1. WHO ARE THE ENEMIES? 10-13a a. Insubordinate, empty talkers, and deceivers. First, they are insubordinate. They are not and are unwilling to be under any rule or authority. These rebellious people will not submit themselves to the authority of God’s word. As Christians, we are to bow our wills to Christ and place the Bible as our authority over our thoughts and our actions. This group of people in the church refuse to do this. This is especially relevant to Paul’s teaching on the qualifications of an elder because an elder must have submitted himself fully to sound doctrine. The elder’s authority is derivative. He does not possess authority in and of himself but only as far as the Scriptures dictate. Therefore, if the overseer is to rule well he must rule as one under the complete authority of Christ. This is also relevant to the context because of this group is insubordiant to the word of God then they will be that way toward those that are given authority by that word. So these people in our churches show that they are not under God’s authority by rejecting the elders that God has given to them. Second, they are empty talkers. This describes those in the church that like to talk but what they talk about is meaningless. Their words do not edify the church. They talk and talk and talk but nothing constructive comes from all their words. They do not listen to the wisdom of the Proverbs that speaks often of the tongue. “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” They forget the instruction of the Preacher who said, “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.” “The more words the more vanity.” Third, there are deceivers in the church. With their rebellious hearts and empty talk, they are deceived and deceive others. They are men who seek to subvert others through their subtle twists of Scripture. They are women who undermine and seek to assert their own power over those in the church. They prey on those that are weak and try to win over the strong to their side. Fourth, Paul says that this is especially true of those of the “circumcision party.” This has been seen as either a reference to unbelieving Jews in general or to the Judaizing Christians. Paul does give a harsh rebuke to the Jews in the book of Romans as well as to the Judaizers in the book of Galatians. Those that taught that Jesus was not the Messiah or that a Christian must keep the ceremonial laws of Israel shows that a person is insubordinate, an empty talker and a deceiver. b. Seek shameful gain. Paul says that these people must be silenced. Literally, they are to have something placed over their mouths. He does not say that there should be some ongoing dialogue and that they should be allowed to share their opinions. No, Paul says, “Muzzle them.” They are teaching things that ought not to be taught. They should be so overwhelmed by the truth of the gospel that they can no longer speak. Their deceptions and empty talk are shown to be so meaningless by good doctrine that it loses all its power. No one will listen to them because their words are shown to be foolish. And according to Matthew 18, if they don’t repent they are to be removed from the church. This is extremely important because their lies can overturn households. Paul will warn Timothy of people that had crept into households and captured weak women with their words. We’ve all seen this. Bad theology can turn spouses against each other and children against their parents. Whole families can make a shipwreck of their faith and cause consequences that will last a lifetime. And why do these deceivers do this horrible thing? They do it all for shameful gain, basically, for money, power, and the honor of people. c. They are liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons. Paul then quotes from a Cretan, probably a guy name Epimenides, who said that Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” There is a story about Epimenides that he was sent by his father to tend the sheep and instead, he went and slept in a cave for fifty-seven years. So if anyone knew what he was talking about, it was him. Cretans were known throughout the Greek world as being liars. It was their national sin. So much so that the word Cretan became synonymous with liar. Epimenides also said that they were like wild animals. Their evil had brought them to a place of brutality that preyed upon others. And they were idle hedonists. They liked to have all of their senses pleased with the least amount of effort. They were the ultimate consumers. That is not that surprising to us because we can look at our own culture and see that we are fairly Cretan ourselves. But what would surprise a lot of evangelical Christians today is that Paul says, “That’s true!”