Q.

Does Titus 3:9 teach that it is wrong to pursue and trace our ancestry or family tree?

A.
Anything is wrong if it becomes an obsession, time waster, or object of worship. But a drafting of your family tree or genealogy hunt in itself is not wrong and may be both educational and fascinating. In fact, the Bible contains many genealogies and indicates that it is important to revere one’s forefathers and to remember those who have gone before us. For example, both Matthew and Luke contain the genealogies of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1–17; Luke 3:23–38).

Titus 3:9 reads in part, “But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies” (NKV). Titus was not referring to learning about our ancestry or composing our family tree. Rather, as we look at the context, we learn he was warning about behavior in the local church that caused divisions among believers. This kind of behavior didn’t cause believers to grow spiritually but rather caused them to go around in fruitless circles. Some people unfortunately get into a local body of believers and breed havoc. These are people of “one tune”; in other words, people who have a certain hobbyhorse they stress.

One problem in Titus’s time was an undue and unscriptural focus by some people on the genealogies of the Old Testament. They would decide that these genealogies needed further help, so they speculated and filled in the surmised gaps with various ideas and myths of their own. Then they would spend an endless amount of time discussing and debating these matters. One can only imagine how frustrating these continuing controversies were to true teachers of the Word. No wonder the apostle Paul wrote to young pastor Timothy about this same problem:

Nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith (1 Timothy 1:4, NKJV).

The need for spiritual maturity among believers is so evident here, because humans always tend to overemphasize something, especially unimportant or untruthful matters. It is one thing to stand up for Scriptural truth or principles (and often not many Christians take such a stand). But it is another thing to spend endless amounts of time advancing and defending humanly devised thinking, ideas that merely stir up people for no spiritual benefit. Instigators of these contentions must be dealt with: “Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition” (Titus 3:10, NKJV). After someone admonishes such a person two times and he doesn’t repent, he must be removed.

Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send to nolson@garbc.org or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173-4806.

Reprinted from the Baptist Bulletin (March 1999).
© 1999 Regular Baptist Press. All rights reserved.
Used by permission.