Recently, a public post on Facebook used Paul’s statements in 1 Timothy 6:4-51 to teach a “difficult truth” about the effect of God’s word. In the passage1, Paul makes a simple deductive argument (if A, then B) where “A” is false teaching and “B” is its result (“envy, quarreling, slander, evil suspicions, and constant disagreement”).

The post goes on to make a general observation: “This world is filled with envy, quarreling, slander, evil suspicions, and constant disputes. This is a hallmark of modern culture, and, as is so often the case, God’s people are impacted by culture more than we might want to admit.” True enough! The world is filled with the same characteristics that Paul in 1 Timothy attributes to the effects of false teaching. The post then draws a conclusion: “When we see this [the envy, quarreling, slander, etc.] then we know that somewhere along the line our teaching has not been sound or we have simply ignored what Scripture teaches about how we are to treat one another (or both).”

Well, maybe, but there is an inherent logical fallacy in this conclusion. If A produces B, we can’t assume that anywhere we witness B, it must have been produced by A. That’s the argument being made. In other words, if any teaching has been done (true or false) and envy, quarreling, etc. results, then the teaching must have been “a different doctrine.” While it doesn’t hold with human logic, let’s test that conclusion about the effect of God’s word further with Scripture.

how Scripture answers "What is the effect of God’s word?"

The effect of God’s word is never failing3,4 and sanctifies believers5, bringing them into a peace with God17 and ulimately saving them4,10,11,14. However, the effect of God’s word can also be destructive2,9, causing division7,8,11, animosity12,13,16, physical death for those that speak it14,15, and ultimately spiritual death6,8,9,11 to those that refuse it.

1 Timothy 6:4-5 has nothing to do with the effect of God’s word, except when it is quite literally “a different doctrine” taught by false teachers. Based on other Scripture11,12,13,15,16, there certainly could be situations where God’s word could have the same effect (e.g. envy, quarreling, constant disagreement, etc.), but it’s because of the hearer and their reaction to and resistance of truth. Therefore, we couldn’t say, “When we see this then we know that somewhere along the line our teaching has not been sound or we have simply ignored what Scripture teaches about how we are to treat one another (or both).”

the answer above is based on and footnoted with the following Scripture Blocks
1
If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
Anyone teaching a “different doctrine” is “puffed up” and don’t agree with the sound words of Jesus and teaching that agrees with godliness.  These people crave controversy and arguments over words, which only produces envy, division, slander, evil doubt and churning.  They have a depraved mind and are devoid of any truth.  They think godliness is a way to profit.

Paul’s instructions to Timothy, a young preacher. Here he is giving instruction regarding the master/slave relationship (vss 1-2) and warning against false teachers and being content in all things.

How does it inform?

Paul is speaking specifically about “a different doctrine” and teaching that “does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This passage has nothing to do with the effect of God’s word, but rather the effects of its perversion.

Does it apply? No

2
Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?
God declares that His word is like fire and a hammer that can break a rock in pieces.

God, through Jeremiah, is speaking out against the religious leadership in Judah.  In the midst of this condemnation of the “shepherds who destroy and scatter my sheep” (vs 1), there is a preview to the “latter days” when Jesus will rule as king faithfully (vss 5-8).  But in the meantime, God condemns the many false prophets and even the priests (vs 33).

How does it inform?

God’s word is a destructive force.

Does it apply? Yes

3
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Just as the rain and snow come down from heaven to water the earth, giving it life for seed and bread, so shall my word that goes from my mouth.  It will not return empty, accomplishing all that I intend and succeeding in everything for which it was sent.

God speaking through Isaiah the prophet.

How does it inform?

God’s word gives life and never fails.

Does it apply? Yes

4
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
Souls that have been purified by obeying the truth should earnestly and sincerely love one another from a pure heart.  They should be doing this since they were born again of an imperishable seed through the enduring word of God. Unlike grass which grows, blooms and dies, God’s word remains forever and it’s this same word that was preached to them.
Peter is writing to the “elect” of the “dispersion” – Christians that have been scattered throughout Galatia and Asia Minor.  He is encouraging them to stand firm in the face of current persecution and reminding them of the promise they have in and through Christ.

A portion of this passage is quoted from

Isaiah 40:6-8
.
How does it inform?

God’s word is “forever” that “purifies souls” when its obeyed.

Does it apply? Yes

5
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

Paul’s letter to a young preacher, Timothy.  Throughout the letter, Paul’s instructions have to do with Timothy’s activities and relationship with the brethren there with Timothy (the church).

How does it inform?

God’s word makes ordinary things holy (by its declaration).

Does it apply? Yes

6
Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light.

Therefore, I [God] have cut and shaped them by the prophets, killing them by the words of my mouth – judgment that reaches everyone.

Hosea prophesied primarily to the northern ten tribes, the nation of Israel, during the time of Jereboam II (~750BC).  This was during a time of great peace, prosperity and stability for the nation, but just a decade or two before they would be taken away and destroyed by Assyria.
How does it inform?

God’s word “slew” those in judgment.

Does it apply? Yes

7
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The word of God is alive and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword in its ability to pierce and lay bare the thoughts and intentions of the heart/mind.

The writer is arguing the better things in Christ and encouraging the Hebrews to “strive to enter that rest” (vs 11), unlike those of their heritage that died in the wilderness due to their disobedience.

How does it inform?

God’s word is ever relevant and able to divide/discern anyone’s motives and intents.

Does it apply? Yes

8
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
Separate them through your [God’s] word which is truth.
Jesus’ prayer before His crucifixion and ascension to Heaven.  The “words” are clarified earlier when Jesus prays, “I have revealed your name to the men you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have obeyed your word. Now they understand that everything you have given me comes from you, because I have given them the words you have given me. They accepted them and really understand that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.” (vss 6-8)
How does it inform?

God’s word is truth that separates people, or calls them out as distinct.

Does it apply? Yes

9
For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
[Scoffers in the last days] will intentionally overlook the fact that the heavens existed long ago, and that the earth that was formed out of and through water by God’s word perished by these same things.  It will be by the same word, this time with fire, that the heavens and earth will be consumed on the day of judgment along with the destruction of the ungodly.

As in his first letter, Peter is still warning of false teachers in his second letter.  In this context not only does he remind them their presence is evidence that they are in the “last days”, but he encourages them of what comes next — the “day of the Lord” (vs 10).

How does it inform?

God’s word (with water) destoyed the world once due to wickedness, and will again (with fire) on the day of judgment.

Does it apply? Yes

10
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, The righteous shall live by faith.
For I [Paul] am not ashamed of the gospel since it is God’s power for saving all those who believe, both Jews and Greeks. Through it the righteousness of God is completed with faith, just as the Scriptures say that the righteous will live by faith.
Paul’s letter to the Christians living in Rome expressing his eagerness to come there and preach (vs 15). Paul quotes a portion of
Habbakuk 2:4
which is also quoted in Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38.
How does it inform?

God’s word reveals His righteousness (e.g. will) and is the driving force for salvation for believers.

Does it apply? Yes

11
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
The word of Christ is foolishness to those that are dying (spiritually), but to everyone being saved it is the power of God.  Just as Scripture has already confirmed, God will destroy wisdom of the wise and the discernment of the discerning He will stop.

Paul is writing to the church in Corinth dealing with several serious issues throughout the letter, but here dealing with divisions among them and reminding them of the uniting nature of the Gospel.

How does it inform?

God’s word is a divisive force that is the power of God for those being saved (or, “for salvation”10).

Does it apply? Yes

12
At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
Also pray for us that God would open a door for us to preach the word and make known the mystery of Christ – which is why I’m in prison – and that I would know how to make it clear as I intend to.
Paul’s closing comments and final instructions to the Christians in Collosae.
How does it inform?

God’s word led to imprisonment (e.g. persecution).

Does it apply? Yes

13
I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.

Jesus gave them [apostles] God’s word and the world has hated them as a result, just as they hated Jesus.

Jesus’ prayer before His crucifixion and ascension to Heaven.  The “words” are clarified earlier when Jesus prays, “I have revealed your name to the men you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have obeyed your word. Now they understand that everything you have given me comes from you, because I have given them the words you have given me. They accepted them and really understand that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.” (vss 6-8)
How does it inform?

God’s word caused those that preached it to be hated.

Does it apply? Yes

14
And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
In Paul’s extended introduction to the “church of the Thessalonians” (1:1), he is recalling the events around their first hearing Paul bring them the gospel (Acts 17 during his second missionary journey).
How does it inform?

God’s word is actively4,7 at work in the believer. He also goes on to remind in verse 15 about those “who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets”15.

Does it apply? Yes

15
Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.

You, the very ones that received the law from angels but did not keep it, persecuted and killed all of the prophets that announced the coming of Jesus Christ who you now have betrayed and murdered.

Stephen has been brought before the Jewish High Priest and council on charges of blasphemy against God and Moses (6:11).  The entire chapter seven is his public defense before he is ultimately stoned to death.

How does it inform?

All of the prophets that spoke God’s word were killed because of it.

Does it apply? Yes

16
Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Have I [Paul] become your enemy by telling you the truth?

Paul’s letter to the Christians throughout Galatia, converted during his first missionary journey (Acts 13-14).  He is confronting a persistent effort by Jewish Christians to continue in and bind on Gentile Christians customs and practices from the Old Law.

How does it inform?

Paul, after teaching truth, is nevertheless contemplating the possibility reality of now being at odds with those he taught.

Does it apply? Yes

17
And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.
Jesus came and preached peace to those that were far off, as well as those that were near.

Paul is writing to the “saints that are in Ephesus” (1:1), but Gentile Christians in particular (2:11).  He is reminding them of this grace that they have from God and the fact that they are now “fellow citizens…of the household of God” (2:19).  Ultimately, his plea to them is to walk in a manner worthy of the calling” (4:1).

How does it inform?

Jesus’ message was one of peace. A peace that results between those (anyone) that accept it, and ultimately with God.

Does it apply? Yes

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