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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
2 Timothy 3

 

 

Verse 1

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

Ver. 1. Perilous times] Gr. καιροι χαλεποι, hard times. Hard hearts make hard times. Eiusmodi tempera descripsit (saith Casaubon of Tacitus, and the same may we say of St Paul) quibus nulla unquam aut virtutum steriliora, aut virtutibus inimiciora; he describeth these last and loosest times of the world, barren of virtues, but abounding with vices. There was never any but Noah, that with two faces saw both before and behind. But that Ancient of days, to whom all things are present, hath here told us that the last shall be the worst.


Verse 2

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

Ver. 2. Lovers of their own selves] This sinful self-love is the root of all the rest that follow in this black beadroll.

Boasters] Or, arrogant, as that Pyrgopolynices, Isaiah 10:8-11, Thrasonical {a} Lamech, Genesis 4:23, where he brags and goes on to out dare God himself. Spaniards are said to be impudent braggers, and extremely proud in the lowest ebb of fortune.

{a} Resembling Thraso or his behaviour; given to or marked by boasting; bragging, boastful, vainglorious. ŒD


Verse 3

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

Ver. 3. Without natural affection, &c.] True Christians live soberly, as touching themselves, righteously toward men, and godly towards their God, Titus 2:12. But these antipodes {a} are, as touching themselves, self-lovers, silver lovers, pleasure mongers, incontinent, boasters, proud, heady, high minded. As for their carriage towards others, they are blasphemers, disobedient to parents, without natural affection, truce breakers, or irreconcileable, ασπονδοι, false accusers, or devils, fierce or savage, despisers of those that are good, traitors, &c. And as to God, they are not lovers of God, but unthankful, unholy. And such dust heaps as these a man may find in every corner of the Church.

{a} Those who dwell directly opposite to each other on the globe, so that the soles of their feet are as it were planted against each other; esp. those who occupy this position in regard to us. ŒD


Verse 4

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

Ver. 4. Heady] Head long and head strong, rash and inconsiderate, Qui non vident προσσω και οπισσω, that look not well about them, but make desperate adventures. The Greek word προπετεις signifieth such as fly before they are fledged.

Lovers of pleasure] Not considering that the pleasure passeth, but the pain that attends it is perpetual, φιληδονοι. (Chrysost.) Momentaneum est quod delectat, aeternum quod cruciat. Let not men take pleasure in pleasure. It was not simply a sin in Esau to go a hunting; but yet the more he used it, the more profane he waxed, and came at length to contemn his birthright. Who are void of the Spirit but sensual ones? 1:18-19. Who say to God, Depart from us, but those that dance? Job 21:10-11. Better be preserved in brine than rot in honey. These pleasure mongers are at last as the worst of all. Such a one was Catullus, who wished all his body were nose, that he might spend all his time in sweet smells. Such was Philoxenus, who likewise wished that his neck were as long as a crane’s, that he might take more delight in meats and drinks. Such was Boccas the poet, who said that he was born por l’amore delle donne, for the love of women. But in the kingdom of pleasure virtue cannot consist. These voluptuaries (as one saith of them) are, Magis solliciti de mero quam de vero: Magisque amantes mundi delicias quam Christi divitias: as those recusant guests; the worst of all whom, and least excusable, was that epicure, who had married a wife, and therefore could not come.


Verse 5

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

Ver. 5. Having a form of godliness] Hollow professors are as hollow trees in an old wood; tall, but pithless, sapless, unsound. Their formality is fitly compared to a bulrush, whereof the colour is fresh, the skin smooth; he is very exact that can find a knot in a bulrush, Isaiah 58:5. But peel it, and what shall you find within but a kind of spongeous unsubstantial substance &c. These, as if religion were a comedy, do in voice and gesture act divine duties, in heart renounce them. Hypocrites only act religion, play devotion; like they are to the ostrich, saith Hugo, qui alas habet sed non volat which hath wings but flies not. God is in their mouths, but not in their reins, as the prophet Jeremiah complaineth; and all they do is an effect rather of art and parts, than of the heart and grace; shells not kernels, shadows and pageants of piety, not heart workings. The swan in the law was rejected for sacrifice, because of her black skin under white feathers. Art may take a man more than nature; but with God the more art, the less acceptance: he loveth truth in the inwards, Psalms 51:6.


Verse 6

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

Ver. 6. Creep into houses] Gr. ενδυνοντες, shoot themselves into the inner rooms of houses, qui sese immergunt, by their pithanology and counterfeit humility, as the Jesuits and many of our modem sectaries, {a} That creep like ferrets or weasels, as the Syriac here hath it.

Lead captive silly women] Gr. αιχμαλωτιζοντες, take them prisoners, and then make price of them, 2 Peter 2:3. Egregiam vero laudem, et spolia ampla refertis. (Virgil.) But omnes haereses ex gynaeciis. It is the guise of heretics to abuse the help of women, to spread their poisonous opinions. They get an Eudoxia, Justina, Constantia on their side; and so work upon Adam by Eve. Of women they have ever made their profit, that have attempted any innovation in religion.

{a} Mulierculas Iesuitae pio studio semper complecti soleni.


Verse 7

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

Ver. 7. Ever learning, and never able] Because resolved not to lose their lusts. Intus existens prohibebat alienum; there was that within that kept out holy learning. It was therefore an excellent prayer of holy Zuinglius before his public lectures, Father of lights, enlighten our minds and open our hearts, so as that we may both understand thine oracles and be transformed into them. (Scultet. Annal.)


Verse 8

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

Ver. 8. Now as Jannes and Jambres] Numenius the Pythagorean calleth him Mambres. These were those Egyptian sorcerers: their names St Paul had either by tradition, or out of some Jewish records. Apuleius in his second apology mentioneth one Joannes among the chief magicians. The Babylonian Talmud also maketh mention of these two by name, as chief of the sorcerers of Egypt. (Tract. Menachoth, cap. ix.)

Resist the truth] Not so much us as the truth. So Alexander the coppersmith did greatly withstand Paul’s preachings, 2 Timothy 4:15; this was far worse than to withstand his person.


Verse 9

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

Ver. 9. As theirs also was] Exodus 8:19. When they were set, and could not with all their skill make a louse, but by further resistance manifested their folly unto all men. So did that magician of Antwerp, all whose enchantments were made void by Mr Tyndale the martyr, present at that supper, where and when he should, but could not, play his feats, and show his cunning.


Verse 10

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

Ver. 10. But thou hast fully known] παρηκολουθηκας. Or, thou hast exactly trod in my track, followed my footsteps; as Irenaeus did Polycarp’s, as Paraeus did Ursin’s; whence Paulus Melissus,

"- Sacra docente Pareo,

Vividus Ursini spiritus ora movet."


Verse 11

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.

Ver. 11. What persecutions I endured] Gr. οιους, what manner of persecutions. A Christian may without sin be sensible of injuries and indignities. Only it must be the mourning of doves, and not the roaring of bears. A sheep may be as sensible of the biting of a dog as a swine is, though he raise not such a dust, make not such a din.


Verse 12

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

Ver. 12. Yea, and all that will live] Carry they the matter never so discreetly, they must suffer. Many dream of a delicacy, they conceit a godly life without persecution. These would pull a rose without pricks. Armat spina rosas, mella tegunt apes. (Boetius.) Thucydides complains of his countrymen, that none of them would ταλαιπωρειν δια το καλον, suffer aught for goodness’ sake. Too few there are that today will do so.


Verse 13

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

Ver. 13. Shall wax worse and worse] In deterius proficient, a sorry kind of profiting, quando Andabatarum more res procedat. Thus the Illuminates (as they called themselves), a pestilent sect in Arragon, professing and affecting in themselves a kind of angelic purity, fell suddenly to the very counterpoint of justifying bestiality. (Spec. Europ.) And though these men and their light are quenched some while since, yet under pretence of new lights have not our church forsakers wheeled and wheeled about so long to the right hand, that they are perfectly come round to the left? {See Trapp on "2 Timothy 2:16"} {See Trapp on "2 Timothy 2:17"}


Verse 14

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

Ver. 14. But continue thou, &c.] Gr. μενε. Abide, keep thy station. Thou shalt surely be put to it, as that prophetic man in the ecclesiastical history went to the pillars a little before an earthquake, and bade them stand fast, for they should shortly be shaken.


Verse 15

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.

Ver. 15. And that from a child] Gr. απο βρεφους, from a suckling. As all children, so those especially that are dedicated to the work of the ministry, should be betimes inured to Scripture learning. {See Trapp on "1 Timothy 4:6"} The story of Mistress Elizabeth Wheatenhall, daughter of Mr Anthony Wheatenhall, of Tenterden in Kent, late deceased, is very memorable. She being brought up by her aunt, the Lady Wheatenhall, before she was nine years old (not much above eight), could say all the New Testament by heart; yea, being asked where any words thereof were, she would presently name book, chapter, and verse. Timothy was so sweet a child, that if that had not been his name, it might have been his surname, as Vopiscus saith of Probus the emperor. (David’s Love to God’s Word, by Mr Stoughton. Epist. to Reader.)

To make thee wise] Gr. σε σοφισαι, to wise thee, that thou mayest wise others, as Daniel 12:3. The same Hebrew word שבל signifieth, 1. To understand; 2. To instruct others; 3. To prosper.

To salvation] He is the wise man that provides for eternity. And when all the world’s wizards shall very wisely cry out in hell, Nos insensati, We fools counted their lives madness; they shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, Daniel 12:3. Sapientes sapienter descendunt in infernum.


Verse 16

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

Ver. 16. All Scripture is given] Gr. θεοπνευστος, breathed by God, both for matter and words. What frontless heretics then are our upstart anti-scripturists, that dare affirm that the Scriptures are not divine, but human invention, and that the penmen wrote as themselves conceived; they were the actions of their own spirit, &c. Also that the Scriptures are insufficient and uncertain, &c. Papists likewise speak and write basely of the Holy Scriptures, as Bishop Bonner’s chaplain, who called it "his little pretty God’s book." Gifford and Raynolds say, the Bible contains something profane and apocryphal. A certain Italian bishop told Espencoeus that his countrymen were charged not to read the Scriptures, ne sic fierent haeretici, lest they should thereby be made heretics. (Epenc. in Titus 1:1-16) But Gregory calls the Bible Cor et animam Dei, the heart and soul of God; Augustine, a fortress against errors; Tertullian calleth it Nostra digesta, Our digests, from the lawyers; and others, Our pandects, from them also. Classicus hic locus est, saith Gerhard upon the text. This is a classic place to prove the perfection of the Scriptures against Papists, and whatsoever adversaries, who argue it of insufficiency, accounting traditions or revelations to be the touchstone of doctrine and foundation of faith. If the Scriptures be profitable for all these purposes, and able to make a minister perfect, &c., who can say less of it than that it is the soul’s food, ψυχης τροφη, as Athanasius calleth it; the invariable rule of truth, κανων της αληθειας ακλινης, as Irenaeus: the touchstone of errors, the aphorisms of Christ, the library of the Holy Ghost, the circle of all divine arts, the wisdom of the cross, the cubit of the sanctuary.

And is profitable for instruction] See my True Treasure, p. 40. And hereunto add, for consolation, according to Romans 15:4, though this also is here comprehended in doctrine and instruction for righteousness. The same Greek word, παρακαλεω, signifieth to exhort and to comfort.


Verse 17

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

Ver. 17. That the man of God] The minister, and so consequently the people too, for whose use the minister hath all. This is observed of them, that still the scholar goes one step farther than the teacher.

May be perfect] αρτιος ( omnibus numeris absotutus), with a perfection of parts, able and apt to make use of the Holy Scriptures to all the former purposes, for the behoof or benefit of his hearers. The authority of the Fathers, saith a grave and learned divine, I never urge for necessity of proof (the Scripture is thereto all-sufficient and superabundant), but only either in some singular points to show consent; or, 2. In our controversies against anti-christians, anti-nomists, Neopelagians; or, 3. When some honest passage of sanctification or seasonable opposition to the corruption of the times is falsely charged with novelty, singularity, and too much preciseness. (Mr Bolton’s Four Last Things.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 3:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-timothy-3.html. 1865-1868.

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Sunday, December 15th, 2019
the Third Week of Advent
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