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Bible Commentaries
2 Timothy 3

Godbey's Commentary on the New TestamentGodbey's NT Commentary

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Verses 1-17



1. But know this, that in the last days perilous times shall come. ” It is overwhelmingly patent to all Bible readers that we are living in the time of the end of the Gentile dispensation, the last preceding the millennial kingdom, even now conspicuously dawning on all the earth in the holiness movement belting the globe, the bright morning star heralding the swift approach of the glorious Sun of righteousness, destined soon “ to rise upon the earth with healing in his wings, ” forever expelling the black darkness with which Satan’s dismal night has enveloped the globe six thousand years, since the bright day of Eden suffered total eclipse.

2. For men shall be lovers of themselves; i. e., selfish lovers of money. Never in all the ages were money-loving and money-getting so rampant as at the present day, when the people are blind to what does not glisten, and deaf to what does not jingle. Paul says the covetous man is an idolater. According to that Scripture, pulpits and pews are filled with idolaters. “ Proud blasphemers, disobedient to parents. ” O how sadly are these dark adjectives everywhere verified! How fearfully is parental authority rejected by the proud and incorrigible! “ Ungrateful, unholy. ” Preachers in solid platoons, with the Holy Bible lying before them, have the diabolical audacity to preach against holiness, to please and captivate their proud, worldly, and wicked members for the sake of filthy lucre. “ Without natural affection. ” Not only are family relations ignored, but murders, especially infanticides, are common. “ Covenant breakers. ” It is no trouble to join any of the popular Churches without so much as a conviction of sin; solemnly obligating themselves in the presence of God, angels, and men, “ to renounce the devil and all his works, ” they never even think of giving up Satan’s frolics, fandangos, and the pleasures of sin, thus not only falsifying but perjuring themselves, and sadly verifying the words of Jesus, “ Making them twofold more the children of hell. ” “ Devilish, incorrigible, furious. ” What awful adjectives to apply to Church members. For he is not speaking of aliens, but professors of Christianity. I have been personally notified of a number of preachers committing murder and other high crimes. Only ten days ago a Church member in this State was hung for murder. “ Opposed to the good. ” God’s true people meet their most terrible opposition in the ministry and membership of the popular Churches.

4. Traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God. ” The Church members of the present day sadly verify these dark adjectives. Despite all that can be done, they will have the pleasures of sin, showing predominant love of the world, its foolish amusements, silly pastimes, and carnal indulgences, and actually no love of God, pastors apparently powerless to restrain them, with folded arms giving way to the overmastering tide of sin and worldliness.

5. Having the form of godliness. ” This clause shows positively that the Holy Ghost is here describing Church members, for none others have the form of godliness. How rapidly we are sweeping to the end! I am a mournful witness to the sad verification of this black catalogue of sins in the Churches of the present day. Forty years ago these vices and follies were not tolerated in the Churches, excommunications constantly occurring in all denominations, thus keeping the Churches expurgated of these wicked characters. Sad this day to see them in the majority, and ruling the Churches! “ And denying the power of the same ” ( i. e., godliness). Justification brings us into the kingdom of peace, and sanctification into that of power. Without sanctification, an everlasting tide of internal strife with inbred sin sets hard against you, liable any moment to sweep you away into condemnation. John Wesley says: “Justification saves us from evil habits, but sanctification from evil tempers.” On all sides myriads of preachers and millions of members, representing the influential denominations, are denying sanctification, which is the “ power of godliness. ” I do not mean that they verbally deny it. But really they ignore and reject it, some evading altogether, by identifying it with conversion, others postponing it till death, and still others running it into vague gradualism, denominated growth in grace, and thus eliminating the very possibility of the experience, all like Pilate and Herod uniting in the crucifixion of the holiness movement, God’s relief train, which he has sent to the rescue of the wrecked. “ And from these turn away. ” This is too plain to need comment. It is the positive commandment of Almighty God to turn away from all religious people who deny the power of godliness, which is sanctification. John Wesley advised the people, when a preacher spoke against Christian perfection, to retire from the congregation, but go back to the next meeting, thus opening the door of reformation. “Brother Godbey, would you advise me to withdraw from the membership of a Church that fights holiness?” If you have not sufficient grace to serve as God’s faithful missionary (for certainly such a Church is good missionary ground), to shine and shout among them courageously, holding up the banner of holiness to the Lord, I would certainly advise obedience to the above commandment of the Holy Ghost, “ From such turn away. ” One thing is certain: if you do not draw them, they will draw you, dragging you into hell with them. You can not possibly participate in their frolics, festivals, and worldliness, and keep your experience. Millions of young converts have been frozen out, and dragged back into the world by frolicking Church members. If you fall into their trend, you are gone, world without end. So you had better obey this commandment , From such turn away, ” unless you stay with them to pray, testify, exhort, preach, suffer persecution, shine and shout for Jesus, thus using the dead worldly Church as a missionary field.

6. For of these are those who are creeping into houses and leading captive silly women, having been laden with sins, led about by various lusts. ” How signally is this verse verified in the jealous proselytic rivalry everywhere prevalent among the fallen Churches! For this reason discipline has become a lost art. They fear the excommunicated will join their neighbor, giving a numerical majority to their competitor. Not only have they ceased to excommunicate the wicked, but all sorts of subterranean stratagems are indulged, as Jesus says, “Compassing sea and land, and making him twofold more the child of hell.” “Silly women” is a translation of gunaikaria, a diminutive from gunee, a woman. Hence, it means little women. As the word is in the neuter gender, it means men as well as women. Among heathen the women have never been educated; consequently they are proverbial for their ignorance and liability to abduction in all sorts of ways responsive to the intrigues of designing demagogues. Hence, the idea conveyed by the Greek in this passage is that these uncultured, ignorant, feeble-minded people become a prey to ecclesiastical proselyters. Certainly this prophecy is now receiving its literal fulfillment.

7. Always learning, and never able to come to a perfect knowledge of the truth. ” This floating element manipulated indiscriminately by the proselyting sects, they profess and join in every protracted meeting. Perhaps, in the mercy of God, they sometimes get converted, but instead of progressing into holiness i. e., a “perfect knowledge of the truth” collapse again, and fall a prey to another proselyter. If they could only once get sanctified and settled in Christ, their floating would cease.

8. In which manner Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so these also resist the truth, men corrupt as to their mind, reprobate concerning the faith. ” These proselytic pastors and custodians of the fallen Churches are here compared to Jannes and Jambres, those Egyptian magicians, Satan’s preachers, who antagonized Moses, by the power of the devil counterfeiting his miracles, turning their rods into serpents. But the serpent transformed out of Moses’ rod devoured those of Jannes and Jambres, illustrating the superiority of God’s power to that of the devil.

Satan in all ages has wrought miracles, by ancient sorcery, Egyptian magic, medieval witchcraft, and is now doing a big work through spiritualism, Christian science, and hypnotism. The devil is so much wiser and stronger than men that he can do any amount of works miraculous in human estimation, because beyond our comprehension. Yet you must remember that Satan is a finite being, and can not perform omnipotent miracles, which belong only to God. I doubt not but multitudes of preachers at the present day, in fulfillment of this alarming latter-day prophecy, are literally manipulated by the devil, like Jannes and Jambres, and “ reprobate concerning the faith; i. e., hopelessly given over to the devil.

9. But they shall proceed no farther. ” Soon our Lord is coming to execute terrible judgment and retribution on the wicked nations and fallen Churches. “ For their folly shall be made manifest to all, as theirs was also. ” Our Lord is coming in his glory to take up his saints, leaving the wicked world and Babylonian sects to the awful retributions of the great Tribulation, when the ancient of days will descend in flaming fire and execute judgment on the enemies of his Son, thus hackling out of the world everything that will not do for the coming kingdom. (Acts 3:23.) Then the counterfeit millions in pulpit and pew will all be revealed.

10, 11. Here Paul alludes to his terrible persecutions. At Lystra, where God gave him Timothy, they actually stoned him to death; meanwhile he went up and spent that memorable hour in heaven. (2 Corinthians 12:0.) Thus recapitulating his wonderfully eventful life of toil, privation, and persecution, he exhorts Timothy to be courageous and stand the storm.

12. And all wishing to live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. ” The reason why none but the holiness people are persecuted at the present day, is the simple fact that the devil is not fool enough to waste his ammunition on dead game. He is as much opposed to genuine religion as in the days of the martyrs. The reason why the common Churchism of the day provokes no opposition, is because the devil has no objection to it. He is perfectly willing for you to take your choice between the inside and the outside way to hell. But if you go for real religion i. e., entire sanctification with all your might, look out for the artillery of hell; it is sure to be turned against you.

13. But wicked men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. ” The ejaculation is vociferated from popular pulpits on all sides, “The world is getting better,” and they tell us the coming of the Lord is a great way off. Peter predicted these men, mocking and scoffing,

“Where is now the promise of his coming.” (2 Peter 3:4.)

I prefer to believe the Holy Ghost, who says the world will get worse to the end, the Gentile age winding up like the antediluvian, amid awful corruptions and terrible destruction. They call me a pessimist. I can afford to be called anything in company with Peter, Paul, and Jesus. They, along with all the prophets, old and new, are pessimists on sin, but optimists on grace. All finite beings are progressive, Satan himself no exception, with all of his people in earth and hell getting worse all the time. Every age has got worse to the end, winding up in terrible calamities; i. e., Eden with the fall, the Antediluvian with the flood, the Patriarchal with the plagues of Egypt, the Messianic with bloody Calvary, the Mosaic with the destruction of Jerusalem, and Pentecostal now hastening its awful terminus in the great Tribulation. While the wicked are progressing fearfully in sin, it is equally true the righteous are making glorious progress in grace. Never did the true people of God understand the Bible so well as now. Never did the world know such missionary enterprise as at the present day. Millions of martyrs now tread the earth. All they need is some one to kindle the fire. They are ready to seal their faith with their blood.

14, 15. Here is another beautiful allusion to Timothy’s godly parentage, which so eminently qualified him for the mighty work God permitted him to do.

16. All Scripture is God-breathed. ” This beautiful word (E.V., given by the inspiration of God) is theopneustos, from theos, God, and pneuma, breath. Hence, it literally means God-breathed, or the breath of God. O what a wonderful Bible we have ” the breath of God! ” While every translation is inspired in its integrity, really and substantially the message of God, the verbal inspiration is only in the original; i. e., the Greek of the New and the Hebrew of the Old Testament. The holiness movement is destined to inaugurate a new era in the appreciation of the originals. Every young preacher should go straight to the Greek Testament and master it. As the Old Testament is all repeated and focalized in the New, and we are living under the New Testament dispensation, therefore the Greek of the New Testament is infinitely more important than the Hebrew of the Old. If possible, master and utilize the Greek Testament, giving sufficient attention to the Hebrew to handle it with dictionaries. O what a blessed privilege to read the very words which God breathed into the inspired writers, and enabled them to transmit to us! “ Profitable for teaching. ” The school of Christ, with the Bible as the only textbook, is next door to heaven. It is a blighting shame that the Bible is not studied and taught in every Church. God says, “ My people perish for lack of knowledge. ” How sadly do we see this truth verified on all sides! Outside of the holiness movement, Church members are shamefully ignorant of God’s Word, and the fewest number of preachers competent to teach it, in consequence of their deplorable experimental deficiencies, since the Bible is strictly and preeminently an experimental book, which must go through our hearts if we ever walk through the city of God. “ For conviction. ” Without conviction there can be no conversion, sanctification, nor anything else but damnation. Here is the radical deficiency in the popular ministry. As a rule, it is destitute of conviction, and very convenient for Satan to use as a greased plank over which to slide the people into hell. The true gospel, if faithfully preached, is the most stirring thing in the universe. It will burn people out or in; i. e, either bring them to God, or drive them away. When did Paul ever preach at any place without raising a row? “ For correction ” The Bible is the straightedge by which every human life is to be regulated In architecture everything has to come to the straight, or be thrown out. Hence, God’s Word is the effectual cure for all sin and heresy. “ For instruction in righteousness:

17. In order that the man of God may be perfect, having been thoroughly perfected unto every good work. ” “Perfect” is from the Latin facio, to make, and per, complete. Christ came to destroy the work of the devil, which is sin, thus restoring man to the image and likeness of God, and preparing him to do his will on earth as the angels do it in heaven. Hence, Christian perfection removes everything out of the heart impedimental to our full efficiency in the service of the Lord. We have Churches full of people dumb as the pews they encumber, deluded by the diabolical falsehood that they are excusable for their silly dumbhood and utter worthlessness in the Lord’s vineyard; meanwhile the Holy Spirit is grieved because they will not let him wholly sanctify them, and give them tongues of fire, thus making their religion enjoyable to themselves, profitable to others, and glorifying to God. Thus this beautiful grace of perfection qualifies you for every good work by eliminating all hindrances out of your heart, forever crowning every duty with delight.

Bibliographical Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 3". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ges/2-timothy-3.html.
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