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2 Timothy

2 Timothy 3

By Pastor Doug
There is a time coming........
There has always been a choice in the world. Satan is always offering a counterfeit or an alternative that will appeal to our flesh or sinful nature.

Chapter 3 Introduction

As we finished chapter two, we noted that Paul was calling Timothy to continue on, to keep growing in the Lord and to step up into the new place in his life.  It was a call to a higher calling.  This brought Timothy to the realization that he was at a crossroads in his life.  He had to make a decision because with each step we grow toward the Lord we have to lay down a little more of our self.

Paul encouraged Timothy to stir up the gift, don't be ashamed, hold fast to your doctrine, be strong, endure, remember and then present yourself, all the while remaining on the strong foundation and true to doctrine.  With all that comes denying yourself, which is laying your entire life and health and happiness in the Lord’s hand and saying, “I trust you with it all Lord.”  That had to be weighed out.  You can't just mouth the word "committed" you have to live it, and living it is sacrifice.

While Timothy was considering this, others were coaching him in other ways.  We have hints that they were preaching a gospel without doctrine, a gospel that was designed for comfort and pleasure.  False teachers of that time were all over the map, from being hyper legalistic, to preaching self-love and everything in between.  Paul was the only one telling him to deny himself and realize suffering was consistent with the gospel that saved him.  This was then contrasted to all the other advice to please self, preserve your pride, follow your heart, do what’s best for you, and so on. 

All these false teachings become offers that appear as an alternative to commitment.  These false teachings can distract anyone or draw anyone away from decisions they need to make in their life, so each of us can see our self in Timothy.  In each of our lives we are called to a higher calling.  If we are honest in examining our self, we will discover we are often caught up in the false teachings of the world and we fail to press into Christ and lay our life down. 

Paul was encouraging and coaching Timothy, yet, all around there were false teachings profane and idle babbling.  And you don't have to look very long or very hard to discover that the profane and idle babblings are just as present today, if not more.  These false teachings fail to convict, are powerless to save and never even approach sanctification.  False teaching provides momentary comfort and gives a false sense of security.  Any sense of growth is fleeting and it keeps you coming back for more.

This is like the word of faith guys saying if you don't have a lot of money or if you have illness, it must be because you lack faith.  You need to plant your seed by sending them money.  And keep sending them money and working at it until you get it right.  It's a promise that never delivers.  It's useless, hopeless and most important of all unbiblical.

This is a good example of what Paul was talking about in chapter two.  The false teachers are disapproved workers that wouldn't call on God to seek his approval.  They have failed to rightly divide the word of truth.

Paul presents us with the characteristics of the adventure of the person who is in Christ.  The true servant of God can't be drawn away from truth and doctrine.  The servant of God must know the word of God so they can't be drawn away by false teachers.  The servant of God never arrives at some high plain of spirituality.  They are on an adventure, seeking, growing, pressing on.  When we look at that adventure, it can be overwhelming.  We can feel so inadequate, ill prepared and completely undeserving.  And we would be right in all cases.

Our adequacy must be found in the Lord or your growth will be paralyzed.  Our preparation is provided as needed by the Lord.  And we are undeserving, that's why we live in an attitude of thanksgiving, giving God the glory for all that is done.  Our response is to seek the Lord. is to present ourselves.  Yield our life to Him without reservation.  To find peace, contentment and fulfillment in doing that for which we were called.  And we'll see why that is so important and why it grows more important by the day.

2 Timothy 3:1-5

First of all, we need to know what last days are.  In general, the days are the period of time since the Lord ascended and said that He would return.  It's the church age.  Paul & Timothy were living in the last days, as we also do.  They looked forward to the return of the Lord with great anticipation, as we also should.  If the era in which they were living were the last days, then our days are the last of the last days, and for all we know the final last days.  The culmination of these last days is when Jesus comes back for his church.  Since we don't know when that is, we have to assume it could be any time, just like Paul and Timothy did.  The signs were there for them.  Yet for us, the signs are overwhelming in a way only we can understand.  And if the Lord doesn't come back soon, the next generation will see even more prevalent signs to a level we couldn't understand.

The most prevalent of signs is that perilous times will come.  The word for perilous means hard to take, hard to bear or very stressful and strenuous.  It's a dangerous or savage situation characterized by apostasy and lawlessness.  Moral restraint has been thrown off.  It is selfish men all doing what’s right in their own eyes.  The only other time in the bible this word for perilous is used is to describe the demoniac that lived in the tombs in the Gergesenes, written about in Matthew 8:28.  So the word is used to describe a dangerous possessed man but also a raging storm on the sea and, in this case, the last days before the Lord comes.

As we look at this, we can see Paul wasn't soft selling the life of a servant.  He was being very forthright in saying, it's not easy.  The last days will be stressful and dangerous for the Christian servant.  The world will become more and more evil as we attempt to walk in holiness and righteousness.  We'll feel more and more out of place, unable to fit in.

Read again what Paul gave us as a summary of these perilous times. 

The vices are categorized.

View of self:

  • Lover of self
    • Paul starts by saying men will love themselves.  Isn't this one of the biggest changes in the last few decades?  The self-esteem movement has said we shouldn't correct a child, we shouldn't keep score at a ball game, we shouldn't have any failing grades on tests, and so on.  All of this is done in an effort to protect the precious feelings of our sinful nature.  That generation has now grown up believing all their feelings and thoughts are legitimate, valuable and should be accepted by all.  In addition, many churches have adapted doctrine to accommodate these folks. 
  • Lover of money
    • Money and material goods drive the world.  We come to believe the world owes us the finest of all things.  We buy cars we can’t afford, park them in garages we’ve mortgaged our life against, fill our homes with stuff, max credit cards and whine that we don’t make enough money.  Mankind has replaced the sufficiency and provision of the Lord with money.
  • Boasters 
    • This brings to mind sports stars taunting and trash talking.  Kids with physical talent lack any humility, seeing themselves as all important.  In a few years, they’ll be discarded has beens with broken bodies.  This disease has spread throughout mankind with everyone displaying their lives on social media, as though it were a competition.  
  • Proud
    • This is interesting that it is on this list.  Our culture has taken pride to a new level.  We celebrate pride by parading sin in the streets.  We gather our children and expose them to the sin in an effort to normalize it.  We used to hide our sin in shame.  We now throw off all moral restraint and celebrate it proudly.
  • Blasphemous
    • Our world uses the name of Jesus and His bible to justify sin.  I think of California putting bible verses on billboards to promote abortion for anyone as loving your neighbor.  Many churches have embraced the culture and present a Jesus of their own understanding, one that ignores scripture and affirms the desires of a sin-fallen heart.

View of Family

  • Disobedient to Parents
    • The general lack of respect for parents is likely the fruit of being a lover of self.  We’ve created a monster.  We’ve trained up our children apart from God and the scriptures.  We’ve trained them to crave entertainment, feed on happiness, please the flesh and don’t let anyone interfere with them.
  • Unthankful
    • It is so refreshing to encounter a polite and well-spoken young person.  It is then that we realize how much has been lost.  The sense of entitlement rampant in our culture has made us a people who have forgotten to be thankful and to whom to be thankful.

Relationships with others

  • Unholy
    • This means lacking any moral or spiritual purity.  It is impious acts associated with ruthlessness.  In ancient writings, the idea of being unholy is likened to the murder of children, planning a murder, not burying the dead and violating laws of hospitality.
  • Unloving
    • Lacking any affection for others, especially family.  This borders on hatred – not just unloving but going out of the way to be hateful to others.
  • Unforgiving
    • Willing to carry a grudge endlessly.  Keeping score on all accounts with an undertone of getting even.
  • Slanderers
    • In this day of social media where everyone can have a following and present the facts as they see them, it is easy to slander another person.  We’ve given birth to the cancel culture.  Hurt feelings, differing views or some minor offense can begin a following where haters jump on the bandwagon.  Lies, once told, can be proven lies but never be forgotten.
  • Without self-control
    • The Greek word means debauched.  It is the lack of ability to rule over one’s self.  It is lacking any moral or ethical restraint.  It is unthinking, incapable of calculating results, consequences or costs.   
  • Brutal
    • This word means feral.  It is wild and menacing.  Used only here in the bible.
  • Despisers of Good
    • Not only do they embrace the wicked, they despise the good.  To normalize darkness for light, good for evil, the ‘good’ must be despised as something to keep from.
  • Traitors 
    • These folks have no allegiance to those to whom it is owed and expected.  They know no loyalty but to themselves and their ways.
  • Headstrong
    • Defiant and unthinking disregarding danger and consequences.  Reckless!
  • Haughty 
    • Proud in an ungodly fashion.  Puffed up over self and their ways, none of which prove to be of value.

Relationship to the world

  • Lovers of pleasure
    • Living life for self-gratification.  Embracing what pleases me today and discarding tomorrow for something else.  This might be people, thoughts, leaders, religions, politics, etc.  Everyone doing what is right in their own eyes. 
  • Not lovers of God 
    • One can’t embrace God and the world – you must love one and hate the other.  These men love the world and hate God.  This hatred is open and vocal with hubris.
  • Having a form of godliness 
    • A form of godliness is the attempt by mankind to have just enough God to get to heaven but denying it has any power or authority over my life.   A pretend devotion in which a mismatch occurs between the testimony and action.  The heart is revealed in the actions.  This seems to speak of widespread hypocrisy.

These last few had to have hit home with Timothy as he seemed to be at a fork in the road.  To shy away from his call and become timid in the face of persecution was a denial of the calling on his life.  He was to preach the gospel.  The false teachers loved the world and were hypocrites.

Paul advised Timothy to shun these people.  This is deliberately avoiding them.  They offer nothing of value to our life.  Our abiding in the Lord must be complete and without reservation, unyielding.  Then, we grow in holiness and righteousness as he sanctifies us.

2 Timothy 3:6-9

Paul's not picking on woman here.  But in those days, the woman was mostly the one in the home.  Now it's one thing for us to deal with these people out in the world in all their depravity.  But this sort, Paul says are going to make their way into your home.  They will take captive the gullible.  The gullible are those who will buy anything if it is presented in a flashy or appealing way.  This sort of false teacher, living in their depravity and having a form of godliness will package their depravity up to look like the solution to the problems of life.  And the gullible will be led astray.

Women in that day were less educated in doctrine and theology, though not necessarily less educated overall.  These false teachers wouldn’t present their message publicly but did so secretive to the unsuspecting, while presenting a false godliness.  The gullible may be so because they are loaded down with sin having been led away by their lusts.  They were always seeking answers, listening to the false hope of false teachers, seeking relief from the sin burden but never finding it.  They were kept from the knowledge of truth by their fostering sin and given attention to false teachers instead of repentance, trust and truth.

Every day millions of people get their only exposure to spirituality and religion from the likes of Oprah or some other talk show.  Their primary source of hope in life comes from Dr Phil or Ellen or Maury.  Then,  if you haven't been spoon fed enough humanism and worldly wisdom, you can resort to the internet.  This sort, these depraved, pedal their depravity and worm their way into our households through television, internet, Facebook, email, twitter, my space.  The depravity is pedaled to us and none of us in immune to being gullible.  If you're not watching for it the package they are selling will look right, sound right and feel right when you buy into it.  That's how people are led away by their various lusts.

We are all tempted by some lust.  It doesn't have to be sexual but it certainly could be.  It could be the lust for power, control, popularity, money, or fame.  These people peddling their depravity make their way into your home and offer you a way to pursue your lust.  Paul said that's possible because some people are always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.   They hear God's word, they go to church, but they never meditate on it.  The truth never takes root in their life.  They never allow it to change them.  Then, in the storms of life, because we haven't come to the knowledge of truth, they're looking for answers.  And Satan always has one, and he has many willing messengers to deliver it to the unsuspecting person who is seeking for answers outside of the bible or Jesus Christ.

Eve was gullible when she listened to the serpent.  She had heard the truth but when presented with another option it was proven the truth had not taken root in her life.  She was quickly drawn away seeking another way.  Adam was also gullible when he joined Even in her sin.  And since that original fall to sin it has never stopped.


We are offered the truth and we are offered the lie.  Many times the lie seems more real and tangible and even logical.  Yet the truth always proves out to be as unchanging as God.

Jewish tradition named Jannes and Jambres as the magicians in Pharaoh's court used to counter the plagues Moses brought.  When the Lord performed a miracle by the hand of Moses these magicians countered with their own miracles performed by a dark power.  There was a power available for Jannes and Jambres to resist truth.  It's a very real power.  I'm sure the miracles were very real and therefore seemed to make sense to them.  It seemed right.  That same dark power that was available to them to resist God is available to these depraved men who lead the gullible astray. 

Men and women in the Pharaoh's court saw the power of God authenticate the message of truth through miracles.  Then they saw miracles delivered by a dark power to draw them away from God.  They were given an alternative.  The options always come down to deny myself and follow God or choose the alternative, pursue the things that please the flesh, that feed pride, that make a person feel good and claim the form of godliness that is being sold with it.

These people of corrupt and depraved minds will deny truth and hold onto their darkness, although they won't call it darkness.  They will justify their sin and depravity in a variety of ways.  But that's it, they will progress no further.  That's as good as their life will get.  They will partake of their lusts and pursue their selfish desires and it will consume their life.  Some will never see the light, never understand that they are chasing after the wind.  Others will wake up some day having hit rock bottom and they will realize their folly.

Paul likened the false teachers invading Ephesus in the midst of Timothy’s ministry to Jannes and Jambres.  Timothy was presenting truth and sound doctrine born of the gospel.  The false teachers then stepped forward and presented their lies that tickled the ear and pleased the flesh. 

This happens daily in our lives.  The enemy and his representatives steal our joy, hope faith with their efforts.  They cause division, fear and confusion.  They won't look like the devil but the fruit of their work is of the devil.  These folks may appear kind and loving.  They may be sweet little old ladies that remind you of grandma.  They may be well educated and can speak of science and philosophy that is way over our head.  They may appear to have your best interest at heart.  However, if they’ve parted from truth, left the gospel, defy scripture or refute the Holy Spirit, they are bring the devil’s message.

2 Timothy 3:10-11

In contrast to the false teachers who were like Jannes and Jambres, stood Timothy, at a crossroads.  He was timid, maybe overwhelmed and frustrated.  He probably felt outgunned by the false teachers.  Paul encourages him. 

Timothy had followed Paul through the his walk as an apostle. 

  • Doctrine – The principles or set of rules by which we live.  We all have them.  Paul teaches our doctrine should come from God.
  • Manner of life – This is how one conducts their life.  A person’s doctrine ought to be visible in their manner of life.  We might think of this as character.
  • Purpose – This is the driving force of our life, our mission, calling or vision.
  • Faith – The confidence and trust behind our purpose.  This is what makes us think our purpose is worthy of pursuing.
  • Longsuffering – Patient endurance.  Seeing it through to the end, regardless of appearance or outcome. 
  • Love – This is the word agape’.  It is sacrificial service with no expectation of it being returned. 
  • Perseverance – Steadfast endurance.  It is unwavering, unyielding persistence to continue on.
  • Persecution – This is the systematic hunting down of those who believe in a particular religion for the sole purpose of inflicting pain or death to silence or destroy them.
  • Afflictions – This is suffering and distress due to adversity.  This might be the persecution for belief, beatings, shipwrecks, wrongful arrests and imprisonment among other things. 

After detailing this spirit or depravity and this ungodly attitude that control the world and would be prevalent in the world in the last days, Paul pointed out that Timothy had followed the doctrine of the Lord.  Timothy could look back and remember what happened.  At Antioch Paul was kicked out of the city for preaching the gospel.  At Iconium Paul was nearly stoned for ministry.  AT Lystra, Paul was stoned and left for dead.

This says a lot about Timothy and it says a lot about what Paul thought of him.  When you set this in the context of the entire letter.  It's a message that says, Timothy, you've done well.  Keep doing well but watch out for all the evil in the world that is working to trip you up.

With all the warnings and exhortations that we've read directed at Timothy, we know that Paul wasn't implying that Timothy was immune to being drawn away or tempted by false teaching or ungodly attitudes that were prevalent in the world.  On the contrary, I believe Paul is setting up a contrast before Timothy.  Saying, here is what we are, with right doctrine and a love of the Lord our lives will look this way.  It's not easy, it's not popular, it will cost you all your pride, it may cost you friends and family but this is what life in the Lord will look like in this world.  And the contrast is what we see in the world with all its depravity.  It may have a form of godliness and that may be tempting to many because it looks religious.  But there is denial of the power of God to be the Lord of your life. 

Paul makes it very clear in verse twelve.  All who desire to live godly in Jesus will suffer persecution.  There isn’t any wiggle room in that.  It’s not the news many believers want to hear.

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.  For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.  They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

(NKJV; 1 Peter 4:1-; 1982, Thomas Nelson)

We have to have to guard our faith and belief from the evil imposters.  They will become worse and worse.  This is happening right before our eyes.  The level of deception in our culture is unprecedented.

In the midst of this, Paul told Timothy he had to continue.  It was even more important to teach what he had learned and been assured of.  It was these dark days for which Timothy was made to preach, he couldn’t whither away or hide until they passed.  He was to remember the truth he held.

  1. Knowing where he learned it.
  2. Knowing the heritage behind it – he knew the scriptures from youth, was raised in them.
  3. Knowing the ability of God’s word to make one wise for salvation.
  4. To know scripture is inspired by God.
  5. Scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction.
  6. Timothy was thoroughly equipped for good work.

Doctrine is what is right and true, scripture is profitable in this way.  Reproof are those things that are not true and not right, scripture reveals these also.  Correction is when scripture tells us how to get right.  Instruction in righteousness is how to stay right.  That's the word of God.  It's our bible, given to us so we can be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Timothy was at a crossroads.  Each of us come to these same crossroads.  One way, the way of God says stand on the truth, know the scriptures and apply them to your life.  And even them, in this life you will suffer, you will work, it will be hard.  But all along the way you will know the Lord is with you and working in your life and through your life.  It's a narrow way.

Many people have bought into Satan's offer.  They are on a broad path.  And that has led to perilous times.  In our world men deny the power of God to direct their life, to save them, sanctify them and ultimately glorify them.  To walk with the Lord is to trust in him with all we have.

Timothy had been saved for years yet he still had to make that decision in his life.  No one gets a free pass.  It's part of picking up your cross and following Him.  Whether you are making the decision to repent and trust in Christ and becoming a new believer or you are a seasoned saint, you constantly arrive in these places where you make the choice.

©2011, 2023 Doug Ford