A Study of 2 Tim.3:1-14

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days” <2 Tim.3:1 (NIV)> The characteristics of people in the last days – the last days began with Christ’s first advent and will continue until he comes again – Paul states that during this time people will become increasingly ruthless. Let us examine Paul’s list <2 Tim.3:1-5>:

People will be lovers of themselves               no respect for others                   

lovers of money                                              always trying to get more

boastful                                                         arrogant

proud                                                             self-righteous, egotistical

abusive                                                            insulting, obnoxious, offensive

disobedient to their parents               begins at the earliest age, progresses and can cause great grief

ungrateful                                                      thankless, unsatisfying

unholy                                                            desiring nothing to do with God

without love                                                    cannot show, or unable to love

unforgiving                                                    exacting, intolerant, remorseless, vindictive

slanderous                                                      insulting, malicious

without self-control                                        no restraint or self-discipline

brutal                                                             ruthless, cruel, heartless, violent

not lovers of the good                                    not decent, respectable, moral, worthy       

treacherous                                                              unfaithful, disloyal, deceitful, two-faced, untrustworthy

rash                                                                 impulsive, thoughtless, foolish

conceited                                                   self-important, superior, snobbish, self-satisfied, narcissistic, selfish

lovers of pleasure rather than … God          lovers of gratification, indulgence, sensuality, leisure


This list describes the character and attitude of people in the era of Paul and Timothy, – it is even more ruthless in the present era – and will become increasingly corrupt as the years go by, until Christ returns. Evidence of this type of behaviour is rampant in our society today! Individuals will have and demonstrate “a form of godliness but denying its power.” <2 Tim.3:5a (NIV)>; they will have a practice of worship, they will follow rituals, they will follow custom; but there will be a rejection of God who they are professing to worship. Paul’s instruction to Timothy, and all followers of Christ is: “Have nothing to do with them.” <2 Tim.3:5b (NIV)>. Such individuals will become members of the Church, but we are instructed not to encourage them or their beliefs.

Paul continues to describe their characteristics: “They are the kind who worm their way …… and gain control” <2 Tim.3:6 (NIV)>, like an insect they wriggle their way into the homes and Church, attempting to, and will eventually gain control of those that are weak in their faith; “over weak-willed ……who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires” <2 Tim.3:6 (NIV)>; those that are guilt-ridden because of their unforgiven sins, and are victims of false teaching; they are always learning but never coming to a saving knowledge of Christ <2 Tim.3:7 (NIV Study Bible)>. According to Jewish tradition, (Jannes and Jambres who are not mentioned by name in the OT, <see Ex.7:11>); just as Moses was in conflict with these men, so also is the conflict seen by such individuals in our time: “…so also these men oppose the truth — men of depraved minds” <2 Tim.3:8 (NIV)>. When the Scriptures are clearly taught in the Church the progress of these individuals will be minimized because “…their folly will be clear to everyone.” <2 Tim.3:9 (NIV)>; and the issue is – is such absurdity clear to us today?

In our opposition to this rejection of God <2 Tim.3:10-17>, we should understand that there are two types of denial; one in which the individual absolutely denies God’s existence or refuses to be guided by The Spirit of God; and the other is, those that have professed to be believers but have never fully committed their life to Christ. There are many “church members” who are similar to the unbelievers that Moses had to contend with, they heard the message but rebelled <see Heb.3:16-19; cf Jn.5:38-40>. Then there are those that have been enlightened and have been exposed to the gift of salvation, have walked the new way for a while, but have been turned away because of worldly pleasure and false teachings <see Heb.6:4-6; cf Jn.8:31-32>. Whatever the reason may be, our opposition must always be based on Scripture, for Paul reminds us that the Scriptures are able to give us the wisdom that we need in such circumstances <2 Tim.3:15>. We base our opposition and correction of denial on the Scriptures because “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” <2 Tim.3:16 (NIV); cf Heb.4:12-13>, and should be our only method of correcting those that deny the authority of Christ as Head of His Church, and the teaching of His appointed leaders.

Paul then gives Timothy, and us, the reason for this methodology: “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” <2 Tim.3:17 (NIV)>. When all the members of Christ’s Church live by the principles of the Scriptures, correcting differences and outright denial of scriptural truths can be easily managed, and all members will be completely equipped for His service. This is the reason why Paul could draw attention to his own way of living when he addresses Timothy at the beginning of this section: “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings…” <2 Tim.3:10-11 (NIV)>; Paul’s life and purpose, and everything else about him, was all under the influence and control of Christ through The Holy Spirit; and in reference to his suffering, he reminds us that “…everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” <2 Tim.3:12 (NIV)>. While evil people will go from bad to worse deceiving and being deceived <2 Tim.3:13>; Christ’s followers are encouraged to continue living being guided by what we have learned from the Scriptures; But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it” <2 Tim.3:14 (NIV)>.

As we have examined Paul’s description of the denial of God by individuals today, where do you fit into the picture? It is obvious that many people fit Paul’s description of those that reject the gospel, and if you see yourself as such, please allow the Spirit of God to lead you to Christ today.

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