I think it will surprise you that Paul regards a divisive person, as one who departs from sound doctrine and the teachings of God’s Word.
While we might define divisiveness as taking a strong stance on doctrine and purposely causing division in the church.
Not for Paul, divisiveness was anything that went against the gospel and the teaching they learned. If you look up the word divisiveness in the dictionary you’ll read this… Creating disunity or dissension.
Paul says this in Romans 16…
Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.Romans 16:17 [Emphasis Mine]
Do we have the wrong idea and definition of who is a divisive person?
I think we do!
Divisive ones are those who turn everything to their own interests and teach and say things contrary to the word of God.
Paul continually repeats a warning…..
As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,1 Timothy 1:3 [Emphasis Mine]
If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness,1 Timothy 6:3 [Emphasis Mine]
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!Galatians 1:8, 9 [Emphasis Mine]
So as it has been said repeatedly by great Christians in the past, too many to list…
“It’s far better to be divided by Truth than united in error.”
To say it another way, we don’t compromise truth for the sake of unity!
Divisiveness, for Paul, was anyone who went astray with the gospel of Jesus Christ and His word, not someone who takes a strict stance on doctrine and the truth it holds.
In saying that, I love this from David Platt on theological triage…
Christians divide from non-Christians over primary doctrines, and Christians are willing to die for these doctrines. Churches distinguish themselves from one another over secondary doctrines, yet they partner together around primary doctrines. Christians in the same church disagree with one another over tertiary doctrines, but it does not in any way decrease the intimacy of their fellowship with one another.David Platt
Now if you mean disagreements and conflicts within the church, then that’s different, we have a lot of that going around in contemporary Christianity. It’s my guess you will find that in every church, including yours. It’s all we need to do is read 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 to see that.
I’m talking about that person who refuses to minimize God’s word for unity! Who says what God says through His word without editing or gagging God.
Because there are those who love the truth of God’s word and will stand up for it no matter the outcome or consequences. So, it doesn’t mean
I am a, oops, scratch that, they are a divisive person.
It just means they love God,
His Son, and His Word
more than they love you!