AN EXPOSITION OF 2 Timothy 3:1-5
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous [dangerous] times shall come.
The expression “the last days” refers to the age ushered in by the appearance of Christ on earth during the years of His incarnation.
“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:16-21).
Since the time of Christ, to the present, the church has lived in “the last days” as the fulfillment of the Messianic promises are realized.
Many prophecies associated with the reign of the Messiah will appear more glorious at His Second Advent, when Jesus comes the second time for all that believe (Acts 1:11; Heb. 9:28).
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves [selfish], covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers [railers], disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
Paul lists many outstanding features of the last days. As the list is contemplated, the heart affirms that we are living in the last days.
The reference to “men” is a generic reference and includes men and women. Individuals should be kept in mind, when examining the following list, lest too wide a net be cast. That would be unfair and unjust.
Individuals shall be lovers of their own selves.
Much self-love is encouraged today through seeker sensitive invitations to church, and self-esteem theology. The world and the flesh have always looked out for “Number One.” This is the #METOO generation. This is the generation that has to create a new official account of accidental deaths by people taking selfies.
Individuals shall be covetous.
Money-lovers who have the spirit of Simon Magus (Acts 8:18-24) are not unknown to the church. Promises are made to support worthy ministries by rich individuals, only to be neglected in fulfilling the commitment. But God will not be mocked. God knows how to extract resources owed to Him (2 Chron. 36:15-23).
Individuals shall be boasters.
In a prosperous economy many local Christian assemblies boast of the work they are doing for the cause of Christ. They are rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing. The seduction of money makes the soul lukewarm, and subject to divine wrath. To every Laodicean church structure comes a warning from “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
“I know thy works that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see: (Rev 3:14-18).
Individuals shall be proud.
So proud can an individual become that they glory in their shame. Today people are openly proud of a perverted sexual life style. They are proud of their eloquence, and defend what is morally reprehensible, proud of their lawless culture, proud of their non-religious inclinations, proud of their alleged intellectual superior beliefs. And Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29).
Individuals shall be blasphemers.
Blasphemers include ministers of Christ, who use their office to impiously deny His precious name. This can be done when the ministry is viewed as a career choice, instead of a divine calling. It can be done when individuals are willing to make merchandise of God’s people (2 Peter 2:3). Blasphemies arise when the Bible is doubted through the theological educational process known as “higher criticism.” All who deny the deity of Jesus Christ, His virgin birth, and His vicarious and substitutionary death at Calvary, His bodily resurrection from the dead are blasphemers.
Individuals shall be disobedient to parents.
It could be laid down as an axiom, that children who are willful and disobedient to parents will not readily be obedient to God. Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, and must be subdued, if hope is to exist for a conversion experience.
Individuals shall be unthankful.
When a word of thanksgiving for food is neglected, when daily prayers go unoffered, when the gifts of God are received with a spirit of being deserved, then the heart is no better than the nine lepers that neglected to say a word of thanks to the Master who healed them (Luke 17:17).
Individuals shall be unholy.
The line of distinction between the believer and the unbeliever, is what characterizes unholiness.
A “pious” person is rarely spoken of in the modern church. A person well known for “piety” seems archaic. Church congregations would do well to sing the old songs of the faith, and ask again to be given that old time religion.
“Take time to be holy,
speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always,
and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children,
help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing
His blessing to seek.
Take time to be holy,
the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret,
with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus,
like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct
His likeness shall see.
Take time to be holy,
let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him,
In joy or in sorrow,
still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus,
still trust in His Word.
Take time to be holy,
be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive
beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit
to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted
for service above.”
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent [without self-control], fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Individuals shall be without natural affection.
The breakup of the family unit destroys the fabric of society. And yet it is done time, and again, with ever increasing frequency.
Individuals will be trucebreakers.
The Bible says that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), but men can, and do. A contract is agreed upon, but the terms are never honored. The Psalmist prayed, “Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue” (Psalm 120:2).
Individuals shall be false accusers.
Often congregational conflicts arise when a false and slanderous accusation is made against the pastor, or someone else. Word spreads like wildfire. What was uttered in secret is shouted from the rooftops, and the damage is done.
Individuals shall be incontinent, meaning, without self-control.
Individuals will be fierce.
There is an anger that will not be pacified, nor listen to reason. They are easily offended. They let their anger boil before addressing an issue, thereby compounding, and magnifying the problem.
Individuals will be despisers of those that are good.
The Pharisees saw the good works that Jesus did and hated him. Religious jealousy produces hatred in the heart, and then moves to destroy those that do good.
4 Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
Individuals will be traitors.
William Tyndale first translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into English, making a Bible for the common people. In 1535 he was betrayed by a friend, taken prisoner to the castle of Vilford, and continued to work on his translation. He was unable to finish his work because he was sentenced to die a heretic’s death: strangulation and burning at the stake. On October 6, 1536 he cried out his last words, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes!” and then he died.
Judas betrayed Jesus.
Demas betrayed his friendship with Paul.
Individuals will be heady.
Those who handle the Word of God are tempted to want to see something that no one else has seen before. There is great satisfaction in developing new concepts. Nevertheless, such temptation must be tempered by remembering that we are ambassadors for Christ – and ambassadors only deliver the message, they do not create it. Humility, not headiness is the mark of the Christian (2 Cor. 5:20).
Individuals will be high-minded, or conceited.
False doctrine boldly uttered, and complacently accepted by unconverted or undiscerning hearts, cater to those with “itching ears” to create much harm within the body of Christ (2 Tim. 4:3).
Individuals will be lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.
The most popular form of modern worship is that which entertains and uplifts. Those ministers that call individuals to repentance, and godly living are replaced by others who will speak smooth words that uplift and inspire, rather than address the dark side of the soul, or teach people how to love God.
5 Having a form of godliness [religion], but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
Religious formalism and ritualism can easily replace regeneration, conversion to God, the sanctification of the Spirit, and the fruit of the same. Many souls are deceived into believing that because they walked down an isle to make a profession of faith, were baptized and united with a local assembly, they were born again. Only a life of contentment, and gospel obedience, signifies the new birth. The Christian has a responsibility to mark such individuals, and turn away from them. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17).
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.
The apostle concludes this section with a practical consequence that affects the ladies in particular.
Individuals who contain the characteristics of which he has just enunciated do not stay to themselves. Evil is militant, and needs a following. One place to find converts to a religious, but licentious point of view, are the women identified with the local assembly.
Paul states, in vivid language, that it is possible for some women who harbor in their hearts various lust patterns to be led as easily as a captive into great error and sin. The desire for unauthorized church authority, the desire for recognition and publicity for services rendered, the desire to be more masculine and less feminine, the desire to rule over men, are particular temptations religious ladies face. If they are not careful, Christian women can find themselves students of the Scriptures, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Truly, these are perilous times.