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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Faction

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Among the works of the flesh are ἔρις and ἐριθείαι, ‘strife’ and ‘factions’ (Galatians 5:20). ἐριθεία is selfish intriguing for office (Aristotle, Pol. v. 2, 3), partisanship, party-spirit.

(1) Faction was rampant in the free cities of Greece. Personalities were frequently exalted above principles, and the public good was sacrificed to private ends. Men were partisans before they were patriots. The same spirit penetrated the Church. While St. Paul, Apollos, and Cephas, differing only in personal idiosyncrasies, preached essentially the same gospel, their names quickly became the party-cries of wrangling sects in the Corinthian Church. ‘There are contentions (ἔριδες ‘rivalries’) among you’ (1 Corinthians 1:11); ‘there is among you jealousy and strife’ (ἔρις, 1 Corinthians 3:3), wrote St. Paul to these typical Hellenes. He had to use all his resources of reason and appeal to overcome their ‘strife, jealousy, wraths, factions’ (2 Corinthians 12:20).

(2) St. Paul’s arrival in Rome awoke another, stranger kind of partisanship in the Roman Church (Philippians 1:15-18). His presence moved the preachers of the city; it quickened the evangelical pulse; but, while some began to preach Christ in good-will to him (διʼ εὐδοκίαν), others did it through envy and strife (διὰ φθόνον καί ἔριν), out of faction (έξ ἐριθείας), not purely or sincerely (ἁγνῶς). They emulated his labours in the hope of robbing him of his laurels; then actually imagined that their brilliant successes would ‘add affliction to his bonds.’ But the Paul whose amour proper might have been wounded by shafts of that kind had long ago been ‘crucified with Christ.’ The Paul who lived, or rather in whom Christ lived (Galatians 2:20), only rejoiced if there were indeed greater preachers than himself in Rome. Among true apostles and evangelists there is no room for jealous contention, ignoble rivalry, in the publication of the gospel. Only one thing matters-that Christ be preached and His name glorified. St. Paul’s great-mindedness is similar to that expressed in Browning’s Paracelsus:

‘Lo, I forget my ruin, and rejoice

In thy success, as thou! Let our God’s praise

Go bravely through the world at last! What care

Through me or thee?’

James Strahan.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Faction'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/f/faction.html. 1906-1918.

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