2 Timothy 3:1-17 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Continue in What You Have Learned
Comments for Study 4

2 Timothy 3:1-17
Memory Verse: 10


I. Godlessness in the Last Days (1-9)

>1. For whom will the last days become terrible times?

* 2 Timothy 3:1 "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days."

* "But mark this" -KJV states, "This know also." The Holy Spirit wants us to pay special attention to what he is about to say. This is very important for the church to know otherwise Paul would not have told Timothy to pay special attention to it.

* "There will be" -The following verses are about a future time for Paul and Timothy. Most Christians and scholars today believe that the next event on the prophetic calendar since Jesus' ascension to heaven is the rapture (Latin for take up) as far as the church goes. Most believe that no one knows the date of the rapture though many have incorrectly stated they figured it out to only be proven wrong. A smaller group of Christians and scholars believe that the rapture will take place at the end of the seven years of tribulation. I believe this and suggest reading the now out of print book "The Church and the Tribulation" by Robert H. Gundry (1973, The Zondervan Corp.). As the time of Jesus second coming approaches closer and closer the following verses will become more and more relevant.

* "terrible times" -The time before Jesus' second coming will be terrible perilous grievous desperate times. Since Paul is telling Timothy to pay attention and since at that very time they were undergoing persecution under Nero and the Roman Empire (see the first study) we know that what Paul is about to say has to deal with the time before Jesus' coming for his people. The apostasy that began in the church in the apostles days will greatly be increased just before Jesus takes his church to the house he has prepared for us. The gospel has gone to the end of the earth in my generation, but few have accepted it. The beautiful world that many false prophets predicted would come when the gospel reach this point never came. Those false prophets never believed what Paul is saying here. Terrible times will come.

* "in the last days" -The "last days" in the Old and New Testament is the time before the rapture of the church when Jesus comes again. Jesus will come again when Israel repents and truly wants Jesus to be their King and Messiah; a time which the Old Testament refers to as Israel's last days, "the time of the end" and "the end of the age". Jesus will come to save Israel during the battle of Gog and Magog (Russia and Iran alliance per Ezekiel 38:1-39:15) and Armageddon (per Daniel and Revelations). Israel's conversion will happen after the Antichrist breaks the seven years treaty with them half way through the treaty. The seven year period has been called by some "The Tribulation". What Paul is about to tell us here deals with the time before the seven years begins. Peter on Pentecost quoted Joel's prophecy, announcing "the last days" had begun. (Acts 2:17) Hebrews 1:2 says the Son of God's word is proclaimed in these last days. James 5:3 says people will hoard wealth in the last days, and Peter says "in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, 'Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.'" (2 Peter 3:3-4)

* "in the last days" -"In the last days" and "in that day" and "in the day of the Lord" all referred to the future from the Old Testament prophets' and the New Testament apostles point of view. They all referred to events concerning Jesus first and second coming. The day of the Lord is the time when God reveals His sovereignty over human powers and human existence.

* Seven Old Testament prophets (Isa. 13:6,9; Eze. 13:5, 30:3; Joel 1:15; Amos 5:18,20; Oba. 1:15; Zep. 1:7,14; Mal. 4:5; perhaps Zec. 14:1 too) uses the term "the day of the Lord". Sometimes they abbreviated it to "that day". It was familiar to their audience, a term by which the audience expected light and salvation (Amos 5:18), but the prophets painted it as a day of darkness and judgment (Isa. 2:10-22; 13:6,9; Joel 1:15; 2:1-11,31; 3:14-15; Amos 5:20; Zeph. 1:7-8,14-18; Mal. 4:5). The Old Testament language of the day of the Lord is aimed at warning sinners among God’s people of the danger of trusting in traditional religion without commitment to God and to His way of life. It is language that could be aimed at judging Israel or that could be used to promise deliverance from evil enemies (Isa. 13:6,9; Ezek. 30:3; Obad. 15). The day of the Lord is thus a point in time in which God displays His sovereign initiative to reveal His control of history, of time, of His people, and of all people.

* Eschatology is the teaching concerning the last things in world history. The Greek word "eschatos" means “"last" or “"final".” Accordingly, eschatology is the study of the things expected to occur at the end of history. This does not include what will happen after the Lord Jesus creates the new heaven and the new earth as described at the end of Revelation.

* For more information on the future of believers in Jesus read the manuscript The Believer's Future - Hope that Inspires.

>Why was it important for Timothy and God's workers to be aware of the times and to mark it?

* Believers need to be prepared and know how to deal with the people who practice of these sins who are all around us. Paul is saying that the people who practice these things will be in the church (5) as much as people who reject Jesus and never step inside a church building. The parable of the mustard seed is fulfilled with many birds eating the seeds.

* Two evil people and imposters in a church will do more harm than many outside the church.

* Matthew 13:24-30 records Jesus teaching about this. "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds (plants that look like wheat but produces no fruit) among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' 'An enemy did this,' he replied. The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"

* A person should never make conclusions about Jesus based on people who profess his name, for many are not of him. Jesus said to these people, "Why do you call me Lord Lord and yet don't do what I say?" (Lk. 6:46)

* Consider a canoe or kayak making a journey up a long river that flows from a mountain stream to a large sea. The river represents the flow of people going to the sea called Hell. The canoe is the gift of salvation. As the bodies flow downstream they hear sailors in canoes going by telling them the good news of salvation. "Just look up to the cross and you will be saved," they cry. Yet, to most in the river this advice is foolish. Then just before a person enters the sea of Hell, he accepts the advice. At that moment God picks the person out of the river and sets them in the canoe of salvation made by his carpenter Son's own hands. After being rescued from the sea of Hell the new sailor is given a paddle called the Holy Spirit. The Lord pulls a few more from the river and sets them in the canoe with him. They too receive a paddle. Using the gift of the Holy Spirit and seated firmly in the boat of salvation the saved sailors starts at the mouth of the river and begins to paddle against the tide. The Lord God has promised them the destination of his kingdom, far over the head of the river, the mountain springs. At first paddling for the crew, called the Messiah Congregation is easy because the slow moving river is wide and deep. As Messiah Congregation's journey goes on they pass mouths of contributories that come from all over the world. Slowly the river narrows, becomes shallow and the earth's incline increases. Paddling becomes harder and harder because the water's flow beneath them increases. As Messiah Congregation paddles they cry out to the flow below, "Just look up to the cross and you will be saved." A few do. While paddling fish jump in the boat and them back into the river again. At times so many fish are in the boat that it almost capsizes. A sailor in the boat tells the others that the fish are impostors and so they pray for help and the Lord clears the imposter fish out of the boat telling them, "Never will my Son's boat fail you." How hard is paddling up the mountain stream now that the Messiah Congregation have almost reach the end of their journey. The rapids, rocks, flying fish, and gravity all work against them. They were told, "There will be terrible times in the last days." Those times have come. This is you and me friend of Jesus. We are in the canoe of Jesus the Messiah at the end of the journey, the hardest for any sailor before us. Don't give up, keep paddling for the reward is great for those who paddle to the end.

* Matthew 13:47-50 records Jesus saying, "Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

* Matthew Henry wrote, "Timothy must not think it strange if there were in the church bad men; for the net of the gospel was to enclose both good fish and bad. Jesus Christ had foretold (Matthew 24) that there would come seducers, and therefore we must not be offended at it, nor think the worse of religion or the church for it. Even in gold ore there will be dross, and a great deal of chaff among the wheat when it lies on the floor. Timothy must now that in the last days, in gospel times, there would come perilous times. Though gospel times were times of reformation in many respects, let him know that even in gospel times there would be perilous times; not so much on account of persecution from without as on account of corruption within."

* Verses 1 thru 5 contain a self-check list. Like my physical body needs a check-up against healthy physical statistics, so my soul needs a check-up against righteous thinking, attitude, and practice. "Lovers of themselves" means being selfish, that is loving myself more than God and others. "Lovers of money" means gaining wealth, power, and prestige at the expense of my relationship with God and others.

Evil people manipulate, use, and abuse others for their own benefit. When people are eager for what they can get and anxious to keep what they have, this makes them dangerous to others. If I do not love and fear God I am a threat to others.

Being religious is not a guard against corrupting my soul. I could have a form of godliness, a practice of religion, a fragrance of politeness, and yet deny the power of godliness (5). The power of godliness is the Spirit's resurrection power to change my soul.

I should also be aware of others. I like watching movies and television shows. Some actors make others believe they are the character they play. However, they are not. They are very good at pretending to be someone else. There are better actors that live in the lens of their peer's eyes than the lens of a camera. I should love them, without making them my friend.

>2. What are the characteristics of the times in the last days?

* 2 Timothy 3:2-4 "People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- "

* "People will be lovers of themselves" -The original sin rejected God's love and in that is the love of self. Being thankful for God creating us is not the same as loving one's self. Self love is self centered egotistical pride. Oh but wait! What of churches. I am so tired of hearing people praise this church and that church and this pastor and that pastor. I am so tired of hearing messages on "God's church". Self love is wanting and giving praise to anything other than God. J. Vernon McGee wrote, "Paul goes on the say, in chapter 4, verse 3, that congregations will follow teachers "having itching ears." These teachers want their ears scratched - they want to be complimented. To be complimented, you have to compliment. So the teachers compliment their congregations and their boards of officers. They don't tell the people that they are sinners and need a Savior; they tell them how wonderful they are." I miss the old time preacher who said, "I am a great sinner," on the pulpit. Of course I was embarrassed when my unsaved father-in-law who was visited replied, "Oh that's bad."

* "lovers of money" -Many falsely quote the Bible when they say, "Money is the root of all evil." What the Bible says is, "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (1 Tim. 6:10)

* The next sixteen are connected to the first two.

>Why do you think people's love is degenerated in the last days?

* Carnal nature (sinful nature) twists love. Carnal nature is like a compass that points every direction except north.

* 1 John 3:16 states, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."

>3. What is the spiritual condition of those who profess religion, in spite of their zealously maintaining a form of godliness?

* 2 Timothy 3:5 "having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them."

* "having a form of godliness" -Form of godliness can apply to outward appearance of spiritualism and/or honoring God and/or a higher power while not having a personal indwelling relationship what God through Jesus. The previous chapter deals with two who have wondered from the truth. Timothy must have tried to convince them of their errors which lead to arguments about words and phrases in the Bible. This chapter continues the thought concerning these two deceivers. The Gnostics were the first mass parting from true faith in Jesus (see the first study on their possible connection to these two men). Others have followed including Muhammad and his followers. The numbers of false religious breakaway from Jesus groups in last few hundred years have grown exponentially. When persecution came they became cowards and were filled with the sins of the previous list.

* "but denying its power" -Deny is to know something and reject it personally and publicly. They have to deny the power of God because the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. The breakaways do not accept the gospel; saved by grace through faith in Jesus death and resurrection. The Holy Spirit is not in them so now miracles are preformed. So they deny God's power and presence. Their faith does not produce works that please God and the fruits of the Spirit is gone though the absence is cleverly masked.

>How does this show the corruption of the institutionalized religion in the last days?

* How many pastors preached on the corruption of religion? These days many say, "Why don't we just all get along?" True Christians aren't the one to fight as we are told not to in this letter and other places. As more and more religions are invented and as more and more institutionalized congregations stray away from the truth as these two men did, we are to avoid them. Let them be hypocrites. Let them gain selfishly. Let them mislead those destine for destruction. Let them to their humanistic endeavors.

>How should Timothy deal with them?

* "Have nothing to do with them" -Not only outward appearance religion, but those who practice it.

>4. How do some religious instructor's practice illustrate the mark of the last days?

* 2 Timothy 3:6-8 "They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth--men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected."

* "they are the kind" -There are many of them.

* "who worm their way" -They dig open the protective shell and eat the fruit's good part with the intent to eat it all up and lay eggs making the fruit is rotten and useless.

* "gain control over" -Jesus' disciples are never to gain control over people. "Jesus called (his disciples) together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matt. 20:25-28)

* "always learning" -They never come to saving grace. They never have a personal knowledge and relationship with Jesus. Their lives are not changed for they do not repent. They do not bear the fruit of the Spirit. They do not bear the fruit of the gospel witness.

* "Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses" -Jannes and Jambres apparently were the names of the two magicians called in by Pharaoh when Moses began the miracles and the plagues came upon Egypt. (Ex. 7) The account reveals that Satan has power, supernatural power, and also that he is a imitator. Jannes and Jambres were able to perform the first few miracles. Those today can do some impressive things too through magic, Satanic deceptions, smoke and mirrors. They oppose the truth. Thus John writes, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1) I never understood the reason why some children and youth ministers think it is wise to bring in magicians to entertain children in the church. I'm waiting for the day that one of them reads this passage at the beginning and ending of their show. I'd accept Rev. 9:21, 18:23, and 21:8 too. Do they call themselves "dogs" in their acts as Rev. 22:15 says they are?

* "men of depraved minds" -A man's thoughts reflects the heart. A man's mouth speaks the evil in both.

* 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 states, "The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness."

>What is their final spiritual outcome?

* 2 Timothy 3:9 "But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone."

* "faith is concerned, are rejected" -They do not have faith. They have rejected God and have been rejected by God.

* "clear to everyone" -True Christians can recognize their evil deceptions.

>What kind of people will become their prey?

* "weak-willed women" -Unstable women (and some men) who are guilt ridden because of their sins, torn by lust, and victims of various false teachers.

* Not all women are weak, but those who cannot overcome the sly tong of a lustful man are. When a man even one who professes to be Christian, has lustful desires the weak willed women will fall into his trap.

* Once in, the con man exert an influence of impressionable women, particularly by playing on their sensitive awareness of sin and spiritual shortcoming. The promises they hold out of a deeper knowledge of the truth beguile their dupes, who instead of realizing this knowledge come over more and more under the sway of these unscrupulous men (Tit. 1:11) (The International Bible Commentary)

II. Paul's Charge to Timothy (10-17)

>5. Why was it important for Timothy to have a role model like St. Paul in the last days?

* 2 Timothy 3:10-11 "You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings--what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them."

* "my way of life" -Paul's obedience to Christ is a strength and example of the right path. Paul was a counter to the false teachers.

* "Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them" -Many times the Lord rescued him. Now he would die.

* Paul is trying to encourage Timothy. Timothy was about to give up. Timothy's friend and mentor, Paul had been imprisoned again, this time in the worse type of Roman prison in a well-hidden location. No one had known if Paul was even alive for quite some time.

Added to that, Timothy's ministry seemed a total waste of time and effort. A group of people led by two men was challenging Timothy; his authority and his teaching. Timothy had actually given up on living in service to faith in God and his son Jesus. Timothy had lost hope in ever having a good lasting humanly spiritual impact in his city, friends, and family. Evil people were going from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived (13).

Paul reminded Timothy that God's plan for all his children was to live with faith, patience, love, endurance, and also persecutions and sufferings (10,11). "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (12

Timothy was doing good exactly the way God intended. The situation seemed grim and hopeless. Yet, in Christ, there is always hope. The Lord had been and will always be with him. The Lord had rescued Paul (11) and had blessed Timothy's life ministry.

I have the same tools and gifts from God to continue in the will of God, his every good work for me (17). All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (16). The Word of God is life. The Word of God is flesh. The Word of God is Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God in the flesh. Christmas is a celebration of the breath of God, the letter of God, the gift of God becoming flesh.

>What kind of things must Timothy know about as he tries to imitate Paul?

* "know all my teachings" -The gospel, Jesus death and resurrection. We need to study the New and Old Testament in that order of importance for the new fulfills and helps explain the old.

* "way of life" -Living according the the Bible. Obeying Jesus' commands.

* "my purpose" -Paul did not do things for selfish gain as the people he just mentioned did. Paul's purpose was to spread the gospel so that people could come to saving faith.

* "faith" -Even when his worked seemed a failure and worthless and impossible.

* "patience" -The gospel work goes slowly at times. The seed of the word of God grows slowly. We are slow to learn and repent. Jesus often said to his disciples, "Do you not understand?" and "You of little faith."

* "love" -Love for God and others.

* "endurance, persecutions, sufferings" -The gospel worker, the believer in Jesus, the true Christian will be hated and follow in Jesus' cross.

* The list here is in contract to the list in verses 2-8.

>6. Briefly describe the things that happened to Paul in Antioch, Icomium, and Lystra in his first and second missionary journeys. (Acts 13:14-14:23, 16:1-6)

* Each opposition was by religious people who knew the Bible very well. The first generation, those converted for twenty years or so after Pentecost were mostly Jews and Gentile Jewish converts. The apostles preached in the Jewish synagogues. Synagogues consisted of people who knew the Bible (the Old Testament). Some believed and others did not. Those who did not opposed the apostles including Paul in these three cities. Opposition comes from inside congregations more so than outside the church. In fact, the worse suffering that Paul received was either from the hands of or under the instigation of the religious people who heard but rejected the gospel.

>Why did Paul remind Timothy about his suffering in the providence of Galatia? (Timothy was from Lystra.)

* Timothy was an eye witness to the type of people who opposed the truth and how harsh and evil the opposition was. He was even stoned so badly that those who stoned him thought he was dead.

>7. Why should those who aim to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus expect suffering?

* 2 Timothy 3:12 "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,"

* "everyone" -No exceptions. If you are not being persecuted because of believing in Jesus and living for his name than you better examine yourself.

* "will be persecuted" -Matt. 10:22, Acts 14:22, Php. 1:29, and 1 Peter 4:12 all agree with this.

* "live a godly life in Christ Jesus" -Accepting Jesus as Lord of our life is a life time decision. He is a part of a day to day life, every decision. Accepting Jesus is life and a life decision.

>What kind of heart attitude does this teach us to become a good workman in the last days?

* Going back to the beginning of this study, live like a soldier.

>8. What does it mean by, "continue in what you have learned and what you have become convinced of?"

* 2 Timothy 3:14-15 "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."

* Live by faith and a godly life in Jesus.

* "make you wise for salvation" -The Bible contains the truth on salvation from sin and death that is found in Jesus, the Messiah.

>Why was it necessary for Timothy to do so, especially when he is oppressed by many evil men, imposters and false teachers?

* 2 Timothy 3:13 "while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived."

* Giving up and discouragement would seem the course with such actions going all around us.

>How were scriptures written? What is the significance of this? What can the scriptures do for the man of God?

* 2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

* Bible study is so important and yet now so many do not even read the Bible let alone study it. Congregations don't want Bible teachers, they want magicians.


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