2 Timothy 3


‘But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.’ 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Paul begins this chapter by reminding Timothy of the great apostasy which was to be expected in the church and states some of the characteristics of it. He gets Timothy’s attention about the ‘terrible times’ ahead by saying, ‘but mark this’.

The Last Days

There is so much going on in the ‘religious world’ concerning the last days, people are looking for signs and wonders to prove we’re in the last days, there are wars and there are terrors that all point to the end of the world. I wonder what the Bible actually teaches concerning ‘the last days’.

The Hebrew writer writes as a matter of fact, and he says there’s no doubt or question about the existence of God, he simply says, ‘in the past God’, Hebrews 1:1 / Genesis 1:1 / John 1:1.

And because the writer says, ‘at many times and in various ways’ in Hebrews 1:1, this implies that God had more to say. In other words, each prophet didn’t carry the final message. The whole truth wasn’t out yet, God’s revelation wasn’t complete yet.

We know that God first spoke directly to the patriarchs, and then God spoke through the written law. Then God spoke in dreams and visions and God also spoke through the prophets.

But God wasn’t done revealing His word yet. And I use the word ‘but’ because that’s the word the writer of this letter uses, ‘but in these last days’, Hebrews 1:2, which is obviously a Messianic reference. And he uses that word to emphasise the contrast between how God spoke and revealed His Word to mankind in the past and how He revealed His complete and final revelation in Jesus.

In other words, we’ve been living in the ‘last days’ ever since the arrival of Jesus. The last days are the days of the Messiah, not the end of the world. Several centuries before the birth of Christ, the prophet Joel in Joel 2:28-29 foretold that the Spirit of God would be ‘poured out’ in the ‘last days’, Acts 2:17.

Peter quotes from Joel 2 and notice how he describes the days in which they were living at that point in time. He describes them at ‘that point in time’ as living in ‘the last days’.

Countless sermons have been preached, thousands of books have been sold which all try tell to tell us that certain things are happening in the world today and they tell us these are all ‘signs’ that Jesus is about to return. And so, they go out on the streets preaching and they have these posters which say, ‘the end is near, we’re in the last days.’

People have been proclaiming the end of the world since 66 A.D. Simon bar Giora who was a member of a Jewish sect was the first to predict the end of the world. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have tried to predict the end of the world at least 3 times. Most recently Harold Camping tried to predict the end of the world twice.

And did you know that there are around 13 different new predictions for the end of the world coming up in the next few years?

All of these predictions past and present have claimed the signs are there, to warn us we’re living in the last days. Well, of course, we’re in the last days, and we’ve been there for the last two thousand years.

When Peter is talking about Christ, he says, ‘He was chosen before the creation of the world but was revealed in these last times for your sake’. 1 Peter 1:20. Was Jesus around during the time of the Apostle Peter? Of course, He was. Peter understood he was living in the last times.

Jesus uses a similar kind of language in Matthew 24:1-35. Now, remember the disciples have come to Jesus privately to ask Him ‘what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ And so, Jesus is answering their questions.

Let me give you an example of how Jesus answers them. Jesus says, ‘How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!’ Matthew 24:19. He uses the words ‘those days’ throughout this text when He’s describing the destruction of Jerusalem.

But when we carry on reading from Matthew 24:36 through to Matthew 26:46, He uses the words ‘that day’ to describe what will happen at the end of the world, Matthew 24:36.

Do you see how His words are more specific? Now if we were studying the topic of ‘the end of the world’ that’s one of the texts we would go to. But we’re not studying that, we’re looking at the topic of ‘the last days’ which aren’t something still to come. ‘The last days’ were then, as the prophets looked forward to the time by speaking of ‘in those days and at that time.’

If the world continues for another thousand years, we would still be in the last days. And so, God formerly spoke through the prophets at many times and in many ways, but in these ‘last days’ He has spoken to us by His Son.

Look at what Paul wrote to his young friend Timothy, ‘there will be terrible times in the last days’. And then Paul lists a whole bunch of non-Christ like attitudes but look at what he tells Timothy later, ‘have nothing to do with such people.’

This is present tense, have nothing to do with those people who were around at that time. That in itself, tells us that Timothy was living in ‘the last days’.

Notice the context of when these ‘terrible times’ will take place, he says ‘in the last days’. In other words, Paul isn’t saying these things will happen just before Christ returns, he says the ‘last days’ were already here, in Paul and Timothy’s lifetime.

The days of this great apostasy were imminent, they were at hand. Timothy and Paul were in the ‘last days’, 1 Timothy 4:1 / Hebrews 1:2 / 2 Peter 3:3 / 1 John 2:18 / Jude 17-18. They were to be ‘terrible times’, which means it was going to be times of danger, persecution and trials, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 / 1 Timothy 4:1-3.

Paul describes what some people will be like during these ‘last days’, they would be lovers of themselves, Philippians 2:21 / 2 Timothy 3:5, lovers of money, Luke 6:14 / 2 Peter 2:3, boastful, Romans 1:30 / Jude 16, proud, 1 Timothy 4:6, abusive, 1 Timothy 1:13 / 1 Timothy 1:20, disobedient to their parents, Romans 1:30 / Ephesians 6:1-4.

He carries on to describe people as ungrateful, Proverbs 17:13 / 1 Corinthians 4:7, unholy, 1 Timothy 1:9, without love, Romans 1:31, unforgiving, Matthew 18:23-35, slanderers, Romans 1:29-30, without self-control, Proverbs 25:28, brutal, Judges 1:7, not lovers of the good, Romans 1:31, treacherous, 2 Peter 2:10, rash, Ecclesiastes 5:2, conceited, 1 Corinthians 4:18, and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, Philippians 3:19 / 2 Peter 2:13.

These are the characteristics of some people who will be around in the ‘last days’, during the days of Paul and Timothy, but it’s clear to see that these very kind of characteristics hasn’t left our society today.

Notice they have a ‘form of godliness’, in other words, they claim some kind of religious connection with the church. They are religious hypocrites who claimed some allegiance to God, and yet, they lived blasphemous lives contrary to all that Jesus was and taught, 1 Timothy 5:8 / Titus 1:16.

This was going to happen within the church, 2 John 1:10-11 / 2 Corinthians 6:17, and Timothy was to have nothing to do with these people, Matthew 23:3 / 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 / 1 Corinthians 15:33 / 2 Thessalonians 3:6 / 1 Timothy 6:5.

‘They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.’ 2 Timothy 3:6-7

These so-called religious people will go to any lengths to win people over to their way of thinking. Here Paul says that they ‘worm their way into the home’, that is, they pretend they want to help but have alternative motives. They take advantage of ‘gullible women’, that is women who are weak in the faith.

The nature of the apostasy is seen that they led these women into immoral behaviour, 2 Thessalonians 2:7 / Revelation 2:20-23. These poor women were already ‘loaded down with sin’, that is they were already struggling with sin and were easy targets for these deceivers.

These gullible women put themselves under the care of these so-called religious teachers, and although they were learning, they never acquire the true knowledge of the way of salvation. They may learn many things, but they won’t learn the true nature of the Christian faith, 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.

‘Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.’ 2 Timothy 3:8-9

Jannes and Jambres opposed the miracles which God was doing through Moses and Aaron and they resisted God’s designated leadership, Exodus 7:8-13 / Exodus 7:19-23 / Exodus 8:5-7 / Exodus 8:16-19.

These men were able to work miracles but by the power of darkness and not the power of God. The ability to do miracles by the power of darkness and the willingness to receive them as authentic will be one characteristic of those false teachers in the ‘last times’, 2 Corinthians 11:15 / 2 Thessalonians 2:9 / Revelation 13:13-15.

Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed the truth concerning God and His authority, these false teachers will oppose the truth about Christ and his authority.

Their minds are depraved, that is focused on evil, 1 Timothy 6:5, and with respect to the Christian faith, or the doctrines of the church, their views couldn’t be approved, John 12:48, and they weren’t to be regarded as true teachers of religion, they were to be rejected, Romans 1:28 / 1 Corinthians 9:27 / 2 Corinthians 13:5.

As the true nature of Jannes and Jambres was eventually exposed before everyone, so the true nature of the ungodly disciples would also be exposed before everyone, Exodus 7:11-12 / Exodus 8:18 / Exodus 9:11.

The world will see and understand what they are, and what they teach. The truth about these people may be hidden for a while but it will eventually be made known to those who have an honest heart.

A Final Charge To Timothy

‘You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.’ 2 Timothy 3:10-11

Timothy was well aware of Paul’s teachings and how he lived because Paul had spent several years teaching him and serving the Lord together with him, Philippians 2:20 / Philippians 2:22 / 1 Thessalonians 2:1 / 1 Timothy 4:6.

He knows Paul’s purpose, that is Paul’s plans, he knows how faithful Paul is, he knows how patient Paul has been with others, especially those who opposed him, 1 Corinthians 13:4, he knows how much Paul loves others, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, and he knows how much Paul has had to endurance, Romans 5:3-4.

Paul suffered great persecution in the cities of Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, Acts 13:44-52 / Acts 14:1-20 / Acts 16:1, but notice that he gives all the credit to God for recusing him from all those who were persecuting him, Matthew 5:10.

‘In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.’ 2 Timothy 3:12-13

This verse goes against all those ‘popular television evangelists’ who regularly teach, ‘become a Christian and your life will be free from trouble!’

Paul assures Timothy that persecutions and trials were to be expected by all who want to live holy lives. Anyone who becomes a Christian should expect opposition, suffering and persecution because they follow Christ, Psalm 34:19 / John 15:19 / Matthew 10:22 / Matthew 10:38-39 / Acts 14:22.

It was as certain to be expected that evildoers and imposters will go from bad to worse. The point here is as these evildoers and imposters go from bad to worse, then the persecution Christians will have to endure will also go from bad to worse, 2 Thessalonians 2:1.

Notice that that will also deceive others but at the same time, they themselves will be deceived. They will make others believe that to be true and right, which is false and wrong.

In Today’s world we see many so-called Christians who claim they are prophets, miracles workers and faith healers, these are the people who deceive others into thinking that what they are doing is real and from God and they end up deceiving themselves into thinking they can actually do these things, 1 Thessalonians 2:3 / 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 / 1 Timothy 4:1 / Titus 3:3 / 1 John 1:8 / 1 John 2:26.

There has been a lot of damage caused by people who were sincerely deceived and who tried to do wrong things out of wonderful motives, and because others look at their wonderful hearts, they accept their dangerous deceptions. We can’t always go only by motives in others, we must measure them also by the truth, 1 John 4:1-6 / 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

‘But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.’ 2 Timothy 3:14-15

Paul now encourages Timothy to continue in what he has learned and what he has now become convinced of. He does this by reminding him of his early learning in the Holy Scriptures, and of the value of those Scriptures, Romans 15:4.

Timothy’s grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice have obviously done a great job in raising their son on the Word of God, Acts 16:1 / 2 Timothy 1:5.

He had learned the inspired truth of God, which was able to make him ‘wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’, Ephesians 1:9 / Ephesians 3:3-5 / Colossians 1:9 / Colossians 3:16.

The wisdom he learned from the Old Testament Scriptures would prepare him for all persecution and suffering he would face. John 15:10 / Romans 8:18 / 2 Timothy 1:13 / John 8:31 / Titus 1:9.

‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’ 2 Timothy 3:16-17

When Paul wrote this statement around A.D. 66/67, almost all the New Testament Scripture had been written, which means the term ‘Scripture’ would refer to all the books of our present Bible, 2 Peter 3:15-16.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following concerning ‘all Scripture’.

‘There are two ways of rendering this verse, as seen by a glance at the KJV, compared to this.

‘Every Scripture that is inspired of God’. A.S.V.

‘All scripture is given by the inspiration of God’. K.J.V.

In distinction from the ‘Holy Scriptures’, 2 Timothy 3:15, ‘all Scripture’ here means everything which, through the testimony of the Holy Spirit in the church, is recognized by the church as canonical. When Paul wrote these words, the direct reference was to a body of sacred literature which even then contained more than the Old Testament.’

Notice also that all Scripture are ‘God-breathed’, Genesis 2:7 / John 20:22, it’s the Greek word, ‘Theopneustos’, which means God-inspired, this is the only time this word is used in the New testament. The point is that the Scripture didn’t originate from man but directly from God, 2 Peter 1:20-21.

All Scripture is ‘useful for teaching’, Romans 4:23 / Romans 15:4 / 1 Timothy 1:3 / 1 Timothy 4:13. In other words, all Christians must use the teaching of the Scriptures to teach because they come from God. They are to be used for teaching or communicating instruction, 1 Timothy 4:16.

All Scripture is also ‘useful for rebuking’, that is convincing people of their sins, the truth and claims of their faith, John 16:8, which will lead them to repentance, Hebrews 4:12.

All Scripture is also ‘useful for correcting’, that is leading to a correction or change in someone’s life. When a person is obedient to God’s Word, this will help them go off in the wrong direction, James 1:22–25.

All Scripture is also ‘useful for training in righteousness’, that is helping Christians do what is right, Romans 15:4 / 1 Corinthians 10:11.

When we use God’s Word properly, it will help us to become ‘thoroughly equipped for every good work’. The Scriptures not only lead us to salvation, Acts 20:31 / 1 Thessalonians 2:13, but they will help us live right for God and the Scriptures are all we need to guide us on how to do that whilst we live here on Earth, John 12:48 / 2 Peter 1:3.

The words, ‘thoroughly equipped’ imply we don’t need to go outside of the Scriptures to learn how to live right for God. We have everything we need to help us through life, no matter what our circumstances may be, 2 Timothy 2:21 / Hebrews 13:21.

You will have noticed that some translations use the phrase, ‘that the man of God may be perfect’ or ‘complete’. The word, ‘perfect’ doesn’t mean sinless, it means mature, Matthew 5:48.

The idea is that the Scriptures will help us become mature or complete. In other words, the Scriptures will lead us to everything we need.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following about this.

‘The object isn’t merely to convince and to convert him, it’s to furnish all the instruction needful for his entire perfection. The idea here is, not that anyone is absolutely perfect, but that the Scriptures have laid down the way which leads to perfection, and that if anyone were perfect, he would find in the Scriptures all the instruction which he needed in those circumstances.’

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