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Bible Commentaries
2 Timothy 3

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

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Verse 1

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

The indications of the future increase as we approach the close. After the Gospel doctrines have been put in the clearest light in the letters, the shadows deepen on the history. The last inspired words of Sts. Paul, Peter, John, and Jude form the prelude to the Apocalypse. The gospels (Acts 1:1) set forth what "Jesus began both to do and teach" on earth; the Acts and letters, what He went on to do and teach from heaven; the Apocalypse is the closing testimony of Jesus, ending with His return from heaven to earth.

Also - Greek, 'but:' in contrast to present evils (2 Timothy 2:25-26).

Last days - preceding Christ's second coming (2 Peter 3:3; Jude 1:18). "The latter times" (1 Timothy 4:1) refer to a period not so remote as "the last days" - namely, the long mediaeval times of Papal and Greek anti-Christianity.

Perilous, [ chalepoi (G5467)] - 'difficult, embarrassing times,' in which it is difficult to know how to meet the dangers, spiritual and temporal.

Shall come, [ ensteesontai (G1764)] - 'shall be present unexpectedly.'

Verse 2

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

Men - generally [ hoi (G3588) anthroopoi (G444)]; the majority in the professing church. Compare Romans 1:29, etc., where much the same sins are attributed to pagan: it shall be a relapse into virtual pagan-dom, with its beastlike propensities; whence its symbol is "a beast" (Revelation 13:1; Revelation 13:11-12, etc.; Revelation 17:3; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 17:11).

Lovers of their own selves - the opposite of 'love:' the root and essence of sin.

Covetous, [ filarguroi (G5366)] - 'money-loving' (the daughter of self-love'): distinct from [ pleonektees (G4123): Ephesians 5:5 ] "covetous" (note, Colossians 3:5). The cognate substantive, 1 Timothy 6:10, is translated, 'the love of money is a root of all evil.'

Boasters, [ alazones (G213)] of having what they have not.

Proud, [ hupereefanoi (G5244)] - overweening, 'haughty,' showing themselves above their fellows: and so

Blasphemers (of their heavenly Father: consequently) disobedient to parents on earth. The character of the times is even to be gathered from the manners of the young (Bengel).

Unthankful. Ingratitude is sure to follow disobedience to parents.

Unholy, [ anosioi (G462)] (1 Timothy 1:9) - the inwardly impure; or else inobservant of the offices of piety.

Verse 3

Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

Without natural affection, [ astorgoi (G794)] - love between parents and children, and similar relationships.

Truce-breakers, [ aspondoi (G786): asunthetoi would be truce-breakers] - rather, as Romans 1:31, "implacable."

False accusers (1 Timothy 3:11). Incontinent, fierce - at once both soft and hard: without control over themselves, and inhuman [anemeroi: 'untamed'] to others.

Despisers ... - `no friends of good,' [ afilagathoi (G865)]: the opposite of 'a lover of good' (Titus 1:8).

Verse 4

Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

Traitors (Luke 6:16; Luke 21:16) - like Judas.

Heady, [ propeteis (G4312)] - precipitate in action and passion.

High-minded, [ tetufoomenoi (G5187)] - 'puffed up' with pride, as with smoke blinding them.

Lovers of pleasures ... God. Love of pleasure destroys the love and sense of God.

Verse 5

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Form, [ morfoosin (G3446)] - the aiming at the intrinsic form [ morfee (G3444)]: outward semblance.

Denying - practically and habitually [ eerneemenoi (G720)]: a continuing state: 'having denied.'

The power (1 Corinthians 4:20) - the regenerating, sanctifying influence of it.

From such, [ kai (G2532) toutous (G5128)] - 'from these in particular,' about to arise, as distinguished from those already existing (2 Timothy 2:25), of whom there is a hope. The characters here are types of the last matured apostasy.

Turn away - implying that some of such characters, forerunners of the last days, were already in the Church.

Verse 6

For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

Of this sort - Greek, 'of these' (2 Timothy 3:5).

Creep into - stealthily (2 Peter 2:1; Jude 1:4).

Laden, [ sesooreumena (G4987 ): implying multitude and disorderly confusion: heaped] with sins (Isaiah 1:4) - applying to the "silly women" (more easily misled than man, 1 Timothy 2:14), whose consciences, burdened with sins, are a ready prey to the false teachers who promise relief if they will follow them. A bad conscience leads to shipwreck of faith (1 Timothy 1:19).

Divers lusts - not only animal, but passion for change in doctrine and manner: the running after fashionable men and fashionable tenets, drawing them in opposite directions (Alford).

Verse 7

Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Ever learning - some novelty to suit their own fancies, from mere curiosity and instability, to the disparagement of old truths (Acts 17:21).

The knowledge, [ epignoosin (G1922)] - 'the perfect knowledge,' the safeguard against unwarranted novelties. Gnosticism played especially on the credulity of the female sex (Irenaeus, 1: 13. 3; Epiphanius, 'Hoer.' 26: 11): so Jesuitism.

Verse 8

Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

Now - Greek, 'But.' It is no wonder there should be now such opponents to the truth, for their prototypes existed of old (Alford).

Jannes and Jambres - Egyptian magicians who resisted Moses (Exodus 7:11; Exodus 7:22). In a point so immaterial, where Scripture had not recorded the names, Paul takes those which Jewish tradition, or more probably history, assigned. Eusebius ('Praeparatio Evangelica') quotes from Numenius, 'Jannes and Jambres were sacred scribes (a lower order of priests in Egypt) deemed inferior to none in magic' Tradition made them to perish in the Red Sea. Hiller, derives Jannes from the Abyssinian 'trickster,' and Jambres, a juggler. Aan was the second predecessor of Joseph's Pharaoh. Ra, in the ending of Jambres, means the sun. The names were known to the Greeks and Romans, independently of Paul's mention of them. They probably were in some old chronicle of Israel's history (Smith, 'Dictionary of the Bible;' Pliny, 'H.N.' 30: 1; Apuleius, 'Apology' 24).

Resist - `withstand,' as before. They tried to rival Moses' miracles. So the false teachers shall exhibit lying wonders in the last days (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 13:14-15: cf. Acts 8:9; Acts 13:6; Acts 19:13; Acts 19:19).

Reprobate (Romans 1:28) - 'not abiding the test:' rejected on being tested (Jeremiah 6:30).

Verse 9

But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.

They shall proceed no further - though for a time (2 Timothy 2:16) 'they shall [ prokopsousin (G4298)] proceed (English version, 'increase') unto more ungodliness,' yet there is a final limit beyond which they shall not 'proceed further' (Job 38:11; Revelation 11:7; Revelation 11:11). The assurance of final victory animates believers for present conflict. They shall "wax worse and worse" themselves (2 Timothy 3:13), but shall at last be forever prevented from seducing others. 'Malice proceeds deeper down when it cannot extend itself' (Bengel).

Their folly, [ anoia (G454)] - wicked senselessness: 'dementation:' wise though they think themselves.

Shall be manifest, [ ekdeelos (G1552)] - 'brought forth from concealment into open day' (1 Corinthians 4:5).

As theirs also was - when not only could they no longer rival Moses in sending boils, but the boils fell upon themselves: so as to the lice (Exodus 8:18; Exodus 9:11).

Verse 10

But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,

Fully, known, [ pareekoloutheesas (G3877)] - 'fully followed up;' traced, with a view to following me as thy pattern, so far as I follow Christ. Compare Greek, Luke 1:3, "having had perfect understanding of." Lois and Eunice would recommend him to study fully Paul's Christian course. He was not yet the companion of Paul's at the apostle's persecutions in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra (Acts 13:50; Acts 14:5; Acts 14:19), but is first mentioned as such, Acts 16:1-3. However, he was 'a disciple' already when introduced in Acts 16:1-3. As Paul calls him "my own son in the faith," he must have been converted by the apostle previously: perhaps in the visit to those parts three years before. Hence arose Timothy's knowledge of Paul's persecutions, which were generally spoken of in the churches there at the time of his conversion. The incidental allusion to them forms an undesigned coincidence between the history and the letter, indicating genuineness, (Paley's 'Hor. Paul.') A forger of letters from the Acts would never allude to Timothy's knowledge of persecutions, when that knowledge is not mentioned in the history, but is only arrived at by indirect inference; also the omission of Derbe here minutely agrees with the fact that in Derbe no persecution is mentioned in the history, though Derbe and Lystra are commonly mentioned together. His reason for mentioning his persecutions before Timothy became his companion, and not those subsequent, was because Timothy being familiar with the latter as an eye-witness, Paul needed not to remind him of them, but the former Timothy had traced up by information from others. Perhaps Paul's sufferings were what tint impressed Timothy. If Timothy was converted at Lystra (as seems probable: see 'Introduction'), he may have witnessed the almost-completed martyrdom, of Paul (Acts 14:19).

Doctrine - `teaching.'

Manner of life - `conduct' (1 Corinthians 4:17).

Purpose, [ prothesei (G4286)] - elsewhere used of God's "purpose;" but here, as in Acts 11:23, of Paul's 'purpose of heart in cleaving unto the Lord:' my set aim in my apostolic function not selfish gain, but the glory of God.

Long-suffering - toward adversaries and the false teachers; toward brethren in bearing their infirmities; toward the unconverted, and the lapsed when penitent (2 Timothy 4:2; 2 Corinthians 6:6; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12).

Charity - love to all.

Patience - `brave endurance:' patient continuance in well-doing amidst adversities (2 Timothy 3:11; Romans 2:7).

Verse 11

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.

Afflictions-`sufferings' which, [ hoia (G3634)] - 'such as.'

At Antioch - of Pisidia (Acts 13:14; Acts 13:50-51).

Iconium (Acts 14:1-5).

Lystra (Acts 14:6; Acts 14:19).

What - how grievous. They 'supposed Paul was dead.'

But out of them all the Lord delivered me (2 Timothy 4:17; Psalms 34:17; Psalms 34:19; 2 Corinthians 1:10) - an encouragement to But out of them all the Lord delivered me (2 Timothy 4:17; Psalms 34:17; Psalms 34:19; 2 Corinthians 1:10) - an encouragement to Timothy not to fear persecutions.

Verse 12

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Yea, and - an additional consideration. If Timothy wishes to live godly in Christ, he must make up his mind to encounter persecution.

That will, [ hoi (G3588) thelontes (G2309)] - 'all whose will is (decided) to live,' etc. So far from being a stumblingblock, Timothy should consider persecution a mark of the pious. So Luke 14:28; Luke 14:33, "intending [ theloon (G2309)] to build a tower ... counteth the cost."

Live godly in (union with) Christ (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:21). There is no godliness out of Christ. The world puts up with the mask of a religion which stops short there; but the piety which derives its vigour directly from Christ is as odious to modern Christians as it was to the ancient Jews (Bengel).

Shall suffer persecution - and will not decline it, (Matthew 10:22; John 15:20; Galatians 5:11; 1 Thessalonians 3:3: cf. Sir 2:1 , etc.) Dr. Pearson proves the divine origination of Christianity from its success being inexplicable on the supposition of its human origin. Its doctrine was in no way likely to command success:

(1) It condemned all other religions, some established for ages;

(2) It enjoins precepts ungrateful to flesh and blood-mortifying of the flesh, love of enemies, and bearing of the cross;

(3) It enforces these seemingly unreasonable precepts by promises seemingly incredible; not good things such as afford complacency to our senses, but such as cannot be obtained until after this life, and presuppose what seemed impossible, the resurrection;

(4) It predicts to its followers what would keep most men from embracing it, persecutions.

Verse 13

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

Reason why persecutions must be expected, and these worse and worse as the end approaches. The breach between light and darkness, so far from being healed, shall be widened (Alford). Seducers, [ goeetes (G1114)] - 'conjurers.' Magic prevailed at Ephesus (Acts 19:19), and had been renounced by many on embracing Christianity; but now, when Paul was writing to Ephesus, symptoms of a return to conjuring appeared: an undesigned coincidence. Probably sorcery will characterize the final apostasy (Revelation 13:15; Revelation 18:23; Revelation 22:15).

Wax worse, [ prokopsousin (G4298) epi (G1909)] - 'advance in the direction of the worse.' Not contradictory to 2 Timothy 3:9 (cf. note): there the diffusion of the evil was spoken of, here its intensity (Alford).

Deceiving, and being deceived. Beginning with deceiving others, they end with being deceived themselves.

Verse 14

But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

But continue thou - whatever they do. Resuming the thread (2 Timothy 3:10).

Learned - from me and thy mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:2).

Assured of - from Scripture (2 Timothy 3:15).

Of whom, [plural, tinoon (G5100)]. In 'Aleph (') C G f g, 'from what teachers.' Not only from me, but from Lois and Eunice. Delta, Vulgate, singular [ tinos (G5100)], 'from what person.'

Verse 15

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

From a child, [ apo (G575) brefous (G1025)] - 'from an infant.' It is in the tenderest age that the most lasting impressions of faith may be made. Two grounds of continuance in the truth: that it was from no ordinary persons Timothy received it; and not lately, but from infancy.

Holy Scriptures - the Old Testament, taught by his Jewess mother: an undesigned coincidence, 2 Timothy 1:5; Acts 14:1-3.

Able - in themselves: though through men's own fault they often do not in fact make men savingly wise. Wise unto (attaining) salvation - contrast "folly" (2 Timothy 3:9); 'strivings about words,' "profane and vain babblings" (2 Timothy 2:14; 2 Timothy 2:16). Wise also in extending it to others.

Through faith - as the instrument. Each knows divine things only so far as his own experience extends. He who has not faith has not wisdom or salvation.

Which is in - i:e., rests on Christ Jesus: in the Old, as in the New Testament (Revelation 19:10).

Verse 16

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

All Scripture, [ pasa (G3956) graphee (G1124)] - 'Every Scripture;' i:e., Scripture in its every part. However, "all Scripture" is a justifiable translation, as the technical use of "Scripture" is so notorious as not to need the article (cf. Greek, Ephesians 3:15; Ephesians 2:21, in several manuscripts.) Graphee (G1124) is never used of any writings except the sacred Scriptures. The position of the two Greek adjectives [Theopneustos kai ofelimos] forbids taking the one as an epithet, the other as predicate (as Ellicott), 'Every Scripture given by inspiration of God is also profitable.' The adjectives are so closely connected that as one is a predicate, the other must be so too. This construction is not, as Ellicott's, harsh. [ Theopneustos (G2315)] 'God-inspired' is found nowhere else. Most of the New Testament books were written when Paul wrote this his latest letter: so he includes in 'All Scripture [every portion of the hiera (G2413) grammata (G1121), "the Holy Scriptures"] is God-inspired,' not only the Old Testament, in which alone Timothy was taught when a child (2 Timothy 3:15), but the New Testament books, according as they were recognized in churches, having men gifted with "discerning of spirits," and so able to distinguish really inspired utterances, persons, and writings (1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 14:37) from spurious.

'All Scripture is God-inspired, and therefore useful:' because we see no utility in any portion, it does not follow it is not God-inspired. It is useful because God-inspired; not God-inspired because useful. One reason for the Greek article not being before "Scripture," may be that, if it had, it might have seemed to limit "Scripture" to the hiera (G2413) grammata (G1121), "Holy Scriptures" (2 Timothy 3:15) of the Old Testament, whereas the assertion is general: "all Scripture" [cf. pasa profeteia grafees, 2 Peter 1:20 ]. Plenary inspiration of every part of the Scriptures, as a living organic whole, is here set forth. The translation, 'all Scripture that is God-inspired is also useful,' would imply that there is some Scripture which is not God-inspired. But the exclusive New Testament sense of "Scripture" forbids this: and who would need to be told that "all divine Scripture is profitable?" Hebrews 4:13 would then have to be rendered, 'All naked things are also open to the eyes of Him,' etc.: so also 1 Timothy 4:4 (Tregelles 'On Daniel').

Knapp defines inspiration, 'An extraordinary divine agency upon teachers while giving instruction, whether oral or written, by which they were taught how and what they should speak or write' (cf. 2 Samuel 23:1; Acts 4:25; 2 Peter 1:21). The inspiration gives God's sanction to all the words of Scripture, though they be the utterances of the individual writer, and only in special cases revealed directly (1 Corinthians 2:13). Inspiration is predicated of the writings, "All Scripture," not the persons. The question is not how God has done it: it is as to the word, not the men who wrote it. All the sacred writings are everywhere inspired, though not all alike matter of special revelation; even the words are divinely sanctioned, as Jesus used them (ex. gr., in the temptation, and John 10:34-35) for deciding all questions of doctrine and practice. There are in Scripture degrees of revelation, but not of inspiration.

The sacred writers did not even always know the full significancy of their own God-inspired words (1 Peter 1:10-12). Verbal inspiration is not mechanical dictation, but 'all Scripture is (so) inspired by God' that everything in it-its narratives, prophecies, citations, ideas, phrases, words-are such as He saw fit to be there. The present condition of the text is no ground against the original text being inspired, but is a reason why we should use all critical diligence to restore the original. Inspiration may be accompanied by revelation or not; but it is as much needed for writing known doctrines or facts authoritatively as for communicating new truths (Tregelles). The omission of "is," I think, marks that not only the Scripture then existing, but what was still to be written until the canon should be completed, is included as God-inspired. The Old Testament was the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ; so it is appropriately designated as "able to make wise unto salvation:" wisdom being appropriated to a knowledge of the relations between the Old and New Testaments, and opposed to the sophistical wisdom of the false teachers (1 Timothy 1:7-8).

Doctrine - teaching dogmatic truths which we cannot otherwise know. Paul so uses the Old Testament (Romans 1:17).

Reproof, ['Aleph (') A C G read elegmon (G1648a) for elengchon (G1650) (Delta)] - confuting error: including polemical divinity. As an example of this use of the Old Testament, cf. Galatians 3:6; Galatians 3:13; Galatians 3:16. 'Doctrine and reproof' comprehend speculative divinity. Next follows practical: Scripture is profitable for correction [ epanorthoosis (G1882)], 'setting one right.' Compare the Old Testament used for this, 1 Corinthians 10:1-10, and instruction [ paideian (G3808)], 'disciplining,' as a father his child. Note, 2 Timothy 2:25; Ephesians 6:4; Hebrews 12:5; Hebrews 12:11, "training" by instruction, warning, and chastisements. Compare an example of this use of the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 13:5; 1 Corinthians 5:13. The irreverent are 'confuted,' the frail 'set right' (Grotius). Scripture 'teaches' the ignorant, as the Ethiopian eunuch; 'confutes' the evil, as Elymas; 'sets right' the erring, as David; 'disciplines' the godly, as Paul's thorn in the flesh. Thus theology is complete in Scripture. Since Paul is speaking of Scripture in general, the only general reason why, in order to perfecting the godly (2 Timothy 3:17), it should extend to every department of revealed truth, must be that it was intended to be the complete and sufficient rule. See Article VI., 'Common Prayer Book.'

In - `instruction which is in [ teen (G3588) en (G1722)] righteousness,' as contrasted with the "instruction" in worldly rudiments (Colossians 2:20; Colossians 2:22).

Verse 17

That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Man of God (note, 1 Timothy 6:11).

Perfect, throughly furnished - `thoroughly perfected' [ artios (G739) - exeertismenos (G1822)]; complete (unmutilated) in the adaptation of parts and aptitude for use: [ teleios (G5046)] absolutely perfect. If the Scripture be not perfect itself, how can it make the man of God perfect? But he is perfectly accoutred out of Scripture for his work, whether as a minister (cf. 2 Timothy 4:2 with 2 Timothy 3:16) or a layman. No oral out of Scripture for his work, whether as a minister (cf. 2 Timothy 4:2 with 2 Timothy 3:16) or a layman. No oral tradition is needed.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/2-timothy-3.html. 1871-8.
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