“O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge–by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:20-21).
The final verses of the Biblical book of 1 Timothy do not indict genuine intellectual inquiry. Instead these verses target the pseudo-intellectualism of “what is falsely called knowledge.” Paul the Apostle issued a similar admonition in the New Testament book of Colossians when he said, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8 NIV).
Philosophical beliefs that build upon “…men’s ideas of the nature of the world and disregards Christ” (Phillips) may sometimes lead to the “idle babblings and contradictions” referenced here. Those beliefs can range from theories that attempt to explain the existence of a creation without a Creator to casual conversations on metaphysical subjects that feature thoughts, conjectures, opinions, and/or ideas that have no basis for support other than what may exist inside someone else’s head.
As mentioned previously, it is not unusual to encounter those who hold spiritual beliefs that are influenced by theories and speculations that are impossible to prove or disprove. Author and apologist Greg Koukl observes that those who hold such beliefs often begin by asserting, “You could say…” (or a variation of that phrase) in expressing their views.
While anyone can preface their beliefs in this manner, this does not necessarily mean that such beliefs are valid or consistent. Koukl goes on to say that we can often uncover questionable examples of so-called “knowledge” with questions such as, “How did you come to that conclusion?” or, “What do you mean by that?” In doing so, we may be able to unmask an ill-advised belief, communicate the Gospel, and avoid the unproductive disputes and arguments mentioned earlier in this chapter.
One scholar concludes this thought with the following insight…
“Paul began his letter by addressing false teaching (1:3–7), and here in vv. 20 and 21 he concludes the epistle by once more addressing false teaching. Thus, the letter is bounded by the conceptual bookends of false teaching, which shows that false teaching is the main occasion that inspired Paul to write this letter. Accordingly, much of what is said in this letter is, in one way or another, related to aspects of the false teaching…” (1)
(1) Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 2164). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.3