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Bible Commentaries
2 Timothy 3

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

2Ti 3:1. Last days. I shall explain these words separately, then comment on the phrase as a whole. The first is from ESCHATOS, and Thayer's general definition is, "Extreme, last in time or in place," and some variation in shades of meaning must be determined by the connection in which it is used. The second is form HEMERA, and Thayer uses two pages of his lexicon in defining its various meanings. I here give his three outstanding definitions (the words in italics), followed by his explanations of the definitions. "Of the natural day," then explains. "the interval between sunrise and sunset, as distinguished from and contrasted with night." "The civil day," and explains, "the space of twenty-four hours (thus including the night)." "The last day of the present age," and he explains this to mean, "the day in which Christ will return from heaven, raise the dead, hold the final judgment, and perfect his kingdom." By the last three words is meant the completion of Christ's personal reign and his delivering it up to his Father (1Co 15:24). We should conclude from the various meanings of the separate words, that when combined into a phase, no absolute date or dates can be affirmed as the nes-essary application. The term shall come indicates that Paul is making a prediction and that he is writing of things then in the future. (How far into the future is not shown.) Since about all of the evils named in the chapter have always been committed, we must conclude that they were to become worse, and therein lies the prediction phase of the passage. (See verse 13.) Perilous is from CHALEPOS, and Thayer defines it as follows: "Hard to do, to take, to approach; hard to bear, trouble- some, dangerous; fierce, harsh, savage." Of course these times means certain periods then in the future when the conditions about to be named were to increase upon the world. They were not to come by any decree of God, but would be caused by the actions of men according to the items now to be listed.

Verse 2

2Ti 3:2. Lovers of their own selves. They will be selfish and interested chiefly in that which gives themselves the enjoyments of life. Such characters will often insist on such gratification even when it causes discomfort to others. Covetous is from PHILARGUROS, which Thayer defines, "loving money, avaricious." It is easy to understand how such characters would make it hard for others to get along. Boasters is from ALAZON and Thayer defines it, "an empty pretender, a boaster." It is unbecoming for a man to manifest the spirit of a boaster, even when he has accomplished something worth while. It is more so when one boasts of some merit that he does not actually have. Proud includes much of the same spirit as the word just explained, and goes further to include an exalting of one's self above others. It means a person who is overbearing and shows a "holier-than-thou" attitude toward others. Blasphemers. I can do no better at explaining this word than to quote the definition of the original given by Thayer as follows: "Speaking evil, slanderous, reproachful, railing, abusive;" and that of Robinson, "Hurtful to the good name of any one, detractive." Disobedient to parents. The simple fact of disobedient children was nothing new when Paul wrote this epistle, as may be seen by reading Deu 21:18; Pro 19:18; Heb 12:9-11. Hence it is well to consider again the comment at verse 1, that is was the increase of the evils that was predicted. We do not know how soon after Paul's day this predicted increase began, but we do know that disobedience and other• forms of disrespect to parents are rampant today. However, the children are not the only ones who are responsible for this condition; parents also are to blame. They will throw up their hands in a gesture of despair, and wonder what is to be done about the "problem of the young people," as if a radical change had come into the natural relation between parents and their offspring. Nothing of that kind has happened, for the children have always been just as they are now, except that their natural tendency toward disobedience has become worse according to the prediction. The change has come on the part of parents, in that they are too indolent to exercise the discipline they should. This situation is made worse by the modern teaching of public schools, where it is said that the youth should be left to form their own conclusions regarding their personal conduct. They have always wanted to do that, hence it is no new idea. Another thing that encourages this increased rebellion is the daily public press. Many of the "columns" in the papers advocate such notions as "proper handling" of our children. In some instances, this "advice" comes from persons who never had any children of their own, and may even never have been married. The world would be better off if these features were ruled out of the papers. Unthankful. Ingratitude is one of the worst characteristics manifested by humanity. Many people will grasp the favors that come within reach, and act as if such things were to be taken for granted, and that the obligations all traveled in one direction. Unholy. This is a general term, and applies to all forms of evil conduct considered in this passage. Any form of un-righteousness may truly be described as unholy.

Verse 3

2Ti 3:3. Without natural affection. These words all come from the Greek word ASTORGS, and the only other place it is used is in Rom 1:31, and in each place the translation is the same, which is also according to Thayer's lexicon. The word is derived by inflection from the Greek word STORGE which means "love of kindred," the inflection giving it a negative meaning. The thought is that children should be inclined to obey their parents from the motive of the close kindred if from no other. But if they do not have such love, that will help to explain their disobedience to parents mentioned in the preceding verse. Trucebreakers is from the same word as "implacable" in Rom 1:31, and Thayer defines it. "without a treaty or covenant; that cannot be persuaded to enter into a covenant." Such people are so unwilling to be at peace with others that they will not even talk about "terms" of agreement. False accusers is from DIABOLOS which is one of the names or Satan, and is elsewhere translated "devil." This is an appropriate name since he is the father of lies (Joh 8:44). Incontinent means "without self-control, intemperate." Fierce is from a Greek word that is defined "savage" in the lexicon of Thayer. Such a characteristic does not necessarily mean bodily attacks, but is a vicious attitude toward those who oppose their unrighteous ways. Despisers of those that are good. There is no personal pronoun in the original, but:the statement means they despise or belittle anything that is good. Not being good themselves, they pretend to have no respect for anything that is good.

Verse 4

2Ti 3:4. Traitors are those who will turn against their best friends if they oppose their evil ways, using underhanded means to overcome them. Heady means to be rash, inclined to plunge forward without "thinking twice before the leap." Highminded is another word for "proud," and it is used for those who are puffed up over some imaginary personal merit. Lovers of pleasures. The last word does not occur here as a separate term, hence we cannot give a specified definition of it as we can in other passages. It is also true that the simple word "pleasure" is not definite as to whether lawful or unlawful enjoyment is meant; the context in each case must determine that. But regardless of this distinction, the sin in our passage consists in loving pleasure more than loving God. Even things that are right in themselves will become evil if they are preferred above God. (See Mat 10:37.)

Verse 5

2Ti 3:5. Having a form of godliness. They make a profession of some form of religion that is supposed to cause a man to do right. Denying the power thereof. These people claim that they have a system of religious conduct that is adapted to the right kind of life, yet they will not let that system have any effect upon their own lives. They deny the system the chance to have the said good effects upon their own conduct. Timothy not only must not join with these empty pretenders in their inconsistent course, but he must turn away from them.

Verse 6

2Ti 3:6. This sort refers to the characters described in the preceding verses. Such persons might be expected to accomplish their unrighteous schemes by means of this kind. Creep into houses. According to the Greek sense of the words, they mean men who manage to get inside the houses after the manner of an insistent salesman. They make their approach to the silly women ("little women"--Thayer) who are already in a state of uncertainty on account of their many sins. Since they are already led away with their various lusts, they would be easy prey for these intruding men who will capture their attention for evil purposes.

Verse 7

2Ti 3:7. Ever learning means these silly women are always curious to hear something different, hence they eagerly listen to these corrupt men. But while they are thus ever learning--are always seeking to hear something--it is not the truth they obtain.

Verse 8

2Ti 3:8. Jannes and Jambres were the magicians who stood against Moses and Aaron in Exo 7:11-12. According to Thayer, their names were given in the Jewish commentaries. Paul is making the comparison of the simple fact that both sets of evil workers resisted the principles of truth that would have been accepted of the Lord. Out of the heart the mouth speaks (Mat 12:34), and since these were men of corrupt minds, is was in line for them to act against the principles of righteousness. Reprobate (unfit or useles) concerning the faith. There was nothing in the character of these men that was of any use for the faith.

Verse 9

2Ti 3:9. The first two pronouns (they and their) refer to the men being considered in this chapter, the third one (theirs) means Jannes and Jambres. The magicians finally were exposed as frauds, and likewise these evil men in Paul's case were destined to be brought to shame.

Verse 10

2Ti 3:10. Hast fully known all comes from PARAKOLOUTHEO which Thayer defines as follows: "To follow faithfully, namely, a standard or rule, to conform one's self to." Robinson defines it, "To follow, to conform unto." I have consulted four translations which also render the word according to these lexicon definitions. So that Timothy not only learned the truth from his father in the Gospel, but he imitated the example of faithfulness that was shown amidst various trials. Doctrine refers to the teaching, and manner of life is the putting of that teaching into practice. (See 1Ti 4:16.) Purpose. Timothy had heard and seen enough from Paul to learn his sincere motive in life; that it harmonized with his conduct. It also was a practical demonstration of his faith which was according to the Gospel. Longsuffering means a submissive spirit under persecutions, and patience denotes that submission to his lot was enduring or followed with perseverance. Charity in this passage means sincere interest in the welfare of others.

Verse 11

2Ti 3:11. Persecutions and afflictions denote the same experiences referred to in the preceding verse, but are repeated in connection with the places where the apostle had the experiences. At Antioch (Act 13:14 Act 13:50), at Iconium (Act 14:2), at Lystra (Act 14:6 Act 14:19). Paul does not mention these things out of a desire to "feel sorry for himself," but to give force to his next declaration that out of them all the Lord delivered me, which is added for the encouragement of Timothy and others.

Verse 12

2Ti 3:12. This verse is Paul's comment on the preceding two verses, to the effect that his experience was no exception to the rule of the faithful in Christ. Persecutions are caused by people who are enemies of the Lord. They generally do not make much ado over the mere fact that a man is not a bad character in his personal life, hence to live godly means more than merely abstaining from evil practices; it includes activity against the things that are evil. A Christian must not only "have no fellowship" with the sinful conduct of others, but he must "rather reprove it" (Eph 5:11). When this is done it will arouse the anger of evil workers, and their usual procedure is to persecute the one who opposes them. It is no real compliment to say of a man that "he never had an enemy," as we frequently hear. Jesus said, "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you" (Luk 6:26). This is why the apostles in Act 5:41 could rejoice over the shame they were enduring for His name.

Verse 13

2Ti 3:13. Evil men is general and could apply to all persons who are not righteous, while seducers specifies one of the evil things such men will do. The word is from GOES, a Greek term which originally meant "a wizard, juggler," according to Robinson, and a "juggler, enchanter," according to Thayer. Such a word is appropriate, because in verse 8 the apostle makes reference to the magicians in Egypt. Both lexicons give the word also the meaning of "impostor," which would apply to any of the means these evil men might use to mislead the people. Deceiving and being deceived. It is possible for a man to formulate and utter false doctrines so persistently, that he will come to believe in them himself and thus be deceived. The magicians in Egypt evidently were devoted to their witchcraft until a shameful defeat convinced them that they had been misled, for they admitted that "this [the work of Moses and Aaron is the finger of God" (Exo 8:19). Paul says that all of this shall wax worse and worse, which is really the prophetic phase of this chapter.

Verse 14

2Ti 3:14. This verse is an exhortation for Timothy not to be swerved from the course of truth that had influenced him all his life. The assurance of being right is based on the reliable source of his information, of which he was fully aware. His mother and grandmother had taught him the scriptures, which is the subject of the rest of this chapter. (See chapter 1:5.)

Verse 15

2Ti 3:15. From a child has the same meaning as "from my forefathers" (chapter 1:3). The thought is that he had been reared in the spiritual surroundings that are mentioned here and in chapter 1:5. Holy scriptures refers to the Old Testament, for the New had not been written when Timothy was growing up. Able to make thee wise. The Old Testament was the law for salvation with the Jews, it being the one that was in force during that age. And its use as a source of wisdom or information was still available for the evangelist, even though he had become a disciple of Christ; and that is one reason that volume was preserved unto the Christian Dispensation (Rom 15:4). However, the wisdom that was possible through the Old Testament would not alone bring salvation, now that Christ has put an end to that law "for righteousness" (Rom 10:4). Hence Paul adds what is necessary for Timothy (and all others) to do that he might be saved, namely, accept the faith (the New Testament system) which is in Christ Jesus.

Verse 16

2Ti 3:16. All scripture. Having proceeded to include the faith in Christ in the general subject of divine law, the term scripture here means both the Old and New Testaments as to their divine source. Given by inspiration of God. All of these words are from the Greek term THEOPNEUSTOS, which Thayer defines, "inspired by God," and which Robinson defines, "God-inspired, inbreathed of God." When an author puts his ideas in a book, the volume is said to be inspired by the said author. That is true whether lie does the writing bodily himself, or dictates it and has some other person to do the writing. Likewise, God dictated (by means of the Holy Spirit) to the writers of the Bible what He wished to go into the Sacred Text, and for that reason it is said to be a volume inspired of God. Profitable means it is useful or serviceable for the following purposes. Doctrine is the same as teaching, stating what is the truth about the whole system of "the faith," and instruction, in righteousness is the information that shows how to put the above doctrine into practice. All re-proof is correction, but not all correction is reproof; the difference is mainly in .the degree of intensity. If a man is in error through weakness or lack of information, he needs correction only. But if he is wrong when he knows better or could have known better, then he deserves to be reproved. (See Jud 1:22-23.)

Verse 17

2Ti 3:17. Man of God. This phrase is used of the evangelist in 1Ti 6:11, and I wish the reader would turn back and see the comments at that place, for they include a reference to our present passage. Man is from ANTHROPOS, and the universal meaning as given in Thayer's lexicon is, "A human being, whether male or female." Any human being, therefore, who has given himself to God may truly take the phrase underscored. It is expected that a servant of God will work for Him, and to do so lie needs the kind of equipment that is adapted to the work that his Master will approve. The inspired scriptures will provide such an equipment, making him perfect which is another word for "complete." With the word of God, a Christian has the complete outfit necessary in his service for the Lord. The rest of the verse is along the line of emphasis, specifying what Paul means by being perfect. Thoroughly furnished means completely prepared unto all good works. It is evident, then, that if a man attempts or desires to do something in his religious life for which the scriptures do not furnish the authority and instruction, lie is seeking to be active in something that is not a good work.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 3". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/2-timothy-3.html. 1952.
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