Identifying False Teachers | Titus 1:10-16

Week 5 | Study Guide & Sermon


For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. (Titus 1:10-11)

They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. (Titus 1:16)


We have now discussed for two weeks Paul’s idea of church leadership. First, we established that the New Testament ideal for leadership was a plurality of elders, working and serving together for the good of the local church. Second, we analyzed the qualifications and responsibilities of being an overseer. Though he listed many requirements, they could all be summed up into saying that elder must be above reproach. As for the responsibilities, Paul calls the elder God’s steward and emphasizes the responsibility to teach the Scriptures.

We close out chapter one and our discussion of leadership today. Yet where we previously discussed how a leader should live, we now discuss what an elder should not look like. The primary topic of these final verses of chapter one is the need to properly identify and rebuke false teachers within the church, since they are able to lead away people from the truth by teaching what they ought not to teach.

Throughout this section of text, Paul jumps back and forth between listing characteristics for the false teachers and reminding Titus to rebuke them. Writers across the New Testament warn for us to be watchful of false teachers. Jesus Himself warned: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits (Matt. 7:15-16).” Paul aims in these six verses to help us know what fruits to look for in a false prophet’s life.

Read verses 10-11 and discuss the following.

  1. Paul begins his description of false teachers by calling them insubordinate, ones who do not submit themselves to authority. In what ways are false teachers always insubordinate?
  2. Can you think of well-known examples of preachers who might be empty-talkers or deceivers?

Read verses 12-14 and discuss the following.

  1. Knowing particularly that those on the island of Crete were known for their immorality, Paul encourages Titus to rebuke them sharply. What did Paul hope to achieve commanding Titus to rebuke them?
  2. How should biblical rebuking look, and in what ways can it be abused, misused, or unused?

Read verses 15-16 and discuss the following.

  1. The apostle ends the chapter by claiming that these false teachers profess to know God but deny Him by their works. In what ways can our actions contradict our words?


  • Take time to consider how your verbal profession of Christ matches your daily actions. List a few ways that you might grow in better living out your faith.
  • Pray specifically for anyone you know that submits themselves to false teachings, and pray for wisdom to identify false teachers.

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