First Century Heresies

First Century Heresies
And New Testament Orthodoxy
Contemporary Diversity
• Post-modernism is claiming that the diversity that
exists today in religion is like the diversity that
existed in the First Century
• Allegedly, many legitimate and equal
“Christianities” first existed together and were
• Only later, c. 4th century, did one “Christianity” win
over the others to become the heresy of orthodoxy
Contemporary Diversity
• The theory that one “Christianity” as orthodox over
the others was first set forth by Walter Bauer,
Orthodoxy and Heresy in the Earliest Christianity
• Today, it continues to be popularized in the
writings of several liberal scholars including Bart D.
Ehrman, Lost Christianities: The Battles for
Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew (2003)
New Testament Diversity
• Diversity existed in what historical facts would be
presented by the four gospels writers, and by Luke
(Acts) and Paul (epistles)
• Diversity existed in matters of personal judgment
(Acts 15:36-41) and personal scruple (1 Cor. 8;10;
Rom. 14)
• Diversity existed in the miraculous gifts within the
local church (Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:4,11)
New Testament Diversity
• However, diversity did not exist in matters of
revealed doctrine – “the faith” or the gospel
(Acts 6:7; 13:8; Eph. 4:13; Phil. 1:27; 1 Tim. 4:6;
• There was no existence of “equally legitimate
Christianities” that were considered as valid truth
Heresy vs. Orthodoxy
• “Heresy” in the NT is prohibited
Gr. hairesis, a choosing, a choice; hence a (1) selfwilled opinion (2) that is substituted for and
stands in contradiction to the truth and (3) leads
to division or faction (translated “sect,” or
Found in Acts 5:17; 15:5; 24:5,14; 26:5; 28:22;
1 Cor. 11:19; Gal. 5:20; 2 Pet. 2:1; Tit. 3:10
[hairetikos, “heretic”])
Heresy vs. Orthodoxy
• “Orthodoxy” in the NT is promoted
“Orthodoxy” = ortho (right) and dokeo (to think)
Gr. orthotomeo, to cut strait or right; found only in
2 Tim. 2:15
Gr. orthos, to say or judge rightly; found in Luke 7:43;
10:28; 20:21
Gr. dogma, to decree; found in Acts 16:4 (compare with
Col. 2:20 [dogmatizomai])
Heresy vs. Orthodoxy
• “Orthodoxy” in the NT is promoted
There is one source (Jn. 16:14)
There is one group with the keys (Mt. 16:19; 18:18)
There is one message for all churches (1 Cor. 4:17;
7:17; 14:33; 16:1)
There is one body and one body of truth (Eph. 1:2223; 4:4-6; Jude 3)
Heresy in Galatians
• These heretics preached a “different gospel” (1:6)
and promoted circumcision (6:12) and observance
of the Old Law (2:15-16; 3:19-24; 5:1-4)
• These heretics may have been Jewish Christians
(Judaizers) or Gentiles who misunderstood Paul
• They may have come from Jerusalem to Galatia
(see Acts 15)
Heresy in Colossians
• This heresy was an amalgamation of religious
• These heretics incorporated elements of Judaism
(2:11,13,16,20-21), early Gnosticism (2:8,9-10), and
paganism (2:18-23)
• We do not know how well-defined this heresy was
or how far it spread (compare “meat” in Col. 2:16
and 1 Tim. 4:3)
Heresy in Timothy & Titus
• The heresy (or heresies) is found in Crete (Tit.
1:5,10-12) and Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3)
• It most likely came from within the church
(1 Tim. 1:3; 6:2; 2 Tim. 2:14; 4:2; Tit. 1:13; 3:10; see
Acts 20:28-31)
• The heresy in Crete had a Jewish element (Tit.
1:10,14; 3:9) leading to sin (Tit. 1:15-16)
• The heresy in Ephesus had both a Jewish
(1 Tim. 1:7-11) and Gnostic (1 Tim. 4:1-5; 6:20;
2 Tim. 2:17-18) element
Heresy in Timothy & Titus
• The practice of forbidden marriage (1 Tim. 4:3) is
found in Judaism (the Essenes) and later
• The heresy in Crete / Ephesus may have been a
Gnosticizing (Hellenistic) form of Jewish
• We do not know how well-defined this philosophy
was or how far it spread
Heresy in Jude and 2 Peter
• The heretics may have been itinerate teachers
(Jude 4; 2 Pet. 2:1-3)
• They pursued unfettered freedom and ethical
autonomy (Jude 5-10; 2 Pet. 2:4-12)
• They were self-seeking, unreliable, and deceitful
(Jude 11-14; 2 Pet. 2:13-17)
• They were ungodly (Jude 14-18; 2 Pet. 2:18-22)
• They were un-Spiritual and divisive (Jude 19)
Heresy in Jude and 2 Peter
• The heresy involved a denial of the second-coming
and judgment saying that the world will always be
as it is (2 Pet. 3:3-7)
• This heresy which denied a judgment led to fleshly
freedom in this present life (2 Pet. 2:10,13-14,19)
• We do not know if this heresy had its roots in
Gnosticism, Epicureanism, or some other
Heresy in 1 John
• The heresy was most likely connected with early
Gnosticism (Doceticism or Cerinthus)
• The heretics were not true believers (2:19)
• The heretics denied Jesus as the Messiah (2:22-23;
4:15; 5:1,5) and Jesus come in the flesh (1:1-3; 4:13; 5:6; 2 Jn. 7)
Heresy in Revelation
• There were heresies among the seven churches of
Balaam and Jezebel – idolatry (2:6,15,20-21)
Deep things of Satan (2:24)
Heretical Influences from the East and West
Attitude Toward Heresy
• Warn against it (Gal. 1:6-9)
• Reprove it sharply (Tit. 1:13)
• Admonish, then refuse it (Tit. 3:10)
• Contend against it (Jude 3)
• Pray and plea against it (Jn. 17:20-23;
1 Cor. 1:10-13)
• Stand on the right side of it (1 Cor. 11:19)

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