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2 Timothy Chapter Three


2 Timothy 3

Now this evil influence would too surely be exercised. The power of the holy truth of God would be lost in the assembly and among Christians; and those who bore this name would become (under the influence of the enemy) the expression of the will and passions of man, while still maintaining the forms of godliness; a peculiar condition, which betrays in a remarkable way the influence and the work of the enemy. This was to be expected; and they would be perilous days.

The open opposition of the enemy is doubtless a painful thing, but he deceives souls by the specious appearances of which the apostle here speaks-that which bears the name of Christianity, that which before men has the character of godliness, and which the flesh will accept as such much more readily than that which, because it is true godliness, is contrary to the flesh. Nevertheless all the worst features of the human heart are linked with the name of Christianity. What then does the testimony become? It is, so to speak, an individual prophecy, clothed in sackcloth.

There is activity in this perilous evil of the last days: these deceivers would creep into houses, and gain the ear of feeble souls, who, governed by their passions, are ever learning yet never learn. Teachers like these resist the truth, they are men of corrupt minds, reprobate as to the faith; but they shall proceed no farther. God will make manifest their folly and their falseness by means even of their own pretensions, which they can no longer maintain.

The man of God is to turn away from such men while they are yet deceiving and exercising their influence. God will expose them in due time. All will then judge them, and condemn their pretensions; the spiritual man does so while they are deceiving the others in security.

We may remark here that which evidences the sad and dangerous character of the days of which the apostle is speaking. If we compare the lists of sins and abominations, which Paul gives at the beginning of the Epistle to the Romans, as characterising heathen life and the moral degradation of men during those times of darkness and demon-worship, with the catalog of sins that characterise those who have the form of godliness, we shall find that it is nearly the same, and morally quite the same; only that some of the open sins which mark the man who has no outward restraint are wanting here, the form of godliness precluding them and taking their place.

It is a solemn thought, that the same degradation which existed among heathens is reproduced under Christianity, covering itself with that name, and even assuming the form of godliness. But in fact it is the same nature, the same passions, the same power of the enemy, with but the addition of hypocrisy. It is only the departure from, and corruption of, the true doctrine of the Mediator; as Paganism was that of the true doctrine of the only God.

Different directions are given for the conduct of the man of God, with regard to the vessels unto dishonour, and the men who act in the spirit of the last days. From the former he is to purge himself: he is to think of faithfulness in his own walk; and by cleansing himself from those vessels which do not honour the name of Christ, which (although in the great house) do not bear the stamp of a pure desire for His glory, he shall be a vessel unto honour, fit for the Master's use. By keeping apart from such vessels, he is sheltered from the influences that impoverish and degrade the testimony he has to render to Christ; he is pure from that which deteriorates and falsifies that testimony.

In the other case-that of the men who gave the character of "perilous" to the last days, the corrupt opposers of the truth, bearing the name of godliness-with regard to these his testimony is to be distinct and plain. Here he is not merely to cleanse himself; he testifies his moral abhorrence, his loathing, of those who, being, the instruments of the enemy, bear this character of formal piety. He turns away from them, and leaves them to the judgment of God.

Timothy had the walk and spirit of the apostle for his pattern. He had been much with him; he had seen, in times of trial, his patience and his sufferings, the persecutions he had endured; but the Lord had delivered him out of all. It would be the same with all who sought to live according to godliness, which is in Christ Jesus: [1] they should endure persecution. Evil men and seducers would wax worse and worse, deceiving others, and being, at the same time, deceived themselves.

The character of the last days is strongly marked here, and gives no hope for Christianity as a whole. The progress of evil is described as developing itself in two distinct characters, to which we have already alluded. The great house-Christendom as a whole--in which there are vessels to dishonour, from which we are to purge ourselves, and the positive activity of corruption, and of the instruments who propagate it and resist the truth, although they who corrupt themselves assume the form of godliness. Under this last aspect the wicked will go on growing worse and worse; nevertheless the hand of God in power will demonstrate their folly.

We may distinguish, in this second category, the general character of pride and corruptness in all who submit to this malignant influence, and those who themselves labour to extend it. Of the latter of this class, the apostle says, are they who creep into houses. The character is that of the mass who are seduced but there are seducers. These resist the truth, and their folly shall be manifested. It may be that God may demonstrate it, wherever there is faithfulness, in order to save His own from it; but, in general, their evil work will go on, and the seduction grow worse and worse, until the end, when God will make manifest the folly of those who have departed from Him and given themselves up to the errors of the human mind, and laboured to maintain and propagate them.

The apostle then tells Timothy of the safeguard on which he may rely to preserve himself, through grace, steadfast in the truth, and in the enjoyment of the salvation of God. Security rests upon the certainty of the immediate origin of the doctrine which he had received; and upon the scriptures received, as authentic and inspired documents, which announced the will, the acts, the counsels, and even the nature of God. We abide in that which we have learnt, because we know from whom we have learnt it. The principle is simple and very important. We advance in divine knowledge, but (so far as we are taught of God) we never give up, for new opinions, that which we have learnt from an immediately divine source, knowing that it is so. By a source immediately divine, I mean, a person to whom God Himself has communicated the truth by revelation with authority to promulgate it. In this case I receive what he says (when I know him to be such) as a divine communication. It is true that the scriptures always remain as a counter proof, but when-as in the case of the apostles-a man is proved to be the minister of God, gifted by Him for the purpose of communicating His mind, I receive what he says in the exercise of his ministry as coming from God. It is not the assembly that is in view in this case. It cannot be the vessel of divine truth directly communicated to it from God. Individuals are always that. We have seen that its part is to confess the truth when communicated, not to communicate it. But we here speak of a person to whom and by whom God immediately reveals the truth-such as the apostles and prophets. God has communicated to them, as elect vessels for this purpose, that which He desired to communicate to the world, and they have so communicated. None could do it who had not received it himself from God as a revelation: if this is not the case, the man himself has some part in it. I could not then say, "I know of whom I have learnt it," as knowing that it came immediately from God and by divine revelation.

When God had something to communicate to the assembly itself, He did it by means of such persons as Paul, Peter, & etc. The assembly is composed of individuals; it cannot receive a divine revelation in a mass, as the assembly, except it be by hearing in common a divine voice, which is not God's way. The Holy Ghost distributes to every one, severally as He will. There are prophets, and the Spirit says, " Separate unto me Barnabas and Paul." Christ has given gifts to men, some apostles, some prophets, & etc. Accordingly the apostle says here, not "where," but "of whom" thou hast learnt these things.

Here, then, is the first foundation of certainty, strength and assurance for the man of God with regard to divine truth. It has not been revealed to him immediately. It was Paul and other instruments, whom God chose for this special favour. But he knows of whom he has learnt it; even of one (here it was Paul) to whom it had been directly made known by inspiration, and who has authority from God to impart; so that they who learn of him know that it is divine truth, exactly as God communicated it (compare 1 Cor. 2), and in the form in which He was pleased to communicate it.

There is another means, which has a character of its own; the scriptures, which are as such the foundation of faith to the man of God, and which direct him in all his ways. The Lord Jesus Himself said (speaking of Moses), "If ye believenot his writings, how shall ye believe my words?" His words were the words of God; He does not contrast the authority of what He said with that of the written word, but the means of communication. God has been pleased to employ that means as a permanent authority. Peter says " No prophecy of scripture ...". There have been many prophecies which are not written; they had the authority of God for those persons to whom they were addressed. For the word speaks more than once of prophets-who must therefore have prophesied-with out communicating their prophecies to us. They were instruments for making known the will of God, at the moment, in order to guide His people in their actual circumstances, without its being a revelation necessary to the people of God at all times, or applicable either to the world, to Israel, or to the assembly in all ages. It was not a general and permanent revelation from God for the instruction of the soul at all periods.

A multitude of things, spoken by Jesus Himself are not reproduced in the scriptures; so that it is not only a question of from whom we have heard a truth, but also of the character of that which has been communicated. When it is for the permanent profit of the people or the assembly of God, God caused it to be written in the scriptures, and it abides for the instruction and the food of His children in all ages.

The expression, " knowing of whom thou hast learned them,'' establishes us on personal apostolic authority, viewing the apostles as teachers authorized by the Lord. John says, "They who are of God hear us." It is not necessary that scripture should be written by apostles; God has made known therein His will and the truth, and has committed the sacred deposit to His people for the profit of all ages. The scriptures have authority as such. And it is not that which, as a spiritual man, one may receive from them, that by which we have profited (as to application to one's soul that is indeed all); but it is the entire holy scripture, such as we possess it, which has this authority.

From his childhood Timothy had read the holy scriptures; and these writings, such as he had read them as a child, guarded him-as divine authority--against error, and furnished him with the divine truths needful for his instruction. To use them aright, faith in Christ was requisite: but that which he used was the scripture known from his youth. The important thing to observe here is that the apostle is speaking of the scriptures, as they are in themselves, such as a child reads them; not even of that which a converted or spiritual man finds in them, but simply the holy writings themselves.

It may perhaps be said, that Timothy as a child possessed only the Old Testament. Agreed: but what we have here is the character of all that has a right to be called holy scripture. As Peter says as to the writings of Paul, these, " They wrest, as they do also THE OTHER SCRIPTURES.' [2] title to that name, its writings possess the same character and have the same authority as the Old Testament.

The scriptures are the permanent expression of the mind and will of God furnished as such with His authority. They are His expression of His own thoughts. They edify, they are profitable: but this is not all-they are inspired. It is not only that the truth is given in them by inspiration. It is not this which is here stated. They are inspired.

The greater part of the New Testament is comprised in the first source of authority, "knowing of whom thou hast learnt them," namely, all that which the apostles have written; because, in learning the truth therein, I can say I know from whom I have learnt it-I have learnt it from Paul, or from John, or from Peter, & etc. But, besides this, being received as scriptures, they have the authority of divine writings, to which, as a form of communication, God has given the preference above the spoken word. They are the permanent rule by which every spoken word is to be judged.

In a word the scriptures are inspired. They teach, they judge the heart, they correct, they discipline according to righteousness, in order that the man of God may be perfect, that is, thoroughly instructed in the will of God, his mind formed after that will and completely furnished for every good work. The power for performing these comes from the actings of the Spirit. Safeguard from error, wisdom unto salvation, flow from the scriptures j they are capable of supplying them. We are to abide in that which we have learnt from the apostles, and to be governed by the writings of God.


[1] We get the difference of the state of things in this case also., It is not all Christians who will be persecuted, but all who will live godly in Christ Jesus.

[2] This too is the real sense of Romans 16:26, where we should read, "by prophetic writings.

── John DarbySynopsis of 2 Timothy


2 Timothy 3

Chapter Contents

The apostle foretells the rise of dangerous enemies to the gospel. (1-9) Proposes his own example to Timothy. (10-13) And exhorts him to continue in the doctrine he had learned from the Holy Scriptures. (14-17)

Commentary on 2 Timothy 3:1-9

(Read 2 Timothy 3:1-9)

Even in gospel times there would be perilous times; on account of persecution from without, still more on account of corruptions within. Men love to gratify their own lusts, more than to please God and do their duty. When every man is eager for what he can get, and anxious to keep what he has, this makes men dangerous to one another. When men do not fear God, they will not regard man. When children are disobedient to their parents, that makes the times perilous. Men are unholy and without the fear of God, because unthankful for the mercies of God. We abuse God's gifts, if we make them the food and fuel of our lusts. Times are perilous also, when parents are without natural affection to children. And when men have no rule over their own spirits, but despise that which is good and to be honoured. God is to be loved above all; but a carnal mind, full of enmity against him, prefers any thing before him, especially carnal pleasure. A form of godliness is very different from the power; from such as are found to be hypocrites, real Christians must withdraw. Such persons have been found within the outward church, in every place, and at all times. There ever have been artful men, who, by pretences and flatteries, creep into the favour and confidence of those who are too easy of belief, ignorant, and fanciful. All must be ever learning to know the Lord; but these follow every new notion, yet never seek the truth as it is in Jesus. Like the Egyptian magicians, these were men of corrupt minds, prejudiced against the truth, and found to be quite without faith. Yet though the spirit of error may be let loose for a time, Satan can deceive the nations and the churches no further, and no longer, than God will permit.

Commentary on 2 Timothy 3:10-13

(Read 2 Timothy 3:10-13)

The more fully we know the doctrine of Christ, as taught by the apostles, the more closely we shall cleave to it. When we know the afflictions of believers only in part, they tempt us to decline the cause for which they suffer. A form of godliness, a profession of Christian faith without a godly life, often is allowed to pass, while open profession of the truth as it is in Jesus, and resolute attention to the duties of godliness, stir up the scorn and enmity of the world. As good men, by the grace of God, grow better, so bad men, through the craft of Satan, and the power of their own corruptions, grow worse. The way of sin is down-hill; such go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. Those who deceive others, deceive themselves, as they will find at last, to their cost. The history of the outward church, awfully shows that the apostle spake this as he was moved by the Holy Ghost.

Commentary on 2 Timothy 3:14-17

(Read 2 Timothy 3:14-17)

Those who would learn the things of God, and be assured of them, must know the Holy Scriptures, for they are the Divine revelation. The age of children is the age to learn; and those who would get true learning, must get it out of the Scriptures. They must not lie by us neglected, seldom or never looked into. The Bible is a sure guide to eternal life. The prophets and apostles did not speak from themselves, but delivered what they received of God, 2 Peter 1:21. It is profitable for all purposes of the Christian life. It is of use to all, for all need to be taught, corrected, and reproved. There is something in the Scriptures suitable for every case. Oh that we may love our Bibles more, and keep closer to them! then shall we find benefit, and at last gain the happiness therein promised by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the main subject of both Testaments. We best oppose error by promoting a solid knowledge of the word of truth; and the greatest kindness we can do to children, is to make them early to know the Bible.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on 2 Timothy


2 Timothy 3

Verse 1

[1] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

In the last days — The time of the gospel dispensation, commencing at the time of our Lord's death, is peculiarly styled the last days. Grievous - Troublesome and dangerous.

Verse 2

[2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

For men — Even in the church.

Will be — In great numbers, and to an higher degree than ever.

Lovers of themselves — Only, not their neighbours, the first root of evil.

Lovers of money — The second.

Verse 3

[3] Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

Without natural affection — To their own children.

Intemperate, fierce — Both too soft, and too hard.

Verse 4

[4] Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

Lovers of sensual pleasure — Which naturally extinguishes all love and sense of God.

Verse 5

[5] Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Having a form — An appearance of godliness, but not regarding, nay, even denying and blaspheming, the inward power and reality of it. Is not this eminently fulfilled at this day?

Verse 6

[6] For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

Of these — That is, mere formalists.

Verse 7

[7] Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Ever learning — New things. But not the truth of God.

Verse 8

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

Several ancient writers speak of Jannes and Jambres, as the chief of the Egyptian magicians.

Men of corrupt minds — Impure notions and wicked inclinations.

Void of judgment — Quite ignorant, as well as careless, of true, spiritual religion.

Verse 9

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

They shall proceed no farther — In gaining proselytes.

Verse 12

[12] Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

All that are resolved to live godly — Therefore count the cost. Art thou resolved? In Christ - Out of Christ there is no godliness.

Shall suffer persecution — More or less. There is no exception. Either the truth of scripture fails, or those that think they are religious, and are not persecuted, in some shape or other, on that very account, deceive themselves.

Verse 13

[13] But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

Deceiving and being deceived — He who has once begun to deceive others is both the less likely to recover from his own error, and the more ready to embrace the errors of other men.

Verse 14

[14] But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

From whom — Even from me a teacher approved of God.

Verse 15

[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.

From an infant thou hast known the holy scriptures — Of the Old Testament. These only were extant when Timothy was an infant. Which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith in the Messiah that was to come. How much more are the Old and New Testament together able, in God's hand, to make us more abundantly wise unto salvation! Even such a measure of present salvation as was not known before Jesus was glorified.

Verse 16

[16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

All scripture is inspired of God — The Spirit of God not only once inspired those who wrote it, but continually inspires, supernaturally assists, those that read it with earnest prayer. Hence it is so profitable for doctrine, for instruction of the ignorant, for the reproof or conviction of them that are in error or sin, for the correction or amendment of whatever is amiss, and for instructing or training up the children of God in all righteousness.

Verse 17

[17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

That the man of God — He that is united to and approved of God.

May be perfect — Blameless himself, and throughly furnished - By the scripture, either to teach, reprove, correct, or train up others.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on 2 Timothy


Chapter 3. Terror in the Last Days

Three "Love"
Two "Hate"

I. Turn away from the Truth to Do Evil

  1. Degenerate Times
  2. Evil Ways
  3. Guard against Temptations

II. Learn from Paul

  1. Follow the Truth
  2. Steps and Paces
  3. Pass on Life

III. Scripture Is God-breathed

  1. Wise for Salvation
  2. Teaching and Rebuking
  3. Thoroughly Equipped

── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament

Chapter Three General Review
1) To learn about the moral decline that will occur in the last days
2) To appreciate the value of all Scripture, including the Old 
From exhortations to steadfast service in the first two chapters, Paul
now proceeds to offer exhortations to sound doctrine in this chapter
and into the next.  He warns of perilous times to come in the last
days, describing the condition of the people during these times.  Such
people Timothy was to turn away from, for they would be just like
Jannes and Jambres who resisted Moses in the Old Testament (1-9).
Reminding Timothy of how he had carefully followed Paul's doctrine and
manner of life up to that point, Paul warns of the persecution to 
befall those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus.  While evil men
and impostors will grow worse and deceive many (being deceived
themselves), Timothy is exhorted to continue in those things he has 
learned.  Paul has special reference to the Scriptures Timothy had 
known since childhood, which like all Scripture is inspired of God and 
has the value of making one wise for the salvation which is by faith in
Christ, instructing one in such a way as to make him complete and 
thoroughly equipped for every good work (10-17).
      1. They will come in the last days (1)
      2. There will be perilous times because of the condition of men
         a. Lovers of themselves, lovers of money
         b. Boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents
         c. Unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving
         d. Slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good
         e. Traitors, headstrong, haughty
         f. Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God
         g. Having a form of godliness but denying its power
      1. A warning to turn away from such people (5b)
      2. Reasons to do so (6-9)
         a. For such lead gullible people astray
         b. For such are always learning but never able to come to the
            knowledge of the truth
         c. Just like Jannes and Jambres who resisted Moses...
            1) These resist the truth
            2) They are men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning
               the faith
            3) They will not progress, and their folly will become 
               manifest to all
      1. His doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, love,
         perseverance (11)
      2. Even his persecutions and afflictions at Antioch, Iconium and
         Lystra (11a)
      3. Yet the Lord delivered him out of them all (11b)
      1. For those who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer 
         persecution (12)
      2. Evil men and impostors will grow worse, deceiving and being
         deceived (13)
      1. Things he had been assured of, knowing from whom he had 
         learned them (14)
      2. In particular that which he learned from childhood, the Holy
         Scriptures (15a)
      3. For they are able to make him wise for salvation through faith
         in Christ (15b)
      1. All scripture is given by inspiration of God (16a)
      2. It is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, 
         instruction in righteousness (16b)
      3. So the man of God can be complete, thoroughly complete for 
         every good work (17)
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Perilous times to come (1-9)
   - A reminder of Paul's example (10-13)
   - Exhortation to abide in the Scriptures (14-17)
2) When will perilous times come? (1)
   - In the last days
3) During these perilous times, what three things will men love? (2-4)
   - Themselves, money, and pleasure
4) What sort of godliness will they have? (5)
   - Just a form of godliness, denying its power
5) How will such men gain followers? (6)
   - Leading gullible women away by various lusts
6) What is said about their learning? (7)
   - Always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the
7) What two men will these individuals in perilous times be like? (8)
   - Jannes and Jambres, who resisted Moses
8) What had Timothy carefully followed in regards to Paul? (10-11)
   - His doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love,
     perseverance, persecutions, afflictions
9) What did Paul say about those who desire to live godly in Christ 
   Jesus? (12)
   - They will suffer persecution
10) What will happen in regards to evil men and impostors? (13)
   - They will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived
11) In what was Timothy to continue? (14)
   - The things he had learned and been assured of
12) What had he known from his childhood? (15)
   - The Holy Scriptures (i.e., the Old Testament)
13) What was the value of those things he had known since childhood?
   - They were able to make him wise for salvation through faith in
     Christ Jesus
14) What two things are stated about all scripture? (16)
   - Given by inspiration
   - Profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in 
15) What are the scriptures designed to produce? (17)
   - The man of God who is complete, thoroughly equipped for every good


--《Executable Outlines


Terror in the last days

Three “Love”

Two “Hate”


I.  Turn away from the truth to do evil

1.    Degenerate times

2.    Evil ways

3.    Guard against temptations

II.Learn from Paul

1.    Follow the truth

2.    Steps and paces

3.    Pass on life

III.       Scripture is God-breathed

1.    Wise for salvation

2.    Teaching and rebuking

3.    Thoroughly equipped

-- Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament