9 But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.
Paul previously argued that sound doctrine is profitable. Now he turned to the pointlessness of arguing about unprofitable doctrine.
Turning from the doctrines of the incarnation, regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit, Paul warned Titus about those who make a big deal about things of little consequence. The “but” contrasts the wonderful doctrines in the first eight verses.
avoid foolish disputes,
This is the first of four warnings. Titus was to “avoid foolish disputes.”
Disputes in Crete had to do with the minutiae of the Mosaic Law. Doctrinal arguments based on pure speculation are futile and a waste of time.
1 Tim. 6: 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions,
2 Tim. 2: 23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.
The second warning to Titus was to avoid disputes about “genealogies.” “Genealogies” were speculations about origins of family trees and descendants. People thought these speculations had significance. This is not a warning against studying genealogies of Scripture. Biblical genealogies are important in part for ratification and identification of the Messiah.
1 Ti 1: 4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.
The third warning dealt with contention. “Contentions” are quarrels that create a sense of strife. Cretans loved to enter religious debating societies. There were many there who loved strife.
and strivings about the law;
The fourth warning involves battles over the law. Mention of “the law” indicates that the conflict dealt with issues about the Mosaic Law. “Strivings” is always plural, indicating multiple battles over the law.
Ja 4: 1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?
for they are unprofitable
“Unprofitable” refers to a useless exercise. It is a vain or empty pursuit to become involved in meaningless disputes about irrelevant doctrine. It bears no eternal fruit.
“Useless” refers to worthless debate that has no practical value.
Local church leaders must avoid divisions that cause long-range damage to the church.
When a church has the atmosphere of schism and division, it will lose its effectiveness to itself, the world, and the community.
Those attracted to novel doctrine do not trust the plain, unadulterated Word of God to meet their needs. They value only what they conceive to be true. It is a grave waste of time. Ministry priority requires judgment about what are primary and secondary issues.
Paul did not say to avoid all doctrinal debate. There are some issues worth disputing (1:9).
Titus 1: 14 not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.