Hymenaeus and Alexander
Concerning Hymenaeus and Alexander, the apostle Paul in his first epistle to Timothy wrote: “Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:18–20).
Hymenaeus and Alexande were wicked individuals who opposed the truth in the church of Ephesus. Consequently, they “suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith” and so were “handed over to Satan” by the apostle Paul.
Hymenaeus was probably the same teacher of perverted doctrines mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:17. To be recalled only for rebellion and ungodly actions is the height of dishonor. Later, Hymenaeus is mentioned with Philetus, another false teacher (2 Timothy 2:17).
About Alexander, Paul wrote, “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words. At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them” (2 Timothy 4:14-16). Alexander was also another opponent of Paul but it is not clear if he is the same Alexander mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:19.
When Timothy set to go to Rome, he was to be alert of the wicked deceit of Alexander and his kind. Perhaps Alexander had befriended Paul but found it more beneficial to disown the apostle at the trial. Alexander’s attempt to disprove Paul’s words clearly had its effect in causing a negative outcome. In so doing, Alexander won a brief success but lost his eternal life. Perhaps this took place at Paul’s first hearing during the course of his second trial. It may have been that, along with the usual charge of sedition, Paul was charged with starting the burning of Rome.
How to deal with the church offenders?
There is no doubt that because Hymenaeus and Alexander had opposed the faith (1 Timothy 1:19) they were disfellowshipped from the church. For Paul taught, “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:4–5).
The point of disfellowshipping the evil member was remedial. This was true in the case of Hymenaeus and Alexander. Church discipline should be done to help the offender see his dangerous condition and lead him to change his wicked ways. Having been disciplined by his punishment, the sinner may be re-invited to a life of godliness.
The purpose of church discipline should never be revenge, but recovery from sin. The disfellowshipped member should be a cause of concern to the body of Christ. Church members should make persistent efforts to help him in his spiritual journey (Romans 15:1; Galatians 6:1, 2; Hebrews 12:13).
“But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:17). This does not mean that the offender should be hated, avoided or neglected. Efforts should be made for the offending ex-member as for any non-member. But in reaching out for a person who has thus disconnected himself from the church, members should be careful not associate with him in such a way as to make it appear that they are in agreement with him or support his wicked actions.
In His service,