2nd Timothy Chapter Three Commentary by
Audio Study - 2 Timothy 3:1-5
The Last Days
Verse 1. "But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come."
When asked about the "last days," Jesus was very specific. He said: "...You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is NOT yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows..." (Matthew 24:6-8). And every time there is a war, a rumor about a possible war or an earthquake, some group, somewhere, decides that the "end" has come. But don't worry, we are not to be overly "troubled" by such things as Scripture has helped us to see. Trust in the Lord - and pray. He will watch over you.
The "last days" WILL be "difficult" as the Lord's words and the next verses in Timothy reveal. We have all seen that wars are terrible and so are earthquakes, but awful as they are, something just as horrible, though more subtle, will emerge in humanity like an all-pervading disease. Humanity will be poisoned by an in-your-face arrogance, pridefulness, and just plain meanness, similar to what has come out of the empires that have created great destruction in the past. Paul and Timothy lived in a difficult time, and the "last days" will be something like that time or possibly even worse. People, including those in authority will be cold, selfish, uncaring, and a good part of the negative energy in this world will be directed at those who have placed their faith in the Lord.
Verse 2. "For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,"
We are now looking, in this and in the next few verses, at the way people will act and think during "the last days" (Verse 1) of this age. And the amazing thing, as you read about the way humanity is going to be, is that we are a long way down that path already. When it says, "men" in this verse, think both men and women because the author is expressing the nature of mankind, male or female. The phrase "lovers of self" in the original Greek is what you would expect, for it includes the idea of extreme self-absorbtion, selfishness.
"Lovers of money" is rendered "covetous" in the King James and both translations are accurate in relation to the Greek word, "philarguroi," used in this place. "Boastful" is just what it sounds like and it can have the additional meaning of an "arrogant display." "Arrogant" is also translated as "proud," used in the negative sense of uplifting yourself. "Revilers" may also be translated as "blasphemers" and it carries the sense of shouting lies to and about another person or against God. "Disobedient to parents" is a violation of the Fifth Commandment (Deuteronomy 5:16) and it is becoming widespread in our "modern" world. To be "ungrateful" or "unthankful" is to refuse to appreciate that all we have, all we are, is from God. And finally, to be "unholy" is refusing to allow the Holy God to have His rightful place at the center of our lives.
Verse 3. "unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,"
Paul the Apostle is giving us something like a "preview of coming attractions" seen before the main feature is shown at a movie theater. If you want to catch a glimpse of the future, it's right here in these verses. However, this look at what is to come is not attractive, it's grim, as we look right inside of the hearts of mankind at a specific point in future human history. And the concern is that it is a lot like the state of humanity - right now. What will humanity be like at the point when the antichrist is about to come onto the scene? When the rapture of the church is about to take place? Let's continue to look.
For one thing, the general state of mankind will be "unloving," ("without natural affection" KJV). We already saw in the preceding verse that people will be "lovers of self" rather than having a concern for others. "Irreconcilable" people are those who refuse to agree, who stubbornly live within a mindset of war. "Malicious gossips" (KJV "false accusers") is a Greek word that meant "to hurl across," suggesting a verbal assault. "Without self-control" is "incontinent" in the King James, and it includes the meaning of morally unrestrained. People will be "brutal" (KJV "fierce"), savaging one another. As we see these attitudes unfold in the world around us, we come to the word, "haters of good," which is "despisersof... good" in the King James."
Verse 4. "treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,"
"Treacherous" here means the betraying of someone who has trusted you. "Reckless" is also "headstrong" or perhaps "heady" as it is in the King James Version. "Conceited" is puffed up; "highminded" (KJV); literally it meant lifted up with pride. "Lovers of pleasure" is just what it sounds like - someone who is completely caught up in the pleasures of this world instead of giving God the love that is due to him. He has loved us without limit and it is amazing that so many in humanity do not love Him in return.
The past history of this world is a mess. The present is not offering anything that is better and the future, as these verses indicate, will be even worse. Our hope always has been and always will be - in the Lord. Selfish, godless mankind is truly doomed, and the time to trust in Jesus Christ is right now. As anyone of us looks at a newspaper or watches the news, it is apparent that the action words depicted about the time of these verses is already here. But when we give our hearts to the Lord, we no longer need to fear the future. He will bring us through.
Verse 5. "holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these."
You could argue the point that people all over the world are "lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, (and) unholy" as we saw in Verse 2. You could conclude that people everywhere are "unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good," as Paul stated in Verse 3. And you can also find that many, perhaps most in humanity are "treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God," as we saw in Verse 4.
But this Verse 5 is disturbing because now the text is speaking of religious people; those who purport to speak to, listen to, hear and speak the words to the rest of us that come from God. There have always been those who pretend to serve Him, but really serve themselves. But this description of how men and women will be in "the last days" (Verse 1) is especially interesting. It speaks of a people that have "a form of godliness" but "they have denied its power." We can look all around us today and find people who are angry at God because" He "didn't answer my prayer... my child was not healed... my spouse died," and more. Jesus said that a good reason that the "mountain" in our lives did not move for us is because of our "unbelief" (Matthew 17:20). Yes God is sovereign, but we have a part in this, too. The question is: 1) Do we pray? Do we look to the Lord? and 2) When we pray, do we believe?
Father, these are dangerous times and we cannot face them without You. We place our trust in You, knowing that what we can't do, you can. Forgive us our sins, our arrogance in rejecting You in the past. We give our hearts and our lives to God through Jesus Christ. Fill us with Your Spirit and let us rest in You. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Audio Study - 2 Timothy 3:6-9
Verse 6. "For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses,"
It seems that more-and-more of the women in this world are becoming all too much like the men of this world. I recall a quote from years ago which essentially said: "If the men of a culture become debased, the nation might survive for a time, but if the women are debased, that nation will fall." I glanced at the review of a recent movie in which a critic quoted a line from it that was uttered by the lead woman in the film: "A slut is just a woman with the morals of a man." Men and women are being convinced of a lie - that fulfillment outside of marriage is necessary in order to have a full life. The sinner becomes "weighed down with sins" and becomes a person likely to pull others down to his or her level. Today mankind as a whole is corrupt and God will judge sinful humanity.
In order to satisfy themselves, men have been trying to convert women to their way of thinking, and the attempt has been going on since the beginning of time. Most men are corrupt in thinking and action, and they tend to be poor leaders, even though they are supposed to be the spiritual leaders in marriage. No wonder women want concepts like "women's liberation" to be a dominant force in this world. If they can't depend on men and if they are poorly treated by men, why not get paid as much as men and have the "freedom" to do what they want to do? This verse in 2nd Timothy is increasingly real in our culture, as weak men, themselves "weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses,"... "enter into households" and pull women down to their own way of life.
Verse 7. "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."
Those who are "weighed down with sins (and) led on by various impulses," as it was observed in Verse 6, are simply ordinary people who are fed lies and choose to believe in them. Everyone in this world is continually learning, especially now that television, radio, gossip and the internet are each offering so much in the way of incessant information. As Paul the Apostle observed from a vantage point of 2000 years ago, we as a people are "always learning." Well-researched books and the resulting movies from those books, offer tantalizing glimpses into what might be real, but often it is not. "True to life" is often not true. Those sources typically do not bring us "to the knowledge of the truth." If anything, they take us in other directions.
Jesus at one point told His disciples to "not... be troubled." When we feel lost or upset we can know that He has "a place," a safe place for each one of us. He left this earth but said, "I will come again." One of His disciples, Thomas, was worried and asked the question that is on many hearts: "How can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father, but by Me" (John 14:1-6). He is "the way (to God), the (One who is the) truth," and in Him, we have "LIFE" like we never thought possible. To know Jesus Christ is to know the truth. We do not know all things, but we know Someone who does.
Verse 8. "Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith."
Exodus 7:10-11 and the context of those verses include these words: "Then Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs."
"Jannes and Jambres" are the traditional names of the magicians who opposed Moses and also his brother, Aaron. If Origen, who wrote nearly 2000 years ago can be trusted, then there was an apocryphal book called by their names. They are found in the "Targum" commentary by Jonathan on Exodus 7:11 and 22:22. "Opposed" or "withstood" here was the same word used in Acts 13:8, when Elymas the magician opposed Barnabas and Paul. "Depraved" (or "corrupted") in mind was a term related to "perishing" or "utterly destroyed." In a moral sense it meant that someone's moral understanding was completely gone and it was also used of a person whose hearing had perished - they were deaf to the things of God. Paul concluded this verse with similar language to Titus 1:16, where he said, "They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him." The "faith" of such people is false.
Verse 9. "But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes's and Jambres's folly was also."
Paul is continuing to reveal what the state of mankind will be during the time in future history he referred to as "the last days," in 2nd Timothy 3:1. In describing that difficult period in the future, he reached backward to the time of Moses, when that man of God was opposed by Pharoah's magicians. In the future of this world, people will pretend to know the Lord, they will seem to be religious, but actually they will be self-centered individuals who don't know the Lord, don't know the truth; don't want it. As Paul said in Verse 5, they will be "holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power."
The Holy Spirit through Paul the Apostle called out to all of us through the centuries with the words, "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith..." (2 Corinthians 13:5). But you don't need to be fearful that you will fail the test because Jesus clearly gave us the remedy for such a fear. He said, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28-30). The problem with those who fail the test because they are merely religious without having faith in the Lord is that they have not come to Him. He said, "Come to Me," which if we do, enables us to pass whatever test is thrown at us. Just go to the Lord in prayer and through His Word, and give yourself utterly to Him with no strings attached. Trust in Him, and He who is the truth "will give you rest."
Lord, we are tired from searching out what the world offers, and we come to You. We place our faith in You for we are weary and need Your rest. Forgive us our sins and enable us to be in Your rest - forever. We surrender to You now. Thank You, Lord, for receiving me. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Audio Study 10/10/10 - 2 Timothy 3:10-13
Verse 10. "Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance,"
The best translation of the word "followed" here, meant that Timothy CLOSELY followed Paul's teachings; he UTTERLY trusted in and responded to the older man's example. He knew much about Paul, including those years before he met the man personally, from the good things he had heard and later from his own observations as an eye-witness. Paul had been teaching for many decades since his dramatic conversion to Christ and Timothy carefully listened to everything the man said. This is much more than some kind of flattery - the younger man had focused intently on the Word of God expressed through the Apostle Paul. He had discerned correctly that Paul's teachings were from the Lord and so he responded with great intensity.
Timothy also carefully studied Paul's "conduct," from a Greek word not used elsewhere in the New Testament, but it is found in the Septuagint (Greek) translation of Esther 2:20, as to "her manner of life." Paul, Esther and later, Timothy, not only "talked the talk," but they also "walked the walk." Timothy had carefully studied Paul's "purpose" in what he said and did, revealing that the man was like an honest, open book. What you saw is what he was. The "faith" - Paul's faith in the Lord was true and it stemmed from deep in the center of his being. Paul's "patience" (or "longsuffering") with others was discernably real. His "love" was the "agape" love of the Lord expressed through a human being. And Timothy had observed that Paul never gave up - he bore up courageously under suffering. This was a man you could safely choose as someone to emulate.
Verse 11. "persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me!"
You can read about the arrival of Paul and Barnabas at Antioch in Pisidia, in Acts 13:14 & forward from that verse. Paul presented a wonderful sermon within the local synagogue, in which he essentially provided a verbal history of Israel, leading to the arrival of the Messiah Jesus. But not long after that, Paul and Barnabas were expelled from the region. The Gentiles listened and responded, though, causing Paul and Barnabas to say, "...Behold we turn to the Gentiles" (Acts 13:46). Off Paul and the others went to Iconium in Acts 14, where they stayed for quite a long time, speaking and performing signs and wonders.
Finally, a violent attempt was made by both Jews and Gentiles to stone them to death (Acts 14:5) and so off they went to Lystra and Derbe. A man crippled from birth was healed and when the healing became known, the populace decided that Paul and Barnabas were "gods" and were going to sacrifice animals to them. After that, Paul was literally stoned and left for dead, but he rose up alive (Acts 14:19-20). His comment after these experiences was, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God" (Verse 22). Note in his life, however, the many times, as he put it, that "the Lord rescued me!" The Lord has in mind our rescue as well. Yes we will suffer in this life, but the Lord is with us.
Verse 12. "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."
The question might be asked: "What is the 'normal' Christian life?" What should we expect? In some places, pastors have arisen who feel that if people have faith in the Lord, they will become healthy, wealthy and have a gentle life. But it should be noted that those who have such a theology are typically pastors who have grown up in affluent countries. As to God's people who have been raised in other places, it often is a miracle that they have even survived, and poverty is the norm for many who have faith in the Lord (2 Corinthians 1). We receive emails from Christians in Pakistan who are being "persecuted" because of their faith in the Lord Jesus - pray for them.
Paul told us of his sufferings in the preceding verse and in places like 2 Corinthians 11:23-33. It says in this verse that "ALL... will be persecuted," but it's obvious that if we decide to follow Jesus, some might have an easier time than others. However, the "all" of this verse does mean that all who trust in the Lord will know some suffering because of that decision. It is important to see, by the way, that to be "godly" does not in any way mean that we are superior to others who don't follow the Lord like we do. We are to love the Lord and love those in humanity, and if some don't like us, let it be their problem; not because of some kind of attitude on our part.
Verse 13. "But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived."
This chapter in 2nd Timothy began with the statement "... In the last days perilous times will come" (Verse 1), and this verse is a continuation of those words. In the "last days," as glimpsed in this chapter, "evil men and imposters" will exist in religion, in politics, in education and in every phase of life. They will not only spend their time "deceiving" others, but it's especially interesting and rather sad, that they are "being deceived" as well.
When someone advocates a practice like what is called "abortion," it's essential to understand that not only are they deceiving others when they defend such a belief, but they are also self-deceived. Most are blind to the reality that an unborn child is a human being. Just as we are changing and developing all of our lives, the same is true for the unborn little one as he or she morphs from one stage to another in the womb. Physical birth does not somehow instantly turn us into human beings - we already were. Those who promote killing them don't understand and an important response to their words and actions should be to pray for them, because they are in great danger - Almighty God will judge those who harm His little ones. We need to pray for those unborn children - and pray for those who would harm them.
Father, we as people, those born and not yet born; we need Your protection. Please help us, Lord, as we struggle through this life. We pray that words like these in 2nd Timothy will bring many out of deception and into trust in the Lord. Be with us and bring us safely through. We love You, Lord, and we trust in You now. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Audio Study - 2 Timothy 3:14-17
The Sacred Writings
Verse 14. "You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them,"
There is so much confusion in the world. One religion says this and another says that. A scientific theory sounds good in this generation, but is thought to be ridiculous in the next. Philosophers through the centuries have not only come up with theories about the nature of life, but have also thought it necessary to repudiate every such theory that has been offered in the past. The theories of theologians and psychologists are similar - the authors and teachers in those disciplines tend to try to create all-inclusive systems and many attack their predecessors just as strongly as the philosophers are apt to do.
What we all need in life is a "solid foundation" as Paul mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:19, when he also said, "the Lord knows who are His." When we accept the Lord and have faith in Him, we begin to discover and know that we are safe in Him. In that same verse is an important reminder: "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity." We are saved through faith, by God's grace, to a life of holiness and love. Timothy had been raised with such ideas, as we will see in the next verse, and we are shown the source of what was given to him. In and through Scripture, the sacred writings of God through people, we are taught by the living God.
Verse 15. "and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
People definitely do not have equal opportunities in life. Some are born into favorable circumstances, but most are not. Some live in countries containing great universities that provide educational opportunities for many, but for most in the world, education is only a dream. In some places, you can worship God as you choose, but for many it is dangerous to deviate from the religion(s) permitted by the culture and/or government. And if, like young Timothy, the addressee of this letter, you have lived in a family, place and time when and where you can freely worship the Lord, you should thank and praise God each and every day.
From his childhood, Timothy was exposed to what Paul termed "the sacred writings" in this verse (the "Holy Scripture" in the King James). Timothy's Bible experience was with what we call the "Old Testament," though he might have been exposed to one or more of what are termed the "gospels" of the New Testament. If you want the "wisdom" mentioned in this verse, it will be found by ordinary people like you and me, through God's Holy Word, and this is not just any wisdom such as the shifting, changing philosophies of this world, but this is true "wisdom that leads to salvation which is in Christ Jesus." Do you want to become clean and right in the sight of God, and find His wisdom? Look to His Word, the sacred writings, the Bible, which will lead you to His Son, who will in turn give you His Holy Spirit.
Verse 16. "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;"
It is widely known these days that the phrase "inspired by God" or "given by inspiration of God" actually meant "God breathed" through the people who wrote the words in the original languages of the time. If you have the question, "What is Scripture?" in your heart, the beginning of the answer is to simply start reading the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible and begin to pray. He will hear your prayer and reveal His Holy Scriptures to you. You can read other books if God so wills it for your life, but pray about them also and you will find that the Bible, Old or New Testament, has the unique power to lead you to faith in Christ Jesus, as we saw in Verse 15.
As you prayerfully read, you will begin to discover, to know that "All Scripture is inspired by God." Yes it carries with it the humanity of those who physically wrote the words, but you will also find that when you read, you are at the throne of God and it is He who touches your heart with understanding. You may or may not be called to "teaching," but if God does send you in that direction, this Book, the Bible, will make your teaching "profitable" to others. "Reproof" meant the refutation of a false statement or argument. You will begin to know what is true in life and what is not. Your life will be at last placed on the right track and you will find in Christ that you have "righteousness" in the sight of God. All of this and more is what "Scripture" will do for you.
Verse 17. "so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."
This verse is a continuation of Verses 15 and 16 - Scripture is God's gift to you and to me. So many go through life feeling inadequate, as opposed to the adequacy offered through a life spent in the study of God's Word. The man, the woman of God, will be drawn to His Word. We will want to be in His Presence and LISTEN to what He has to say. We begin to find a desire to please Him through acting and speaking in a way that delights the Lord, and we must learn about Him in order to see what He wants from our lives. Timothy, the direct recipient of this letter we call "2nd Timothy," or as it was originally called, "Pros Timotheon B," had the blessing of being raised in a home where he was surrounded by the words of the Old Testament Scriptures and later in his childhood, it is very possible that a portion of the New Testament, probably one or more of the Gospels written about Jesus, was shared with him.
We saw in 2 Timothy 1:5 that Timothy's grandmother, Lois, was the first in the family to place her trust in the Lord, and his mother, Eunice, later did the same. Timothy also gave his heart to the Lord, probably at a very young age, and Paul was able to observe in that same Verse 5 of Chapter 1, that the younger man had a "genuine faith" in the Lord. The Scriptures brought that faith to Timothy and the same opportunity is presented to us as well. I think that reading biographies of famous men and women can be very helpful in life. Learning the lessons of history is important. Understanding the thoughts of great people, whether in philosophy, math, science or other disciplines can be valuable. But to be "adequate, equipped for every good work," you need the words that come from
God. You will know what it means to be "adequate," to be "complete" in the sight of God, an experience matched by no other.
Father, we give our hearts and our lives to You, through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Give us a genuine, heartfelt NEED for Your Word, the Holy Scriptures, and fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we might understand. Equip us, Father, for every good work and make us complete in the sight of God. In Jesus Name. Amen.