In this post, I refer to a real person who exhibits many of the classical characteristics of a sociopath. He did me a great deal of harm. At the time, a former pastor and friend (who had also been a victim of his abuse) tried to warn me but I did not recognize the danger nor did I heed his or the scriptural warning from the Apostle Paul. I have since become much more aware of the characteristics and the real presence of sociopaths in positions of power and influence within Christian churches and the severe damage they can cause.
Here is my ignorant and unscholarly commentary on the Apostle's warning.)
is for Fabricator.
We know very little about him or what terrible evil he did to Paul. All we have is this one brief statement and a warning, written by the apostle to Timothy, “Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message” 2 Timothy 14.
Some commentators have suggested that this Alexander might be the same one who is mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:20, and perhaps the same as the one mentioned in Acts 19:33.
God’s Word is instructive and every detail is precise and deliberate. So here’s what I might surmise from this short account although I must preface it with this disclaimer; I am neither a theologian nor a Greek scholar and I have no idea what I am talking about.
In the Bible, every name has a meaning. Alexander means protector of mankind. Perhaps Alexander truly believed that his opposition to Paul was noble. He might have thought that Paul’s message was too uncomfortable, too radical, or too narrow. Or maybe he just had a different point of view and disagreed with Paul. He, no doubt, must have thought that his calling was to protect the folks from the apostle and he would stoop to whatever means necessary in order to accomplish his purpose.
He was a coppersmith, a master craftsman, skilled at the art of fabrication. One of the definitions of the word, fabricate is: to make up for the purpose of deception as in fabricating evidence. Could it be that he took some of Paul’s words and skillfully twisted, hammered, and shaped them into something other than the truth?
Alexander’s medium was copper. Copper is a soft, pliable, and easily malleable metal. The word, copper, when used as a noun means to cover, coat, or sheathe. Perhaps he was clever at taking some, out of context, elements of truth from Paul’s message and deceptively covering or obscuring them with something so that it is not what it appears to be.
Whatever Alexander did, the apostle said of him, “he strongly opposed our message.” Incidentally, I think Alexander might have been the “thorn in the flesh” that Paul asked the Lord to take away from him. Certainly Alexander was a pain in the neck.
I also had an antagonist. For over a year, he made my life miserable with his evil and false accusations. But I have not been his only target. I learned, too late, that he had caused much grief and contention in several local churches and other organizations. Like Timothy, I was warned by people who knew him, to be careful but I did not heed the warning.
He considered himself to be the champion of the regular folks whom, he believed, were ill-treated by their pastors and leaders. He really believed that it was his calling to do the “heavy lifting’ for those who could not speak up for themselves. Ironically, many of those he hurt the most were the very ones he claimed to be helping.
He is not a coppersmith but he is a master wordsmith with a smooth, glib tongue and a wicked pen and he is skilled at twisting the truth to suit his own purposes. On many occasions, he has taken true phrases (that I have uttered) out of context, covered them with lies, and fabricated them into something other than the truth.
What would the apostle do? He asked God three times, to remove his “thorn in the flesh.” God’s response was, “My grace is sufficient for you.” So, to his friend, Timothy, Paul simply said, “the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.”
I have to admit; I have imagined some very clever and crafty ways to get even. My natural instinct is to retaliate; vengeance seems so sweet, but that is God’s domain and not my prerogative. So I guess Charlie the Wordsmith gets to keep breathing at least for another day.