Summary: Paul writes in his letters to Timothy and warns about those who have turned away or deserted him!
FEELING ALL ALONE
In my recent reading of I and II Timothy, I was struck by Paul’s declaration to the young preacher how many had turned from the faith. Although partly as a warning to Timothy, a theme that runs through both letters is to avoid foolish arguments and that some will turn away. Paul offers specific examples of people Timothy knew. He offers personal examples of those who had turned from him. It is a warning to the minister that there will be those who cannot accept sound teaching and those who disappear at the first sign of trouble. In order to better understand this concept, I have separated some of these out and attempted to examine them.
THOSE WHO TURNED AWAY FROM TRUTH:
Hymenaeus and Alexander (is this the coppersmith/metalworker Paul mentions in II Timothy 6:14-15) refused to pay attention their own conscience and have “ruined” (CEB) their faith. King James, Holman Christian Standard Bible, and the New International Version all use the idea of “shipwrecked” when describing what these people have done to their faith. Shipwrecked, I believe, is a much stronger word image, at least for me, because it implies that they have run aground, are not making progress. They are, at best, castaway on an island of error, or clinging to their wrong doctrine to keep from sinking. It is Paul’s desire that while they are under the power of Satan they will learn their lesson.
In the context beginning even a few verses earlier, some had wandered from the truth and sought out those clever sounding arguments because of the love of money. CEB uses a powerful word picture saying that they had impaled themselves on the love of money and brought a great deal of pain into their own lives because money became their goal.
Paul once again names Hymenaeus, this time adding Philetus and describing their particular error—claiming that the resurrection had already taken place—and not only hurting themselves but undermining the faith of others. Paul dealt with the church regarding this false doctrine of the resurrection having already taken place in his first letter to the Corinthians. These men had deviated (intentionally taken a wrong turn) from the truth. Avoid the silly discussions, is Paul’s instruction to Timothy because during this discussions others are forced to choose sides, and some will choose the wrong side. God doesn’t call us to debate with those who are in error, but simply to preach and teach truth.
I am not certain that Alexander the craftsman\metalworker (coppersmith) is the same Alexander named in I Timothy. He may have been the Alexander in Acts 19 who is brought forth, possibly because of his membership in the artisan guild, whose defense of THE WAY is shouted down by the people of Ephesus who chose their own God, Artemis.
Whether or not he is the same Alexander is unclear. However, the Alexander that Paul refers to in these verses had really hurt Paul. This could be because Paul considered him an ally in the faith and then he switched sides. I believe Paul was deeply hurt. He says that this man “has really hurt me” (CEB). This is z really good way of Paul describing the depths of the personal injury he felt by this man’s opposition.