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Bible Commentaries
2 Timothy 3

Contending for the FaithContending for the Faith

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Verse 1

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

This know also: "This know also" was a type of expression often used by the Apostle Paul to draw attention to the importance of what he has to say. Similar phrases are found in Philippians 1:12 --"I would ye should understand"--and in 1 Corinthians 11:3 --"I would have you know." The phrases mean to keep remembering or to keep this in mind. Such an introductory phrase was appropriate to use in view of the seriousness of the "perilous times" Paul was about to address.

that in the last days: The last days refer to the last dispensation of time (Isaiah 2:2; Acts 2:17; Hebrews 1:2; 2 Peter 3:3). The Apostle Peter uses the phrase in 2 Peter 3:3 in warning against scoffers coming "in the last days," and Jude warns that mockers, likewise, will arise "in the last time" (Judges 1:18). Paul had already warned Timothy in his first letter of an apostasy occurring "in the latter times" (1 Timothy 4:1).

In the coming verses, Paul is not suggesting that these transgressions are new ones: rather, he is showing that the same sins would be more prominent in these latter times.

perilous times shall come: "Perilous times" (kairos chalepos) literally means "hard times" (Vincent 4: 310) or "hard to bear, troublesome, dangerous" (Thayer 664-1-5467) times. The Revised Standard Version renders this verse this way: "But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress." The Revised Version says "grievous times." The Greek word chalepoi, translated "perilous" here, is also translated "fierce" in Matthew 8:28. The last times (days) would be perilous because of the wicked attitudes of people surrounding Christians. The next four verses name the particular attitudes Paul has in mind.

Verses 1-17


Robertson, Archibald Thomas. Word Pictures in the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1930.

Thayer, Joseph H. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1977. (This book is used for definition of Greek words. The page number in Thayer is given, and the column on the page follows the hyphens. For example, "37-1-2459" means the reference is on page 37, is in column 1, and is word number 2459.)

Trench, Richard Chenevix, D.D. Synonyms of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1975.

Vincent, Marvin R., D.D. Word Studies in the New Testament. McLean, Virginia: MacDonald Publishing Company, n.d.

Wuest, Kenneth S. Wuest’s Word Studies From the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977.

Verse 2

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

For men shall be lovers of their own selves: The word "men" translated from anthropos does not refer only to male individuals, but to mankind. "Lovers of their own selves" (philautos) is a compound adjective, phileo meaning "to be fond of" and autos meaning "self," thus "self-lovers." Thayer defines this term as "loving one’s self; too intent on one’s own interests, selfish" (653-1-5367). The sin here is not in loving ourselves but in loving ourselves too much or putting our desires before the desires of God. We know there is a way we must love ourselves, for Paul said "thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Romans 13:9); that "self-love," however, should not be such that, as Paul warned the Philippians, "all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s" (Philippians 2:21).

covetous: The term "covetous" (philarguros) is derived from the compound word phileo meaning "to be fond of" and arguros meaning "silver." It is defined, therefore, as "loving money, avaricious" (Thayer 653-1-5366). The Revised Standard Version renders "lovers of money." In the first letter to Timothy (6:10), Paul warns, "The love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." The sin is not money, but the "love of money" or any possession that we may place before God or service to Him. The sin of covetousness is seen when a person is out to get anything that he can, even should it mean the downfall of others. Such acts will cause one neighbor to be overly watchful of his own friends and neighbors, even to the point of undue mistrust.

boasters: "Boasters," translated from alazon meaning "an empty pretender" (Thayer 25-1-213), is "derived from ale (meaning) a wandering about" (Trench 98, section xxix). In other words, boasters are people pretending to possess traits or honors that they do not deserve.

proud: "Proud" or haughty is translated from huperephanos and is often used in a bad sense, "with an overweening estimate of one’s means or merits, despising others or even treating them with contempt, haughty" (Thayer 641-1-5244). Paul mentioned this sin in his first letter to Timothy. "If any man teach otherwise," he says, "and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings" (1 Timothy 6:3-4).

The sin of being "proud" refers to "a man with his head held high above others. It is the sin of an uplifted heart against God and man" (Vincent 203, Vol. 1). Solomon, the wise man, writes, "Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished" (Proverbs 16:5).

blasphemers: "Blasphemers" (better translated "railers") comes from the Greek term blasphemos and means "speaking evil, slanderous, reproachful, railing, abusive" (Thayer 103-1-989). The term blasphemers, as used here, does not necessarily refer to blaspheming against God or some high dignity but to blaspheming or speaking evil in general. Peter uses the word in this sense when he says, "But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption" (2 Peter 2:12). Those speaking evil against others and the works of others cause strife and will keep the church torn asunder by the things they say.

disobedient to parents: The term "disobedient" (apeithes) means "impersuasible, uncompliant, contumacious" (Thayer 55-2-545). "Parents" are simply the "begetter" (Thayer 120-2-1118). The idea Paul presents here is the sin of not showing the parents the proper honor and respect they are due. The inspired writers often warn against being disobedient to parents. In the Old Testament, a person who committed such a sin was considered of such a character that he was put to death.

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).

unthankful: "Unthankful" (acharistos) is properly defined as "ungracious" (Thayer 90-2-884). Ingratitude has always been considered one of the worse traits a person can have. It is no wonder that it will be characteristic of the wicked during the last days of this earth.

unholy: The Greek term anosios, translated "unholy," means "unholy, impious, wicked" (Thayer 49-1-462). Such people have no reverence for God.

Verse 3

Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

Without natural affection: This phrase, translated from astorgos, is the negative of storge and is "the binding factor by which any natural or social unit is held together" (Wuest 144, volume 2). This type of love is expressed by those who cherish one another simply because of family ties. Paul used the compound word philo and storgos in Romans 12:10 when he says, "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love." The importance of such a command is seen when we understand that Paul is commanding that Christians are to treat other Christians as if they were fleshly brothers and sisters. The negative astorgos (without natural affection) is the opposite of this love and is seen when a person has no desire to be united with a family; there is no love one for another. When the time comes that there is no love between family members, the time already will have come when there is that same lack between church members. Without natural affection is the state of the calloused inhuman person whose heart is void of warmth and is full of hatred for those who should be the closest to him.

trucebreakers: "Trucebreakers" (aspondos) is defined as one "that cannot be persuaded to enter into a covenant, implacable" (Thayer 81-2-786). A trucebreaker is one who willingly promises anything with no intention of carrying out his promises. We should never look lightly upon agreements that we make. When agreements or contracts are made between two people and one party disregards the agreement, sin is committed. Today, trucebreakers are found in everything from marriage contracts to real estate contracts. Christians must not be as the world is. We must honor all agreements or contracts, even in such small matters as when we are agreeing to purchase automobiles, houses, or household appliances. Failure to do so is sin and can bring reproach upon the church.

Such actions also can be seen in people not honoring the contract of marriage. The contract of marriage is "until death do us part"; however, often times this "contract" is dishonored long before death. Contextually, the word "trucebreakers" refers to those who refuse to agree to settle problems among themselves as well as to those who reached an agreement but later forfeited on the agreement.

false accusers: The words "false accusers" is the translation of the Greek term diabolos and means "prone to slander, slanderous, accusing falsely" (Thayer 135-1-1228). The Revised Standard Version renders this as "slanderers." Diabolos is sometimes translated "devils" because it is characteristic of devils. Making false statements against another for the purpose of damaging his reputation is what Paul has reference to here. Jesus speaks of false accusers in his sermon on the mount and encourages the Christian to rejoice in the face of such persecution.

incontinent: Incontinent (akrates) means "without self-control, intemperate" (Thayer 23-2-192). The Christian can participate in many activities of life without sinning if he exercises self-control. However, many things can become sin without self-control. Paul writes to Corinth and warns that a man can risk the loss of self-control should he not use caution in refraining from marriage relations, even for fasting and prayer. "Defraud ye not one the other," he says, "except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency" (1 Corinthians 7:5). The warning is that the Christian should not involve himself in anything to the point of becoming so weak that he does not have the strength to withstand temptations.

fierce: The term "fierce" (anemeros) is simply defined as "not tame, savage, fierce" (Thayer 45-1-434). This sin is the opposite of "gentleness," which is one of the "fruits of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22).

despisers of those that are good: This phrase is translated from aphilagathos and means "opposed to goodness and good men" (Thayer 89-2-865). Vincent translates this phrase as "haters of good." This sin is found in people who always seem to be opposed to the good traits or even good suggestions of others. The opposite of this sin is found in one of the qualifications of elders, as Paul said, "But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate" (Titus 1:8). Loving the qualities of a good man is a virtue every Christian--not only elders--should work to obtain.

Verse 4

raitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

Traitors: Thayer says that "traitors" (prodotes) is simply "a betrayer" (538-2-4273). After betraying Jesus, Luke speaks of "Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor" (Luke 6:16). Today, likewise, we have those who are "traitors" in the sense that they are ready to betray a trust committed to them. Such sins will cause disrespect and distrust among people who should be the closest people on earth.

heady: "Heady" (propetes) is defined as "precipitate, rash, reckless" (Thayer 541-1-4312). It is rendered in the Revised Standard Version as "reckless." The Ephesians were cautioned: "ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly" (Acts 19:36); that is, they were to do nothing in a hasty, inconsiderate manner. Such actions would disturb and finally destroy congregations.

highminded: "Highminded" (tuphoo) means "to blind with pride or conceit, to render foolish or stupid, beclouded, besotted" (Thayer, 633-2-5187). The same word tuphoo, translated "highminded" here, is translated "lifted up with pride" in the qualifications of the elders: "Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil" (1 Timothy 3:6). A conceited person could never bring anything but trouble among God’s people.

lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God: "Lovers of pleasures" (philedonos) is defined as "loving pleasure" (Thayer 654-1-5369). It seems the number one general characteristic of the world today is loving pleasures; that is, they live for pleasures. The things people love and put first in their lives actually become their gods. These people prefer association with others who frequent bars and other worldly places rather than the children of God or those who love God. "Lovers of God (philotheos) means "loving God" (Thayer 654-2-5377).

Verse 5

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: The term "form" (morphosis) means "the mere form, semblance" (Thayer 419-1-3446). The "form" of something refers to its appearance, not the real thing. Paul speaks of "an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law" (Romans 2:20). This "form of knowledge" was the appearance of true knowledge; but in reality it was nothing more than hypocrisy. So it is with those who have only a form of "godliness" (eusebeia) or "piety towards God" (Thayer 262-2-2150). The "form of godliness" makes it appear, at first glance, that the people are true followers of God; yet, they "deny the power thereof." The term "denying" (arneomai) means "to deny, i.e. abnegate, abjure" (Thayer 74-2-720). While giving the appearance of being Christians and being closely associated with the church, these people were actually, intentionally, opposing the church, its founder, and everything associated with it. The word "power" (dunamis) means the "inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth (Thayer 159-1-1411). The "power" here refers to Christ, His resurrection, and all things involved in "godliness."

from such turn away: This phrase is translated from the Greek word apotrepo meaning "to turn one’s self away from, to shun, avoid" (Thayer 69-2-665). This phrase seems to indicate that godlessness is not in the future but is already among them, for how does one "turn away" from something that is not there? The faithful are to have no association with such wickedness. The Apostle John warned the faithful, "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds" (2 John 1:10-11). The same message is taught by Paul when he says, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you" (2 Corinthians 6:17).

Verse 6

For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

For of this sort are they which creep into houses: "Of this sort" refers to the people spoken of in verses 2-5, those who appear to be religious. Their evil deeds are seen in a form of trickery or false pretense as they enter into the homes of sinful women. The term "creep" (enduno) means "insinuate one’s self into; to enter" (Thayer 214-2-1744). Because of the appearance of "godliness" (verse 5), they are accepted and trusted as being faithful and are thought to be teaching God’s word. These are the same type of people Jude speaks of in Jude verse 4: "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." These men go about teaching false doctrines in the name of Christ. They usually teach things these women want to hear, not the truth. Often their motive is profit, as Paul explains to Titus in 1:11: "Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake."

and lead captive silly women laden with sins: "Lead captive" (aichmaloteuo) literally means "to make captive, take captive" (Thayer 18-2-162). These men make captives of these "silly women" by possibly teaching that their sins are really not sins. They are simply deceived. Paul spoke of the same type of captivity in the second letter to the Corinthians: "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).

"Silly women" (gunaikarion) means "a little woman" (Thayer 123-1-1133). It basically refers to someone who is weak. Not all women are referred to here but those who are gullible; that is, those who are laden with sins and are more apt to accept the false teachings. Thayer defines "laden" (soreuo) as "to heap together, to heap up" (Thayer 612-1-4987).

led away with divers lusts: The words "led away" mean "to move, impel, of forces and influences affecting the mind" (Thayer 9-2-71). These men would search for these sinful women, bring their many sins to their minds, and then say things in an attempt to ease their guilty consciences. Once their consciences were eased, the women would follow the teacher of false doctrine and be led into even more sins.

Verse 7

Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

The foible of always learning but never learning the truth is seen in people who do not allow the scriptures to be their guide. They rely upon other sources or people for their understanding. Vincent says that the "silly women" are learning "from any one who will teach them" (313, volume 4). Who is teaching and what is being taught does not seem to matter to them. Because of such an attitude, they are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. They are not taught the "truth" that comes from God’s word (John 17:17); therefore, they never gain a knowledge of the truth. Many people fall into such a condition today. They do not go to God’s word for the truth, for they do not want the truth; they merely want someone to agree with them. Therefore, they go about searching for a "preacher" or some seemingly devout Christian who may agree with their position.

Verse 8

Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses so do these also resist the truth: This occasion is the only one where the scriptures name Jannes and Jambres; however, many believe these two were the magicians that resisted Moses in Exodus 7:11 : "Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments." The point that Paul is making here is that Jannes and Jambres attempted to void the evidence that Moses was actually a man of God by imitating his miracles. In the same way that these two magicians attempted that deception, false teachers teach a doctrine similar to that of Christ, but it is false. The false teachers claim to have as much authority as God’s messengers and thereby lead the weak-minded people away from the truth.

men of corrupt minds: The word "corrupt" (kataphtheiro) means "to deprave" (Thayer 338-1-2704). Further, Thayer (429-2-3563) says the term "minds" (nous) means "reason in the narrower sense, as the capacity for spiritual truth, the higher powers of the soul, the vacuity of perceiving a divine thing, of recognizing goodness and of hating evil." The same corrupted minds are mentioned in Paul’s first letter when he says, "Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself" (1 Timothy 6:5). Their minds became corrupted by resisting the teachings of Jesus Christ.

reprobate concerning the faith: The term "reprobate" (adokimos) means "not standing the test, not approved ... hence, which does not prove itself to be such as it ought" (Thayer 12-2-96). This statement simply means, as the marginal reading states, they are "of no judgment." They are in a lost condition. They have left the faith, or as Robertson says, "they had renounced their trust in Christ" (625, volume 4). Since they are enemies of the truth, their teaching is not to be accepted.

Verse 9

But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.

But they shall proceed no further: The word "proceed" (prokopto) means to "make progress" (Thayer 540-1-4298). The activity of the false teachers is to be stopped. These heretics were slowly destroying the church, but their heresy would reach only a certain point before it would be stopped and their false doctrine made known.

for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was: The term "folly" (anoia) means "want of understanding" (Thayer 48-1-454). Doctrines of false teachers were senseless. In time, their false doctrines would be made clear--made "manifest" (ekdelos), "evident, clear, conspicuous" (Thayer 193-2-1552)--as the magicians were in the days of Moses.

Verse 10

But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,

But thou hast fully known: The marginal reference reads, "been a diligent follower of." Paul is assuring Timothy that he has faithfully followed every instruction given to him. Just as the false teacher’s doctrine will be made known to all, so will the truths of Paul’s teaching be made known. Thayer defines the phrase "hast fully known" (parakoloutheo) as "to follow after; so to follow one as to be always at his side; to follow close, accompany" (Thayer 484-1-3877). Timothy had traveled with Paul and had an opportunity to examine his actions closely for a long time. He knew better than any other person Paul’s teachings as well as his personal life.

my doctrine: The word "doctrine" (didaskalia) simply means the "teaching, instruction" (Thayer 144-1-1319). Timothy knew these doctrines from listening to Paul when he instructed, "Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.... Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (1 Timothy 4:13; 1 Timothy 4:16).

manner of life: The Revised Version renders this phrase "conduct." It is translated from the Greek term agoge, meaning "the life led, way or course of life" (Thayer 10-1-72). Obviously, Paul lived what he preached. Timothy, having traveled with him, knew well of his conduct. Near the end of his life, Paul says, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7).

purpose: The "purpose" of Paul refers to his aims, plans, or designs in preaching the gospel. He was devoted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, for he realized that it was through the grace of God that he was led to Christianity. Timothy was well aware of Paul’s good character as evidenced by his doctrine, conduct, and purpose.

faith: The word "faith" (pistis) refers to "a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God.... fidelity" (Thayer 513-1-4102). The term "faith" also could refer to Paul’s trust and confidence in God’s word.

longsuffering: "Longsuffering" (makrothumia) means "patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance" (Thayer 387-1-3115). Paul was called upon to endure many persecutions, especially among his own countrymen, but he did so with perseverance.

charity: "Charity," also translated "love" (agape), means "affection, good will, love, benevolence" (Thayer 4-1-26). The love that Paul had for God, His Son, and the gospel helped him through the toughest of all trials.

patience: "Patience" (hupomone) is defined as "steadfastness, constancy, endurance" (Thayer 644-2-5281). Patience is characteristic of one who is unswerved from his main purpose. It refers to one who is loyal through trials and sufferings. The apostles were warned earlier that they would be called upon to endure much for His name; but the comfort came in stating that salvation will come to those who will endure. "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 10:22).

Verse 11

Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.

Persecutions: When Paul penned this word, perhaps he remembered the many times that he was stoned, scourged, and imprisoned or that he suffered a number of other types of injuries for the Lord. (See 2 Corinthians 11:23-28.)

afflictions: An "affliction" (pathema) is "a suffering, misfortune, calamity, evil" (Thayer 472-1-3804). Afflictions are trials that confronted Paul besides what is customarily called persecutions. In his farewell to Ephesus, Paul states that the Holy Ghost had said that "bonds and afflictions" await him at Jerusalem" (Acts 20:22-23).

which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra: Paul suffered in more places than these cities, but these particular cities are named probably because Timothy was better acquainted with them. Timothy had been in all of these places as is made known in Acts 16:1-2.

what persecutions I endured: Paul speaks of some persecutions in Damascus in his second letter to Corinth:

If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands (2 Corinthians 11:30-33).

Paul also suffered persecution in Antioch, as Luke records:

But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.... But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts (Acts 13:45; Acts 13:50).

In Iconium, Paul faced an assault from both Jews and Greeks and fled to Lystra for his life (Acts 14:5), but persecutions also awaited him there (Acts 14:6-19). These were only a few of the many persecutions that the Apostle Paul suffered during his ministry.

but out of them all the Lord delivered me: Paul gives the credit to God for delivering him from all the persecutions mentioned above. In writing to the church at Rome, Paul, referring to the prophecy found in Isaiah 59:20, says, "And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (Romans 11:26). This same "deliverer" saved Paul from persecutions.

Verse 12

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

The term "godly" (eusebos) means "piously" (Thayer 262-2-2153). After considering his own life, Paul speaks of others desiring to live godly lives as he has done, a life of piety toward God that will always be opposed by the world. The persecutions today may not be the same Paul had to withstand, but persecutions of some type will confront us from time to time. Regardless of the persecution, it is our duty to live in such a way that the world will know that we are Christians. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:2, "But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God." In living in such a manner, persecution will come; but the Lord will deliver the faithful.

Verse 13

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse: "Evil" (poneros) men are those who are wicked and immoral (Thayer 530-2-4190). Acts 17:5 refers to the same character by the term "lewd fellows." These men were actively opposing those who lived godly.

A "seducer" (goes) is "a deceiver" or "impostor" (Thayer 120-1-1114). Men of both characters will "wax" (prokopto)--that is, "increase" (Thayer 540-1-4298)--in their deeds of wickedness. Their moral character and conduct will publicly grow worse and worse. The term "wax" (prokopto) is the same as the word "sorer" in Hebrews 10:29. There the meaning is that their punishment will grow worse and worse.

deceiving, and being deceived: The evil men and seducers’ actions of deceiving will increase. Paul denotes two separate sins here. First they will be "deceiving"--that is, they will "lead into error" by leading some Christians away from the truth. And second, they will "be deceived"--that is, they will "wander or fall away from the true faith" (Thayer 514-2-4105).

Verse 14

But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

In the previous verse, Paul warns of the deceivers going away from the truth and taking others with them; now, he instructs Timothy that he can overcome the deceivers and not be led astray by continuing to obey and trust in God’s word. The word "continue" (meno) simply means "to remain as one is, not to become another or different" (Thayer 399-2-3306). The faithful in Christ, like Timothy, must stand fast in the truth of God’s words and not change for false teachers. Paul tells Timothy to stay with the teaching that he has "learned and hast been assured of." "Learned" (manthano) is "to increase one’s knowledge" (Thayer 388-2-3129). Timothy is not instructed to stop learning but instead to "continue" learning and to continue learning from the same source where he has always gained his knowledge. Timothy can be "assured of" (pistoo)--that is, "be firmly persuaded of" (Thayer 514-2-4104)--the truth because he knew of the faithfulness of Paul from whom he had learned it.

The things Paul delivered to Timothy came from Christ. To the church at Corinth, Paul writes, "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you" (1 Corinthians 11:23). Paul taught the holy scriptures Timothy had learned and had placed assurance in.

Verse 15

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures: The word "child" (brephos) is defined as "a new-born child, an infant, a babe" (Thayer 105-2-1025). Timothy was fortunate in that his training started from his birth. Earlier in this letter, Paul mentions the "unfeigned faith" of Timothy’s mother and grandmother: "When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also" (2 Timothy 1:5). The faith that Timothy’s mother and grandmother had now resides in him, for they started teaching him God’s word from the day he was born. They didn’t teach him the doctrines of man; instead, they taught the "holy scriptures." "Holy" (hieros) means "sacred, consecrated to the deity, pertaining to God" (Thayer 299-1-2413). "Scriptures" (gramma) are the "sacred writings" (Thayer 120-2-1121); thus, the "holy scriptures" are the sacred writings of God, which are the things taught in the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament is now for our learning. Paul says, "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:4). From a study of the Old Testament, we can learn how God deals with mankind. We learn when he will bless and when He will curse.

which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus: The knowledge we gain from a study of the Old Testament will help us in a better understanding of the New Testament. Paul tells Timothy the holy scriptures are "able to make thee wise"--sophizo, to teach (Thayer 582-2-4679)--"unto salvation." The holy scriptures have the power to teach a person the knowledge necessary for salvation. Many prophecies in the Old Testament teach about the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. Through these prophecies (Old Testament) and obedience to the actual teachings of Christ (New Testament), man learns what he must do to gain salvation. The fulfillment of the coming of Jesus Christ into this world to die for mankind ended the prophecies of the Old Testament. Paul says, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Romans 10:4). At the time of Jesus’ death, the Old Testament was concluded and the New Covenant (Testament) became effective. Paul says, "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross" (Colossians 2:14). Again, in Hebrews 10:9, Paul writes, "He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second." Salvation, Paul stresses, is through faith in Christ. That faith, Paul explains to the Romans, comes by hearing the word of God, the holy scriptures (Romans 10:17).

Verse 16

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God: This phrase is translated from the Greek term theopneustos meaning "inspired by God" (Thayer 287-2-2315). The sacred writings were dictated by God. Luke records, "As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began" (Luke 1:70). Peter writes, "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:21). All or every scripture is trustworthy and is given for specific purposes. (For more on the inspiration of scripture, see commentary on 1 Timothy 4:1.)

and is profitable for doctrine: The word "doctrine" (didaskalia), as in verse 10, means "instruction" (Thayer 144-1-1319). The scriptures are useful for receiving instructions from God. The doctrine referred to here is not the doctrine of men spoken of by Paul in Titus 1:14 : "Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth." But, instead, it refers to the doctrine inspired of God. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul encourages Timothy to "take heed" unto himself "and unto the doctrine ... for in doing this, thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (1 Timothy 4:16).

for reproof: "Reproof" (elegchos) means "correction, censure, or conviction" (Thayer 202-2-1650). The scriptures, when properly used, can convict a person of his sinful conditions. The scriptures are the source we should always turn to in deciding matters of spiritual importance.

for correction: "Correction" (epanorthosis) means "restoration to an upright or a right state; correction, improvement" (Thayer 228-2-228). The scriptures should be looked upon as a rule book. It is the source that guides our lives in accordance to God’s instructions. When error is found in our lives, the scriptures are profitable in restoring us to God’s favor.

for instruction in righteousness: The term "instruction" (paideia) refers to education or "instruction which aims at the increase of virtue" (Thayer 473-1-3809). Paideia, translated "instruction" here, is translated "nurture" in Ephesians 6:4 where Paul instructs, "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." In Hebrews, Paul uses the same Greek term, but it is translated "chastening" (Hebrews 12:5; Hebrews 12:7-8; Hebrews 12:11).

Paul says the Christian should be educated in "righteousness" (dikaiosune), which is "integrity, virtue, purity of life, uprightness, correctness in thinking, feeling, and acting" (Thayer 149-1-1343). The scriptures, when faithfully followed, will instruct us on how to live pure, righteous lives. The scriptures will teach us how to think and act. Nothing is left to our imagination that is necessary for salvation.

Verse 17

That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

That the man of God may be perfect: The object of the Lord is not for man merely to accept Him; He also wants to furnish man every instruction needful to make him complete. In Paul’s first letter, his instruction to "the man of God" was to flee evil and "follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." This perfect state is accomplished by obedience to the holy scriptures.

The term "perfect" (artios) does not mean without mistake but "complete" (Thayer 75-2-739). Paul tells us that the purpose of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers is "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:12). This perfecting is accomplished through the teaching and obedience of God’s word.

throughly furnished unto all good works: "Throughly furnished" (exartio) is defined as "to furnish perfectly" (Thayer 222-1-1822). "Works" (ergon) is literally every "act, deed, thing done" (Thayer, 248-1-2041). The idea is that the scriptures will furnish Timothy with everything needed to perform any and all good works.

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on 2 Timothy 3". "Contending for the Faith". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ctf/2-timothy-3.html. 1993-2022.
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