2 Timothy 3
The Ruin of the Christian Profession in the Last Days (3:1-9)
Two "Last Days" Distinguished. The expression "last days" or "end of days" in reference to Israel means the end of Israel's prophetic history (Gen 49:1; Num. 24:14; Deut. 4:30; Deut. 31:29; Job 19:25; Isa 2:2; Ezek. 38:16; Dan. 2:28; Dan. 10:14; Dan. 12:13; Mic. 4:1; Acts 2:17; Heb. 1:2; 1 Peter 1:20-21) and is like the expression "the end of the age" (Matt. 24:3). Christ appeared in "the end of the age" to put away sin (Heb. 9:26), but then the parenthetical period of the Church opened. Once the Church period closes, the "last days" of Israel will continue to unfold. In reference to the Church, the term "last days" refers to the last days of the Christian profession (2 Tim. 3:1-9; 4:3; 2 Pet. 3:3). We can clearly discern that we are in those "last days".Read more…
The Example of Paul in Contrast with the Impostors (3:10-13)
- Paul’s “teaching” is perhaps the highest truth in the Word of God. Paul was a “chosen vessel” to reveal the characteristic truths of Christianity. Paul’s doctrine is mentioned in two parts in the New Testament; he calls them “my gospel”, and “the mystery”. These two parts, if taken together, are what establish our souls in the full revelation of Christianity. Read more… Timothy was “thoroughly acquainted” with this doctrine, and we should be also.
- Paul’s “conduct” supported his doctrine. He lived Christianity every day in his practical walk. This is what gave weight to Paul’s words.
- Paul’s “purpose” was in line what God’s purpose for him; to “preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8). How important it is for the servant of Christ to serve with purpose!
- Paul’s “faith” is what allowed him to persevere in light of eternity. Faith is implicit and complete trust in God: a total contrast to the unbelief and skepticism in the world around us. Paul lived by faith and not by sight.
- Paul’s “longsuffering” was manifested in his interactions with people. Longsuffering is needed because of the interpersonal difficulties a servant may encounter. Losing patience with others can easily result in a spoiled testimony.
- Paul’s “love” was a reflection of the love of God. This was the motive of his service; love to God, love for Christ, and love for souls. Likewise, we are to serve as channels for God’s love.
- Paul’s “endurance” was seen in every circumstance he passed through. This refers to severe trials that continue for a long duration. In 2 Cor. 12:12, patience or “endurance” is listed as the first proof of Paul’s apostleship! We wouldn’t naturally think that patience would top the list containing things like signs and wonders. To lose our patience is to be overcome of evil (Rom. 12:21).
- Paul’s “persecutions” are that which he bore for the name of Christ, and that for which the “endurance” was needed (read 2 Cor. 11:23b-25a). These persecutions show just how committed Paul was to the pathway of service, and devoted to his Lord and Savior. He reminds Timothy of a particular set of persecutions that the young man had witnessed “in Antioch, in Iconium, in Lystra; what persecutions I endured; and the Lord delivered me out of all”. Timothy was from the region, and had witnessed persecution against Paul in those cities (Acts 14). He had seen the Lord staying with Paul in the trial, and also delivering Paul from the trial; “the Lord delivered me out of all”. Once again Paul was facing persecution at the hands of the Romans, and even though he might not expect a temporal deliverance, there is always deliverance for the believer at the end of the pathway (2 Tim. 4:18).
- Paul’s “sufferings” are more general, including the cost of following the Lord and carrying out his commission (read 2 Cor. 11:25b-26). We read elsewhere of shipwreck, the stress and hardship of long journeys, of crossing rivers, the danger of being attacked on highways, the danger of riots, of dehydration and starvation, etc. Again, this shows the depth of Paul’s devotion to the Lord.
The Resource of the Scriptures, Old and New (3:14-17)
- In the gospels (Matt. 13:24-30; 36-43), in the Acts (Acts 20:29-30), in Paul's epistles (1 Tim. 4; 2 Tim. 3), in Peter's epistles (2 Pet. 2; 3:3-4), in the epistle of James (James 5:7, 9), in the epistle of Jude (Jude 1:4), and in the epistles of John (1 John 2:18), the ruin of the Christian profession is duly attested.
- The mischief here set out is not the wider and later evil of 2 Tim. 3:1-9, when Christendom would be but men professing the Lord's name, a form of piety with the denial of its power, no better than heathen in reality (cp. Rom. 1:28-32), though with the semblance and the responsibility of God's final revelation of grace and truth in Christ. Still less is it the frightful apostacy of 2 Thess. 2:3-12, which is to close the age before the Lord Jesus be revealed in judgment from heaven to introduce the new age and the kingdom of God to be manifested in power and blessing universally over the earth. - Kelly, W. The First Epistle to Timothy.
- In the preceding Epistle (1 Tim. 4:1-3) a prophetic warning had been given, but of evil quite distinct in time, character, and extent, from what we have here. Instead of "last days", the Spirit spoke expressly of later, or after, times, i.e., times subsequent to the apostle's writing. Instead of a widespread condition of "men" in Christendom, he there spoke of "some" only. The language suits and supposes but few comparatively; which only controversial zeal could have overlooked or converted into a prediction of the vast if not worse inroad of Romanism. It is a description of certain ones to depart from the faith into fleshly asceticism, paying heed to seducing spirits, etc... But in 2 Tim. 3:1 the view is a larger field... It is the counterpart of the great house in 2 Tim. 2:20, wherein are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also wooden and earthenware, and some to honour, and some to dishonour. Here, however, we have, not a symbolic figure, but a plain matter-of-fact account of a return to heathenism practically. Yet 2 Thess. 2 gives us to descry very far worse at hand. We ought not to be deceived in any manner, whatever the success of false teachers with some of the Thessalonian saints so young in the faith as they were. We know that the Lord is coming Who will gather us together, sleeping or alive, unto Himself, and therefore we need not be quickly shaken in mind, nor yet troubled by any power or means, to the effect that the day of the Lord is present. We know that it cannot be unless first there have come "the apostasy" — not a falling away, as substantially in all the well-known English Versions as well as the Authorized. It is not "discencioun" (Wiclif), nor "a departynge" (Tyndale), as Cranmer's Bible repeats in 1539, and the Geneva in 1557, nor "a revolt", as in the Rhemish of 1582. It is "the apostasy", and nothing else: worse there cannot be, unless it be the person who is its final head in direct antagonism to God and His anointed, the man of sin, the son of perdition, whom the Lord Jesus will consume with the Spirit of His mouth and destroy with the manifestation of His presence. - Kelly, W. The Second Epistle to Timothy.
- The phrase plainly covers the closing days of the Christian economy, however long God may be pleased to protract them, the time generally which precedes the coming of the Lord, when an end will be put to the present ways of God, and the kingdom will come in displayed power and glory. – Kelly, W. The Second Epistle to Timothy.
- Kelly, W. The Second Epistle to Timothy.