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Appendix
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A8  Church Unity: Make us One!

In the garden of Gethsemane just before His betrayal, arrest and crucifixion, Jesus prayed for the disciples. Part of that prayer was His prayer for unity among His disciples:


Jesus prayed... 

  • "that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me. The glory which you have given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and you in me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that you sent me and loved them, even as you loved me" (John 17:21-23).


You may have noticed that sometimes people don't get along. Disagreement may turn into arguments. Arguments may result in divisions. So, you can see why Jesus prayed to the Father for unity among the disciples. By the way, if you believe in Jesus Christ, you are a disciple. Chapter A5 in the appendix shows from the scriptures that all Christians are disciples. In verse 20, Jesus stated that His prayer was not only for the disciples with Him at that time, but "for those also who will believe in me through their word". That means you. You have believed through their word. So, Jesus was praying for unity among all Christians.


Let me share another scripture from the words of the apostle Paul:

  • "If any man doesn't obey our word in this letter, note that man, that you have no company with him, to the end that he may be ashamed. Don't count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother" (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15).

Paul's command of non-association with a divisive person is consistent with Jesus's prayer for unity. The purpose of the command is to bring unity where there are divisions. But how do we bring about unity? There are many scriptures which teach, in detail, how to achieve unity. You will see them as you continue reading.


After participating in group worship and Bible studies for over forty years, I have rarely encountered an argumentative and critical participant. But it does happen. And when it does, it can hinder the growth of the saints. 


Merely hearing the arguing of others is harmful to those who hear:

"Remind them of these things, charging them in the sight of the Lord, that they don't argue about words, to no profit, to the subverting of those who hear. (2 Timothy 2:14). 


 Argumentative behavior could be the result of being a disobedient disciple. On the other hand, the offender could be a false disciple. In fact, the religious leadership in the days of Jesus' crucifixion was controlled by unbelievers. Jesus called them "Sons of Satan" (John 8:13,34). Subchapter A4 titled, "Yahweh", has much to say about this.


After many attempts over many years to coexist with argumentative people and after prayers to God to bring His words into my heart to help those children of God who have similar struggles, I present here the results of my prayers. These words of God have proved true over many years. These scriptures are applicable to conduct in Bible study groups as well as other areas of life. Please prayerfully consider these words of God. Their inclusion in this subchapter has been the result of years of prayer, frustration, observation of scripture and observation of conduct in and out of the house of God. The compilation of these scriptures has been an eye opening experience for me. It has exposed my errors in responding to angry and argumentative people.


The primary way to bring healing into a group where there is contradiction, arguing, disputing, etc. is to prayerfully quote this scripture: "Do all things without complaining or arguing" (Philippians 2:14). Quote this passage regularly in meetings where the offender is present. Ask God to grant repentance to the offender (2 Timothy 2:25).


Three books in the Bible have much to say about dealing with argumentative behavior in the church. They are 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus. All three books are short and contiguous to each other in the New Testament with numerous instructions and information regarding this topic. One would do well to pray through each book numerous times before responding to argumentative people.


According to scripture...

a) Believers are instructed to agree with one another.

b) We are to agree with one another. So, instead of saying, "I disagree," ask, "Where in scripture may I read about that?"

c) Believers should not: speculate, quarrel, grumble, dispute, wrangle about words or pass judgement on other's opinions.

d) Our response to disagreement reveals our state of fellowship with God.

e) Strife, jealousies and divisions come from walking in the flesh.

f) Divisions are necessary to show who in the group is approved by God.

g) God's bondservants should gently correct but not dispute those in opposition. 

h) We should not associate with those who are given to anger:

God's bondservants should gently correct those in opposition. If their responses indicate that the opposition is one given to anger or hot tempered, then association with that person should end. God's bondservant is not to correct fools, mockers, scoffers or wicked men because it is futile. God's bondservant should stay away from strife and not associate with those who tend to display anger.  A factious person should be warned twice. If this type of behavior persists after a second warning, don't associate with that person.

i) We should respond to others in the presence of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5).


The above summary and the scriptures it is based on raises several questions:

1) How do we agree with those whom we disagree with?

2) How do we "gently correct" someone while not disputing with them?

3) How do we "gently correct" one given to anger while not associating with that person. 


Those issues will be reconciled below.  The scriptures revealing the truths of a - i above are presented below, along with reconciliations.





a) Believers are instructed to agree with one another. 

  • "Now I beg you, brothers, through the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment" ( 1 Corinthians 1:10).


We are supposed to speak the same thing. But how can we do this when we don't have identical doctrines? The next micro-subchapter will show how to begin this process towards agreement. 



b) We are to agree with one another. So, instead of saying, "I disagree," ask, "Where in scripture may I read about that?" 

  • "10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Beroea. When they arrived, they went into the Jewish synagogue.11 Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so" (Acts 7:10-11).


We are not to blindly accept the doctrines presented by teachers. We are to be "noble."  We should be "examining the scriptures daily to see whether these things were so." 

Often in discussions and conversations, someone will present a doctrine that you haven't heard, have not been convinced of or do not agree with. Paul's instruction in the previous section that we should "agree" is our guide at these times. So, instead of saying "I disagree" (which often leads to each party trying to prove that they are correct), say, "Where in scripture may I read about that?" Ask this question with love, joy and light heartedness. In this way we are moving towards unity, so that we can "say the  same thing." We are to seek agreement. The way to do this it to go to the authority for truth, the scriptures. In this way, we see if the foundation for our belief comes from scripture, tradition of men or something else. This method will not instantly achieve perfect unity but puts us on the path towards unity instead of a path towards division. We are not to persist with the intention of bringing the other party to admit that they are wrong but are to be "fully assured" in our own mind (Romans 14:5 as explained in the next micro-subchapter).

When you ask, "Where in scripture may I read about that?", you will learn information that will determine your next step. Watch in prayer as you await the response to your question (Colossians 4:2, subchapter 2.4). Observe to see if the other person responds in the Spirit or with agitation (in the flesh). If the other person is happy to tell you where to read about it, then read it. You may learn something. 

But if you don't see the doctrine in that passage, you may ask the other person to explain how that truth arises from that passage. Both of you may learn from this process. By asking, "Where in scripture may I read about that?", you will be gently and possibly unintentionally correcting those in opposition (in obedience to 2 Timothy 2:23-26, subchapter A8g below). And your gentle correction can be accomplished without disputing, without indicating that you disagree.

However, if the other person is agitated when you ask, "Where in scripture may I read about that?", then drop the issue. If they provide a scripture, read it on your own time. But don't keep bringing it up. If you keep bringing it up, it becomes an argument. If you are convinced that the other party is incorrect, pray that God will reveal His truth to that person (subchapter 4.2d). If you believe that the other person is sinning, pray the prayer of humble rebuke (subchapter 4.3L). If the other person repeatedly displays anger over time, then they are one who is "given to anger" Do not associate with that person (discussed in A8h below).

If a scripture is one that is known to be controversial, you might consider saying, "Some see x in this passage. Some see y."  Then leave it at that. Remember, Paul instructed us to agree. We can agree that, "Some see x in this passage. Some see y." We are to be "fully assured" in our own mind. Again, the response of others to this method leads to the actions I described in the previous paragraph. This could mean disassociation.


c) Believers should not: speculate, quarrel, grumble, dispute, argue about words or pass judgment on other's opinions.

  • "Do all things without complaining and arguing" (Philippians 2:14).
  •  "Remind them of these things, charging them in the sight of the Lord, that they don't argue about words, to no profit, to the subverting of those who hear" (2 Timothy 2:14).
  • "Now accept one who is weak in faith, but not for disputes over opinions. 2 One man has faith to eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 Don't let him who eats despise him who doesn't eat. Don't let him who doesn't eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you who judge another's servant? To his own lord he stands or falls. Yes, he will be made to stand, for God has power to make him stand. 5 One man esteems one day as more important. Another esteems every day alike. Let each man be fully assured in his own mind" (Romans 14:1-5).
  • "shun foolish questionings, genealogies, strife, and disputes about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain" (Titus 3:9).


What is the difference between discussing and arguing? In a discussion, one asks the other party how their view is established by scripture for the purpose of being "fully assured in his own mind" (Romans 14:5 above). One may also ask the other person how they reconcile their doctrine to passages that may be inconsistent with their doctrine. This is done while "walking by the Spirit." Don't say, "You are wrong."  If you are discussing a divisive issue with a person in authority in your church, it is probably better to discuss it in private. So, in a discussion, one is pursuing truth instead of trying to prove oneself right and the other person wrong. 


In a discussion, we are acting in humility, understanding that we may be wrong. Scripture was not intended to answer every question. That is why Paul wrote " Now I know in part, but then I will know fully" (1 Corinthians 13:12).


If we are trying to prove that we are right and the other person wrong, that is arguing. Anger will be present.



d) Our response to disagreement reveals our state of fellowship with God.

There are two states for the Christian: 1) Walking by the Spirit and 2) Fulfilling the Lust of the Flesh.

  • "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you won't fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, that you may not do the things that you desire. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit God's Kingdom.
  • 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let's also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let's not become conceited, provoking one another, and envying one another" (Galatians 5:16-25).



e) Strife, jealousies and divisions come from walking in the flesh.

  • "Brothers, I couldn't speak to you as to spiritual, but as to fleshly, as to babies in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not with meat; for you weren't yet ready. Indeed, you aren't ready even now, 3 for you are still fleshly. For insofar as there is jealousy, strife, and factions among you, aren't you fleshly, and don't you walk in the ways of men?" (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).


Paul is writing to Christians. We know this because he addressed them as "brothers" and as "babies in Christ."  Paul wrote that they were not "spiritual" but were "fleshly" (v 1). They were babies in the faith and needed baby food. They couldn't understand a mature spiritual message. So Paul did not speak "wisdom" to them since wisdom is meant for those "who are full grown" (1 Corinthians 2:6).


The existence of jealousy, strife and factions was Paul's proof that they were "fleshly" instead of "spiritual."


In Galatians, Paul identified these three activities as the type of things which one who is walking by the Spirit does not do.


  • "16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you won't fulfill the lust of the flesh... 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, orgies" (Galatians 5:16-21).


The Greek word underlying "factions" in 1 Corinthians 3:3 is the same Greek word which underlies "divisions" in Galatians 5:20. So "factions" and "divisions" are the same thing. The point is this: Paul knew that the Corinthians were walking by the flesh instead of walking by the Spirit because they had strife, divisions and jealousies.



f) Divisions are necessary to show who in the group is approved by God.

Later in the book of 1 Corinthians Paul wrote:

  • "For there also must be factions among you, that those who are approved may be revealed among you" (1 Corinthians 11:19)


In other words, they weren't supposed to have divisions but divisions were necessary to reveal who was approved (who was walking in the Spirit).

Those who have a practice of responding to disagreement in the spirit (rather than the flesh) are shown to be approved. So, those who respond with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, and self-control are shown to be "walking by the Spirit."  Those who respond with hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries and divisions are shown to be fulfilling "the lust of the flesh."



g) God's bondservants should gently correct those in opposition.

  • "But refuse foolish and ignorant questionings, knowing that they generate strife. 24 The Lord's servant must not quarrel, but be gentle toward all, able to teach, patient, 25 in gentleness correcting those who oppose him: perhaps God may give them repentance leading to a full knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may recover themselves out of the devil's snare, having been taken captive by him to his will" (2 Timothy 2:23-26).


Prayerful Observation:
The primary way to gently correct one who contradicts, argues, disputes, etc. is to prayerfully quote this scripture: "Do all things without complaining or arguing" (Philippians 2:14). Quote this passage regularly in meetings where the offender is present. Ask God to grant repentance to the offender.



h) Disassociation with those given to anger:

  •  "It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling" (Proverbs 20:3). 


Note that quarreling is something that every fool does. It is a trait of being a fool.

  • "A wrathful man stirs up contention, but one who is slow to anger appeases strife" (Proverbs 15:18).
  • "One who corrects a mocker invites insult. One who reproves a wicked man invites abuse. Don't reprove a scoffer, lest he hate you. Reprove a wise person, and he will love you. Instruct a wise person, and he will be still wiser. Teach a righteous person, and he will increase in learning" (Proverbs 9:7-9)


Prayerful Observation:
How do we identify mockers and scoffers? One who responds to correction with insults is a mocker. One who responds to a reproof with hate is a scoffer. This can be observed in the above verse, Proverbs 9:7-9.


  • "Drive out the mocker, and strife will go out; yes, quarrels and insults will stop" (Proverbs 22:10).
  • "Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with grain, yet his foolishness will not be removed from him" ( Proverbs 27:22)
  • "A rebuke enters deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred lashes into a fool" (Proverbs 17:10).
  •  "A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty, for if you rescue him, you must do it again" (Proverbs 19:19).


  • "Drive out the mocker, and strife will go out; yes, quarrels and insults will stop" (Proverbs 22:10).
  • "Don't befriend a hot-tempered man, and don't associate with one who harbors anger: lest you learn his ways, and ensnare your soul" (Proverbs 22:24-25).
  • "shun foolish questionings, genealogies, strife, and disputes about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. Avoid a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a one is perverted and sins, being self-condemned" (Titus 3:9-10).


The last three verses indicate that we should stop associating with those who insult, ridicule or taunt others (mockers), those who harbor anger and those who are factious (contentious or argumentative). We don't often use the word "factious", so it is helpful to look up synonyms to this word to better understand its application. A factious person should be warned twice. If this type of behavior persists after a second warning, don't associate with that person. Those who mock, "harbor anger" or are "factious" should not be associated with. Otherwise, others in your group will "learn his ways" (Proverbs 22:24-25 above). Such a person draws the group away from unity... away from speaking "the same thing" (subchapter A8a above). Here is Proverbs 22:24-25 again:


  • "Don't befriend a hot-tempered man, and don't associate with one who harbors anger: lest you learn his ways, and ensnare your soul" (Proverbs 22:24-25).


Prayerful Observation:
As I talked to my Lord, Yahweh, about this passage,  these thoughts came to my mind: I am not to befriend everyone. If I befriend a hot-tempered man or associate with one who harbors anger, I will learn his ways and ensnare my soul. The snare is a loop made with a knot that captures a victim. It is a noose. It is used by Satan (1 Timothy 3:7, 2 Timothy 2:6).  The snare brings ruin and destruction (1 Timothy 6:9). The snare is also the metaphor used for those who rejected Christ and were hardened so that they did not see or hear... they were ensnared. (Romans 11:7-9). The snare is a very serious and ominous metaphor. 

I noticed as I prayed that many of these verses about non-association were from the  Old Testament, an age when saints were not indwelt with the person of the Holy Spirit or His power. I wondered if I, being indwelt by Him and His power, may be able to befriend the hot-tempered man and associate with one given to anger without learning his ways and becoming ensnared. The answer is no. My Lord brought me to 1 Corinthians 15:33:

  • "Don't be deceived! "Evil companionships corrupt good morals"  ( 1 Corinthians 15:33).


1 Corinthians 15:33 was written to Post-Pentecost Christians, who were indwelt by the Holy Spirit and His power. So, no... the Holy Spirit does not give us immunity from being corrupted by companions. 

We in the Post-Pentecost age, even though we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit... can still be ensnared by associations with those given to anger. We should not befriend the hot tempered man or associate with one given to anger. That could even mean that you should stop going to a church gathering that involves that type of person. Their behavior is contagious... leading to griping, complaining and all sorts of judgmental behaviors. Their behavior is a snare to you.



i) Speaking with Continual Consciousness of God's Presence

The only way that I am able to stay "in the Spirit" while leading a Bible study when a very argumentative and critical person is in the group is to be continually conscious of Christ's presence within me as I am speaking every sentence. I must maintain this consciousness as I hear each criticism. 


  • "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16).
  • "bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).


Walking by the Spirit is described in subchapter 4.7, "Walk by the Spirit." The depth of this walk is described in subchapter 2.5, "How Intimate Can this Fellowship Be?"


The only way which I have received to train one's spirit into this connection with Christ is presented in subchapters 1.1 through 1.3. After a very long time of connecting with Christ through God's words in scripture, one may become deeply grounded in real, interactive experience with the powerful, risen and indwelling Christ. By "a very long time", I mean years... years with suffering. That has been my experience. But I started in Christ being very dull,  full of self faith and determined to avoid suffering. It may come more quickly for you.


Jeanne Guyon's book Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ (ISBN-10: 0940232006, ISBN-13: 978-0940232006) and Brother Lawrence's book The Practice of the Presence of God With Spiritual Maxims have helped many people live in the presence of Christ. I have benefited greatly from each.


Remaining in the conscious presence of Christ as you lead or participate in a Bible study is a necessity if you are going to hold your temper as you begin encounters with an argumentative and critical person in your group. If, over time, you see that anger is not an unusual response for a particular person, but instead that the person "harbors anger" or is "factious" then don't associate with that person (subchapter A8h above). If a person persists in displaying anger or being factious after the second warning, associations with that person should end.



Prayer for Unity: "Lord, make us one!"

If you have problems with quarreling or anger in you Bible study group, I suggest that the group spend a number of meetings in study and prayer over the scriptures in this subchapter A8 and subchapter 1.5. Pray the prayer for unity that Jesus prayed in John 17:20-23.


If afterwards you still have problems with anger and arguing in your group, then implement the remedies provided in the scriptures in this subchapter A8. We really shouldn't expect God to answer our prayer for unity if we disobey the remedies He has provided in scripture to bring it about. 


Here is the prayer that Jesus prayed for our unity:

  • "20 Not for these only do I pray, but for those also who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me. 22 The glory which you have given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, even as we are one; 23 I in them, and you in me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that you sent me and loved them, even as you loved me" (John 17:20-23).


This prayer of Jesus is explained in detail in subchapter 4.4d.



Concluding Remarks

If you know of scripture which should be included in this presentation of God's words regarding quarrels, please contact me using the "Ask a Question" link at the bottom of each page or the ask a question icon at the top right of each page. Please reference this subchapter, subchapter A8. If you know of a better presentation, please let me know. The above understanding is the best which I have received so far. 


God Bless!




Group Discussion Questions

Please prayerfully answer the following questions. 


1) How can we obey the command to "speak the same thing"? (a)

2) What question may we ask which will enable us to gently correct others and lead our group towards unity, while not disputing with them?

3) What is the difference between an argument and a discussion? (c)

4) What are three things that one who is walking in the Spirit will not do? (e)

5) What kind of person should we refuse to associate with? (h)

6) How can we gently correct others?

7) Instead of saying "I disagree", what responses lead to unity? (b)

8) If we ask another  "Where in scripture may I read about that?" what response should we take note of? (b)

9) How does watching in prayer help bring about unity? (b)

10)  If we ask  "Where in scripture may I read about that?" and we don't see their doctrine in the scripture we are directed to, how should we respond? (b)

11) Are you praying the prayer for unity?

"Don't befriend a hot-tempered man, 
and don't associate with one who harbors anger: 
lest you learn his ways
and ensnare your soul"  
Proverbs 22:24-25

Have a question or want to share how this book has impacted your life?