Are you an Alexander the Coppersmith? If so you are a person who is much to be pitied. But why is this? It is because this Alexander in some way or other caused much hardship to Paul, the Apostle. 2 Timothy 4:14-15 records Paul’s words to Timothy as follows: Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. The Lord will repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words.
There is much for us to learn here as we consider the way Alexander treated Paul. Let us first consider Alexander as the one who caused harm to Paul.
Harming God’s Servant
We do not know who this Alexander was; he is simply identified as being a man who laboured with his hands; a coppersmith. He was not a religious leader like the Scribes and Pharisees who opposed our Lord and yet he caused much damage to God’s apostle. This warns us that even the most lowly can cause harm amongst the people of God.
Whether Alexander was in the church or not we do not know; but we do know that he personally caused much difficulty to Paul. Paul was an Apostle of Jesus Christ who was sent forth to testify to the mighty workings of the mighty God. He was no mean individual. Yet, Alexander,in his wisdom (or lack thereof), took it upon himself to oppose Paul.
Resisting God’s Word
But what form did this opposition take? He opposed by standing against the message that Paul declared. He did not just calmly dismiss the words of Paul as irrelevant but he went further and vigorously resisted the message of Paul (and his associates). Remember Paul was specially chosen to bring the Word of God and this man specifically stood against the words,that he brought. What a terrible thing this was to do! Let us not be surprised though, if our words whether preached or spoken privately, are resisted by those who hate our Father who is the God of the truth.
And we need to be warned so that we never follow in the way of Alexander. He caused much heartache to God’s apostle. If someone is bringing the word of truth to us then we should be careful to never stand against that word. If you do withstand it, whether by your speaking acting or refusing to listen, then you cause harm to the declarer of the message; you cause that person to be pained.
Moreover, most seriously, you place yourself in a situation whereby you store up the judgment of God for yourself. Paul says that Alexander will be repaid according to his works. How sobering how terrible! How many people who regularly attend churches are storing up judgment for themselves by resisting God’s Words.
This raises the question about whether or not we should ever resist someone who professes to bring God’s Word. In this case we should be following the injunction of the Lord to Isaiah in Isaiah 8:20: To the law and to the testimony ! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. False teaching needs to be rejected or else it will spread like cancer with all the harm associated therewith. Hymenaus and Philetus are condemned along these lines (see 2 Tim. 2:17-18). False teaching must be resisted and rejected or else it will inevitably cause harm among God’s people.
But what of Paul? What can we learn from the way he responded to Alexander? The first thing we can observe is that he felt the hostility of Alexander. He was no hard-hearted stoic. And this is encouraging for us to know because even a great man like Paul felt the pain of hostility. So when we experience opposition and are pained by it, let us be encouraged that great men of God have been that way as well.
However, there is no sense of bitterness with Paul. He has learned that there is one who judges all. He is not being personally nasty towards Alexander. Rather he gives Alexander over to the God who always judges rightly. For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord (Heb. 10:30). We are not in the business of carrying out personal vendettas; we rather remember that judgment is His awesome work (see Isaiah 28:21).
Paul, though, ever has a pastoral caring heart and he does not want others to be harmed by Alexanders’ works. Accordingly he warns Timothy about Alexander. We do well to warn others of potential areas of harm in their Christian walk. This is part of caring for one another. When we have passed through a hard experience ourselves are we moved to want to warn others not to go in the same way?
Alexander briefly appears on the canvas of scripture and is then gone. Eternally he is remembered as a man who caused harm to the cause of Christ. How will we be remembered? We may not have our name personally in scripture, but we must all appear before the Eternal Lord God one day. And that day will declare all.
(Taken from Feltham Evangelical Church Newsletter of January 2006)