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.”
(don’t forget this when we get to the end tonight…)
Paul has expressed a concern for doctrinal purity throughout the letter.
Some were teaching strange doctrines.
Timothy needed to be “rightly dividing” the Word.
Timothy, as a servant of God, needed to be able to help those who were
going off track in doctrine.
Paul warned that in the last days men would stray far from God.
They would look religious on the outside, but inside they would be impure,
proud, and cruel.
(2 Timothy 3:5
NKJV) having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such
people turn away!
Paul now takes this peek of the future and brings it back to the present to
warn Timothy about people who already have these traits working I their lives.
3:1-9 Perilous Times
:6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives
of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts,
:6 For of this sort are …
Paul gives an example of the kinds of false teachers he’s warning Timothy
I imagine there may have been people in Ephesus where Timothy was that Paul
had in mind.
:6 those who creep into households
creep – enduno – to put on, to enter.
It’s a word usually associated with putting on a piece of clothing.
The idea is that these false teachers are “slipping” into people’s lives
like a person slips into a coat.
There’s an old Arab fable about a man who allows his camel to stick his
nose in his tent, then other parts of the camel follow until the entire camel
is in his tent.
The Arab’s had a proverb that stated, “Beware of the camel’s nose”.
:6 make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins
make captives – aichmaloteuo (“with
a spear” + “take captive”) – to make captive, take captive, capture
It’s capturing something by force, pointing a weapon at them.
Paul also uses the word in a positive way, talking about our mighty spiritual
weapons and the battle in our mind.
(2 Corinthians 10:5
NKJV) casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself
against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the
obedience of Christ,
That’s a cool picture – we don’t have to be frightened by
our own lustful thoughts, but we have the ability to
point a spear back at them and take them captive, towards obeying Christ.
Paul uses the word to describe how our sin nature can trap us and make us “captives”.
(Romans 7:23 NKJV) But I see
another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me
into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
We’ve experienced this “captivity” when we get caught in
In our text, these false teachers are preying on vulnerable people
(“gullible women”, or, literally, “little women”) who are struggling with the
shame and condemnation from their sin.
These false teachers use this guilt to manipulate people into going down bad
They use guilt like a “spear” to take them captive.
These concepts make me think of some of the various cults
that get people caught and trapped in their mind games.
Or there are the televangelists…
News – Televangelist Asks Followers for $54m jet
gullible women –
gunaikarion – a little woman: used contemptuously
loaded – soreuo – to heap together, to heap up; to
overwhelm one with a heap of anything; metaph. to load one with the
consciousness of many sins
:6 led away by various lusts
lusts – epithumia – desire, craving, longing, desire for
what is forbidden, lust
various – poikilos – a various colours,
variegated; of various sorts
The gullible women are being let astray by the false teachers who are
exploiting the cravings and lusts of the women.
And probably directed by the lusts of the men.
Some of the more notable examples of this might be:
In Paul’s day, the heresy of Gnosticism was beginning to develop.
They claimed that you needed to know their special “knowledge” if you
wanted to know God … and it was going to cost you.
One form of Gnosticism believed that there was nothing wrong for a believer
to indulge in every sin imaginable since the body wasn’t going to heaven, only
Touted as a “prophet”, but don’t forget that after establishing his new
“religion” he began to espouse marriage with multiple wives. In 2014 the
Mormon church finally admitted that he have up to 40 wives, one as
young as 14 years old.
His successor Brigham Young had 55 wives.
The Branch Davidian leader also practiced polygamy. It’s not sure how many wives he had at the
end, but he said he was entitled to 140 wives – 60 as his “queens” and 80 as
In contrast, Paul has already told Timothy,
(2 Timothy 2:22
NKJV) Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love,
peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
:7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
:7 always learning and never able to…
always – pantote – at all times,
learning – manthano – to learn, be appraised; to increase
one’s knowledge, to be increased in knowledge; to hear, be informed
never – medepote – never
knowledge – epignosis – precise and correct knowledge; used
in the NT of the knowledge of things ethical and divine
able – dunamai – to be able, have power whether by virtue of one’s own ability and resources, or of a state
of mind, or through favourable circumstances, or by permission
of law or custom; to be able to do something; to be capable, strong and
This is talking about the “gullible people” who have been led astray.
They have no discernment.
In his book The Gospel According to Starbucks, Leonard Sweet tells
the story of Ed Faubert. Faubert
is what you call a “cupper”—in layman’s terms, he’s a coffee-taster. And his
perspicacious taste buds are actually certified by the
state of New York!
So refined is Faubert’s sense of taste for coffee
that even while blindfolded, he can take one sip of coffee and tell you “not
just that it is from Guatemala, but from what state it comes, at what altitude
it was grown, and on what mountain.”
Leonard Sweet, The Gospel According to Starbucks (Waterbrook
Press, 2007), p. 54; submitted by David Slagle, Atlanta, Georgia
The “gullible” person doesn’t take time to learn to discern one “taste”
These poor women (and men) who followed the false teachers were continually
learning more and more, but none of their learning lead them to the truth about
This is the life of the person caught in a cult.
Scientology, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, etc.
Today, one of the strange teachings out there is about “identity”, that you
can “identify” as anything you want. So
instead of fixing a problem, people get worse.
Can you tell what’s wrong?
:8 Now as Jannes and Jambres
resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds,
disapproved concerning the faith;
:8 as Jannes and Jambres
Jannes – Iannes – “be oppressed”
Jambres – Iambres – “foamy healer”
resisted – anthistemi – to set one’s self against, to
withstand, resist, oppose; to set against
Aorist active indicative
This is the only time we see these names in the Bible.
The ancient rabbis had a tradition that these were the names of the
magicians that tried to match Moses’ miracles before Pharoah,
such as the time when Moses threw his staff down and it became a serpant. (Ex. 7:11-13)
NKJV) —11 But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers; so the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with
their enchantments. 12 For every man threw down his rod, and they became serpents. But
Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. 13 And Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the Lord had said.
The rabbis taught that Jannes and Jambres didn’t stop opposing Moses in Egypt,
but tried to mess with Israel at the Red Sea, were the guys inspiring
the golden calf, and had been counsellors helping Balaam lead Israel astray.
We don’t know that they did any more than oppose Moses in Pharaoh’s court.
:8 so do these also resist the truth
resist – anthistemi – to set one’s self against, to
withstand, resist, oppose; to set against
Present middle indicative
The tense here is “present”, meaning this is a continual action. These guys are continually causing grief to
:8 men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith
corrupt – katphtheiro – to corrupt, deprave; corrupted in
from – phtheiro – in the opinion of the Jews, the
temple was corrupted or “destroyed” when anyone defiled or in the slightest
degree damaged anything in it, or if its guardians neglected their duties
When you add the prefix “kata” in
front, it intensifies the word.
These bad teachers are coming from a really bad
place in their minds.
disapproved – adokimos – not standing the test, not approved;
properly used of metals and coins; that which does not prove itself such as it
The word “faith” here refers to what is correct doctrine – “the faith”.
These false teachers are teaching false truths.
Their teaching was not healthy good doctrine.
:9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to
all, as theirs also was.
:9 they will progress no further
progress – prokopto (“forward” + “to smite”) – to beat
forward; metaph. to promote; advance
That’s an interesting way to describe the way these things “progress”. People have to be
“beaten” or “struck”.
:9 their folly will be manifest to all
folly – anoia – want of understanding, folly; madness
expressing itself in rage
manifest – ekdelos – evident, clear, conspicuous
Just as Jannes and Jambres
couldn’t keep up with God’s miracles through Moses, the folly of the cults is ultimately
Joseph Smith claimed to translate the book of Mormon from “reformed
Egyptian”. That’s easy to claim until
the scholars tell us there is no such thing.
He claimed to translate the “book of Abraham” from a scrap of material from
a mummy, which was easy to claim until scholars learned how to actually translate Egyptian.
Truth is revealed
The truth usually comes out eventually, as long as
you’re willing to do the work.
We get surprised each time some crazy cult pops up, but there’s nothing
Think of that strange “Heaven’s Gate” cult in Rancho Santa Fe about twenty
years ago (1997) – 39 people committed suicide thinking they were joining up
with some space ship.
George Jacob Schweinfurth
an interesting story about a fellow in Illinois, back in the 1880s
and 90s who led a cult named the “Church Triumphant”. (Schweinfurth
is mentioned by A.T. Robertson as well)
George had been following a woman named Dorinda Beekman who declared she
was Jesus, and after she died, he claimed that her spirit moved into his body.
So he claimed to now be Christ, and he set up a
large house he named “Heaven”, and lived in it with his “angels”, beautiful
The other members of the sect lived down the street in a house called
“Hell”. They were the ones that worked
to pay for the expenses in “Heaven”.
Eventually many of the angels got pregnant (a miracle!) and the whole scam
was exposed. The kids all had red hair …
just like George. George moved to Chicago, took up Christian Science, and
became a realtor.
Past, present, and future.
Paul has been showing us that people have always been tempted to get away
from the truth.
In the past – Jannes and Jambres
In the present – the cults in Paul’s day (and ours)
In the future – in the “latter days”
3:10-12 Endure Persecution
:10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose,
faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance,
:10 you have carefully followed my …
This is what “discipleship” is all about.
This is a great list of what we ought to be reproducing in the next
Discipleship is not just what a teacher works to pass on to a student, but
what the student is careful to learn and replicate.
carefully followed – parakoloutheo – to
follow one as to be always at his side; to follow close; to examine thoroughly,
Discipleship involves teaching.
doctrine – didaskalia – teaching, instruction
Discipleships involves how you actually live your
life, not just what you say.
manner of life – agoge – a leading;
conduct; way or course of life
Discipleship involves sharing of vision, helping the younger person develop
a godly purpose in their life.
purpose – prothesis – a
setting forth of a thing, placing of it in view; a purpose
Discipleship involves setting an example when it comes to trusting in God.
faith – pistis – faith; fidelity, faithfulness
Discipleship involves the example of how you put up with difficult people.
longsuffering – makrothumia –
patience, slowness in avenging wrongs; patience with difficult people.
Discipleship involves setting the example of unconditional love, making the
choice to value people.
love – agape – brotherly
love, affection, good will, love, benevolence
Discipleship learns not to quit when things get tough.
perseverance – hupomone – endurance;
a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith
and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings
And the discipleship examples continue
:11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium,
at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord
:11 persecutions, afflictions,
Discipleship involves actually going through difficult times for the sake of following
persecutions – diogmos –
afflictions – pathema – that which one suffers or has
suffered; externally, a suffering, misfortune, calamity, evil, affliction; of
an inward state, an affliction, passion; an enduring, undergoing, suffering
:11 which happened to me at Antioch
Video: Map – Antioch to Lystra
Paul’s first missionary journey with Barnabas started out in Antioch of
Syria, then crossed over to Cyprus, then north into the area of Galatia where
they visited the cities of Antioch Psidia, Iconium,
and Lystra (Acts 13-14)
The Antioch Paul is reminding Timothy of is Antioch Psidia,
not the Antioch in Syria.
In Acts 13:44-52, we read of Paul being used to preach to multitudes in the
city of Antioch. But some of the
unbelieving Jews became envious of Paul’s popularity, and they had him run out
(Acts 13:50 NKJV) But the Jews
stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised
up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.
:11 at Iconium
From Antioch of Psidia, Paul and Barnabas moved
to the city of Iconium (Acts 14:1-6).
The unbelieving Jews in Iconium stirred up trouble for Paul and were going
to have Paul and Barnabas stoned, so Paul left town for Lystra.
(Acts 14:5–6 NKJV)
—5 And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews,
with their rulers, to abuse and stone them, 6 they became aware of it and fled to
Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the
:11 at Lystra
Things got interesting in Lystra.
At Lystra (Acts 14:8-20), Paul met a man who had been crippled since
birth. When Paul healed the man, the
people began to proclaim that Paul and Barnabas must be the gods Zeus and
Hermes. Paul and Barnabas refused to be
worshipped, and instead preached the gospel to these people. It was about this time that some of the
unbelieving Jews from Antioch and Iconium showed up, stirred up the crowd, and
the crowd had Paul stoned and left for dead.
(Acts 14:8–20 NKJV)
—8 And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was
sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. 9 This man
heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith
to be healed, 10
with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” And he leaped and walked. 11 Now when the
people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the
Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of
men!” 12 And Barnabas
they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 Then the
priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and
garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes. 14 But when the
apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among
the multitude, crying out 15 and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men
with the same nature as you, and preach to you that
you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the
heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, 16 who in
bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Nevertheless
He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain
from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” 18 And with
these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to
them. 19 Then Jews
from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they
stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be
dead. 20 However,
when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And
the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
Lystra was the town that Timothy was from.
At the time of Paul’s first journey, Timothy was just a kid.
It may have been at this point though that Timothy’s family came to Christ.
A few years later when Paul goes back (Acts 16), Paul meets Timothy and
brings him along on his second missionary journey.
:11 what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord
I endured – hupophero – to bear by being under, bear up (a
thing placed on one’s shoulders); to bear patiently, to endure
delivered – rhoumai – to draw to one’s self, to rescue, to
Timothy is watching
You may be aware that others are watching your life. We usually hope that they will see all the successes
we enjoy as we’re blessed by God. We
hope they don’t watch our failures too closely.
But I kind of wonder if the things that really will catch the eye of the
Timothy who is watching me is not how blessed I can be, but how I handle the tough
times, the persecution, the suffering.
I would dare to think that how I handle the tough times will be the
greatest thing to impact others.
Will I demonstrate “longsuffering, charity, patience”, even when I’m in the
There is a Timothy in your life out there, and he is watching.
:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer
desire – thelo – to will, have in mind, intend; to be
resolved or determined, to purpose; to desire, to wish; to love; to like to do
a thing, be fond of doing; to take delight in, have pleasure
godly – eusebos – piously, godly
live – zao – to live, breathe, be among the living
(not lifeless, not dead); to enjoy real life; metaph. to be in full vigour; to be fresh, strong, efficient
will suffer persecution – dioko – to make to
run or flee, put to flight, drive away; to run swiftly in
order to catch a person or thing, to run after; in any way whatever to
harass, trouble, molest one; to be mistreated, suffer persecution on account of
:12 all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus
This is definitely one promise I don’t hear a lot
of people “claiming” as their own.
Right living brings trouble
Paul didn’t just tell Timothy this, he lived it. He would die knowing this.
I think many of us have this notion that if we are living the way we
should, that our lives should get easier and easier.
When trouble comes out of the blue, we sometimes don’t know what to do with
it, and sometimes even mistakenly ask, “What did I do to deserve this?”
The truth is, when you take a step to get closer to Jesus, when you take a
step to serve Jesus more, you will find push back from Satan.
If the enemy can discourage you from being an effective servant of Jesus
Christ, then he wins.
There’s a story about John Wesley, which may or not be true:
John Wesley was riding along a road one day when it dawned
on him that three whole days had passed in which he had suffered no
persecution. Not a brick or an egg had been thrown at him for three days.
Alarmed, he stopped his horse, and exclaimed, “Can it be that I have sinned,
and am backslidden?” Slipping from his horse, Wesley went down on his knees and
began interceding with God to show him where, if any, there had been a fault. A
rough fellow, on the other side of the hedge, hearing the prayer, looked across
and recognized the preacher. “I’ll fix that Methodist preacher,” he said,
picking up a brick and tossing it over at him. It missed its mark,
and fell harmlessly beside John. Whereupon Wesley leaped to his feet
joyfully exclaiming, “Thank God, it’s all right. I still have His presence.”
Even if the story isn’t true, I think it’s in line with the way John Wesley
lived his life.
He expected trouble.
And he didn’t shrink back from following the Lord.
In their book The Privilege of Persecution, Carl Moeller and David
Hegg tell the following story about a courageous
believer who has helped their ministry (Open Doors USA) smuggle Bibles and
commentaries into North Korea.
The Yalu and Tumen Rivers form a naturally meandering boundary between The
People's Republic of China and The Democratic People's Republic of North Korea
…. Night and day, soldiers from both armies stare vigilantly at each other
through high-powered field glasses as they control traffic in and out of their
respective countries. Those approaching the Chinese checkpoints find that
travel moves at a snail's pace, for each is high risk and high security, and
very few people are allowed to cross the heavily
fortified border regularly. Behind the Korean border, the situation is not much
different. There are checkpoints everywhere. Traveling inside North Korea is
But one man does go around the country. To those of us in the West, he is
known only as "The Traveler." He is one of the persons who helps
distribute goods inside North Korea. Despite the ever-present danger of
exposure, The Traveler remains an unpretentious and simple man. He looks more
like a blue-collar factory worker than the Korean James Bond, but that's one of
the keys to his success. He's adept at blending in, remaining both vigilant and
It's a matter of survival.
He has served Open Doors for years, and yet we don't even know his real
name. We never will. The fewer people who know it, the better, for if his
secret work on behalf of God's people were ever to be discovered, it would mean
a brutal death sentence for him.
When [our] leaders spoke to him, we asked him what the church in North
Korea prays for. This ostensibly emotionless man who puts his life on the line
every day—often for people he's never even met living in cities he's never
visited—began to weep.
He told of a church movement that has remained underground ever since the
fifties. In order to wipe Christianity from the face
of the land, Kim II-sung's soldiers herded entire
congregations into the streets and ran them over with bulldozers. Thousands of
men, women, and children—nearly all of them North Korean citizens—were
literally crushed to death, their remains … used to line roadbeds throughout
the surrounding cities.
Today, under Kim's son Kim Jon-il, there are
[around] 240,000 believers, direct descendants of those who were left behind ….
[These] North Korean believers are prayerfully focused on one purpose: to be in
place and fulfill God's will for their lives. Their prayer is a prayer for
liberation, for lifting of the darkness, for a possibility to reopen the
churches of their ancestors, and for reconciliation ….
So despite the dangers, The Traveler continues to
[risk his life in order to] equip believers with commentaries, Bibles, radio
resources, training, and encouragement to keep them focused on the Lord.
Carl Moeller and David Hegg, The Privilege of Persecution (Moody Publishers,
2011), pp. 67-68, 70
Sometimes we’re a little reluctant to stick our necks out for the
Lord. Maybe we shouldn’t be so scared.