Avoiding Fights, Quarrels, and Disputes (France)

If you study the two letters Paul wrote to Timothy, pastor of the church in Ephesus, you’ll notice the repeated call from Paul to Timothy to avoid arguing and quarreling. In both letters Paul strongly spoke against vain discussion, anger, quarreling, heated disputes, arguments about words, and sinful craving for controversy. In 2 Timothy 2 Paul says it straight: “Don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel…” (v23-24 NLT). It’s quite clear that it’s unbecoming and sinful for a Christian to engage in angry arguments, foolish disputes, and heated conflicts that break peace and lead to more fights. I appreciate Dick France’s comments on 2 Timothy 2:23-26. Notice how he well explains what it means to not use Satan’s weapons.

The literal translation [of v24] is ‘must not fight’: it is a warning against being quarrelsome and confrontational in Timothy’s dealings with members of the church. Rather than responding in kind to the quarrelsomeness of people like Hymenaeus, he is to be positive, constructive, aiming for peace rather than division – and that certainly is not the easy or the natural way.

Peace is not to be sought at the expense of truth. The kindness, gentleness and patience prescribed in verses 24-25 are the qualities of an understanding teacher. The phrase ‘an apt teacher’ is not an incongruous insertion into a list of attractive character traits, but focuses what is the object of the whole description of the Lord’s servant. Surrounded by quarrelsome opponents, he is to show the opposite qualities and, by doing so, if possible, to win them to a better frame of mind. So opponents are not to be tolerated or ignored. They are to be ‘corrected’, but the way to do this is by kindness.

The ideas, and the attitudes, of Timothy’s opponents come not from God but from the devil. They are under his power, and so are promoting his cause. That is why it is so important that Timothy does not fight back with the same weapons. The object of his patient and sensitive teaching is to win them back, and for that purpose it is the weapons of love which will prevail. Behind all the human argument in the Ephesian church is a supernatural conflict; if the opponents are to be restored to a better way, it must be by God’s means, and in the end it will be the work not of Timothy but of the God whom he serves.

Dick France, Daily Bible Commentary, Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews, p. 74-75.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

1 thought on “Avoiding Fights, Quarrels, and Disputes (France)”

  1. That is all true. However, when a minister avows theology which contradicts scripture and elders quietly and gently attempt to reprove and enlighten and are met with wrath and calumny, that is an untenable position. One can only recuse oneself at that point.


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