THE SIN OF SECTARIANISM
James Scott Trimm
Now I beseech you, brothers, mark them which cause divisions
and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned;
and avoid them.
One of the most under recognized and most serious sins is the sin of division of the Assembly.
In Galatians 5:19-21 Paul gives a list of the "works of the flesh":
19 For the works of the flesh are known, which are: fornication, uncleanness, perversion,
20 worship of idols, magic, animosity, contention, over zealousness, anger, insolence, FACTIONALISM, SECTARIANISM,
21 envy, murder, drunkenness and reveling, and all that are similar to these.
Notice the last two items in verse 20: "factionalism" and "sectarianism". We will discuss exactly what these two words mean in a moment, but notice that Paul lists them on a par with such sins as "fornication", "worship of idols" and "murder".
In the Greek text these two words are "hairesis" (Strong's Gk 139) and "dichostasia" (Strong's 1370).
The Greek word "hairesis" means "a party or disunion". The NAS and NIV versions translate this word to mean "factions" the RSV has "party spirit" the NEB has "party intrigues", Beck has :divisions". The TEV has "They Separate into parties and groups." The Complete Jewish Bible has "factionalism" while ISR has "dissensions."
The word that appears in the Original Aramaic here is SEDAKA. Jastro defines this word as "split, slit, rent" The Syriac Dictionary (Lewis) has "a rent, tear, division, schism, sect" while the Lexicon to the Syriac New Testament (Jennings) has "a rent, tear, rupture, schism" from the root meaning "rived, split asunder, tore". Murdock and the Way version have "discords"
The Greek word "dichostasia" means "disunion, dissention, division, sedition". The NIV, NAS and RSV translate the word "dissention(s) the Complete Jewish Bible has "intrigue". ISR has "factions".
The word that appears here in the original Aramaic is P'LUGGOTA (Aramaic cognate of Strong's Heb. 6392) meaning "divisions" as Murdock translates the word "divisions". The Way version has "divisions"
These last two words in Gal. 5:20 each refer to those who split congregations and divide them! And Paul counts this as a "work of the flesh" along with fornication, idol worship and murder!
Paul writes to the Corinthians:
"for you are in the flesh. For there are among you, envy and
contention and FACTIONS, (P'LUGGOTA) are you not carnal and walking in the flesh? For when each man of you says, I am of Paul and another says, I am of Apollos, are you not carnal?"
"But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly
bring in destructive sects (Gk: hairesis = Aramaic sedaka)…"
This could also be translated "bring in destructive DIVISIONS".
And Paul warns the Romans to "beware of those who cause DIVISIONS (P'LUGGOTA)" (Rom. 16:17)
Dividing up a congregation into factions is a very serious sin.
It is Elohim's desire that his people be at unity. When Yeshua was speaking to his talmidim over his last earthly Passover sader, he took the time to specifically pray for the unity of the believers
17 Father, sanctify them by your truth, for your word is truth.
18 As you sent me into the world also I send them into the world.
19 And for their sakes, I sanctify my nefesh that they also might be sanctified in truth.
20 And I do not ask for the sake of these alone, but also for the
sake of those who will have faith in me through their word,
21 That ALL MIGHT BE ONE as you are, my Father, in me, and I am in you that they also might BE ONE in us, that the world might believe that you sent me.
22 And the glory that you gave me I gave to them, that they might BE ONE as we are one.
23 I am in them and you are in me, that they be perfected into one, and that the world might know that you sent me, and that you have loved them as also you loved me.
24 Father, I want that those whom you gave me might also be with me wherever I am so that they might see my glory, which you gave me because you loved me from before the foundations of the world.
25 My righteous Father, the world has not known you but I know you and they know that you sent me.
26 And I have made known to them your name and will make known so that the love with which you loved me might be in them and I might be in them.:
Three times in this short prayer, Yeshua faced with his eminent death, concerns himself, not with his own welfare, but with our unity as believers.
Many times the Scriptures emphasize the importance of being unified as believers:
" and be diligent to keep the UNITY of the Spirit in the bond of
shalom, that you be ONE body and one spirit, even as you are called in ONE hope of your calling. For YHWH is one and the faith is one and the immersion is one, And one Eloah is the Father of all, and above all, and through all, and in us all."
"So also we who are many are ONE body in the Messiah and each of us are MEMBERS OF ONE ANOTHER."
"Now I urge you, my brothers, in the name of our Adon Yeshua the Messiah, that you have ONE word to all and [that] there be no FACTIONS (P'LUGGOTA) among you, but [that] you be whole hearted in ONE purpose and in ONE mind."
"For as the body is ONE, and there are in it many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are ONE body, so also the Messiah. For all of us also are immersed by ONE spirit into ONE body, whether Jew or Aramaean, whether slave or son of freedom. And all of us drank of ONE spirit."
"Nevertheless, this that we have attained, let us follow in one path and with ONE ACCORD."
"But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have FELLOWSHIP ONE WITH ANOTHER…"
Beware of those who cause divisions in congregations. Creating such divisions is a "work of the flesh" comparable to fornication, idolatry and murder. Elohim's will is for believers is that we be in fellowship with one another, in one accord, and endeavoring for the unity of the spirit in the bond of Shalom.
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