v1. But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
Why does Paul want Timothy to understand something – i.e. the apparent times of difficulty? The gospel had been opposed for years before he wrote this letter. Paul himself had been beaten, chained and imprisoned because of his allegiance to the gospel. Infact, earlier in this letter, he says that everybody in Asia abandoned him – 2 Tim 1:15 You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes – Probably because of his chains.
Why then does he labor to have Timothy understand what he already knows? – that there will be times of difficulty and men will be evil and oppose the truth?
It is because he wants Timothy to understand what we also need to understand; that opposition of the truth is not a passing situation. It is something that is present and will remain with us until this age passes.
We should not be deceived to hide for a while hoping that the false teachings and teachers will pass. False teaching is a characteristic of our age which we should oppose and rebuke sharply –Titus 1:13
We must ‘understand this’, that in the last days.
Friends, the scriptures are clear that the last days are not the days just before the second coming of Christ.
The (first) coming of Jesus Christ marked the arrival of a new age – thus, the ending of the old age – and the beginning of the last days.
Particularly, the last begin after Pentecost. Peter quotes prophet on the day of Pentecost saying, “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, …” Acts 2:16-21
Paul also, tells Timothy in verse 5 – Avoid such people.
These were therefore people that lived in their day – since Timothy was to avoid them.
Heb 1:1-2 “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in THESE last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”
Therefore, brothers and sisters, these are the last days. We are living in the last days.
2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
These are the reasons why the times are difficult. Not war, not famine, not diseases nor calamities, but wicked and depraved actions of men.
- A lover of self? – Do you consider yourself more highly than you ought to?
Phil 2:3-4 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Even in exercising of gifts, God, through Paul urges, Rom 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned
- A lover of money? – What is your attitude towards money?
1 Tim 6:9-10 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5.
1 Cor 13:4 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
Colossians 4:6 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Notice how these relate to misdirected love – to self, and money – not God. Leading to pride, arrogance and abusiveness. Let us all search our hearts and repent of these things.
Shocking as it might be, these people have an observance/appearance of religion. These are people who appear godly. These are, sadly, people we may be fellowshipping with in our local churches, CU’s and yes, even here. Could this be you? We are to AVOID you! Search your heart and run to Christ for forgiveness.
v6 – 9
6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
The weak women are characterized here, by two things.
- Burdened with sins and led astray by various passions.
This shows moral weakness. Their sins were to them both a burden and a tyrant. And the false teachers took advantage.
- Always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
They would listen to anyone, but not arrive at a knowledge of the truth. They certainly are tossed back and forth by every wind of doctrine – Eph. 4:14.
8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith.
It is generally believed that Jannes and Jambres were probably the magicians of Egypt put forward by Pharaoh – though not mentioned in the Old Testament. As to the source Paul learned their name from is unclear. It is possible though, that many things relating to these histories were handed down. And also, during Paul’s time, there may have been commentaries on the Old Testament that gave more fully those narratives Moses touched briefly on.
The thrust of this verse, however is; Paul reminds us that we do not need to wonder when false teachers arise to oppose the gospel, since Moses likewise had those who contended with him. These examples, drawn from remote antiquity give us strong consolation.
We also are assured this:
9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.
Simply, the destruction of false teachers is not asleep.
2 Peter 2:3 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness
Paul serves as a good example of a good teacher – one who not only trains his disciple by words alone but opens up and allows them to see that whatever he teaches, he teaches sincerely.
It is his wish, that the example of his faith, love and patience be constantly before Timothy’s eyes. It is for this reason that he zeros into his persecutions – which Timothy knew very well about.
11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.
There is a great consolation – that the Lord delivers His people from persecutions. Whether at the moment or later. For it is true that Paul had not been finally delivered – he was awaiting execution at the time of writing the letter – probably writing from Rome around A.D. 67 or 68.
It is as though, Paul, in this verse is saying, “You have known by experience that God has never forsaken me, so that you have no right to hesitate to follow my example”
12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
The condition here is laid, that all who desire to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted. Persecution therefore, is a sign for those desiring to live a godly life.
Question: Must all then be martyrs?
Answer: It is not always that Satan persecutes the servants of Christ in one way. But the bottom line is; it is absolutely unavoidable that all of them shall have the world as an enemy in one way or another.
13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
Evil men will succeed in injuring and corrupting others. One worthless person will always be more effectual in destroying, than ten faithful preachers in building, though they labor with all their might.
This is not because falsehood is stronger than truth but because human beings are naturally inclined to vanity and errors – completely fallen and in need of the Savior.
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Knowing from whom you learned it – this commends the certainty of doctrine. If anyone has been wrongly instructed, he should not continue in what he has learned.
Paul appeals to the Holy Scriptures – the sacred writings. This is the ONLY thing that is able to make anyone wise for salvation – through faith in Christ Jesus. Faith is the ONLY way to obtain salvation.
Salvation is by Grace Alone through faith Alone in Christ Alone to the Glory of God Alone.
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Scripture derives its authority from its source – God.
The scriptures are the very breath of God and only because of this are they profitable.
For: teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness.
The end of it is the completeness of God’s messenger and equipping for every good work.