TBU: The Bible Unpacked: In-Depth Edition

II. Teaching in the Church

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Chapter 30  Part II

Teaching in the Church

Teaching is one of the main roles of most church leaders. Good teaching is based on God’s word, and should be delivered in accordance with the directions and sound examples found in Scripture. On the topic of teaching, one must also be aware of the characteristics of “false” teachers who are so often present in the church, so as to recognize them and deal with them.

What to Teach: God’s Word

See also:

Teach and preach God’s word

2Tim 3:16-17  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of Godg may be competent, equipped for every good work. ▤ 

g That is, a messenger of God (the phrase echoes a common Old Testament expression)

2Tim 4:1-2  I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. ▤ 

Acts 6:2-4  And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3Therefore, brothers,h pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” ▤ 

h Or brothers and sisters

The “ministry of the word” (vv. 2, 4) is the “work of teaching God’s word” (NCV™).

Acts 13:5  When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. ▤ 

Note that often in NT verses, as is the case here, expressions such as “the word of God” refer to the gospel in particular (cf. AMP) – “the Good News of God” (NCV™).

Acts 15:35  But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. ▤ 

Acts 18:11  And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. ▤ 

1Thes 2:13  And we also thank God constantlyi for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. ▤ 

i Or without ceasing

Titus 1:1-3  Paul, a servantj of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages begank 3and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; … ▤ 

j Or slave; Greek bondservant

k Greek before times eternal

Heb 13:7a  Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. ▤ 

1Pet 1:25  … but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. ▤ 

Ezek 2:7  And you shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear, for they are a rebellious house. ▤ 

Rom 15:4  For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. ▤ 

This implies that the Scriptures are filled with things to teach us – and so should be taught.

  • Let Christ’s word dwell in you richly as you teach:

Col 3:16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. ▤ 

This is not specifically saying that we should use the word itself in teaching, but arguably this is implied. Paul is saying that we should be filled with the word and so be strongly influenced by it as we teach and admonish one another.

Teach God’s commands and ways

Ex 18:20  … and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. ▤ 

Ex 24:3  Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules.l And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” ▤ 

l Or all the just decrees

Deut 4:1, 5, 14  And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rulesm that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. ▤ 5See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. ▤ 14And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and rules, that you might do them in the land that you are going over to possess. ▤ 

m Or just decrees; also verses 5, 8, 14, 45

Deut 33:10  They shall teach Jacob your rules and Israel your law; they shall put incense before you and whole burnt offerings on your altar. ▤ 

This verse is from Moses’ blessing of the tribe of Levi.

2Chr 17:9  And they taught in Judah, having the Book of the Law of the Lord with them. They went about through all the cities of Judah and taught among the people. ▤ 

Ezra 7:10, 25  For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel. ▤ 25“And you, Ezra, according to the wisdom of your God that is in your hand, appoint magistrates and judges who may judge all the people in the province Beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God. And those who do not know them, you shall teach. ▤ 

Neh 8:7  Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites,n helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. ▤ 

n Vulgate; Hebrew and the Levites

Matt 5:19  Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. ▤ 

Matt 28:19-20a  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them ino the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. ▤ 

o Or into

1Sam 12:23  Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. ▤ 

Ps 51:13  Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. ▤ 

1Thes 4:1  Finally, then, brothers,p we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. ▤ 

p Or brothers and sisters; also verses 10, 13

2Chr 26:5  He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper. ▤ 

Instruction “in the fear of God” (cf. 2Ki 17:28 ) speaks of teaching how to live in accordance with a fear of God, which primarily involves obeying God’s commands (cf. CEV, NCV). Similarly in Psalms 34:11b David says, “I will teach you the fear of the Lord.”

2Ki 17:28  So one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and lived in Bethel and taught them how they should fear the Lord. ▤ 

Note that here the people being taught were not God’s people as such, but foreigners who had been settled into what had been the northern kingdom of Israel, in place of the deported Israelites. Also note that the priest referred to may have been of the false worship system that had held sway in the former northern kingdom of Israel. He certainly did not succeed in instilling true fear and obedience amongst the population at large (cf. vv. 29-41). Nevertheless, the verse rightly speaks of the importance of teaching God’s people how to fear God.

Teach the truths of the faith  . . .

1Tim 4:6, 10-11  If you put these things before the brothers,q you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. ▤ 10For to this end we toil and strive,r because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. 11Command and teach these things. ▤ 

q Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church

r Some manuscripts and suffer reproach

In v. 6a Paul exhorts Timothy to instruct the believers in the things that he had been writing about, which were composed of or in line with “the words of the faith” (v. 6b) and the good doctrine that Timothy himself had followed. Verse 10 contains more such truth that Timothy was to teach.

Matt 13:52  And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” ▤ 

Scribes were teachers of the law. Here Jesus is illustrating that in teaching one should set forth the “treasures” or truths of God’s kingdom, including the new teachings that he brought and those of OT Scripture.

Titus 2:11-15a  For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. 15Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. ▤ 

In v. 15a Paul refers to the content of the preceding verses in the chapter, which includes teaching on both the role of God’s grace (vv. 11-12) and on Jesus Christ (vv. 13-14) – as well as earlier instructions to various groups on how to live (cf. vv. 2-10).

Titus 3:4-8  But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. ▤ 

The trustworthy “saying” (v. 8a) containing the things that Titus was to “insist on” (v. 8a) or emphasize (cf. GNT, NIV) in his teaching, is the doctrinal statement in the preceding verses (vv. 4-7).

1Jn 1:5  This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. ▤ 

Job 27:11  I will teach you concerning the hand of God; what is with the Almighty I will not conceal. ▤ 

Job is basically saying that he will teach about the ways of God.

. . . Examples of spiritual truth being taught from Scripture

Matt 24:15-16, 29-30  So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. ▤ 29“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. ▤ 

Here Jesus quotes from or refers to Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11 (v. 15) and Isaiah 13:10, 34:4 (v. 29).

Luke 24:26-27, 45-47  Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. ▤ 45Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. ▤ 

Note that in vv. 46-47 Jesus is not directly quoting an OT passage. He appears to have a number in view.

Acts 2:25-31  For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ 29“Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. ▤ 

Peter quotes Psalm 16:8-11 (vv. 25-28) and then teaches how it applies to Jesus (vv. 29-31).

Acts 8:32-35  Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. 33In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” 34And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. ▤ 

Gal 3:5-14  Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? 7Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justifys the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. 10For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”t 12But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spiritu through faith. ▤ 

s Or count righteous; also verses 11, 24

t Or The one who by faith is righteous will live

u Greek receive the promise of the Spirit

Here Paul quotes from Scripture no less than six times in eight verses. He does so to teach that: those who believe or have faith are deemed righteous or justified along with Abraham (vv. 6-7) – including Gentiles (vv. 8-9) – as opposed to observing the law (vv. 10-12), through what Jesus Christ accomplished (vv. 13-14).

Read God’s word in church assemblies

1Tim 4:13  Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. ▤ 

Ex 24:7  Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” ▤ 

Deut 31:10-13  And Moses commanded them, “At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, 11when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, 13and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.” ▤ 

Josh 8:34-35  And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. 35There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who livedv among them. ▤ 

v Or traveled

2Ki 23:2  And the king went up to the house of the Lord, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord. ▤ 

Neh 8:2-3, 18  So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. 3And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. ▤ 18And day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. They kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule. ▤ 

Jer 36:5-6  And Jeremiah ordered Baruch, saying, “I am banned from going to the house of the Lord, 6so you are to go, and on a day of fasting in the hearing of all the people in the Lord’s house you shall read the words of the Lord from the scroll that you have written at my dictation. You shall read them also in the hearing of all the men of Judah who come out of their cities. ▤ 

Luke 4:16-19  And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” ▤ 

Acts 13:15  After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.” ▤ 

Acts 13:27  For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. ▤ 

Acts 15:21  For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues. ▤ 

Col 4:16  And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. ▤ 

1Thes 5:27  I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers. ▤ 

Use God’s word as the authoritative standard in determining what is true . . .

See also:

Acts 17:11  Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. ▤ 

Isa 8:19-20  And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? 20To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. ▤ 

The “teaching” and the “testimony” (v. 20a) presumably refer to God’s law and/or the teachings and testimony or prophecies that God had given through Isaiah; certainly some aspects of God’s word are in view. One should turn to God’s word in seeking guidance and truth (v. 20a) – rather than to other sources (v. 19). Moreover, if any instruction is not in accordance with God’s word, then the person advocating it has no “dawn” (v. 20b), i.e. spiritual light.

Matt 11:2-5  Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepersw are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. ▤ 

w Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13

In response to John the Baptist’s query, Jesus quotes from the OT to show that he was indeed the “one who is to come” (v. 3) – i.e. the Messiah.

John 5:39-40, 46  You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. ▤ 46For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. ▤ 

Jesus points to the authority of the Scriptures to validate the truth of his claims.

Acts 17:2-3  And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” ▤ 

Acts 18:28  … for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus. ▤ 

Matt 22:23, 28-32  The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, ▤ 28In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.” 29But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” ▤ 

The Sadducees were wrong both in their understanding of what the resurrection will involve and, more fundamentally, in not believing in the resurrection – with this disbelief being at the heart of their question. Jesus makes a general reference to the authority of Scripture in correcting their misunderstanding (vv. 29-30); and then quotes from Scripture to expose the fallacy of not believing in the resurrection (vv. 31-32).

Acts 15:13-19  After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. 14Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. 15And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, 16“‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, 17that the remnantx of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things 18known from of old.’ 19Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, … ▤ 

x Or rest

In vv. 15-18 James uses Scripture to affirm the validity of what had appeared to occur – the conversion of a significant number of Gentiles (v. 14; cf. vv. 7-9). Note that in v. 19 James goes on to conclude from this how they, the Jewish leaders of the church, should respond.

. . . and use God’s word in determining what actions are legitimate

See also:

Matt 12:1-7  At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” 3He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: 4how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? 6I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. ▤ 

Jesus refers three times to the OT Scriptures (vv. 3-4, 5, 7) to refute the Pharisees’ accusation that the disciples’ actions were unlawful (vv. 1-2). The first two times were references to examples of necessity taking precedence over regulations in the law. In conjunction with this, in v. 7 Jesus quotes from Hosea 6:6 to advocate following the spirit of the law rather than a legalistic, judgmental application of it. For comment on v. 6, see the comment on Matt 12:6 – under God granted Jesus sovereign authority.

Matt 19:3-6  And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” ▤ 

Matt 21:12-13  And Jesus entered the templey and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” ▤ 

y Some manuscripts add of God

Here Jesus appears to appeal to the authority of Scripture to both denounce the actions of the money changers and to justify his own action. He uses the Scripture first to indicate what God’s house should be and then to show what the money changers and sellers were making it.

Matt 26:50b-54  Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servantz of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” ▤ 

z Greek bondservant

In v. 54 Jesus was in effect saying that the Scriptures had stated or ordained that his time of trial should take place. By this Jesus implied that his disciples should therefore yield to the authority of Scripture and not resist his arrest (vv. 51-52).

Luke 4:3-12  The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” 5And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’” 9And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ 11and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 12And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” ▤ 

Note that vv. 10-11 illustrate that Scripture can be misused, with Satan doing so here. One needs to interpret Scripture – and other people’s application of it – in the light of all Scripture, as Jesus demonstrates in his reply in v. 12.

  • Keep to what is written in Scripture:

1Cor 4:6  I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers,a that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. ▤ 

a Or brothers and sisters

Paul is urging the Corinthians not to go beyond principles taught in Scripture, which on the issue in question meant not being conceited in promoting one teacher over another.

Note: Do not add to or subtract from God’s word – nor distort it

See also:

Deut 4:2  You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you. ▤ 

Deut 12:32  b “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. ▤ 

b Ch 13:1 in Hebrew

Prov 30:5-6  Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. 6Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar. ▤ 

Rev 22:18-19  I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. ▤ 

2Cor 4:2  But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. ▤ 

2Pet 3:15-16  And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. ▤ 

Jer 23:36  But ‘the burden of the Lord’ you shall mention no more, for the burden is every man’s own word, and you pervert the words of the living God, the Lord of hosts, our God. ▤ 

Jeremiah uses a wordplay here, as the Hebrew for “burden” can also mean “oracle” (cf. ESB). The false prophets had been claiming that their whimsical and false oracles were of God. As such they misrepresented God’s word, to the detriment of what was really his word.

Zeph 3:4  Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men; her priests profane what is holy; they do violence to the law. ▤ 

The clause “do violence to the law” (cf. Ezek 22:26) means to abuse the law (cf. CEV). Distorting the law is quite possibly in view (cf. GNT). Alternatively the reference may be to breaking it (cf. NCV, NLT).

Matt 5:19  Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. ▤ 

  • Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees and teachers of the law for nullifying God’s word:

Mark 7:9, 13  And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! ▤ 13thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” ▤ 

Pray for persecuted Christians

How to Teach

Explain God’s word and truths

See also:

Deut 1:5  Beyond the Jordan, in the land of Moab, Moses undertook to explain this law, saying, … ▤ 

Neh 8:7-8  Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites,c helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. 8They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly,d and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. ▤ 

c Vulgate; Hebrew and the Levites

d Or with interpretation, or paragraph by paragraph

Luke 24:27, 45  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. ▤ 45Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, … ▤ 

Acts 8:30-31, 34-35  So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. ▤ 34And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. ▤ 

Acts 17:2-3  And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” ▤ 

Acts 28:23  When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. ▤ 

In addition to expounding/explaining the kingdom of God, Paul’s efforts to convince these Jews about Jesus from the OT Scriptures would have involved him explaining about Jesus and the testimony of the Scriptures to him.

Acts 18:26  He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately. ▤ 

Where applicable, use illustrations in teaching

Rom 6:17-19  But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. ▤ 

In v. 19a Paul appears to apologize for using a less than perfect illustration or analogy in describing believers as previously “slaves of sin” (v. 17) and now “slaves of righteousness” (v. 18). If this is the case, presumably he felt that – because of their human limitations (v. 19a) – his readers lacked spiritual perception and needed a somewhat stark illustration to grasp his point.

Rom 7:1-4  Or do you not know, brotherse—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage.f 3Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. 4Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. ▤ 

e Or brothers and sisters; also verse 4

f Greek law concerning the husband

In order to illustrate that the law no longer has authority over believers (vv. 1, 4), Paul uses an illustration or an example of how death brings release from the law (v. 2-3), drawing a parallel between the two cases.

Rom 9:20-21  But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? ▤ 

1Cor 9:24-27  Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27But I discipline my body and keep it under control,g lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. ▤ 

g Greek I pummel my body and make it a slave

Here Paul likens the Christian life and the reward of the afterlife to a race and its prize – to emphasize the focus, determination and discipline required. Note that “I discipline my body” (v. 27) means that Paul strongly disciplined himself, bringing his body with its desires into submission.

Gal 3:15, 17  To give a human example, brothers:h even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. ▤ 17This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. ▤ 

h Or brothers and sisters

Gal 4:1-5  I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave,i though he is the owner of everything, 2but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principlesj of the world. 4But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. ▤ 

i Greek bondservant; also verse 7

j Or elemental spirits; also verse 9

Regarding the term “the elementary principles” (v. 3), the law may primarily be in view (cf. AMP) – which would fit comfortably with vv. 4-5. But this interpretation is debatable; for further comment see So through Jesus Christ believers have been released from the law.

2Tim 2:3-4  Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. ▤ 

Paul likens the Christian life to that of a soldier both in endurance of hardship (v. 3) – such as persecution by enemies – and in undivided devotion to the cause (v. 4).

Do not teach beyond what the hearers can understand

2Cor 1:13  For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and acknowledgek and I hope you will fully acknowledge— ▤ 

k Or understand; twice in this verse; also verse 14

The alternative to “acknowledge” given in the text note – “understand” – is preferred by most modern translations (cf. AMP, CEV, GNT, NASB, NCV, NIV, NKJV, NLT, NRSV).

Mark 4:33  With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. ▤ 

This appears to be speaking of Jesus teaching the people “as much as they could understand” (CEV, GNT, NCV, NIV; cf. AMP, NLT).

John 16:12  I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. ▤ 

Here Jesus refrains from teaching his disciples certain truths, for at this point they were unable to understand and absorb them (cf. AMP, CEV).

1Cor 3:2  I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, … ▤ 

  • A warning regarding presenting sacred truths to the wicked:

Matt 7:6  Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. ▤ 

Non-believers who are antagonistic against or contemptuous of the gospel are in view, as opposed to non-believers in general. There is no point trying – or to keep on trying – to give things that are holy and of God (cf. CEV) to people who cannot (or will not) appreciate or understand them.

The manner in which to teach

See also:

2Cor 4:2  But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. ▤ 

The truth should be taught openly – plainly and frankly.

Col 1:28  Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. ▤ 

Teachers need to have godly wisdom (cf. Prov 16:23 ). As such they should take care to apply it in their teaching, teaching with “all wisdom” which involves “comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God” (AMP).

2Tim 4:2  … preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. ▤ 

Titus 2:7-8  Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. ▤ 

Such “sound speech” (v. 8) involves instruction that is “sound and fit and wise and wholesome, vigorous and irrefutable and above censure” (AMP).

2Tim 2:23-25  Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24And the Lord’s servantl must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, … ▤ 

l Greek bondservant

In v. 24 Paul appears to list aspects of a godly character with Timothy’s teaching role in view. In their instructing – as in their lives generally – teachers should ensure that they are not quarrelsome or resentful, but kind to everyone. Note that in v. 23 Paul may well be referring to silly, trivial issues. Particularly as a teacher, Timothy should avoid such things.

Eccl 12:10  The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth. ▤ 

Such words encourage learning (cf. Prov 16:21 ).

Prov 16:21, 23  The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. ▤ 23The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips. ▤ 

These verses and 25:15 below have been included in this subsection as they deal with persuasiveness, which teachers sometimes need.

Prov 25:15  With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone. ▤ 

Along with patience, gentle words and tactfulness increases the persuasiveness of one’s speech.

The teaching needs to be correct . . .

See also:

Titus 2:1  But as for you, teach what accords with soundm doctrine. ▤ 

m Or healthy; also verses 2, 8

Acts 18:25  He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit,n he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. ▤ 

n Or in the Spirit

1Tim 4:16  Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. ▤ 

In telling Timothy to keep a close watch “on the teaching” presumably in part at least Paul has in view the need to ensure its correctness.

2Tim 1:13-14  Follow the pattern of the soundo words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. ▤ 

o Or healthy

The expression “guard the good deposit” (v. 14) is an admonishment to Timothy to protect the gospel message that he was preaching from being changed or corrupted in any way.

2Tim 2:15  Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,p a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. ▤ 

p That is, one approved after being tested

Titus 1:9  He [an overseer] must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in soundq doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. ▤ 

q Or healthy; also verse 13

Eccl 12:10  The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth. ▤ 

Jer 23:28  Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the Lord. ▤ 

The false prophets were telling their dreams as if the dreams were or contained God’s word. But telling just any dream as if it was God’s word was like using straw instead of wheat for food.

Mal 2:6-7  True instructionr was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. 7For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and peoples should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. ▤ 

r Or law; also verses 7, 8, 9

s Hebrew they

The “instruction” (v. 7) that people should seek and get from a priest should be: “True instruction” (v. 6a).

. . . and the teaching needs to be complete

See also:

Acts 20:18b-20, 26-27  You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, ▤ 26Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, 27for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. ▤ 

Note that vv. 26-27 imply that teachers will be held accountable for knowingly failing to proclaim the whole will of God.

Col 1:25  … of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, … ▤ 

Deut 1:3  In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the people of Israel according to all that the Lord had given him in commandment to them, … ▤ 

Josh 8:34-35  And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. 35There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who livedt among them. ▤ 

t Or traveled

Lev 10:11  … and you are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes that the Lord has spoken to them by Moses. ▤ 

Jer 1:17  But you, dress yourself for work;u arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. ▤ 

u Hebrew gird up your loins

Jer 26:2  Thus says the Lord: Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house of the Lord all the words that I command you to speak to them; do not hold back a word. ▤ 

Jer 42:4  Jeremiah the prophet said to them, “I have heard you. Behold, I will pray to the Lord your God according to your request, and whatever the Lord answers you I will tell you. I will keep nothing back from you.” ▤ 

Note that this is referring to conveying an answer from God, rather than teaching doctrine – but obviously it is also applicable to the latter.

Acts 5:20  “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” ▤ 

This is referring to proclaiming the Gospel to non-Christians, rather than primarily to teaching God’s people (as is possibly also the case with Colossians 1:25 above) but it is applicable to both situations.

  • The church should be “a pillar and buttress of the truth”:

1Tim 3:15  … if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. ▤ 

The truth should be upheld by the church – which of course involves truth being upheld within the church.

Keep reminding church members of teachings

2Tim 2:14  Remind them of these things, and charge them before Godv not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. ▤ 

v Some manuscripts the Lord

1Cor 15:1  Now I would remind you, brothers,w of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, … ▤ 

w Or brothers and sisters; also verses 6, 31, 50, 58

Phil 3:1  Finally, my brothers,x rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. ▤ 

x Or brothers and sisters; also verses 13, 17

2Pet 1:12-13, 15  Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13I think it right, as long as I am in this body,y to stir you up by way of reminder, ▤ 15And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. ▤ 

y Greek tent; also verse 14

2Pet 3:1-2  This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, … ▤ 

Note that “the commandment of the Lord and Savior” probably refers to Jesus’ teachings as a whole, although some commentators think that the command to love one another may primarily be in view.

1Jn 2:7  Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. ▤ 

Note: Church members can themselves instruct one another

Col 3:16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. ▤ 

Rom 15:14  I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers,z that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. ▤ 

z Or brothers and sisters; also verse 30

The expression “filled with all knowledge” suggests that the Roman believers were amply filled with spiritual knowledge (cf. AMP; Col 3:16 ). Thus, such believers are competent to instruct each other.

1Cor 14:26  What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. ▤ 

Along with giving one another “a lesson”, the other things listed here are also means by which believers learn and grow through each other.

Eph 5:18-19  And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, … ▤ 

This usage of “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (v. 19; cf. Col 3:16 ) is a form of ministry to others, with instruction quite possibly being in view here as one of the prime aims, as such things contain truths of the faith. (The same comment could be made regarding the identical phrase in Colossians 3:16 above.)

1Thes 4:18  Therefore encourage one another with these words. ▤ 

We should instruct each other in (and remind each other of) the truths of the faith, such as that in view here regarding Christ’s return (cf. vv. 13-17).

  • Learn together what is right and good:

Job 34:4  Let us choose what is right; let us know among ourselves what is good. ▤ 

Here Elihu speaks of together discerning and learning what is right and good.

Pray for persecuted Christians

Traits of False Teachers (I): Their Teaching

Note that also included in this and the following sections on false teachers are verses regarding false prophets, ungodly priests and other ungodly religious leaders, including Pharisees. For similar to false teachers in the church, all these were in positions of spiritual authority amongst God’s people and taught misleading things.

False teachers speak lies and delusions of their own, in God’s name

See also:

Jer 14:14  And the Lord said to me: “The [false] prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. ▤ 

Jer 23:16, 26, 31, 36  Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. ▤ 26How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, ▤ 31Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who use their tongues and declare, ‘declares the Lord.’ ▤ 36But ‘the burden of the Lord’ you shall mention no more, for the burden is every man’s own word, and you pervert the words of the living God, the Lord of hosts, our God. ▤ 

As noted earlier, the word for “burden” (v. 36) can mean “oracle”, depending on the context.

Jer 29:9  … for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the Lord. ▤ 

Ezek 13:3, 6-7, 17  Thus says the Lord God, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! ▤ 6They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the Lord,’ when the Lord has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word. 7Have you not seen a false vision and uttered a lying divination, whenever you have said, ‘Declares the Lord,’ although I have not spoken?” ▤ 17“And you, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, who prophesy out of their own minds. Prophesy against them … ▤ 

Ezek 22:28  And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord has not spoken. ▤ 

2Pet 2:3  And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. ▤ 

Their teaching is hollow – of worldly, human origin

See also:

Teaching that is hollow is devoid of truth, containing nothing of real value.

Jer 5:13  The prophets will become wind; the word is not in them. Thus shall it be done to them! ▤ 

Eph 5:6  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. ▤ 

Titus 1:10  For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. ▤ 

Jude 1:12  These are hidden reefsa at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; … ▤ 

a Or are blemishes

As clouds without rain and trees without fruit do not produce what they appear to promise, so the false teachers do not produce teaching of the soundness and quality that they claim. The phrase “twice dead” quite possibly refers to their physical death and either being effectively dead trees (not having fruit), or being eternally condemned. The term “uprooted” would similarly appear to be a reference either to being devoid of any spiritual roots and life, and/or to eternal condemnation.

Col 2:8  See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spiritsb of the world, and not according to Christ. ▤ 

b Or elementary principles; also verse 20

As indicated in the text note, “the elemental spirits of the world” (cf. v. 20 ) may be speaking of the elementary principles of the world. Another possibility is demonic spirits, propagating teaching that is in accordance with worldly thinking.

Col 2:20-22  If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations21“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22(referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? ▤ 

Here Paul has primarily in view the heresy of asceticism – which involved the observance of strict rules to supposedly gain God’s approval. Such thinking is based on a strain of worldly wisdom; it is merely human teachings rather than being of God.

1Jn 4:5  They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. ▤ 

Mark 7:1-13  Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3(For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they washc their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash.d And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.e) 5And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” 9And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)f 12then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” ▤ 

c Greek unless they wash with a fist, probably indicating a kind of ceremonial washing

d Greek unless they baptize; some manuscripts unless they purify themselves

e Some manuscripts omit and dining couches

f Or an offering

The Jewish leaders had developed their own traditions which as such were of human origin – merely “commandments of men … the tradition of men” (vv. 7-8). Jesus berated them for focusing on their traditions more so than God’s commands. This was particularly serious when their traditions conflicted with God’s commands (vv. 9-11).

  • Their teaching involves “irreverent babble” and is not true knowledge:

1Tim 6:20-21  O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.g ▤ 

g The Greek for you is plural

The phrase ‘what is falsely called “knowledge”’ may refer primarily to Gnosticism. The Gnostics claimed to have an elite, secret knowledge, essential to salvation. Note that similar to the term “irreverent babble”, Paul earlier described such false teaching as “irreverent, silly myths” (4:7).

False teachers say what their listeners like to hear – appealing and pleasant things . . .

See also:

2Tim 4:3  For the time is coming when people will not endure soundh teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, … ▤ 

h Or healthy

Jer 29:8  For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream,i ▤ 

i Hebrew your dreams, which you cause to dream

The text note suggests that the last clause may be referring to dreams that the people encouraged the false prophets to have (cf. NIV).

2Pet 2:18-19  For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slavesj of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. ▤ 

j Greek bondservants

Jer 6:14  They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace. ▤ 

The prophets and priests merely dealt superficially with the spiritual problems of the people, comforting them with false messages of peace (cf. Jer 23:17 ).

Jer 23:16-17  Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 17They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’” ▤ 

1Ki 22:11-13  And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron and said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed.’” 12And all the prophets prophesied so and said, “Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” 13And the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, “Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king. Let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” ▤ 

The false prophets simply prophesied what they knew the king would like to hear, favourable things. In v. 13 Micaiah is urged to do the same.

. . . False teachers do not confront their listeners with their sin

See also:

Lam 2:14  Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes, but have seen for you oracles that are false and misleading. ▤ 

Ezek 22:27-28  Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, shedding blood, destroying lives to get dishonest gain. 28And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord has not spoken. ▤ 

Jer 23:17  They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’ ▤ 

The false prophets did not confront their listeners with their sin nor its consequences.

Ezek 13:22  Because you have disheartened the righteous falsely, although I have not grieved him, and you have encouraged the wicked, that he should not turn from his evil way to save his life, … ▤ 

Far from confronting them with their sin, the false prophets actively and/or effectively encouraged the wicked not to turn from their evil ways.

  • Rather than to be told what is right, the Israelites wanted to be told only pleasant things:

Isa 30:9-11  For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord; 10who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, 11leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.” ▤ 

Such an attitude is also shown in 2 Timothy 4:3 in the previous subsection. Micah 2:11 similarly reflects this attitude: ‘If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,” he would be the preacher for this people!’

False teachers teach different doctrine to what is correct

Rom 16:17  I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. ▤ 

2Cor 11:4  For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. ▤ 

Gal 1:6-8  I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. ▤ 

1Tim 1:3  As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, … ▤ 

1Tim 6:3-4a  If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the soundk words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. ▤ 

k Or healthy

False teachers distort and oppose the truth

See also:

Acts 20:30  … and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. ▤ 

This refers to men “distorting the truth” (NRSV; cf. NCV, NIV, NLT).

2Pet 3:16  … as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. ▤ 

Jer 23:36  But ‘the burden of the Lord’ you shall mention no more, for the burden is every man’s own word, and you pervert the words of the living God, the Lord of hosts, our God. ▤ 

Mic 3:9  Hear this, you heads of the house of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel, who detest justice and make crooked all that is straight, … ▤ 

The last clause may be speaking of twisting the truth (cf. CEV), hence the inclusion of the verse here. More precisely, it may be referring to perverting justice/equity (cf. AMP, NKJV, NRSV). Note that along with other leaders of Israel, false prophets and ungodly priests appear to be in view here (cf. vv. 5-7, 11).

2Cor 4:2  But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. ▤ 

The methods of Paul and his associates contrasted with those of false teachers.

2Tim 3:8  Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. ▤ 

2Tim 4:15  Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. ▤ 

Note that this refers to Alexander the coppersmith, not necessarily a false teacher in the church.

False teachers typically deny Jesus Christ – and so are of the antichrist

False teachers typically deny or dilute key aspects of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not clear what the false teachers’ denial of Jesus Christ below in 2 Peter 2:1 and Jude 1:4b encompassed, although his sovereignty as Lord could largely be in view. In the verses from 1 John and 2 John, the false teaching in view is the Gnostic heresy, which denied that the man Jesus was God’s promised Christ incarnated as a human.

2Pet 2:1  But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. ▤ 

The phrase “the Master who bought them” appears to suggest that the false teachers had once been saved. But a number of commentators argue that more likely it is referring only to Jesus Christ having paid the price of redemption – as he has for the whole world – and that they had not necessarily appropriated it.

Jude 1:4  For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. ▤ 

1Jn 2:22-23  Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. ▤ 

Note that v. 23 explains and elaborates on the last clause of v. 22, stating implications of denying or acknowledging Jesus Christ.

1Jn 4:3  … and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. ▤ 

Here “every spirit” refers to the spirits influencing the false teachers. The last clause probably means that the spirit of the antichrist is already in the world, at work in such false teachers (cf. 2Jn 1:7 ).

2Jn 1:7  For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. ▤ 

Any such false teacher is a deceiver and an enemy of Christ (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NIrV, NLT), effectively doing the work of the antichrist.

  • False teachers do not have the Holy Spirit:

Jude 1:19  It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. ▤ 

Other notes about their teaching

See also:

Col 2:4  I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. ▤ 

False teaching can sound plausible.

Col 2:18  Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions,l puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, … ▤ 

l Or about the things he has seen

Col 2:23  These [regulations] have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. ▤ 

This false asceticism (cf. v. 20; 1Tim 4:3 ) was a component of Gnostic teaching, which was evident in an early form in Paul’s day. It involved strict regulations, including abstinence from food and other things. Despite appearing to be wise and to engender self-control, these regulations were in fact useless in controlling physical desires.

1Tim 1:3-4  As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardshipm from God that is by faith. ▤ 

m Or good order

1Tim 4:2-3  … through the insincerity of a liars whose consciences are seared, 3who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. ▤ 

Jude 1:10  But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. ▤ 

Ezek 22:26  Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. ▤ 

The things listed are descriptive of the ungodly priests’ teaching and/or of actions of theirs that would presumably have been reflected in their teaching.

Matt 23:4, 13, 15  They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear,n and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. ▤ 13“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. ▤ 15Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hellp as yourselves. ▤ 

n Some manuscripts omit hard to bear

o Some manuscripts add here (or after verse 12) verse 14: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive the greater condemnation

p Greek Gehenna; also verse 33

Verse 4 indicates that false teaching can be burdensome and restrictive. Verse 13 speaks of how false teachers hamper people from progressing into God’s kingdom. Indeed often those they influence are turned further from God’s way than even the false teachers themselves, as v. 15 implies.

  • They do not strengthen their people spiritually:

Ezek 13:5  You have not gone up into the breaches, or built up a wall for the house of Israel, that it might stand in battle in the day of the Lord. ▤ 

In failing to strengthen the people spiritually, the false prophets left them vulnerable to punishment on the day of God’s judgment.

Note: False teachers and their teaching are savage and destructive – causing controversies and divisions

Matt 7:15  Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. ▤ 

Acts 20:29-30  I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. ▤ 

Phil 3:2  Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. ▤ 

The term “dogs” may well refer to the savageness of those who advocated such false teaching, which here was the supposed need of circumcision (cf. Titus 1:10-11 ). With dogs being considered an unclean animal by the Jews, the term may also be used here to denote the moral impurity of such people.

John 10:10  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ▤ 

See comment under False teachers are generally greedy for personal gain.

Titus 1:10-11  For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. ▤ 

Titus 3:9-10  But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, … ▤ 

Verse 10 suggests that Paul’s instructions in v. 9 have in view the things mentioned as being typically associated with false teachers. Note that Paul gives similar instructions to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:23 – “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.”

2Pet 2:1  But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. ▤ 

1Tim 6:4b-5  He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. ▤ 

The quarreling “about words” (v. 4) may have been regarding the technical meaning of certain words. The fondness of false teachers and “people who are depraved in mind” (v. 5) for such controversies and quarrels, leads to animosity amongst themselves as well as affecting the unity of the church as a whole.

Rom 16:17  I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. ▤ 

Jude 1:18-19  Theyq said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. ▤ 

q Or Christ, because they

False teachers and others adhering to false teaching are in view here (vv. 3-4, 10).

Pray for persecuted Christians

Traits of False Teachers (II): Characteristics

The minds and consciences of false teachers are corrupted

See also:

Titus 1:15-16  To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. ▤ 

Paul is speaking against false teachers, probably ones who were advocating various ascetic regulations such as prohibitions of certain foods. Paul states that for those who are spiritually pure, all such non-moral things are pure. In contrast, those persons whose minds and consciences are defiled do not have a clear perspective on what is and is not pure, leading them to mistakenly deem such things as impure. In v. 16, the corrupt state of the minds and consciences of the false teachers is further evidenced by their hypocritical and detestable behavior.

1Tim 6:5  … and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. ▤ 

2Tim 3:8  Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. ▤ 

Col 2:18  Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions,r puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, … ▤ 

r Or about the things he has seen

The minds of false teachers are characteristically of the flesh (cf. NASB, NKJV) and “sinful” (NLT) – indicative of being corrupted.

1Tim 4:1-2  Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, … ▤ 

1Tim 1:5-6  The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, … ▤ 

The context shows that here Paul is speaking of false teachers, with “vain discussion” quite probably a reference to their false teaching. The fact that they had wandered away from the particular good things listed (v. 5b), indicates that their minds and consciences had been corrupted.

False teachers typically follow their sinful desires

2Pet 2:9-10, 12-14, 19  … then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials,s and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, ▤ 12But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions,t while they feast with you. 14They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! ▤ 19They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slavesu of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. ▤ 

s Or temptations

t Some manuscripts love feasts

u Greek bondservants

Jude 1:4, 16, 18  For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. ▤ 16These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage. ▤ 18Theyv said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” ▤ 

v Or Christ, because they

Jer 23:11, 14  Both prophet and priest are ungodly; even in my house I have found their evil, declares the Lord. ▤ 14But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his evil; all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah. ▤ 

This does not specifically mention sinful desires or passions, but it further speaks of associated sinful actions, that are typical of false prophets or teachers.

  • False teachers may exhibit a form of godliness, but do not have its power:

2Tim 3:5  … having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. ▤ 

This speaks of false teachers having an external appearance or form of godliness, but not practicing it and so not allowing its power to permeate their lives.

False teachers are generally greedy for personal gain

See also:

Note that “personal gain” is not limited to material or financial gain (although these are what the following verses refer to). Other things such as power and prestige are also sought by many false teachers.

1Tim 6:4b-5  He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. ▤ 

Titus 1:11  They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. ▤ 

2Pet 2:3a, 14b-15  And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. ▤ 14… They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, … ▤ 

Balaam was a pagan prophet or diviner, who was prepared to use his “religious” position for financial gain (cf. Numbers 22-24). The false teachers followed his way (v. 15; cf. Jude 1:11-12 ) in being greedy for money as he was. Also their immorality paralleled his work in enticing the Israelites into immortality (cf. Numbers 31:16; Rev 2:14).

Jude 1:11-12  Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. 12These are hidden reefsw at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; … ▤ 

w Or are blemishes

John 10:1, 8, 10, 12-13  Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. ▤ 8All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. ▤ 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ▤ 12He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. ▤ 

The thieves and robbers represent false Messiahs and/or the false or bad religious leaders who have their own interests at heart, such as the Pharisees and the false prophets of old. Verse 1 appears to be speaking of such people using ungodly methods to put themselves in positions of influence over the people. In v. 12, the mercenary “hired hand” – most likely signifying the religious leaders – puts self-interest ahead of caring for the flock, similarly to the thieves and robbers.

Isa 56:11  The dogs have a mighty appetite; they never have enough. But they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each to his own gain, one and all. ▤ 

Jer 6:13  For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. ▤ 

The phrase “everyone is greedy for unjust gain” refers to the people generally, but the universality of the greed – from “the least to the greatest” – and the subsequent reference to “prophets and priests”, indicates that the false prophets and priests are included.

Ezek 13:19  You have profaned me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, putting to death souls who should not die and keeping alive souls who should not live, by your lying to my people, who listen to lies. ▤ 

Ezek 34:2-4  Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. ▤ 

Note that vv. 3b-4 indicate that in their selfishness, the leaders of Israel – including the spiritual leaders – neglected those for whom they should have been caring.

Mic 3:5, 11  Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who cry “Peace” when they have something to eat, but declare war against him who puts nothing into their mouths. ▤ 11Its heads give judgment for a bribe; its priests teach for a price; its prophets practice divination for money; yet they lean on the Lord and say, “Is not the Lord in the midst of us? No disaster shall come upon us.” ▤ 

Note that v. 5 appears to portray the false prophets as giving favorable prophecies to those who fed or paid them and showing animosity in unfavorable prophecies against those who would not.

  • They want people to be devoted to them:

Gal 4:17  They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. ▤ 

“They want to shut you out” refers to false teachers trying to shut the readers off from Paul.

False teachers are deceitful

See also:

Rom 16:18  For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites,x and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. ▤ 

x Greek their own belly

2Cor 11:13-15  For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. ▤ 

Matt 7:15  Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. ▤ 

Eph 4:14  … so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. ▤ 

Col 2:4  I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. ▤ 

The term “delude” implies willful deceit.

1Tim 4:1-2  Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, … ▤ 

Both the evil spiritual forces behind false teachers and the lying false teachers themselves are deceitful.

2Tim 3:13  … while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. ▤ 

Titus 1:10  For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. ▤ 

2Jn 1:7  For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. ▤ 

The clause “have gone out into the world” may be indicating that such deceitful false teachers had departed from certain churches – who recognized them for what they were – and now were a threat to other churches.

  • They secretly introduce false teaching:

2Pet 2:1  But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. ▤ 

False teachers typically introduce their false teachings “subtly and stealthily” (AMP) – which further evidences their deceitfulness.

False teachers are often conceited and contemptuous

Col 2:18  Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions,y puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, … ▤ 

y Or about the things he has seen

1Tim 6:3-4a  If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the soundz words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. ▤ 

z Or healthy

2Pet 2:18  For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. ▤ 

Boasting (cf. Jude 1:16 ) evidences conceit.

Jude 1:16  These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage. ▤ 

Note the additional typical actions mentioned.

2Pet 2:10  … and especially those [false teachers] who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, … ▤ 

Jude 1:18  Theya said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” ▤ 

a Or Christ, because they

False teachers are in view. Their scoffing shows their contemptuousness.

False teachers lack understanding and knowledge

See also:

Matt 15:14  Let them alone; they are blind guides.b And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit. ▤ 

b Some manuscripts add of the blind

The Pharisees were spiritually blind, lacking insight.

1Tim 1:6-7  Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. ▤ 

1Tim 6:5  … and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. ▤ 

2Tim 3:8-9  Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. ▤ 

2Pet 2:12  But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, … ▤ 

2Pet 3:16  … as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. ▤ 

Peter may well have in view that “the ignorant and unstable” false teachers found the things referred to, too hard to understand.

Jude 1:10  But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. ▤ 

Isa 56:10-11  His watchmen are blind; they are all without knowledge; they are all silent dogs; they cannot bark, dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber. 11The dogs have a mighty appetite; they never have enough. But they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each to his own gain, one and all. ▤ 

Note that additionally v. 10b portrays Israel’s religious leaders as lazy.

Jer 10:21  For the shepherds are stupid and do not inquire of the Lord; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered. ▤ 

Hos 4:6  My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. ▤ 

The priests had themselves rejected knowledge and so the people consequently also lacked knowledge.

  • They wrongly claim to know God:

Titus 1:16  They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. ▤ 

Similarly Jeremiah 2:8 speaks of ungodly priests not knowing God – “Those who handle the law did not know me …”

Note: False teachers stand condemned . . .

See also:

Matt 23:13, 33  But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. ▤ 33You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? ▤ 

c Some manuscripts add here (or after verse 12) verse 14: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive the greater condemnation

With the use of “woe” (v. 17; cf. Luke 1:52 ; Luke 17:1 ; Isa 5:20 ), Jesus pronounces grief and in particular condemnation. Creating great emphasis, Jesus actually uses the condemnatory statement in v. 17a as a refrain throughout Matthew 23 (cf. vv. 13, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29).

Luke 11:52  Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering. ▤ 

Gal 1:8-9  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. ▤ 

Titus 3:10-11  As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. ▤ 

Paul does not say how or why such a false teacher is “self” condemned (v. 11). The thought may be that one condemns oneself by not heeding warnings (v. 10) and being “warped and sinful” (v. 11).

Jude 1:4  For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. ▤ 

Luke 17:1  And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sind are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! ▤ 

d Greek Stumbling blocks

This is not specifically referring to false teachers, but no doubt is applicable to them. The same applies to the following verse from Isaiah.

Isa 5:20  Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! ▤ 

. . . False teachers face destruction

See also:

Matt 7:19  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. ▤ 

Jesus said this when speaking about false prophets (cf. vv. 15-16). The “fire” is probably a reference to their eternal destiny in hell.

2Cor 11:15  So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. ▤ 

Gal 5:10  I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. ▤ 

The final destruction of such false teachers is quite possibly primarily in view.

2Pet 2:1-6, 9, 12-13a, 17  But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into helle and committed them to chainsf of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; ▤ 9then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials,h and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, ▤ 12But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. ▤ 17These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. ▤ 

e Greek Tartarus

f Some manuscripts pits

g Some manuscripts an example to those who were to be ungodly

h Or temptations

The term “swift destruction” (v. 1) means that their destruction will be “sudden” (GNT) rather than immediate, possibly referring to their eternal destiny rather than demise in the present life.

2Pet 3:16  … as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. ▤ 

Jer 14:15  Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come upon this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed. ▤ 

Jer 23:15  Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets: “Behold, I will feed them with bitter food and give them poisoned water to drink, for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone out into all the land.” ▤ 

Ezek 13:14-16  And I will break down the wall that you have smeared with whitewash, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you shall perish in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the Lord. 15Thus will I spend my wrath upon the wall and upon those who have smeared it with whitewash, and I will say to you, The wall is no more, nor those who smeared it, 16the prophets of Israel who prophesied concerning Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her, when there was no peace, declares the Lord God. ▤ 

The references to a “wall” may refer to the protective walls of Jerusalem. Metaphorically speaking, the false prophets whitewashed the walls of Israel’s security – leading the people to think that they would have peace when in fact judgment loomed.

  • Anyone who relaxes any commandment is the “least” in God’s kingdom:

Matt 5:19  Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. ▤ 

The phrase “in the kingdom of heaven” implies that such people may still be accepted into the kingdom rather than being shut out and in hell. As such it would have in view other redeeming aspects of their lives and beliefs. However being “called least in the kingdom of heaven” may be referring to the consummation of the kingdom and its reign enveloping all creation, with such people being deemed as the least of all people – in effect condemned.

Pray for persecuted Christians

Guarding against False Teachers

Watch out for false teachers and their teaching . . .

See also:

Matt 7:15  Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. ▤ 

Matt 16:11-12  How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. ▤ 

Acts 20:29-31  I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. ▤ 

Rom 16:17  I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. ▤ 

Phil 3:2  Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. ▤ 

Paul refers here to those who taught that circumcision was necessary to gain God’s approval.

1Jn 4:4  Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. ▤ 

John speaks here of his readers not being caught out by false prophets or teachers, because “he” who is in them – most likely referring to the Holy Spirit – is greater than Satan.

. . . Do not be deceived or led astray by false teachers

See also:

Jer 29:8  For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream,i … ▤ 

i Hebrew your dreams, which you cause to dream

Eph 5:6  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. ▤ 

Col 2:8, 18  See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spiritsj of the world, and not according to Christ. ▤ 18Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions,k puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, … ▤ 

j Or elementary principles; also verse 20

k Or about the things he has seen

2Thes 2:3  Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessnessl is revealed, the son of destruction,m … ▤ 

l Some manuscripts sin

m Greek the son of perdition (a Hebrew idiom)

2Jn 1:7-8  For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what wen have worked for, but may win a full reward. ▤ 

n Some manuscripts you

We should watch out that we do not get led astray by false teachers and lose our reward.

Luke 21:8  And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. ▤ 

Heb 13:9  Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. ▤ 

2Pet 3:17  You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. ▤ 

Note that in saying “knowing this beforehand”, Peter is referring to earlier informing them of the threat of false teachers.

  • Those who are mature in the faith are not deceived by false teaching:

Eph 4:13-14  … until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,o to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. ▤ 

o Greek to a full-grown man

Test teachers by comparing their teaching with the Scriptures and sound biblical doctrine

See also:

Isa 8:19-20  And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? 20To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. ▤ 

Although mediums and spiritists are primarily in view (v. 19), v. 20 is readily applicable to assessing any teachers by comparing their teaching with God’s word. The last statement indicates that if any instruction is not in accordance with God’s word (v. 20a), then the person advocating it has no spiritual light.

Acts 17:11  Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. ▤ 

1Tim 6:3-4a  If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the soundp words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. ▤ 

p Or healthy

This implies that teaching that does not agree with that of Jesus Christ and what is known to be godly teaching, is doctrinally false.

1Jn 4:1-3, 6  Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. ▤ 6We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. ▤ 

In vv. 1-3, “spirit” refers to the spirit influencing a person to either acknowledge Jesus Christ or not – indicative of whether the “spirit” is the Holy Spirit or an evil one. Verse 6 indicates that those teachers who did not listen to the apostles were not from God. Similarly we can recognize present-day teachers to be false if they: do not acknowledge Jesus Christ and what the NT states about him; or do not believe or follow the apostles’ writings.

  • The test of fulfilled prophecy:

Deut 18:21-22  And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— 22when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him. ▤ 

If what someone proclaims in God’s name does not come true, it shows them to be a false prophet. However if it does take place this does not necessarily mean that they are of God (cf. Deut 13:1-3; Matt 24:24; 2Thes 2:9-10; Rev 13:13-14); we must still evaluate what they teach.

False teachers can be recognized by their “fruit” and actions

See also:

Matt 7:16-18  You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. ▤ 

Jesus is speaking of recognizing false prophets. As used here, “fruit” is that which one’s inner being or character produces – basically one’s words (cf. Matt 12:33-34 ) and actions. In a secondary sense, the effect of one’s words and actions – particularly on other people – is also one’s produce or “fruit”.

Matt 12:33-34  Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. ▤ 

In v. 33 Jesus appears firstly to be speaking of the good works he had done – in particular driving out demons (cf. vv. 22-32) – as being evidence that he was of God, not Satan. In v. 34 he indicates that the principle expressed in v. 33 likewise showed the nature of the Pharisees – which in their case was evil.

1Jn 3:7-8, 10  Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. ▤ 10By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. ▤ 

In speaking of how to recognize who are the children of God and who are not, John is speaking of people in the church community – and appears to primarily have in view recognizing false teachers (v. 7a; cf. 2:18-26).

2Jn 1:9  Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. ▤ 

Quite likely John has false teachers in view (cf. v. 7, 10). Any teacher who “goes beyond Christ’s teaching” (NCV™) or the teaching “about Christ” (CEV) – in what they teach and/or how they live – is shown to “not have God”.

Titus 1:16  They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. ▤ 

The ungodly actions of these Cretan false teachers was clear evidence against them.

Do not tolerate false teachers and their teaching . . .

Rev 2:2  I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. ▤ 

1Tim 1:3-4  As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardshipq from God that is by faith. ▤ 

q Or good order

Titus 1:10-11  For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. ▤ 

Gal 2:4-5  Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. ▤ 

Do not tolerate and so do not succumb to false teachers and their teaching.

Col 2:16  Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. ▤ 

False teachers are in view here. As part of not putting up with them and their teaching, we should not give any credence to what they think of what we do or believe.

2Cor 11:4, 19-20  For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. ▤ 19For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! 20For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. ▤ 

This and the following references (Gal 3:1; Rev 2:14-16, 20) contain rebukes for tolerating false teachers and even accepting their teaching. Here the Corinthians were so extreme in their quest for more knowledge and wisdom, that they were willing to put up with teachers who were fools (vv. 4, 19) and even with abuse from them (v. 20).

Gal 3:1  O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. ▤ 

Rev 2:14-16, 20  But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. 15So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. ▤ 20But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servantsr to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. ▤ 

r Greek bondservants

. . . Have nothing to do with false teachers

Rom 16:17  I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. ▤ 

1Cor 15:33-34  Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”s 34Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. ▤ 

s Probably from Menander’s comedy Thais

The bad company referred to (v. 33) appears to be false teachers who denied the resurrection. As such, the implication is that the Corinthians should “not go on sinning” (v. 34), disassociating from them, spurning them and their teaching.

2Tim 3:5  … having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. ▤ 

Paul appears to have false teachers at least primarily in view here (cf. vv. 6-9).

Titus 3:9-10  But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, … ▤ 

1Tim 4:7  Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; … ▤ 

In conjunction with having nothing to do with false teachers, have nothing to do with their teaching.

2Jn 1:10-11  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. ▤ 

Deut 18:20  But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, ort who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die. ▤ 

t Or and

Although believers do not put to death such false prophets or teachers, this does point to the need to dissociate from them. (This also highlights the evil and foolishness of being presumptuous in proclaiming something as being of God.)

  • Work against false teachers:

2Cor 11:12-13  And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. ▤ 

Note that Paul’s work against false teachers can also be seen in the previous subsection, in him advocating the silencing of false teachers in 1 Timothy 1:3-4 and Titus 1:10-11.

Note: False teachers often succeed in leading people astray . . .

Rom 16:18  For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites,u and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. ▤ 

u Greek their own belly

Gal 1:6-7  I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. ▤ 

1Tim 4:1-2  Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, … ▤ 

1Tim 6:20-21  O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.v ▤ 

v The Greek for you is plural

2Tim 2:17-18  … and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. ▤ 

Here “upsetting” (cf. Titus 1:11 ) may have the sense of “undermining” (AMP; cf. NLT) or even “destroying (CEV, NCV; cf. NIV, NKJV).

2Pet 2:18  For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. ▤ 

Rev 2:20  But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servantsw to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. ▤ 

w Greek bondservants

. . . False teachers can lead many astray

See also:

Matt 24:11, 24  And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. ▤ 24For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. ▤ 

The phrase “if possible” (v. 24) is not necessarily speaking of whether or not such deception of the elect is possible. It may simply be referring to the intent of the deceivers. (cf. ZBC)

Gal 5:7-9  You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9A little leaven leavens the whole lump. ▤ 

The quotation in v. 9 is used to illustrate that false teaching (cf. vv. 7b-8a) – the “persuasion” – can spread through a whole church.

Titus 1:11  They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. ▤ 

2Pet 2:2  And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. ▤ 

Isa 3:12b  O my people, your guides mislead you and they have swallowed upx the course of your paths. ▤ 

x Or they have confused

Isa 9:15-16  … the elder and honored man is the head, and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail; 16for those who guide this people have been leading them astray, and those who are guided by them are swallowed up. ▤ 

The prophets along with “the elder and honored man” led astray the people as a whole (cf. Isa 3:12b ; Jer 50:6 ).

Jer 50:6  My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray, turning them away on the mountains. From mountain to hill they have gone. They have forgotten their fold. ▤ 

Mal 2:8  But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, … ▤ 

  • Nevertheless, God’s foundation stands firm:

2Tim 2:19  But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” ▤ 

The “firm foundation” most likely refers to either God’s truth or the church. Despite the efforts of the false teachers (cf. vv. 16-18), God’s foundation stands firm. The foundation is sealed with two complementary facets of the faith, referred to by the two quotations. The first points to God’s firm hold on those who are his. The second underlines a key aspect of what identifies and affirms them as truly being God’s people.

Pray for persecuted Christians