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Bible Commentaries
2 Timothy 3

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


Remember this. “I have told you before about the apostasy which is taking place (Ephesians 4:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:7). There will be difficult times. See note on 1 Timothy 4:1. The entire Christian Age is called the last days in Acts 2:16-17. It does not mean the last days of the world, because Timothy was already fighting these things (1 Timothy 6:3-5; etc.). But Paul may also have in mind the prophecies of Christ (Matthew 24:4-22 and notes).

Verse 2


Men will be selfish. Paul uses the word ANTHROPOI which means mankind in general (both men and women), but 2 Timothy 3:6 shows he is thinking especially of the false teachers. The sins mentioned in these verses have always been in the world. The new quality is that these things will be done openly and defended (as was being done right then). See Romans 1:28-32 and notes, All the other sins begin and end in selfishness!!! Greedy Money-mad! Boastful that he has God’s approval. Conceited because he thinks God is obligated to him. Insulting in the things they say about God and his chosen people (the Christians). See Jude 1:14-15. Disobedient. Since the Jews called religious leaders and teachers parents, this could also mean rebellion against true teachers such as Timothy. Ungrateful to those who try to help them. Irreligious. The unholy. See 1 Timothy 1:9-10 and notes.

Verse 3


Unkind, brutal, inhuman, heartless. MacKnight ties this in with those who are forced to live a celibate life (1 Timothy 4:3 and note), also those who force their children and others into such things. [But voluntary celibacy is an option. See 1 Corinthians 7:1 and note.] Merciless. People who, when offended, will not be open to any agreement or reconciliation. Slanderers of those who speak out against their sins. Violent against any who dare oppose them. Fierce in their opposition to truth. Hate the good. They hate the good because they love the evil. See Titus 1:8; Titus 1:16 and notes.

Verse 4


Treacherous, even to their own relatives (Matthew 10:34-36). Reckless. Headstrong, irrational behavior caused by prejudice and hatred. Swollen with pride, so that no one can give them any advice. Love pleasure. See 2 Peter 2:13.

Verse 5


To the outward form. The context shows these people are members of the Lord’s church (or at least they seem to be). In order to deceive their followers, they put on an outward show of godliness, and perhaps pretend to be “defenders of the Faith.” Read what Jesus said in Matthew 23:23-32. But reject. Compare what Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Corinthians 4:19-20. The real power of our religion is truth and love at work in a holy life! The false teachers cut themselves off from these!!! Lipscomb says: “Anyone denies the power of godliness when he professes to honor God, but refuses to obey his commandments (Matthew 7:21-23).” Keep away. This means: (1) Avoid such people as this! (2) Do not allow such people to influence you. (3) MacKnight thinks it means they should be turned out of the church to protect the others, as you would remove a cancer.

Verse 6


And get control. These sneak into houses and seduce women into false religious practices. Paul does not mean that all women are like this, but those who have an unhealthy sense of guilt and are slaves to evil. They happily accept the false teachings which promise to allow them to sin and still be saved.

Verse 7


Always trying to learn. This continues 2 Timothy 3:6. These women are always looking for some new thing (compare Acts 17:21). They listen greedily to everyone that comes along, but they never learn anything (of the truth). If truth sets you free, error keeps you a slave (John 8:32).

Verse 8


As Jannes and Jambres. These are the traditional names of Pharaoh’s chief sorcerers, who opposed Moses (Exodus 7:11). Opposed to the truth. Like Elymas (Acts 13:8 and note). Paul must mean that some of these will even do counterfeit miracles and false outpourings of the Spirit to deceive people! See Revelation 13:13 and note. These false teachers were very deep into the occult. And who are failures. Paul also uses this expression in 2 Corinthians 13:5. These people have reached the stage in their apostasy that they are amoral, having lost any sense of right or wrong, good or bad.

Verse 9


But they will not get very far. This covers what he has been saying all the way back to 2 Timothy 2:14. Jewish literature says this: “As for the illusions of art magic, they were put down, and their vaunting in wisdom was reproved with disgrace” (Wis. 17:7). Adam Clarke says: “False doctrine cannot prevail long where the sacred Scriptures are read and studied. Error prevails only where the book of God is withheld from the people.”

Verse 10


But you have followed. Paul is thinking here of the point in time when Timothy obeyed the truth and become a Christian. Teaching. See 1 Timothy 1:11; 1 Timothy 2:7 and notes. Conduct. Especially the motivation which lies back of it. Purpose. The aim or goal of his life. In becoming a Christian, Timothy had made these things his own. My faith. Loyalty to Christ and the truth. Patience. Even when annoyed (1 Thessalonians 5:14). love. Compare 1 Timothy 1:5 and notes. Christian love is to treat others as God has treated you in Christ! Paul did this! Endurance. One who does not give up in the race until he finishes.

Verse 11


Persecutions. See 2 Timothy 3:12. Sufferings. “The misfortunes that have come my way.” Compare Romans 8:18 and note. You know. Timothy was a native of Lystra and knew these things well. See the list in 2 Corinthians 6:4-10. But the Lord. He has not deserted His people!!! [We can paraphrase these verses: “I am not really uneasy about your strength. You joined me in Christ out of spiritual and moral motives. The persecutions and sufferings you saw me endure, you knew were part of a life that pleases God. Stand firm in the truth and in love! Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, on which your growing mind was fed, is never out of date or obsolete for equipping the servant of God!!!”]

Verse 12


Will be persecuted. We could almost say: “God does not want you unless you want him enough to fight for Him!” Persecution makes people evaluate their love for God. Compare 1 Thessalonians 3:3; John 16:33.

Verse 13


But evil men and Impostors. This will be true all during the Christian Age, until Christ returns!!! Impostor can mean sorcerer (see 2 Timothy 3:8), and the Devil will COUNTERFEIT the power of God (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). This is another reason why the WRITTEN WORD is so very important. God speaks to us through the written word! It is a yardstick by which we measure spiritual things. It should never be locked away in archaic language, but must be in a form easily understood (and very difficult to misunderstand) in the living language of ordinary people.

Verse 14


But as for you. “Don’t act like these evil men and impostors!” Who your teachers were. “Such as me, an inspired apostle of Christ!”

Verse 15


Ever since you were a child. See note on 2 Timothy 1:5. The Holy Scriptures. Since Timothy’s parents were Christians, he would have available the Old Testament (the Septuagint in Greek) plus those ‘Christian writings that were already in circulation (Luke 1:1-4). [Matthew may have been written as early as 35 A.D.]

Verse 16


All Scripture. The whole Sacred Scriptures. This statement will cover both the Old and New Testaments. Remember that some of the gifts from the Spirit made it possible to identify those writings that were inspired from those that were not inspired. So there would be no doubt on the CANON (those which make up the Old and New Testaments). For teaching the truth. The Good News about God’s act in Christ to set men free! In other words, the whole Christian System. Rebuking error. To show what is in error. See 1 Timothy 5:20 and note. Correcting faults. To point people in the right direction by showing them how they ought to live. Giving instruction. So people will know both what God expects from them and what they must expect to meet along the way. This certainly includes making people aware of God’s promises and blessings!!! Compare Hebrews 12:5-14 and notes.

Verse 17


So that the man. [ANTHROPOS.] This is the same idea as the Lord’s servant (2 Timothy 2:22-25). The Holy Spirit continually inspires the Scriptures, not in the sense of giving a new revelation, but in the sense of making the revealed truth a living, vital thing!

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 3". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/2-timothy-3.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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