"Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme." I Timothy 1:20 *
" And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some." 2 Timothy 2:17 *
What is this letter about?
It is to show...
I. Paul immorally attacks one of his opponents in his letters.
II. James' epistle is a critique of Pauline theology
III. To explain why James is not clearer that it addresses Paul
Many will say that James couldn't be about Paul, Paul is nowhere named in the letter. I want to show why he is not named and to contrast this with Paul's own practice.
Paul calling out Hymenaeus and Alexander was a very bold move. That will always appeal to a quality of man's nature, as well as pseudo-qualities.
"In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel." Romans 2:16
Personal injury.. When a person is insulted by someone, he naturally feels the need to warn others, for selfish and unselfish reasons. Selfishly, he wants to tarnish a person's image. The unselfish motivation is to warn others because you do not want them to be harmed in the like manner. Paul calling out Hymenaeus in this way seems legit to most people, who would take the same course of action under the same circumstances.
Pseudo-justice.. People mistake gossip for justice, e.g. a person should have their reputation slammed, if they are untrustworthy liars. Never mind that to do this the person has to resort to slander/gossip/ hearsay in the press or in speech. Never mind that under the circumstances the person can never get a fair hearing and that harm will inevitably occur to very noble people.
Most people see nothing wrong with what Paul has done here. It's because his move plays to qualities natural to man. Finally,
Deniability.. Why James' letter is ineffective as a critique of Pauline theology is he never mentions Paul by name. Anyone can deny that that is the theme of the letter, and Paul's gospel was able to flourish. Why didn't James just be clearer about who he was discussing? Because that would have been contrary to the policy Jesus established. To mention names, even if the damning evidence is true, is an injustice, because it colors the image that person has in the minds of others prejudicially, it is often done without the person ever having a chance to speak for themselves, and it borders on gossiping to drop the names of adversaries and many times for unjust reasons. For these reasons, it would never have been permissible to savage a person's name.
What this means? Paul can slander people at will and suffer very little downside. His opponents however can never be clear enough in opposing him, without violating their own faith. Win-win. But isn't this the way things have always gone? The innocent and just have suffered without cause while the wicked and crafty are hailedas the heroes of man, despite their persecutions of the good. The just suffer because there isn't justice in them levelling grievance or wantonly killing anyone who challenges him, that is not in the nature of the just. It is because of the just nature of James that he couldn't identify Paul by name but wrote very eloquently to refute the teaching.
I thank God for the confirmation.. I typed that last line without realizing.. The author is known as James the Just.
What of Hymenaeus? If you are a subscriber to the Pauline gospel, that that Paul refers to as 'my gospel', then you must agree with Paul that Hymenaeus was a wicked person.
My answer, how should I know? But I know there are two sides to every story and Paul fallaciously slammed him. Whether he was a saint or sinner, I don't know. But I know I'm not taking Paul's word for it and that has always been my policy when I've heard a bad report of a person. I know that that person is a talebearer for starters and may or may not have a reason to lie. In Paul's case, I have no reason to not believe that Hymenaeus was wronged by Paul himself and was actually the victim.
* It's really interesting the aggravating factors in the offense. Suppose I for one say that it is proper to drag one's name through the mud. Okay. I can do that. But that is not all... Paul says to hand these men over to Satan. Very peculiar language, and that I will not do.
* And not only is it only a slight error. It is tremendous error. Yeshua nowhere taught to wish the Satan comes to take our enemies or to attack or possess them/ But when he says Hymenaeus teaches the resurrection.. what's most odd about it is the Gospel clearly states that on the day Christ rose that other dead also came from their graves in the first resurrection. Paul to attack Hymenaeus for teaching this obvious fact proves even more clearly that Paul was in error and a johnny-come-lately.