Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1
February 19, 2006
3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
1901 ASV Translation:
3 If any man teacheth a different doctrine, and consenteth not to sound words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
4 he is puffed up, knowing nothing, but doting about questionings and disputes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
5 wranglings of men corrupted in mind and bereft of the truth, supposing that godliness is a way of gain.
- I. Paul's Criticism of False Teachers.
- A. Paul finished a lengthy presentation of "how to treat certain groups within the church" (5:3-6:2 -- widows, elders, and slaves/masters) and instructed Timothy to "teach and summon folks to" the things he had written.
- B. He then turned his attention to those who refused any of his "doctrines".
- 1. He indicated that there would be "some" who would "teach otherwise" ("If" plus the indicative -- see the grammars on conditional clauses).
- a. He used a combination word that put "teach" and "different" together. He alone of the writers of the New Testament used this word and he only used it twice -- 1 Timothy 1:3 and here in 6:3.
- 1) In 1:3 he makes it the "purpose" for leaving Timothy in Ephesus.
- 2) The "issue" is Truth. There is such a thing, and it needs to be clearly distinguished from the delusions that men are constantly promoting in the name of "God".
- a) This stands in spite of the reality of "interpretation". It is true that every "claim" of Truth must be "interpreted" and that there is a significant subtlety in Truth that must be seen for any "interpretation" to be accurate; but, there are usually some pretty large general markers by which one can deal with individual "interpretations". In this unit of Paul's presentation, there are three fairly large "issues": how to deal with "widows"; how to deal with "elders"; and how to instruct "slaves" to be slaves and not freemen-wanna-be's. If a "teacher" does not come down on the right side of these big-ticket concepts, he is, according to Paul, "teaching otherwise".
- b) This stands in spite of the reality that no one who teaches "Truth" is a pristine example of it (James says, "In many things we all offend" and Paul said of himself, "I count not myself to have apprehended (perfection)...".) The Truth stands over everyone and needs to be taught even though the teachers are not perfect in their application of it to themselves. This does create some tension -- How can he teach what he does not practice? -- but it does not justify either a refusal to teach Truth or a corruption of the teaching so that the "teacher" looks like he is living up to it. And, again, just as in the "interpretation" issue above, "application" also has layers to it. A man can be in "fault" about a "particular" that is involved in the issue of "elders", for instance, but still be "in the ball park" by insisting upon the reality of "elders". He may miss the mark on the interpretation of a given characteristic of an elder, but he can hardly simply "junk" elder-leadership and still be playing the right game in the right ball park. Any time the large picture of "widows", "elders", and "slaves" is rejected, Paul's words about "teaching otherwise" apply.
- b. He combined his "combination word" with a second "problem": "consenting not".
- 1) In 85 uses of this word in the New Testament, the translators used "consent" only here.
- a) This is problematical. Any time translators have to "reach" for a unique translation-word to render a much-used Greek word, they probably are not being faithful to the text.
- b) The word Paul used is translated 81 times by the Authorized Version translators with words which indicate "movement toward" some "object" -- and that idea fits this text very well: Paul is talking about "teachers" who will not "move in the direction" of the requirements of solid Truth. It's not really a matter of "consent"; it is a matter of a determined refusal to move towards a well-established reality.
- 2) The "problem" here is that the "health-giving words of our Lord Jesus Christ" are being both seen and taught to be "destructive to life".
- a) When "life" is seen to be the result of...
- i. "...being carried without personally responsible participation..." (the care of widows is not to be understood as giving anyone a free ride); and
- ii. "...being free from the oversight of fallen men..." (elders are not perfect, but are God's instruments for the accomplishment of His goals for His local churches, and slave owners are not perfect but slaves are not to resist their dominion)...
- b) "life" has been distorted as to means and the distorter is a false teacher.
- 2. He characterized them.
- a. His characterization does not allow for "exceptions": everyone who is guilty of the rather massive failure he is addressing is also guilty of fitting the description which he gives in his characterization.
- 1) As men, we tend in one of two directions. We either "make allowances" that go too far (we often say, since no one is perfect, we will accept imperfection -- but then we accept too much imperfection), or we "refuse any imperfection" and create an impossible scenario (demanding too much of men eliminates any man from being a qualified elder).
- 2) It is a huge mistake to use the lack of agreement on the particulars to reject the larger picture.
- 3) It is a major fault of "believers" to "go along with" those who are characterized by Paul in the terms he uses.
- b. His characterization is "heart" related: he is not concerned primarily with how the false teacher "comes across"; he is concerned with the condition of his inner being. He says he is "of the nature of insubstantial, rising smoke". Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon says that the word Paul used refers to someone who is "demented" or "insanely arrogant". Having left the "health-giving" words of Truth, what can he be but "insanely promoting death as life"? Interestingly, it is not the man's "Christology" or his "Soteriology" or his "Theology" that identifies him. It is his "Ecclesiology" as it relates to the treatment of widows, elders, and slave-owners that identifies him.