This post will start a series of blogs with my answers to student’s questions which have been placed in the Question Box. The Question Box is a new aspect of our student ministry that allows the students to ask questions (anonymously if desired) that may be on their minds. These may be silly questions, but some will also be helpful questions. This blog series enables students to find their answers even if they miss the night their question was answered. So far, we have had three questions which I will list and answer below.
Q: Can you take off your glasses?
A: Well yes, I am physically capable of taking off my glasses. However, I think the heart of the question was can I see without my glasses and the answer to that question is not well.
Q: Is there biblical evidence for praying for the saints?
A: No, there is no evidence to praying for the saints. The only person Scripture teaches us to pray to is to the Lord.
Q: How can we stand for truth when we are not supposed to dispute? This question is actually quite insightful, especially as you understand the context in which it was asked.
A: First, you need to understand the background to this question is coming out of Philippians 2:14. Second, admittedly this answer starts a little technical, but it is worth it, so please bear with me. The Greek word used for “disputing” in Philippians 2:14 is διαλογισμός/dialogismos. At the core, the word carries the idea of thoughts, especially thoughts that are clearly thought through. Therefore, it is used of things like reasoning.
However, when one looks at how this word is used in the NT, the word is always associated with man’s thoughts, essentially referring to man’s thoughts sourced in himself. This places these thoughts in contrast to God’s thinking, or thoughts that have their source in God (cf. 2 Tim 3:16). In fact, this is the word that Jesus will use to speak of man’s “evil thoughts” that come out of the heart (Matt 15:19; Mark 7:21; cf. James 2:4). It is these “thoughts (διαλογισμοί)” that Mary is told Jesus will reveal (Luke 2:35). In fact, this is often the kind of thinking Jesus corrects (see Luke 5:22; 6:8; and 9:46, 47) and considers them of no use (1 Cor 3:20) because of man’s depravity (Rom 1:21). Furthermore, these are the kind of thoughts that give way to “doubts (διαλογισμοί)” in Luke 24:38.
Another use of this word is to refer to arguments (Luke 9:46, 47; Rom 14:1; and 1 Tim 2:8), but not the kind of argument that one puts forward for the inarguable position that God’s word is true, but rather the kind siblings have between one-another as to who sits in the front seat (cf. Luke 9:46). This is the category that fits Paul’s use in Philippians 2:14 when he says to do all things without “disputing.”
So, it seems when Paul uses “disputing (διαλογισμῶν)” in Phil 2:14, he is referring to arguing over thoughts for your benefit, coming out of yourself; this fits very well in the context of Philippians 2 since Paul instructs the Philippians to consider others more highly than yourself just a few verses earlier (2:3ff). He is referencing self-promoting strife, not God honoring truth which has its source in God Himself/Scripture. Therefore, when you stand for the revealed truths of Scripture, in order to honor God, you are not disputing in the sense Paul is stating in Philippians 2:14; rather, you are following the example mature Christians, especially elders who are told to even “rebuke” those who contradict such truth (Titus 1:9). In other words, you stand for truth without disputing by following the example of Michael who was faithful to state what the Lord had said, for His interests and not Michael’s own thoughts, for his own interests (Jude 9).