1 Timothy 1:20 – Delivered unto Satan

By Wayne Jackson

During the course of his apostolic ministry Paul was forced occasionally to deal with false teachers who were damaging the faith of others.

Two of these renegades were Hymenaeus and Alexander, who had made shipwreck of the faith of some. Accordingly, Paul informed Timothy that he “delivered unto Satan” these rebels that “they might be taught not to blaspheme.”

“This charge I commit unto thee, my child Timothy, according to the prophecies which led the way to thee, that by them thou mayest war the good warfare; holding faith and a good conscience; which some having thrust from them made shipwreck concerning the faith: of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I delivered unto Satan, that they might be taught not to blaspheme” (1 Tim. 1:18-20).

There are several points worthy of consideration here.

First, contrary to the assertions of some, that a Christian cannot lose his faith, the apostle refers to those whose faith had been “shipwrecked.”

The metaphor is graphic. It denotes a faith that is broken — which, if not repaired, will result in condemnation (cf. Rev. 21:8). It is worthy of note that one of the errors taught by Hymenaeus, which overthrew the faith of some, was that the resurrection was already past (2 Tim. 2:17-18) — a dogma not unlike the theology of Max King and those who share his views.

Second, the apostle declared that as a result of their destructive error, he had “delivered unto Satan” these wayward brothers. What does that expression mean?

A comparison of this text with 1 Corinthians 5:3-13, reveals that it is an allusion to the process of church discipline.

“For I verily, being absent in body but present in spirit, have already as though I were present judged him that hath so wrought this thing, in the name of our Lord Jesus, ye being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus …. But them that are without God judgeth. Put away the wicked man from among yourselves.

To “deliver unto Satan” (5:5) is the equivalent of “put away the wicked man from among yourselves” (5:13). Underscore these respective phrases and connect them with a line.

The principle is clear. False teachers who are harming the faith of brethren must be identified and disciplined. Beside 1 Timothy 1:20 note: See 1 Corinthians 5:5.

Third, the discipline was not only to protect the saints, but, hopefully, it would correct the offenders. The apostle desired that these men might be “taught” not to continue their evil ways. Make a note to this effect.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.