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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

False Teachers in 1 Timothy

Here's an email follow-up to my Sunday message that I sent to the Faith Church family:

I've been thinking about doing this for a long time, but have never gotten around to it... following up my Sunday messages with further thoughts/application/information for you. I always have good stuff that I can't include for time's sake, because I'm trying not to add to the "Church Bored" by going too long! So here is the passage again, and a quote from William Hendriksen's commentary on 1 Timothy that I thought was really interesting. Let me know if you think these type of email additions would be helpful, or I should say if you would actually read them, so I know whether to do it again. Also see the additional note at the bottom...

1 Timothy 1:3-4 -- As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus, in order that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.

Hendriksen comments:

It is a known fact that from early times the rabbis would "spin their yarns"--and endless yarns they were!--on the basis of what they considered some "hint" supplied by the Old Testament. They would take a name from a list of pedigrees (for example, from Genesis, 1 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah), and expand it into a nice story. Such interminable embroideries on the inspired record were part of the regular bill of fare in the synagogue, and were subsequently deposited in written form in that portion of The Talmud which is known as Haggadah.
The Book of Jubilees (also called The Little Genesis) offers another striking example of what Paul had in mind. It is a kind of haggadic commentary on the canonical Genesis; that is, it is an exposition interspersed with an abundant supply of illustrative anecdotes. The book was probably written toward the close of the second or at the beginning of the first century B.C. It covers the entire era from the creation until the entrance into Canaan. This long stretch is divided into fifty jubilee-periods of forty-nine (7x7) years each. In fact, the entire chronology is based on the number 7, and heavenly authority is claimed for the arrangement. Thus not only does the week have 7 days, the month 4x7 days, but even the year has 52x7=364 days, the year-week has 7 years, and the jubilee has 7x7=49 years. The separate events regarding the patriarchs, etc., are pin-pointed in accordance with this scheme. The sacred narrative of our canonical book of Genesis is embellished, at times almost beyond recognition. Thus, we now learn that the sabbath was observed already by the arch-angels, that the angels also practiced circumcision, that Jacob never tricked anybody, etc.
In every age there are people who love to indulge in such strange mixtures of truth and error. They even treat these adulterations as being the all-important thing. They carry on lengthy debates about dates and definitions. Instead of brushing aside all such syncretistic rubbish, they discover fine distinctions and engage in hairsplitting disputes. They pile myth upon myth, fable upon fable, and the end is never in sight. Thus the law of God is made void by human tradition (cf. Matt. 15:6), and the picture drawn in the sacred original becomes grossly distorted.

(Was he thinking of Harold Camping when he wrote that, I wonder?!)

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