The apostles of Jesus rebuked people and blinded some. The followers of Christ named names and recorder their names forever. And it is because of this that human history shall never forget Herod the Great, Herod Antipas, Herodias, Judas, Annas, Caiaphas, Pilate, Ananias and Sapphira, Simon, Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12), Elymas Bar-Jesus, Demetrius the silversmith, Felix, Tertullus (Acts 24), Festus, Herod Agrippa II (Acts 25), Hymenaeus, Alexander, Phygelus, Hermogenes, Philetus, Demas and Diotrephes. These are the ones who opposed Jesus and his followers. They belong to that lamentable group: All the Bad Guys of the New Testament.
Many of them rose up from within — so-called brothers — and the apostles of Christ called them out. They called out the lazy ones and the false ones, the dangerous ones and the pretend ones, and instructed others to do the same.
Does it matter? Does God really care about how much one human cares about how another human speaks and lives in regard to Christ? Does God care if we retain the pattern given to us in scripture of naming names?
The following list of verses come from the New Testament, which completes my three part series on, “That’s in there?!” In Part 1, I listed verses related to the question: Can God hate people? In Part 2, I listed verses about God and evil, “I make peace and create evil” -God.
The hoover-over verses are from the English Standard Version of the Bible, with some clarification to the English (based on the Greek) inserted in square brackets; bold font is used to accentuate certain phrases or the negative memorializing of names.
The apostles got their teachings directly from Jesus. So I begin with verses that show how Jesus set the pattern that his followers then emulated.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. 16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak
If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred?
Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod [Antipas] wants to kill you.” 32 And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
[Stephen said], “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.”
Stephen’s pattern of address is not according to his social norms (he was not merely a man of his times), but it fits within the context of the Kingdom of Christ. The pattern holds throughout the Acts and is consistent with the way that Jesus spoke in similar situations. Stephen spoke rightly. And his pattern of address has its place within the norm of New Testament instruction. That is, God, in the New Testament, commands Christ’s followers to speak likewise as needed.
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money,19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.”
But Elymas [Bar-Jesus] the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand.
And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?”
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for [lit: to notice carefully] those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
1 Corinthians 5:2-5
And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. 3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 5:11-13
But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler, not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. Purge the evil person from among you.
1 Corinthians 16:22
If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come!
2 Corinthians 13:2
I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant [a slave] of Christ.
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.
I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves! (NRSV)
Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
This is something different than the other verses we are exploring. In this case, Paul singles out two Christians (awkward?!). He was publicly calling these women to agree. Here naming-names was necessary, not to root out heresy, but to bring unity (cf. Mark 9:50; Rom 12:16-19; 1 Cor 1:10; Heb 12:14).
2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. … 14 If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.
2 Thessalonians 3:14-15
If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
1 Timothy 1:3
As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine
1 Timothy 1:19b-20
By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
1 Timothy 5:20-21
As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. 21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.
2 Timothy 1:15
You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.
2 Timothy 2:16-18
But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.
2 Timothy 3:5
having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
2 Timothy 4:2
preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
2 Timothy 4:10
For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.
2 Timothy 4:14-15
Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.
For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.
…this testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.
They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.
1 Peter 3:12
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
Particular people live with the face of the Lord against them. This is counter-intuitive for some theology (which is why I mention it here). The fear of God is still the head (or beginning) of wisdom. God is still to be feared (for a reason).
1 John 2:18-19
Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
1 John 3:10
By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
The followers of Jesus were able employ Jesus’ language in the churches (compare John 8:44). They named those who left and those were in opposition as children of the devil. Those who went out were antichrists. Like Jesus, his first followers did not always safeguard against violating the sensibilities of antichrists and children of the devil.
2 John 1:10-11
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
3 John 1:9-10
I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. 10 So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.
I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.
Thanks to my daughter Abi for helping me get these verses entered into the computer.