on Titus 3 :10
A man that is a heretic - Generally defined, one that is obstinately attached to an opinion contrary to the peace and comfort of society, and will neither submit to Scripture nor reason. Here it means a person who maintains Judaism in opposition to Christianity, or who insists on the necessity of circumcision, etc., in order to be saved. This is obviously the meaning of the word heretic in the only place in which it occurs in the sacred writings.
After the first and second admonition, reject - Labour to convince him of his error; but if he will not receive instruction, if he have shut his heart against conviction, then - burn him alive? No: even if demonstrably a heretic in any one sense of that word, and a disturber of the peace of the Church, God gives no man any other authority over him but to shun him, παραιτου. Do him no harm in body, soul, character, or substance; hold no communion with him; but leave him to God. See the notes on Acts 5:17; Acts 24:14 (note), where the word heresy is particularly explained.
on Titus 3 :10
A man that is an heretic - The word "heretic" is now commonly applied to one who holds some fundamental error of doctrine, "a person who holds and teaches opinions repugnant to the established faith, or that which is made the standard of orthodoxy." Webster. The Greek word here used αἱρετικὸς hairetikos occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The corresponding noun (αἵρεσις hairesis) occurs in the following places: Acts 5:17; Acts 15:5; Acts 24:5; Acts 26:5; Acts 28:22, where it is rendered "sect;" and Acts 25:14; 1 Corinthians 11:19; Galatians 5:20; 2 Peter 2:1, where it is rendered "heresy," and "heresies;" see the notes at Acts 24:14. The true notion of the word is that of one who is a promoter of a sect or party. The man who makes divisions in a church, instead of aiming to promote unity, is the one who is intended. Such a man may form sects and parties on some points of doctrine on which be differs from others, or on some custom, religious rite, or special practice; he may make some unimportant matter a ground of distinction from his brethren, and may refuse to have fellowship with them, and endeavor to get up a new organization. Such a man, according to the Scripture usage, is a heretic, and not merely one who holds a different doctrine from that which is regarded as orthodoxy. The spirit of the doctrine here is the same as in Romans 16:17, and the same class of persons is referred to. "Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have received; and avoid them." See the notes at that passage. The word here used is defined by Robinson (Lexicon), "one who creates dissensions, introduces errors, a factious person." It is not found in classic Greek, but often in ecclesiastical writers; see Suicer's Thesaurus.
After the first and second admonition - Compare Matthew 18:15-17. That is, do not do it hastily and rashly. Give him an opportunity to explain himself, and to repent and abandon his course. No man is to be cut off without giving him a proper opportunity to vindicate his conduct, and to repent if he has done wrong. If after the first and second admonition a man who is undoubtedly doing wrong, will not repent, then he is to be cut off. The apostle does not say in what way this admonition is to be given, or whether it should be public or private. The language which he uses would justify either, and the method which is to be adopted is doubtless to be determined by circumstances. The thing which is to be reached is, that his fault is to be fairly set before his mind.
Reject - παραιτοῦ paraitou. This word is rendered "excuse" in Luke 14:18-19; "refuse," Acts 25:11; 1 Timothy 4:7; 1 Timothy 5:11; Hebrews 12:25; "avoid," 2 Timothy 2:23, and "entreated," Hebrews 12:19. Its prevailing meaning, as used in connections like the one before us, is to reject in relation to an office; that is, to decline appointing one to an office. It probably had a primary reference to that here, and meant that a man who was given to making dissensions, or who was a factious person, should not be admitted to an office in the church. The general direction would also include this, - that he should not be admitted to the church. He is neither to be owned as a member, nor admitted to office; compare Matthew 18:17. "Let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican." In regard to this passage, then, we may observe:
(1) That the utmost limit which this allows is mere exclusion. It does not allow us to follow the offender with injury.
(2) it does not authorize us to oppose one on account of his mere private opinions. The essential idea is that of a factious, division-making man; a man who aims to form sects and parties, whether on account of opinions, or from any other cause.
(3) it does not make it right to deliver such a man over to the "secular arm," or to harm him in body, soul, property, or reputation. It gives no power to torture him on the rack, or with thumb-screws, or to bind him to the stake. It authorizes us not to recognize him as a Christian brother, or to admit him to an office in the church - but beyond this it gives us no right to go. He has a right to his own opinion still, as far as we are concerned, and we are not to molest him in the enjoyment of that right.
(4) it demands that, when a man is undoubtedly a heretic in the sense here explained, there should be the utmost kindness towards him, in order if possible to reclaim him. We should not begin by attacking and denouncing his opinions; or by formally arraigning him; or by blazoning his name as a heretic; but he is to be dealt with in all Christian kindness and brotherly fidelity. He is to be admonished more than once by those who have the right to admonish him; and then, and then only, if he does not repent, he is to be simply avoided. That is to be an end of the matter so far as we are concerned. The power of the church there ceases. It has no power to deliver him over to anyone else for persecution or punishment, or in any way to meddle with him. He may live where he pleases; pursue his own plans; entertain his own opinions or company, provided he does not interfere with us; and though we have a right to examine the opinions which he may entertain, yet our work with him is done. If these plain principles had been observed, what scenes of bloody and cruel persecution in the church would have been avoided!
on Titus 3 :10
3:10 An heretic (after a first and second admonition) reject - Avoid, leave to himself. This is the only place, in the whole scripture, where this word heretic occurs; and here it evidently means, a man that obstinately persists in contending about foolish questions, and thereby occasions strife and animosities, schisms and parties in the church. This, and this alone, is an heretic in the scripture sense; and his punishment likewise is here fixed. Shun, avoid him, leave him to himself. As for the Popish sense, A man that errs in fundamentals, although it crept, with many other things, early into the church, yet it has no shadow of foundation either in the Old or New Testament.