Thursday, February 04, 2010

2 Timothy 3:1-9

V1-9 – 1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 6They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth – men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

In v1-9, Paul attacks false teachers, noting their damage at Ephesus, but also reminding of Judgment Day, where God proves His victory. He begins by noting “terrible times in the last days,” referring to the time between Christ’s first and second advent, and lists a block of sins (Romans 1:28-32), which will characterize the pains of birthing the new age of eternal glory during which we will reign with Christ. Though some theologians (postmillennialists) see Christ returning to a Christianized, flourishing world, more (premillennialists and amillennialists) see Jesus coming to restore a world in chaos and corruption by consummating His own kingdom. Each of these sins has selfish idolatry as its root (v2-4); people refuse to love God (v4b).

Yet in v5, where Paul elaborates on the behavior of the false teachers and those who follow them, he hints that they may very well be professing Christians, “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” This makes them especially dangerous and deceitful; thus he commands Timothy to, as well as us, to “have nothing to do with them.” In v6, we see that they have made their inroads with, literally “sneaking into the homes of,” the “weak-willed women” of the Ephesian congregation. They likely seduced families, and even broke them apart, by appealing to the stay-at-home mom while the husband / father was at work. And it didn’t help that the women were not strong in their faith (v6); they were “always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth” (v7). In other words, the false teachers were instructing them into foolishness and ignorance, and their ignorance only compounded the problem, making them fall farther from the truth than they already were. They did not have the good conscience that Paul has noted frequently, and thus their minds were restless, always curious, but never content and settled with the truth. So we see from this illustrative warning that the “terrible times in the last days” will affect the church as well as the rest of the world. The Church is not exempt from these tribulations.

In v8, “Jannes and Jambres” are only mentioned here in all of the Bible, but Jewish tradition taught that these were the names of pharaoh’s magicians who attempted to duplicate all of Moses’ (and Aaron’s) miracles prior to the Exodus. They battled against Moses, and in the same way, the false teachers in Timothy’s congregation battled against truth. Paul calls them “men of depraved minds,” which literally means that they have become depraved and continue to be increasingly depraved through an outside agency, namely Satan and/or his minions, resulting in their willful rejection of the truth (Romans 1:18-32). Paul concludes in v9 that, though these battles will continue until Christ returns, they will not win this spiritual battle in physical reality, for “their folly will be clear to everyone” (Matthew 7:20).

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