“Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (I Timothy 1:20).
Paul had placed Timothy as overseer of the churches at Ephesus and throughout Asia minor. Timothy was not without opposition as we see in our text, but neither was he without resources.
The two individuals mentioned had somehow “made shipwreck” of the faith (v.19) by not “holding faith and a good conscience” and were teaching contrary to Paul and Timothy. The content and extent of their teaching is not known. Hymenaeus is said elsewhere to “have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already” (II Timothy 2:18), evidently adopting the agnostic heresy that the teaching of the bodily resurrection of Christ and ultimately of believers was only allegorical.
What does it mean to be delivered unto Satan? Earlier, Paul had written concerning believers who chose to live in sin that the church should “deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction [not annihilation, but ruin] of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (I Corinthians 5:5). This involves the exclusion of the offending one from the fellowship and assistance of the church, abandoning him to the unrestricted access of Satan. (See Matthew 18:15–17 for steps.)
One goal of such a purging is that the church is purified; no more will sin or false doctrine infect the body. The primary goal of any disciplinary procedure is remedial and restorative, forcing a willful sinner to make a clear choice. Facing the prospects of life with no support in a perverted world controlled by Satan has broken the stubborn will of many a disciplined sinner, driving him to repentance and restoration to those affected by his error. JDM