Evening Bible Study
The history recorded in the book of Acts ends around AD 60, with Paul being
confined under house arrest in his own apartment in Rome.
We believe that Paul was released after a couple of years, and would travel
to Ephesus, Macedonia, Crete, Nicopolis, and then be
rearrested in Troas and taken back to Rome.
In AD 64 Nero burned Rome, blamed it on the Christians, and kicked off a
period of persecution.
This time, Paul would be confined in the Mamertine Prison.
Everyone has abandoned Paul except for his friend Luke the physician.
(2 Timothy 4:11
NKJV) Only Luke is with me.
It’s from here that Paul writes this letter, his final letter somewhere
around AD 66-67, just prior to his death.
Paul is hoping that Timothy would come to him, but that isn’t going to
Paul will shortly be taken outside the city of Rome where he will be
Paul’s second letter to Timothy was written around AD 66-67 while Paul was
in prison in Rome, being held in chains in the Mamertine prison.
These are Paul’s last words, written just days away from being led out of
the city where he will be beheaded.
The account is recorded in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs:
“Paul, the apostle, who before was called Saul, after his great travail and
unspeakable labors in promoting the Gospel of Christ, suffered also in this
first persecution under Nero. Abdias, declareth that
under his execution Nero sent two of his esquires, Ferega
and Parthemius, to bring him word of his death. They,
coming to Paul instructing the people, desired him to pray for them, that they
might believe; who told them that shortly after they should believe and be
baptized at His sepulcher. This done, the soldiers came and led him out of the
city to the place of execution, where he, after his prayers made, gave his neck
to the sword.”
The last chapter was filled with Paul’s concern about doctrinal purity.
Timothy needed to be “rightly dividing” the Word.
Some were teaching strange doctrines.
It was important that Timothy cultivate a life of purity, because that’s
one of the keys to useful ministry.
Timothy, as a servant of God, needed to be able to help those who were
going off track in doctrine.
Now Paul hints at why these concerns are important. It’s because of where we’re headed.
3:1-9 Perilous Times
(2 Timothy 3:1–5
NKJV) —1 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!
:1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
:1 in the last days perilous times will come
last – eschatos – extreme; last in time or in place;
last in a temporal succession; the last; last, referring to time. Paul is talking about the times we are now
living in, the “Last Days”.
Paul is talking about what will happen in the very days that we are living
perilous – chalepos – hard to do; hard to bear,
troublesome, dangerous; harsh, fierce, savage.
This word is used one other time in the New Testament:
(Matthew 8:28 NKJV)
He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him
two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so
that no one could pass that way.
will come – enistemi – to place in or among; threaten; close
at hand; present
Paul doesn’t use any of the normal words that we would expect for
“coming”. Instead he uses a word that
seems to hint at the danger of the coming “last days”.
When the “last days” are here, “perilous times” will be (future tense)
“present”, standing right upon us, threatening us.
times – kairos – due measure; a measure of time, a
larger or smaller portion of time, hence:; a fixed and
definite time, the time when things are brought to crisis, the decisive epoch
waited for; a limited period of time; to what time brings, the state of the
times, the things and events of time
What do those “perilous times” look like?
:2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud,
blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
:2 men will be lovers of themselves
lovers of themselves
– philautos (“love” + “self”) – loving one’s self;
too intent on one’s interest, selfish
I can’t help but think that much of what follows stems from this first
Many of the things that follow are all about “me”, all about “self”.
I know that it is important that we have a healthy sense of self-esteem.
When a person is filled with “self-loathing”, they end up in all sorts of
We get our self esteem from the value that God
has placed on us.
He loved us so much, He paid the highest price for us. He sent His Son to die in our place.
The problem is that in our society we’ve taken “self-esteem” to a level
that’s not healthy.
We rarely have room to be lover of others.
NKJV) —3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in
lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of
you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of
:2 lovers of money
lovers of money – philarguros (“love” + “silver”) – loving money, greed
Some people live their whole lives aimed at one thing.
A lover of money doesn’t like what Jesus says about money, or, “mammon”.
NKJV) —13 “No servant 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.” 14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these
things, and they derided Him.
You can be very “religious” (like a Pharisee) and love money.
Jesus was putting His finger on the very thing that made them feel
important – money.
Paul warned Timothy,
(1 Timothy 6:10 NKJV)
the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some
have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and
pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
In the “last days”, there will be a love of money like never
boasters – alazon – an empty pretender, a boaster
This is the person who tells great things concerning his own prowess and
achievements, with the implied idea that many of his claims are false. This
word naturally describes a trait which is only evident when you are around
other people, not just something that lives secretly in a person’s heart.
You’ll see articles from time to time of people claiming to be war heroes
who never actually served in the armed forces.
People will claim to be graduates of famous universities, which they never
proud – huperephanos (“over” + “to shine”) – showing one’s
self above others; despising others or even treating them with contempt,
This describes one who thinks too highly of himself, describing a trait
which is simply internal, not referring primarily to external manifestation,
although this is implied. It means one who is proud, the external
manifestation when it appears being in the form of arrogance in dealing
It shows up as pure arrogance towards others.
blasphemers – blasphemos – speaking evil, slanderous,
This isn’t just about saying bad words.
This is a person who is abusive towards others.
:2 disobedient to parents
to parents – goneus – fathers, parent, the parents
disobedient – apeithes (“not” + “persuaded”) – impersuasible, not compliant, disobedient
I saw an article today about a 30 year old man who
won’t get a job and move out of his parents’ house even though they’ve asked
him many times. He says his excuse is
that he’s trying to be a good father to his children – though he’s lost
visitation rights to his children.
They’ve taken him to court…
unthankful – acharistos (“not” + “grace”) – ungracious;
Though it’s okay to translate this “unthankful”, I like the “ungracious”
idea – not be gracious to others.
We should be just the opposite:
NKJV) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God in Christ forgave you.
The word “forgiving” is literally “gracing” (charidzomai)
The only way be can be
“gracious” to others is when we’ve truly tasted God’s grace in our lives.
unholy – anosios (“not” + “right”) – unholy, impious,
This is not the normal word for “holy” (hagios) which means to be
separated to God for His special use.
This is the idea of what just seems “right” to people.
In Egypt, it was common for a brother to marry his sister. But to the Greeks, they regarded that as
“just not right” (anosios)
From opposite of hosios,
used of persons or things, describes that which is in harmony with the divine
constitution of the moral universe. Hence, it is that which is in accordance
with the general and instinctively felt idea of right, "what is
consecrated and sanctioned by universal law and consent" (Passow), rather than what is in accordance with any system
of revealed truth. As contrary to hosiov, i.e., as anosia, the Greeks regarded, e.g.,
a marriage between brother and sister such as was common in Egypt, or the
omission of the rites of sepulture in connection with a relative.
This is confusing in our current society because what seemed “not right” fifty
years ago, is now considered “right”.
When I was growing up, I only knew of two kids in school who had grown up
in families where the parents got a divorce.
Nowadays it’s a miracle if kids are raised by their
biological parents living together in marriage.
When I was growing up, the concept of homosexuality was “just not right”.
Now you can get into trouble if you even suggest that someone
to says “no” to homosexuality.
:3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal,
despisers of good,
unloving – astorgos (“not” + “love of family”) – without
natural affection, unsociable, inhuman, unloving, hardhearted, unfeeling
You will often hear me talk about the different Greek words for
“love”. Two of these words show up
regularly in the New Testament.
agape is God’s kind of love,
unconditional, based on a choice to value others.
is an emotional love, liking or having good feelings towards another.
the word for sexual love (not used by itself in the NT)
is “family love”, especially the love of parents for children and of children
for parents. By itself this word is not
used in the NT.
Our word is the opposite of this.
Some have said that raising children today “takes a village”. And though I agree that we all need help in
raising our kids, the responsibility of training and nurturing our children
rests on parents. We’re losing this
unforgiving – aspondos (“not” + “sacrifice”) – without a
treaty or covenant
The idea behind this word is that there is tension between two people or
nations, and there is no price or sacrifice acceptable to reconcile the two
This is the person who just won’t listen to reason, and nothing you can do
will persuade them to drop their hostility.
slanderers – diabolos (here plural) – prone to slander,
90% of the time this word is translated “devil”, referring to Satan.
This often is seen in our elections.
The model for winning an election is to keep putting enough accusations out
there, eventually somebody will believe it.
:3 without self-control
– akrates (“not” + “strength”) – without self-control,
The word translated “self-control” in Gal. 5:23 (one of the fruits of the
Spirit) is the opposite form (egkrateia), meaning “strength in”. Here, there is “no strength”, no
In our society today, there are many people who would just cringe at the
possibility that someone could change by simply telling them to “stop it”.
Yet that’s a piece of the evidence that we’re in the last days.
brutal – anemeros (“not” + “tame”) – not tame, savage,
Epictetus describes those who forget God as their creator, as resembling
lions, “wild, savage and fierce” (anemeroi)
In the Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis writes about a lion named Aslan
that is not a tame lion.
The difference between Aslan (Jesus) and our word is that Jesus is “good”.
This word is kind of like what our kids do on the video games they’re
You don’t win the game by being “tame”.
Tame is lame.
:3 despisers of good
despisers of good –
aphilagathos (“not” + “love” + “good”) – opposed to
goodness and good men, without interest in the (public) good
When people are “lovers of self”, then they no longer care about what is
“good” for others.
:4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of
traitors – prodotes – a betrayer, traitor
This is the opposite of someone who is loyal and trustworthy.
This is the word that was used to describe Judas Iscariot (Luke 6:16) who
(Luke 6:16 NKJV) Judas the
son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor.
It could be someone who betrays their employer, their spouse, their friend.
I’m not a fan of the “headstrong” translation because that makes me think
of someone who is “stubborn”.
headstrong – propetes (“forward” + “to fall”) – to fall
forwards, headlong; rash, reckless; thoughtless
When the city clerk in Ephesus was trying to calm down the rioting crowd,
(Acts 19:36 NKJV) Therefore,
since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing
This is the character of someone who rushes headlong or out of control into
This is an impulsive person who doesn’t take time to think about what
haughty – tuphoo – to raise a smoke, to wrap in a mist;
metaph. to make proud, puff up with
They’re all smoke and no substance.
They may impress you with their language, but they aren’t saying anything actually meaningful.
It’s like this guy –
Paul uses this word to describe those who have stepped outside of healthy,
(1 Timothy 6:4
NKJV) he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and
arguments over words…
:4 lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God
lovers of pleasure
– philedonos (“love” + “desires for pleasure”,
“hedonism”) – loving pleasure
lovers of God –
philotheos (“love” + “God”) – loving God
In our world, we have access to all sorts of pleasures we’ve never had
And just like Edward, once we’ve tasted of the world’s “Turkish Delight”,
we’ll do anything to get more.
:5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people
:5 having a form of godliness but denying its power
form – morphosis – a
forming, shaping; form; the mere form, semblance; the form befitting a thing or
truly expressing the fact, the very form
godliness – eusebeia – reverence, respect; piety towards
power – dunamis – strength, power, ability
denying – arneomai – to deny; not to accept, to reject, to
refuse something offered
In the last days, there will be all sorts of “religious” people, but they
will not be people who know the actual power of God.
All of the above “sins” are samples of people who might look religious on
the outside, but have never tasted Jesus.
God’s desire is that we don’t just “look godly”, but that we are godly.
Not long ago I stood for a while in a cheese shop. Being in a fidgety mood,
and having a stick in my hand, I was not content with seeing but felt a need to
touch as well. My stick came gently upon a fine cheese in the window. To my
surprise a most metallic sound emanated from it. The sound was rather hollow,
and there was a sort of crockery jingle in the sound, like the ring of a huge
bread or milk pan. I came to the very correct conclusion that I had found a
very well disguised hypocrite in the shop window. And ever since that time,
when I pass by, I mentally whisper, “Pottery.” Even if the fakes have been
exchanged for real cheeses, it will take a long time to convince me. In my mind
the stock has become potsherds, and the fine show in the window only suggests
the potter’s vessel. This illustration is simply introduced because we find
people of this sort in our churches, looking extremely like what they should
be, yet having no substance in them, so that if, accidentally, one happens to
tap them somewhere or other with sudden temptation or stern duty, the baked
earth gives forth its own ring, and the pretender is esteemed no longer.
Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
William Barclay wrote,
Profession without practice was not only the curse of the
Jews; it has been throughout the ages the curse of the Church. During his early days in South Africa (in
Pretoria) Gandhi inquired into Christianity.
For several Sundays he attended a Christian Church, but, he says,
"the congregation did not strike me as being particularly religious; they
were not an assembly of devout souls, but appeared
rather to be worldy-minded people going to Church for
recreation and in conformity to custom."
He, therefore, concluded that there was nothing in Christianity which he
did not already possess -- and so Gandhi was lost to the Christian Church with
incalculable consequences to India and to the world.
-- Commentary on Gospel of Matthew, By William Barclay,
A woman wanting to impress the pastor when he came to visit, said to her
little girl, “Honey, go get the book that Mommy loves so much.” The little girl
soon returned carrying the new Sears catalog.
American Methodism had recorded one of the most astounding growth records
in the history of Christianity, exploding from a membership of 14,988 in 1784
to 7,729,791 in 1939! Robert Coleman
notes, “Above all, undergirding the Wesleyan way of life and constraining their
outreach was a simple faith in the gospel of salvation.”
But as theology changed, both the rate of growth and the commitment to
evangelism began to suffer. Wesley had
once given his followers a prophetic warning.
He said, “I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever
cease to exist in Europe or America. But
I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of
religion without the power. And this undoubtedly
will be the case, unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and
discipline with which they first set out.”
-- Quoted in Luke Tyerman,
The Life and Times of the Rev. John Wesley, 3 vols. (New York: Harper &
Bros. 1872), 3:519.
:5 from such people turn away
turn away – apotrepo – to turn one’s self away from; to
Who to avoid
I believe Paul is not just telling Timothy to stay away from those who look
religious but don’t know the real power, but all of
the sins listed – because they’re all one big lump of the same thing.
Caution: Church is not a place for
We all sin and fail.
I bet all of us struggle with at least one of the things listed above.
The issue is whether or not you are willing to
admit that you need help, or whether you continue to justify your bad behavior.
Does this list sound like today?
30 years ago, in an article titled "Quantifying America's
Decline," William J. Bennett, former secretary of education, refers to a
statistical portrait of the moral, social, and behavioral conditions of modern
American society. Mr. Bennett concludes that "America's cultural condition
is far from healthy," adding that "what is shocking is just how
precipitously American life has declined in the past 30 years." Here are
some of the cultural indicators:
Average daily TV viewing 5
hours 7 hours
SAT scores 975 899
Percent of illegitimate births 5.3% 26.2%
Children with single mothers 8.0% 22.0%
Children on welfare 3.5% 11.9%
Teen suicide rate 3.6% 11.3%
Violent crime rate (per 10,000) 16.1 75.8
The average prison sentence given for serious crimes such as murder, rape,
robbery, and assault has decreased 35 percent since 1960.
-- The Church Around The
World, January 1994, Vol. 24:2.
Those stats are 28 years old. I
wonder what they’ve like today.
(Luke 21:28 NKJV) Now when
these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your
redemption draws near.”
I’d say we’re getting close.