“But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” (Titus 3:9 (ESV)
A pastor’s responsibilities in a local church are multi-faceted and never ending. They extend beyond the normal work hours of 9-5. They include also stressful problems and controversies. The pastor needs wisdom from the Lord to navigate these stormy ecclesiastical seas (James 1:5).
The Apostle Paul’s warning to Titus involved the false teachers of which the apostle spoke of in Titus 1:1-16. Paul did not want Titus to become bogged down in nonsensical issues that could prevent him from performing his duties as a pastor.
Foolish controversies (μωρός ζήτησις; moros zetesis) refers to moronic disputes. In others words, nonsense. These are subjects that make no sense for the pastor to become involved.
Genealogies (γενεαλογία; genealogia) addressed one’s ancestry. Perhaps this would include an individual assuming church leadership because his family helped plant the church. Or, it might be an individual who placed great status upon themselves because they were a charter member of the church.
Dissensions (ἔρις; eris) are contentions. It is conflict resulting from rivalry and discord.
Quarrels (μάχη; mache) are disputes and fights. These are serious conflicts, which may become physically violent. They are intense and bitter.
I recall attending a Christian men’s conference several years ago in a major American city. There were protestors who gathered outside the venue in order to stir up controversy. They also sought to confront several of the attendees during a lunch break. The best tactic of engagement in such situations is to not engage. That is what the protestors want. Deny them that desire.
“Genealogies and details about the law (including arguments of Jewish legal scholars over spellings or vocalizations of Hebrew words) were minutiae that missed the genuinely critical issues in the spirit of the Old Testament (Titus 1:10; 1 Tim 1:6; 2 Tim 2:14),” explains biblical scholar Craig S. Keener.
“Paul returns to the false teachers in Titus 3:9. His admonition to avoid “foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law” is not only sound advice from the Word of God but also a parting shot at the falsehood of Titus’ opponents. These teachers were trying to stay connected to a perverted form of Judaism, speculating about minor figures in biblical genealogies, like Timothy’s Ephesian enemies (1 Tim. 1:3–4), to promote esoteric and erroneous doctrines. Our generation is not the first to encounter those who major on the minors or who embrace rank heresy, and it will not be the last. Dealing with such problems now, as in Paul’s day, means that we reject as church leaders those who prefer their own ideas to the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3),” explains Dr. R. C. Sproul.
It can be easy to become embroiled in foolish arguments with people who desire to major on the minors. It is wise to walk away from such people. I recently had to cease conversing with a friend on social media because of his argumentativeness.
To an angry individual on social media, one pastor wrote, “You are cordially invited to take your angry rants elsewhere. A response is self-evidently pointless. Bye . . .” See Matthew 7:6.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!