What Does It Mean When The Bible Says To Avoid Genealogies In Titus 3:9?

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Many people feel that some of the scriptures are telling people to avoid doing any genealogy in the Bible. The problem with this is that it can get confusing when taken out of context.

In Titus 3:9, the Apostle Paul was not condemning genealogy. Instead, the Apostle Paul was warning us about bragging about our genealogy or making up false information about our ancestors so that we look good. The Apostle Paul was not against genealogy or about us discovering our ancestors.

Titus and The Avoiding Of Genealogies – Titus 3:9

In Titus, the Apostle Paul spoke and referred to as “genealogies” In Titus 3:9 in the Bible, the entire scripture is quoted as saying.

“But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contenions, and strivings about the law: for they are unprofitable and vain.”

King James Version – Bible – Titus 3:9

The Apostle Paul was not condemning genealogy work. This is because, during the time of the Apostle Paul, the importance of genealogy work had been established from the time of Adam. If you remember, at the beginning of the Bible, many prophets would go through the genealogies of their families.

Paul understood that genealogy and knowing your ancestors and where you came from were important parts of life; he was not condemning genealogy.

But what the Apostle Paul was condemning was the misuse of genealogy or making up your ancestors to try to look good in the eyes of others.

I remember years ago I had a customer in the UK. He was buying a new house, and he asked us to help him get a commission of a large-scale oil painting of a man that looked like he had been a famous Army general. I asked him if this was one of his ancestors? He said, “oh no, I’m just making this up as I want people to think that I have an important and famous ancestor.”

I think this is the kind of thing that The Apostle Paul was talking about. He was not saying that doing your genealogy is bad or that you should not know your ancestors, but he said don’t make up who your ancestors are or be prideful because of your ancestors.

The Apostle Paul and Genealogy

We need to remember that the apostle Paul lived in a time of conflict and confusion; many false teachers were teaching about Christ during his lifetime. The Apostle Paul was trying to stop some of these things and have people understand the importance of the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Here are some of the things that were happening when the Apostle Paul wrote those versus in Titus:

  • False Recitings of Genealogies – During the time of teh Apostle Paul there were many apostate teachers who started to recite their genealogies to be able to give themselves authority and claims. Many of the Jews during this time had become arrogant because of their ancestors or those who they believed were their ancestors. Some of them even went so far as to flaunt their lineage. So there’s no doubt that pride of lineage or ancestors was something that Paul was warning us against.
  • Manufacturing False Genealogies – Many of the same teachers during the time of Paul also began to manufacture their genealogy to make themselves look and seem more important than they actually were. They felt this would help give them added weight to their teachings and authority.

These types of practices caused quite a bit of contention among the Jews and the Gentiles. This is why the Apostle Paul condemned this type of genealogy practice.

The Apostle Paul was not condemning genealogy or for us to know our ancestors. Instead, he was condemning the practice of being prideful about our ancestors or manufacturing our genealogy to make us see more important than we actually are.

We Can Learn From The Apostle Paul and His Genealogy Views

As with all things in the Bible, there are things that we can learn from the apostle Paul about genealogy and knowing our ancestors. Here are some of the most important lessons:

  • Pride and Our Genealogies – Being prideful about our ancestors or genealogy is never a good thing. So many times you might hear people brag about an ancestor or who they are descended from. In these scriptures the apostle Paul is essentially warning us against that type of bragging or pridefulness.
  • Manufacturing Fake Records – The Apostle Paul is also warning us about falsifying our genealogy or our lineage so that we can look better than what we actually are. The truth is that everyone’s genealogy has some skeletons in the closet. This is just the nature of genealogical researchers and our ancestors. We need to accept our ancestors for who they are including the good and the bad.

It is these lessons that the apostle Paul is trying to teach us in Titus 39. He is not trying to discourage us from doing our genealogy but instead is warning us about being prideful or manufacturing fake genealogies to make ourselves look better. This is what the apostle Paul is trying to teach us.

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Anita Hummel
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