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Bible verses about Heresy
(From Forerunner Commentary)

From the Bible's point of view, a heresy is a lie. No matter how attractively it may be wrapped or how appealing it may be to our vanity, it is a deviation from the truth of God that promotes or actually produces schism—division—in the church.

Lies and division within the church make it very easy to identify the real source of heresy. In John 8:44, Jesus says of the Devil, "He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it." John adds in Revelation 12:9, "So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world."

Satan introduced heresy into human life through Adam and Eve when he induced them to sin by telling them, "You will not surely die" (Genesis 3:4). They believed this perversion of God's truth, and upon sinning, the destructive course began. By being cast from the Garden of Eden, they were almost immediately separated from God. They did not live and prosper as Satan's cruel perversion led them to believe. Instead, the Devil exploited them through their innocence and desires, and through sin they became his slaves. Hundreds of years later, they died just as God said they would.

The Devil's attempts to deceive through false teaching have never stopped. Jesus warned in Mark 13:22 that, as we approach the end, it will be especially intensive; "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." He warns that, if it is possible for us to be deceived, we will be deceived by false doctrines.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Damnable Heresies


 

Mark 16:9-20

A highly controversial point in religious circles is whether Mark 16:9-20 is actually part of Scripture. Although it appears in the King James and New King James versions, many other translations either label this section as an appendix or leave it in the footnotes, as does the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. The Moffatt translation, together with the Goodspeed translation and others, not only has the long ending found in the King James Version, but it also has another shorter ending.

In A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (1971), Bruce Metzger, a noted authority on textual matters, writes:

The last twelve verses of the commonly received text of Mark are absent from the two oldest Greek manuscripts (Aleph and B), from the Old Latin codex Bobiensis (itk), the Sinaitic Syriac manuscript, about one hundred Armenian manuscripts, and the two oldest Georgian manuscripts (written AD 897 and AD 913).

Yet, he also notes, "The traditional ending of Mark, so familiar through the AV and other translations of the Textus Receptus [Received Text], is present in the vast number of witnesses" (our emphasis). Despite this, he concludes that the longer ending is "secondary," meaning "that the section was excerpted from another document, dating perhaps from the first half of the second century." To bolster his conclusion, he cites "internal evidence": non-Markan vocabulary and style within the section and the "awkward" connection between verse 8 and verses 9-20.

Contrary to this, the longer ending to Mark's gospel is quoted extremely early in church history as Markan. Between AD 182 and 188, Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp, quotes Mark 16:19 as a part of Mark's account (Against Heresies iii.10.6). There are allusions to these disputed verses in even earlier writings, although not as true quotations.

Not only did Irenaeus accept it as a part of Mark's gospel when arguing with "heretics," but, says James Hastings:

No writer before Eusebius [(c. AD 260-340) court favorite and church historian in the days of the Roman emperor Constantine] is known to have rejected them, and their presence in all later MSS [manuscripts] shows that the successors of Eusebius, in spite of his great authority, did not follow his judgment in the matter.

In addition, records of the traditional liturgical calendars of several churches (for instance, the Greek, Syrian, Armenian, and Coptic churches), originating before the fourth century, include these disputed verses without reservation as part of the services. These facts point plainly to the great antiquity of the longer ending as preserved in the common English versions.

In his exhaustive study, "'The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel According to St. Mark Vindicated Against Recent Objectors and Established" (1871), Dean John William Burgon evaluates these verses on stylistic and historical grounds and comes to the exact opposite conclusion to Metzger. He finds that the claim of their non-authenticity rests on shoddy scholarship and an over-reliance on the Western texts, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, which, though early, are at variance with most other biblical manuscripts. He even asserts that Vaticanus contains a blank column where Mark 16:9-20 should be, left there by a scribe to show that it had intentionally been excluded.

If these last verses of Mark's gospel were left out, the book would not come to an orderly conclusion, as does every other book of the Bible. In fact, it would end on notes of fear and failure: "And they [the women who visited Jesus' tomb] said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid" (Mark 16:8)?hardly a fitting ending for an account of hope and salvation.

Further, no Christian doctrine rests on the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20. Every point in Mark 16:9-20 ?except for "if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them"?has scriptural backup elsewhere in the New Testament, and even the exception parallels the spirit of the surrounding promises to the disciples. Therefore, even if this concluding section were a later addition, no Christian doctrine is in any way affected.

As for the vocabulary and style differences, in the end they turn out to be highly inflated guesses. Several words are used for the first time in the book, and a few others are used differently than elsewhere. However, these variations are no worse than the style and vocabulary differences between, for example, Paul's Pastoral Epistles and his other letters, John's writing in Revelation and his gospel and epistles, or Peter's two epistles. Authors are not bound to what scholars assume to be the limit of their vocabularies and styles.

Even with all of this proof, the decision comes down to the faithfulness of God. Is God able to preserve His Word or not? Human writings are filled with error, but the Bible is complete, inspired, and wholly preserved through the power of God. We can trust that these verses are an inspired part of the Word of God.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Should Christians Handle Snakes?


 

1 Corinthians 10:20-21

To use Paul's analogy, our spiritual diet must not be a mixture of true and false doctrines. In this area of life, a mixture produces nothing good (James 3:11-12). We must make every effort to separate the true food from the false if we are to grow and qualify for the Kingdom of God. This is a responsibility that falls on each of us—we cannot leave it to others! We must acknowledge the source of the false teaching—Satan, his demons, and his false ministers—to truly appreciate the seriousness of heresy.

Like Peter, Paul warns about heresies within the church: "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons" (I Timothy 4:1). The Greek word planos, translated as "deceiving" (NKJV) or "seducing" (KJV), is the same word from which we derive the English word "planet." It conveys the idea of wandering. To the astronomers of ancient Greece, the planets appeared to wander in a heaven populated by other, relatively fixed lights. Thus, evil spirits induce people to wander from the true path of God's Word. These are the principalities and powers against which we wrestle (Ephesians 6:10-12).

Heresy is not always easily detected because Satan usually camouflages the lie with a large measure of truth. He is a master of deceit. Because the people of the world are so ignorant of God, Satan can tell them virtually anything, and they will believe it. But with us he generally does not directly challenge or obviously and blatantly misquote Scripture. His confrontation with Jesus, beginning in Matthew 4:1, is a classic example. He subtly twists the intent of a scripture to bend it into a wrong application or understanding. At other times, he will appeal to our vanity to get us to react to his suggestions without thinking.

The Bible gives only a few specific doctrines with which seducing spirits, heresy or false ministers are directly associated. However, do not be fooled that so few doctrines are directly mentioned with the word "heresy" attached. No doctrine is sacrosanct to demons. They will attack the people of God in any spiritual area. The Bible makes it very clear that demons are our major, major enemies, and deception that leads us into sin is their game!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Damnable Heresies


 

1 Corinthians 11:17-19

The phrase "must also be" has the sense of "it being necessary." Paul understands factions as God-ordained because he could see the pattern of them from Old Testament times, as well as the benefits derived from them.

The Corinthian congregation was a troubled group divided into factions by heresies (I Corinthians 1:10-13). This circumstance was not helping the already-calamitous situation, but Paul says that the calamity would eventually produce a good result. The true sons of God would be revealed by their reactions to the false teaching. They would not accept it, and thus would be witnesses to the weaker for the truth of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Sovereignty and the Church's Condition (Part Two)


 

2 Corinthians 11:1-4

Paul had to deal with the Corinthian congregation because they had fallen under the sway of false apostles (see II Corinthians 11:13). These false ministers had convinced many of the brethren that they knew more and better than the apostle through whom they had heard, believed, learned, and been converted to the gospel. They were in the process of throwing aside what they had learned from Paul in favor of what they were hearing from these new "apostles."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Damnable Heresies


 

2 Thessalonians 2:3

Some think that, when someone accepts heresy, he will "leave the church." That may occur on some occasions, but this confuses hairesis with apostasia. In this verse, apostasia is translated "falling away" in both the KJV and NKJV, giving the impression that it refers to leaving an organization. But apostasia means "to depart from truth"! One can remain in an organization and be departing from truth all along.

This is vitally important to us living at the end time! Notice what Paul writes in II Thessalonians 2:9-12 about this:

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Damnable Heresies


 

1 Timothy 1:5-7

Studying a specific theological subject for months and years will make a person unbalanced, emotionally attached to the topic, and deficient in the weightier matters of God's way of life. Such persons become gluttons for new ideas that feed heresy, and they justify their over-consumption by claiming that it is not their fault that they have access to so much religious information over the Internet and through the mail.

"Much study"—especially of a trivial subject or one unrelated to salvation—"is wearisome to the flesh," writes Solomon (Ecclesiastes 12:12). People of this inclination, the apostle Paul says, are "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (II Timothy 3:7). Just as with food, excessive study of the same subject day-in and day-out can cause a person to be unbalanced. We have to know when to say, "Enough!"

Martin G. Collins
Gluttony: A Lack of Self-Control (Part Two)


 

1 Timothy 4:1-2

The source of false doctrine is demonic. Paul is writing of men who listen to, consider, follow, and then teach doctrines twisted from their biblical base (II Peter 3:16). He adds in II Corinthians 11:13-15 that, though the false doctrine comes through a man, the real source is Satan. The man is just a servant.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Damnable Heresies


 

2 Timothy 4:2-5

Paul gives Timothy a great deal to think about and to do. Notice, though, that he ends with a warning that false teachers and false gospels are inevitable. As time goes on, as he said earlier, things will get worse and worse.

We must be especially careful of this these days because Jesus tells us that, as the end approaches, it will get really bad! Those things will wax, not wane, as the end comes. And in our information society, not only have there been more bad things, but they are coming at us faster and faster. It is hard to keep up with all the false teachings, heresies, and strange ideas. And those are just what are in the church, and not what comes from Protestantism, Catholicism, New Age, or whatever!

The Internet has been a blessing and curse, just for that reason. It is wonderful for transmitting information—especially if it is the truth, but it is damnable for transmitting error. All "media" are. Any kind of media can be used wrongly. The two biggest users on the Internet are, on the one hand, pornographers, and on the other, churches. Is that not crazy? It shows how bad the times are, and how we have to be prepared to face these things, show the error of falsehood, and explain the truth. It is not easy in these times to be a true minister of God, because things are coming at us from right and left at 190 mph.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Itching Ears


 

2 Peter 2:1-3

These verses show us in a general way that traitors will come from within the church and subvert many to follow their carnal ways. Peter uses the word "but" to provide a contrast with the preceding section about the "sure word of prophecy" (II Peter 1:19, KJV). These traitors to the faith are not led by the Holy Spirit as were those God inspired to write the prophecies (verse 21). The apostle immediately warns that these "false teachers" will come from within the church, or as Peter writes, "among you." The implication is that "forewarned is forearmed"! Therefore, be on guard!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Damnable Heresies


 

2 Peter 2:1

Alarming as II Peter 2:1-3 is, Peter does not define heresy, but he does tell what one heresy is and will be. He also does not tell us here what the source of heresy is either.

Heresy is the translation of the Greek hairesis—meaning literally "choice" or "selection"—which has an interesting secular as well as biblical history. Until its biblical use, it had no evil connotation. Even in the Bible, it is mostly used to refer to a party or a philosophy with which a person had chosen to identify or ally himself. Thus, hairesis is frequently translated "sect." In Acts, Luke applies it to the Sadducees (Acts 5:17) and the Pharisees (Acts 15:5; 26:5). Outsiders also used hairesis in Acts 24:5, 14 and Acts 28:22 to identify the Christian church.

However, when Paul and Peter's writings began circulating, hairesis meant a destructive element within the church that creates division through consciously formed opinions and ideas in disagreement with the orthodox teachings of the apostles. Paul condemns it in Galatians 5:20 as one of "the works of the flesh." Sometimes it is translated "factions" or "party spirit," but regardless of its translation, Paul says that people who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God (verse 21)!

In the ordinary course of secular life, heresy was of little consequence; one person's opinion or choice about most things in life is just as good as another's. A person can be given any number of alternatives, any one of which he may be perfectly free to believe. However, in Christianity we are dealing with revelation, with God-given truth, with absolutes. When God's truth comes to men, we either have to accept or reject it. Thus, a heretic is a man who believes what he wishes to believe instead of accepting the truth of God that he ought to believe.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Damnable Heresies


 

2 Peter 2:1

If "secretly" ("privily") were translated into the closest English synonym, it would have been rendered "smuggle." They smuggle in heresy by cunning deceit. The word literally means "they bring it along side," that is, they present this heresy in such a way as to make it appear favorably with the truth. "Oh, it's just a refinement. We're not really changing anything. You understand that, don't you? We're not really changing it. It's just a refinement, a clarification."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)


 

2 Peter 2:1

One denies the Lord by failing to submit to Him in obedience. If the doctrines gradually begin to be changed, then submission to Christ will be put in different terms as well.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)


 

2 Peter 2:1-2

Destructive will also translate into the English word "pernicious," which means "deadly." We hear it most frequently in a medical term, "pernicious anemia." What is so interesting is that it may appear innocent, but all the while it is destroying life. It gives the appearance of being not overtly or openly dangerous, but all the while it is undermining one's health. Peter, of course, is talking about spiritual health.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)


 

2 Peter 2:1

The King James Version calls their heresies damnable, implying that their words—their messages—are destructive to one's faith and relationship with God. "Denying the Lord" does not mean they deny that He lived or died or that He is God, but that their words and conduct are opposed to His fundamental nature. Their lives deny any close contact with Him.

David C. Grabbe
What Is a False Prophet?


 

1 John 2:18-20

John informs us that the antichrists were right in the church fellowshipping with the truly converted! No doubt, they performed the same function in John's areas of responsibilities as they did in Paul's. They created a measure of havoc in the church through heretical teaching and then left the fellowship, proving they were not really part of the church. They were tares.

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Sovereignty and the Church's Condition (Part Two)


 

1 John 2:18-19

John calls the various individuals who were teaching heresy "antichrists." At one time, these people had fellowshipped with true believers, but then had left the church and were now trying to draw others away to follow their heretical teachings. John points out that they were never really converted, or they would have stayed with the body of true believers.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
For the Perfecting of the Saints


 

Revelation 2:4-5

The Ephesian church did have a problem. It was not in holding false teachers at arm's length, but in tending to become lax, to "drift with the tide," as it were, and this made them an easy target for false teachers. In this way, their weakness was, in a way, connected to their strength. They approached matters somewhat lackadaisically when times were fairly good, but when times became bad, they seemed to be able to stand up for the truth.

At certain times, their devotion to God's way left a lot to be desired. Just before the apostle John died in about AD 100, this was very much the case, and he really had to rouse them to get them back. From what we know from church history, by this time the membership of the true church was small and concentrated mostly around John in the church at Ephesus and some of the nearby towns in Asia Minor that he directly pastored.

Jude recognized the beginning of this drifting when he wrote in the mid-60s. All the apostles wrote similar things in their epistles: that the members of the church needed to get on the stick because false doctrines and false teachers were already in evidence among them and beginning to cause problems. If they did not root them out quickly, destruction would follow. The brethren were far too tolerant of divergent beliefs and practices, and Jude, especially, makes this point rather bluntly. He basically yells at them. Those who know Greek intimately say his language is very terse and sharp, and with it he lays in to them for being too tolerant of untruth.

His brother, Jesus, is more circumspect in His wording in Revelation 2:5. To paraphrase, he says, "I would rather that you were strong all the time. You need to go back and do the first works and remain strong so that these false teachers do not get a foothold in the church in the first place."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

Find more Bible verses about Heresy:
Heresy {Nave's}
 




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