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Bible Commentaries
2 Timothy 3

Gaebelein's Annotated BibleGaebelein's Annotated

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Verses 1-17



1. The characteristics of the last days (2 Timothy 3:1-7 )

2. What the last days mean for the true believer (2 Timothy 3:8-13 )

3. The need of the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:14-17 )

2 Timothy 3:1-7

Little comment is needed on these words. They are a prophecy. The apostle by the Spirit of God reveals what shall come in the last days. It is a description of the moral qualities in the vast number of professing Christians of the last days, “who have the form of godliness,” that is, go “to church,” profess a creed of some sect, and are outwardly religious, “but deny the power thereof.” Three times they are shown to be lovers. “Lovers of themselves”--they live for themselves and know nothing of self-denial, they live and walk in the flesh. “Lovers of money”--this is what the word covetous means. Greed controls their activities so that they can enjoy themselves and live luxuriantly and in pleasure. And therefore “they are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.”

The same class is mentioned in Philippians 3:1-21 , they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, minding earthly things. Their end is destruction. Compare 2 Timothy 3:1-4 with the last verses of the first chapter in Romans. There the characteristics, morally, of heathendom are given, and here the characteristics of the professing masses of nominal Christendom. There is no difference between the two, only the condemnation of the profession, the unsaved, religious element in Christendom is greater. There is no need to point out how this prophecy given by the aged apostle has come true. We live in the midst of these conditions, and are surrounded by them on all sides. Evil teachers began in apostolic days to creep into houses, winding about silently like a serpent, and captured silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts. How much more true this is today.

2 Timothy 3:8-13

What true believers may expect in the closing days of this age, if they walk in separation and are faithful in their testimony, is the theme of these verses. Jannes and Jambres were the Egyptian sorcerers who withstood Moses. Jewish tradition gives the information that the magicians of Exodus 7:11-22 bore these names. The Spirit of God assures us here that this is correct. Another Jewish tradition claims that they were the sons of Balaam. They worked by imitations. They produced by Satanic powers certain miracles which were imitations of God’s power. Such is the case in our own days. Christian Science, Spiritism and other systems are the sphere where Satan’s power of imitation is manifested. Satan also imitates in a still more subtle way the work of the Holy Spirit. All this will work on till finally (after the Church has been called away) the times are reached as prophetically described in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 . And like the folly and wickedness of Jannes and Jambres were manifest, so will these deceivers and perverters of the truth be uncovered. This will be when the Lord comes.

How happy in the Lord Paul must have been that he could point to himself as an example. The grace of God had enabled him to be all he writes to his beloved son Timothy. “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long suffering, charity, patience, 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.” Paul endured persecutions because he was a faithful minister of the Lord Jesus Christ and did not shun to declare the whole counsel of God. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” If the believer is true to the Lord, if he lives in separation, the world, and especially that which is called “the religious world,” with its unscriptural aims and endeavors, will not applaud him, but he will have to bear the reproach of Christ and suffer persecution. Why do so few Christians suffer persecutions? Because they have not purged themselves from the vessels unto dishonor, and are consequently yoked with unbelievers.

“But evil men and seducers (juggling impostors) shall wax worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” Things morally and religiously are therefore not getting better in this age. There is no hope apart from the coming of our Lord.

2 Timothy 3:14-17

The inspired Scriptures of God are the need, the supreme need of the believer in the last days. Timothy had known the sacred Scriptures (the Old Testament) from a child, and of these Scriptures Paul writes, “they are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith that is in Christ Jesus.” He exhorts him therefore, “Abide thou in the things which thou hast learned, and of which thou hast been assured, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” Then the assuring statement of the Holy Spirit, the author of the Scriptures, that all Scripture is inspired of God. It is well known that the revised version has dropped the “is,” so that it reads “every Scripture given by inspiration of God.” We do not accept this, for it opens the way to deny that parts of the Scriptures are given by inspiration of God.

“We are told we have to read as, ‘Every Scripture inspired of God,’ as if it distinguished such from other Scriptures side by side with them, and therefore we had to distinguish in like manner. At once the human mind is set in supremacy over the Scripture, and we become judges of it instead of its judging us. But the apostle has been already pointing out the sacred Scriptures of which he is speaking when he says ‘all Scripture.’ Nothing is Scripture in the sense he uses the word except that which is in the sacred Scriptures, and nothing that is in them is without that inspiration of God which makes it ‘profitable for doctrine, for conviction, or instruction in righteousness’“ (Numerical Bible).

How important it is to hold fast the great truth that the Bible is the Word of God, and therefore “God-breathed.” All apostasy starts with the denial of this fact. The Scriptures are the permanent expression of the mind and will of God. It is not merely that the truth is given in them by inspiration, but they are inspired. They are the expression of His own thoughts. They are our only authority. Upon the constant use of them depends everything. Without adhering to the Scriptures and being obedient to them, we also would be swept along by the current of apostasy. They are the one thing profitable. Note the order: Profitable for doctrine, which we get alone from the Word of God, and which is the foundation of everything. Then follows “reproof” or conviction, and that is followed by correction and instruction for righteousness. It starts with the doctrine and leads, after conviction and correction, to righteousness. And then the man of God, obedient to the Scriptures in all things, is perfect, thoroughly finished unto every good work.

Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 3". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/2-timothy-3.html. 1913-1922.
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