1 Timothy 1:19

1 Timothy 1:19

NAUAGEO in 1 Timothy 1:19

First, the Greek:


then the English:

keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. [NASB]

then the question:

A check of online lexicons simply says that NAUAGEO means 1. literally, to shipwreck 2. figuratively, to be ruined

There are certainly many choices of Greek words that can mean “ruin” or “destruction”, not only NAUAGEO. Any word other than the most obvious choice leads us to ask the question “Why did the author choose this word?”

“Shipwreck” isn’t the word I’d use, to say that somebody has messed up his life. Maybe there’s a shade of meaning that escapes us in English? (Or, as my daughter suggests, maybe Paul was thinking of his own shipwreck experiences!)

Does anyone know of any figurative uses of NAUAGEO outside of 1 Timothy 1:19? I’m hoping that some poor soul used it some time in antiquity, and his metaphorical shipwreck, (ruin, destruction . . . ) will be illustrative for us.

Thank you!

Ted Shoemaker

Success is easy only if you’re a weeds farmer.

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4 thoughts on “1 Timothy 1:19”

  1. Hi Ted.

    Philo uses the term similarly in “On the Change of Names, 215”. The English is from Yonge’s edition:

    … if we have fallen in with ever so slight a breeze which bears us towards the good fortune, immediately set all sail and became greatly elated, and being full of great and high spirits, hurry forward with all our speed to the indulgence of our passions, and never will check our unbridled and immoderately excited desires until we run ashore and are wrecked as to the whole vessel of our souls.

    The last part is:

    ἕως ἂν ἐξοκείλαντες ὅλῳ τῷ ψυχῆς ναυαγήσωμεν σκάφει EWS AN ECOKEILANTES OLW TW YUXHS NAUAGHSWMEN SKAFEI

    Philo uses it again in “On Dreams, 247”. BDAG lists some other instances; TDNT and M-M list other examples too.

    Hope it helps,

    Rick Brannan http://www.supakoo.com/rick/ricoblog http://www.pastoralepistles.com http://bit.ly/ApFthInt


  2. The metaphors that are most commonly employed in any language should be expected to derive from the central realities of their ordinary existence. Seafaring and procuring a livelihood from the sea have always been dominant in the experience and therefore in the langauge of the Greeks. In checking the dictionary entries one ought to observe the examples offered, especially of metaphorical usage. BDAG cites Philo using the verb along with κακῶς διατρὶβειν [KAKWS DIATRIBEIN] (“make bad use of their time”), ἀθλίως ζῆν [AQLIWS ZHN] in the sense “make a wreck of their livelihood” LSJ even shows the verb used of chariots.

    The trick in turning any metaphorical expression into the language of an alien culture is to think of metaphors within the alien culture that function the same way. One great source of metaphors in modern English would be something commercial like “go bankrupt” or from team sports such as “strike out to end the inning and the game.” Use your imagination.

    BDAG s.v. ναυαγέω: 2. to experience a great loss or disaster, suffer shipwreck fig. ext. of 1 (Cebes 24, 2 ὡς κακῶς διατρίβουσι καὶ ἀθλίως ζῶσι καὶ ναυαγοῦσιν ἐν τῷ βίῳ; Philo, Mut. Nom. 215, Somn. 2, 147) περὶ τὴν πίστιν ἐναυάγησαν they have suffered shipwreck in their faith 1 Ti 1:19.—DELG s.v. ναυαγός. M-M. TW.

    LSJ s.v. ναυαγέω: ναυᾱγ-έω, Ion. ναυηγ-, pf. νεναυάγηκα Hdt.7.236 (-ηγ-), Eub.76: (ναῦς, ἄγνυμι):—suffer shipwreck, Hdt. l. c., X.Cyr.3.1.24, D.34.10, etc.: metaph., of chariots, Id.61.29; of an earthen vessel, A.Fr. 180; of persons, ν. ἐν τοῖς ἰδίοις Thphr. ap. D.L.5.55, cf. Phld.Vit. p.33 J.; ἐν τῷ βίῳ Ceb.24.2; περὶ τὴν πίστιν 1 Ep.Ti.1.19; χὡ μὲν ἐναυάγει γαίης ἔπι AP5.208 (Posidipp. or Asclep.); ναυαγεῖ συμπόσια μὴ τυχόντα παιδαγωγίας ὀρθῆς Plu.2.622b.

    Carl W. Conrad Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

  3. 1 Timothy 1:19-20
    ” . . .holding faith and a good conscience, which some have thrust aside and have experienced shipwreck concerning [their] faith. 20 Hymenaeus and Alexander belong to these, and I have handed them over to Satan that they may be taught by discipline not to blaspheme.”

    It would seem that the Godless masses of mankind are likened to a sea:-

    Isaiah 57:20-21
    “But the wicked are like the sea that is being tossed, when it is unable to calm down, the waters of which keep tossing up seaweed and mire. 21 There is no peace,” my God has said, “for the wicked ones.”

    So it would seem that The Christian should be riding over the sea of Godless mankind not being in among them in a spritual sence.

    Not like “Hymenaeus and Alexander” who had left the congregation and gone back to the things behind or back into the sea of Godless mankind under Satan’s control from which they had been extrated from in the past.

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