Heresies vs. Factions
For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you, 1st Corinthians 11:19.
I have observed that many preachers when quoting 1st Corinthians 11:19, will quickly say that what is meant by heresies is sects or factions. They get this from their extremely limited understanding of the Greek Text, and by having read it in a commentary. As usual, the King James Bible stated it perfectly. There must also be heresies among you.
As many of you know, the King James Bible translators and its editors throughout the years placed alternative readings in the margin of the bible. The translators themselves were restricted as to what they were allowed to put in the margins of the bible.
Rule #4 for the translators:
When any word hath divers significations, that to be kept which hath been most commonly used by the most eminent fathers, being agreeable to the propriety of the place and the analogies of faith.
That rule is often interpreted through rule #6.
No marginal notes at all to be affixed, but only for the explanation of the Hebrew or Greek words, which cannot, without some circumlocution, so briefly and fitly be expressed, in the text.
Such quotations of places to be marginally set down as shall serve for the fit reference of one Scripture to another.
King James hated many of the marginal notes in the Geneva Bible. Throughout the middle ages, the Catholic Church controlled those who could read the bible by attaching "glosses" to key verses. A "gloss" is a brief explanation of how that verse was to be interpreted. Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Roman Catholics and many other organizations have found that if they whisper in a bible readers ear while they read, they can keep their adherents safely in the fold.
Marginal notes work well for that work. Therefore the King James Bible was to be free of them. What you will find in most King James Bibles with centerline references is an occasional alternative translation to a keyword. This was most often done when the translators knowingly chose an alternative definition to a word. Men who have read hundreds and thousands of ancient documents in any given language know that no word has a meaning so firmly affixed to a definition that it must always be interpreted exactly the same.
When a first year student of Ancient Greek begins to hyperventilate over the word "heresies" in 1st Corinthians 11:19, and splutter that it means "sects" or "factions", calmly show him that the word "sect" is in the marginal notes. The King James translators weren't stupid. They knew that definition. They rejected it but put it in the margins to keep Reverend Novice's head from exploding.
Why does our bible say "heresies"? Why doesn't it say "sects" or "factions" as the ESV does: for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. What truly makes a sect or faction within a church dangerous to the cohesion of the church is false doctrine. Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners, 1st Corinthians 15:33.
A faction in a church who would prefer a different color carpet, or who like the Clemson University Tigers over the University of South Carolina Gamecocks can get out of hand, but for the most part such differences will always brew within a church. They can even be fun if handled with charity. What hurts a church is the smart alec who seeks a following by dividing the congregation in doctrinal matters.
The Apostle Paul tells you that such men are actually needed in the church. The wise saint of God can watch such a person's manner of life, the fruit of his doctrine and its effect upon those who follow it. He can then compare that to those who follow the truth. God will make it manifest.
Heresies cause sects or factions to form. Sects do not cause heresies to form. Heresy is at the root of church destroying factions. Our King James Bible got it right.