Saturday, April 14, 2012

2 Timothy 3:1-9

Vs. 1-9 Having giving instructions for what a servant of God is to look like and pursue. The Apostle Paul contrasts that by giving an exhortation on the behavior of people in the last days before the Lord Jesus’ return. Though what he writes was seen in the world then and even now increasingly; what is being described here by the Apostle will be the predominate behavior of that time. Thus both individual and societal degeneracy will be at their height before the coming of the Lord (Matt. 24:12-13). However individual degeneracy is not governed by the end times. Rather an individual’s acceptance or rejection of the truth given them in the generation that they are given it dictates that (Rom. 1:18-36). Now the passage in its entirety:

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.”

“…In the last days perilous times will come.” The Bible in no way paints a rosy picture of the unregenerate world. If anything both the historic and prophetic picture of mankind in the Scriptures apart from God is a bleak one. Now the Bible does not attribute this depravity to a mental illness, or societal maladjustment, or anything that can be corrected by us. Rather to a spiritual sickness, which has at its core sin. Therefore when Jesus commands that we all be born-again (John 3:3-5); it’s not a nice "religious" suggestion. It’s an imperative from God to have Him fundamentally change us by our faith in Him. For that is the only hope for the human race, regeneration by the Spirit of God, which we receive when we believe in Jesus Christ the Lord crucified and Risen from the dead (Titus 3:4-7). Verses two through five then graphically describe some of the fruits of the unregenerate world, and specifically of unregenerate mankind's fundamental nature before the coming of the Lord.

“For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” vs. 3-5

Taking each one individually, they are:
For men will be "lovers of themselves" Nothing else will matter but self. Everything and everyone becomes a means to gratify one's self. Now it is that idolatry of self that caused Satan to become corrupted within and be cast out of heaven forever (Consider Ezekiel 28:11-19; Matt 4:8-10).

“Lovers of money” In contrast to loving God, or ones neighbor as oneself, as Jesus commands; people in the last days will be ruled by their lusts and desires for more. Now Jesus warns us all about this, for He said: "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." Matt 6:24 
Even with that warning money is still the means by which many seek to gratify their souls desires. Rather than seeking satisfaction in God by knowing Christ and being content with whatever He allots us in this life (Heb. 13:5). Therefore the Apostle Paul also warns us all that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:10). For it is through the love of money that those who love it will do and justify great evils in their pursuits for more (consider Luke 16:14-15; James 5:1-5; Rev 18-19). Now the Lord Jesus also warns that when a person loves mammon (i.e. riches/money) they become filled with darkness within (See Matt. 6:19-24). Therefore in the lasts days it is not unreasonable to assert that there will be grave economic injustice and disparity as men and women's unquenchable love/lust for corruptible mammon will drive their lives energies. Replacing God, not only as their Savior, but also as their "moral/ethical" conscience! Therefore do not let anyone deceive you into thinking that greed is "good" or justifiable as an economic driving force to stimulate economic growth. Greed and the corruption it breeds within the individual and greater society always has a degenerating effect on both the individual, and the societies were it is accepted; and thus does not promote or forward the well being of either.

Boasters” TDNT says of this word that the: ἀλαζών is the one who "makes more of himself" than the reality justifies, "ascribing to himself either more and better things than he has, or even what he does not possess at all" In ancient Greek comedy the ἀλαζών was a favorite character, though here the connotations are not humorous, but of men seeking their own will, with no regards to the will of God. Therefore in the last day’s humility, dependency on God, and honest self assessment will be in short supply. In the Septuagint; the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament; the word used here is used in Job 28:8 of the “proud lions” as a metaphor for men who live without fear of God. In Prov. 21:24 it is used of the proud and haughty scoffer who acts with arrogant pride, mocking faith in God and or obedience to Him; and in Habakkuk 2:5 of their intoxication and godless desires which are never satisfied.

“Proud” related to the previous word (See Rom. 1:30; Old Testament see Psalm 119:21; Prov. 3:34, Isaiah 29:20; then in Psalm 119:51, 69, 78, 122 of the proud who persecute the Godly). The word used here was exposited by early church as those who have, boasting of what they do have, to those who do not have (TDNT).  In light of the gospels call for humility and lowliness of mind towards each other to have and express such an attitude is a most grievous sin in the eyes of God. Indeed in the Scriptures though the proud join forces, or persecute the poor, in the Day of God's wrath, none will go unpunished (consider Pr. 16:5; Psalm 10:2-4; 14-18; Isaiah 2:15-17 etc). Now as for the word translated proud here it appears five times in the N.T. (Luke 1:51; Rom 1:30; 2 Tim 3:2; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5) and always with very serious negative connotations. And thus in stark contrast to the proud we see the Virgin Mary singing the praises of God who "scatters the proud in the imaginations of their hearts" Luke 1:51 And thus the humiliation of the exalted, and the exaltation of the lowly, as Jesus has said over and over again in the gospel, is His agenda (). Therefore pride keeps an individual alienated from God, as both the Apostles James and Peter so clearly state: “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” Now TDNT says of their doing so "According to the quotation ὑπερηφανία is wickedness in its final form." As for the TDNT it concludes their article on this word by saying "Man’s attitude to God finds expression in his attitude to other men."
Therefore the last days will be marked by people living in utter indifference to God and thus utter indifference to their fellow persons feelings or welfare. Indeed it will be the proud who will be persecuting believers in the last days, as they have always done down through the centuries.

“Blasphemers” In the N.T. blasphemers primarily are those who deny the claims of Jesus Christ, who mock and revile Him, His followers, or His call to all people to repent and believe in Him. Blasphemers then are those who not only take the Name of God or Jesus Christ in vain, which can be forgiven (Matt. 12:31-32); but they are those who refuse the Holy Spirit’s call to them and choose to remain hardened in their unbelief. In another more general sense blasphemers are those who use profane language, slander, defame, or say injurious things about another, whether God, man or dignitaries. According to TDNT "blasphemy does not have to find verbal expression. Any bad or unloving action can contain it, either because it resists the holy will of God or because it causes the enemies of Christianity to calumniate it (1 Tim. 6:1; James. 2:7; Rom. 2:24; Titus. 2:5)".  In the TDNTA they expand on this and state: "Christians for their part must take care that they do not, by their conduct, give cause for blasphemy against God or His Word (1 Tim 6:1; Titus 2:5). Indeed, the behavior of Christ's disciples (even towards each other) should contribute to the glory of the Father (cf. Matt 5:16). This is probably the sense in which we should interpret NT lists of sins, which typically contain prohibitions of blasphemy (Eph 4:31; Col 3:8; 1Tim 6:4; 2 Tim 3:2). Blasphemy is mentioned in them as characteristic of the heathen and apostate Christians." Quoted from the Theological Dictionary of New Testment Theology Abridged Edition, (page 96 article no. 4), Verlyn D. Verbugge Editor (TDNTA)

“Disobedient to parents” The word used here is used in Luke 1 :17 in describing John the Baptists Mission as the precursor of Jesus Christ that: "He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." The Apostle Paul's declaration that the last days will be marked by children's disobedience to their parents parallels his use of this word in Rom 1:30 of those who have rejected God. In the last days then children will be not just off and on disobedient to their parents, they will be utterly non responsive to rebuke or correction. (See Deut. 21:18-21 for an example of such disobedience without returning to the Law to punish it).

“Unthankful” The word used here is the antonym of the word is used in the N.T. to describe thanksgiving towards God. It appears only here and in Luke 6:35 where it is profoundly used by the Lord Jesus to motivate us to love our enemies in very tangible ways as proof our sonship to God. For God is kind to both the unthankful and the evil. Sadly the last days will be a time when thanksgiving to God will be rare. And maybe that's why we as God's people are given seemingly enumerable exhortations throughout the Scriptures to praise Him and give Him thanks for all things. For praise and thanksgiving is not only good for the saved individual and cooperate soul; bringing about doing good to all. It is contagious to all, enlightening all of the goodness of God through word and deed; just as surely as griping and complaining is in bringing about evil and ill will (Consider Ps 30:4; 92:1-4; 97:12; 100:4; 105:1; 106:1; 111:10; 119:62; 135:3; 136; 140:13; 147:1; 1 Cor. 15:57; Eph 5:4; 5:20; Col 1:3; 1:12; 3:15; 3:17; 1 Thess 1:2; 5:18; 1 Tim 2:1; Heb 13:15 etc).
Finial thought give thanks to God always because: "God's praise endures forever"

Unholy The word used here appears only twice in N.T. Both uses are by the Apostle Paul, here and in 1 Tim. 1:9. Where the Law is said not given for the Believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is by virtue of belonging to Him, holy (1 Peter 2:9); and thus we are to be holy in conduct (1 Peter 1:15); but for the unholy. That is those who by their unbelief and conduct have no regards for God or the Lord Jesus Christ or His Word or the institutions that reflect God’s Presence or Person amongst us. The last days will mark a generation of unholy men and women. A people that will have no regard for God or His Word (and the moral constraints within it) or the institutions that expound it.   

“Unloving” The King James renders this as “Without natural affection.” The thought here is parents and children will be without natural affections or love towards each other. The original family unit will have utterly broken down, no obligations or concern for each other. (Also see Rom 1:31 and it use there).

“Unforgiving” The King James renders this as “trucebreakers.” The idea is people will be implacable, unwilling to cease from their hostilities, instead they will be antagonistic and utterly irreconcilable. People will not be persuaded to enter into or keep a covenant of peace.
(Also see Rom 1:31).

“Slanderers” The King James renders this as “false accusers.” The word used here is the same word used as a proper title for the devil who accuses the brethren night and day. Thus the idea is that men and women will be malicious slanderers and false accusers against each other. Defamation of another’s character will no longer viewed as a grave and evil sin.

“Without self control” The King James renders this as “incontinent.”When the Apostle Paul was brought before the Governor Felix and his wife Drusilla and Paul gave testimony about faith in Christ. Paul reasoned with them about three things: righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come (Acts 24:24-25). In the last days the long held virtue of self discipline will have all but vanished. For believers though self control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that we are to live out in all areas of our lives; yet this is not asceticism, but Godly self restraint and self control as we are led by the Holy Spirit rather than the sinful passions of the flesh.

“Brutal” The antithesis of being mild mannered or kind, mankind will be brutal, savage, fierce towards each other (Strong’s). Civility and graciousness will be supplanted by the law of the jungle.

“Despisers of good” Instead of loving goodness and good men, the last days will see mankind despising it. Indeed the word here is the antithesis of loving goodness and thus indicates that people will stand against it, and thus those who live, or seek to live by it. The virtuous and the upright person than will not only be a scarce commodity in the last days, but will be a target, as unregenerate mankind will be openly hostile towards all those who live or seek to live good lives.

Traitors” the word means to give one up unjustly into the hands of their enemies; the implication is clear; so that whomever they give up will suffer grave harm or death. Now the Lord Jesus said in following Him: “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. Matt 10:21 The last days then will be a time where men and women will actively and openly betray each other. Now the word used here is also used in Luke 7:16 being applied to Judas Iscariot as an appellation, “the traitor”. And in Acts 7:52 Stephen uses this word as he rebukes the Sanhedrin counsel’s elders charging them with being betrayers and murders of not only the prophets but also of God's Son  (See Acts 7:52-53)

“Headstrong” The word literally means to fall forward, i.e. “headlong”, it metaphorically describes one who precipitates crises or conflicts; who is ill considerate; acts recklessly; rashly, one who is utterly thoughtless about ones actions or words etc.

“Haughty” The King James renders this “Highminded.” That is being puffed up or lifted up with pride. The Apostle Paul uses this word in is his first epistle to Timothy warning him not to accept new believers as Pastoral candidates, “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” 1 Tim 3:6
The Apostle Paul's other use of this word is in 1 Tim 6:4 there he calls proud those who reject sound doctrine which accords with godliness and instead are given over to arguments and disputes.

“Lovers of pleasure" rather than lovers of God. For those who know God personally through faith in Jesus Christ there is no greater pleasure than to love Him and experience Him more. King David’s passionate love of the Lord is a model we all should emulate (Ps. 16:11). In contrast the world only loves pleasure whether illicit or legitimate, there will be no delighting in, waiting on or worshiping the Lord. There will only be sought and delighted in one’s own pleasures. Obsession with sexual gratification will mark the last days.

 Vs. 5 “having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”

Verse five to nine now warns of those who profess faith in Christ, presenting to others an outward appearance of it, yet deny its power; that is God’s transforming power through the Holy Spirit by their ongoing conduct in sinful lifestyles. These are individuals whose religious language and practices makes them look like real people of faith to the undiscerning or uniformed. But inwardly they are unregenerate, and thus their outward appearances and professions of faith only conceals their true inward nature. Wolves in sheep’s clothing is what the Lord Jesus calls them (Matt. 7:15-20).
The Apostle Paul describes some of their fruits in verses six to nine.

“For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.” vs. 6-9

In the early church the congregation often gathered in the residences of believers. And often women hosted believers meetings in their homes. Both the Apostle Paul and John were hosted by women in their homes, and this is where they often discipled other believers (Acts 16:11-15; 2 & 3 John’s epistles). Now this was not an uncommon practice for both the prophets Elijah and Elisha and of the course the Lord Jesus Christ were ministered to by women of faith (1 Kings 17:8-24; 2 Kings 4:8-37; Luke 8:1-3). The problem though is some of these men whom Paul mentions here were passing themselves off as Apostles or ministers of Christ to lure while gullible women to take sexual advantage of them. Therefore the Apostle Paul warns us all about such men. Saying they are men who are loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. They may learn spiritual language and some Godly principles, but they never come to a knowledge of the truth. That is salvation through genuine repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore the knowledge that they do acquire does not transform their person. And like Pharaoh’s magicians Jannes and Jambres who resisted Moses; these also resist the truth, that is Biblical truth when it is presented to them, and thus there is no conviction of sin (i.e. Godly sorrow) nor repentance from it; thus no genuine faith in their lives as there was in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). Therefore the Apostle Paul declares: “but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.” vs. 9

Word Studies
Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, TDNT:
"Boasters" vol. 1, page 226
"Proud" vol. 8, page 225
"Blasphemers" vol. 1, page 621

Word Appearances in the N.T.
"Lovers of themselves" (Str 5367) appears only here in 2 Tim 3:2 
"Lovers of money" (Str 5366) appears only here in 2 Tim 3:2 and Luke 16:14
"Boasters" (Str 213) appears only here in 2 Tim 3:2 and in Rom 1:30
"Proud" (Str 5244); (Luke 1:51; Rom 1:30; 2 Tim 3:2; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5) 5x
"Blasphemers" (Str 898); (Acts 6:11, 13; 1 Tim 1:13; 2 Tim 3:2; 2 Peter 2:11) 5x
"Disobedient" (Str 545); (Luke 1:17; Acts 26:19; Rom 1:30; 2 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:16; 3:3) 6x
"Unthankful" (Str 884) appears on here in 2 Tim 3:2 and Luke 6:35
"Unholy" (Str 462) appears on here in 2 Tim 3:2 and 1 Tim 1:9
"Unloving" (Str 794) appears only here in 2 Tim 3:3 and in Rom 1:31
"Unforgiving" (Str 786) appears only here in 2 Tim 3:3 and in Rom 1:31
"Slanderers" (Str 1228) appears only here in 2 Tim 3:3 and 1 Tim 3:11; Titus 2:3
"Without self control" (Str 193) appears only here in 2 Tim 3:3
"Brutal" (Str 434) appears only here in 2 Tim 3:3
"Despisers of good" (Str 865) appears only here in 2 Tim 3:3
"Traitors" (Str 4273) appears only here in 2 Tim 3:3 and Luke 6:16 and Acts 7:52 (betrayers)
"Headstrong" (Str 4312) appears only here in 2 Tim 3:4 and Acts 19:36 (rashly)
"Haughty" (Str 5187) appears only here in 2 Tim 3:4 and 1 Tim 3:6; 6:4
 “Lovers of pleasure" (Str 5369) appears only here in 2 Tim 3:4

 The rare of use of several of these words in the N.T. that the Apostle Paul by the Holy Spirit's guidance choose to use in describing the people of the lasts days is no coincidence. Same with those words which are found here and in Romans 1:18-32 list of evils that God gives people over to for rejecting true knowledge of Himself. Therefore people will not be this way because they did not know the truth, people will be this way in the last days because they rejected the truth, and thus rejected God.

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982

Note: this work is a draft version

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