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“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.” (2Timothy 2:23 ESV)

The reason to do this is stated in the previous verses:

‘“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” (2Timothy 2:21 ESV)

Don’t miss the goal!

Godliness is the goal, and the instruction in v.23 is one of several admonitions that impedes godliness. That is, getting involved in foolish, ignorant controversies that breed quarrels, will get in the way of growing godly.

The reference for v.23 is:

“he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,” (1Timothy 6:4 ESV)

Notice, Paul is describing a man who craves controversy and particularly “quarrels about words.” You need not go far in such controversies to find the splitting of words like hairs, the meandering of meanings. It gets confusing because they are all attempting to prove themselves right. 

One godly and wise man said…

Nonetheless, the point is proven in Scripture quite well—ignore such controversies. John Owen offers some helpful words to support the matter:

“If love of themselves and of party has so extinguished the light of reason that a man cannot see that he is enchained by a sect and bound for perpetual bitter enmity to all other sects for the supremacy of their own, then I, as a teacher, see it as my duty to strictly neglect and ignore them.” (John Owen, Biblical Theology p.xxxii)

Pastoral note—it’s about godliness, and godliness is about God’s glory.

There are numerous case studies that could be recorded here, but the point is that there will be such controversies throughout our stay on earth. The Bible is living, and speaks to all generations concerning similar things. Shall we not take heed to what would keep us from the goal of godliness. It is apparent that those who give their attention to false gods will become more like them, but those who give their attention to Christ will become like him. It’s a sensible choice to go with the latter whose glory is worth attending to. True Glory—don’t ignore that!

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