Should We Judge False Teachers Publicly or Privately?

Is it wrong to address false teachers publicly without first confronting them privately?

We know God wants us to be aware of false teachings and false teachers (Matthew 7:15-20; Ephesians 5:11; 1 John 4:1-6). 

But someone recently asked me if Matthew 18 requires that we privately confront celebrities, politicians, authors, pastors, and teachers before addressing their beliefs.

Great question.

Matthew 18:15-17 discusses church discipline and commands private confrontation before passing formal church judgment on someone. This gives the person the opportunity to repent.

Luke 17:3-4 talks about personal relationships, and while it doesn't specifically command private confrontation, it seems to suggest it. 

Other passages such as Galatians 6:1 and James 5:19-20 talk about confronting sinners, but they don’t specify private confrontation.

In Galatians 2:11-16, Paul confronted Peter publicly when Peter reverted to Jewish law-keeping.

So what's the answer?

The only time private confrontation is commanded is in relationship to church discipline. However, it seems both biblical and logical to privately confront people who've personally offended us. 

No matter how we confront someone, it's important to avoid mockery and hearsay, making sure our information is correct and our quotes are accurate and in context. 

But nothing in Scripture commands us to privately confront public figures before addressing false beliefs which they've shared publicly.   


Dear Christians, let's make sure we're carefully examining the teachings we hear, whether we hear them in our churches, online, in popular entertainment, or in books. And we must realize that most false teachings are based on some truth and some error because half truths are always more effective than outright lies.

See the Bible Love Notes Collection Half-Truths Many Christians Believe.

Is it wrong to address false teachers publicly without first confronting them privately?

Bible Love Notes

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