Words Like Gangrene

“But shun profane babblings: for they will proceed further in ungodliness and their word will eat as doth a gangrene: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; men who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some” (2 Tim. 2:16-18).

In his first letter to Timothy, Paul admonished the young preacher to “guard that which is committed unto thee, turning away from the profane babblings and oppositions of the knowledge, which is false so called” (6:20). A “profane person” is a person who has no respect for holy things. Esau was identified as a “profane person” because he regarded his birthright so lightly (Heb. 12:16). One who uses “profanity” is one whose tongue speaks coarsely of holy things or the Holy One. The “babblings” of our text came from the teach of two individuals, Hymenaeus and Philetus, who taught that the resurrection was already past. Hymeaeus is mentioned in Paul’s first letter. It was he whom Paul “delivered to Satan” that he “might be taught not to blaspheme” (1 Tim. 1:20). Verily likely the blasphemy of both 1 and 2 Timothy is this profane babblings, teaching that the resurrection was already past.

To say the resurrection was already past was to contradict the teaching of Jesus. He said, “The hour cometh in which all that are in the tomb shall hear his voice and come forth. They that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of judgment” (Jn. 5:28f). The teaching of Jesus was echoed in both the apostles. “God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). To deny a final resurrection at the world’s end was to deny both the Lord and His apostles.

“Their word will eat as doth a gangrene.” Gangrene is the dying of various tissues of the body. It attacks living cells, destroying them as well. The blasphemy; the profane babblings of these errant teachings, would eat away the living parts of the body. It would eat away at other facts of the gospel: of the judgment; of hope; of an eternal home with God. Consider the despair Paul sought to allay among Thessalonian Christians who were troubled because some of their loved ones had died before the Lord’s return. Paul consoled them; reminding them that a future resurrection was assured to all that would share in the Lord’s return (1 Thess. 4:13-18).

The profane babblings of those who said the resurrection was past already, ate, as gangrene, at the faith of brethren. Can God not be trusted? Is there no reliance to be placed in His word? The effects of those teachers was that they overthrew the faith of some disciples. There are going to be causalities resulting from profane babblings. Peter warned that in Paul’s letters were “some things hard to be understood, which the ignorant and the unsteadfast wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3:16). He warned of some who privately “bring in destructive heresies, denying event he master that bought them … and many shall follow their lascivious doings; but reason of which the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (2 Pet. 2:14). Make certain that we attribute nothing to God but that which the Bible affirms of Him, nor that we deny any of His words that the word does not deny of Him. Taking a false position on any doctrine of God will certainly bring about our own destruction and may very well cause the downfall of others. Take care that we speak nothing, yea or nay, more or less, than what God’s word allows us to say.

Jim McDonald

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