“More Tactics for Life and Ministry from

Second Timothy”

 

A Bible Study of 2 Timothy

 

Carefully Follow God's Word - 2 Timothy 3

Paul was inspired to give these last words of 2 Timothy as he awaited execution in the Mamertine Prison. The practice of incarcerating people for long periods of time as a penalty for crime did not come about until the 15th century. In Paul's day the Romans would imprison political prisoners or captured enemy leaders for short periods of time until execution could be carried out. Therefore, if Paul was in Mamertine, he likely had only a short time to live. Conditions were cramped and miserable. The Romans sometimes used such underground prisons to chain prisoners and let them slowly starve to death hidden from public view. [1] The prison was known to be rat infested. [2] Paul was therefore likely poorly fed, sleepless in the cold stonewalled and rat infested cellar of a prison, and in constant discomfort and pain from his chains. On top of this was the impending reality that he would soon be executed. We know Paul didn't fear death and that he looked forward to departing this life to go into the presence of His Savior and Lord Jesus (cf. Phil. 1:19-26). But in the little time he had left on this side of eternity he wanted to share some last words with his protégé Timothy in this Second Epistle.

 

Sometimes people pooh-pooh eschatology (i.e. the study of last things) as unimportant. However that is not the way God sees it. About 27 % of the Bible is prophetic. And Paul in these last precious moments of life spends one of four chapters (25%) on eschatological material. If Paul devoted such precious space to "the last days," shouldn't we also receive such revelation with all seriousness and attention?

 

As we study through this incredible inspired writing we need to keep in mind that it is Holy Scripture. Paul has exhorted Timothy to "Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith, and love which are in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 1:13). He has exhorted Timothy to rely on the strength found in God's grace in Christ to endure saying, "You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 2:1). In chapter three of this epistle Paul's shares about the latter days in the context of exhorting him about the priority and power of God's Holy Scriptures. Paul shares about the latter days because in the latter days God's Holy Scriptures will come under attack. Paul wants Timothy to be aware of this and to prepare for it. In this chapter Paul reminds Timothy about how he has up to this point followed the Scriptures and that he should continue to do so. Paul states, "But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions. . . ." (2 Tim. 3:10).

 

It is with this sense of Paul's two pronged priority for the prophetic last days revelation and the protection God's word provides for such times that we go to this third chapter of this blessed final letter of Paul. As we do, try to picture in your mind this great man of God, chained in a dark, cold, rat infested cell of deprivation, dictating his inspired message to some unknown amanuensis (i.e. secretary or written word recorder) or perhaps even penning the letter himself. And as he is communing with the Spirit for what to write in these precious final words we see Paul led by the Spirit to one final time share with Timothy and the generations of Christians to come, just what to expect in the last days of God's prophetic plan and no matter what to stick to the Holy Scriptures of God.

 

2 Timothy 3 (NKJV)

The Perilous Last Days

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:

Paul has just written to Timothy about rightly handling God's Word and not getting caught up in pointless arguments. He has instructed him to be gentle or under control and also able to teach. He has instructed Timothy that the target with the sinner and those who are walking outside the parameters of God's word is that such people repent and get back to God's word. Now he substantiates his exhortation by warning that "in the last days perilous times will come." "Perilous" (Greek chalepos) refers to something that reduces strength, hard to bear, fierce, dangerous, and difficult. What Paul is about to share is something that is it imperative to know (Greek ginosko - Present/Active/Imperative of ”to know" - be aware of, perceive, be  sure of, understand, know.) What Paul is about to share is not something that is optional to know it is something that is essential and necessary, of utmost import to know. What will make the last days perilous?

 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

Paul provides quite an inspired list of what to expect people in the last days to be like. When we look at this list we should note the following.

First, expect people in the last days to pervert love. Jesus said His disciples would be known by the love they show (cf. John 13:34-35; cf. also 1 John 4:7-12). If sinners are ensnared by the devil to do his will (2 Tim. 2:26) then it isn't surprising that part of the devil's strategy would include a perversion and distortion of God's greatest evidence of ownership, love. In the last days Paul reveals that the love of people will be self-centered and misapplied.

Second, expect people in the last days to be obsessed with self-love. Robert Schuller taught that in order to fulfill Jesus' call to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39) a person has to first learn to love themselves. In 1982 Schuller promoted self-esteem packaged in self-love as a "New Reformation." This fit hand in glove with the worldview of modern psychology. But people don't have to learn how to love themselves; the nature of the sinful nature is to obsessively love self. That's the problem! That's the heart of sin! Sin is all about the "I." Sin is rooted in self-centeredness. When Jesus taught that we ought to love our neighbor as our self He was pointing us away from self love to love of others.

Paul states the one thing that will make the last days perilous or the will sap spiritual strength is that "men will be lovers of themselves." "Lovers of themselves" is translated from a single Greek term (philautos) and means fond of self, selfish, focused on self, self-centered. Modern psychology may believe and promote self-love and self-esteem as a positive and necessary thing for human health, but Paul sees it as perilous! People are already sinfully self-centered. You don't have to teach a child to be self-centered. People who have "low self-esteem," and even self-destructive tendencies do so because their circumstances aren't what they think they should be or are rightfully deserving of.

The Biblical alternative is to die to self (e.g. Romans 12:1; Galatians 2:20). The problem with humanity is that it is more self-conscious than God-conscious. To be self-centered and preoccupied with loving yourself is perilous and a great obstacle to knowing God.

Third, expect people in the last days to love money. Paul says people in the last days will be "lovers of money" (Greek philargyros) or fond of silver, covetous of things, obsessed with money and everything connected to accumulating it and obtaining more and more of it. The economy will drive people's decision making. What something cost will determine a person's decisions. People will rely on money as a safety net or to protect them from need. What makes loving money so perilous is that you can't depend on it. The stock market crashes of the 1920a and early 2000s are examples of this. The Great Depression was introduced by a huge Stock Market crash where people lost entire life savings. People were jumping out of buildings to their death because they had lost their first love; money.

The apostle John was inspired to warn, "Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever" (1 John 2:15-17). The ONLY thing anyone can rely on that will never fail or let you down is Jesus (cf. Matthew 7:24-27). Depending on anything or anyone but Jesus is perilous because things are passing away and people will let you down. Jesus exhorted,  “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matthew 6:31-34).  

Fourth, expect people in the last days to be "boasters." "Boasters" (Greek alazon) means braggarts, an empty pretender. People, obsessed with themselves, will have a bloated opinion of themselves. They will see and promote to others what they view as qualities and achievements that they themselves have attained. But the Bible says that everything good we have comes from God (James 1:17). Our salvation is a gift from God not the result of our efforts. Therefore we have nothing to boast about (Eph. 2:8-9). God provides all good things for us and we have no basis of boasting (1 Cor. 4:7). Boasting is a consequence of spiritual blindness.

Fifth, expect people in the last days to be "proud."  "Proud" (Greek hyperephanos) means seeing yourself as above others, overestimating oneself, seeing yourself as better than others. God is opposed to the proud and gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:6). The heart of sin is pride; the "I" in "sin." People in the last days will be so proud that they won't think they need God. The person who walks on thinly covered ice unaware that he might soon plummet through that ice to their death is a person in a very perilous position. Pride blinds people to their spiritual eternal destiny and needs.

Sixth, expect people in the last days to be "blasphemers." "Blasphemers" (Greek blasphemos) refers to slander and evil speaking towards people,  impiety towards God. There will be a general spirit of irreverence toward God in the last days. People won't care about God. They will minimize and not prioritize things of eternal worth. This might take the form of irreverent humor involving God or people of God. Such irreverence and lack of the fear of God will put people in a perilous position deserving of God's judgment. The fear of the Lord is the prerequisite for true knowledge and wisdom (e.g. Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10). Without such fear or reverence people in the last days will be poking the Person and the people of the Person who has their eternal destiny in His hands. Not smart.

Seventh, expect people in the last days to be "disobedient to parents." "Disobedient" (Greek apeithes) means obstinate, unpersuadable, not compliant, disobedient, unyielding, stubborn. Just as people will be irreverent towards the Lord they will irreverently disregard His Commandments one of which is the call for children to honor and obey their parents. "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12). This also tells us that there will be a breakdown in the family in the last days. There will be disorder along with disobedience in the family as children meant to be discipled and become the next generation of godly offspring for God will not be interested in listening to their parents for such purposes (e.g. Deut. 4-6).

Eighth, expect people in the last days to be "unthankful." "Unthankful" (Greek acharistos) means ungrateful, thankless, unappreciative. With no care for God and knowing Him and no desire to obey His commands, it is not surprising that Paul is inspired to state that people in the last days will be unthankful. They will be unthankful to others and unthankful to God who gives them all things.

Ninth, expect people in the last days to be "unholy." "Unholy" (Greek anosios) means impious, wicked, unholy, If to be holy is to be set apart unto God, then to be unholy is to not be set apart unto God. People will not view their life purposes in connection to God. People will be focused on the secular not the sacred. They won't care about storing treasures in heaven because they will be obsessed with accumulating material things in their short life span on earth.

Tenth, expect people in the last days to be "unloving." Here "unloving" (Greek astorgos) refers to not having affection for family, being hardhearted toward family, without natural affection. the Greek term stergos from which this term "unloving" is derived is a word that speaks of the affection between family members and relatives. "Unloving" therefore points to the breakdown of the affection that would normally be seen in the family. Family members will be so caught up in self-love that they will disregard what their normal familial responsibilities would be. This "unloving" can be seen in the rise of divorce, infanticide of abortion, parenticide of children killing their parents, parents abusing their children, children not caring for their parents and families generally not caring to support and provide for their family members. The loving affection that should hold families together will be lost. That spells peril for the family.

Eleventh, expect people in the last days to be "unforgiving." "Unforgiving" (Greek aspondos) means truceless, trucebreakers, unwilling to resolve offenses. The idea here is that people in the last days will be so proud and engulfed in self-love that they will want to exact the severest penalty against anyone who offends them or does them wrong. They won't be interested in being "Kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you" (Eph. 4:32). Their godlessness and irreverence, their obsession with self-love will lead to a very harsh society. People in the last days will be satisfied to remain irreconciled to others and especially without a care to be reconciled to God.

Twelfth, expect people in the last days to be "slanderers." "Slanderers" (Greek diabolos) refers to being devilish in accusing others falsely. People in the last days will think nothing of bringing false accusations against others if they think they can get away with it and profit from it. This conjures up the idea of our litigious society today.

Thirteenth, expect people in the last days to be "without self-control." "Without self-control" (Greek akrates) means literally incontinent, intemperate, without moderation, extreme, powerless, not the master of one's self. In the last days people will be given to addictions. They will have little to no control over their appetites, what the consume and what they indulge in. Things and feelings, passions, will have control over people of the last days.

Fourteenth, expect people in the last days to be "brutal." "Brutal" (Greek anemeros) means savage, fierce, untamed. People in the last days will live more like animals than human beings. The world will seem more like a literal dog-eat-dog environment than one where there is loving compassion for people.

Fifteenth, expect people in the last days to be ”despisers of good." "Despisers of good" (Greek aphilagathos) means actually hostile to virtue, despising of anything good, opposed to goodness and good people. If any goodness can be found in the last days people will be hostile to it.

Sixteenth, expect people in the last days to be "traitors." "Traitors" (Greek prodotes) refers to giving an ally over to enemy hands, betrayal, surrender. People obsessed with loving themselves will think nothing of betraying loyalties to family, other groups and even nations in order to profit themselves. There will be little faithfulness or loyalty in the last days.

Seventeenth, expect people in the last days to be "headstrong." "Headstrong" (Greek propetes) means literally falling forward headlong, stepping forward rashly without thinking, disregarding instruction, recklessness. People will be closed to reason and wont' be interested in making well thought out rational decisions. People will be stubborn and headstrong. Once they get a thought about something in their head they will determine to follow through with it no matter how much they are warned or how the truth and facts expose such action to being stupid and dangerous. People won't much care that they way they are living is perilous to their soul and eternal destiny.

Eighteenth, expect people in the last days to be "haughty." "Haughty" (Greek typhoo) means to envelop with smoke, to inflate with self-conceit, to be lifted up and blinded by pride. People will live in a cloud of delusions of grandeur. They will be drunk with their own proud perspectives of self. They ought to have heeded God's word that says, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18).

Nineteenth, expect people in the last days to be "lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." "Lovers of pleasure" (Greek philedonos) means voluptuous, pleasure seeking, living out a priority of feeling pleasure. This is the preference and priority in the last days people. They will prefer carnal pleasures to being "lovers of God" (Greek philotheos) or living in the love of God and living in a way that is a demonstration of such love for God; a God-loving person.

Twentieth, expect people in the last days to have "a form of godliness but denying its power." People in the last days will have "a form of godliness" (Greek morphosis) or an appearance or shape of "godliness" (Greek eusebeia) or piety, religious practices. But such "form" will be external only. There will be little heart transformation that comes with genuine conversion of the Gospel. Paul says whatever this "form of godliness" it will be "denying its power." "Denying" (Greek arneomai) means renouncing, disowning, disowning, denying. This seems to indicate that there will be a form of religion of the people of the last days which will reject the idea of the "power" (Greek dynamis) or miraculous supernatural power, God sent Holy Spirit ability. We see this today in the rejection of Jesus' command to be "born again" (John 3) by certain segments of "the church." There will be a form of godliness and religion to placate any guilt or assure self-lovers that they can live in the perilous ways Paul lays out but have to need to fear any eternal consequences. This will be a religion with little mention of sin and the need to repent of it. The Bible will be cast aside as archaic in such a form of religion. And such a religion will be human-centered.

Such a condition brings to mind the prediction of General William Booth (1829-1912) of the Salvation Army who toward the end of his life in the early 1900s stated, “The chief danger of the 20th century will be religion without the Holy Spirit, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.”

And from such people turn away!

With this vivid picture of what to expect people of the last days to be like, what are Paul's instructions for our response? Paul says, "And from such people turn away!" "Turn away" (Greek apotrepo) means deflect, avoid, turn away from them. Paul is not saying we shouldn't minister to such lost souls. His sense here is that we should not get caught up in the same perilous ways of such people.

For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

Paul wraps us his description of last days people with a further description of those who would be instrumental in such ways. He says there will be "those who creep into households." "Creep" (Greek endyno) means literally worm their way in or sneak in. Like a tapeworm that gets into a human system it can be there living off the body host, thriving while robbing the body of its nutrients. If left unattended it will result in severe malnutrition and even death. Such tapeworms can grow to grotesque sizes while the host body isn't even aware of it. The people this describes sneak into people's lives and are like parasites that use them and abuse them without the victim even being aware of it. This word paints the picture of a sneaky snaky character. Satan is described as "that serpent of old" (Rev. 12:9; 20:2) so we can see who really is behind such behavior.

The objective of such wormy snaky people is to "make captives" (Greek aichmaloteuo) which is a military term for prisoners of way. There is a war raging and the enemy of human souls will not hesitate to shrink to whatever low depth is necessary to take prisoners for his domain.

Who are especially susceptible to the wormy snaky manipulators? "Gullible women loaded down with sins." "Gullible" (Greek gynaikarion) means little women, [spiritually small], contemptible women. The gullibility of such women is linked with their being "loaded down with sins." "Loaded down" (Greek soreuo) means piled up, heaped up, overwhelmed with a consciousness of sins. These gullible women are susceptible to the enemy because they haven't availed themselves of the freedom from sin that can come through Jesus Christ and the Gospel! There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). If a person fails or refuses to trust in Jesus and His sin-cleansing blood for forgiveness (cf. 1 John 1:7 and 9) then they are vulnerable to the devilish tapeworm.

Such women are also "led away by various lusts." The idea is to be distracted from the spiritually nourishing truth found in God's word. What leads them away? What distracts them? What gets them off course?  "Various lusts" (Greek epithymia) forbidden things, desires and cravings for what God forbids. They are tempted to reach beyond the parameters of God's word to fulfill themselves. If they cross that line they will only find emptiness, frustration, and failures.

And such women are characterized by "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." One commentary explains the meaning here stating:

            A fourth description of these "silly women" is that they are "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." "Ever learning" does not mean they assimilate       what they hear. It might better be translated: "Always listening, but never able to learn or        know the truth." This suggests that they only hear the sensational and not the serious or       sacred. Possibly they wish to pose as enlightened, learned females. But in truth they are           ignorant of the truth.[3]

While Paul's warnings are given especially in regard to women, men shouldn't be ignorant that they too can fall prey to the tapeworm of sin.

"Jannes and Jambres" according to Jewish Tradition, were the two magicians of Pharaoh's court who opposed Moses and Aaron (Exodus 7:10-13). Such men are described as those who "resist" (Greek anthistemi) means oppose, resist, withstand "the truth" which is found in Scripture (cf. John 17:17). Such men are of "corrupt minds" (Greek kataphtheiro) or minds that have been corrupted (Perfect/Middle/Particple). The minds of such men have been so corrupted that they are beyond the capacity to discern or receive truth anymore. And such men are "disapproved" (Greek adokimos) or reprobate, depraved, disapproved, unworthy, useless "concerning the faith" or that which concerns the true gospel and the word of God.

Paul encourages Timothy that those who oppose God's truth like these men "but will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as their also was." What these men propose is "folly" (Greek anoia) or foolishness. Scripture says it is foolish to fail to factor God into life's equation (e.g. Psalm 14). And just as the opposition of Jannes and Jambres' limited powers were exposed by the true power of God through Moses and Aaron, so too will those who promote a powerless alternative to God's powerful gospel be exposed when people see the difference. When the counterfeit and false alternatives to God's word and the gospel are contrasted with the real and powerful work of the Holy Spirit it will be exposed and stopped in its tracks. That is Paul's exhortation to Timothy. That is a good point for us to remember too.

Protection from Future Perils

Having laid out in great detail the perils Timothy and we can expect to arise in the last days, Paul now provides instruction on how to be protected from such perils. The inspired words that follow are a sure fire, dependable, reliable, God ordained and God empowered provision for His ministers and people. These are words that every Christian should take to heart and live in light of.

10 But you have carefully followed

Paul reinforces Timothy's practice of being one who has "carefully followed." "Carefully followed" (Greek parakoloutheo) means to trace out and follow closely, conform to, fully know and understand in order to follow. Timothy has done his homework. He is a man of God who has worked to make himself a student of God's word and minister who properly handles the word of God in ministry (e.g. 2 Tim . 2:15). What is it that Paul cites as being carefully followed by Timothy? There are ten things Paul notes as being commendably carefully followed by Timothy.

my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

First, we must carefully follow "doctrine." "Doctrine" (Greek didaskalia) is simply teaching, instruction. What Paul has taught Timothy personally through face to face encounters, seeing Paul in action, and has written to Timothy in letters such as 2 Timothy, Timothy has studied and learned and followed in his life.

Second, we must carefully follow "manner of life." "Manner of life"  (Greek agoge) refers to upbringing, mode of living, watching the way a mentor lives and then duplicating that in one's life. Timothy watched Paul's walk as well as his talk. Timothy watched how Paul practically lived out his faith. The original disciples did the same thing with Jesus. They watched Him and even asked Him to teach them how to pray because they were so intrigued and impressed by the prayer life of Jesus (e.g. Matthew 6; Luke 11). Training people or discipleship involves their doing ministry side by side with those who are mentoring them. Ministry is more caught than taught by lecture.

Third, we must carefully follow "purpose." "Purpose" (Greek prothesis) refers to a setting forth, intention, chief aim. Timothy had carefully recognized the primary purpose of Paul. We might summarize Paul's purpose as doing all things to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17-24). Glorifying God in Christ was Paul's primary life purpose. It could also be said that Paul singularly sought to know Jesus more and more each day because that would enable him to bring his Savior more glory as he got to know Him and appreciate Him more (e.g. Phil. 3:10-15).

Fourth, we must carefully follow "faith." "Faith" (Greek pistis) refers to a moral conviction about the truth of God. It also refers to walking and living a life of trust and obedience to God in Christ. This would include living by God's revealed word.

Fifth, we must carefully follow "longsuffering." "Longsuffering" (Greek makrothymia) refers to patient endurance of hardship. Just as Paul had demonstrated his willingness to suffer for the cause of Christ so should we.

Sixth, we must carefully follow "love." "Love" (Greek agape) refers of course to that selfless sacrificial Christlike love that is the fruit of the Spirit's indwelling presence in a Christian's heart and life (Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:22-24).

Seventh, we must carefully follow "perseverance." "Perseverance" (Greek hypomone) is consistency, constancy, cheerful hopeful enduring and continuing on in Christ.

Eighth, we must carefully follow "persecutions." "Persecutions" (Greek diogmos) refers to being pursued to do harm to because of one's association with Jesus. Timothy was well aware of how Paul and the other apostles had been pursued and persecuted because of their association with being followers of Jesus. Are you carefully following in the path of those who have been willingly persecuted for the sake of Christ?

Ninth, we must carefully follow "afflictions." "Afflictions" (Greek pathema) refers to hardship or pain experienced, affliction in mind and body, suffering. Paul had gone through incredible hardship as an apostle of Jesus. Timothy needed to carefully be aware of this and prepared for it when and if it came.

Paul gives some references of the afflictions he's suffered. In Antioch (Acts 13:50) a group of devout Jewish women was stirred up by the Jews and to persecute Paul and Barnabas. In Iconium (Acts 14:5-6) a group abused and sought to stone Paul. In Lystra (Acts 14:19-20) Paul was stoned and left for dead but he rose up and pressed on.

Tenth, we must carefully follow that "out of them all [ i.e. persecutions] the Lord delivered." "Delivered" (Greek rhyomai) means to rescue, to deliver. Paul was a living walking , talking example of how God was able to deliver those with whom He was not yet finished. When we call on God, He delivers (e.g. Psalm 34:17; 50:15). If He chooses to not deliver, then it is time for us to go home.

Paul informs Timothy that "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." In fact, Paul's sense here is that the genuinely saved person who is seeking to live all out for Jesus can't avoid persecution of some kind. How could living out a scriptural world view that id diametrically opposed to the world's worldview result in anything else. Living for Jesus demands we count the cost. Persecution of Christians is something taught in Scripture (e.g. Matthew 10:22; Acts 14:22; Phil. 1:29; 1 Peter 4:12 and 13). Living for Jesus involves denying self, picking up our cross and following Jesus. Jesus went to the cross. We should be willing and expect to do the same.


13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.

Paul builds further that "evil men" (Greek poneros - spiritually diseased, derelict, evil, depraved) and "imposters" (Greek goes - a wizard who casts spells, seducer, enchanter, one who howls incantations, deceiver) "will grow worse and worse." Those who are the instruments pushing for such decline will use "deceiving" (Greek planao - roam from the truth, go astray, err, deceive, seduce, be out of the way) and "being deceived" themselves. Where you see deception you can be assured that Satan is at work (cf. John 8:43-44). There are no winners outside of Christ and His gospel.

As time passes from the point in history in which Paul first delivers this inspired word down through time those who are spiritually bankrupt and who practice devilishly backed behavior are only going to get worse. more and more deception will creep into the world. Paul is warning Timothy don't expect for things to get better but expect them to get worse. In other words BE PREPARED!

14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Paul exhorts Timothy to "continue in" (Greek meno) or abide, remain, stand fast, dwell in, outlast, endure, be permanent, stay true to "the things which you have learned and been assured of." Timothy  must press on and not let up. He must be consistent in what Paul has passed on to him. This is a must and this is something he must keep on doing (Present/Active/Imperative of meno).

Timothy must continue is "the things which you have learned and been assured of." "Learned" (Greek manthano) means to have been schooled in, taught, to hear in order to be informed of, to learn by use and practice/ "Assured of" (Greek pistoo) means things he has become certain of. These are things that have been made certain to him. He needed to remember, "knowing from whom you have learned them." Timothy had been taught by his spiritual father Paul. But way before that he had been trained in the home by his mother and grandmother.

What was it that Timothy had learned and become assured of? "The Holy Scriptures." The Holy Scriptures that Timothy had been taught from childhood would be the 39 books of the Old Testament canon. The New Testament had yet to be discovered by the church. The letters of the New Testament would in time be recognized as inspired and canonical in and of themselves.

The Complete Biblical Library explains:

            "From a child" means "from infancy, from a babe." "The holy Scriptures" refers to the        Old Testament and can also be translated "the Sacred Writings." A Jewish boy began to            study the Old Testament at the age of 5. Timothy was even younger when his mother             Eunice and his grandmother Lois taught him at home (see 1:5). They taught him the Old         Testament discipline of obedience to God and pointed him to the coming Messiah. As he        responded in faith, Timothy received the salvation God had promised in the Old   Testament and provided in the person of His Son Jesus Christ.

            The words "able to make thee wise unto salvation" carry the idea of giving the ability to    make the choice that results in salvation. "Able" is the present participle that means a            permanent, enduring quality.[4]

The word of God is God's revelation of Himself and His plan of salvation and way of abundant life. Faith is built on God's word (Romans 10:17). God uses His Word to work spiritual birth or our second birth unto eternal life in Christ (e.g. 1 Peter 1:22-25). Yes, "the Holy Scriptures, . . . are able to make one wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." One of the best ways to lead people to salvation is to get them into God's word. God's word is the seed of the Gospel (cf. The Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13; Mark 4; and Luke 8).

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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

Before we approach the holy ground of the next couple of verses I'd like to sight a few quotes from noted Christians of the past and what they thought of the Bible. H.A. Ironside, noted Bible preacher and teacher, a prolific writer with a photographic memory stated, "It is well to remember that reading books about the Bible is a very different thing to searching the Word for oneself."[5] It is important to be a reader, but what we read and what we give priority to in our reading makes all the difference in the world. Prayerful reading of God's word should be a daily regular and consistent practice for every Christian.

 

A.W. Tozer exhorted Christians on the importance and centrality of God's word when he wrote:

            "Let us seek to know Him in the Word. It is in the Word we will find the Holy Spirit.       Don't read too many other things. Some of you will say, "Look who's talking!" Well, go    ahead and say it, I don't mind; but I am reading fewer and fewer things as I get older, not     because I'm losing interest in this great, big, old suffering world, but because I'm gaining          interest in that other world above. So I say, don't try to know everything. You can't. Find     Him in the Word, for the Holy Ghost wrote this book. He inspired it, and He will be         revealed in its pages."

 

John Wesley in his Preface to Standard Sermons said the following:

 

            TO candid, reasonable men, I am not afraid to lay open what have been the inmost             thoughts of my heart. I have thought, I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an    arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: just hovering         over the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an     unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing,—the way to heaven; how to land safe   on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach me the way. For this very          end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At            any price, give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me      be homo unius libri. Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone;            only God is here. In His presence I open, I read His book; for this end, to find the way to             heaven. Is there a doubt concerning the meaning of what I read? Does anything appear     dark or intricate? I lift up my heart to the Father of Lights:—“Lord, is it not Thy word, ‘if       any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God?’ Thou givest liberally, and upbraidest not.       Thou hast said, ‘if any be willing to do Thy will, he shall know.’ I am willing to do, let             me know Thy will.” I then search after and consider parallel passages of Scripture,             “comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” I meditate thereon with all the attention and     earnestness of which my mind is capable. If any doubt still remains, I consult those who   are experienced in the things of God: and then the writings whereby, being dead, they yet        speak. And what I thus learn, that I teach.[6]

 

 

There is good reason to give priority to the Bible. Paul gives us a number of reasons.

First, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." "Inspiration" (Greek theopneutos) which means God breathed. The idea behind inspiration is not a literal mechanical dictation of God's word but more of God working in and through the individual personalities of people to direct them to write what He wanted written. Inspiration conveys the idea of wind moving a ship as it blows into its sails. We may be able to discern the unique ways of Peter and Paul and James and Luke but there is a holy uniqueness and singular continuity in what God moved them to write. When you read through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation there is a conformity, a One Authorship nature to the Bible that reveals God, while He chose to use human agents, is the True Author of the Bible.

 

It should be noted that inspiration applies to the autographs or original first letters of scripture. At the present we have no autographs of Old or New Testaments. We have no first original issue of Paul's letters for instance. However, while there are some very minor deviations in our copies the thousands of manuscripts we do have make a way for us to come to an extremely high confidence that the copies we have contain the inspired message God breathed through the human agents He chose to use to deliver the Scriptures. For example of we lacked the original copy of a paycheck but had five copies with some variations in them, we could still arrive at a confident conclusion of what had been originally indicated on the paycheck. If copy one gives a figure of "$2_01.53," copy two, "$_501.53," copy three, "$2501.__," copy four, "$2501.5_," and copy five, "$2501._3" then by comparing each copy we could come to a very firm conclusion that the original paycheck was in the amount of $2501.53. The same principle is applicable to Scripture manuscript evidence. We may not have the original autograph manuscripts, but given that we have nearly 30,000 manuscripts and portions of manuscripts we can compare them to each other and conclude what was in the original with a tremendous amount of certainty.

 

Second, What is "All Scripture"? We need to ask the question of canonicity. How can we know that the 66 books of the Bible (Old and New Testament) are the books God has ordained? How can we be sure that the Bible we have is God’s word? Who determines that the Bible is the word of God? How did we get our Bible? How was the canon of Scripture, the accepted 66 books of the Bible, determined? In 2 Timothy Paul writes to pastor Timothy about this very subject.

Norman Geisler provides the proper perspective on canonicity when he states, “Canonicity is determined by God. A book is not inspired because men made it canonical; it is canonical because God inspired it.” [7] Geisler provides a contrast to differentiate the correct from incorrect view of canonicity:

INCORRECT VIEW                                         CORRECT VIEW

The Church is DETERMINER of Canon        The Church is DISCOVERER of Canon

The Church is MOTHER of Canon                The Church is CHILD of Canon

The Church is MAGISTRATE of Canon         The Church is MINISTER

The Church is REGULATOR of Canon          The Church is RECOGNIZER of Canon

The Church is JUDGE of Canon                    The Church is WITNESS of Canon

The Church is MASTER of Canon                 The Church is SERVANT of Canon

How was canonicity discovered? Geisler states were five criteria used by the early church to discover the canon of Scripture.

 

  1. Is it AUTHORITATIVE?   Did it come with the authority of God?  (E.g. “Says the LORD” Is. 1:18; Mk. 1:22)
  2. Is it PROPHETIC?    Was it written by a man of God? (2 Peter 1:20; Heb. 1:1)
  3. Is it AUTHENTIC?  Did it tell the truth about God, man, etc.? The Bible does not contradict truth. (Acts 17:11; I John 4:1-6)
  4. Is it DYNAMIC?   Did it come with the life-changing power of God? (2 Tim. 3:16-17;Heb. 4:12; 1 Peter 1:23)
  5. Was it RECEIVED?  Was it collected, read, used and accepted by the people of God as the word of God? (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

 

Geisler adds that canonicity is based on “The witness of the Holy Spirit. He states:

            The recognition of canonicity was not a mere mechanical matter settled by a synod or        ecclesiastical council. It was a providential process directed by the Spirit of God as He   witnessed to the church about the reality of the Word of God. Man of himself could not         identify the Word of God, but the Holy Spirit opened the eyes of their understanding so        that they could recognize God’s Word. Jesus said, ‘My sheep will hear My voice’ (John               10:27). . . . In the providence of God, the principles were used to determine the extent of the canon, while the Holy Spirit gave assurance as to the reality of its message.”  [8]

            “The Old Testament canon was probably completed about 400 B.C. . . .  At the     councils (of Hippo -A.D. 393  and Carthage - A.D. 397)  the New Testament canon   which was ratified agreed with the present-day canon of twenty-seven books. It should be       remembered, however, that the canon was actually completed when the last New    Testament book was written. “ [9]

Third, "All Scripture . . . is profitable." "Profitable"  (Greek ophelimos) means beneficial, useful, that which accomplishes its purpose. Scripture is our God-given practical instrument to know Him and His heart and truth and to live in a way that is pleasing to Him. Scripture helps us to know right from wrong, truth from falsehood and how God's will is carried out in life. Paul lays out seven useful purposes of Scripture:

 

1.      “Doctrine” (Greek didaskalia) means teaching. Scripture is the basis and resource for what is to be taught to God's people. The Scriptures are what we use to train disciples in the ways of God's truth and salvation. .

2.      “Reproof” (Greek elegchos)  means proof, conviction, the measure of what is and isn't sin,  conviction of sin.  Scripture is useful to test and prove, to convict people of sin. We know what sin is by God's word. And we know where confession of sin and repentance are necessary based on God's word.

3.      “Correction” (Greek epanorthosis) refers to straightening up again, rectification, restoration to an upright position or right state with God. Scripture doesn't only negatively point out sin in life, it also provides the counsel on how a sinner can be restored to proper standing.

4.      “Instruction in righteousness” - "Instruction" (Greek paideia) refers to educational training, disciplinary action.  Scripture is our primary instrument for discipleship. "Righteousness" (Greek dikaiosyne) refers to what is necessary for a person to be in a state of rightness with God; acceptable to God.

5.      “That the man of God may be complete," "Complete" (Greek artios) means complete, capable, measuring up to what it should be, perfect. The disciples Jesus desires to be made via the fulfillment of the Great Commission are people of the Scriptures.

6.       “Thoroughly equipped” (Greek exartizo) means having been fully fitted and furnished, to furnish perfectly. to have everything needed. Scripture provides us with everything we need. We don't have to supplement it. We simply have to study it and know it better. If we come to a situation where we can't find an answer or solution in God's word, it doesn't mean the Scriptures are deficient. It means we simply need to prayerfully study God's word more deeply.

7.      "For every good work" - "Good" (Greek agathos) refers to that which is beneficial, good, a good thing, good in the sense of being pleasing to God. Whatever good thing we desire to do we can find what we need on how to do it in God's word.

Respect God’s Word

It is always a dangerous thing to try to bend God’s word to fit human opinion. That is what we will see happening in some segments of the church today. This is especially the case when the world is approving of behaviors the Scriptures define as sin. Pressure is brought to bear on the church to be "relevant" and comply with the ways of the world. If the church doesn't comply, doesn't depart from the truth of Scripture, then the world brings out the big guns of false accusations of being evil such as were levied against Paul by opposition in his day (e.g. 2 Tim. 2:9).  No matter how much we are referred to as "haters, bigots, intolerant," etc., we must speak the truth in love and not compromise.

God in His word warns against altering or deviating from HIs revealed truth in His word. From the beginning God has commanded this very clearly. For instance:

·         Deuteronomy 4:2 - 2 You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.

·         Deuteronomy 12:32 - 32 “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.

·         Proverbs 30:5-6 - Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.6 Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.     

·         Revelation 22:18-19 - 18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

If you wrote a letter to someone and the person who read it changed your words and altered its meaning to mean something other than what you clearly and simply intended, you would probably find that offensive and even criminal. If a general sent orders to the front lines and when they got there the orders were altered  by those in lesser command, the offenders would face a court marshal and more importantly victory in the battle would be put in jeopardy. Changing God’s word is like changing orders or changing a letter, it puts people at risk and jeopardizes God’s intended purposes, it is offensive and it is criminal.

 God’s word is holy, unique, and ought to be approached with the utmost reverence. God says His word is holy which means it is unique. To the Romans Paul spoke of God's promises, "which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, (Romans 1:2). There is no book like God’s Bible. No other book is verified and validated by the combination of manuscript evidence, archeological evidence, prophetic evidence, the preservation in the face of persecution evidence and the logical statistical rational of the combination of these factors considered together.  No book can match the 66 book Bible for truth and reliability. God’s word is holy and we ought to have reverence for it. 

We should inductively look to learn from God in His word not deductively look to use God’s word to support our views.  The proper way to approach God’s word is inductively. This means we come to it open and eager to learn what the Holy Spirit wants to reveal to us through the word. This means we come to the word of God first and form our beliefs and opinions based on what the word says, not the other way around. When a person approaches God’s word deductively with preconceived beliefs and then seeks to support their particular opinions with God’s word, it leads to scripture twisting, misinterpretation, misunderstanding and manipulation of God’s Holy Word.

We are the ones who must learn from God; we cannot teach God anything. At the root of the problem is that we live in a sinful world with man at its center. Unfortunately, this man-centered mentality has crept into the church. The Bible refers to this as the works of the flesh, walking according to our own understanding rather than walking in the Spirit and being guided by God (1 Corinthians 3; Galatians 3:1-5; 5:16-26). We shouldn’t look to shade God’s word to fit our preconceived opinions. Rather we should look to the Holy Spirit to illuminate God’s word to our understanding (1 Corinthians 2:9-15).

When people try to contemporize God’s word under the premise that it needs to be made “relevant” to the peer pressures, people and beliefs of the day, what they have done is they have become people pleasers and consequently stopped being servants of God (Galatians 1:10).  This is the problem we see especially in the area of the creation-evolution debate. Some have accepted that science has proven the age of the universe to be billions of years old. They therefore come to God’s word with this preconceived belief and superimpose it on God’s word. They look for gaps where they can fit “millions of years.” They look for loop holes to stretch twenty four hour days into millions of years. All of this is done by leaving the common sense clear meaning of scripture for complicated reinterpretations of God’s word. It is interesting that efforts to alter the understanding of God’s word to fit modern “scientific” findings coincide with the prevailing fads of the day and in reality the ever changing notions of the time. For instance the theory that there is a gap in Genesis 1 where millions of years could be fit coincided with the rise in the scientific community of the belief that the earth was millions and then billions of years old.

God’s word is true and unchanging like He is (Matthew 24:35; John 17:17; Hebrews 13:8). Rather than trying to change God’s word to fit the prevailing human opinion of the day we ought to be trying to see how what human beings say fit according to God’s word. When you look at human fields of learning you find an ever changing unstable series of “facts” that with time prove to be wrong or off for the most part. God’s word is dependable and has stood the test of time. We need to respect it when we approach it because it is indeed, God’s word.

As we conclude this chapter which communicates so powerfully the vital place God's Word holds in the Christian life I share a statement on God's word that I came across written by an anonymous author. It is one of the best descriptions of God's word and its usefulness for the Christian that  I've come by.

 

THE BIBLE - GOD’S HOLY BOOK

 

            This Book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of             sinners, and the happiness of believers. It’s doctrines are holy, it’s precepts are binding,             it’s histories are true, and it’s decisions immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be       safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and            comfort to cheer you.  It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the    soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. Christ is it’s subject, our good it’s design,       and the glory of God it’s end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. It is given to you in life, will be open in the        judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the      greatest labor, and condemns all who trifle with its holy precepts.”

 

Remember that the next time you hold God's precious Scriptures in your hands. Remember and approach the Holy Ground accordingly.

 



[1] http://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-europe/infamous-mamertine-prison-and-supposed-incarceration-saint-peter-003447

[2] http://scholarscorner.com/museums/mamertin

[3] Complete Biblical Library Commentary - The Complete Biblical Library – Galatians-Philemon.

[4] Complete Biblical Library Commentary - The Complete Biblical Library – Galatians-Philemon.

 

[5] H A Ironside - American Bible teacher, pastor, and author. Authored more than 60 volumes including highly regarded commentaries on the books of the Bible. For 18 of his 50 years of ministry, he was pastor at Moody Memorial Church in Chicago.

 

[6] http://www.bartleby.com/209/750.html

[7] A General Introduction to the Bible, Norman Geisler and William E. Nix, Moody Press, p. 136-147.

 

[8] Ibid. p. 146

[9] Ibid. p.161, 192,194