In your opinion, what is an example of a "quarrel about words"?

Discussion in 'NT Epistles' started by Davidius, Dec 22, 2008.

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  1. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    What would you consider examples of such quarrels?
  2. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    Good question, Davidius.

    I am waiting to see what comes of this thread. Many would say that the things we discuss on the PB are of no value and are too nit-picky, but I disagree. However, there must be some things that do fall into this category.
  3. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Yes, this has been my thought as well. Every time I've heard someone invoke this verse, the person to whom they are speaking simply replies that this doesn't apply to his argument.
  4. TsonMariytho

    TsonMariytho Puritan Board Freshman

    More of your passage:

    2Ti 2:14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.
    2Ti 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
    2Ti 2:16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,
    2Ti 2:17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,
    2Ti 2:18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.
    2Ti 2:19 But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity."​

    Another that uses the same phrase:

    1Ti 6:3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness,
    1Ti 6:4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,
    1Ti 6:5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.​

    I suspect that the "quarrels about the law" below refer to Pharisaic Judaism. Certainly there were no shortage of "quarrels about words" of utterly negligible importance within Judaism.

    Tit 3:9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.
    Tit 3:10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him,
    Tit 3:11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.​

    Here's the opinion of a pagan for what it's worth:

    Act 18:14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, "If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint.
    Act 18:15 But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things."​
  5. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    One that I have seen is whether Revelation is given to John about Jesus or from Jesus. The Greek can go either way and I know of commentators who go to great lengths to debate the true meaning.

    Also Bock in his commentary on Acts spends a great deal on whether the sermons in Acts are word for word, paraphrased, infused with Luke's theology, or completely made up by Luke.

    I find that argument fruitless and pointless. If we truly believe that the Word is God-inspired, then it does not really matter who said what because in the end it all came from God.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2008
  6. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    Verses 14, 15, and 16 seem to me to be introducing separate thoughts. The passage in 1 Tim is interesting. There Paul is saying that the quarreling over words has to do with the words of Christ.
  7. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I think the key term is "quarrel." A spirited defense of truth is not a "quarrel" per se.

    However I have had to stop talking, and just bow out of a discussion because I was moving from an earnest, even cheerful, promotion of my conviction of truth, to an irritated querulous rant.

    I think there are many Christians who have an idea about some truth, but are really not the folks who ought to be "persuading" and "defending" the same (and perhaps internet discussion boards are modern places where this becomes too apparent). They end up making religious debate sound like the typical sports or politics shout-fest.

    Unfortunately we live in an age of the radical democratization of opinion. Few are prepared to listen to "authorities," living or dead. So I think there is more fruitless "quarreling over words" than before, because opinion is king. But the NT gives evidence that the tendency is simply sinful human nature.

    What we try to do on the PuritanBoard is set up a contextual framework--the historic, Protestant Confessions--where we can have a basis for agreement in love, which hopefully reduces the tendency to revile those we disagree with. We don't have to deal with people whose sole purpose for contributing seems to be to tear at the foundations of faith.

    The rules also seem to help bring folks to rational discourse and argument, instead of groundless assertions.
  8. TsonMariytho

    TsonMariytho Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree. I also think it's relevant to see the different ways we should not handle the word, contrasted to how we should handle it. On a perhaps over-simplistic level, here are the different ways to handle the Word of God :

    Verse 14 -- Don't quarrel over minutia [in Christian doctrine, says Henry, see below].
    Verse 15 -- Use the Word rightly in teaching as a minister.
    Verse 16 -- Avoid irreverent babble.
    Verses 17-18 -- Avoid and oppose destructive heresies.

    From Matthew Henry's commentary:
    Observe, Those that are disposed to strive commonly strive about matters of very small moment. Strifes of words are very destructive to the things of God. That they strive not about words to no profit. If people did but consider of what little use most of the controversies in religion are, they would not be so zealous in their strifes of words, to the subverting of the hearers, to the drawing of them away from the great things of God, and occasioning unchristian heats and animosities, by which truth is often in danger of being lost. Observe, People are very prone to strive about words, and such strifes never answer any other ends than to shake some and subvert others; they are not only useless, but they are very hurtful, and therefore ministers are to charge the people that they do not strive about words, and they are most likely to be regarded when they charge them before the Lord, that is, in his name and from his word; when they produce their warrant for what they say.​

    I agree with Bruce below that there is a place for a "spirited defense of truth". The Word of God should be our anchor and common ground in such discourse. It tells us when we go too far out of line.
  9. JohnGill

    JohnGill Puritan Board Senior

    John Gill's Commentary

    2 Timothy 2:14

    Ver. 14. Of these things put them in remembrance,.... Meaning either his hearers, or those to whom he was to commit the things he had heard of the apostle, and who must expect to suffer afflictions, and endure hardships, for the sake of Christ, and his Gospel; wherefore to remind them of the above sayings might be of use and comfort to them. This clause is wanting in the Arabic version.

    Charging them before the Lord; the omniscient God, as in his sight, as they will answer it to him another day; see 1Ti 5:21,

    that they strive not about words; it became them to strive and contend for the form of sound words, for the wholesome words or doctrines of our Lord Jesus, but not about mere words, and especially such as were

    to no profit; to no advantage to truth, nor to themselves nor others; were not to edification, to spiritual edification, to godly edifying, which is in faith:

    but to the subverting of the hearers; the confounding of their minds, misleading their judgments, and overthrowing their faith; and therefore were not only unprofitable, but hurtful and pernicious, and by all means to be avoided.
  10. Southern Presbyterian

    Southern Presbyterian Moderator Staff Member

    But that's just your opinion. :p
  11. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Perhaps an instance is when two people talk past one another because of differing definitions of a word. Instead of either one being mature and saying, "This is my concept, but you can use the word in a different way if you would like, as long as you don't import your meaning into my statements", they argue about who gets to use the word they want. Of course, sometimes they don't even realize what they're doing, and then the striving is even more vain.
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