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Bible verses about False Teachers
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Proverbs 7:6-9

He describes this young man as simple in the bad sense of the word—he is foolish, inconsiderate, unthinking. He is "open" to all impressions of evil. He lounges near the house of ill repute, not necessarily because he plans to sin, but he does not seem all that opposed to it either! He is hanging out at a certain time and place, open to whatever might happen—no definite plans, just waiting to see how it goes. He lacks the understanding to discern the evil that is present, as well as the wisdom and courage to resist the flatteries and temptations of the seductress. In contrast, though unstated, the pure in heart—those who understand the dangers—would be at home, occupied with things that are more wholesome.

In applying this to ourselves and our efforts to forsake Babylon and steer clear of false doctrines and teachers, we can see that our individual application of verses 1-5—keeping God's commandments and making wise decisions—will help to determine whether or not we are foolish and lacking judgment. If we highly esteem God's instruction, in the letter and the spirit of the law, and if we fear God and keep His commandments, we will have the wisdom and understanding that this young man lacks.

A common saying runs, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." This young man may not have intended to get into trouble. He may not have planned to do anything wrong, but his approach is not aligned with I Corinthians 6:18: "Flee fornication." Paul says, "Turn around and run the other way!" The young man's approach is not one of foreseeing the dangers and avoiding them (Proverbs 22:3; 27:12), and thus he is called simple and devoid of understanding.

In the same way, if our approach is not one of striving to keep ourselves unspotted from the world, avoiding false teachers and doctrines, in essence, we are planning to fail!

David C. Grabbe
Strange Women (Part Two)


 

Matthew 7:13-14

These verses lead into Christ's teaching on false prophets. From its context, it appears that Jesus says that false ministers will neither acknowledge or teach the narrow way that leads to life, the narrow way that leads to persecution. Instead, they will do just what God shows the Old Testament false prophets did: They will teach "peace, peace"—the smooth, easy, and broad way.

In other words, they will teach that Christians need make no sacrifices in their obedience to God. It is so interesting that, in the last few years in the church, so many things have been liberalized. Are we getting away from the straight and the narrow, the difficult and the sacrificial way?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 2)


 

Matthew 7:15-20

The description here is very apt—wolves in sheep's clothing. They appear on the outside to be something they are not. When Jesus uttered this, He was probably thinking of false ministers who would insinuate themselves into the church by appearing to be sheep within the sheepfold.

Jesus uses this terminology in regard to His relationship with the church. He was the Shepherd, and we are His sheep. Here we have wolves (false ministers) who look like sheep, but it is hypocrisy. They only look that way on the outside. He tells us we will know them by their fruits. The fruit that is produced will not necessarily appear quickly. But Christ guarantees that over a period of time the church will be stripped of its true spiritual vitality in terms of the character that will be produced within the flock, making the rise of wolves in sheep's clothing more likely.

What is He saying? The implication is that Jesus is connecting belief with practice. If we believe a certain set of doctrines, we will practice something because of the teaching. A religious creed or the dogma that a group is following will produce a certain kind of conduct by the people. Belief and practice, creed and conduct—Jesus is saying they are vitality connected. In other words, the teacher cannot hide what he is going to produce. Eventually it will come out. Their false philosophies, no matter how attractive they may appear at first sight, will in the long run be exposed for what they really are.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 2)


 

Matthew 7:15-20

Jesus does not spell out what "fruits" to look for, although in the Olivet Prophecy, He does link the deceptions of false prophets with the lawlessness and lack of love that abounds at the end time (Matthew 24:11-13). However, the rest of the Bible elucidates God's character and nature, so we already have the tools to evaluate whether a message allegedly coming from God fits with what His Word reveals about Him. God is not double-minded; He will not contradict Himself.

David C. Grabbe
What Is a False Prophet?


 

Matthew 13:24-30

When understood in the light of what Peter and Jude wrote about false prophets being marked out beforehand to be part of the church fellowship (II Peter 2:1-3; Jude 3-4), this can be easily seen as a prophecy. It occurred in the apostles' day, and it occurs in ours. We should not be surprised that both the converted and unconverted fellowship in the same congregations.

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


 

Matthew 21:33-46

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record Jesus' Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers (Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19). Not long before, the scribes, chief priests, and elders had accused Him of taking too much authority upon Himself, but in this parable, they find themselves indicted for high crimes. Having discounted Jesus Christ as the Son of God with all authority, in this story they—and the people (see Luke 20:9)—learn His identity, who sent Him, and the death He would die at their hands. In earlier parables, He had exposed the religious leaders of His day as spiritually empty impostors, and now, in this more condemnatory parable, He reveals them to be persecutors and murderers as well.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers


 

Matthew 24:3-5

It is no coincidence that the first warning Jesus gives about "the sign of [His] coming and the end of the age" is, "Take heed that no one deceives you" (Matthew 24:3-4). In fact, warnings about deception are frequent throughout His Olivet Prophecy (verses 4-5, 11, 23-26, 48). The time of the end, it seems, will be one of falsehood and deceit.

In the book of Revelation, this same warning appears as the first seal, also known as the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:

Now I [John] saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, "Come and see." And I looked, and behold, a white horse. And he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. (Revelation 6:1-2)

Comparing Jesus' comments in Matthew 24 with these verses in Revelation 6, it becomes apparent that this horseman is not Christ proclaiming the true gospel but a counterfeit spreading the news of a false Messiah. For instance, this horseman carries a bow, but in every case, Christ is pictured with a sword (see Revelation 1:16; 19:15). Jesus interprets this horseman for us in Matthew 24:5: "For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Let No One Deceive You


 

Matthew 24:12-13

In recent years, the indicator in verse 12 about "love . . . grow[ing] cold" has often been cited when a grievance toward a particular church organization or group arose. This verse, however, can easily be misapplied, so it behooves us to more fully understand what it means so that we can know if or when it is being fulfilled.

Understanding the word translated "love" is a vital first step. It is the well-known Greek word agape, the love that people have only because God has given it to them (Romans 5:5; II Timothy 1:7; I John 2:5; 4:7-8). The people whose agape love is growing cold must have had it in the first place, so it refers to those whom God has called into a relationship with Him (John 6:44).

It is important to differentiate between this agape love and the other types of love mentioned in the Bible. Phileo love means "to be a friend to" or "to be fond of" a person or object, indicating "having affection for," whereas Strong's Concordance notes that agape "is wider, embracing especially the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety" (emphasis ours). Similarly, philadelphia love means "fraternal affection" or "brotherly love." Agape love, though, is manifested first toward God, because it is a dutiful, submissive, obedient love, one that does what is right regardless of how a person feels about it. In other words, agape love has a moral core rather than an emotional one.

The Bible shows that, in general, we show agape love to the Father through our obedience and submission, especially to His law (John 14:15-23; 15:10; I John 2:5; 5:2-3; II John 6). We show agape love to each other through sacrifice, just as Jesus' example of love—to those around Him and to us—was through sacrifice (John 13:34; 15:12-13; Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 5:2, 25; I John 3:16, 18; 4:9-12).

The meaning of Matthew 24:12, then, is that agape love will grow cold because of lawlessness, even though there may still be brotherly love, kindness, and human affection. Remember, we show agape love to God through obedience—the opposite of lawlessness—so when disobedience increases, agape grows cold. An example of this appears in the letter to the Ephesians, where Jesus says that they had left their first love—their first agape—and He commands them to repent (Revelation 2:4-5), that is, to turn away from their lawlessness. When there is compromise, or the setting aside of God's standard of righteousness and holiness, then the submissive love toward God and the sacrificial love toward man will begin to grow cold. It is a simple cause-and-effect relationship.

In this prophecy, Jesus Christ is describing an ongoing breakdown in the relationship with God. Since that most important relationship is the source of agape love, if it is waning, then it will be evident in other relationships. A symptom may be that sacrificial love toward other people is decreasing, but the real cause is that the relationship with God is cooling off.

A cause of this deterioration is found in the preceding verse: "Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many" (Matthew 24:11). While a true prophet always upholds God's law (Deuteronomy 13:3-4; Isaiah 8:19-20; Romans 8:7), a false prophet is willing to compromise with God's standard of holiness when it suits him. Those following a false teacher will likewise slide into lawlessness, becoming separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-3).

David C. Grabbe
Is the Love of Many Growing Cold?


 

Acts 20:28-31

Paul's address here to the Ephesian elders probably took place in the springtime of AD 56. He prophecies to them of apostasy and corrupt leadership that Peter, Jude, and John would later write about as it was happening.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

Acts 20:29

He calls these future apostates, these future false teachers, "savage wolves." Jude later calls them "brute beasts" (Jude 1:20). This conjures in our minds the idea that man's animalistic nature—what one could call the physical side of man's nature, what he shares with the beasts—is driving these false teachers. It is not necessarily their minds and their ideas that are driving them but their bodies, their desires, their lusts, and they want these lusts satiated in some way. It is not just eating, drinking, sex, and similar carnal needs, but also the base desires that men have for gain, for standing atop the pack, for glory and prestige. These false teachers are letting their "animal nature" get the best of them.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

Acts 20:29-30

Paul specifically says these apostates will rise up from among the ministry. In verse 29, he says that "savage wolves will come in among you," and in verse 30, that "among yourselves men will rise up." They will be people in leadership positions or those who are considered to be pillars in the church and highly respected. Thus, they are in an advantageous position, from their point of view, to do the most damage.SS

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

Acts 20:30

The false teachers Paul foresees will do the damage with their tongues. They will manipulate the brethren with cunning sermons and with seemingly logical arguments, but their motivation is to get for themselves. Jude says they "speak great swelling words" (Jude 1:16). They are full of bombast, and they sound quite appealing, but one must look beyond their eloquence and notice what they are really saying.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

Romans 16:18-19

The point of these two verses—including what led up to them—is that Paul did not want the Roman church to be drawn into a perversion of truth. We should be wise in promoting and doing what is right and not get mixed up with anything that to God is wrong and evil. We should shoulder our responsibilities, which, within this context, are to be watchful, avoid what the false teachers are saying, obey God, be wise, and at the same time be innocent.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 1)


 

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


 

Galatians 1:6-7

The major thrust of the Galatian epistle is to put them "back on the track" because someone had been teaching "a different gospel," a perversion of the gospel of Christ (Galatians 1:6-7). The Galatians had derailed on their understanding of how sinners are justified. To be justified means to have one's sins forgiven and to be brought into a right relationship with God. False teachers in Galatia taught that one was justified by doing physical works of some kind. In dealing with this matter, Paul felt an urgency to emphasize that we are justified by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:15-16)

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Does Paul Condemn Observing God's Holy Days?


 

Galatians 1:6

Only a little more than a generation had passed since the founding of the church, yet false gospels, perversions of the truth, were making serious trouble for those early Christians. Paul was warning members of the church in Galatia not to listen to those who are trying to persuade them away from the true doctrines of God, which they had learned when the apostles had preached the true gospel to them.

After warning them in verses 8-9, Paul goes on to defend himself against the unwritten question, "How do we know that you preached us the truth?" He asks in return, "From what you've seen of me, do I try to seek the favor of men or God? Do I seem to be a men-pleaser?" Clearly, he always put the truth of God before pleasing people, and he had had to pay the price for it in persecution and peril (see II Corinthians 11:23-33). He considered these sacrifices proof that he was a true servant of God.

Then, in Galatians 1:11-12, he lets them know where the true message he had taught them came from. He was taught, he said, not by any man (verse 16), but by Jesus Christ Himself. Once God had called him on the road to Damascus, and after he was baptized, he went down to Arabia (verse 17), staying there for three years (verse 18). There, Christ taught him the truth as an apostle "born out of due time" (I Corinthians 15:8). Our Savior had a special job for Paul and wanted to give Him the same kind of instruction that He had given the Twelve.

No one knows if Christ came down and appeared to him, teaching him directly, or whether He opened Paul's mind and revealed the truth out of Scripture. However it was done, when he went up to Jerusalem three years later and talked with Peter, James, and John, he found that they agreed completely on the gospel of God (Galatians 2:9). These men understood that Paul was a fellow apostle with them and that his mission would focus primarily on the Gentiles.

By his personal history, Paul shows that he had received the same, true revelation from God that the original disciples had been given. Thus, the gospel that he taught was the same gospel that Peter, John, and the other apostles were also preaching. They all preached from the same Source: Jesus Christ. Our beliefs should rest on that same foundation, which is now printed in our Bibles. Notice Ephesians 2:19-22:

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

In terms of revelation from God, this passage informs us that a true understanding is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. In the past, God revealed certain things to the prophets in Old Testament times and to the apostles in New Testament times, and they wrote those things down for our learning (see Hebrews 1:1; Romans 15:4; I Corinthians 10:11). Jesus Christ is called "the chief cornerstone" because He is the true Foundation and Source of all revelation. He is the One who joins all the revelation together and makes it work. We, then, having this sure foundation, not only learn the truth, but also grow by it into the image of Christ.

The apostle continues in Ephesians 3:

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets. (Ephesians 3:1-5)

Paul uses the subject of God's grace toward the Gentiles as a way to get across, not only that he preached the true gospel, but also how truth comes into the church of God. It is very simple: God revealed something to him, and he, then, wrote it down in a few words, so that we could read and comprehend his understanding of the mystery of God's way. That is how it works: God inspired a prophet or an apostle, and he wrote it down. Over time, it became Scripture, and now we read it, using the Holy Spirit that God has given us, to understand the truth.

At the end of the Bible, in Revelation 22:18-19, John warns the reader not to add to or take away from the words written in the Book, something the false teachers in Galatia were obviously doing. Essentially, he is telling us that revelation from God to man is closed; the canon of Scripture is complete. What we need to know for salvation is in the finished work of the Bible. Anyone who claims to have a new revelation, that he has some "new truth" beyond Scripture, is a false teacher, one of those who "pervert the gospel of Christ" (Galatians 1:7).

So the Bible is the collected writings of the apostles and prophets to whom God gave His precious revelation for all of us to learn and use. God's converted children do not need any advanced degrees, courses in higher thinking and logic, or any kind of worldly help to understand God's truth. All they need is the Word of God and a humble mind that can reason normally, and God, by the gifts of His Spirit (which includes a faithful ministry; Ephesians 4:11), provides the understanding.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh


 

Galatians 1:8

Paul says here that if he or any of the other apostles—or even what would appear to be an angel—were to preach a different gospel to the Galatians than what they had first understood, that teacher was to be accursed. Being "accursed" could run the gamut from God's judgment and wrath falling upon him to being an instruction to part company from that person and not allow him to teach any longer.

The underlying thought here is the same as Jude 3: to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints." It is evident that there is a specific gospel which Christ brought, and any variance from that is a falsehood. In the Old Testament, God required the utmost purity in the way He was worshipped. Now, under the New Testament, the purity has to be even greater—Christ came to magnify the law and reveal the spirit and intent, thus doing away with loopholes and technicalities. Just as there were rigid requirements under the Old Covenant, the gospel of the New Covenant is precise and does not allow for variance. There is only one "way" to eternal life—our relationship with God made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). The notion of "many paths, all leading us to the same place" is utterly erroneous. If the gospel is changed, or any of the associated doctrines are changed, the resulting body of understanding will produce a different faith than that which is necessary for salvation. Purity of the gospel and doctrine is extremely important.

David C. Grabbe


 

Galatians 4:14

Paul calls to their mind their first encounter with him, when his physical infirmity could have been a social stumbling block for them, but they received him warmly and without hesitation. He is drawing a contrast between their first meeting and their current rejection of his teaching.

Paul says that they received him "as an angel [messenger] of God." In the beginning of the epistle, part of his stern warning was against any other doctrines from what he had originally taught them, which included a warning against the teachers of such doctrines (Galatians 1:8). Since the Galatians "received [him] as an angel," they may have likewise received a false teacher as a messenger from God and bestowed upon him the same warmth and acceptance.

David C. Grabbe


 

1 Timothy 6:3-5

Paul says, "Leave!" His concern is for those who will be confronted with false doctrines. He urges them to come "to wholesome words" (verse 3). Wholesome literally means "healthy," words that produce health. In the context of food one would say "health food." Paul says, "Eat the good food, not the junk!" The same applies spiritually: Mentally, a Christian needs to eat healthy words that will produce spiritual health.

Then he describes false teachers: They are conceited, have an unnatural craving for debate, and argue incessantly about words. They are theorists who waste time in futile academic disputes or exercises in semantics. God instructs that these characteristics are not a sign of good spiritual health. Out of this kind of thinking come envy, abusive speech, evil suspicions, constant friction, and a warped idea that godliness is a means of financial gain (verses 4-5).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Guard the Truth!


 

1 Timothy 6:20-21

The Amplified Bible makes these verses clearer:

O Timothy, guard and keep the deposit entrusted [to you]! Turn away from the irreverent babble and godless chatter, with the vain and empty and worldly phrases, and the subtleties and the contradictions in what is falsely called knowledge and spiritual illumination. [For] by making such profession some have erred (missed the mark) as regards the faith. . . .

Paul warns Timothy about "the subtleties and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge and spiritual illumination." The word translated "knowledge" in most translations ("science" in the King James Version) is the Greek gnosis. Literally meaning "to know," it forms the root of the word Gnosticism. It is possible, even probable, that Paul refers to Gnosticism here, since both of his letters to Timothy contain warnings against false teachers bringing in foreign concepts that were undermining the faith of church members.

Remember, however, that his warning is against a particular type of knowledge that induced some members to stray from the faith, knowledge that was subtle and yet contradictory. That it was contradictory is interesting because Gnosticism not only contradicts the truth, but within Gnostic beliefs there are also many contradictions.

Recently, the newly-discovered Gospel of Judas, an example of what is called a "Gnostic gospel," has made headlines worldwide. It was not written at the same time as the four canonical gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - but appeared a couple of centuries later. The Gospel of Judas contradicts the true gospel accounts by asserting that Judas Iscariot was actually the hero, who had been given secret knowledge that the other disciples did not possess.

The opening line of the Gospel of Judas demonstrates this secret knowledge: "The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week, three days before he celebrated Passover." This so-called gospel gives a quite different view of the relationship between Jesus Christ and Judas, and its defenders say that it offers "new insights" into Jesus' betrayal, and the nature and character of Judas. "New insights" is another common theme of Gnosticism.

Several years ago, another Gnostic gospel, the Gospel of Thomas, was all the rage in the scholarly community. Its opening lines also emphasize this secret knowledge: "These are the secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded. And [Jesus] said, 'Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death.'" Notice that the emphasis is immediately on discovering an interpretation and on increasing knowledge as a way to eternal life. It contains nothing about salvation coming through one's relationship with God or even about living a godly life. In this Gnostic gospel, eternal life comes from the secret knowledge that will explain the obscure sayings.

Not only were the Gnostic gospels written long after the fact, but they are also full of statements that oppose the text of the Bible. For example, in the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus allegedly says, "If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves, and if you pray, you will be condemned, and if you give to charity, you will harm your spirits." Scholars say that Jesus is advocating "fitting in" and "being true to oneself," phrases often repeated these days.

In another place in the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus is quoted as saying, "[Blessed is] the one who came into being before coming into being." This makes absolutely no sense to us, but it does make a kind of sense to Gnostics, who believe in a dualism of flesh and spirit. Thus, they understand that "Jesus" implies that the spirit could come into being before the flesh. Many Gnostics were followers of docetism, the belief that Jesus and Christ were two separate beings in one body. Docetists believed that the man Jesus was born, and that the pre-existing god Christ entered into Him when He was baptized and left again before He was crucified. This, then, is an example of coming into being before coming into being.

Also in the Gospel of Thomas,

The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us, how will our end come?" Jesus said, "Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is. [Blessed is] the one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end and will not taste death.

Again, knowing something is shown as the antidote of death. In this case, another element of dualism is that every person has a little spark of God in him or her, and that we have an eternal spirit (or soul) that is trapped or imprisoned within a body of flesh.

Gnostics generally believed that all spirit was inherently stable and good (overlooking the fact that Satan and his demons are spirit and yet also unstable and evil), while all matter and flesh was inherently evil (contradicting God's statement in Genesis 1:31 that everything God had made was "very good"). Plato reinforced this belief, writing, "The soul is the very likeness of the divine - immortal, and intelligible, and uniform, and indissoluble, and unchangeable." He also declared, viewing the body as a temporary house in which the soul is imprisoned, "The soul goes away to the pure, the eternal, the immortal and unchangeable to which she is kin."

The Gnostic goal was to learn the secret knowledge that would allow the inner spirit to be released from the confines of the flesh, enabling it to rejoin God in the spirit realm. Thus, the Gnostics linked the beginning and end (often depicted in the figure of a snake swallowing its tail), because if a person could figure out how the divine spark was infused into the flesh in the first place, he could then reverse it and release the spirit. We find the same basic tenet in the modern doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and the widespread belief that our "home" is in heaven, and that we go to this home when we die.

David C. Grabbe
Whatever Happened to Gnosticism? Part One: False Knowledge


 

2 Timothy 2:26

It is important to realize who the apostle Paul is writing about in this verse. The antecedent of "they" appears in the previous verse: "those who are in opposition." The entire epistle is instruction for the evangelist Timothy, and in this passage in particular, Paul is giving the younger man advice on how to handle those who dispute the gospel message he taught.

He instructs Timothy, as "a servant of the Lord," to correct his opponents with humility and in the hope of two positive outcomes should God grant repentance to them. First, his correct explanation of the matter in contention would bring them out of their ignorance, liberating them from the bondage of error (John 8:32) and opening the potentialities of the truth to them. Paul was very aware that false teachers and anti-Christian foes functioned with a veil over their minds (see, for instance, how he explains it regarding the Jews in II Corinthians 3:14-16; Matthew 15:14), a blindness that could only be lifted by the direct intervention of God revealing Himself and His truth by the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 2:10-14; John 6:44). A minister of God should always answer naysayers plainly with the revealed truth of God to give them the knowledge that may lead to their repentance.

The second positive outcome is the subject of II Timothy 2:26. He hopes that exposure to the truth will bring opponents "to their senses" and free them from their captivity to Satan. The apostle realizes that even the most cunning argument of one of God's servants is not enough to accomplish this; a person's repentance and acceptance of the truth will happen only if God "flips a switch" in his mind by the Holy Spirit to become receptive to Him. So a minister must present the truth in the event that God will use his explanation to call him into a relationship with Him. It is only at this point that an individual truly comes to his senses (see Luke 15:17; Acts 9:3-20). Only then does he begin to see without the blinders (or in Paul's own case, when the scales fell from his eyes).

Once one accepts the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and acknowledges Him as personal Savior and Lord, the walls of Satan's prison fall away and crumble to dust (see Romans 6:16-22). His power over us disappears because his claim on us has been removed; our sins have been forgiven and we are no longer in rebellion against God. We have gone over to the other side in the great spiritual war that the Devil has always been destined to lose. The Captain of our salvation has already crushed the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15), and all that remains is the perfection of the saints for their roles in the Kingdom of God.

However, there are yet billions of people who are still "captive . . . to do his will." Revelation 12:9 states that the great dragon, who is the Devil and Satan, has deceived the whole world. Despite his ignominious defeat at Calvary, Satan is determined to turn it into victory. In his pride, he still thinks he can win! So he will continue to oppose God and His people wherever and whenever he can, using his captives all over the world to trouble, persecute, and kill God's saints. This reality means that Christians must remain on their guard at all times, prepared to "fight the good fight" (II Timothy 4:7) to wear the crown of victory in the Kingdom.

Finally, we must remember that our fight is really not against the men and women still enslaved to Satan, although they are the faces and voices that oppose us. Paul writes:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:12-13)

We need to look beyond our physical opponents to the evil spirits behind them, realizing that our human foes have not yet come to their senses and seen the light of the truth that only God can reveal. Thus, we can contend with them in humility and gentleness, grateful for the grace God has extended to us.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh


 

Titus 1:10-16

The New King James titles this section "The Elder's Task." It covers instructions to the ministry in their job to protect the church from false teachers. In this section is the famous verse 12, "Cretans are always liars," and then he talks about those who are preaching Jewish fables and teaching the commandments of men.

Paul is giving general guidelines to Titus, the pastor on Crete, to help him to read the motives of the people who were affecting the congregation. One might say he was helping Titus to read their fruit. Does not scripture say, "You will know them by their fruits?" This is one of Christ's prime teachings in the Sermon on the Mount so that we would know the wolves that come among the flock. Paul is doing this same with Titus except putting it into different words.

He is telling the ministry that they have to get inside the heads of the people to sense the type of people that they are. Ministers have to be able to "read their minds" by observing what they say and do. This is not a Gestapo action, but an exercise to protect the flock. Among a minister's primary jobs is to ensure that no one has entered the flock who does not belong there, and to usher him out, if need be, to protect the rest of flock.

Oftentimes, goats come in among the sheep, and the goats need to be chased off due to their contrary influence on the sheep. Matthew 25 is clear about where the sheep end up, and where the goats end up.

Paul is instructing Titus in how to do his job—how to protect the flock of which he was made leader.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Is God in All Our Thoughts?


 

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 2:1-2

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?


 

2 Peter 2:2-3

These ungodly people turn the church into a commercial operation. These are men of evil ambition; they are covetous. Their primary objective is success in argument, not truth. They make changes in order to exploit. This is the reason for the feigned words and the deceptive or phony arguments.

We in the United States, especially, have been conditioned to be tolerant. But, from what is written in II Peter 2 and Jude, it is clear that God is not tolerant of this kind of thing. We are tolerant because we have lost, or we never had, a sense of the diabolical danger of Satan's false teaching. It leads people to their deaths! As a nation, we have become dulled to the distinction between truth and falsehood, not only in terms of right and wrong in behavior, but also in terms of ideas or concepts.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)


 

1 John 1:1-5

Why did John begin his epistle in this manner? He was establishing his authority to preach the true gospel because some were disparaging the message he said he heard from Jesus Christ. The false teachers disparaged his message as too conservative, orthodox, and some said downright wrong. His defense was that he had personally seen, heard, and touched the Christ when He was on earth, and for almost seventy years after that, he had continued his fellowship with Him through prayer, study, and obedience! As he wrote, his detractors viewed him as a senile, cranky, old man who looked at life through 100-year-old eyes. Human nature never changes. Satan never changes. Most importantly, God never changes those things that are basic to His purpose! Knowing this, John could speak with powerful authority.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Guard the Truth!


 

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


 

1 John 2:26

Verse 26 functions as a specific purpose statement for the whole epistle. In this pivotal verse, John explains his purpose for writing this letter: to warn true believers about these false teachers who were trying to draw them away from the truth. If they allow themselves to be deceived about the nature of Christ and the God Family, John writes, it could cost them their eternal life!

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


 

Jude 1:1

One commentary opines that Jude is the most neglected book in all the New Testament, and it is not difficult to consider this to be true. It is primarily known for verse 3, "earnestly contend for the faith," and for verses 24 and 25, a noble and uplifting praise of God. The book is only twenty-five verses long, and it is tucked between the oft-quoted Johannine epistles and the well-worn, dog-eared pages of Revelation. In addition, Jude does not provide much in the way of doctrine or Christian living. Besides this, it is almost a carbon copy of II Peter 2.

Most of Jude is a scathing denunciation of false teachers—the smoke almost rises from its pages. The denunciation is sandwiched between two short, three-verse sections in which he exhorts them to faith and love. One of the factors that nearly kept it out of the canon was that Jude quotes two passages from apocryphal books, "The Assumption of Moses" and "The Book of Enoch," both of which were written between the writing of Malachi and beginning of the New Testament. Though they were apocryphal, Jude has no problem quoting passages from them.

Though it seems as if this book has several prohibitive factors, these are merely human perceptions. God has no problem with it, as He included it within the Bible for a reason. He saw something in it that would be of great value to His people down through the ages, and perhaps, due to His omniscience, He inspired Jude to write it specifically for the end-time church when the events that the apostle mentions would be most applicable. Certainly, it applied to those in the first century, since he wrote it to counter specific problems of the time. It really is a timeless book because the circumstances of Jude's day crop up from time to time within the church.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

Jude 1:1

Jude's entire book is based on Matthew 7:15-20, where Jesus tells us, "Beware of false prophets," and "by their fruits you will know them." We should keep this thought in the back of our minds as we study Jude because most of the book describes these false teachers and their false teachings. Jude is giving this warning so that we will be able to spot them when they come out, when they begin to show their fruit.

In this way, Jude and II Peter are both witnesses to the certainty of false teachers, giving us instruction on identifying them and their effects. That said, however, the two epistles are only similar on the surface. They bring out different nuances of these false teachers. It is good to read them together, but it is also good to study them separately, because they are not necessarily saying the exact same things. They agree, but they give us different details, different information, so we can know more fully how to spot these false teachers.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

Jude 1:2

Jude wishes upon his readers specific blessings. His salutation is not the same as the apostle Paul and some of the other writers used. He specifically chooses "mercy, peace, and love," as all three are vital in times of apostasy.

He asks for mercy because they probably needed to repent. His whole reason for writing the epistle stems from the fact that they had begun to get lax, allowing false teachers and false teachings in. They needed God's mercy as they began to repent.

He wishes them peace because, obviously, a major result of apostasy is war and division. Remember, his brother writes in James 3:18 that the fruits of righteousness are produced in peace, and these people were not producing the fruits of righteousness for two reasons: false teachings and war. Thus, they needed peace

Finally, he includes "love," the prime virtue. They needed love because it would take love to resolve this situation—and not just love for God but love for one another. This is the agape form of love, not just phileo— not just caring for one another but setting the mind to do God's will for each other and for God.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

Jude 1:4

In verse 4, Jude gives a few general points about false teachers. The literal translation of the first part is, "For certain men have wormed their way in." They slithered in like snakes without others being aware, on the sly. God, however, marked them out as enemies a long time ago; He knows they are there. This agrees with Jesus' Parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13:1). There, God allowed the adversary to sow the tares among the wheat, but He left them in the field for a reason. Paul says in I Corinthians 11:19 that they are left to show "who are approved" and who is not. Over time, God's enemies are shown in stark contrast to His true children.

Jude calls these false teachers "ungodly" or impious. The word "ungodly" crops up six times in the book of Jude, making it a significant word in the epistle. It means "irreverent" or "impious." People who are ungodly are not afraid to contravene God's way because they do not have the fear of God. They simply do what they feel like doing. They have nothing in common with God. Nevertheless, we should be careful not to think of them as "extreme" because, as II Corinthians 11:13-15 says, Satan transforms his ministers into angels of light. They look good on the outside, but on the inside they are ungodly. Their externals may be deceiving, but their fruits give them away.

The apostle also mentions that they are blatantly immoral, turning God's grace into licentiousness. They believe that the more they sin, the more they allow God to shower them with His grace and mercy, twisting what grace is. They think they are glorifying God by giving Him the opportunity to forgive them more. How ridiculous! How perverse!

Lastly, they deny Christ. This does not mean they say that Christ never existed or that He is not the Savior. However, everything they say and do, everything they believe, contradicts God's way. If one denies a statement, he is contradicting the person who says it. Jude is using "deny" in this sense. The false teachers contradict Jesus Christ in everything. Once again, they can appear to be following the rules, but their innermost drives and motivations are a denial of the true way of God.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

Jude 1:5-11

In these seven verses, Jude expands on his general description of false teachers in verse 4. He compares them in turn to the unbelieving Israelites, to the angels that sinned, and finally to the perverts in Sodom and vicinity. He is giving examples of the three major hallmarks of apostasy:

  1. Unbelief, the Israelites' major failing.

  2. Rebellion, which the angels who sinned did.

  3. Immorality, what occurred in Sodom and Gomorrah.

Unbelief, rebellion, and immorality all result in divine judgment and punishment. The Israelites died in the wilderness, the angels that sinned were placed under restraint, and Sodom and Gomorrah were blasted off the face of the earth. We cannot find better examples of divine judgment and punishment than these.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

Jude 1:12

Jude uses a nautical theme here. Thus, "hidden reefs" (a variant translation supported by the Greek) is preferable to "spots." The apostle says that these false teachers are like hidden reefs at our socials; they are just under the surface, waiting for the unsuspecting Christian to come along and be shipwrecked upon them.

Paul dealt directly with a similar problem in Corinth (I Corinthians 11:17-22). They held "feasts without the fear of God." They do not fear the oversight and punishment of God, that what He says will happen as a result of their self-satisfying sins, which may take many forms. Gorging themselves is only one part of it. Worse is that they use these occasions to shipwreck people, to undermine their faith, to whisper in their ear to get them thinking along the wrong lines.

Jude says that they serve only themselves. Again, this phrase is poorly translated due to being interpreted rather than given literally. It should be "shepherding only themselves." Ezekiel 34:1-5, 10 alludes to the same problem Jude faced.

Verse 12 also says that these false shepherds outwardly show promise of producing fruit, of bringing rain, but they never do. Paul indeed calls some of Satan's ministers "angels of light" (II Corinthians 11:13-15), but their fruit shows they possess nothing of godly, spiritual substance (Matthew 7:15-20). They will never produce godly fruit. They look good on the outside, but on the inside they are corrupt and full of bones (Matthew 23:27). When Jude describes them as "twice dead," he may be refering to the second death (Revelation 20:14; 21:8)—that they will die physically once, and then they will die spiritually the second time. It is at least saying they are well on the road to the Lake of Fire.

Hebrews 10:26-31 says plainly that once we have been forgiven and redeemed by the blood of Christ, there is no going back. If we continue to sin as a way of life, there is no second redemption, and all we face is the vengeance of God, who is a consuming fire. This is what Jude is trying to get across in relation to these false ministers.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

Jude 1:13

Jude continues the nautical theme begun in verse 12 by calling the false ministers "raging waves of the sea." He describes them as storms in the church, causing trouble and turbulence wherever they go. James describes the doubting person in a similar way (James 1:6-8), as wind-tossed waves, double-minded, and unstable in everything. Such people will end up causing problems. Such waves toss people into hidden rocks, or as his brother Jude puts it, hidden reefs. Naive members can become caught in the turbulence and eventually be turned from the truth.

He then describes them as "foaming up their own shame." It is quite a picturesque phrase. He alludes to the foam on the beach after a storm. The strand is littered with all kinds of driftwood and other debris a storm can dredge up. They brag about their past feats as great accomplishments, but a godly eye sees them for what they are: shameful deeds.

He also calls them "wandering stars," another nautical allusion, this time to the movement of the planets. Mariners used the fixed stars - not the planets - to guide their ships over the trackless sea. They would align themselves toward a certain star to reach their destination. These teachers are supposed to be leaders, guides for those who are not as experienced on the road of life, but as we would say, they are all over the map! They go here and there, this way and that. It is the blind leading the blind, and anyone following them will fall into a ditch (Matthew 15:14). They are unreliable guides. They give horrible advice. They are not worth even talking to about one's problems because they will lead a person astray.

Jude foretells their fate at the end of the verse: "for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever." The literal translation of this is really dark: "Their fate is the utter darkness of darkness for eternity." Lights out forever! James 3:1 says that those who are teachers will receive the stricter judgment, and this is an example of it: the utter darkness of darkness forever. God takes the deception of His people personally.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

Jude 1:15-19

Verse 15 emphasizes ungodliness. These false ministers are the total opposite of what God is, and if we know what God is—what godliness is—then we can identify and avoid them.

Jude then gives four more descriptors to help us identify false teachers: 1) They are discontented murmurers and complainers. They always have something to gripe about. Discontent with their lot in life, they find fault with everything. Nothing is ever right for them. 2) They live to satisfy their every desire, a trait Jude has already explained thoroughly. 3) They speak bombastic bragging words, and 4) they are respecters of persons, if it will benefit them. They will do anything to get ahead.

In verse 17, we were warned that such people will enter the church and try to ruin it, so we have no excuse. They are here already, and we need to make sure they do not stay here by keeping an eye out for them and giving no quarter to them when they begin their ungodly work.

Jude then gives three final descriptions of them in verse 19. He calls them 1) "sensual" or worldly. They are based totally in this world, in the realm of the five senses. They have no connection to the heavenly. 2) They "cause divisions," meaning when they appear, the congregation begins taking sides. 3) He ends his description with the opposite of his description of true church members in verse 1: False teachers do not have God's Spirit. They are not of us. They may be among us, but they are not God's spiritual children (Romans 8:9-17). We can see from their fruits that the spirit they have is not God's.

With these descriptions of false teachers, we can be more confident in testing the spirits (I John 3:24; 4:1-6).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

Jude 1:19

Jude explains that these "sensual persons"—earthy, carnal people—cause divisions in the church because they are not even converted ("not having the Spirit")! Nevertheless, they still bear a message that some believe and practice within the church.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wisdom of Men and Faith


 

Jude 1:20-23

Jude gives us practical things that we need to do in verses 20 through 23:

  1. Do whatever it takes to be thoroughly grounded in the truth. (Ephesians 2:19—20).

  2. Pray in the holy spirit (Ephesians 6:18). This means we need to use the connection that we have with God so that we can take on God's mind. Our prayers should strengthen that bond and make us more like Him.

  3. Keep yourself in God's love (I John 5:3).

  4. Wait patiently for Christ's mercy (Psalm 37:7-11). He really means "Wait for Christ to come," for that will ultimately take care of all false teachers and all false teachings. Do not despair just because things look bleak right now. In the end they will be fixed.

In verses 22 and 23, the apostle instructs us how to take care of these people. If some are wavering and just beginning to turn away from the truth, we should have compassion on them and try to turn them back. If we find someone in a fault, we should be gentle and attempt to return them to God's way so that we or anyone else is not snared as well.

For those who have already started down the path of evil, we have to take a more forceful approach. If we can, we have to put the fear of God in them. It may be the only thing that can bring them back. Just as Jude does in verse 13, we have to let them know what their fate will be if they continue on in their error. As difficult as it may be, we have to let them know their future is total destruction—eternal death—if they keep it up. Unfortunately, this sometimes means dismissing them from our fellowship, just as Paul had to do with the incestuous sinner in Corinth (I Corinthians 5:1-5). Jude also says that while we are doing this, we have to keep them at arm's length so we are not turned ourselves, "hating even the garment defiled by the flesh." We do not want to have anything to do with defilement (II Corinthians 7:1).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

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 False teachers:
False teachers {Nave's}
 




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