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2Timothy 3:1-5

Thursday Evening Bible Study

May 24, 2018


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 happen.
Paul will shortly be taken outside the city of Rome where he will be beheaded.

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 in now.

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) When 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 comeenistemi – 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.

timeskairos – 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?  Keep reading…

: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 word.

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 destructive behavior.
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.
Paul wrote,
(Philippians 2:3–4 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 others.

:2 lovers of money

lovers of money philarguros (“love” + “silver”) – loving money, greed

Some people live their whole lives aimed at one thing.

Video:  Jerry Maguire – Show Me the Money

A lover of money doesn’t like what Jesus says about money, or, “mammon”.

(Luke 16:13–14 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) For 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 before.

:2 boasters

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 attended.

:2 proud

proudhuperephanos (“over” + “to shine”) – showing one’s self above others; despising others or even treating them with contempt, haughty

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 with others.
It shows up as pure arrogance towards others.

:2 blasphemers

blasphemers blasphemos – speaking evil, slanderous, reproachful

This isn’t just about saying bad words.  This is a person who is abusive towards others.

:2 disobedient to parents

to parentsgoneus – fathers, parent, the parents

disobedientapeithes (“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…

Video:  Parents Sue to remove 30year old son

:2 unthankful

unthankful acharistos (“not” + “grace”) – ungracious; unpleasing; unthankful

Though it’s okay to translate this “unthankful”, I like the “ungracious” idea – not be gracious to others.
We should be just the opposite:
(Ephesians 4:32 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.

:2 unholy

unholy anosios (“not” + “right”) – unholy, impious, wicked

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,

:3 unloving

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.
phileo is an emotional love, liking or having good feelings towards another.
eros is the word for sexual love (not used by itself in the NT)
storge 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 concept today.

:3 unforgiving

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 parties.
This is the person who just won’t listen to reason, and nothing you can do will persuade them to drop their hostility.

:3 slanderers

slanderers diabolos (here plural) – prone to slander, accusing falsely

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

without self-control akrates (“not” + “strength”) – without self-control, intemperate

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 self-control.

Video:  Bob Newhart – Stop It

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.

:3 brutal

brutal anemeros (“not” + “tame”) – not tame, savage, fierce

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.

Video:  Narnia – He’s 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 playing.

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 God,

:4 traitors

traitorsprodotes – 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 betrayed Jesus.

(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.

:4 headstrong

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, he said,

(Acts 19:36 NKJV) Therefore, since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rashly.

This is the character of someone who rushes headlong or out of control into matters.

This is an impulsive person who doesn’t take time to think about what they’re doing.

:4 haughty

haughty tuphoo – to raise a smoke, to wrap in a mist; metaph.  to make proud, puff up with pride

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 –
Video:  Turbo Encabulator

Paul uses this word to describe those who have stepped outside of healthy, correct doctrine

(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 access to.

Video:  Narnia – Turkish Delight
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 turn away!

:5 having a form of godliness but denying its power

formmorphosis – a forming, shaping; form; the mere form, semblance; the form befitting a thing or truly expressing the fact, the very form

godlinesseusebeia – reverence, respect; piety towards God, godliness

powerdunamis – 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.


Be real

God’s desire is that we don’t just “look godly”, but that we are godly.
Spurgeon wrote,
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.

Charles Haddon 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, p. 254-255

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 awayapotrepo – to turn one’s self away from; to shun, avoid


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 the perfect.
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.


Last days?

Does this list sound like today?  Certainly.
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:
1960           1990
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.
Jesus said,
(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.