2 Timothy 2:17

Monday, 2 April 2018

And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, 2 Timothy 2:17

The words of this verse build on what Paul said concerning “profane and idle babblings” of the previous verse. Paul exhorted Timothy to shun those things. Unless that was done, Paul knew one thing was for sure concerning those who spoke out such nonsense, “their message will spread.”

The Greek words here literally state, “will have a pasture.” In other words, just as animals find a field of grass and come in to eat it up, moving ever-outward in order to find more fresh grass, so will such a perverse message spread. Paul then says, “like cancer.” The Greek word is gaggraina, and it is found only here in the Bible. It signifies “gangrene.” The word “cancer” is not a good choice. Cancer can get into a person and affect only one portion of the body. Further, it can take quite a while for the cancer to finally destroy the person, even years. Gangrene is something which spreads quickly, and if not excised immediately, it will eat up everything around it.

Paul then speaks of two people who were just like gangrene, Hymenaeus and Philetus. Hymenaeus is probably the same person noted in 1 Timothy 1:20 whom Paul “delivered to Satan” along with a guy named Alexander so that “they may learn not to blaspheme.” Apparently, he didn’t learn anything. He and Philetus were like a festering gangrene which ate away at the saints with their profane and idle babblings.

The name Hymenaeus comes from Hymen, the Greek god of weddings. Instead of looking in anticipation of a marriage to Christ, he taught others to be wedded to unsound things which profited no one. The name Philetos gives the sense of “amiable,” or “worthy of close friendship.” Unfortunately, the things he taught only made him unworthy of the friendship of the saints. Until these two stopped their unholy speaking, they would only cause dissension, not unity. In the coming verse, the false message they proclaimed will be explained.

Life application: As you go to Bible class, or discuss biblical matters on social media, watch closely and see who is teaching something sound and reasonable, and who is engaging in the discourse to simply stir up trouble. If you step back and carefully evaluate people’s words, it won’t take long for you to come across these gangrenous folks. Once you have identified them, don’t argue with them, just cut them off. They are a festering sore which will only spread and cause trouble and division.

Lord God, Paul describes the message that some folks spread among the church as gangrene. That is something which is festering, destroys quickly, and unless cut off, it will continue to cause disruption and harm. Help us to identify such festering folly, and then to cut off communication with those teachers so that they don’t continue to harm proper doctrine. Your word is far too precious to be attacked in this way. Give us wisdom in this, O Lord. Amen.

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