2 Timothy 3
2 Timothy 3:1-9-The Characteristics of Those Who Oppose Christ
Paul has just told Timothy to avoid being argumentative just for the sake of arguing (2:14-19). He then told him that there may be times when he needs to enter into a discussion over difficult matters, but gives him instructions on how he should do so (2:20-26). He now tells him that there will come a time when he will have to take a stand against falsehood and he should not avoid doing so. He gives a long list of characteristics of those people who claim to be godly (:5), but are not. They are immoral men who use the ministry for their own desires and benefits. The term “the last days” refers to the entire time period from his writing of this letter to the return of the Lord.
There are three glaring characteristics of these people who oppose Christ.
2 Timothy 3:1-4-They love the things of the world more than they love God
All that is necessary to understand the true character of these people is to read the words that Paul uses to describe them (:2-4). They are worldly, of the flesh, the old nature. These are men who have completely bought into the worldview of humanism. Man is the beginning and end of all things. He is here for his own purposes and his own pleasures. The phrase that summarizes their philosophy of life is that they are “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” The word “pleasure” is a compound word. The first word (philos) means, “friend” and is sometimes translated as “love”…meaning the kind of love expressed between friends. The second word (hedone) means “pleasure, or desire for pleasure”…from which we get the English word “hedonism”. So, the word means “a person who likes hedonistic pleasure”.
"pleasure," is used of the gratification of the natural desire or sinful desires (akin to hedomai, "to be glad," and hedeos, "gladly"), Luk 8:14; Tts 3:3; Jam 4:1, 3, RV, "pleasures" (AV, "lusts"); in the singular, 2Pe 2:13.
Lust (Noun and Verb):
"pleasure," is translated "lusts," in the AV of Jam 4:1, 3 (RV, "pleasure").
Note: In 1Th 4:5, AV, pathos, "passion" (RV, "passion"), is translated "lust," which is the better rendering of the next word epithumia, rendered "concupiscence." Pathos is described by Trench as "the diseased condition out of which epithumia springs." In 1Cr 12:6: epithumetes, a luster after, is rendered "to lust."
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=G2237&t=NASB
2 Timothy 3:5-6-They want to appear to be religious but refuse to be accountable
These people would perceive themselves to be “spiritual”. Even people today, when asked if they are religious will sometimes reply that they are not religious, but that they are spiritual. In other words, they are unwilling to accept the fact that there is a single divine being that they are accountable to. Instead, they have pieced together what they consider to be a sense of connection with the universe and its energy and are trying to live in harmony with it and other people. The have a “form of godliness”…they appear to be religious (Isaiah 29:13). But, they have “denied its power”…the rightful authority that true godliness (that recognizes the sovereignty of God) would submit to. They want to be godly…without God.
This is most vividly demonstrated by their distorted and warped moral system. Seeing themselves as being superior to any objective authority…they have no reservation to take advantage of other people. Paul speaks specifically of “weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses”. Notice that these women are “weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses.” The words “weighed down” mean that there is an accumulation of something that has a significant affect on them. They are “weighed down” with “sins” and they are “led on by various impulses”. These women are “weak”…meaning that they have no moral or spiritual standards. And, they are driven by the lusts of the flesh…meaning they have no emotional or mental control. These men “captivate” them.
practically synonymous with No. 1, denotes either "to lead away captive," Luk 21:24, or "to subjugate, to bring under control," said of the effect of the Law in one's members in bringing the person into captivity under the law of sin, Rom 7:23; or of subjugating the thoughts to the obedience of Christ, 2Cr 10:5; or of those who took captive "silly women laden with sins," 2Ti 3:6.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G163&t=NASB
How do they “captivate” these women? Sadly, we see men in our own time use some of the same tactics that were possibly used then. For instance, they take advantage of women who have overt lusts for sexual desires. Instead of helping them understand the Biblical purpose of sex and its proper expression…they tell them that sex is just a natural function of the body (often looking to the animal world as an example) and that there are no limits to its expression. Then, they encourage them to be free to openly express their sexuality in perverse ways…generally, with themselves. Other men have expressed that their own need for sexual interaction is heightened because of the pressure that they are under or the obligations that they face and suggest that because of who they are, it is okay for these women to engage in sex with them. They take advantage of the sexual weakness of these women and use them for their own sexual pleasures.
2 Timothy 3:7-9-They accumulate knowledge but reject the truth
These people love to learn about other religious beliefs and practices. They attempt to package teachings from all religions, philosophies, and belief systems into one comprehensive system of thought. They show little, or no concern, for the fact that these differing sources of information contradict one another and at times outright deny the validity of each other. Truth is not as important as syncretism…finding those things that they appear to have in common and then coming to the conclusion that those items represent the truth. No one religion is totally true. Each has a part of the whole and it is their role to identify those parts that they all share in common and organize a belief system around them. The problem is that while they are continuously gaining more and more knowledge…that knowledge does not result in their knowing the truth (:7)
Paul tells Timothy that this is nothing new. In the Old Testament period two men did the same thing (:8-9).
3:8. Jannes and Jambres. Though these names do not appear in the O.T., in late Jewish, pagan, and certain early Christian writings they are applied to the Egyptian magicians who performed counterfeit miracles in opposition to Moses (Ex. 7:11,2). They are symbols of the folly of opposing the truth.
Ryrie Study Bible, The Second Letter of Paul to Timothy, footnote on 3:8, p. 1827
4. (8-9) An example of this sort of corrupt human condition: Jannes and Jambres, who resisted Moses.
Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.
a. Jannes and Jambres: Though they were not named for us in the Exodus account, these two men are the Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses before Pharaoh (Exodus 7:8-13, 7:19-23, 8:5-7, and 8:16-19).
b. Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses: These were able to work real miracles - not mere parlor tricks - but by the power of darkness and not the power of God. When Moses cast down his rod and it turned into a serpent, Jannes and Jambres could do the same. When he turned water into blood, they could do the same. When Moses brought forth a plague of frogs, Jannes and Jambres could do the same. Yet eventually they could not match God miracle-for-miracle, and their occult powers were shown to be inferior to God's power.
i. The ability to do miracles by the power of darkness and the willingness to receive them as authentic will characterize the end times (Revelation 13:13-15 and 2 Thessalonians 2:9).
ii. Some of us are amazed by any spiritual power that is real, without carefully thinking that real power may have a demonic source instead of a Godly source. And even if a psychic or new age power seems to feel right, we must not be seduced by it because demonic powers can come masquerading as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:15).
c. Resisted Moses: The resistance of truth by Jannes and Jambres was shown by their ability to cooperate with demonic powers to do miracles. In the last days, men will also resist the truth.
i. Even as Jannes and Jambres were eventually put to shame (though for a while they matched Moses "miracle for miracle") and were eventually compelled to give reluctant glory to God, so also will the evil men of the last days. Even as Jannes and Jambres' power had limits, so does Satan's power, even in the last days - God is still in control.
ii. This is the message of great hope in the midst of this great darkness - the spirit of the last days has an answer to it in Jesus Christ. The spirit of the last days is not stronger than the power of Jesus. The glorious truth is that we don't have to be bound by the spirit of our times; we don't have to be slaves to self and have our universe revolve around something as puny as our selves. There is hope, triumphant hope, in Jesus.
iii. "What is remarkable about this analogy, however, is not just that the Asian false teachers are likened to the Egyptian magicians but that Paul is thereby likening himself to Moses!" (Stott)
David Guzik :: Study Guide for 2 Timothy 3, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_2Ti/2Ti_3.cfm?a=1128004
2 Timothy 3:10-13-The Persecution by Those Who Oppose Christ
2 Timothy 3:10-11-The persecution of Paul
Paul tells Timothy that he is aware that when he stood for Christ, he suffered persecution.
• At Antioch, Paul was kicked out of the city for preaching the gospel (Acts 13:50).
• At Iconium, Paul was almost executed by stoning (Acts 14:5).
• At Lystra, they actually did stone Paul and leave him for dead (Acts 14:19).
But he is also aware that through it all…God delivered him. Obviously, Paul is not saying that God delivered him from the difficulties and trials...but, that God delivered him through them. Someone has said that instead of praying, “God, get me out of this situation!”…we should pray, “God, what do you want me to get out of this situation?”
2 Timothy 3:12-13-The persecution of all followers of Christ
Now Timothy is going to have to deal with the same types of challenges that Paul had faced. As will all men who "live godly in Christ Jesus" (:12). In fact, things are only going to get worse as “evil men and impostors” continue to deceive people about the truth of the Gospel.
2 Timothy 3:14-17-The Protection of Those Who Follow Christ
2 Timothy 3:14-15-The investment of the people of God in his life
Paul now tells Timothy to stand strong in the things that he was raised with (1:5) and the things that he has learned from him concerning the "sacred writings" (:15). Never forget those things that people who loved him invested into his life. These are the things that will keep him strong during difficult days.
2 Timothy 3:16-17-The trustworthiness of the Word of God in his life
The truth that comes from God's Word is to be the source of his defense. The Scripture is inspired by God, and as a result, it will prove to be the most effective weapon he has to equip him to do the work that God has called him to.
The word “inspired” means “God breathed”. How did God inspire the Scriptures? Imagine a balloon. You take a deep breath and blow into the balloon…it slowly expands and fills us with the air from your lungs. Now, you release the balloon and the air comes out. The same air that went into the balloon…is the same air that comes out of the balloon. In a similar way, God breathed into men the Word that He wanted them to write down. Then, as they began to write, the same breath of God’s Word that went into them, came out of them (2 Peter 2:21). Paul says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (:16-17). The purpose of God’s Word is to prepare us to serve God…and it is “adequate”, completely trustworthy and capable to accomplish that purpose. Someone has said that it is profitable (able to accomplish its purpose) for…
• "teaching”…showing the correct way for us to live and follow God
• “reproof”…identifying when we have gotten off of course and where we have gone wrong
• “correction”…explaining how to realign our lives with God, get back on course and fulfill His will
• “training in righteousness”…revealing how to live a live that is filled with the Holy Spirit, is reliant on His power, and that pleases God.
For informative articles on inspiration see:
Prayer: Lord, help me to know Your Word and to depend upon it as my only source of truth. Please help me to be able to stand strong and faithful in the face of persecution, and to faithfully present Your truth. Help me to truly be a godly man.