To forgive or not to forgive? Here’s my question…

Why did Paul not forgive Alexander, but in the very next verse, forgave those who deserted him and didn’t take his side in defending him against Alexander.

, ESV
Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. [Paul is cursing Alexander here for the evil he did to him, promising that he will get his just desserts.]  Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. | At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! [Paul is forgiving those who deserted him, not wanting them to get their just desserts.]

So… what’s the deal here? I’m getting mixed Messages.

1. Aren’t we supposed to forgive everyone? (Why didn’t Alex get this forgiveness?)
2. Aren’t we supposed to bless and curse not? (Why did Alex get cursed?)
3. We can’t blame him for having having a bad hair day because in the very next verse (same day, I suppose), Paul gets it “right” and forgives those who deserted him. So did he have a temporary brain block? Was v 14 added in by some ne’er do well scribe?

Or is it optional that we not forgive some people?

If we are to forgive everyone, then I have a couple more questions: how do we handle – better still – how do we apply verses where John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, James (and, yes, even Jesus) reprimand their listeners with the harshest of terms, calling them “fools”, “accursed”, “adulterers”, “brood of vipers”, “whited sepulchers” and worse? And that’s just the New Testament. Heaven forbid we look in the Old Testament where there’s a whole lot more of that! After we’ve pondered those verses, here are some good questions to ask:

a) When is it acceptable to be like Paul (and Jesus, and Peter, and James, and Elijah, and Elisha, and Moses, etc, etc, etc) and curse people?

b) If all these guys cursed, when should we bless instead of curse? When should we curse instead of bless?

c) Why does no one ever teach that Christians should curse people when everyone in the Bible does it?

(This last question really bugs me because the more I study the Bible, the more I see it going on – yet no one talks about it. How did we get to be so far removed from the Bible’s many, many, many examples on this issue? Granted, I can’t think of any commands to curse, but we are instructed to turn people over to satan for the destruction of their flesh (). That’s a pretty good description of a curse, if you ask me.)


14 Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. 16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! (ESV)


5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (ESV)

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