“Command Others not to Teach Different Doctrine!”

Paul’s Commands to Timothy and Titus

Jesus declared, “I am the Truth.” [John 14:6] He no doubt included many things in that brief statement. Certainly the Nazarene taught that he had come to earth to make known what truth the Father wanted revealed to humanity. Indeed, Jesus said: “If any person wants to do the will of my Father, then they will realize that my doctrine originates with The God or whether I originate my own teaching.” [John 7:17] Any such sincere person may read our Lord’s teachings in the four Gospels where the word “truth” is used over 40 times.

However, not all of the Nazarene’s “truth” is found in just the Gospels. Why can we say that? The night of the Last Passover, shortly before Jesus was arrested and carried off to his execution, Jesus told his loyal eleven apostles: “I have many things to tell you [apostles] but at present you do not have the ability to understand them. However, when that One arrives - the truthful Pneuma - he will lead you into the whole Truth, for he will not speak from himself. Rather, what he hears he will speak. Also, he will declare future events. That [truthful Pneuma] will glorify me, because he will draw upon my Truth and will proclaim it to you.” [John 16:12-14 NCMM] Thus, the Nazarene assures his apostles that they will receive future help by inspiration, and THEN they will be guided into “all the truth.”

There is little doubt that one of the vessels Jesus the Nazarene used in this process of inspiration was Paul. With the result that when Paul writes under inspiration it is really that Pneuma sent by Jesus. So Paul’s words are really those of Jesus Christ. Paul says as much several times in his letters. [1 Corinthians 11:23; 14:37; 1 Thessalonians 4:15] We can rightly suppose that nothing Paul writes contradicts the teachings of Jesus. We have one good example in this regarding a foretold apostasy from Christ’s doctrine.

Jesus Foretold an Apostasy

The Nazarene foretold a future corruption of his own Church, or Kingdom. He did this in at least two parables recorded at Matthew 13:24-33, 36-43. In these he predicted the whole fermentation of his Church. He taught that his “field” wherein he had sown wheat would be over sown with weeds by the Wicked One. While his apostles were sleeping in death, these weeds would grow and fill his field. The separation of these two - the sons of the Kingdom and the sons of the Wicked One - would await the parousia-judgment when the angels would separate the two. The spirit-helper inspiring Paul - as well as James, Peter, Jude, and John - expanded on this foretold apostasy. When it does it is really Jesus speaking this “whole truth.” 

Paul’s Warnings to Timothy and Titus Concerning “Different Doctrine”

1 Timothy 1:3 Even as I encouraged you to remain in Ephesus, while I was on my way to Macedonia -- so that you might command certain persons not to be teaching differently. [NCMM]

This is not a suggestion to Timothy, for the young elder is to “command” those who teach “different doctrine” not to do so. The Greek is PAR-ANGELES [Strong's Concordance #3853 = enjoin, charge, command, declare. Or, exhorted, begged, charge, instruct.] One of Paul’s apostolic charges dealt with preserving doctrinal purity in the Christian Church. The early Church was not an environment wherein any “wind of teaching” could find a place. [See notes on Ephesians 4:14, 15, 2 Peter 2:1 and 1 John 4:1 in Nazarene Commentary©.]

The Greek for “teaching differently” is HETERO-DIDASKLEIN [Strong's Concordance #562. Or, other doctrine, different doctrine, strange views, novelties, heterodoxy, new doctrines.] For details on Paul’s view on doctrine see NAZARENE COMMENTARY© on Titus. Research the word doctrine. The doctrine of the Church was based first on Jesus the Nazarene. [John 7:17 KJV] and then on Paul’s inspired epistles as an instrument of the spirit-helper guiding the Church into all the Truth.

1 Timothy 4:1 But, now, the Pneuma expressly says that in latter times some will apostasize from the Faith, giving heed to deceitful pneumas and doctrines of demons, 1TM4:2 in [the] hypocrisy of those [who] speak falsehoods, their own conscience having been seared. [NCMM]

Paul demonstrates that he is under the influence of the spirit-helper Jesus sent when he writes, “the Pneuma expressly says.” [Or, KJV: the Spirit speaketh expressly; KNX: told by inspiration.] PNEUMA, usually rendered “spirit,” may mean an “inspiration” or “inspired utterance.” Paul may refer to a personal inspiration experienced under the influence of the holy Pneuma sent by Jesus, the Head of the Church.

Paul, under the inspiration of Jesus’ spirit-helper, predicts a falling away as the Church grew. [Or, after times, later seasons.] Likely Paul has in mind John’s “last hour.” Compare notes on 2 Timothy 4:3. [1 John 2:18; 4:1] In 2 Thessalonians 2:7 Paul had earlier written that the apostasy was “already at work.” [Research apostasy in NAZARENE COMMENTARY© for details.]

Paul writes, “Some will apostasize from the Faith.” The Greek is APOSTESONTAI [Strong's Concordance #868, to remove, to instigate to revolt, desert, depart, draw away, withdraw self; from which APOSTASIA (Strong's Concordance #646) is derived.] This may also be rendered: depart from, fall away, desert, abandon, revolt, rebel. Compare notes on 2 Thessalonians 2:3 regarding the foretold apostasy which finds its basis in the Nazarene’s parable at Matthew 13:24ff and Matthew 13:36ff. [Note also Matthew 24:12.] Nothing could be more accurate than the historical evolution away from the primitive Church and its teachings. These involved not only doctrine but also church order. Jesus had asked the rhetorical question, “When the Son of Man arrives will he really find The Faith on earth?” [Luke 18:8]

Through Paul, Jesus declares these apostates will be, “Giving heed to deceitful pneumas.” [Or, seducing spirits, deceiving spirits, subversive.] The Greek is PNEUMASI, the plural for “spirit,” and may refer to inspiration. Compare notes on 1 John 4:1 and 2 Thessalonians 2:2. Part of this apostasy is due to the development of false teachings from an inspiration other than God. [Matthew 15:9; 2 Peter 2:1ff] Compare notes on “every wind of teaching” in Ephesians 4:14, 15 in NAZARENE COMMENTARY 2000©.

Moved by the spirit of Jesus, Paul calls these, “Doctrines of demons.” [Or, doctrines of devils, teachings of demons, doctrines inspired by demons.] The Greek’s worshiped demons and their philosophical doctrines were formed from Egyptian backgrounds. [See Preparation of the Gospel by Eusebius] Paul agrees with this. [1 Corinthians 10:20, 21] Most of this came from teachers within the Church who under went a satanic transformation. [2 Corinthians 11:3, 14, 15] These “doctrines” surely included the concept of a triune deity, hell-fire torment, and the immortality of the human soul -- all which found their roots in Egypt, passing through Greek philosophy. [See Concerning the Heavens by Aristotle and the work by Eusebius mentioned above.] These apostates would teach “In [the] hypocrisy of those [who] speak falsehoods.” [Or, speaking lies in hypocrisy, teach falsely. (Acts 20:30; 2 Timothy 2:16; 2 Peter 2:3)]

Such false teachers experience a “Conscience having been seared.” [Or, seared with a brand, hardened, as dead as seared flesh, branded with the devil’s sign.] Not only is there a radical doctrinal shift evolving over several centuries, but also a moral shift resulting in more and more of a liberal ethical character. Such could later actually convince the Church to support wars and inquisitions, or the burning of heretics at the stake. But, what was Timothy to do?

1 Timothy 4:6 By suggesting these things to the brothers you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished with the words of the Faith and the Good Teaching which you have followed. [NCMM]

First, Timothy as a young elder authorized by Paul, was to continue “suggesting these things to the brothers.” The Greek for “suggesting” is HYPO-TITHEMENOS [Strong's Concordance #5294, to place underneath, to hazard, put in remembrance. Or, pointing out, setting forth, lay these things before, instructing, explain, advices.] It seems fair to conclude that Paul means what he has written up to this point. It was vital that Timothy keep before the various churches the doctrine of Christ and be on guard against “different doctrine.” 

This would make Timothy “a good servant.” [Or, a minister] A good minister in the Church is one characterized by teaching the contents of 1 Timothy. That is one “Nourished with the words of the Faith.” [Or, nurturing on the messages, feeding your own soul, bred on the precepts, trained, living on.] The “words of the Faith” would surely include the teachings of the Nazarene in the Gospels as well as Paul’s own inspired words. [Titus 2:1]

In contrast to the devious apostates Timothy had followed “the Good Teaching.” [Or, good doctrine, noble teaching, fine teaching, sound instruction, right teaching, excellent teaching.] Compare notes on 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:14. Certainly part of this “Good Teaching” is found in Paul’s letters to Timothy.

1 Timothy 6:20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Turn away from the profane and empty utterances and opposing theories of the pseudo-named “Gnostic,” 1TM6:21 which some, professing [it], have missed the mark concerning the Faith. [NCMM]

The spirit-helper of Jesus has Paul urging the young elder to guard his deposit. It is hard to read that and not think of the Nazarene’s parable of the four slaves. [Luke 12:35-48] [Or, keep safe, take good care, guard the truths, keep the securities of the faith intact.] One view is the “deposit” is right doctrine, a true knowledge of the Truth. Titus 1:9 might be a comparison. The following phrases suggest such.

Paul writes, “Turn away from the profane and empty utterances.” [Or, KJV: avoiding profane and vain babblings; WEY: shunning irreligious and frivolous talk; WMS: worldly, futile phrases; BER: empty discussions; NEB: turn a deaf ear to empty and worldly chatter; MOF: profane jargon; BECK: unholy talk; AMP: irreverent babble and godless chatter.] What Paul has in mind is suggested by the next phrases: the Gnostic influence working its way into the Church.

The first are “Opposing theories.” [Or, objections, contradictions.] The Greek is ANTI-THESEIS [Strong's Concordance #477, opposition, a conflict of theories]. The word from which the English antithesis is derived unchanged: opposite or opposing view. Compare Paul’s warning at Colossians 2:8. Paul entrusted Timothy with the doctrine of the Truth and part of his charge was to preserve these sound teachings and shun “different doctrine.”

The second is described as “Pseudo-named ’Gnostic’.” [Or, KJV: science falsely called; NOR: pseudo-science.] One immediately thinks of “Christian Science” or “Religious Science” in modern times. The Greek is PSEUDO-NYMMOU GNOSEOS and may be an identification of the Gnostic theosophy, “a system of mystical religious and philosophical doctrines, combining Christianity with Greek and Oriental philosophies.” [Webster] The Gnostics became powerful in the second and third centuries. They combined Jewish, Eastern, and Christian thought through a Greek filter. They believed in the immortality of the soul and that Jesus did not come in the flesh but was a materialize phantom. They were also liberal in their relaxed attitudes toward obedience. [Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Colin Brown), Volume 1, page 58] Some feel the modern doctrine of the Trinity derived from Gnostic beliefs traceable to Plato and Aristotle. Timothy is to shun or turn away from such.

The result of turning an ear to these “different doctrines” was that “some, professing [it], have missed the mark concerning the Faith.” [Or, erred concerning the faith, shot far wide, gone astray.] Already within three decades of Christ, Greek philosophy was influencing the faith of some Christians. Just as in the first century, now in the early part of the 21st Century, there are those who would corrupt primitive Christianity by a Jewish or Greek influence. [Compare notes on 1 Timothy 1:19.] What was Timothy to do?

2 Timothy 1:13 Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; 2TM1:14 guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. [NCMM]

Jesus through Paul counseled Timothy to “Follow the pattern of the sound words.” [Or, KJV: sound words; ABUV: healthful; GDSP: wholesome instruction.] Paul has taught and instructed Timothy and he charges him now to follow these teachings. He is to go on to mention some false teachers which have misled others. [2TM1:15; 2:17] May Timothy be in danger?

Paul counsels Timothy to “Guard the truth that has been entrusted to you.” [Or, BER: guard that precious entrusted deposit; ALF: goodly trust; RHM: noble thing; WMS: guard this fine deposit of truth.] Likely it reads more like, “guard this good trust.” [Note 1 Timothy 4:14.] “Continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed,” Paul writes. [Or, RHM: abide in the things; NEB: stand by the truths.] If we used only the letter of First Timothy we could identify some of those things Timothy had learned from Paul. Surely those letters with Timothy’s name attached would also be included. [2 Corinthians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1] From these the Gospel Truth may be perceived as well as those further truths Jesus had predicted.

Paul writes again to Timothy. We believe this was under the influence of Jesus’ spirit-helper, and thus represent what the Nazarene himself would say to the young elder.

2 Timothy 3:14-17 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. [NCMM]

Paul notes that Timothy had been raised by godly Jewish women and had thus learned the Hebrew Scriptures. He writes, “How from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings.” [Or, KJV: holy scriptures; ASV: sacred writings.] Paul surely means the canon of the Hebrew Bible. It is possible this may have included the earliest of the Christian canon, including some of the Gospels, such as Matthew.

The benefit of these Scriptures is explained by Jesus’ representative, his apostle Paul: “Which are able to instruct you for salvation.” [Or, KJV: make thee wise unto salvation; WEY: wise to obtain salvation; WMS: which gives you wisdom that leads to salvation; MOF: saving wisdom.] The wisdom of the Scriptures cannot be separated from salvation. Yes, “All scripture is inspired by God.” [Or, RHM: God-breathed; TCNT: God-inspired; GDSP: divinely inspired; BAS: every holy writing which comes from God.] Surely Paul means at the least those “sacred writings” Timothy was raised on. There is a unique word here repeated no where else: THEO-PNEUSTOS, or “God-breathed.” These will make “the man of God … complete.” [Or, KJV: perfect; MOF: proficient; NEB: efficient; GDSP: adequate; WMS: perfectly fit; TAY: well-prepared at every point.] The inspired Scriptures are enough to accomplish this perfection of the man of God. Paul does not state that Timothy, or any other man of God, needs something in addition to these to make him complete.

2 Timothy 4:1-4 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: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth, wandering into myths. [NCMM]

Surely that spirit-helper from Jesus inspired Paul to write further about that future apostasy? “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching.” [Or, KJV: not endure sound doctrine; RHM: healthful teaching; WEY: wholesome instruction.] Paul refers to the foretold apostasy predicted by the Nazarene in his parable of the wheat and weeds. See notes on Matthew 13:24ff and 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12. [Acts 20:29, 30; see notes on 2 Peter 2:1ff] Compare 1 Timothy 1:3, 10; 4:1. This prediction manifested itself in two ways: a) doctrines which deviated from the original truths taught by Jesus and his inspired disciples; and, b) those who felt doctrine was unimportant altogether. The modern Church is filled to the brim with examples of both.

Why would members of the Church begin to pick their own teachers? Paul explains, “But having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings.” [Or, KJV: aft their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears; WEY: to satisfy their own fancies; GDSP: to suit their own whims; BAS: a great number of teachers; KNX: provide themselves a continuous succession of new teachers; TCNT: itching for novelty; LAM: lured by enticing words; NW: to tickle their ears.] This is one reason to be attracted to new teachers and their doctrine: it is what one wants to hear. This may be doctrinal, or matters which liberalize conduct. Today the Church is splintered into tens of thousands of sects and denominations that cater to what the congregation wants to hear. Seldom is there any rebuke or correction in matters of doctrine or conduct.

Paul also writes to another elder directed to appoint elders in various churches. He also was warned about opposers with “different doctrine” from that of Christ Jesus.

Titus 1:10, 11 For, indeed, there are many opposers, idle talkers and deceivers, particularly those of the circumcision, It is necessary to stop the mouths of those who overturn entire households, teaching what they ought not for the sake of dishonest gain. [NCMM]

“There are many opposers,” Paul writes, no doubt guided by the spirit-helper of Jesus. [Or, KJV: many unruly; GDSP: undisciplined; MOF: insubordinate; KNX: rebellious; NEB: far too many out of all control; NOR: do not readily submit to authority.] Already, this early in the Church, there was an apostasy at work. [2 Thessalonians 2:1-3; Acts 20:29, 30] These “opposers” fell into two major groups: a) the Judaizers who wished Christianity to be an extension of Judaism and the Law of Moses (today reflected in similar groups); and, b) the Greek influence of the Gnostics and Stoics who would bring in philosophical doctrines influenced by the much esteemed Plato and Aristotle (today reflected in Trinitarianism). Early Christianity was not a free group of independent thinkers with a variety of views on everything. Such “winds” were spoken of negatively. [Ephesians 4:13-15] Compare notes on Romans16:18. [1 Timothy 1:6, 7; 2 Timothy 2:18]

Paul calls these false teachers, “Idle talkers and deceivers.” [Or, KJV: vain talkers; CON: disobedient babblers; WMS: mere talkers with nothing to say, but deceivers of their own minds; NEB: they talk wildly and lead men’s minds astray; MOF: who impose on people their empty arguments.] As in the first century the same exist by the tens of thousands among modern Christianity. These include the so-called “modernists” who have rejected Jesus as Messiah and Son of God and deny the Bible is God’s inspired Word. [2 Timothy 3:15-17] They also include those so-called “conservatives” who twist the Word to create time chronologies and preach “the time is at hand.” [Luke 21:8; Deuteronomy 18:20-22]

Were these Christian teachers to be tolerated? Hardly, for Titus is commanded, “Stop the mouths of those who overturn entire households.” [Or, MOF: silenced; NEB: curbed; MOF: undermine whole families.] The early Church was not a place where just anyone’s views could be expressed. The elder must be able to resist or restrain those teachers who have departed from Christ and Paul. [2 Timothy 3:6] Mouths may be stopped by not permitting such to speak or by over-powering arguments. The fight for pure doctrine was an ongoing battle. [2 Corinthians 10:4-7]

There was a motive or hidden agenda behind these teachers as Paul describes them, “Teaching what they ought not for the sake of dishonest gain.” [MOF: teaching objectionable doctrine; NASB: sordid gain; CON: shameful gain; KNX: base profits; BECK: make money in such a shameful way.] There are two ways to identify such: material profit, or, selfish ambition. [1 Timothy 6:5; 1 Peter 5:2] Either these men want profit or they want undeserved honor. They usually teach what others want to hear in order to tickle their ears.

Paul, under the influence of the spirit-helper speaking for Christ, directs Titus in what he ought to do as an appointed elder.

Titus 3:8 That statement is trustworthy. Concerning these [teachings] I counsel you [Titus] to make strong affirmations about them so that [the congregations] of those who believe God continue minding good works. These [teachings] are good and profitable to humanity. [NCMM]

What does Paul direct Titus to do? He writes, “Concerning these [teachings] I counsel you [Titus] to make strong affirmations.” [Or, KJV: affirm constantly; TCNT: and it is on these subjects that I desire you to lay special stress; PME: speak with absolute certainty; MON: firmly insist.] What Paul has written are no mere suggestions, they are apostolic commands. Titus is not to be hesitant or wishy-washy. He gives his reasons in the next phrases. But were these commands and instructions to Titus limited to just the island of Crete? Were they not meant for future generations of the Church? Were they not inspirations from Jesus’ spirit-helper?

Paul affirms: “These [teachings] are good and profitable to humanity.” [Or, TCNT: such subjects are excellent in themselves and of real use to mankind; MOF: such counsels are right and good for men; BER: which is excellent and beneficial for al people.] What Paul writes to Titus is not limited to just the isle of Crete. They are applicable and beneficial to Christians of all ages. [2 Timothy 3:15-17] But what is Titus to do if someone in their midst begins to teach “different doctrine”?

Titus 3:10, 11 Shun a heretical person after two warnings. Realize that such a person has been perverted, and, in sinning, is self-condemned. [NCMM]

Yes, Paul commands, “Shun a heretical person after two warnings.” [Or, KJV: heretick; ASV: factious man; CON: a sectarian; TCNT: if a man is causing divisions among you; KJV: first and second admonition reject; TCNT: having nothing more to say to him.] The Greek is HAIRETICON [141] from which comes “heretic.” The earliest meaning was a person with an opinion or choice and thus a person who is divisive in his opinion, or schismatic. [1 Corinthians 1:10] This does not mean a Christian cannot have an opinion or choice for Paul has just told Titus to make “firm assertions” about certain teachings. These “heresies” contradict “healthy teaching” which came from Jesus the Nazarene. [1 Corinthians 11:19; Galatians 5:20] Compare Galatians 1:7-9. The sectarian person deserves two apostolic warnings from qualified elders. See notes on Romans 16:17 and 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14. [2 John 10]

Our study of the letters to Timothy and Titus has helped us appreciate that we cannot take true teachings, Christ’s doctrine, lightly. There was an original truth found in the Gospels and inspired writings of Jesus’ appointed representatives. Today we can still study these writings and arrive at the Truth. Those who refuse to be led by these teachings are to be shunned and avoided. If they repent and sincerely seek correction, they may be restored to our Lord’s grace.

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Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller

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