As we shall see, the Bible has a lot to say about rebuking. The word “rebuke” can mean “to charge, convict, or refute” and thus it is a solemn thing and should only be done when one is guilty of a serious offense. Believers are given the authority to rebuke in Titus 2:15, “Speak these things, exhort, and REBUKE WITH ALL AUTHORITY.”  Paul told young Timothy (and all believers!) to be ready to rebuke in 2nd Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, REBUKE, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching.” Now I will give you scriptures to show WHO should be rebuked and WHY they deserve to be rebuked.

1) FALSE TEACHERS are to be rebuked for PERVERTING THE TRUTH FOR MONEY. In Titus 1:9b-11, 13 Paul exhorted elders (see verses 5-9a) to “Exhort and convict those who contradict. For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, TEACHING THINGS WHICH THEY OUGHT NOT, FOR THE SAKE OF DISHONEST GAIN…Therefore REBUKE THEM SHARPLY, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.” These men were seeking to put people under the law for salvation, not because they wanted to see people saved, but because they desired to win converts so they could be given money by them. They seem to be like those spoken of in 2nd Timothy 3:6, “For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts.” Paul says their “mouths must be stopped” and to do this the elders were told to “rebuke them sharply.” This would not be a gentle word of rebuke, but a blistering reproof exposing their erroneous doctrines and their motives. It should be done PUBLICLY so all can learn of their error and be delivered from any teaching they may have imbibed.

2) A SINNING BROTHER OR SISTER is to be rebuked if they OFFEND YOU. We read of this in Luke 17:3, “Take heed to yourselves. If your BROTHER SINS AGAINST YOU, REBUKE HIM; and if he repents, forgive him.” This would be a PRIVATE REBUKE, for it is a personal offense and should be dealt with personally. It should also be done GENTLY, for your goal is to see them restored to fellowship with the Lord and with you. Paul’s words in Galatians 6:1 instructs us as to this, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” Matthew 18:15 teaches us the same thing: “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” This form of rebuke is so important, and if it were done more often (instead of going to others and spreading the news of their sin), unity and fellowship among believers would be maintained.

3) SINNING ELDERS should be rebuked PUBLICLY. In 1st Timothy 5:17 & 19 we read, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor….Those who ARE SINNING REBUKE IN THE PRESENCE OF ALL.” Elders are in a position of public leadership and thus if they are LIVING IN UNJUDGED SIN or TEACHING FALSE DOCTRINE they should be REBUKED PUBLICLY as an act of church discipline. Their sin is so serious for it affects the testimony of everyone in the local church and thus the public rebuke would serve to clear the assembly of wrongdoing by exposing his sin. It would also teach other elders (and all believers) not to sin! It should be mentioned though that the church should be absolutely certain that the elder is sinning. This will have to be confirmed by witnesses, as we see in verse 18, “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. I would encourage you to see a clear example of an elder being rebuked publicly in Galatians 2:11-21 where the Apostle Paul rebuked the Apostle Peter for misrepresenting the gospel.

These examples all teach us that God, who is holy, instructs us to rebuke those are teaching false doctrines or living in sin. We could cite many other examples but let me close by saying that the Lord Jesus Himself often rebuked the religious hypocrites when He was here on earth (see Matthew 15:1-9 and 23:1-36) and from the glory He rebukes backslidden saints with these words, “As many as I love, I REBUKE and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19). We see that here too a rebuke is meant to cause one to REPENT so that fellowship can be restored. The next verse teaches that clearly, for Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (verse 20).  (432.3)  (DO)