Behavior of False Teachers (Titus 4)


READ: Titus 1:10-14

Paul wrote final instructions to Titus telling him to straighten out problems in the church by appointing spiritually mature, godly men to lead the local home churches (Titus 1:1-5).  He then explained in detail what kind of men they are to be (Titus 1:6-9).  In contrast, though, there were false teachers who were causing problems in the church (Titus 1:10-16).  They claimed to be Christians and were involved in the church but what they taught was not in line with what Paul taught.  If they unbelievers who attacked from without the church, they could be easily recognized and ignored.  But when popular, influential people who seemed sincere in their faith and accurate in their teaching mislead people, it can be very damaging.

Paul calls them “rebellious” (Titus 1:10 – against God’s truth), “mere talkers” (teaching human opinion and not god’s truth) and “deceivers” (convincing others they had the truth when they didn’t.  Most of them came from the “circumcision group,” referring to Jews who claimed to be Christians, and may have been.  Jews were known for their arguing and legalism.  As the joke goes, “Ask two Jews, get three opinions.”

These men “must be silenced” (Titus 1:11) Paul emphatically commands.  He then gave the reason (“because”).  First, “they are ruining whole households” by their false teachings.  Whole families, even whole house churches, were disrupted, misled and in conflict.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, the reason they did this was to make money.  The people on Crete were known for their greed, and some had found a way to get money from the Christians.  They said what would bring them the greatest financial reward.  Perhaps they were selling their ‘hidden truths’ about God, or they may have been expecting the people they taught to contribute money to them.  Unfortunately there are pastors and leaders today who see the ministry as a career, a way to earn an income.  They work  to get larger and larger churches and more financial support.

To prove his point Paul quotes Epimenides who lived earlier and said “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12).  Callimachus, who lived 300 years before Paul wrote, also said they were liars.  Lying was not condemned on Crete but actually seen as a good way to get what one wanted.  In their legends and traditions, the main god they worshiped, Zeus, lied to attract the women he wanted.  They said Zeus was buried on Crete, which was also a lie.

Paul’s command to Titus was to “rebuke them sharply” (Titus 1:13).  Be very clear and strong in your condemnation of them and their teachings.  Don’t hold back but attack the lies (not the people) as hard as you can.  Cretans were rough, harsh and uncultivated so a simple; polite rebuke wouldn’t make much difference.  Paul told Timothy in cultivated Ephesus to be gentle and meek in his rebuke for that was all the people there needed.  There is no right or wrong way to do this, it depends on the circumstances and God’s leading.  However it is done, false teaching must be challenged and stopped.  If not, it shows the pastor either doesn’t respect the truth of God’s Word or he is afraid of what others may say about him.  The reason they are to be strongly reprimanded for their error is so that they will return to the true faith (Titus 1:13).

False teaching can take many forms but on Crete it was about “Jewish myths” (Titus 1:14).  The Jews had developed many stories and legends that were untrue but were passed on because people wanted to hear them.  They had legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales, stories, tall tales and customs that are the traditions of Judaism.   These include stories of vampires and monsters, secret messages hidden in the names of people, supposed strange things God said or did in the past that aren’t in the Bible, stories and parables with odd lessons revealed only to special people.  People were fascinated by these, even those that were extreme and often unbelievable. Perhaps some people feared they were true so wanted to know more about them.  Others may have been looking for a short-cut to an easy, problem-free life.  (To be continued in the next blog.)  (September 4, 2023  Doylestown, PA)

PAUL’S ADVICE:  False teachers must be confronted and corrected.

2 Peter 2:1-3  But there were also false prophets * among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. * They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord * who bought them *—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their shameful ways * and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed * these teachers will exploit you * with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

Which false teachings do you have to deal with?

Why are they so appealing to people?

What is so dangerous about them?

What must you do to oppose them?


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