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When Paul wrote this to Timothy, "the last days" had not yet come, so it is evident that the epistle is not written strictly for Timothy personally, but for every individual believer who would follow him. "The last days" here also go beyond "the latter times" mentioned in1 Timothy 4:1; 1 Timothy 4:1; but there can be no doubt that the last days are present with us now.
The expression "perilous times" is more rightly rendered "difficult times," and is defined in Vine's Dictionary as indicating "hard to bear with, hard to deal with." The list of evils such as would characterize men is most similar to the list in Romans 1:1-32, where the ungodly heathen are exposed in their repulsive guilt. The great difference however, is this, that here we are faced with the condition of Christendom, men having assumed the form of godliness, while not only lacking the power of it, but denying such power.
The various evils listed here need hardly be commented upon, though each reader may seriously consider and avoid these things. In fact, he is told, "From such turn away." Those who are characterized by these things, while ostensibly claiming to be Christian, should be decidedly avoided: they have no place whatever in Christian fellowship.
The cunning deceit of such men is to be expected, creeping into houses, and leading captive silly women; for those who adopt a religion that encourages moral corruption are quite content to be living a lie, and they will be specially successful in making victims of women easily drawn by their emotions, who have willingly ignored their consciences. "Laden with sins," having no desire to be rid of them, and "led away by their own lusts," they are glad for a religion that submerges the serious voice of conscience.
These too will make a pretense of acquiring more and more light, but will never find the settled peace of knowing the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, for they are trifling with infinitely serious things.
Jannes and Jambres were the magicians of Egypt (Exodus 7:22; Exodus 8:7; Exodus 8:18, etc.) who withstood Moses by means of imitating the miracles God wrought by him; thereby attempting to discredit these. Such imitations of God's power we may expect in the last days, with claims of having revived former days of the miraculous. Jude shows us too that imitations would even invade the realm of God's grace, through ungodly men turning the grace of God into lasciviousness (Jude 1:4). Such men are reprobate concerning the faith: being guilty of a calculated refusal of it, they choose to be rejected by God. But there is a definite limit: their folly will be exposed to all men: whatever success they claim is only momentary.
But this dark background serves to make all the more precious the contrast seen in verses 10 and 11. Timothy had fully known (or followed), Paul's doctrine, that which introduced the blessedness of eternal heavenly things thereby separating from all man's earthly-minded religion And Paul's manner of life too was consistent with this, by manifestation of the truth commending [himself] to every man's conscience in the sight of God" (2 Corinthians 4:2). His 'purpose" was single, for its object was Christ at the right hand of God: the Mark and the Prize always in view. This is a most important accompaniment of a true manner of life. It is more than mere human determination, and more than any mere self-confident vow. Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself" (Daniel 1:8). This is not like Peter, asserting loudly that he would not deny the Lord: it is rather the quiet decision made in the presence of God, and in the secret of his own heart's communion with God, that he would depend simply and wholly upon the grace and power of God in reference to these matters of vital import. Would to God we all knew more of this firm purpose that is not swayed by all the circumstances of life, nor by all the cunning of the enemy. Barnabas expressed this beautifully too at Antioch, when he exhorted the disciples, "That with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord" (Acts 11:23). Compare also Philippians 3:13-14.
"Faith" is the precious complement of this, being the confidence that recognizes the hand of God in all experience, and God's sovereign will in the place of predominance over all the corruptions of men or of Satan. And longsuffering finds its place alongside of faith, for it is the character that bears without discouragement the constantly recurring trials of faith that the servant of God must encounter in contact with men. "Love" is added to this, for the longsuffering must not be in any spirit of resentment, but with the positive, active exercise of genuine concern for the blessing of souls. And "patience" is the calm endurance that does not succumb to pressure. How beautifully these virtues shine out against a background of dark self-pleasing and self-will! How worthy of much meditation, and of our acting upon them!
But in verse 11 he speaks of experiences, and it is most salutary that he mentions nothing of those things in which he had wrought outstanding achievements for God, nothing of sublime spiritual victories such as religious men (and women) desire to attain. No, it is rather in contrast to this, the persecutions and afflictions he had endured for Christ's sake, those of which Timothy had been well aware, at the three places Paul here mentions. Certainly he suffered elsewhere too, but he speaks only of these which Timothy knew well. And the intensity of them is further indicated in the expression, "What persecutions I endured." Here is the solid, real character of Christianity, that which can make its way in steadfast endurance in the face of bitter opposition. This steadfastness through afflictions is a precious witness to the faithfulness of God. "But out of them all the Lord delivered me," he says.
And verse 12 is emphatic: if one lives godly in Christ Jesus he will suffer persecution. Whatever may be the form this takes, whether ostracism, strong criticism, contempt, loss of property or goods, discrimination that infringes on proper rights, etc., yet all who live godly in Christ Jesus will know something of this. Let us take it patiently for Christ's sake.
But evil men and juggling imposters (J.N.D. Trans.) would wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. History has certainly proved this so, conscience so defiled and seared in such men that they hold in contempt the God they profess to serve. They are those who manipulate truth and error in the way they think will serve best their own interests, and the more attention they gain from those willingly deceived, the more bold they become, even to the point of being deceived by their own deceptions.
Against so dark a background, verse 14 now presses the responsibility of the individual child of God, in this case of course Timothy: "But continue thou." Defections and falling by the wayside are all too common because of the pressures of evil. What mercy at such a time to have learned and been assured of the solid, pure truth of Christianity. But one must yet be exhorted to continue in it. If Paul had been the vessel through whom Timothy had learned these things, yet surely Paul has in mind God as the higher Source, from whom Timothy had actually learned. Only such learning will enable the soul to continue.
But more than this: Timothy's background had been one of inestimable value: from a child he had known the Holy Scriptures, the Old Testament of course. No doubt it was this that prepared him for receiving the precious gospel of the grace of God in Christ Jesus, when Paul presented it to him. Certainly any true learning of the Old Testament would have prepared one for the reception of the message of the New. Even these Scriptures (the Old Testament) are able to make one wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. When Christ has been received into the heart, He Himself is the illumination that makes beautifully clear the gospel message contained in those Scriptures written long before His coming. With what full hearts would the disciples have studied these blessed Scriptures after Christ had been raised from the dead, every page being freshly illuminated by this marvellous light! Salvation was fully prophesied of in the law and the prophets; and the types and prophecies there will furnish us with great material for study and meditation.
Now verse 16 makes a most absolute and uncompromising claim, indeed a claim of stupendous magnitude. If it were not true, then Paul and his writings would be worthy of only utter contempt; but since it is true, then his writings, and all Scripture, command rather the utmost respect and allegiance: it is given by inspiration of God. Let us note, it is not said that all Scripture is revelation; but rather that it is given by direct inspiration of God, God Himself inspiring the words of every writer. Ecclesiastes, for instance, is not at all God's revelation, but God's inspiring of Solomon to write just what Solomon had experienced in his trying "everything under the sun," and finding that "all is vanity and vexation of spirit." The purpose and viewpoint of the whole book must be considered in the study of every book of Scripture; but it is a complete whole, every part perfect in its place, pure in its truth, with utterly no inconsistency in all of its parts, as it was given of course in the original languages.
If, in the translation, minor inaccuracies have occurred, these may be generally found and corrected by honest study. Of course, it is important that one should have a reliable translation, and we may be deeply thankful that the King James Version has been for centuries most prominent in English speaking countries, for in the main it is an excellent translation. A very few others will be helpful however, in giving a more correct rendering in certain passages, and this is advisable for study purposes. But many of the modern translations, and all paraphrased versions, should be avoided. For careful study, the New Translation by J.N. Darby is highly recommended.
Since all Scripture is from God, it is all profitable, even genealogies and names of cities, etc. If my interpretation of it does not give spiritual profit, then my interpretation of it is not right. First it is profitable for teaching, or doctrine, for this is the basis of all true practice. Secondly, for reproof or conviction, a matter we should deeply take to heart, for it is a wise man who hears reproof, and we should certainly allow the Word of God to fully convict us as regards any practice that cannot stand its precious, searching light. Thirdly, for correction: reproof without this would be pointless; and Scripture itself should be applied continually to correct every misapprehension I may have entertained. Fourthly, for instruction in righteousness. What righteousness really is, is found only in Scripture, and it is only here that one may be enlightened in the many aspects of this important matter that involves every relationship in which one may be placed.
Without the Word, godliness will not be rightly directed, therefore the man of God requires this in order to be perfect in the sense of mature or complete. Timothy himself is called a "man of God" (1 Timothy 6:11), though this cannot be said of all believers, sad as it may be; for it is true only of those whose one chief object is to honor God. In just the measure this is true, so we shall be furnished by the Word "unto all good work." Compare here Chapter 2:21, where it is made clear that only by obeying the Word in separation from ungodliness can one be "prepared unto every good work." The Word holds the complete furnishing, but it must be seriously and practically applied.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 3". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11