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Bible Commentaries
2 Timothy 3

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-17

Shall we turn now in our Bibles to Second Timothy chapter three? Paul said to Timothy,

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come ( 2 Timothy 3:1 ).

It is interesting that the Scriptures in many places speak of the last days and in every case where the Scriptures speak of the last days, you find that it is an apt description of the day and the age in which we live. And so Paul is warning Timothy of certain things that will be transpiring in the last days. And as we go down the list, it's like reading the afternoon newspaper. "Perilous times shall come." The cause of the perilous times are found in the things that people will be doing, and at the top of the list,

Men will be lovers of their own selves ( 2 Timothy 3:2 ).

Have you ever seen an age when people were more conscious of their own selves? Everything today is, you know, for the body beautiful. The emphasis of so many people is just on being beautiful, lovers of themselves. Narcissism is at an all-time peak, but with lovers of yourself comes,

covetousness ( 2 Timothy 3:2 ),

That desire for more. For after all, I'm worth it. You know, I mean, talk about lovers of selves, look at the advertising. Oh I know it costs more but . . .

Boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy ( 2 Timothy 3:2 ),

Each one of these words in the Greek is an interesting word study. We don't have the time to devote to it this evening but I would suggest that you get a good Greek lexicon and do a word study on these particular Greek words that Paul uses to describe the attitudes and the actions of people in the last days.

Without natural affection ( 2 Timothy 3:3 ),

As I read the things that are happening in our modern-cultured Orange County, as I read the reports from the social department on the child abuse, I just shake my head in disbelief because a person could not possibly do these things unless they were without natural affection. There is just a certain natural love that would keep people from doing a lot of the things they are doing today. All you can say is that they are "without natural affection".

God has put in our heart a certain natural love as a parent for a child. There is instinctively, I think, within persons that love of a parent for a child or an adult for the child because we realize the helplessness of a child, the dependency that they have. And for a person to take advantage of a child is unthinkable. And yet, it is becoming in this hedonistic society commonplace, all too commonplace, tragically commonplace.

I am reminded of the prophet of God who spoke concerning Israel, and he said, "They have sown the wind, and now they must reap the whirlwind" ( Hosea 8:7 ). I'm afraid that that is also true of us. We have sown the wind, now we're going to reap the whirlwind.

Trucebreakers ( 2 Timothy 3:3 ),

How many people who have stood before God and have pledged for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part; and yet again, the high divorce rate. "Trucebreakers". You've made a covenant and there are so many broken covenants. Some of you here are victims of broken covenants. Some of you are separated not by your own desire or wish, but because someone was a trucebreaker. They did not keep the covenant that they made. Again, it is startling. How appropriate that "trucebreakers" is for this day.

false accusers, incontinent ( 2 Timothy 3:3 ),

That is, without any sexual restraints. Boy, I'll tell you, I don't know. Living here almost in a Sodom-Gomorrah atmosphere and environment. My wife and I eat out quite a bit. We usually try to avoid it on Friday evening if we can, but sometimes our schedules are such that we just don't have time to. She doesn't have the time to prepare the meal on Friday evening and we'll go out on Friday night. But I can't believe what I see in some of these restaurants over here in the Irvine industrial business center. Friday evenings, you know, everybody out looking for their weekend companion, incontinent, no sexual restraints.

fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, [and then] lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God ( 2 Timothy 3:3-4 );

The pleasuremania of the United States. We've just experienced a tremendous demonstration of that in the Los Angeles basin in the last couple of weeks. The numbers of people who flocked to the various athletic contests, loving pleasure. Now, there's nothing wrong with enjoying life. I believe God intended that you should enjoy life.

There is nothing wrong with having pleasure. I believe that God intended you to have pleasure, but when it comes before God, it means that it has become your God and it makes a very poor God to worship or serve. Good to have pleasure but don't make it your God. They love pleasure more than they love God; that's the indictment. It has become their God and thus, they are guilty as those in the Old Testament who were worshipping Mammon, who, or rather Molech who was the god of pleasure. "Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God."

Having a form of godliness ( 2 Timothy 3:5 ),

They still, you know, pay their respects.

but they deny the power thereof: [Paul said to Timothy] from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, and led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth ( 2 Timothy 3:5-7 ).

So the Greek word that is used here to describe these that are going around, leading captive the silly women, is the same Greek word that was used to describe quackery, and that's probably they're quacks, Paul is saying. The kind of guys that went around selling snake oil or cure-alls, deceiving, defrauding people.

Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: they are men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith ( 2 Timothy 3:8 ).

Now when Moses appeared before Pharaoh and he threw down his rod and it turned into a snake, you'll remember that Pharaoh's magicians threw down their rods and they also became snakes, but Moses' snake swallowed theirs. Jannes and Jambres were the names of the two magicians that withstood Moses. Now this is not given to us in the Scriptures but there are other, what are known as apocryphal books, in which these two fellows are named. And that is, it doesn't tell us in the Scripture in Exodus that that was their names but Paul gives us their names here, Jannes and Jambres who withstood the truth. And they were able to imitate the workings of God up to a point and then they came to the place where they were backed down by Moses, but "men of corrupt minds, they are reprobate concerning the faith."

The Bible tells about God giving people over to reprobate minds, men who resist God and the truth of God. Their minds become corrupted and they ultimately become reprobate concerning the faith. I watch very little, but with horror and dismay, the deterioration of a man who probably at one time had a legitimate ministry, but I've seen the gradual erosion of this person on television just right before my eyes. Still the man has become crude, blasphemous, ranting and raving, a disgrace to Jesus Christ who said, "By this sign shall men know that you are my disciples, that you love one another" ( John 13:34 ). And there's such a complete, total absence of love. The thing that amazes me is that he can attract people who will support him. "Men of corrupt minds."

The Lord said it's "what comes out of the mouth of a man, that defiles a man" ( Matthew 15:11 ). For "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" ( Matthew 12:34 ). When a man's language becomes filthy, obscene and crude, it shows that there's something wrong with him. "Reprobate concerning the faith."

But [Paul said] they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as [Jannes and Jambres] also were ( 2 Timothy 3:9 ).

In other words, you may go along for a while, but ultimately it's going to catch up with you. You may be able to deceive people for a while, but ultimately, it's going to catch up, even as it did with Jannes. And there came that place where, hey, Moses performed a miracle of God and they backed away. They said, Wait a minute, this is the hand of God, we can't, we can't touch this. And so there comes that point where they will proceed no further: "their folly becomes manifest to all men", as Jannes and Jambres also was. Jambres.

But thou hast fully known ( 2 Timothy 3:10 )

Now in contrast to this, boy, and what a contrast the Christian is to the world around him, and more and more, you know, more and more your lifestyle is different from the world. More and more the Christian is a marked person because the more corrupt the world becomes, the more the Christian stands out. The more the person who lives godly and righteous in Christ stands out. And so Paul said to Timothy, "You have fully known"

my doctrine, and my manner of life, my purpose, my faith, my longsuffering, my love, and my patience, [you know the] persecutions, and the afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, and Iconium, and Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me ( 2 Timothy 3:10-11 ).

Timothy was from Lystra. Paul met him on his first missionary journey. At that time Timothy was just a very young boy, probably in his mid-teens and yet he was attracted to Paul the apostle because of the message that Paul bore. Timothy had been schooled in the Scriptures from his early youth by his mother and grandmother, and so as Paul began to, with the Scriptures, prove that Jesus was the Messiah, with Timothy's background, he could see the truth of it. And he embraced Christianity, but he was probably standing there in Lystra when the people in the city stoned Paul until they thought he was dead and dragged him out of the city. And he was probably in the company of those that were standing around, sort of crying, as they saw Paul's limp body on the ground. And suddenly, of course, their tears were changed because Paul began to breathe and move and he stood up and he said, Let's go back in and preach some more.

Paul said, you know, what kind of a life I've lived. You know the persecutions that I experienced, but the Lord delivered me out of them all. "Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all" ( Psalms 34:19 ). Paul's life contrasted with the world. Christian life is a life of purpose. The world just exists, no real goal, no real meaning; you're just existing. Paul's life: one of faith. Paul's life: one of longsuffering, one of love and one of patience

Now you'd think that the world would treat a person like that very cordially. It is interesting, when Jesus in the Sermon on the mount described the Christian in the Beatitudes, after having described the traits of the Christian in the Beatitudes; you'd say, My, a man like that who is a peacemaker, who is merciful, who is hungering and thirsting after righteousness, who is meek, who is poor in spirit, surely you know the world would respect such a man. But after giving the characteristics and traits of the godly man, Jesus then in the final Beatitudes said, "Blessed are ye, when men shall persecute you, and revile you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake" ( Matthew 5:11 ).

The world really doesn't admire true Christian traits. Why? Because the true child of God brings the worldly person under conviction. They just are irritated by your love and by your patience and by your goodness because they feel guilty. Look what they did to Jesus, and Jesus said, "If they persecuted me, they're going to persecute you" ( John 15:20 ). Don't expect the world to admire your godly stance. Don't expect the world to applaud when you speak out against evil. They'll say, Crucify him, rather than applaud.

And so Paul, you know, how I've lived; my faith, my longsuffering, my love, my patience, and the persecutions and afflictions that came to me.

Yea ( 2 Timothy 3:12 ),

One of my most unfavorite promises in the Bible.

and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution ( 2 Timothy 3:12 ).

Quite a promise, isn't it? I've never found that in one of those little Bible promise books, I mean, promise things yet. That's not the kind of promises we really enjoy, is it? "My God shall supply all of your needs" ( Philippians 4:19 ). Oh, yeah, I like that one. "They that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." You're in an alien world. You're a stranger. You're a pilgrim. This world is in rebellion against God. And if you align your life with God, you're going to find yourself out of alignment with the world and persecution will come.

"Beloved, consider it not strange concerning the fiery trials which are to try you, as though some strange thing has happened to you" ( 1 Peter 4:12 ). So don't expect the world to speak well of you or to applaud you for your living a godly life and taking a righteous stand.

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived ( 2 Timothy 3:13 ).

In other words, it's not going to get better for awhile. It's going to get worse before it gets better. It will be getting better a little further down the road, but evil days are going to wax worse and worse, until the Lord takes His church out and then God judges the world for its unrighteousness and ungodliness. And then Jesus will come and establish God's righteous kingdom, but by then, those that will remain will be saying, Oh, God help us. "Blessed is he who will come in the name of the Lord" ( Psalms 118:26 ). I mean, people will have had it with the unrighteousness of the world.

Look at the rapid deterioration of our society. You can you see what's happened even in the last twenty-five years. Look at the magazines that were once really under the counter kind of stuff and sold illegally. Now they're right out where little kids can go in and pick them up and leaf through them. Look at our attitudes towards morality. Look at the lack, lackness. Look at, of course, all of these other things that have come along as the result of it. The deterioration, rapid deterioration so that a mother has to worry when she sends her little child to school because she doesn't know what some kinky character might do, exposing themselves to that beautiful little child or even worse. God help us. If the Lord doesn't come soon, we're going to destroy ourselves as we just sink in the filth. We're going to drown in our own corruption. "Evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." I think we've gone just about as far as we can. I think the next major event, Revelation 4:1 .

But continue thou in the things which you have learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through the faith which is in Christ Jesus ( 2 Timothy 3:14-15 ).

Now it is interesting that as Paul is referring to the Scriptures here, he is, of course, referring to the Old Testament Scriptures. The New Testament had not yet been canonized. So he's referring to the Old Testament Scriptures, those which Timothy knew from the child and he called them the "holy scriptures," which they are, "and they are able to make you wise unto salvation through the faith which is in Christ Jesus." In other words, there is within the Old Testament so much concerning Jesus Christ that through the understanding and the study of the Old Testament you should logically be led to Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, "You do search the scriptures: because in them you think you have life; but actually, they are testifying of me" ( John 5:39 ). Again he said, "Lo, I have come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God" ( Hebrews 10:7 ). The volume of the book, the Old Testament, it's all about Jesus Christ. The whole concept of redemption is wrapped up in the Old Testament. The promise of the Messiah, the details of the Messiah, they are all there. And Paul said, You've known the Holy Scriptures, able to bring you to a faith in Jesus Christ, salvation through the faith in Jesus Christ.

For all scripture is given by inspiration of God ( 2 Timothy 3:16 ),

Not as some would lead you to believe, some scriptures are given by inspiration of God. And as we pointed out, the danger always of saying some scriptures, not all scriptures, is the loss of authority. And when you lose authority you have anarchy. Every man going his own way. Every man doing his own thing or every man believing as he wants. You have no authority.

So if I tell you that some scriptures are not really inspired of God, then I become the authority, not the Bible anymore, because you can't just read the whole Bible and trust it because not all of it is inspired. So I become the authority if I make such an affirmation to you. And I will tell you what scriptures are inspired and which ones aren't. Now you get out your, you know, your green and blue pens and for the inspired ones, we'll underline those with blue and we'll use red, maybe, to underline those that are not inspired, you know and, and so here I am, I'm the authority.

Well, the next liberal comes along and he says, Well, no, no, no, he was wrong on that one. He said that one isn't inspired; obviously inspired. He was wrong on that you know. Get out your pen and take out the red, put the blue one. Well soon your Bible will be so messed up you wouldn't be able to read it. And why read them anyhow if they're not inspired? "All scripture is given by inspiration of God."

Don't start messing with it. Don't start trying to cut out certain stories because they don't fit your scheme because you have a little hard, you have a hard time sort of believing that. Story of Jonah has provoked a lot of problems for people, only because of their concept of God. If you can read and buy the first verse of the Bible, you should have no problem with the rest of the Bible. If your God is big enough to create the heavens and the earth, no problem, but you see, we stumble on the very first verse. And that's what creates the problem all the way through. Our God is much too small. "And God prepared a great fish and it swallowed Jonah" ( Jonah 1:17 ). Do you have a hard time with that?

And man has prepared a great fish and they powered it with atomic engines. And a hundred and fifty men can board it and they can submerge and go under the North Pole under the arctic ice. And come up a hundred days later and be deposited at a port. Do you have a hard time accepting that man can build a great fish that can swallow men and keep them under water for several days and deposit them later at a port?

Hey, hey, wait a minute then. How big is your God? Man can do it but not God. Would you find it easier if it, if the account said, And a submarine surfaced and the captain got out on deck and, you know, they hauled Jonah in and they submerged again and headed towards Joppa and let him off the port. But you see, if you start whacking away at the story of Jonah, and say, oh, I can't really buy that. Wow, watch out now because Jesus bought it.

One day they said to Jesus, Show us a sign. He said, "A wicked and an adulterous generation seeks after a sign; but no sign will be given it, except the sign of the prophet Jonah: For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" ( Matthew 12:38-40 ). Oh, Jesus, you mean you believe that story? Didn't you know that's just a myth? That's just fable. How is it that you could be deceived, Jesus? I thought you were, you know, the Son of God and smarter than that.

Noah, the earth was really flooded? Noah escaped? Jesus said, "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of man" ( Luke 17:26 ). Confirmed that Noah was a real person and it was a real event. So you have to be careful when you start chipping it away at one side because the whole thing will come down on you. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God."

Now when you have difficulty in your understanding of a scripture, rather than setting that aside and saying, Well, God really didn't say that; just say, hey, I really don't understand that yet. I have many scriptures that I don't understand yet. I've got a file up here that says, Wait for further information. And I filed many scriptures in that file. Now I'm not about to say God was wrong. I'm just saying, Hey, I am stupid and I lack an understanding. God is right. I don't know exactly yet what He said but when I find out I know He's going to be right. For "all scripture is given by inspiration of God."

and [as such they are] profitable ( 2 Timothy 3:16 )

And how profitable is the word of God to us today! What a blessing. They're profitable.

for doctrine ( 2 Timothy 3:16 ),

What am I to believe about God? What am I to believe about man? What am I to believe about sin? What am I to believe about angels or the future? Or life, or death, or life after death? The scriptures are profitable to establish the foundation of my beliefs. They're profitable for doctrine. I can base my beliefs upon what God has said because it is indeed God's word.

I have great difficulty with these people who develop doctrines that are contrary to what Jesus said, as though they understand more than Jesus about what's happening in the future. The Jehovah Witnesses seeking to develop their doctrine concerning hell and that it is a place of oblivion, no consciousness, no awareness. And they use the book of Job as their proof text. When Job was talking to his friends and they were talking to him about the future, and Job said, Oh, I wish I were dead. It would all be over, where, you know, the miseries would all be gone.

What's the first thing God said to Job? When God came on the scene and entered the conversation with his friends? He said, Who is this? Who is talking all these words without knowledge? Job, tell me, have you been beyond the gates of death, do you know what it's about? Well, Jesus has and He told us what to, what it's about in Luke, the sixteenth chapter. Now are you going to, you know, take the word of Jesus? Or are you going to develop a doctrine that is diametrically opposed to what Jesus said? The word of God is the foundation for doctrine. What I believe, I believe because God has said it. And my full doctrinal concepts are premised upon the scriptures. God said it.

They are profitable

for reproof, for correction ( 2 Timothy 3:16 ),

And how often the word of God has brought correction to my course of life. Easy it seems to get sort of distracted and off course. And the word of God comes and it brings a balance, it brings a correction, it brings a correct perspective.

It's profitable

for instruction in righteousness ( 2 Timothy 3:16 ):

And righteousness is just actually the act of being right or doing right or living right. It's instructing you on the right kind of life. This is the right thing to do. It's instructing us in righteousness.

That the man of God may be perfect ( 2 Timothy 3:17 ),

And the word perfect of course is always that of completeness. God wants you to be complete. The Greek word literally is fully matured or of full age, fully matured, that the man of God might be fully matured.

thoroughly furnished unto all good works ( 2 Timothy 3:17 ).

In other words, the word of God is that which thoroughly prepares me for any work that God might have for me to do. Now many people have a legitimate and proper desire to be used of God. Oh God, I want you to use my life. Good. That's proper and you should have that desire. But God prepares the instruments through which He works and the most important preparation is through the Word of God. That is where you become thoroughly equipped to do the work that God has designed and ordained for you. So if you want God to use your life, then thoroughly equip yourself in the Word of God, the study, the understanding.

That's why we're here tonight. Just to go line upon line, precept upon precept, plodding right straight through the word of God. The whole idea is that of thoroughly fitting you as an instrument that God can use. And you will find as God's word becomes a very part of your life and you begin to be guided by the word of God, that God will begin to use you in very exciting ways. But we, so often, make the mistake of going out ill-equipped or running without a message. So God's word, scripture given for inspiration, by the inspiration of God and is profitable.

Of course, this morning we pointed out that the inspiration of the Bible is proved by internal evidences, such as its total accuracy with known facts of science, when it happened to cover scientific subjects. Now though it is infallible, inerrant and inspired, I did make a mistake in my message this morning on the speed of Arcturus; it's twelve thousand miles a second, I think I said twelve million. It's twelve thousand miles a second, but that's pretty fast, too. So you see, I'm not inerrant in all, but the scriptures are.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 3". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/2-timothy-3.html. 2014.
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