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Timothy Series

Studies in 2nd Timothy

2nd Timothy Chapter 3

 

John Baugh
February 20, 2009

 

1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

 

6For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 9But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes's and Jambres's folly was also.

 

10Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11persecutions, 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!

 

12Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

 

14You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15and 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.

 

16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

 

 

 

"Difficult Times Will Come"

 

1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

 

The things Paul describes to Timothy sound a lot like our conditions today. Thanks to banking, stock market investment and corporate greed to make more money at any cost, the economy is as bad as it has been in over fifty years, in fact (this was written on 2/10/08) the stability of our economy seems to be second in uncertainty only to the days of the Great Depression. One only needs to look at morals and corruption to understand that the social and political stability of our world can’t get much worse. Politicians cheat on their taxes or take money from whoever will pay them off with little remorse when they are caught. Families are started and fail because of extramarital affairs by the husband or wife. Many choose to live outside of marriage and suffer from a lack of commitment by the one they choose to live with. Lives are ruined through crime and drugs. Terrorism is the rule of the day. Pornography seems to be the preferred entertainment. Single parent households and children with prison records almost seem to be the norm. There may be more men with prison records than college degrees. News reports seem to be nothing but bad news. Considering all of this, the first question anyone reading this might ask is “Are we in the last days?”

 

It would be easy to say yes, but the facts are that all of these things have occurred at various times throughout the 2000 years of history, since Paul wrote these words to Timothy. Many people believe the phrase, "these last days," point out the time just before Christ's second appearing. However, the use of those words in scripture most likely indicates that the time “these last days” refers to the entire time (some 2000 years now) between the first coming of Christ and his second coming – whenever that may be. In other words, for 2,000 years we have been living in the last days. The events occurring right now just seem to perfectly fit Paul’s words.

 

If we look at the problems that Paul mentions to Timothy as part of a cycle of bad times that will occur again and again until the second coming of Christ, then we can see that Paul was telling Timothy and us that there will be dangerous, stressful time when our faith will be tested. After describing the times of trouble, Paul tells Timothy (in verse 5) that during these times there will be people who hold to a form of Godliness, but deny the power of it. He then tells Timothy to avoid these people. 

 

In warning Timothy, Paul mentions groups of people that Timothy is to avoid.

 

The first group Paul mentions are those who are lovers of self. Self is the principal part and is at the root of all sin. Self love, the worship of another god (placing self before God in priority) is a form of idolatry. The people who fall into this category today are the “me first” people. Their belief is that their wants, rights, needs, views and desires always stand before everything else. In Paul’s mind the self centered existence these people live worships the god of self and in his opinion, they should be avoided.

 

Paul goes on to discuss four groups of people who are lovers of self. They include those who are

 

(1)   lovers of money,

(2)   those who are boastful, arrogant, revelers

(3)   those who are disobedient to and ungrateful to their parents and

(4)   those who are unholy.

 

Everyone knows that money is necessary for life. We must have the means to buy our food and clothing and to obtain a place to live. Most of us spend a considerable amount of time earning the money required for these things, just as people did in Paul’s time. However, there is a difference in earning money and loving money (accumulating money for money’s sake). In Paul’s mind, placing money at the front of importance, just as placing self in the front of importance is a soul crippling emphasis.

 

When Paul mentions boastful, arrogant, revelers he is writing about those who have their priorities (self) in the wrong place. They may do things that are right and proper, but their insistence on making a very public proclamation of what they do negates much or all of the good they accomplish in doing the things that are right and proper. Paul understands that boldness of action is best accompanied with humility of heart. Boastful arrogant people are mired in the love of self. Paul knows that they should be avoided.

 

Next, Paul turns his attention to family life, mentioning those who are disobedient to their parents and ungrateful. Paul understood that young people owe obedience to their parents and gratitude for what the parents have done to support their children.

 

Unholy people rebel against righteousness and refuse to observe even the most basic decencies of life. Unholy people flaunt their lifestyles of disobedience and unconcern for doing what is right.

 

After self, Paul turns to problems with interpersonal relationships (unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited). He tells Timothy that there will be people who are unloving (against everything that Christ Jesus stood for), irreconcilable (people with whom it is impossible to reach any acceptable resolution – they are so set in their opinion that there is no option for reaching any agreement short of giving in to their position. Malicious gossips spend all of their time engaged in beating other people down with rumors, half truths and outright lies. They are the very worse form of character assassins. Those with no self control are never capable of holding to what is right. They are led captive to their desires and whatever temptations that might come along. To describe anyone as brutal haters of good who are treacherous, reckless and conceited indicates that they are capable of violence against anything that is right and proper, no deserving of any trust, prone to do whatever passes through their mind with no concern for others. It is not difficult to see why Paul wants Timothy to avoid these people.

 

Finally Paul mentions those who value improper actions over the will of God. These people as Paul writes love pleasure more than God. Their priorities are misplaced and against the character of a righteous person. Paul writes that they hold to a form of godliness, but they deny its power. Perhaps Paul was referring to those who profess holiness in Church and act any way but holy during the week.

 

6For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 9But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes's and Jambres's folly was also.

 

Next, Paul warns Timothy about those who infiltrate the church and work to lead others astray. They seek out those that they can influence (who have weak knowledge or will) with their counterfeit faith (as with Jannes and Jambres) and use half truth or lies to pull them away from the truth of the Gospel into immoral practices or cultish beliefs. Paul writes that in spite of their deceitful actions that the faithful will see them for what they are – people who will lead the weak away from the truth.

 

The work of Scientology, Jehovah Witness and other cult beliefs fit well into Paul’s description of these people. The people who pursue these cults pull weak people away from the truth of the Gospel into their teachings which always fail. 

 

Remember Paul’s Example

 

10Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11persecutions, 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!

12Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

 

Paul reminds Timothy of what he witnessed when he was with Paul. From a first-hand perspective, Timothy saw Paul’s teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings. Paul reminds his disciple that his witness and the model of service he saw in Paul was not limited to any one place or event. He also reminds Timothy that God brought him through all of the problems he had faced through the 15 or 16 years of their association. He points out these things to remind Timothy that he is to trust the scriptures and the model Paul has demonstrated as a guide during the times of persecution that he will surely face.

 

This is one of the things the scriptures are for. They exist as a guide for believers in times of distress. They are there to help us negotiate our way when all around us is dark. They are to provide peace and comfort when everything is stressful.

 

Not only did Paul model action for Timothy, but he also modeled attitude, when he reminded Timothy to remember his purpose, patience, love and perseverance. There may be no better example in the NT of a purpose driven life that Paul. Everything he did was intended to further the kingdom of his Lord and Master. His aim in everything he did was to please the Lord.

 

Paul also mentions faith here. His faith acknowledges his confidence that if his actions are in line with the Father’s will that he is doing the proper thing. It shows that he believes that God is at work in all situations and that he will give us sufficient peace, confidence and strength to accomplish his will in all things.

 

Paul’s faith was demonstrated through his perseverance. His belief in the truth of his calling and his faith in the Father’s power to accomplish his will gave Paul the perseverance to stick with the tasks that he had been called to accomplish, even when things became difficult and success seemed impossible. Paul’s perseverance showed that he understood that even in the most difficult of times, God was working things out.

 

Between purpose, faith and perseverance Paul mentions love and patience. He wanted Timothy to remember that we work in love for others, mirroring how the father first loved us, and we work with patience, understanding that the father accomplished his will in his time and not to our schedule. It is interesting to see that love and patience are closely linked in Paul’s statement. These two characteristics should describe how we seek to accomplish all of our work for the Father, because they describe so well how his son lived and worked. As we reach out in love, we acknowledge that everyone is important to the Father. All of us have value to him. God loves all of us equally and has no regard for the things we use to rank and place value on others.

 

Paul reminds Timothy that he witnessed these things during the years of their association and at more than one location. It is difficult to read Paul’s letters and not understand that during all of the difficult times he encountered that the Lord stood with him. Paul knew that he was not in charge, but the Lord was. At every turn, during every difficulty, the Lord was in charge of all events and the one who never left him. That was the secret to his attitude and the power behind all of his actions.

 

He summed up his beliefs in the statement:

 

12Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

 

In Paul’s mind Christianity was a movement against the grain that was almost guaranteed to encounter resistance. He knew that his desire to serve his master would make him unpopular. He knew that to not serve the Lord would lead him to much worse circumstances.

 

So, What Course Should Timothy Follow?

 

So, how can a Christian survive?

 

14You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15and 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.

 

Paul tells Timothy to

 

1.      Continue with the things he has been taught – Do what I have done and have taught you by word and example.

2.      Continue with the things he has been convicted of – The teaching that has made sense – the teaching that has proven to be true. Saturate your thinking with the word (the truth and the light) of God. Not only did Timothy learn from the word, he was convicted by the word.

3.      Remember who taught them to him – Remember the association, the trust, the witness and the proof. The scripture had come to him through loved and trusted people – his mother, his grandmother, Paul, the other Apostles he had met through the years.

4.      Remember that he has known these things for a long time. The things Paul has taught are not recently acquired knowledge. They have the proof of time to back them up.

5.      That he knows that scripture provides the wisdom that leads to salvation – He knows the truth of God’s word.

6.      That Salvation comes from Christ Jesus – Trust in Jesus. It is not the scriptures that saved us. It was Christ Jesus. This is his battle and not ours.

 

What is The Value of the Bible?

 

16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

 

1.      All Scripture is inspired by God – His hand was involved in the writing of all scripture –it was composed and written under his guidance and inspiration.

2.      It is profitable for teaching – it will teach you – instruct your mind about things that no one except God can address.

3.      It will provide reproof – another word that translates well here is conviction. Scripture will influence us. It will convict us of right and wrong, what we should do and what we should avoid. It will help us realize the things that must change for us to be really free.

4.      It will provide correction – it will set us on the right path. Through scripture we will realize the errors that exist in habit, belief and action. Not only will we realize what needs to change, but how we should change.

5.      It will provide training in righteousness – As with the benefit of a coach to an athlete, scripture will help train us in what we should do to be more righteous each day. It will help strengthen us and make us more able to perform (as a person of righteousness).

There is one additional thing that scripture provides. It is summed up in the final part of Paul’s statement:

 

so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

 

It will equip us as Men of God and Women of God – enable us – to complete every good work that we seek to do. Scripture alone will do this. We do not need instructions on philosophy, social theory or psychology. What we need and all we need is contained within scripture. Through scripture, we are made whole and fully equipped. Scripture will give us all we need. Some have said that the Bible is our instruction manual.

 

 

 

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