Reprove, Rebuke, Exhort

dave-bannerPaul exhorted Timothy, “…reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2Timothy 4:2) And he continues to explain why in (2Timothy 4:3-4) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. On what basis would one correct or rebuke without having judged whether the conduct or doctrine is wrong? Such correction is a major theme throughout Scripture. Public teaching of false doctrine and publicly known sin must both be rebuked. Paul reminded Timothy, “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear” (1Timothy 5:20)

To the church at Corinth Paul wrote, “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the others judge” (1Corinthians 14:29). Public teaching, whether in sermons or songs or the operation of the gifts of the Spirit, must be judged publicly as to biblical authenticity and accuracy. This should be done at the time the teaching occurs in the local fellowship, though this seldom happens. We are instructed in (1John 4:1) “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world”

Scriptural Examples

The Apostle Peter himself was deceived and Paul found it necessary to rebuke him and certain others for their false doctrine; (Galatians 2:4-5) “And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” (Galations 2:11-14) But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him: insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to lie as do the Jews?

Paul considered it necessary and proper to publicly name Hymenaeus and Philetus because of their publicly taught false doctrine which had “overthrown the faith of some” (2 Timothy 2:17-18). How much more essential would public correction be if a modern Hymenaeus or Philetus whether as a pastor, best-selling author or popular Christian television personality were leading millions astray! Instead of giving priority to protecting the reputations of those whose teachings are publicly questioned, should we not rather be concerned for the thousands and perhaps millions of people whom they influence? Such an attitude should surely characterize every leader who is truly a man or woman of God.

– Dave Hunt


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