What Was the Sin of Hymenaeus and Philetus? -- By: Frederick Zollicoffer Browne

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 102:406 (Apr 1945)
Article: What Was the Sin of Hymenaeus and Philetus?
Author: Frederick Zollicoffer Browne


What Was the Sin of Hymenaeus and Philetus?

Fred Z. Browne, D.D.

In 1 Timothy 1:20 we read of the disciplining of Hymenaeus for blasphemy. In 2 Timothy 2:17, 18 it is stated that Hymenaeus and Philetus “as to the truth have gone astray, saying that the resurrection hath taken place already.” The truth of the resurrection being the very keystone of the arch supporting the faith once for all delivered to the saints, it is significant that any attack upon the doctrine is branded as blasphemy.

Let us notice, first of all, that Hymenaeus and Philetus did not deny that there was to be a resurrection. They were not Sadducees or modern Unitarian destructive critics. Neither did they, like some modern wresters of the Scripture, speak of the resurrection as a mere “resurrection of the soul.” They taught that there was a literal rising from the dead, but that it was already past.

In order to understand the probable ground of their heresy and get a proper understanding of its seriousness, let us turn to 1 and 2 Thessalonians. In 1 Thessalonians the Apostle shows with special earnestness and clearness that the goal and hope of the New Testament church is the first resurrection, in which the dead in Christ are to be raised and the living in Christ translated (4:13–18). Here Paul speaks of the realization by His own people of the fruition of the promise made by the Lord in John 14:3, “I will come again and receive you unto myself.” This hope of the “first resurrection,” “the resurrection out of the dead ones,” “this upward calling of God in Christ Jesus,” Paul expresses a yearning desire to obtain (Phil 3:11–14). This hope of the

rapture, “resurrection of life” or “first resurrection,” is also held before the true believer in John 5:29, Titus 2:13, Revelation 3:10, 20:4–6, 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52 and many other places.

The “day of Christ” is the period beginning with this resurrection of the dead and translation of the living saints, ending with the visible revelation of the Lord from heaven together with His saints when the “day of the Lord,” the period of judgment, be...

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