Moundsville, West Virginia
Every age has its some problems are peculiar problems, but common for every age. This is particularly true of factionalism and heresy. This problem just doesn't happen; men create it. Factions are sinful and the proponents of them will of necessity be judged for their part in them at the judgment. All factions are not necessarily created upon the grounds of heresy. Some stem from the efforts of one or more who would seek intriguingly the preeminence. Certainly, I speak of religious matters in this. The usual course is the desire, then heresy, and then the faction.
Faction comes from the word erithia, and is defined: "A factious spirit, contention" (Westcott-Hort Lexicon, p. 76). This word "denotes ambition, self-seeking, rivalry, selfwill being an underlying idea in the word: hence it denotes party-making. It is derived, not from eris, strife, but from erithos, a hireling; hence the meaning of seeking to win followers, 'factions,' " (Vine's pictionary of New Testament Words, Vol. 2, p. 68). Thayer says: "In the N. T. a courting distinction, a desire to put one's self forward, a partisan and factious spirit which does not disdain low arts; partisanship, factiousness: Jas. 3:14,16" (Thayer's Greek Lexicon, p. 249).
The idea then in this word is the idea in the word "hireling." In John 10:13, Jesus says "The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep." The true shepherd doesn't do this, but the "hired servant" will. Thus the hireling is self-seeking and party-making. Such an one is necessarily contentious. The contentious are not obedient, but rather disobedient (Rom. 2:8).
In this short article there isn't any need for me to show the cause for factionalism. The definitions given plainly set this forth. The condition of the leaders and followers however, must be shown. Unto the factious, "Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish" because of the evil done (Rom. 2:8). As observed above, usually a factious person in one who peddles heresy. His false doctrine or perversion of Scripture is the means or tools by which he is able to create a faction. Peter said "There shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not" (2 Pet. 2:1-3). Not only is the process of the creation of a faction stated here, but also the condition of the guilty! Paul tells us that among elders some would "arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:30). The hireling is at work here to draw away disciples. The verb "perverse things" is a perfect passive participle and means to twist, turn aside or distort as Acts 13:8-10. Of course the purpose is shown for the twisting of truth "to draw away disciples!" For these conditions Christians should do as Paul exhorted:
"Watch." You may check other passages along this line for further information: James 3:14; Phil 1:16,17; 1 Cor. 11:19; 1 Tim. 3 10.
Should it be emphasized that the spiritually minded must not fellowship such unfruitful works of darkness? Rather than fellowship, the New Testament teaches us to rebuke, reprove or expose (Eph. 5:11). There is no stopping place when one sets out to fellowship heresy. Some have tried it to their own hurt and shame. Naturally when one fellowships those in error he influences others. Thus through one's own ignorance and indifference he may be led away with the error of the wicked (2 Pet. 3:17; Jas. 1:16; Eph. 5:6). These passages being in the passive impose upon us how treacherously the hireling will work. We follow along thinking we are doing the right thing! See Matthew 15:14.
Let us be children of the day; let us walk circumspectly; let us redeem the time. Let us be turned aside with words that beguile and entice or be taken captive through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Let us, rather, keep on looking unto Jesus the author and leader of our faith (Col. 2:4,8; Heb. 12:2).