I was going to save this explanation until Revelation, but I think it might fit in well with this chapter in II Timothy. If we were to say that the Cowboys destroyed the Eagles, you would all know that I was talking about football. But if we buried those headlines and dug them back up two thousand years from now people just might think that this land was one where people on horses fought against giant eagles in order to procure the land. They would miss the metaphor and the hidden meanings which all of us understand today. That happens a lot in Scripture.
When Paul speaks to Timothy in the last chapter about Phygelus and Hermogenes and then again this chapter about Hymenaeus and Philetus we simply do not know who they are. But we can guess that they were Christians who were in the flock who then decided to leave the flock because this living in hiding and not letting others know that you are a Christian was not for them. They were certainly people who were apostates (that’s the fancy term for leaving the faith). But it was especially difficult for the first century church when people fled the faith because then the whole community could be susceptible to the authorities. Paul is especially harsh on people who step away from the faith. He basically approaches it as there being no compromise with those people. That’s why Paul states: “The Lord knows who are his.” We can never truly know, and I would argue that we should never question or wonder. But in this chapter the problem was also that they were teaching false principles which were extremely dangerous for this fledgling community.
The problem was found in the false teaching where these two troublemakers were saying that Jesus had already come back again and that the dead had already been raised. So, I often get the question: what happens once we die? Are we immediately resurrected, or is there a period of time where we kind of hang out until Jesus comes back again in the second coming. My understanding of Scripture and my very firm belief is that the moment that we die we are resurrected with a new body, spirit and soul with Jesus in heaven. There is no in between phase, and it isn’t just our spirit or our soul which goes to heaven. All of us, including our resurrected body. Paul wants people to not be uninformed.
I also love the definition of a leader according to Paul’s words: And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness.