2 Timothy Chapter 3: Last Days Perilous Times, How to Overcome

Nov 19th, 2009 | By | Category: 1 & 2 Timothy, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

2 Timothy Chapter 3: Last Days Perilous Times, How to Overcome

2 Tim. 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2 Tim. 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

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

2 Tim. 3:4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

2 Tim. 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Verses 1-5 are a unit of thought. Paul was describing the prevailing condition of the world “in the last days” and warning that this influence and these traits would have some bearing on the lives of Christians living at that time. In other words, these unfavorable characteristics, which should not be named among Christians, would creep into the true Church if brethren were not careful.

To go into the Greek with each word is not necessary, for the English translation is comparable in about 90 percent of the terminology. With more than a dozen characteristics, the English touches on almost every avenue, in one form or another, of what not to do. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times [dangerous times, a severe testing period] shall come.” The Epistle to Jude indicates that a very bad condition would develop in the true Church at the end of the Gospel Age. The question with regard to Paul’s letter to Timothy would be, Have the “perilous times,” prophesied to come “in the last days,” already begun to occur, or are they future? We would say these conditions have begun, even though they are stated in the extreme, for they will increase in intensity. The expression “last days” (plural) indicates these conditions would have to take place at the end of the age in the Harvest period, and we have seen many developments in the last decade or two that are peculiar to our generation. Some of these characteristics have been a trial throughout the Gospel Age, but others are different in some respects. The accounts in 2 Peter 2 and Jude carry the situation forward to a climactic conclusion, telling what will happen in the true Church. The conditions described here in verses 1-5 will lead up to that final experience, and generally speaking, what makes us think they are connected with the Harvest period is the fact that verse 8 names Jannes and Jambres, who withstood Moses.

For the most part, these traits are self-explanatory. In reading various translations, we find that some of the thoughts are switched, but as a composite whole, they are more or less the same.

For example, the word “arrogant” may be used instead of “proud.” The language is strong.

Certainly the people in the world are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God,” and this is also true of the vast majority in the professed nominal Church. However, this danger can also come into the true Church, so Christians have to be on constant guard lest such things happen to them. The description “men shall be lovers of their own selves” implies conceit, which is a form of pride. In their conceit, Christians think, in principle, that they have made their calling and election sure. “Covetous” is being envious of another’s goods, and “boasters” are braggarts. These conditions in the world can creep into, or infiltrate, the true Church.

Comment: Not only is it dangerous to think that God loves all people just as they are, but such thinking demeans God’s character. “Blasphemers” do violence to God’s Word.

Comment: Regarding the end of the age, the Apostle Peter wrote, “There were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Pet. 2:1).

Reply: Yes, Peter and Jude spoke about the same conditions, with Peter giving a little more elaboration and Jude being more condensed. The Pastor defined “blasphemy” as accepting honors, emoluments, adulation, and praise that are due the Creator.

The schools today encourage being “disobedient to parents.” The increasing tendency is to be “unthankful,” first to the Creator, the Giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). If we do not have a thankful heart, we forget to thank Him for some of the wonderful gifts He has given us. To be unthankful also implies discontent, a familiar Scripture being “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6). Being “unholy” and “without natural affection” would embrace homosexuality and lesbianism.

Without resisting, people can easily fall into the category of “trucebreakers.” A more serious manifestation of this trait would be a “vow breaker,” especially a consecration vow to the Lord. This trait starts with smaller infractions that can lead to a habit.

Comment: A truce breaker’s word cannot be trusted.

Reply: We are to let our yea be yea, and our nay be nay (Matt. 5:37). It is better not to say anything than to make a promise and break it. Promises are often broken in such little ways that the person scarcely realizes what is happening. In prior days, a handshake was a valid contract, but there is so much dishonesty today that a contract has to be in writing and the signature(s) notarized.

“Despisers of those that are good” cannot be moved. Hating good and wholesome words, they are disagreeable and lack tenderness. Because there is no flexibility, one cannot reason with such individuals. An example in the New Testament is speaking evil of “dignities” (2 Pet. 2:10; Jude 8).

In the Old Testament, “false accusers” got the same penalty that their accusation, if true, would bring. “Incontinent” means to be without self-control. Since a “continent” is a well-defined and controlled body of land with boundaries and borders, an incontinent person has no rules or regulations. He is not guided by principles but does what he feels like doing.

A “fierce” person is scary; because he is a terror, others fear what he might do to them personally. On another level, this trait would include terrorist activities against a government. Because of the media the public feeds on, conditions are leading to anarchy, for people are beginning to despise government.

Again we will say that these conditions are in the world, but the danger is that they will come into the Church. “Traitors” include enemies of the truth, as well as the Judas class at the end of the age. An individual who previously had present truth is now a fierce advocate of the Trinity and hellfire, wreaking ill feelings on the brotherhood. For one to return to baby teachings after understanding present-truth doctrines shows that if the light in a person becomes darkness, “how great is that darkness!” (Matt. 6:23).

Another characteristic is being “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” Pleasures in themselves may not be sinful, but to be “lovers of pleasures” is dangerous for the new creature. Not only are there all kinds of illicit pleasures, but the Christian should not spend inordinate time on pleasures.

Comment: A danger with being “heady” is not holding Christ as one’s head (Col. 2:19), and being “highminded” is thinking too much of self.

Notice Paul’s advice as this influence comes into the true Church; namely, “from such turn away.” In other words, in proportion as we see a person fitting any of these damaging categories, we should curtail fellowship, for the tendency can rub off on us. Thus Paul was showing the possibility that these traits can come into the true Church. For example, if we fraternize too much with an unconsecrated friend—perhaps a kind neighbor—there can be an adverse effect. And if some of these traits are in the Church, the danger is far greater because of having the same hopes and aims.

A progression is indicated. While these conditions start in the world, the Epistle to Jude shows the same spirit will gradually infiltrate the true Church so that eventually, at the very end of the age, being faithful may require standing alone with the Lord’s help.

Paul used the expression “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” Those in the nominal Church have a form of godliness, for they profess to be Christians, but we also profess Christianity. The implication, shown by verse 6, is that a condition of superficial godliness will eventually enter the true Church, having a pernicious influence on some of the consecrated. Accordingly, the days at the very end of the age will be quite decisive with regard to one’s consecration. The treatise on Jude suggests that the infiltration will occur in two ways, as follows:

1. Over a period of time, some already in present truth—that is, some from within—will have a form of godliness but will really be using natural thinking.

2. Some unconsecrated outsiders—that is, some from without—will come into our midst, bringing in natural, unconsecrated thinking. Their fellowship with brethren will eventually influence ecclesia policies. At first, their influence will be indirect, but in time they will have a direct adverse influence, lowering the standards.

Comment: Paul’s warning in the early Church to the elders of Ephesus was similar: “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29,30).

Certainly those who have “a form of godliness” but deny “the power thereof” will not be performing the scriptural form of godliness. For example, those in the nominal Church who go to Mass frequently and regularly have the appearance of godliness but know little or practically nothing of Scripture. They merely go through motions that, from the public standpoint, seem to manifest a very reverential attitude.

Comment: By Paul’s adding, “From such turn away,” this text is another way of saying there should be a separation between the consecrated and the unconsecrated.

Reply: Yes, this type of superficial godliness should be rather easily observed, whereas other external forms of godliness are probably much more difficult to discern because we cannot know what is in one’s heart. However, where individuals go through certain motions but have many contradictions in their life, their conduct negates their supposed godliness.

Q: Could we say that superficial godliness is manifested by those who are more magnanimous and loving than God?

A: Yes. Evidently, based on verse 6, Paul was zeroing in on teachers who lead “silly women” captive. Family-oriented charismatic emotionalism is also a form of godliness. Notice that the trait of “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” is near the end of the list. Paul started with the more flagrant and conspicuous traits such as “blasphemers” and being “covetous,” and then in verse 5, he got into a gray area where the difference is not so stark. In that gray area would be those who are more loving than God. People with itching ears like such teachers, and in turn, the preachers have tickling tongues for filthy lucre, popularity, and other honors (2 Tim. 4:3). Whatever their motive(s), the nature of what they are saying is a form of godliness that really denies the power and teaching of Scripture. In other words, their rather flattering and nice-sounding message—the type of love and character they are teaching—does not square with the Word of God but appeals to human reasoning.

In addition, there are very learned teachers who, instead of appealing to the emotional aspect, speak intellectually without the bottom line of godly Christian living. Generally speaking, most so-called Christians in society are polarized in either one direction or the other. And the great mass in between the two extremes is indifferent and does not care.

Q: With regard to “having a form of godliness,” what is “denying the power thereof”?

A: “Denying the power” can take several forms, so there is no one pat definition. Some people like excitement, some like sociability, some like music, some like science, etc., but the question is, Do these forms of godliness harmonize with God’s Word? All of these forms can be profitable if they are based on Scripture and if a Christian’s life harmonizes with his profession.

Comment: In the type, Eli’s sons had a form of godliness but denied the power thereof.

Reply: We do not know too much about Eli’s sons except that when the people came to worship, Hophni and Phinehas flagrantly seduced the women even in the Tabernacle precincts and took consensual liberties. And when the people brought meat offerings, the two sons used forks to spear out for themselves the choice parts that were supposed to go to God. The antitype would be preachers who have mansions, luxury cars, servants, etc., by appropriating the people’s donations for themselves. Incidentally, Eli was very responsible, for he failed to act when the people brought his sons’ sins to his attention.

Comment: Another example in the antitype would be priests who take sexual advantage of children or others in their parishes.

Comment: Outwardly many have a religious form, being identified with some denomination, but their lives as a whole deny the power of the gospel to control their hearts and guide their conduct. In recent years, we have seen a proliferation in the nominal Church of women teachers and a toleration of immoral lifestyles, including openly professing homosexuality from the pulpit. The people should flee away from such denominations, but the majority stay under that leadership.

Reply: Yes. The sophia (wisdom) movement is particularly bad, yet it is tolerated. The spirit of the world, which has many manifestations, is subtly infiltrating the true Church. Certainly we should turn away from the obvious manifestations, but we cannot openly point out what is less obvious. The more we study the Scriptures, the more we come to instructions that touch on these matters, both obvious and subtle. But we have to search the whole Word of God and not be selective, for the old creature can unconsciously (or even consciously to some extent) pick out portions of Scripture that do not touch on one’s weak points.

2 Tim. 3:6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

2 Tim. 3:7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

The phrase “of this sort” refers to verses 1-5, especially at the end of the age. What is the thought of verse 6: “For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins”? The context applies to the consecrated, to the household of faith. At the present time, certain peculiarities exist with regard to the Truth movement. For one thing, most weeknight meetings are held in private homes. The character description of those who “creep into houses” shows that they are basically teachers of the Scriptures. The problem is that the influence, or effect, of their teachings causes damage. Another peculiarity is that, generally speaking, not only down through the Gospel Age but especially now, at the end of the age, mostly women have been attracted to the truth.

Comment: Verses 6 and 7 read as follows in the Revised Standard: “For among them are those who make their way into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and swayed by various impulses, who will listen to anybody and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth.”

Q: What is the thought of the word “houses”? Speaking of “unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision,” Titus 1:11 states, “Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.” Could “houses” in both Scriptures refer to ecclesias instead of to personal homes?

A: In the early Church, like today, many of the meetings were held in private homes, so the thought can be interpreted either way. “Houses” can refer to households where ecclesia meetings are held or to ecclesias themselves. For example, Paul’s statement “For it hath been declared unto me … by them which are of the house of Chloe” indicates that ecclesia meetings were held there (1 Cor. 1:11). Therefore, even if meetings took place in a private home, the reference was to an ecclesia.

In addition, certain nationalities and large families seem to have an affinity for present truth. Sometimes, therefore, ecclesias are woven, to a large extent, around either a nationality or a family or both. Under those circumstances, the most influential member of a family or a nationality—whether man or woman—can greatly influence the meetings. Moreover, the implication seems to be that Paul was referring to smaller meetings, to those of a more limited scope.

As we get down nearer and nearer to the end of the age, an infiltration of teaching will be encouraged and accepted by the brethren, affecting particularly the women. As already stated, the majority of the called have been women, especially in the Harvest period. If they are not stable in the truth, they can be easily swayed by emotion, whereas those who analyze and reason on what they accept are more apt to hold to principle. Clearly, verse 6 indicates that many sisters will be involved.

“Silly women” are sisters who lack depth of understanding and are not grounded in the principles of Scripture. Thus Paul was speaking of classes who not only lack a deep understanding of God’s Word but also are not interested in obtaining that understanding. Yes, the brethren attend meetings, for they are “ever learning,” but they are “never able to come to the [deep] knowledge of the truth.” They are somewhat diligent in attendance, but they do not perceive or study in-depth—qualities that are essential, particularly at the end of the age.

The temptation is mostly along the lines of the flesh. And that very fact indicates that the message of the teachers will encourage promiscuity, a looseness of conduct. Brethren need to compare the second chapter of 2 Peter, the second chapter of 2 Thessalonians, Jude, and pertinent Scriptures in 2 Timothy. Paul wrote, “Even him [Jesus], whose coming [presence—Greek parousia] is after [during] the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thess. 2:9,10). Notice, Paul prophesied that a class who receive the truth will perish. They receive the truth but not “the love of the truth” because they merely nominally accept it.

All four books need to be collated and studied in order to understand the dangers to the consecrated at the end of the age. Jude emphasized sins along the lines of the flesh. In addition, he gave a characterization of this class, saying that they “despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities” (Jude 8). Because of the language used, the King James seems to be saying that those of this class are brawling and fighting—with fists almost—but that is not the correct thought.

To all appearances, they are of good breeding. They are somewhat orderly and well behaved, but they are disorderly with regard to obeying the instruction of God’s Word. They despise dominion, or government, in the sense that they are disobedient, and they place too much credence upon the opinion of men.

Jude prophesied that the teaching element at the end of the Gospel Age would encourage looseness and promiscuity, as opposed to holiness in life and character in obeying the principles of Scripture. Of course it would not be a deception if the leadership said blatantly, “Do what you want.” Instead Jude was saying that the doctrine, or teaching, of the leadership would emphasize love and forgiveness. Paul’s words were strong: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid” (Rom. 6:1,2). By lacking a definiteness of decision in opposing unrighteousness, this class teaches and encourages looseness of behavior.

The Apostle Peter made a startling statement: “If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Pet. 4:18). The plan of God is so wonderful with its merciful provision for all to have an opportunity for life that we overlook the more sober Scriptures, such as this one, if we are not careful. Indeed this teaching is lacking in our midst. There is much instruction with regard to being patient and kind and showing brotherly love, etc., but little emphasis is put on holy living, the attitude being, “We do not need such instruction, for we all know that. Doctrines such as the presence are more important.” However, the epistles teach to the contrary, saying that the lack of holy Christian living will cause many to fall at the end of the Gospel Age. Jude 16 prophesies that an ungodly class in the true Church will be “murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” The world teaches promiscuity and immorality in daily living, and this attitude is infiltrating the Church.

Of this ungodly class, Jude 12 states, “These are spots in your feasts of charity [love feasts], when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear.” Although not necessarily formally elected teachers, they teach by participating quite actively in study groups. Jude 4 is also strong, saying that these ungodly men turn “the grace of our God into lasciviousness.” In other words, not only do they teach that God is loving, merciful, and forgiving, but they emphasize those qualities to such a degree that the result is the promotion of libertine behavior and lasciviousness. By not obeying the instruction of God or His Son, they are “denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” and disregarding dominion.

Let us read verses 6 and 7 again so that the wording is fastened in our minds. “For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” In Paul’s day, the reference was to itinerant speakers, who went out like the apostles and then stayed as guests in the homes of different brethren. Yes, they were doing the Lord’s work, but sometimes the teachers found it very convenient to receive food and lodging and not work.

Meanwhile, the teacher was in the home with a woman, a sister in Christ. After a while, their talk became idle and unprofitable and even dangerous from a doctrinal standpoint.

These male teachers, who were doing the Lord’s work, would “creep into houses,” and the sisters were told they were doing the Lord’s work by providing hospitality. The length of the stay kept getting extended—one day, one week, two weeks, a month, two months, etc. The Apostle Paul did not agree with that policy, but regardless of the length of the stay, the teachers had the ear of the sisters who hosted them. In both epistles, Paul instructed Timothy to be a good teacher of other teachers, and he warned Timothy against the false teachers and their practices. As we read the instructions and warnings, we find that what is good for the teacher is good for the true follower of Jesus, male or female. Paul followed his own advice, an example being when Lydia had to beg him (and his companion) to stay at her house (Acts 16:14,15). Paul would have continued on, but she implored him.

Q: What is the thought of “silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts”?

A: Paul was not speaking of just one kind of sin but of “divers lusts”—doctrinal errors, idle talk, gossip, sexual sin, etc. By nature, women like to talk, and “silly women” were not too astute in living a holy life according to scriptural standards. Particularly the teachers were “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth,” but that description included the “silly women.” As they talked, secondhand gossip entered the conversation.

The term “silly women” may also indicate those who are innocent and naive—and thus are in a dangerous situation. While Christians are to be harmless as doves and ready and humble listeners, if they are naive and not informed about existing dangers, one who is wily can take advantage of them.

With regard to being “laden with sins,” sometimes those who are converted had many sins in their past. While the Christian walks a new life, the past can follow him and has to be continually fought. Many who come into the truth were formerly laden with sins. In fact, they came to Christ for forgiveness. Therefore, we should be discreet and cautious. Just because one is a brother or a sister in Christ does not mean the individual has overcome the sins of the past.

Q: Does the word “creep” indicate a premeditated act?

A: Yes. Paul was warning Timothy, a teacher himself, to watch out for teachers with ulterior motives. The reason to watch out for, rebuke, and warn them was that their influence on others was dangerous.

Comment: The doctrine of false love is a problem today. If we believe what we want to hear and do not have God’s love, we will not come to a deep knowledge of the truth. If we follow the doctrine of false love and do not learn to rebuke the consecrated for grievous sins and behavior, we will never learn the real truth.

Reply: That is true. Paul gave a brief summary, a thumbnail description, of what to watch out for. We believe the doctrine of love is the test at the end of the age, and it will deceive all except the very elect (Matt. 24:24). False love is a very appealing doctrine to people of all degrees and stations of life, from top to bottom, and it is very appealing to the old nature, which we must keep fighting.

The terminology “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” applies primarily to the teachers, although those who are taught should also heed the admonition. No matter what category we are in as a Christian, the instructions of the Word are profitable to us.

2 Tim. 3:8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

Jannes and Jambres were the magicians who withstood Moses, a type of Christ, by duplicating a sign and two plagues at the time of the Exodus (Exod. 7:8-12,17-22; 8:5-7). In the antitype, Jannes and Jambres represent those who “resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” In short, they represent those who disregard the counsel of Scripture.

Just as the two magicians duplicated miracles in an effort to minimize the authority of Moses, who was sent by God to give instruction, so in the antitype at the end of the Gospel Age, false teachers use God’s Word to teach a false message. Instead of opposing present-truth doctrines such as Jesus’ Second Presence, the covenants, and chronology, they oppose the holy counsel in God’s Word by their false teachings on love. Moses gave holy counsel to the Israelites regarding their deliverance, and Jesus does the same for the Christian.

If we think of Moses and his message as representing Jesus and the message of the Bible, the two magicians who duplicated the plagues used the same type of power. Since Jannes and Jambres duplicated what Moses had done, they were saying in effect, “Thus saith the LORD,” just as Moses had done earlier. Hence there were two types of instruction—the instruction of Moses and the instruction of those who opposed Moses. Now, at the end of the Gospel Age, both the false teachers and the true teachers use the Bible and “thus saith the LORD” for their respective message, but the ungodly element promotes a false message of mercy and forgiveness. It is true that love, mercy, and forgiveness are taught in God’s Word, but what is improper is the inordinate use and application of these teachings. Unauthorized exceptions favor the wrongdoer, the one who should be corrected. Similarly, the criminal in the world is mollycoddled, and little regard is given to the victim.

“So do these also resist the truth.” The truth is more than a doctrinal code of certain understanding. These false teachers are “men of corrupt minds, reprobate [of no judgment— see King James margin] concerning the faith.” The problem is that they do not analyze the teaching of Scripture. They are ever learning, but they do not grasp the real meaning of truth, for they do not have a discerning judgment.

A Christian should be learning throughout his life and walk. He does not attain a certain level of knowledge and then rest on his laurels, no longer studying, meditating, or trying to understand better what God’s will is for him. The faithful Christian will always be a Bible student, that is, until he graduates at the end of his earthly course. If we understand the matter correctly, the others are pursuing a superficial knowledge of truth. They parrot truth without analyzing its requirements and standards. The more we study the truth, the more we see our own faults.

Comment: 2 Timothy 4:3 reads, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.”

Instead of analyzing and obeying the counsel of Scripture, the false teachers speak what is most pleasing to the hearers.

Conditions in the true Church will get progressively worse the closer we get to the end of the age. The situation will eventually be revealed, but then it will be too late for those who have deflected to make their calling and election sure. Jude spoke of this class when he said that some will have to be snatched “out of the fire” just to get life in the Great Company (Jude 23).

In contradistinction, the Little Flock will heed the counsel in advance.

Jude prophesied that anyone who tries to espouse the true teaching of Scripture on love and forgiveness will not be held in esteem at the end of the age. As Jude 8 states, the false teachers will “despise dominion” (the counsel of God and of Jesus Christ), and they will “speak evil of dignities” (of those who espouse that counsel).

Q: Could Jannes and Jambres also apply to specific personalities in the nominal Church?

A: In the beginning of the Harvest, two individuals, Patton and Barbour, had significant influence, but both subsequently went out of the truth, taking others with them. Whether there will be one or more such individuals in the future, at the end of the Harvest, we do not know, but their character will be similar in nature to that of Jannes and Jambres. And just as Patton and Barbour were revealed back there, so corresponding individuals at the end of the age will be revealed.

It is interesting that Jannes and Jambres, two personages, withstood Moses at the beginning, or introduction, of the literal plagues, and Patton and Barbour, two personages, were active opposers at the beginning of the antitypical plagues. Whoever the individuals are and whatever their number at the end of the Harvest, they will be similarly revealed.

Jannes and Jambres could not duplicate the third to the tenth plagues. Although they imitated three instances, what Moses did was much larger in extent. Not only did his rod swallow the magicians’ serpents, but the magicians turned water to blood on a much smaller scale, whereas Moses turned the river Nile to blood. Likewise with the frogs—the magicians brought frogs on the land, but not the same way as Moses, nor could they remove the plagues. Therefore, whatever Moses did was greater, even though the magicians imitated him. Basically speaking, what was the lesson back there? The natural man should have realized that whatever power Moses represented was superior to that of the magicians, even though they could imitate the power. Common sense would show the superiority. Without going into the reasoning, Paul was saying that spiritually speaking, the false teachers were very much like the two magicians at the time of the Exodus. Just as Jannes and Jambres in a natural setting with natural phenomena did things to withstand Moses, so these teachers used false spiritual counsel to withstand the true counsel in God’s Holy Word. Moreover, they spoke with eloquent, flowery language, whereas Paul used plain speech.

There was a counterpart to Jannes and Jambres at the beginning of the Gospel Age, and there will be a counterpart at the end of the age. Paul said, “Now [in my day] … these [like Jannes and Jambres in the past] also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” Before discussing the end time, we want to know what happened in Paul’s day.

1. The false teachers tried to make themselves apostles, that is, equal or superior to Paul, and Jannes and Jambres duplicated whatever Moses did, although on a smaller scale. Accordingly, the false teachers, who thought of themselves as apostles, discrediting and minimizing Paul and magnifying themselves, were little in comparison to Paul. Paul could give a whole history of what he had accomplished, the miracles he had done and could do, the gifts he possessed, etc.

The very fact that in two different epistles, Paul had to defend himself with the proofs of his apostleship should have convinced any thinking person, for the qualifications of his critics paled by comparison. The false teachers resisted the truth, but Paul was greater. Paul did not see Jesus by the Sea of Galilee, but he saw the risen Lord, which none of the others could say.

2. There was a false teaching that the resurrection was past. At first, this doctrine appeared plausible because of what happened when Jesus died on the Cross. As the earthquake occurred, many believers who had deceased before Jesus’ resurrection and were asleep in their graves were awakened, or resuscitated, so that they would have an opportunity to run for the high calling (Matt. 27:51-53). In other words, the false teachers pointed back to a fact, a reality, to teach erroneous doctrine. Paul told Timothy that these false teachers, who were resisting the truth, were “men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith,” and he used simple logic to refute them. They did not have proper judgment.

3. Just as in the type, Jannes and Jambres wanted to keep the Israelites in bondage, so in the antitype at the beginning of the Gospel Age, false Jewish Christian teachers wanted Christians to be under the Law. The magicians were underneath Pharaoh in Egypt, and some have likened the Law to a “furnace of affliction” (Isa. 48:10).

Comment: Paul was the messenger to the Ephesus period, and in the message to that church, Jesus said, “I know … how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars” (Rev. 2:2).

Comment: One motivation of the false teachers was to contradict and outdo the Apostle Paul.

Reply: Yes, trying to belittle Paul was part of their reprobate mind.

2 Tim. 3:9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.

Paul indicated that the time would come when this dangerous condition would be exposed: “But they [men who resist the truth, men of corrupt minds] shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men [as was the folly of Jannes and Jambres].” We do not know the final fate of the false apostles, but their “folly” will eventually be revealed—what their end was and how their folly was exposed. The Parable of the Wedding Garment shows that the ungodly class at the end of the age will also be revealed (Matt. 22:10-13).

Hear Paul’s words again: “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:9-12). Paul was saying that the class referred to will go into Second Death. They accept the truth but not the love of the principles that the truth inculcates. God will send strong delusion at the hand of Satan—”all power and signs and lying wonders” and “all deceivableness of unrighteousness.” So great will the deceptions be that all will be deceived except the very elect (Matt. 24:24). Whoever this element is, both they and those who are deceived will be made manifest in due time—and evidently, on this side of the veil. The lesson is that we must love the principles of the truth in order not to be deceived by the lying wonders in the near future.

Q: What does the last clause “as theirs also was” refer to?

A: “As theirs [Jannes and Jambres’ folly] also was [made manifest].” With their lesser powers, they had minimized, undercut, and vitiated Moses’ influence and authority by duplicating what he did, but when the time came that they could no longer duplicate the plagues, the difference between the power he represented and their power became apparent. The revealment of their lack showed that they could not promote deception beyond a certain point. In antitype, evil teachers (plural) are deceived, as well as those who follow their teaching.

What Jannes and Jambres did (producing serpents and duplicating the first two plagues) took only a few minutes, but the antitype in our day may take years. For a while, the false apostles were successful, but then Paul pointed them out and tried to counteract their authority with his own authority from the Lord. No doubt his words had a stinging effect upon those in the right heart condition.

Although Paul did not say so, he was like Moses in that both were specially sent, Paul to the Gentiles and Moses to the Israelites. Paul performed mighty miracles and had more gifts than any of the other apostles. Therefore, those who were in the right heart condition could see, in witnessing Paul’s ministry, that his message was accompanied with power when he chose to use it. He was telling Timothy, “Keep up the good work that you observe me doing. Pursue the same doctrine.”

One of the problems in the early Church which Paul had to refute was the false doctrine that the resurrection was already past. Down through the Gospel Age, this doctrine has also been a teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. Many evangelical Christians believe in a future fulfillment, whereas the Catholic Church has not been particularly anxious for the Second Coming of Christ. The folly of that system was revealed at the time of the Reformation and again at the time of the French Revolution.

There is also an antitypical application for Moses and Aaron in our day. As Paul said, the things that happened to natural Israel were especially written for those upon whom the ends of the age come—first the end of the Jewish Age and the opening of the Gospel Age, and then the ending of the Gospel Age and the opening of the Kingdom Age (1 Cor. 10:11). The Pastor was certainly in the picture in the beginning of the Harvest period. Just as Moses used Aaron as his mouthpiece, so Jesus at his Second Presence used Pastor Russell as his mouthpiece.

But we are particularly interested in the antitypical fulfillment at the end of the Gospel Age, in the Harvest period. Right away certain questions arise. Who are the enemies with corrupt minds? What are their characteristics? What doctrine in a subtle way was the first seed in our day of the false doctrine that the resurrection is past? (A dangerous seed should be nipped in the bud before it grows and develops into a tree.) Two examples are the Laymen’s Home Missionary and the Johnsonites, who teach that the high calling is closed. Another example is the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who err in emphasizing an earthly calling and works. In fact, works have been emphasized to such an extent that those who did not sell a sufficient number of books and literature were embarrassed in front of others. The “folly” of the erroneous doctrine of these groups is manifest unto “all men,” that is, to the brotherhood, to the truly consecrated in present truth in our day. Not only has the revealing of folly been progressive down through the Gospel Age, but it will continue to the very end of the age. We see the danger in putting the first resurrection, the hope of the high calling, in the past. The hope of the high calling—the belief that the door is still open and we are running for the prize—helps to stifle the other type of seed from prospering.

We are concerned with the little seed that develops into false thinking, for if not stopped before it is outwardly manifest, the seed will grow and eventually influence many. We would say that one such seed, not openly manifest at the present time but in a cultivating bed, is not having an interest in prophecy. Those teachers who are not interested in prophecy and just give talks on one subject are not preaching the whole counsel of God.

Another subtle and dangerous teaching is that instead of looking in the Bible, we should look only in the writings of the Pastor. Jesus said that man should “not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). If we conscientiously look up Scripture references in the Berean Manual or in the index to the Reprints, we will find that at least one third of the Bible is not even discussed. Moreover, even though the Berean Manual is profitable, it contains a number of wrong applications. The bottom line is that one should make sure whether the comment is true. The Laodicean attitude of feeling full and satisfied can be harmful in the sense of straying from a concentration on proper and necessary things.

Comment: Another troublesome doctrine is the thought that there is no Spirit begettal in the nominal system.

Reply: The Pastor taught that at the end of the age, the Great Company class will come from Babylon. Such doctrines have an effect on our hopes, aims, character, and witnessing efforts.

Comment: In speaking with brethren who believe there is no Spirit begettal today in the nominal Church, we asked the question “What day or year did it stop?” Their response was, “We do not know.” We replied, “Then how do you know it has ceased?”

Reply: Sometimes a pragmatic approach using natural wisdom—“Doth not even nature [or common sense] itself teach you…?”—is more effective in stopping the tongues of others than going into a spiritual defense (1 Cor. 11:14).

Q: Jannes and Jambres tried to make themselves equal with Moses. Would an antitype at this end of the age be those who discard the Pastor’s teachings after having accepted and proven present truth?

A: That kind of denial is a dangerous condition. It is one thing for the consecrated to have never seen a doctrine, for we all start as babies, but it is another matter to prove and accept a true doctrine and then reject it subsequently. One who does so is slipping backward, and if the slide is not stopped, it can lead to Second Death. However, we should keep in mind that it is not until death that one cannot repent. No matter what course a person takes, if he truly repents and changes his way, there is hope of retrieval, but the path is dangerous. Of those who deflect, very few have come to their senses, repented, changed their course, and thus turned around.

It is possible for one to become associated with present truth but not prove the doctrines for  himself. Since nobody knows the degree of understanding a person has who falls away, an extenuating factor may lessen his degree of responsibility. Nevertheless, the saying “Ignorance is bliss” is a fallacy. We live in a land where Bibles, concordances, the Volumes, etc., are readily available, as well as fellowship with others who have considerable knowledge in present truth.

But the Lord may be calling people in other countries where plentiful study helps are not available. We have said that there could be some with very little understanding who make their calling and election sure—if they are in an environment with limited accessibility to materials to help them grow as Christians. In the Dark Ages, some who believed in Jesus as their Savior but possessed only a few pages of the Bible—and thus had little understanding— made their calling and election sure. And there are others whose minds are somewhat retarded so that they are not capable of developing beyond a certain point. However, such individuals are the exception and should not be considered role models. Brethren in this country today are very responsible, generally speaking. Stated plainly and simply, a man is judged according to what he “hath” (Matt. 25:29; Luke 19:26). The Pastor added the word “used”—“hath used”— which is a favorable supplemental thought, but basically speaking, the word “hath” covers those in less favorable circumstances, for whom allowances are made.

We have to be very careful in judging others, for we do not know an individual’s heart or capability. The exception would be one who does something obviously way out of line, such as Judas. There was a Judas class in Jesus’ day at the time of his crucifixion, and there will be a Judas class at the end of the age at the time of the feet members’ persecution. Traitors in the truth will become very manifest at that time—just as Judas was in Jesus’ day.

In summary, down through the Gospel Age and in the Harvest period, there have been manifestations similar to the seed thoughts taking place here in Paul’s second letter to Timothy.

At the very end of the age, a stark and startling Judas class will betray the feet members.

In antitype, Jannes and Jambres did miracles in the beginning of the Harvest period in connection with the plagues. People like the Judge, Patton, and Barbour outstandingly differed with the Pastor and his teachings. Similar oppositions have occurred throughout the Harvest period and will continue, but the Judas class is another type of picture. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, who were traitors during the wilderness wanderings by directly challenging the leadership of Moses, have antitypical fulfillments during the Harvest. As Christians living in the end of the age, we should particularly observe the types of doctrines that could lead one astray.

2 Tim. 3:10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,

2 Tim. 3:11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.

Verses 10-14 continue the theme of evil men and seducers. Paul proved by his sufferings and persecutions for Christ that he was a real Christian and apostle. He was saying, “You know about my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, love, patience, persecutions, and afflictions, which came on me at Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra.” (See Acts 13:14,44-51 and 14:1-15,19.) What is common with Paul’s experiences in all three cities is that the Jews were instrumental in getting the people to persecute him. From a Christian perspective, these were false Jews, for true Jews accepted Christ. Paul endured the persecutions, crediting the Lord with delivering him. “Out of them all the Lord delivered me.”

At Antioch, brethren were seated at a table with converted Gentiles (Gal. 2:11-16). When other disciples came into the room, right away the brethren, including Peter, dissembled. The Apostle Paul rebuked Peter to his face, and Peter rightly received the correction by publicly confessing. Peter acceded to Paul’s greater wisdom and judgment in this matter.

2 Tim. 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Paul summed up his experiences by saying, “All who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” In delivering his message, he was the object of persecution. He suffered for his faithfulness, meeting great opposition. Similarly, all who are faithful will suffer persecution.

2 Tim. 3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

Comment: Paul was saying there would be progressive deterioration.

Reply: Yes, “evil men and seducers” (that is, deceivers plural) would get worse and worse. The “seducers” were teachers, both elected and not elected, who promoted damaging doctrines.

Writing near his demise, Paul was saying that subsequent to his ministry, professing Christians would begin to outnumber true Christians. Eventually the nominal Church developed. In the Pergamos or third period of the Church, the manifestation was outward. However, the seeds of the Nicolaitan attitude existed even in the early Church. Jesus, Paul, and John all pointed out the danger and prophesied of the development of the nominal Church.

John the Baptist, who represents the true Church in the flesh at the end of the age during the period of the Lord’s presence, made the statement “He [the Church beyond the veil] must increase, but I [the Church in the flesh] must decrease” (John 3:30). The Great Company left behind will recognize when the Church is complete beyond the veil. Of those who fail to make their calling and election sure, some were once of Little Flock caliber but then fell back a little.

However, the great majority do not mature to that level.

2 Tim. 3:14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

Verse 14 is often given an application that does not fit the context. The first point is that Paul was talking to Timothy: “But continue, Timothy, in the things which you have learned [from your grandmother, your mother, and me] and have been assured of, knowing of whom you have learned them.” The fact that Paul commended Timothy’s grandmother and mother by name seems to indicate they had already died and probably both made their calling and election sure (2 Tim. 1:5). Timothy had also learned from Paul, an apostle, who was now saying, “You have seen me and my manner of life, and you have heard me speak innumerable times. Now continue the work.”

The second point is that many of the consecrated have had the experience where the one(s) used by God to bring them into the truth have since left the truth. If that is our experience, are we then to continue with the instruction and beliefs of the individual(s) who went astray? No!

No matter how dear such brethren were when we initially got the truth, we are to follow Jesus, not individuals. Therefore, it is important to realize that Paul was talking to Timothy in this epistle, and some of the advice, including verse 14, was personal.

We must analyze Scripture, even though studying can be fatiguing. Sometimes it is hard to read the Bible daily because we are so tired, and trying to remember when we are fatigued is even more difficult. Nevertheless, the Lord likes to see our desire and intent, even if we fall asleep.

The point is that “knowing of whom thou hast learned” does not apply indefinitely and without qualification.

2 Tim. 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

2 Tim. 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

2 Tim. 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

What was Paul saying in verses 13-17? Why did he say that Timothy knew the holy Scriptures from his childhood upward, that he had been brought up and taught the precepts of God’s Word from his youth, and then add that the Scriptures are able to thoroughly furnish the “man of God” who properly responds to that instruction? And why did verses 13-17 follow the admonitions previously given?

Comment: The Scriptures Timothy knew from his childhood were the Old Testament, which contained clear-cut instructions as to what was right and what was wrong in the Lord’s sight. In addition, he learned New Testament admonitions and instructions from Paul. Therefore, he had the correct principles and was to stay with them and not, like “silly women,” be seduced by “evil men” (2 Tim. 3:6).

Reply: Yes. The instructional value is in the Scriptures themselves, and of course Timothy knew about Jesus and the gospel message from his mother and grandmother. The Apostle Paul was used to alert him to the coming dangers that would take place at the end of the age— the dangers of falling away. Paul was saying, “You have seen me as an example of suffering for espousing the truth. When you teach these same truths to others, you will have similar experiences. Do not expect to be popular in obeying the Word of God and its true instruction.

Like me you will receive persecution and get repercussions, but there are also joys, for those who are properly exercised respond gladly.”

“The holy scriptures … are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Next verse 16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” but is all Scripture “given by inspiration of God”?

Comment: No. For example, parts of the Bible are the reports of evil men or statements of the Adversary. Also, the Diaglott shows that the first “is” was supplied by the translators.

Reply: That is correct. In addition, the Bible contains a lot of truthful history, and certainly Satan’s words and teachings were not inspired by God. Everything in the Bible is helpful and true, however. Of course Scripture that is given by direct inspiration of God—His Law, counsel, and precepts—is more valuable than just the historic aspect. Both are needed, but we should put a different emphasis on a “thus saith the LORD” than on what is written about others.

And there is another point. Over the centuries, some have made unauthorized additions and subtractions to the Bible, so that at present, no perfect manuscript exists (Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:18,19). The earliest manuscripts tend to be more reliable than later ones because glosses entered in.

All Scripture is profitable for “doctrine,” “reproof,” “correction,” and “instruction in righteousness.” What is the difference in the meaning of these terms? Other translations have the following: “All scripture …

“… is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”

“… is for teaching the faith, correcting error, resetting the direction of a man’s life, and training him in good living.”

“… can be profitably used for teaching, for refuting error, for guiding people’s lives, and teaching them to be holy.”

“… is for teaching truth, refuting error, for reformation of manners, and discipline in right living.”

“… is for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training.”

“… is for teaching the truth, for rebuking error, correcting faults, giving instruction for right living.”

“… is to teach what is true, to make us realize what is wrong in our lives, to straighten us out, and help us do that which is right.”

“Doctrine” is the general teaching of truth, such as the plan of salvation, Jesus’ role in dying for man’s sins, and his being the way, the truth and the life. Doctrine is a knowledge of the overall message of the Bible and the hope of being made heirs with Christ.

“Reproof” is the reproving and rebuking of opponents of truth or advocates of error with a statement of truth from the Bible. The Diaglott uses the word “conviction,” meaning the reproving or convincing of gainsayers in the presence of others. When the foolishness of an opponent’s reasoning is exposed, he should respond by acknowledging his error—and will do so if his heart attitude is right. Convicting someone is the same as reproving him.

With regard to “correction” and “instruction in righteousness,” which are coupled together in several translations, the Word of God does the correcting by exposing a wrong thought, deed, or fault. Someone may not be an opponent of truth but just have a wrong thought or perception and be teaching it. The Scriptures correct by telling a person that the thought he is entertaining is wrong, whereas instruction in righteousness is more of an upbuilding in righteousness than the erasure of a prior habit or doctrine. It is one thing to correct a person in a statement, and it is another thing to instruct him in righteousness, in his conduct.

In summary, “doctrine” is the teaching of a generalized understanding of the main thrust and design of Scripture. “Reproof” is the refuting or opposing of a false concept of Scripture.

“Correction” and “instruction in righteousness” are character building. All Scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instructing others and self in righteousness. The Bible is a two-edged sword that cuts both ways.

“That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Paul repeatedly emphasized good works and wholesome doctrine in his letters to Timothy—in other words, character building. Examples are “shun profane and vain babblings,” “hold fast the form of sound words,” “foolish and unlearned questions avoid,” “godly edifying which is in faith,” “contrary to sound doctrine,” “holding faith, and a good conscience,” “lifting up holy hands,” “which becometh women professing godliness,” “holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience,” “great is the mystery of godliness [Godlikeness],” “exercise thyself rather unto godliness,” “be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation [conduct], in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity,” “proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words,” “godliness with contentment is great gain,” “follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness,” etc. Thus the main thrust of both epistles to Timothy is lessons in character development rather than doctrines such as the presence, which are covered in other epistles.

Q: Does the term “man of God” refer to the individual Christian?

A: Just as Paul instructed Timothy to do these things in connection with his teaching, so those who might desire the office of an elder must themselves first be instructed in righteousness before they can instruct others. A “man of God,” therefore, is anyone who wants to be a teacher of God’s Word—and thus must first be instructed himself.

Comment: According to Young’s Analytical Concordance, the thought is, “That the man of God may be fitted … unto all good works.”

Reply: Yes, “fitted for office.” “Mature in character” or “complete” is the thought. Perfection of character will not be attained in the present life, although we are to strive to that end. Even the most faithful saint needs Christ’s robe of righteousness right up to his death. And even Jesus had to be fitted for office; he was tried as a High Priest so that he would be sympathetic to the people with whom he would deal. The experience of being down here thoroughly qualified him to be most considerate of the human race and its frailties.

Comment: A marginal reference is 2 Timothy 2:21, “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” As a balancing statement, 1 John 1:8 states, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

1982 Study with Excerpts from 1999 Study

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