16th February 2018

Unholy Chatter 

“But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some
2 Timothy 2:16-18 (ESV)

In our liberal society we don’t like being told to avoid something. In fact, some of us may be attracted to the very thing we’ve been asked not to do just because we were told not to do it! Especially if we’ve been instructed not to say something. After all, free speech is a cherished principle, and we can understand why it is. Nevertheless, although we are free to speak our mind, is it always a good and helpful thing to do?

In his letter to Timothy, Paul warns him about unhelpful talk. The MOUNCE interlinear translation of this passage calls it “unholy chatter”. Perhaps we could imagine some scenes. People are huddled together after the sermon at services, or they’re speaking animatedly in a café, or there’s an e-conference chat going on. Nothing wrong with those things in themselves, but what are they chatting about? Something unholy, irreverent? There’s the rub. Paul gives an example of two men who had been spreading heresy about the resurrection. Did they say that it was just an analogy about a fresh start in life, as some preachers and theologians claim today? Thus denying the reality of the physical resurrection to come?

Again, we might think, what’s the problem with disagreeing? Surely it’s a healthy thing to have different views? Paul discusses the effect of the men’s actions: they have upset the faith of others. One the men, Hymenaeus, Paul had excommunicated previously so that Hymenaeus could learn not to blaspheme (1 Timothy 1:18-20). It’s interesting that Paul connects what Hymenaeus did — spreading heresy and thereby unsettling faith within the church — to the sin of blasphemy, which is showing comtempt for God. We can see the problem here. Through their “unholy chatter” these men were negatively affecting the faith of others, and thus they were resisting, and demonstrating contempt for, the work of the Spirit of God.

Is there a lesson here for us today? Yes, there is. It is to be careful and not to be drawn into irreverent gossip. Let’s avoid the unholy chatter.

Eternal Father, help me please to avoid and not to participate in unholy chatter. In Jesus
’ name.

Study by James Henderson


About the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland.

Local Congregation:
You are welcome to attend any of our local congregations in the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.church under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

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