Q: Is it wrong to invest time in genealogies, family trees, etc.? I refer to Titus 3:9.

A: Titus 3:9 reads, “But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.” A similar verse is 1 Timothy 1:4: “Nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.”

In these passages the apostle Paul is dealing contextually with sound doctrine. Paul was warning both Titus and Timothy about certain professing teachers who got involved with genealogies in the Old Testament, adding to them speculative and fictional ideas beyond what was said. Soon they would be dealing with heresy rather than facts. Incidentally, this type of “adding to” Scripture is a trap that we can fall into. We must be careful not to go beyond what the Bible is saying in any given passage or doctrine. Fads can easily slip into the church and cause all sorts of division and error. Notice that this obsession with genealogies is right in line with “contentions and strivings.” Those involved in these matters are called “warped and sinning” (Titus 3:11), and they do not carefully maintain profitable good works (v. 8).

So the passages are not truly talking about one’s interest in ancestry, developing a family tree, and so forth. Of course, anything can become sinful if it takes the place of what God wants us to do.

Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send your Bible questions to nolson@garbc.org, or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173-4806.