"Sect" (Latin, secta, from sequi, "to follow") is in the New Testament the translation of hairesis, from haireo, "to take," "to choose"; also translated "heresy," not heresy in the later ecclesiastical sense, but a school or party, a sect, without any bad meaning attached to it. The word is applied to schools of philosophy; to the Pharisees and Sadducees among the Jews who adhered to a common religious faith and worship; and to the Christians. It is translated "sect" (Acts 5:17, of the Sadducees; Acts 15:5, of the Pharisees; Acts 24:5, of the Nazarenes; Acts 26:5, of the Pharisees; Acts 28:22, of the Christians); also the Revised Version (British and American) Acts 24:14 (the King James Version and the English Revised Version margin "heresy"), "After the Way which they call a sect, so serve I the God of our fathers" (just as the Pharisees were "a sect"); it is translated "heresies" (1 Corinthians 11:19, margin "sects," the American Standard Revised Version "factions," margin "Greek: `heresies' "; the English Revised Version reverses the American Standard Revised Version text and margin; Galatians 5:20, the American Standard Revised Version "parties," margin "heresies"; the English Revised Version reverses text and margin; 2 Peter 2:1, "damnable heresies," the Revised Version (British and American) "destructive heresies," margin "sects of perdition"); the "sect" in itself might be harmless; it was the teaching or principles which should be followed by those sects that would make them "destructive." Hairesis occurs in 1 Macc 8:30 ("They shall do it at their pleasure," i.e. "choice"); compare Septuagint Leviticus 22:18,21.
W. L. Walker