2 Timothy 3:1-9 Godlessness Disguised in the Community of the Kingdom

The previous passage sets up our text for this week.

Paul instructs Timothy and the church, the great house, to be cleansed from the dishonorable false teaching and be a vessel for honorable use.

Those who rid themselves of false teaching, by the grace of God, are to flee youthful passions and run toward maturing attitudes that grows them and help others escape the Devil’s snare.

Now, lets set up our text for this week.

Listen to Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 to help us set the stage:

“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” – 1 Corinthians 5:9-13

What makes our passage hard is that many read it and point their finger to the world system and completely miss the point in doing so. It’s as if we needed 2 Timothy 3:1-9 to show us that the world is evil.

This passage is referring to people who look like they are in the community of the kingdom but are not.

They have an appearance of godliness but deny its power. They are always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.

“He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds? ’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this. ’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them? ’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” – Matthew 13:24-30

There are weeds scattered among the wheat and they in fact live by world values rather than kingdom values, and this is what makes this passage so glaring.

This passage is not for us to use to wag our finger at the fallen world system but a mirror to hold up and make sure we are on the right team.

Most of our warnings deal with false Christians not unbelieving people who are blind and dead to truth.

Therefore, Paul instructs those holding to the gospel and guarding the gospel to know some things.

Understand their place in redemptive history and that it will be hard v. 1

  1. The last days are marked by the coming of Jesus Hebrews 1:1-3
  1. The end of the battle will have days of difficulty

Understand the Distinguishing marks of false teachers and their followers v. 1-5

Contrast this list with Jesus’ instruction.

Matthew 22:37-39 records for us Jesus’ teaching on the summary of the Law is to love God with all our heart, soul and mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

The lies of the world system are blatant opposites of the truth of God’s kingdom.

Here, the beginning and the end of this dubious list of world values summarizes how the cursed system of the world thinks and operates opposite of Jesus’ rule:

– “People will be lovers of self…” v. 2a

– “…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…” v. 4b

– Inverted and reversed! Rather than love God and love neighbor, it’s love self  and love pleasure.

  1. Lovers of self / Lovers of money

– Lovers of self – literally self love

– Lovers of money – friend of or lover of money/silver

  1. Proud / Arrogant

– Proud – to show oneself above his fellows

– Arrogant – to shine in rejection of God

  1. Abusive / Disobedient to parents

– Abusive – literally “blasphemos”, a reviler, particularly of God, more

than likely the object of such behavior would be the parents;

(mentioned next); rejection of parents is rejection of God…

– Disobedient to parents – unwilling to be persuaded by, disobedient

“Beavis and Butthead, the cartoon caricatures of insolence, would have found their soul mates in these false teachers.”[1]

  1. Ungrateful / Unholy

Beginning here the descriptors are littered with the negative particle “a” meaning “without”. This indicates what these false teachers and their followers don’t have.

– Ungrateful – without kindness / without gratefulness

This attitude shows up with entitled people who have and believe they should have more.

– Unholy – without holiness, polluted

  1. Heartless (“a-storgos” without family love) / Unappeasable

– Heartless – literally without family love

This person is all about them.

– Unappeasable – literally without libation/drink offering. “The                                                absolutely irreconcilable person who, being at war, refuses to lay aside his                                    enmity or to listen to terms of reconciliation.”[2]

This person’s appetites rule them.

  1. Slanderous / Without self-control

– Slanderous – literally, diabolos, to falsely accuse. The name given to

Satan as the accuser.

– Without self-control – without strength. Unable to govern one’s


  1. Brutal / Not loving good

– Brutal – without mildness, ungentle. They know no gentleness.

– Not loving good – “Unfriendly, hostile, a person who may have pity but does not necessarily do anything to relieve the suffering of another                                               through self–denial. Only in 2 Tim. 3:3, meaning hostile to good men.”[3]

  1. Treacherous / Reckless

– Treacherous – betrayer

This person will desert friends to save their own skin. No sense of loyalty.

– Reckless – literally to fall forward. “The word signifies the character of someone who rushes headlong or out of control into matters.”[4]

This person has no sense of control and ability to discern and approach matters particularly spiritual matters.

  1. Swollen with conceit / Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God

– Swollen with conceit – lifted up with pride

– Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – compound word                                 phile/donos (phileo and hedone)

  1. Having the appearance of godliness / Denying the power of godliness

– Having the appearance of godliness – displaying what looks like

the embodiment (morphosis) of godliness

– Denying the power of godliness – refusing the “dunamis” of


  1. Avoid such people!

Paul now instructs them on how to identify…

Understand the ministries of false teachers v. 6-8

  1. They creep into households

– “Sink” into. Intentional manipulating themselves into a ready                        situation.

  1. False teachers capture weak women (to make a prisoner of)(gunaikarion – foolish, immature, lacking dignity)

False teaching captures. 2 Timothy 2:26 reminds us that our being gentle with those who have been taken in is so that they may escape from the snare of the Devil after being captured by him to do his will.

False teaching is like the bait in a trap. It appeals to a broken side of the creature that will go after the bait in spite of the death that waits.

Fall appeals to fall. Death appeals to death.

What makes these women weak?

– Burdened with sins – heaped up, laden with sins

– Led astray by various passions – removed by multi-faceted lusts

– Always learning and never really learning – learning with no

“dunamis” / power to make it to what is true

  1. False teachers/weeds target those weaker than them
  1. They oppose the truth

Why do they oppose the truth?

– They are corrupted in mind

– They are disqualified regarding the faith

Illustration: Jannes and Jambres

“The reference to Jannes and Jambres (8) is interesting since they are referred to nowhere else in the Bible, although they do occur in the Targum of Jonathan on Ex. 7:11. (The targums were interpretations of the Hebrew Bible, written in Aramaic, though probably most were composed later than Paul’s letter to Timothy.) By Paul’s time it was presumably common knowledge that two of Pharoah’s magicians bore these names. The similarity between these magicians and the current false teachers is that both opposed the truth and are consequently to be rejected. As in the case of all false teachers there is an assurance that their supposed progress is no more than illusion. Their ultimate folly will become clear to everyone, even if there may be an interval of time before this happens. Paul is convinced that error cannot triumph in the end.”[5]

These two cats were understood to be the names of the magicians of Egypt that Pharaoh called in to replicate the miracles of the Lord through Moses. They made their staffs become snakes, but Moses’ ate theirs. They make water turn into blood, and they made frogs come up on the land, but failed at plague 3, the gnats.

Side note: Why replicate plagues? But they did and made it harder on themselves just to try and counterfeit the God’s work.

  1. They oppose the truth to their own harm

How far the ministries of the false teachers get depends on the shepherding and the discernment of the people.

Understand they discerning will not allow the ministries of false teachers to advance v. 9

Jesus’ active shepherding of his people does not lift the responsibility of his under-shepherds or his sheep from recognizing wolves and dealing with them well. We are to combat by his leading and by his power.

  1. The false teacher’s folly is plain to all who follow Jesus

The reason is that Jesus’ followers have Holy Spirit to counsel them into the


  1. As Jannes and Jambres Satanic magic eventually failed, so will the false

teacher’s plans fail

Why? Because Jesus will separate the wheat from the weeds and the sheep

from the goats.

We worship King Jesus

Psalm 147:1 “Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”

[1] Kent Hughes, 1&2 Timothy and Titus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2000), p. 223.

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[4] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[5] D. A. Carson et al., eds., New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1308–1309.

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