“Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.”
Once again, by calling Timothy “my son,” Paul is displaying affection for someone who has a like mind and action. But then he says that there were prophecies about Timothy! They must have been that he would prove useful to the ministry, and Paul must have brought them up as motivation for Timothy. He implores him that it’s good to fight for Jesus ~ in fact, He’s the only thing worth fighting for ~ and adds that faith and a good conscience (having the Spirit lead you) will help him through the rough times. Those who don’t let the Holy Spirit lead them won’t last long in the faith.
Paul has been shipwrecked several times, so using that word in description to one betraying their faith was probably very personal to him. Now Satan causes us to sin, but God teaches us the consequences.
I have no idea ~ and neither, I imagine, do you ~ who Hymenaeus and Alexander is, and especially Hymenaeus, so I did a bit of research on them. Luckily for us, the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia had a little to go on, which I shall outline for you below in a way that hopefully you will understand.
Hymenaeus (his name derived from “Humenaios,” named after Hymen, the god of marriage) was a heretical teacher in Ephesus and an opponent of Paul. He was mentioned only twice in the Bible: once here in 1 Timothy, and the other time in 2 Timothy 2:17, in association with someone named Philetus. In both references Hymenaeus is mentioned first, which may mean that he was the leader. In the 2 Timothy verse, Hymenaeus (along with Philetus) is included among some people whose babblings would increase into more ungodliness that would “spread like gangrene.” They had pretty much been saying that the resurrection had already happened. All “resurrection” means is that the soul awakens from sin, and so they deduced that this awakening had already happened and there would be no future day in which the dead would hear God’s voice and rise. However, later on Paul says “The Lord knows those who are his” and “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness,” saying that even though Hymenaeus and his counterparts had named the Lord, they were not completely free from wickedness.
Hymenaeus’ teaching had been successful. In 2 Timothy 2:18, it says that it had “destroyed the faith of some.” It’s impossible to tell just how many had fallen away at Hymenaeus’ hands, but each faith destroyed is a soul lost to the devil.
There are more Alexanders in the Bible than just the one mentioned in 1 Timothy, and it’s uncertain whether this one is the same as the ones mentioned in Acts 19:33 and 2 Timothy 4:14. If it is the same man, then Alexander can be seen as a Jewish Ephesian metalworker with a skill as a speaker who opposed Paul personally. But seeing as I can’t tell if they’re all the same person, I’m not going to go very deep into his personal life. I will say, however, that I don’t believe our Alexander is the same as the one in Acts, because in 1 Timothy he is said to have abandoned his faith, while the one in Acts appears to have opposed it all along.
Praying builds a wall of God’s protection and blessing around the person you are praying for (your “prayee,” if you will). Perhaps Paul “handed over to Satan” those who rejected their faith by no longer praying for them. I don’t know how exactly they were “taught not to blaspheme,” and it apparently wasn’t important enough to document in the Bible, though perhaps it would have been useful for Christians today to know.
I will be continuing the 1 Timothy outline with the second chapter, though it may be some time before I post anything from it because I am a bit behind in my studies. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be posting other God-related things, so stay tuned!