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2 Timothy 3:1-5

Perilous Times

by Ron Matsen


In Chapter 3 of Paul’s second letter to timothy, he lists 18 characteristics of the “perilous times” to come in the “last days”.

The apostle Paul experienced many forms of opposition. During Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome he writes to his disciple Timothy. In 2 Timothy chapter 3 Paul warns, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.” Paul certainly had vast experience with personal “perilous times,” as he explained to the church at Corinth.[1] I think it is safe to say that traveling with Paul was risky business.

At the time he was writing his second letter to Timothy, Paul was in Rome after the Great Fire of 64 AD, in which more than three-fourths of the city was destroyed. As a result of Nero’s persecution, Christians were blamed for the event and brutally martyred.

What could be worse? In chapter 3 of this letter Paul lists 18 characteristics of the “perilous times” to come in the “last days.”

“For men will be lovers of themselves…”

The focus of modern psychology is self-love. In fact, self-love is seen as the root of society’s woes. According to the Bible, self-love leads to self-deception[2] and self-delusion.[3] Self-love sees the acknowledgment of our sinful nature as something evil. In other words, if it makes you feel bad, it must be wrong.

Ultimately the love of self produces self-justification, which drives people away from seeking the Saviour. Through self-love we place a false value on ourselves, which therefore feeds our selfish nature. In contrast the Bible tells us that we are “not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”[4]

“…lovers of money”

Just as love of self produces self-justification, the love of money produces self-provision characterized by the thought, “I can do it because I can afford it.” Paul previously warned Timothy that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”[5] Now, in the “last times,” mankind will be obsessed with the acquisition of personal wealth. Remember the Rich, Young Ruler? He came to Jesus seeking “everlasting life” and went away sorrowful.[6] In the end his earthly possessions kept him away from the everlasting kingdom of God he was seeking.

“…boasters, proud”

According to the world’s ways, when you love yourself supremely you gain self-justification. When you love money you gain self-provision. With these in hand you have every right to love boasting and be proud of your accomplishments. This leads to self-promotion. This attribute is seen today as a virtue. Psychologists call this “positive self-talk.”

“…blasphemers”

The Bible calls this action an abomination.[7] Having secured self-justification, self-provision, and self-promotion, people grow to a place where they hate authority. Ultimately they become haters of God. The world’s reaction to blasphemers is laughter. God views this act as deserving of capital punishment.[8]

“…disobedient to parents”

You will never be able to escape the reality of authority. It all began when you were a child. Generally, parents serve as the first example of authority in all of our lives. It is therefore no wonder when we see the young people of the world rebelling against an authority which they were never taught to respect. After all, if they are taught that they are nothing more than animals, they will certainly act like animals.

“…unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving”

Thanksgiving flows from the lesser to the greater. These people hate recognizing anyone but themselves. To be “unthankful” to either God or man for their provision is to declare that everyone else in their life as lesser in stature and unworthy of respect. They seem to be only “set apart” unto their own pleasures. The foundation of Biblical Love is giving, not taking. These people see no reason to live a life that has personal sacrifice for the benefit of anyone other than themselves.

“…slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good”

To slander is to have no concern for the truth. To lack self-control shows an unwillingness to change. To be brutal is to show no limit of wrath. In the end, people who exhibit these characteristics love to cause conflict.

“…traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.”

These are those that are undependable, unteachable, pleasure-seeking hedonists that have no room for a real relationship with God.

What should our response be to this disturbing last-days global trend?

Paul’s advice: “And from such people turn away!”


Notes

  1. 2 Corinthians 11:23–28.  ↩

  2. Galatians 6:3.  ↩

  3. Psalm 36:1–4.  ↩

  4. Romans 12:3.  ↩

  5. 1 Timothy 6:10.  ↩

  6. Matthew 19:16–21, Mark 10:17–22.  ↩

  7. Psalm 10:3,4;Proverbs 6:16,17; Proverbs 8:13; Proverbs 13:10; Proverbs 16:18.  ↩

  8. Leviticus 24:15,16.  ↩


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