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The Apostasy of Alexander and Hymenaeus in 1 Timothy 1:18-20

Apostasy  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:01:12
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The Apostasy of Alexander and Hymenaeus in 1 Timothy 1:18-20

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First Timothy 1:18-20 reveals that Hymenaeus was one of these unidentified pastors in Ephesus who was in apostasy and was disciplined by the apostle Paul and eventually expelled from the fellowship of the church in that city.
First Timothy 1:18 This command I entrust to you Timothy, my spiritual child in accordance with the prophecies previously spoken about you in order that by means of them, you may continue to make it your habit of being engaged in spiritual combat, which is a noble combat 19 by continuing to make it a habit of possessing faith resulting in a conscience that is divine good in quality and character, which certain individuals because they themselves have rejected, have suffered shipwreck with regards to their faith. 20 Among whom are Hymenaeus as well as Alexander, whom I handed over to Satan in order that they will be disciplined not to blaspheme. (My translation)
His sin is revealed by Paul in 2 Timothy 2:18.
2 Timothy 2:18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. (ESV)
Therefore, we can see from these two passages that Hymenaeus was teaching that the resurrection or rapture of the church had already taken place, which upset the faith of many Christians in Ephesus.
The Thessalonian church also was exposed to this false teaching prompting Paul to write two epistles to them to resolve the problem.
Paul’s statement in 1 Timothy 1:20 makes clear that Hymenaeus did not stop propagating this teaching after being confronted by Paul and ordered to do so.
This led to the apostle administering church discipline and expelling him from the fellowship of the church.
If he had stopped, Paul would have restored him to the fellowship of the church.
We know this because of Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 5 and 2 Corinthians 2 where Paul ordered the Corinthians to discipline a man who was having an incestuous relationship.
When he repented, Paul ordered that the Corinthians restore him to fellowship with themselves.
The fact that Hymenaeus was a pastor is clearly indicated by Paul’s statements throughout chapter one of First Timothy.
The fact that Paul mentions him by name in Second Timothy 2:17-18 as going astray from the truth by teaching the rapture had already taken place and thus upsetting the faith of some Christians makes clear he was a pastor who was in apostasy because he was teaching false doctrine.
A non-Christian can never go astray from the truth but only a Christian.
This individual was among a group of pastors who suffered the shipwreck of their faith.
That this was a group of pastors who suffered the shipwreck of their faith is indicated in that they are described in First Timothy 1:3 as teaching false doctrine and being occupied with myths and genealogies rather than fulfilling their responsibilities to administrate the household of God by studying, teaching, praying and setting an example for the flock in Ephesus.
Paul also describes them in First Timothy 1:7 as desiring to be teachers of the Law but yet don’t understand the purpose of the Law and were misapplying it.
Furthermore in 2 Timothy 2:17-18, Paul says that Hymenaeus was teaching that the resurrection had already taken place.
So it is clear that Hymenaeus was a pastor.
He was not an unbeliever and neither were any of these unidentified individuals in Second Timothy chapter one who were teaching false doctrine because Paul has no authority over an unbeliever but only believers.
Thus, he would not have the authority to have these individuals stop what they were doing unless they were under his authority.
So we know from Paul’s statements in Second Timothy 1:18-20 that Hymenaeus was removed from the fellowship of the church at Ephesus by Paul.
The apostle Paul went through the various stages of church discipline and when this man refused to repent, Paul had no other recourse but to remove him from the fellowship of the church.
The fact that Philetus is mentioned in association with Hymenaeus would indicate that Philetus was also removed from the fellowship of the church at Ephesus since it would be forbidden for any Christian to have fellowship with Hymenaeus after he was removed because of being unrepentant.
Like Hymenaeus, “Philetus” refers to another pastor in Ephesus who was communicating the false doctrine of the Judaizers to members of the body of Christ in Ephesus.
Philetus is never mentioned anywhere else in Scripture.
Thus, Second Timothy 2:16-18 provides us the only information about the man.
Like Hymenaeus, in Second Timothy 2:18 Paul accuses this man of teaching that the resurrection or rapture of the church had already taken place.
So it is clear that like Hymenaeus, Philetus was a pastor.
Like Hymenaeus, Philetus was not an unbeliever because an unbeliever would never teach the church about the rapture or the resurrection of the church since they do not believe in a resurrection of the church or the resurrection of the human body after death for that matter.
The fact that these two men are singled out is another indication that they were teachers in the church at Ephesus who had rejected Paul’s apostolic teaching and had entered into apostasy.
So Paul’s statements in Second Timothy 2:16-18 indicate that Hymenaeus and Philetus were Christian pastors who were in apostasy and were removed from the fellowship of the church at Ephesus.
The church at Ephesus under Paul and Timothy administered church discipline to these two men and when they refused to repent they were removed from the fellowship of the church.
They were removed for refusing to stop teaching false doctrine, namely they were teaching that the rapture or resurrection of the church had already taken place.
This upset the faith of many Christians in Ephesus who were listening to these two men.
Paul describes their teaching as “words lacking in content which are worldly” which means that their teaching was not in accordance with his apostolic teaching which was the gospel and was in accordance with the lies propagating by Satan’s cosmic system.
Although these two men were removed from the fellowship of the church by Paul and Timothy, they appeared to continue to have a great influence over members of the body of Christ in Ephesus.
This is not surprising because in Second Timothy 1:15, Paul mentions that the majority of Christians in Asia had deserted him upon his arrest and imprisonment by the Roman authorities.
As we noted Ephesus was in Asia so it should not be surprising to the reader that these two individuals would be listened to by any member of the body of Christ in Ephesus.
The fact that their false teaching promotes ungodly living as Paul teaches in Second Timothy 2:16 makes clear that these two men were living ungodly lives.
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