2 Timothy 3

With the opening of chapter 3 the Apostle turns from these
instructions, which Sprang out of the dangers which were threatening at
that moment, to foretell the conditions which should prevail in the
last days. The picture that he presents is a very dark one.

In the first verse he gives us the general character of the last
days in two words-"perilous times." We shall do well to bear this
warning continually in mind inasmuch as there can be but little doubt
that we are now in the last days and spiritual perils are thick around

In verses 2 to 5 the characteristics of the men of the last days are
brought before us. It is a terrible list, rivalling the list given us
in Romans 1: 28 to 31, when the sins of the ancient heathen world are
described. The most fearful thing about the list of our chapter is that
all this evil is covered under "a form of godliness," that is, the
people who are thus described are Christian as far as their claims and
outward appearance go. The real power of Christianity they utterly deny.

"Men shall be lovers of their own selves," this is the first item on
the list. The second is, "covetous" or "lovers of money." The list
ends. "lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God." Love of self, love
of money and love of pleasure are to mark the religious people of the
last days, and as for all the evil things mentioned between they
indicate the various ways in which the proud, self-sufficient, lawless
spirit of fallen man expresses itself-and all this, remember, in people
who call themselves followers of the meek and lowly Jesus. If we know
anything of the present state of the so-called Christian nations we may
well conclude that we have reached the last days.

The attitude of the faithful believer to such is very simple; from
such he is enjoined to turn away, rather than go along with them in the
hope of reclaiming them. Separation is enjoined for the sixth time in
this short passage; the words used being, "shun," "depart," "purge
out," "flee." "avoid," and now, "turn away." The present age being one
which loves compromise the word, "separation" is naturally not at all
popular, still here is that which the word stands for, urged upon us as
the commandment of the Lord; and our business is not to reason about it
but to obey.

The description of verses 2 to 5 applies generally to the men of the
last days. In verse 6 two special classes come into view-first, those
who are active deceivers, and second, those who fall an easy prey to
their deceits The Apostle's word indicates that there were to be found
in his day examples of both these classes. The deceivers, he says, are
"of this sort" i.e., of the kind described in verses 2 to 5, and their
work is carried on in a semi-private way for they "creep into houses."
In the light of this inspired word it is very significant what an
amount of house to house propaganda, with considerable success m
creeping into houses and beguiling unstable souls, is carried on by the
agents of false religious cults, such as Mormons, Seventh-Day
Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.

Those deceived are spoken of here as "silly women," doubtless a term
of contempt and applicable to that type of person who is always
enquiring and yet never reaching any settled convictions, be they man
or woman. The reason for their blindness and consequent lack of
conviction is their sins and the lusts which bring forth sin. It is a
striking fact that this "silly women" class is recruited quite as much
from the ranks of the refined and learned as from the rude and
illiterate. The rough man of the street generally has pretty definite
opinions of some sort; opinions which, right or wrong, he can express
with vigour. It is frequently the highly educated who lose themselves
in mazes of speculation and finish by accepting some pretentious
nonsense which is the very opposite of the truth. Take, for instance,
the way in which Christian Science captures its victims almost entirely
from the rich and would-be intellectual folk.

We cannot however, shut out from all this the power of Satan, as
verses 8 and 9 show us. Jannes and Jambres were evidently leaders of
the band of magicians who influenced Pharaoh's court and withstood
Moses, working their wonders in league with demons. The deceivers of
the last days will be like them, resisting the truth as agents of the
devil. God has however, set a limit to their power and ultimately their
folly shall be manifest to all. This does not mean that this kind of
evil is going to receive an immediate check for, as verse 13 tells us,
evil men and seducers are going to wax worse and worse until the end of
the age. We are not left in any uncertainty as to what we must expect.

Nor are we left in uncertainty as to our resources in the presence
of the evil. They are set before us in our chapter from verse 10 and
onwards. Over against the character of the men of the last days the
Apostle was inspired to set the character which he bore and which
Timothy well knew. What an extraordinary contrast to verses 2 to 5 is
presented by verses 10 and 11! Self-love, pride, opposition to and
persecution of those that are good, on the one hand; faith, love,
patient endurance under persecution, on the other. The one is the
full-blown spirit of the world; the other is the spirit of Christ; and
it has always been the case that "he that was born after the flesh
persecuted him that was born after the Spirit" (Gal. 4: 29). Hence
persecution must always be expected by those who "live godly in Christ
Jesus," though the form that persecution takes may vary in different
countries and in different ages. The type of godliness produced by the
law of Moses might excite but little or no opposition whilst godliness
"in Christ Jesus" is being hotly resisted.

Paul's "manner of life" was based upon his doctrine; it gave
expression to it in practice; hence in verse 10 doctrine comes first.
With that doctrine Timothy was well acquainted, and he had but to
continue in the truth he had reamed from such a source. He also had the
inestimable advantage of having known the Holy Scriptures-the Old
Testament, of course-from a child. In these two things Timothy's
resource lay.

In these two things lies our resource today, only for us the two
practically coalesce into one. Timothy had Paul's doctrine from his own
lips, expressed in a "form of sound words" (2 Tim. 1: 13), exemplified
and enforced by his wonderful manner of life. We have his doctrine in
his inspired epistles preserved in the New Testament, and no form of
sound words is more reliable than that. In the New Testament we have
also an inspired account of Paul's wonderful life, and also the other
apostolic writings. We have therefore in this respect a little more
than Timothy had, and we have the Old Testament equally with him,
though alas! we may not be nearly as fully acquainted with it or with
Paul's doctrine as he was. For us then the great resource is the Holy
Scripture in its entirety.

This being so the Holy Spirit seized the occasion to assure us of
the inspiration of all Scripture. Its profitableness for various uses
all depends upon this fact. Who can teach or reprove or correct or
instruct in what is right, in any perfect and absolute sense, but God?
The reason why Scripture can do these things is that it is "inspired of
God" or "God-breathed."

The claim here unquestionably is that the Book which we know as the
Bible is a God-breathed book. Some of our readers might like to
enquire-What about the Revised Version of this passage? Our reply is
that the Authorized Version is right here and the Revised. is wrong. In
the original, according to Greek idiom, the verb "is" does not appear,
being understood though not expressed. In English it must appear and
the question is as to where it should be? Remarkably enough there are
eight other passages in the New Testament of exactly similar
construction and every one of them but this the Revisers translated
just as the Authorized has translated this. Why make an exception in
this case?

{*The R.S. V (1952) text is correct here.}

Hebrews 4: 13 is one of the eight passages. Had the Revisers
followed their rendering of 2 Timothy 3: 16 they would have made it,
"All things that are naked are also opened unto the eyes of Him with
whom we have to do," which simply reduces the solemn statement to a
trivial absurdity; hardly more so however than the rendering they have
given us of our passage.

The thing that Timothy needed was to be assured that he had in the
Scriptures that which was of God and therefore wholly
reliable-something on which he could safely take his stand when
confronted with the dangers and seductions to be expected in the last
days. This is exactly what we too want, and, God be thanked, we have it
in the Bible.

In the Scriptures we have an infallible standard because they are
God breathed. By that standard we may test all that is presented to us
as truth and detect and expose all the deceits of "evil men and
seducers" though they grow "worse and worse." We have however more than
that in them as verses 15 and 17 show us. They can make us wise unto
salvation, though it be only a child who is in question. They can
equally perfect the man of God and furnish him unto all good works.

In reading verse 15 we must not confine our thoughts of salvation to
that which reaches us at conversion. Salvation in that sense is of
course included in the statement, but it reaches out to embrace also
the daily salvation which we Christians need in a multitude of ways.
The whole Scripture-and particularly the Old Testament, which is here
primarily in view-abounds with examples which expose before us the
snares and pitfalls which beset us, and the workings of our own hearts,
and which reveal to us the dealings of God's grace and government. If
enlightened by faith in Christ and giving heed to these warnings, we
are made wise to salvation from similar snares which exist in our day.

It is one thing to be preserved from danger; it is another to be
thoroughly instructed in what is right. The most devoted of God's
servants, the man of God, will find in Scripture that which equips him
in the completest manner. By it he may be rendered "perfect" or
"complete" and be "thoroughly furnished" or "fully fitted" to every
good work. These statements make a tremendous claim for Scripture. They
clearly infer that within its covers there is guidance in regard to
every work that can be called good, and that the man of God, who of all
believers most needs light from on high, needs no light outside that
which Scripture affords.

We do not overlook the fact that we need the teaching and
illumination of the Holy Spirit if we are to profit by the Scripture.
That is stated in other passages. Here we have the nature and power of
the Scriptures brought before us. We may well rejoice and thank God
that the Bible has been preserved to us and that the Spirit of God
abides with us for ever.