Contentious

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There is much written about the contentious spirit.

We find the word contention translated from the the Greek word eris [1] appearing also as strife and debate. It appears nine times[2] in the New Testament. It is a noun talking about contention, strife, and wrangling. It is almost always associated with causing trouble and division.

We also see it in the verses of Titus 3. This Greek word did not really mean division about interpretaions or ideologies but about divisions and schisms of the people from the Daily ministration and fellowship. Because Religion was a system of welfare those who divided the people from that network of charity or undermined that Corban of Christ were heretics. This was such a serious matter he was only given two admonitions. It is not unlike Dathan and Cora who were meted out decisive judgments for their division causing tactics.

Titus 3:7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
9 But avoid foolish[3] questions[4], and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.</Ref> associated with the word Heretick[5]


We see this association in 1 Corinthians 11 with the word contentious and heretic [6] but is also connected with the idea of heresies [7] leading or bringing in division. Such division is evidently allowed so that we may see who is really approved to be apart of the Church and its mission. Those who God is writing upon the heart and mind of will not easily be divided. They will follow the laws given by God from the beginning and the precepts and teachings offered Christ.

Religion is not just an idea or ideology but the fulfillment of our duty to God and our fellow man which is to love our neighbor and our enemy as Christ loved us with service and sacrifice.

1 Corinthians 11:16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. 17 ¶ Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19 For there must be also heresies[7] among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

This word for heresy appears 9 times but more often is translated sect.[8]

The idea of different sects or denominations is not about ideologies but about the division of the natural love we are to have with all mankind. This includes Greek or Jew, Roman or Samaritan. Any one who divides the people by any means is guilty of heresy[7] as we see it used at that time.

Of course Jesus caused trouble but he was always trying to bring people together in righteousness. There will always be debate but the manner of that debate will likely cause division more than the topic itself.

Where there is disagreement among people they should try to work out the difference rather than creating factions of supporters and promoting debates which divide the people.

Being a debater is often a habit and if we are not careful we may fall back into that habit like an addiction. So there are things we can do to avoid that unfruitful debate.

New Testament

Acts 15:39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;
Romans 2:8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
1 Corinthians 1:10 ¶ Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and [that] there be no divisions among you; but [that] ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
1 Corinthians 11:16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. 17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19 For there must be also heresies[7] among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
Philippians 1:16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:
1 Thessalonians 2:2 But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.
Titus 3:9 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions <2054>, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. 10 A man that is an heretick[5] after the first and second admonition reject; 11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.


The Old Testament

We see the word contention first in the Old Testament in Proverbs translated from the Hebrew word matstsah:

Proverbs 13:10 Only by pride cometh contention[9]: but with the well advised is wisdom.

The Hebrew word matstsah is also translated strife and debate.[10] The second time is also in Proverbs but it is from a different Hebrew word riyb:

Proverbs 17:14 The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention[11], before it be meddled with.
Proverbs 18:6 A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.
Proverbs 18:18 The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.

The fourth time is also in Proverbs but again it is another different Hebrew word midyan: The Hebrew word midyan shows up 18 times [12]

Proverbs 6:14 Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord <04066>.
Proverbs 15:18 A wrathful man stirreth up strife <04066>: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.
Proverbs 16:28 A froward man soweth strife <04066>: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.
Proverbs 17:14 The beginning of strife <04066> is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with
Proverbs 18:19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions[13] are like the bars of a castle.
Proverbs 19:13 A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.
Proverbs 21:19 It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.
Proverbs 22:10 Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.
Proverbs 23:29 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?
Proverbs 25:24 It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling <04066> woman and in a wide house.
Proverbs 26:20 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife <04066> ceaseth.
Proverbs 26:21 As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.

Finally, we see in Jeremiah another Hebrew word madown used to produce contention:

Jeremiah 15:10 Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me.
Proverbs 27:15 A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.
Proverbs 28:25 He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife <04066>: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.
Proverbs 29:22 An angry man stirreth up strife <04066>, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.
Jeremiah 15:10 Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention <04066> to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me.
Habakkuk 1:3 Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.

Footnotes

  1. 2054 ~ἔρις~ eris \@er’-is\@ of uncertain affinity; ; n f AV-strife 4, debate 2, contention 2, variance 1; 9 1) contention, strife, wrangling
  2. Romans 1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate <2054>, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Romans 13:13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife <2054> and envying. 1 Corinthians 1:11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions <2054> among you. 1 Corinthians 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife <2054>, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
    2 Corinthians 12:20 For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates <2054>, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:
    Galatians 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance <2054>, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
    Philippians 1:15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife <2054>; and some also of good will:
    1 Timothy 6:4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife <2054>, railings, evil surmisings,
    Titus 3:9 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions <2054>, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. 10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; 11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.
  3. 3474 ~μωρός~ moros \@mo-ros’\@ probably from the base of 3466; adj AV-foolish 7, fool 5, foolishness 1; 13 1) foolish 2) impious, godless
  4. 2214 ~ζήτησις~ zetesis \@dzay’-tay-sis\@ from 2212; n f AV-question 6; 6
    1) a seeking
    2) enquiry
    3) a questioning, debate
    4) a subject of questioning or debate, matter of controversy
  5. 5.0 5.1 141 ~αἱρετικός~ hairetikos \@hahee-ret-ee-kos’\@ from the same as 140; adj AV-that is a heretic 1; 1
    1) fitted or able to take or choose a thing
    2) schismatic, factious, a follower of a false doctrine
    3) heretic
  6. 141 ~αἱρετικός~ hairetikos \@hahee-ret-ee-kos’\@ from the same as 140; adj AV-that is a heretic 1; 1 1) fitted or able to take or choose a thing 2) schismatic, factious, a follower of a false doctrine 3) heretic
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 139 ~αἵρεσις~ hairesis \@hah’-ee-res-is\@ from 138; n f AV-sect 5, heresy 4; 9
    1) act of taking, capture: e.g. storming a city
    2) choosing, choice
    3) that which is chosen
    4) a body of men following their own tenets (sect or party)
    4a) of the Sadducees
    4b) of the Pharisees
    4c) of the Christians
    5) dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims For Synonyms see entry 5916
  8. Acts 5:17 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect <139> of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,
    Acts 15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect <139> of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
    Acts 24:5 For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect <139> of the Nazarenes:
    Acts 24:14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy <139>, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
    Acts 26:5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect <139> of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
    Acts 28:22 But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect <139>, we know that every where it is spoken against.
    1 Corinthians 11:19 For there must be also heresies <139> among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
    Galatians 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies <139>,
    2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies <139>, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
  9. 04683 ^הצמ^ matstsah \@mats-tsaw’\@ from 05327; n f; AV-contention 1, strife 1, debate 1; 3 1) strife, contention
  10. : : Proverbs 13:10 Only by pride cometh contention <04683>: but with the well advised is wisdom.
    Proverbs 17:19 He loveth transgression that loveth strife <04683>: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.
    Isaiah 58:4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate <04683>, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.
  11. 07379 ^ביר^ riyb \@reeb\@ or ^בר^ rib \@reeb\@ from 07378; n m; AV-cause 24, strife 16, controversy 13, contention 2, misc 7; 62
    1) strife, controversy, dispute
    1a) strife, quarrel
    1b) dispute, controversy, case at law
  12. Psalms 80:6 Thou makest us a strife <04066>

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