Our pastoral epistles study continued last Sunday with a close look at 2 Timothy 3. It begins with a warning about the end of days:
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive,disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 2 Timothy 3:1-5
Sound familiar? That’s because we are living in the “last days” that Paul refers to. If you look at verse 5, where Paul warns Timothy to have nothing to do with such wicked people, it becomes clear that in Paul’s eyes, the last days had already begun. Although to us it seems like the end times have gone on for quite a while, we must remember
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9
Paul then warns Timothy again about false teachers – those whose clever lies confuse those whose grasp of the gospel is weak. Although Paul says their folly will become clear to everyone, it is true that many are quick to believe that other ways lead to salvation. Why are we so quick to believe the messages in the world? Perhaps because false teachers have a way of knowing what people want to hear – the soothing words that make people feel comfortable with themselves and their current way of life.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3
Paul encourages Timothy to stand firm in the face of persecution. Although we would rather not face persecution, and in this country it is predominantly only slander or ridicule that we face, we must admit that God often blesses the church during times of persecution. Out of any evil, God is capable of bringing about a greater good, and persecution often results in the purification and growth of the church.
Finally, Paul reminds Timothy of the divine source of Scripture and urges him to make good use of it:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
We must immerse ourselves in God’s Word and listen to His voice, for the messages of the world are all around us. Through the internet, radio, and television, worldly messages are a constant presence around us. Through studying God’s Word, spending time with Him in prayer, worshiping together and receiving the sacraments, we may by God’s grace grow closer to Him despite our natural tendency to drift away. May God breathe His life into each of us this week and enable us to grow in His truth.
Our pastoral epistles study will continue next Sunday, March 31, with a discussion of the fourth and last chapter of 2 Timothy. To review our recent Pastoral Epistles studies, please use the links below.