“Men who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some” 2 Tim 2:18

by Steven Chan

In recent times some bible believers have been going around telling fellow believers that whether one believes that the resurrection is past already or not, is a matter of opinion and should not be an issue of contention between fellow believers.

While “with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering”, believers are to “forbear with one another in love by giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:2-3), it should be remembered that bible believers are also exhorted that “we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error” (Eph 4:14).

How then does one decide whether a belief is a matter of opinion and of indifference, and another is a matter of importance over which there can be no compromise?

If we profess faith in the inspired Word of God then the basis for our view should be guided by the Scriptures (2 Tim 3:16-17) and not by our own personal dictates, preferences and feelings (Prov 3:5). The prophet Isaiah declared from long ago in Isa 8:20: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”

So what does the Bible say with regards to those who say that the resurrection is past already? The apostle Paul wrote thus in 2 Tim 2:14-18:

”Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them in the sight of the Lord, that they strive not about words, to no profit, to the subverting of them that hear. Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth. But shun profane babblings: for they will proceed further in ungodliness, and their word will eat as doth a gangrene: or whom is Hymenaeus an Philetus; men who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some.”
In the afore-stated passage, God’s inspired apostle has declared expressly that “men who say that the resurrection is past already, have erred concerning the truth”. This express statement explicitly and unequivocally states that those who say that the resurrection is past already have erred concerning the truth! So, in the face of such clear statement from the Word of God, can anyone who respects the authority of God’s Word possibly say that it is a matter of opinion or indifference if one were to say that the resurrection is past already!?
Of course, these bible students will contend that the scripture there does not apply to them for one reason or another. The serpent also offered an explanation as to why the woman would not die if she ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 3:4-5).  But just merely claiming that God’s Word is not applicable does not make it so. The question is whether that is a true and correct understanding of God’s Word. One can be deceived as the woman was deceived. The Bible warns us that “evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim 3:13).

Brethren, God has spoken very clearly in this matter – as stated by the apostle Paul in Acts 24:15, we have “hope toward God, which these also themselves look for, that there shall be a resurrection both of the just and unjust.” The Bible says that our hope is for the resurrection which will occur at His appearing: “looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13)

According to James 5-19-20, we have obligations to correct those who have erred concerning the truth in order to save their soul from death:

”My brethren, if any among you err from the truth and one convert him; let him know, that he who converteth a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins.”

So, brethren, it is a matter of life and death – if one says that the resurrection is past already – because such a person has erred from the truth. He is in need of being saved from death. It is not a mere intellectual exercise without eternal consequences. Let it be clear that there’s no malice or ill-intent towards those who say that the resurrection is past already and those who support them by saying that it is merely a matter of opinion. On the contrary, we are obligated to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15).

According to 2 Tim 2:24-26, as the Lord’s servants, “we must not strive, but be gentle towards all, apt to teach, forbearing, in meekness correcting them that oppose themselves; if peradventure God may give them repentance unto the knowledge of the truth, and they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him unto his will.”

If anyone is inclined to reject God’s counsel in this matter on whatever ground one may proffer, one should be reminded of what happened long ago in the Garden of Eden when in the face of a similar express statement by God to man as He said in Gen 2:17, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”, the serpent in Gen 3:4-5 directly contradicted God’s Word when he boldly “said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil”.  The consequence of the rejection of that plain statement of God was how sin first entered into the world (Rom 5:12).  Likewise, today some otherwise diligent bible students labour under a similar erroneous belief that 2 Tim 2:18 somehow does not apply to them.

Brethren, are we not rejecting God’s counsel by boldly saying that it is merely a matter of opinion and of indifference that someone says that the resurrection is past already – especially when God has expressly stated that such have erred from the truth? Are we handling the Word of God aright by expressing such opinion? Are our thoughts and ways higher than God’s (Isa 55:8-9)?  Can there be any clearer statement than that found 2 Tim 2:18?  If what God has said in 2 Tim 2:18 is not plain and clear enough for us to understand and accept, then what passage of Scriptures can we possibly understand and accept?  Please consider carefully the Word of the Lord.