A FACTIOUS MAN – Neal Pollard
Titus had a challenging “local work.” He had to preach and minister on Crete, renowned for its “many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers” (1:10) in a culture renowned for its “liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (1:12). They paid “attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men” and turned “away from the truth” (1:14). Their deeds denied Him, they were detestable, disobedient, and derelict (1:16).
What do you say to a guy who has such a lot in life? Besides expressing sympathy to him, how can you help a man in such conditions? You will notice Paul did not tell him to move on to a new work. He guided Titus in how to appoint the right kind of leaders (1:5-11), how to equip the right kind of members (2:1-10), how to focus on the right things (like grace, godliness, hope, sanctification, the second coming, etc., 2:11-15), and how to restore and maintain the right focus (3:1-15).
Among the troubling and difficult personalities about which Paul writes to warn Titus, there is the “factious man.” Paul has strong, stern words of warning about him. When we explore Paul’s words about him in Titus 3:9-11, we come to appreciate what our relationship with such a man ought to be.
Who Is The Factious Man? Given the context, he must be the man described in verse nine. He is a man embroiled in “foolish controversies,” “genealogies,” and “unprofitable and worthless disputes.” The literal meaning of “factious” here is “heretical.” He is a heretic, and he is such because of foolish controversies and worthless disputes. What are those? Those are matters a man will not give up fighting about but which cannot be proven to be right or wrong. He may think them right or wrong, but he lacks scriptural support.
What Do You Do With Him? To me, this is the most startling response. Paul says, “Reject him.” Literally, you dismiss him. Why? Because he has proven himself to be an argument-monger. At some point, engaging with such a person is counter-intuitive and counter-productive.
When Do You Do It? Paul lays out a specific plan of action, “after a first and second warning.” Notice that even factious men deserve our patience and forbearance. But, that is not to be indefinite or limitless. Paul’s patience had its limits (cf. Gal. 2:5). Did you know even God’s patience can be exhausted (cf. 1 Pet. 3:20)? There comes a point when one’s efforts with a person is likened to “pearls before swine” (Mt. 7:6).
Why Do You Do It? You do it because of knowledge. Paul says, “Knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned” (11). Such a man will not listen or accept admonition. The inspired analysis of such a man is frighteningly judgmental. With three terms, Paul concludes such a man to be lost!
The man here was hung up about the Law of Moses, but certainly such a man (or woman) can exist today. Scripture is timeless and boundless. Anything without rational, scriptural support that becomes one’s hobby horse and becomes divisive must be avoided. We are to reject it. The factious one must cease or continue at his or her own peril.