Parents often worry about the effect peer pressure will have on their children. At some point, nearly every child has explained their behavior by shifting the blame to others: “But they told me to do it!” Their parents will often respond, “If someone told you to jump off a cliff, would you do that too?” If we were honest, answer might be “yes.” In 1 Corinthians 15:33, Paul warns: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (Here Paul was quoting a Greek playwright Menander).
The apostle Paul applies the same principle in today’s passage. In verse 14, Paul urges Timothy to warn God’s people “against quarreling about words.” In verse 16 he further describes this kind of speech as “godless chatter.” It’s not only the behavior of others that can influence us but also their words. Like bad company, bad teaching also corrupts.
To clarify the kind of teaching he has in mind, the apostle offers a concrete example in verses 17–18. Although their names are unfamiliar to us, Paul gives us an idea of what they taught. Hymenaeus and Philetus seem to have taught that the resurrection was only spiritual and that the resurrection of believers had already happened. Perhaps they were influenced by a philosophy that came to be known as Gnosticism, a view that saw no spiritual value in the physical body. Some Gnostic teachers claimed that it didn’t matter what one did in the body.
One of the dangers of false teaching is that it masquerades as truth. Those who promote it claim to represent Christ, often by promising to reveal new or secret truths. They are often argumentative (v. 23).
>> Paul’s counsel to Timothy is simple and is good advice for us today. Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace. Associate with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t get caught up in pointless arguments. Patiently teach the truth.
Father, bless us with friends who are devoted to You! Lead us to men and women who pursue righteousness and peace. Surround us with people who demonstrate faith and love. Shape us to be such friends to others.