False teacher. It can seem like a harsh term, but the Bible talks a lot about false teachers. In fact, it may be interesting to measure the 21st century Christian’s “shock-meter” against how the Bible describes a false teacher. Terms such as “irrational animals,” “dangerous reefs,” and “condemned to Hell” are used in Scripture…not sure how well our “modern” religious culture would tolerate these today.
In the post “7 False Teachers in the Church Today“, Tim Challies makes an interesting list of profiles for the modern false teacher. Included in the list are “The Prophet”, “The Abuser”, “The Divider”, and “The Tickler”. Maybe we can relate to these different categorizations from our church experience, but how does Scripture define a false teacher?
How Scripture answers "What is a false teacher?"
A false teacher is anyone that is teaching something different than the gospel2,3,4,10,11,12,13. They are literally antichrists9, and their “different teaching” could be a “distortion”2,8,11, an addition10, or an “obstacle”1. Most troubling is the fact that the false teacher won’t be obvious or easy to detect6,7,11, but “in demand” and popular13.
Their character is called out as “puffed up”4, divisive1,4,8,11, greedy4,6, “ungodly”7, and “wicked”10. But the real condemning quality is their intention to lead others from the truth/gospel1,5,6,7,8,9,11,13. False teachers share a special and most dubious designation similar to false prophets5,6.
Answer built on scripture-blocks below
They are self-serving and opportunistic and should be avoided. They use smooth-talk and flattery.
Someone that distorts the gospel.
A false teacher is anyone teaching a different doctrine. The encouragement against such teaching is an act of love.
Fundamentally, the false teacher’s motivation is self-serving and personal gain.
Jesus promises false teachers will come (using synonymous terms antichrists or false prophets). Their goal is to lead Christians astray and will use means of “great signs and wonders.”
Maligning the truth (speaking spitefully or critically) while persuading others. Also connects to false prophets of old.
Jude is not restrained in his description of these false teachers, saying, “It is these who cause division.”
A warning to handle truth correctly by avoiding quarreling “about words” and engaging in “foolish, ignorant controversies.”
False teachers are antichrists and “have come”.
A false teacher is anyone that “goes on ahead” of the teaching of Christ. They should not be “greeted” or tolerated to avoid taking part in “wicked works”.
False teachers are like “fierce wolves,” twisting the gospel to draw people away from Christ and toward themselves.
Anyone denying that Jesus is Lord is a false teacher.
A false teacher is a people pleaser, teaching things that suit human passions and desires.
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