1 Timothy 1:6-7
6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
That word “swerved” really catches my eye in these two verses. This is the only use of that particular word in the Bible. The Greek word is astacheo, and it is only used in one other place in the Bible. 2 Timothy 2:18, this word is translated “err.” The Greek word means to miss the mark or go astray. The first thing that comes to my mind is a car swerving to miss a deer, or a pothole or even another car. The driver sees danger ahead and turns the wheel to avert the danger. I have done this many times and I’m sure you have as well. It’s a word that we commonly use today describing someone who has to go out of their way to accomplish a task. Another use also comes from driving, and that is the drunkard or drug-filled person who swerves all over the road because they have lost control of their perceptions. They become a danger to themselves and to others but are unaware of it because they are under the influence. Both of these examples show us the meaning of the word swerved.
The second interesting word in the KJV is jangling. This is the Greek word mataiologia, and it means vain speaking or noise. This is the only place in the Bible that this word is used. I immediately think of a large ring with keys on it, attached to the belt of a janitor or landlord. They keys clank together, or jangle, when the person walks or when they go to use one of the keys. It is a metallic sound that is non-sensical. The other reference that Webster’s dictionary gives us for jangling is that it “set on edge” which our nerves might be if certain things happen to make us skeptical or afraid.
The fact that Paul uses these two words exclusively in writing to Timothy is no small thing. Paul is obviously trying to make a strong point to Timothy and uses vivid words to get that point across. He could easily have just said “turned aside to foolish teaching” but he chose not to. We can learn a lot about what Paul is warning Timothy of because he used these two specific words only in writing to Timothy. It is a warning that still resonates today in our world.
The first point is that these teachers who Paul is talking about did not just slip into some teaching that was in error. They went their purposely. They swerved, like we do to miss something. The swerved so that they could bring forth a teaching that no one else would duplicate because they fabricated it. It was not a Holy Spirit inspired teaching. It was not based solidly on scripture. It did not line up with the hole volume of scripture, but may have chosen one verse out of all of them and then was taken out of context. I think of those who worship today by taking up snakes because Paul took up snakes. I think of those who worship by smoking marijuana because God said all of creation was good. I think of the movie that is coming out this year called “Corpus Christie” in which Jesus and the disciples are portrayed as gay men.
These things and many more are just dead wrong. The people who practice them and preach them have swerved from the truth. They try to tell us that these things are not against the law of God and they show their ignorance of the word of God. They somehow miss the scriptures that speak out against these things and only listen to that deceptive little voice in their heads saying “It’s OK. It’s OK.” They swerve into their own path and their own teaching so they can stand out as someone who knows a little more than the next person. But they too are deceived. They think their little foray into an obscure idea of what God is saying is a new revelation God has given specifically to them. The problem is that God will always confirm His word with two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15), and He will always inform His prophets of what He is going to do (Amos 3:7).
The second point is about those who get intoxicated by the world and start to think that God is all about giving them material wealth if they ask. They think they should be able to come up to God and demand things because this verse or that verse says a particular thing. They take the scripture out of context and apply it as law. “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14) is their rallying cry, They are swerving in and out of the truth. They find themselves wanting more and more and thinking that others should be able to gain wealth the same way they did. They think your lack of wealth is a lack of faith. This cannot be farther from the truth. Has God made everyone a rich man? Has God made everyone with the same capabilities? Has He made everyone with the same health?
We are not all the same When these deceptive teaching come along we must be very careful to examine the whole body of what they are saying through the lens of scripture. The whole body of scripture must be taken into account, not just a few verses. These teachers think they are wise and they think they are teaching the law but failing to back up what they say.
The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement is a great example of this verse. I am not going to get into all the things this church movement is swerving toward because I want this blog to focus on Christian aspects that will help us grow. The NAR is sweeping through churches across the country and bringing in new doctrine filled with vain jangling and false teaching. I suggest you study up on it so you will be aware if it does start to creep into your church. You can learn a little about this by clicking HERE
Solomon said “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) and that statement is just as true now as it was in his day. In everything we do, we need to do our best to remain true to scripture and it’s context. We need to stay away from those who are just talking with no purpose, or standing on one scripture and miss the mark even on that one. Seek the truth, the whole truth. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth. Don’t swerve off the path!