A Man That Is a Heretic

James Sanders
Greencastle, Indiana

The word heresy is a direct offshoot from the Greek tongue; it is a transliteration of the Greek hairesis. In English, heresy has to do with false doctrine or unorthodox beliefs, but in Greek the meaning of hairesis (heresy) is much broader. Originally, hairesis had to do with choice or choosing (Cf. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Grimm-Thayer, p. 16). In the News Testament, heresy is a body of people who held to a particular thought or action; a group of people who all made the same choice or decision. The result of that choice or sentiment produced a faction. A heresy is internal division within a congregation. A division brought about by a false doctrine or self-willed and arbitrary opinions. In the New Testaments, heresy meant division produced by choice.

The Heretic

Paul commanded Titus: "a man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself" (Titus 1:10,11). The American Standard Version renders this verse: "A factious man." Weymouth translates: "A man who causes division." Such is a heretic; he is a factious man  one who is bent on argumentation and disruption. It is for this very reason that Paul demands that such a person be rejected immediately. At the most, he is to be given two chances and no more! A heretic is a man who is self-willed and refuses to listen to others. He is a factious man.

Usually a heretic is a false prophet. Peter spoke of those who brought in damnable heresies (cf. 2 Pet.2:1). They were teachers of another gospel. But a heretic is not necessarily a false teacher. Heresy literally has to do with division and disruption. Thus, a heretic may be sound in the faith and still be a heretic  a factious man. Diotrephes was such a person. The Scriptures never even remotely suggest that he was a false prophet or teacher. From all outward appearances Diotrephes was sound in the faith. But because of his love for preeminence, Diotrephes refused to receive the apostle John (cf. 2 Jno. 9). Without question Diotrephes was factious; he was a heretic. He was both headstrong and presumptuous. Diotrephes was determined either to rule or ruin, and no one was going to stand in his way!

A heretic is factious man; a man who loves discord and strife. He is to be quickly rejected  and then (if possible) reasoned with. The sternest of measures are to be utilized against those who sow discord among brethren (This certainly includes gossipers). Paul spoke of the presumptuous: "To whom we gave place by subjection, no not for an hour" (Gal. 2:5). May this likewise be our disposition!

June 3, 1971