NASU)

First of all, I think that it is important to know the odds that Titus was up against. “for there are many…” There seems to be a proliferation of false teachers while there seems to be only one true minister of the gospel, Titus, in this area. Basically, it is this: there are many people teaching false things, and Titus is to begin to set the congregations in order by himself, at least until other elders were appointed by him to assist with this task.

This admonition to be aware of these false teachers, their motives, and their teachings is not “new news” to anyone who studies the New Testament (or the Old Testament, for that matter). One interesting point is that it seems that the false teachers in this context may have been Jewish believers1 because of the language used in verses 14 through 16.

The “Jewish myths and commandments of men” would make sense if it is referring to the Pharisaic additions to the Law of Moses and Rabbinic tradition as well as the teaching of some Jewish believers that Christians need to be Jewish first, and then become a Christian. To put it another way, these teachers taught that gentiles must adhere to the various dietary and other laws. That is why Paul goes on to say, “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.” (Titus 1:15 NASU)

Finally, verse 16 gives us a scathingly clear diagnosis of the professing believers acting as teachers. It is a serious condemnation to say that these men are “worthless for any good work.” One phrase that may be overlooked if you aren’t looking carefully is a parallel with a general descriptive identifier of false teachers. “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him” Christ told the masses that a teacher should be judged by the fruits that he produces (Matt 7:15,16 NASU). Peter tells us that false teachers will “revel in the daytime” (2 Peter 2:13 NASU). Jude says that these men are known for “following after their own lusts…”(Jude 16 NASU)


There are always more followers than teachers, it can’t work any other way, really. Think on this, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15 NASU)

I firmly believe that a mark of a true child of God is the desire and continuing struggle to obey God and His commands in all areas of life. A person who exhibits some of the negative character traits of false teachers or of the pagan world around us (drunkenness, sexual immorality, etc.)2 and proclaims allegiance to Christ is possibly deceived or are deceiving themselves. If you or I are willfully sinning and excuse ourselves with, “I’m saved by grace, so it doesn’t matter what I do…” or “I can ask for forgiveness after…” then it is not a stretch to say that you may not be saved, and will hear the dreadful words from Christ, “I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.”(Matt 7:21-23 NASU)

1 Whether or not some of the men referred to here were saved or not is not the main point here (I don't think). However, if Titus is to "reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith" it seems that these men were at least viewed as being able to be reached with the gospel.

2 The difference between a Christian who sins and a sinner making a false claim of being a Christian as evidenced by the way that they live is summed up, I think, excellently by Paul in Romans 7:14-25. If you desire to check yourself to see how your spiritual walk is, I encourage you to study the book of 1st John.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i sometimes watch TBN in order to get a taste of some of these men who must be silenced. It is too bad that people like to have their ears tickled.

Copyright © 2005-2010 Eric Johnson