The Berean Expositor
Volume 48 - Page 132 of 181
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2: 16 - 3: 5.
pp. 155 - 160
Having given some consideration to the great principle of interpretation contained in
II Tim. 2: 15 we proceed to note that the Apostle Paul now goes on to bring before
Timothy two professing Christians who failed to `rightly divide the Word of truth'
namely Hymenaeus and Philetus:
"But shun profane babblings: for they will proceed further in ungodliness, and their
word will eat as doth a gangrene: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; men who
concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and
overthrow the faith of some" (II Tim. 2: 16-18, R.V.).
Hymenaeus is referred to in I Tim. 1: 20 where the Apostle delivers him to Satan so
that he might learn not to blaspheme. Evidently he had already gone off the track of
truth. Of Philetus, we know nothing, but both were obviously well known to Timothy.
Paul takes a very serious view of their false teaching, likening it to a spreading
gangrene which was dangerously affecting other believers. In what way could they have
taught that resurrection (there is no definite article) was past already? They could not
have been referring to the Lord's resurrection (I Cor. 15: 20) for this was already a
blessed historical fact and certainly past at the time Paul wrote. It could therefore only
refer to the resurrection of the believer. They either denied the need of the believer for a
bodily resurrection by spiritualizing and interpreting it as a purely spiritual experience, or
they taught that believers who had died had already received a bodily resurrection. Either
denies the truth of a literal bodily resurrection in the future at the manifestation of the
The Apostle had already clearly emphasized this:
"We wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall fashion anew the body of
our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory" (Phil. 3: 20, 21,
There is teaching today the comes perilously near to the two false ideas mentioned
above. We need to watch carefully lest we fall into the same error as Hymenaeus and
Philetus. Let us note that they did not deny the fact of resurrection as some had done at
Corinth (I Cor. 15: 12), they merely misplaced it as regards time, putting a future truth
into the past. Here is a definite example of wrongly dividing the Word of truth and it
stands out all the more vividly in a context that stresses the supreme importance of right
Not nearly enough attention has been paid by expositors to the time element in
Scripture. As we have pointed out before, all truth has its time setting and is made
known by an all-wise God not a moment too soon or too late. Let us note I Tim. 2: 5-7
and Titus 1: 1-3 ". . . . . Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself a ransom for all; the testimony