2Timothy 3 - Outline of 2Timothy (Book Notes menu page)
At the close of the previous chapter, Paul instructed Timothy to humbly teach God's Word, with the expectation that God will deal with the hearts of the hearers (2Tim 2:23-26). Now, he warns him, that ungodly men will become increasingly hardened against God, as time goes on.
1. This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves,
covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers,
disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers,
incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded,
lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:
from such turn away.
6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses,
and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth:
men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.
9 But they shall proceed no further:
for their folly shall be manifest unto all [men], as theirs also was.
...in the last days {GK=eschatois hemerois} perilous times shall come...
In 1Tim 4:1-3, the Holy Spirit warned that in 'the latter times' {GK=husteros kairos} apostasy would invade the church. As Paul was writing, that apostasy had already begun. As the apostolic era ended, the errors foretold were quickly manifested. Since then, apostasy has been a continual characteristic of the Church Age, and will persist until Christ returns. Acts 20:29,30; Mat 13:24-43
     Here, we are told that the apostasy will take an even more dangerous form, in the days just prior to the Lord's return. In the Book Notes at 1Tim 4:1-6, we mentioned that 'the latter times' and 'the last days' are nearly synonymous, both referring to the Church Age leading up to the Rapture, and prior to the Tribulation period. However, the emphasis of the two terms differs. While the apostasy which arose in 'the latter times' following the apostolic period continues to infect the church, further error will increasingly characterize 'the last days' (described here, in v.1-9) near the end of the Church Age, shortly before the Rapture.
     Paul had instructed Timothy that he should faithfully teach God's Word in order to silence false teachers, and also to rescue those who followed their errors (eg., 1Tim 1:3,4; 2Tim 2:23-26). But in the last days, professing Christians will refuse to listen to God's Word (2Tim 4:3,4).
     In verses 2-9, Paul lists more than twenty characteristics of these 'perilous' {GK=chalepos, dangerous, savage, fierce} 'times' {GK=kairos, seasons}. (This word for 'perilous' occurs in only one other passage, where 'fierce' men are moved by demons. See Mat 8:28.) These listed traits, which describe unregenerate men, demand the judgment of God (Rom 1:28-32; Gen 6:5-7). However, prior to Christ's return to judge the world, these worldly and demonic characteristics will intensify and pervade the professing church, which will display 'a form of godliness' {an appearance of religiosity} while denying the transforming power of the Gospel (v.5).
     During this period of peril, God's servants will declare the Gospel, despite danger and difficulties. The Lord will enable His own to be faithful (Joh 16:33; Mat 28:18-20).
     Timothy, you need to be aware that trouble is coming. But it is not a reason to quit or turn back from the task.
For men shall be...
  1. lovers of their own selves {GK=philautos, self lovers}-
    Christ taught us to deny ourselves (Mat 16:24-26). Those who have believed unto newness of life, have died to self, and their life is wrapped up in the Savior (Col 3:1-4). Yet, today, 'self-love' and 'self-realization' are promoted within the church. In the last days, self-love will reach the perilous height of self-worship (2The 2:4).
  2. covetous {GK=philarguros, lit., loving silver, money lovers}-
    Professional churchmen will promote apostasy because it pays (1Tim 6:9-10). Professing believers will lay up treasures on earth (Mat 6:19-21). Yet, when the Lord comes, He will settle all accounts (James 5:1-6).
  3. boasters {GK=alazon, lit., wanderers, vagabonds, impostors, swaggerers}-
    They will present themselves as spokesmen for God. But despite their high sounding words, they have nothing worthwhile to say (2Pet 2:17-19). Their boasting will be self-deceiving (Rev 3:17,18).
  4. proud {GK=huperephanos, appearing to be superior}-
    Haughty in their own abilities, they will think more highly of themselves than they ought to think (Rom 12:3). Proud of their broad mindedness, they will glory in lifestyles that God condemns (eg., 1Cor 5:1,2; Php 3:18,19).
  5. blasphemers {GK=blasphemos, slanderous, speaking evil of others}-
    Within the professing church, men will revile the name of Christ, denying our Lord's virgin birth, His Deity, His sufficient sacrificial death, His resurrection, and His return (2Pet 2:1,12; Rev 13:5,6). They will also bring slanderous accusations against the faithful servants of Christ (Joh 16:2; Rev 13:7,15-17).
  6. disobedient {GK=apethes, unpersuadable, non-submissive} to parents {GK=goneus, fathers}-
    The breakdown of respect within the family will undermine the foundation of society (Eph 6:1-3). Children who do not learn to submit to their parents, will question all authority, including that of God. As applied to the church in apostasy, professing believers will no longer yield to the teaching and authority of godly fathers in the faith (Heb 13:17).
  7. unthankful {GK=acharistos, lit., without graciousness, unpleasing, ungrateful}-
    This is the attitude of entitlement which takes God's merciful provisions for granted, as if He were indebted to us (Rom 1:21). While God mercifully sends sun and rain upon both the just and the unjust, only those, who know Him, truly appreciate His graciousness. Don't think that He doesn't notice (Luk 17:17,18; Psa 100:4,5).
  8. unholy {GK=anosios, without holiness, unholy, impious}-
    God expects His people to be separated from sin, and dedicated to serve Him (Lev 20:7; 1The 4:7; 1Pet 1:15,16). Professing believers, who look, think, speak and act like the unsaved world, are unholy, and unacceptable to God (2Cor 6:17,18).
  9. without natural affection {GK=astorgos, without the ability to cherish affectionately, without a love for kindred}-
    A lack of love for family members manifests itself in unfaithfulness in marriage, divorce, abortion, disobedient children, dishonored elders, and betrayal of family members (Mat 10:16-18,21-22,34-36).
  10. trucebreakers {GK=aspondos, lit., without an offering, ie., disregarding all attempts at reconciliation}-
    In Rom 1:31, this word is translated 'implacable' and differentiated from 'covenantbreakers.' A covenant breaker dishonors previous agreements. An implacable person refuses to make peace, regardless of multiple concessions from the other party. In the last days, this will characterize professing Christians who are supposed to forgive one another for Christ's sake (Eph 4:32).
  11. false accusers {GK=diabolos, accuser, slanderer}-
    In the NT, this word appears 34 times as a name for Satan, 'the Devil' (eg., Mat 4:1). Here (v.3), and in 1Tim 3:11 and Titus 2:3, the word is used of professing believers, who are engaged in Satan's work of attacking God's people.
  12. incontinent {GK=akrates, 'powerless' to restrain oneself, without self-control, intemperate}-
    These so-called Christians will be driven to follow their fleshly lusts (2Pet 2:14,18; 3:3; Jude 1:16,18, contrast 2Tim 2:22).
  13. fierce {GK=anemeros, not tame, savage}-
    Rather than being gentle toward God's sheep, these are wolves in sheep's clothing (Mat 7:15; 10:16; Gal 5:15).
  14. despisers of those that are good {GK=aphilagathos, the opposite of 'lovers of goodness'}-
    Luk 10:16
  15. traitors {GK=prodotes, a betrayer; one who gives another over to his enemy}-
    Professing Christians will deliver true believers to death (Mat 24:9,10; Mark 13:12; as Christ was betrayed, Psa 41:9; Mat 26:21).
  16. heady {GK=propetes, precipitous, rash, reckless; lit., falling headlong into things}-
    Being headstrong, they will disregard sound and well reasoned counsel, to their own destruction.
  17. highminded {GK=tuphoo, lit., wrapped in smoke; blinded with pride}-
    This word is also translated 'pride' (1Tim 3:6) and 'proud' (1Tim 6:4). It describes the conceit which was at the root of Satan's fall, and which regards its own thoughts as higher than God's Word (1Tim 6:3,4). Yet, this will be the mind of professing believers, in the last days.
  18. lovers of pleasure {GK=philedonos, loving desire (hedonism)} more than {or, rather than} lovers of God {GK=philotheos}-
    Today, many churches feel they must appeal to the flesh in order to increase attendance. If people have no appetite for the milk and meat of the Word, perhaps they will be attracted by entertainment, activities, or food. Paul wept over such people in his day. What will the church be like, when Christ returns? Php 3:18,19; Jude 1:4; Luk 18:8
  19. having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof...-
    The apostate church retains rituals, hymns and beautiful sounding blessings and prayers. But it is mere lip service (cp. Isa 29:13,14). Paul unashamedly proclaimed the Power of God unto Salvation (Rom 1:16), and declared God's power to transform and purify a sinner's heart (1Cor 6:9-11). But the professing church, denying the reality of man's sin and God's wrath, will see no need for God's power to save (Titus 1:16; 2Pet 2:1,19-21).
         Seeing this error already rising in his day, Paul admonishes us to intentionally 'turn away' from such apostates.
  20. they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins,
    led away with with divers {ie., diverse, various, manifold} lusts...-
    Several applications can be made:
    • Apostate teachers will destroy homes by taking sexual advantage of unstable women (2Pet 2:14).
    • Apostate teachers will promote 'Feminism' by appealing to women who have 'manifold desires' for position and authority in the church. God's design for male leadership (eg., 1Tim 3:1-7) will be rejected and replaced with gender neutrality.
    • Apostate teachers will enter into houses of worship (Titus 1:11), and lead spiritually weak people (men and women) further into apostasy. These church members are 'laden with sins,' because they have not come to Christ (Mat 11:28; Joh 1:29; 5:39,40). Having rejected God's Word, they are further deceived (2The 2:10-12). Being unregenerate, they are held captive to their fleshly desires (2Pet 2:19).
  21. ever learning... never able to come to the knowledge of the truth...-
    These churchmen are engaged in an intellectual search for truth. Yet, their search is futile. Having rejected the Gospel which the church is supposed to uphold (1Tim 3:15), and having distorted the message of God's Word (2Tim 2:15; 2Pet 3:16b), they cannot find the Truth (Joh 14:6). Eventually, their search will lead them to receive the Antichrist (Joh 5:39-43; 2The 2:11,12).
  22. resist {GK=anthistemi, stand against} the truth...-
    They stand in opposition to the truth, seeking to discredit the Gospel and to dissuade anyone else from embracing it. In doing so, they are acting like the two magicians, Jannes and Jambres, who sought to discredit God's Word through Moses to Pharaoh, by means of their counterfeit miracles (Ex 7:11-12,22; 8:7). The names, Jannes {meaning "he vexed"} and Jambres {meaning "foamy healer"}, do not appear in the biblical record, but were derived from the Talmudic traditions (with which Paul would have been familiar). Their opposition, against the representatives of the Living God, did not last long.
  23. men of corrupt {GK=kataphtheiro, increasingly corrupting, downwardly destructive} minds...-
    Their depraved thoughts, which are not confined to their own heads, have a deadly influence upon others. 1Tim 6:5
  24. reprobate {GK=adokimos, not approved, having failed the test, rejected} concerning the faith...-
    Having rejected 'the faith' which they professed, they also are rejected. See this word in Rom 1:28; Heb 6:4-8 ('rejected' in v.8); Titus 1:16; 2Cor 13:5,6.
  25. shall proceed {GK=prokopto, advance, make progress} no further {GK=pleion, greater, more excellent}...-
    The self-deceived 'progressive' apostate church, which opposes God's truth, will imagine that their efforts are building God's Kingdom, and bringing peace on earth. But their ungodly endeavor will fail, just as the first 'one world' religion failed at the tower of Babel.
  26. their folly {GK=anoia, lit., mindlessness, senselessness, madness} shall be manifest to all men.-
    Jannes and Jambres were crazy to oppose the LORD, as demonstrated when His hand moved against them (Ex 7:12; 8:18,19; 9:11). Likewise, the foolishness of professing, but apostate, believers will be seen when the Lord moves in judgment (eg., Rev 2:16,21-22; 17:1,2-f).
10. But thou hast fully known my doctrine,
manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,
11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra;
what persecutions I endured: but out of [them] all the Lord delivered me.
12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse,
deceiving, and being deceived.
But thou hast fully known {GK=parakoloutheo, closely followed} my doctrine, manner of life...-
Timothy had closely followed in his spiritual father's footsteps. He had observed the apostle's walk with God, and had learned his ways: In stark contrast with the empty profession of last days apostates (v.1-9), there was nothing counterfeit about Paul's spiritual life.
  • my doctrine...- Paul earnestly and sincerely taught God's Word.
    (Acts 20:18-21,24,27; 2Cor 2:17; 4:1-2,5).
  • manner of life...- Paul genuinely lived according to what God's Word teaches (1The 1:5,6).
  • purpose...- Paul sought only to know and glorify Christ (Php 1:20; 3:8-12).
  • faith...- Even in the midst of very difficult circumstances,
    Paul was fully persuaded that God will do what is right (2Tim 1:12).
  • longsuffering {GK=makrothumia, forbearance} -
    Paul patiently endured wrongful treatment, even from brothers in the faith (eg., Php 1:14-17).
  • charity {GK=agape, love} - Paul had shown love,
    even to those who opposed him and his ministry (1Cor 13:4; 2Tim 2:24-26).
  • patience {GK=hupomone, perseverence} - Through multiple sufferings,
    Paul persevered, laboring for the Lord, in expectation that God's Word will produce fruit (eg., 2Tim 2:9,10).
  • persecutions {GK=diogmos, chasings away, reasons to flee} and afflictions {GK=pathos, sufferings}...
    • ...which came unto me at Antioch (Acts 13:45,50), at Iconium, at Lystra (Acts 14:5-6,19).
      Timothy was well aware of these events, because, at the time, he was living in the vicinity of Lystra.
    • ...but out of them all the Lord delivered me.
      The Lord had 'delivered' Paul out of many impossibly difficult situations and dangers, where he was powerless to help himself.
         The word 'delivered' {GK=rhoumai} means 'to draw to oneself' and thereby, 'to rescue.' It is through drawing nigh unto God, that the believer is sure that His Deliverer has drawn near to him. This is the word which the Lord used in the model prayer which He gave His disciples: "Our Father, which art in heaven... lead us not into temptation, but 'deliver' us from evil: for thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory for ever. Amen." (Mat 6:9-13) In prayer, the tempted and tried are drawn near to the One who has all power to deliver.
         Paul was able to stand, for He was assured that his Deliverer was near. As Paul was writing, the Lord was still delivering him (2Tim 4:16-18, where this Greek word occurs twice}.
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (v.12,13)
Paul did not regard his experience as unique. All true believers, who are seeking to know and serve their Master, will experience persecution {ie., fearful pursuit or pressure from enemies to force them to flee, or to forsake the Faith}. The situation won't get better, until the Lord returns to make all things right, for until then, evil men and seducers {ie., impostors, charlatans} will grow worse, and will go farther and farther astray, ever deeper into the error they have chosen to follow.
     The world is not friendly to God's children. We can expect the world to treat us as they treated our Lord (Joh 15:19-21; 16:33; 17:14). However, the believer can find encouragement in the midst of persecution (Php 1:28,29; Heb 12:2-7).
     Beware: If the world treats you well, perhaps they haven't sensed that you belong to Christ (2Cor 2:15,16).
14 But continue thou in the things
which thou hast learned and hast been assured of,
knowing of whom thou hast learned [them];
15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures,
which are able to make thee wise unto salvation
through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
But continue thou...-
Timothy, while others go ever farther astray, determine that you yourself will remain in the way of Truth:
...the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of...
ie., the things which you have come to understand, and which you know to be trustworthy.
These are the same things which he was to entrust to faithful men (2Tim 2:2).
How did Timothy come to such an understanding and conviction of the truth? Two factors are given:
  1. knowing of whom thou hast learned them...
    ie., Since you have known {GK=eido, seen, perceived, discerned} the reality of 'the Faith' in the lives of those who instructed you (eg., Timothy's mother and grandmother (1:5), and Paul himself (2:2; 3:10).
  2. knowing the holy scriptures...
    ie., Since you have known {GK=eido, seen, perceived, discerned} the holy scriptures...
       Timothy's grandmother and mother were observant Jews. The Bible which they read and taught to Timothy was the Old Testament, since the NT had not yet been written. They knew and believed the OT prophecies which foretold the coming of the Messiah. Therefore, when they heard Paul preach the Gospel, they had recognized that Christ Jesus fulfilled the prophetic promises, and put their trust in Him (Joh 5:39; Luk 24:27,44).
       Now that we have the NT, believers should not neglect the OT. The Old Testament provides the foundation for the New Testament. Believers who 'rightly divide the Word of Truth' will understand that the OT and NT not only complement one another, but, together, form one coherent revelation from God.
... the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
The Bible is 'holy,' because unlike any other volume, it is God's Word to mankind.
     Therefore, the Bible is able {GK=dunamai, has the power} to make you wise {GK=sophia}, in recognizing your need for salvation, and in receiving God's way of salvation, through faith in the person and work of the Savior (2Tim 1:8-10). The apostates are "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the Truth" (v.7), because they have rejected God's Word, preferring the empty 'wisdom' of ungodly men (2:14-18), with the result that they are cast away, having failed to possess saving faith (3:8b; Joh 5:39,40).
     Timothy had put his trust in Christ many years earlier. Why, then, does Paul say he still needs the scriptures to be 'wise unto salvation'? Because our salvation has three tenses:
  1. In the past, when Timothy placed his trust in Christ,
    he was saved from the guilt of sin (Rom 10:9,10; Eph 2:8,9; 2Tim 1:9; Titus 3:4,5).
    At that time, he was born again as a child of God (Joh 1:12,13).
  2. In the present, a newborn babe has just begun a long path toward maturity.
    As they feed on the Word, God's children are changed by the Holy Spirit, who causes them to grow and enables them to put aside fleshly ways and become more like Christ (2Cor 3:18; 1Pet 2:2). This is the present, on-going process of 'being saved' from the power of sin (Rom 6:12,13; Gal 2:20).
  3. In the future, when Christ returns for His own,
    we will be saved from the presence of sin. Heb 9:28; 1Pet 1:5
16 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God,
and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof,
for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect,
{ie., thoroughly} furnished unto all good works.
All scripture is given by 'inspiration of God' {GK=theopneustos, the breath of God, the Spirit of God}...
The scriptures were 'God breathed.' God's Word, the Bible, was written long ago by holy men who were moved by the Holy Spirit, to write exactly what God wanted them to write (2Pet 1:19-21). The holy scriptures are 'the oracles of God' (Rom 3:2). The Holy Spirit spoke through the men who wrote (Mark 12:36; Acts 1:16, etc.). The Lord poured His Truth into those men, who were clean vessels ready for His use. Those men recorded what they received, storing it up for others to draw from later.
     'All scripture' refers to the entire Bible, the OT and the NT. As Paul was writing, the NT was still being written. Yet, even at that time, his epistles were recognized as having their place among 'the other scriptures' (2Pet 3:15,16).
     For a more complete discussion of the Inspiration and Preservation of God's Word, see the first two lessons in Understanding central Bible Themes (on the Resource Menu).
All scripture... is profitable...
The words of the Bible are not dull and dead, except to the natural man, who cannot discern the things of the Spirit of God (1Cor 2:14). Rather, "the Word of God is quick {living} and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword..." (Heb 4:12). Through the written Word, God still breathes His Spirit into the hearts of men today, with no less effect than when He breathed the breath of life into the nostrils of Adam's lifeless clay, and he became a living soul (Gen 2:7).
     God's Word tests the content of a man's mind and heart. It reveals whether a man's thoughts are aligned with the Truth, and whether his heart is right with God (Heb 4:12,13). By means of His Word, God is able to actively perform surgery, within the heart of a yielded man, to make him what He wants him to be, and to prepare him for whatever good purpose pleases Him.
     The Word of God is profitable {GK=ophelos, useful, beneficial}, in contrast to the empty words of man's wisdom, which are "to no profit" {ie., of no use, useless, 2Tim 2:14}. God's Word overflows with value to the man who will hear and heed it (Psa 19:7-11).
Paul lists four specific areas in which God's Word is beneficial:
  1. doctrine {GK=didaskalia, didactic, teaching}-
    Doctrine is the body of truth which believers hold and understand. It is 'that which is to be taught,' namely the fundamentals, principles, tenets and precepts of the Faith. God's written Word is the final authority and test of truth. It leads us to Life and tells us how to live. (eg., 2Tim 3:10; Isa 8:20).
  2. reproof {GK=elegchos, proof, evidence (as in Heb 11:1), that by which a thing is tested}-
    Reproof is the demonstration and refutation of error: (A) to counter the teachings of apostate teachers (Eph 5:11-13), and (B) to convict the believer where he is wrong in his understanding of the faith, or in his manner of living (2Tim 4:2, 'reprove'). God's Word tests the hearts of those who hear it.
  3. correction {GK=epanorthosis, restoration to an upright or right state, straightening of that which is crooked}-
    The Word of God is able to restore a man who has become twisted through wrong teaching and/or wrong living (Psa 119:9).
  4. instruction {GK=paideia, the training of children} in righteousness {GK=dikaiosune, the character of being right}-
    The man who has been corrected and placed on the right path, needs discipline to stay on the straight and narrow way. God's Word trains and nurtures His children, causing them to mature, by cultivating within them a state of right understanding of truth and right living according to the truth. Psa 119:11; 119:97-105
...that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
It is through attention to the scriptures, which had led him to faith in Christ (v.15), that God's servant will be prepared to serve his Lord, in the face of apostasy and opposition. Apart from the Bible, he cannot "be perfect and thoroughly furnished" for whatever the Master has for him to do.
     In the NT, the word most frequently translated 'perfect' {GK=teleios} means to be completed or matured. However, the word used here {GK=artios}, has the idea of being 'made fit' or suitable for a task.
     The phrase "thoroughly furnished" is from a related word {GK=exartizo ('artios' with the prefix 'ek' meaning 'out of')}. Thus, the Word of God makes the man of God fit 'within,' and also fits him out (or, 'outfits' him) with all that he needs, for the Master's work.
     (The inward and outward aspects of 'fitness' are joined, in another related word {GK=katartizo, to make fully fit}, translated 'make you perfect' {ie., 'thoroughly equip you...'}. See Heb 13:21.)
     The inward preparation was also mentioned in 2Tim 2:21, where personal holiness makes a man 'meet' {GK=euchrestos} and 'prepared' {GK=hetoimazo}, or 'good for use' and 'ready.' An empty and clean vessel may be ready for use. But it is not 'thoroughly furnished' for the Master's service, until it is filled with a right understanding of God's Word (2Tim 2:15).
     No man can serve God apart from right application of His Word. The ministry, of God's man, is 'unto all good works' (v.17), which excludes everything in conflict with God's Word.

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