There are segments in some of the apostle Paul’s letters where he uses imagery like Jesus. Rather than speak in parables, Paul compares a natural event to a spiritual condition. At the end of his initial letter to Timothy, Paul compares a fading faith to experiencing a shipwreck. Serving as a warning to other first century Christians, Paul calls out two people by name for making a mess of their lives.
Holding fast to faith (that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence) and having a good (clear) conscience. By rejecting and thrusting from them [their conscience], some individuals have made shipwreck of their faith, 1 Timothy 1:19.
According to the passage above, one of the reasons believers find themselves slipping into troubled waters is due to a lack of confidence and trust in God. Perhaps Paul is referencing Jonah 1:4-14 where grown men lose all hope as a violent storm is about to destroy their vessel. If not this, Paul might be sharing what he learned while being shipwrecked just off the coast of Malta in Acts 27:13-20. On both occasions, all the passengers on board lost faith.
Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan in order that they may be disciplined [by punishment and learn] not to blaspheme, 1 Timothy 1:20.
If faith is based upon assurance, confidence and hope in the Lord, Hebrews 11:1-6, anyone who is overwhelmed by the external forces confronting them is experiencing a shipwrecked faith. While its unclear what Hymenaeus and Alexander did or didn’t do, Paul uses their fall from grace as a teachable moment for others. If you currently find yourself shipwrecked, trying to pick up of pieces of your life, look to James 1:2-12 to ride out this storm. You may not feel better initially, but as you live and learn from past mistakes, faith will recover as you draw near to God.
by Jay Mankus