Click here to get started today!
The Apostle in this Chapter, foretells of perilous Times. He speaks of certain Enemies of the Truth: and closeth with a warm Recommendation of the Holy Scriptures, as making wise unto Salvation.
(1) ¶ This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2) For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, (3) Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, (4) Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; (5) Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (6) For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, (7) Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (8) Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. (9) But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.
We have here, an awful prophecy of awful times. And as it bears no date, we have authority to make application of it to any period, yea, and to every period of the Church, where is discoverable a correspondence, between the prediction and what appears to be the accomplishment. It hath been pretty much the custom with Commentators, to make a very general application of what is here said to the Church of Rome. And no doubt very many of the characters belong to that See. The merits of works, and supererogation; the pride and blasphemy, the form without the power of godliness; the creeping into houses, and leading captive silly women; with confessions, purgatory, penance, and the like which distinguish that creed; are high demonstrations, that the Apostle had in view, such a profession of religion, when he wrote these words in this Chapter. But had this heresy been the only one, here spoken of in relation to the perilous times of the last days; I should not have thought it necessary, to have dwelt upon it, with any observations in this Poor Man's Commentary. But convinced as I am, that the true Church of Christ hath as much to apprehend of danger from other quarters in the apostacies around; and which, unless I greatly err indeed, the Holy Ghost in this scripture more immediately had in view; I cannot consider myself justified in passing over the passage now before us, as if the See of Rome was only meant, when I verily believe our dangers are greater from other sources, in and among ourselves, and that the spirit of prophecy in this scripture, had them in contemplation.
I have in the former Epistle of Paul to Timothy, (Chapter 4 and the first and following verses,) already stated my thoughts on some of the latter day heresies. It will not be necessary therefore in this place to enlarge. I shall dismiss the subject with only observing; that what God the Spirit, by his servant the Apostle, hath here said, is enough, surely, to keep every child of God upon the look-out, for those perilous times here predicted; which if not already come, (as it should plainly seem they are,) cannot be very far remote, and may be near indeed. One grand consolation to the true Church of Christ remains, to comfort her members during the most awful times; namely, her everlasting safety is in no hazard. If it were possible, Jesus saith, they would deceive the very elect. Mark 13:22 . But our Lord's manner of expression proves, that it is impossible. And yet, though assured, that not one of Christ's little ones shall perish; it is enough to make the people of God to be deeply affected, with the prospect of those awful times, which threaten the Lord's indignation on a sinful land. Isaiah 1:4 . The righteous soul or Lot was vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked in his day, 2 Peter 2:7 . Moses had his Jannes and his Jambres to oppose him with their enchantments. Exodus 7:11 . And David speaks of rivers of tears running down at beholding the breaches made by the wicked on God's holy law. Psalms 119:136 . And if the Lord should remove the golden candlestick of Ordinances from us; or give up Professors to their form, as Paul here speaks, wholly void of all the power of Godliness: very awful will be the consequence, though the eternal safety of Christ's Church cannot be affected! But I forbear to dwell upon the subject. Precious Jesus! do as thou hast said. Watch over thy Church, and water her every moment. Keep her night and day, lest any hurt her? Isaiah 27:2-3 . If the Reader wishes a sweet Chapter of consolation on this subject, I refer him to Zephaniah 3:0 .
I beg the Reader to notice, what a blessed relief the Holy Ghost here proposeth to Timothy, from the melancholy statement, the preceding verses had given, in the example of his faithful servant the Apostle. The single character of Paul, was enough to bear down an whole host of heretics, and to remove from Timothy's mind, all concern for the apostacy of such characters. And the same holds equally good now. For what in fact are all the heresies of the present generation, but all springing out of one and the same deadly stock, in the fall of man. They vary in their branches, in shape and form; but their bearings are all one and the same. They appear differently to our dim sighted view, in order to deceive more artfully; but they all arise from that original apostacy. The glorious Truths, on which the very being of the gospel depends, are so little regarded by the generality of Professors, that they are seldom heard; and when heard, for the most part, by the great mass of the people, disbelieved and called in question. Men shrink from insisting upon the distinguishing features of our holy faith. The people love to have their wine mingled with water. And too often in compliment to the itching ears of such men, the blessed doctrines, which are the life of the soul, are kept in the back ground.
That such is the case, is evident from the stillness and quiet, into which the bulk is fallen. Paul saith in this account of himself to Timothy, that he had fully known his doctrine, manner of life, long sufferings, persecutions, afflictions, and the like. And all these he opposeth, to the character of those who had a form, but not the power of godliness. The Apostle would have escaped these persecutions, had he temporized with such men. But because he simply preached Christ in the electing love of God the Father, the betrothing and redeeming love of God the Son, and the regenerating love of God the Spirit, what persecutions, saith the Apostle, I endured. But Reader, was it ever known, in any age of the Church, that a preacher was persecuted for complimenting mens goodness at the expence of God's truth? Did ever the Pharisee take offence at exhortations delivered to the people, while he thought, however needful to others, he wanted them not himself. All that know not the plague of their own heart, will relish no doctrines, which tend to bring upon a level, the whole Adam-race, in the present fallen state; and bitterness enough will manifest itself from all of that complexion, to the Preacher that cries down the perfection of the creature, and exalts only the Savior. So equally sure is it now, in the present day, as it was in Paul's day, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution.
(14) But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; (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. (16) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
What a beautiful close the Apostle, makes, in his advice to Timothy, as a security through grace from the general apostacy of the then times. And the same holds equally good now. A continuance in the delight and enjoyment of all the great Truths of God, must follow divine teaching. And Paul doth not speak of it, as though the thing was doubtful. Here, indeed, lies the distinguishing glory of a regenerated state, as marked from all the flaming professions, void of it in the world. The child of God knows the inspiration of scripture to be such, from the correspondence of what is said in it bears to his own heart. And the threefold witness, the Apostle elsewhere describes, of the Holy Ghost; the sacred word, and his own heart, confirms all he learns from God. 2 Corinthians 13:1 . But where there is no divine teaching; no work of God the Spirit, in regenerating the fallen nature; there the blindness of heart remains, untaken away, and bitterness breaks out in a variety of directions against that preaching, which contends for the faith once delivered to the saints; and leaves no room for the Pharisee's righteousness to be puffed up. Reader! beg of God the Holy Ghost, to be always under the Lord's teaching, that in his blessed scriptures, you may be made wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
READER! while the Apostle is thus speaking to the Church, of the perilous times that should come, may we not say with John: Little Children, it is the last time. And as we have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many Antichrists; whereby we know that, it is the last time. But, Reader! who can hear what the beloved Apostle hath added to this solemn scripture, without the most painful concern? They went out from us, but they were not of us! It is distressing enough to be told by the Spirit in prophecy, that the Church shall be assaulted by heresies, in the latter day dispensation; and that we are of those latter ages in which those heresies appear, but to be told, that even in the Churches, where the truth as it is in Jesus is professed, men shall arise speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them; these are trembling dispensations indeed. But, Reader! do not overlook the security of the faithful. That unction from the Holy One, which all truly regenerated children of God in Christ possess, teacheth all things, and will keep the Lord's people; and the wicked one shall touch them not. This is our promise. And blessed promise it is, in this present evil day.
And shall not you and I bless God the Spirit both for the information, and the means of security? Do we not behold in this chapter, sufficient marks of character, for discerning the signs of the times, to judge faithful servants of the Lord, from time-pleasers? Where we behold men lovers of their ownselves, proud, boasters, and the like; and a leanness of soul among the people, who are content with the form of godliness, but deny, and are ignorant of the power thereof: and when we contrast such a state, with that which Paul describes of himself, (and which more or less must distinguish all like Paul), whose doctrine and manner of life cannot but beget hatred, evil speaking and persecution; from all Pharisees, and mere nominal Professors of religion; are not the different characters as clearly defined, as if drawn by a sun-beam? Blessed be God the Holy Ghost, for his gracious foretelling of those perilous times; and for his divine teaching of his people to try the spirits, and to discern them. Reader! let us be waiting at wisdom's gate, in these awful days of heresy. And let us behold and see, how evil men, and seducers, among Pharisees, and mere Professors, wax worse and worse; more wretched, more lean of soul, deceiving men like themselves, not God's people, and being themselves deceived. And let those holy scriptures of our God, which are profitable for all things to the man of God, be daily in our hand, while God the Spirit is instructing our heart; that we may be found of that happy number, made strong by grace, in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17