is a translation of the the Greek word
Romans 16:17 and 1 Corinthians 3:3 translate this word as
"divisions." It is the opposite, of course, of “standing
together,” of "being together."
It is used several times in the New Testament, and it clearly implies separation, and division.
Mark 15:7 And there was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his
fellow rebels; they had committed
murder in the rebellion.
These people had stood apart and had "rebelled." In this case the rebellion
had deteriorated to the point of murder.
In Acts 19 the context is the fact that the Ephesians are angry about Paul’s
preaching against idolatry. They gather in the theatre and yell praises to
Diana their goddess. They are "standing apart" from Christians whom they hate
for teaching against their idol worship. Finally the city leader stands
before the crowds and says,
For we are in danger of being called in question for today’s uproar, there
being no reason which we may give to account for this
disorderly gathering.” (This standing apart.)
In Acts 24 Paul is accused by his own countrymen as being a fomenter of
Acts 24:5 5
For we have found this man a plague, a creator of
dissension among all the Jews
throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.
Of course Paul was teaching from the Torah that which was undeniable.
It was the angry, fanatical Jews that created the dissension, not Paul.
In Acts 15 we see these fanatical extremists intent on creating dissension
within the church. Paul and Barnabas stand up to them.
Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no
small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and
Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the
apostles and elders, about this question.
In Acts 23 Paul is before a tribunal accused by both Pharisees and
Sadducees. Paul skillfully deflects the attention onto the disagreements the two
groups had about the resurrection. As a result, a great dissension arose between them.
And when he had said this, a
dissension arose between the
Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided.
Now when there arose a great dissension,
the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them,
commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and
bring him into the barracks.
Clearly “Dissension” means more than just disagreements or an emotional
exchange of ideas. It indicates an "escalation" which may have originated in a
simple discussion, which escalated to a loud exchange, which led to anger
expressed loudly, to a loss of emotional control, to imputing motives, to
name calling, and to finally even a potential fight. Thus we may have a
“mild dissension” (An mild, emotional exchange, or a manageable argument),
to a “strong dissension” which gets loud, intense, very emotional. The
result, of course, is "division," or "standing apart."
Can this ever happen among Christians? Yes, it can and I saw it happen many
years ago at a large Christian gatherings where two older men started arguing about a seat and
then started shouting at each other, right before services. I was passing by;
I heard the loud exchange and quickly put an end
to it. It looked as though a fight would have ensued at any moment, and it
probably would have, had I not been there.
Divisions are a manifestation of carnality. The two men who were striving
about a seat at a Christian gathering were manifesting a perfect example of
1 Cor. 3:3 “For where there are envy, strife, and divisions
among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?”
What kind of attitude should a Christian have when a discussion
starts getting too hot?
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then
"peaceable," "gentle," "willing to yield," full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and
A truly Christian attitude "values peace," and
approaches discussions and differences with "gentleness." Finally, a
spiritual Christian will "yield" so as not to allow arguments to escalate.
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The next article will address the next work of the flesh:
The Works of the Flesh:
The Fruits of the
© Copyright, Michael