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2 Timothy

Living Godly

2 Timothy 3:8-13
8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was. 10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
NKJV

Teaching Comments:

We saw last week how the “last days” will be filled with much false teaching. Cults will spring forth like weeds (the parable of the sower, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43). They will be everywhere. In fact, as we discussed last week, they already are all around us. Last week Paul provided us with a description of these false teachers. Now, this week he gives us an example.

Many of you may see this a “short” lesson. If you feel this way as you prepare to teach, this would be a good time to review the entire framework of Paul’s letter. 

You need to understand some of the Old Testament history to appreciate the impact of these verses. As Moses went to Pharaoh requesting the release of the Israelites, he performed miracles. These miracles were intended to display God’s power to the Egyptians. 

Exodus 7:5 (NKJV)
5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them.”

God sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh to demonstrate the power of God.  This allowed God to ultimately punish Pharaoh with the death of all of the first born of Egypt. But, before we get to that point of the story, God displayed a series of lesser signs through Moses. These include Aaron’s rod being a serpent (a sign), turning water into blood (the first plague), and bringing frogs into the land (the second plague). With each of these signs and plagues, the Egyptian magicians were able to duplicate Moses’ feat (although one might wonder why they wanted more frogs!).

Exodus 7:8-13 (NKJV)
8 Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 9 "When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ‘Show a miracle for yourselves,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your rod and cast it before Pharaoh, and let it become a serpent.’ ” 10 So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh, and they did so, just as the Lord commanded. And Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers; so the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. 12 For every man threw down his rod, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. 13 And Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the Lord had said.

When they got to the third plague (lice), the wise men of Egypt could not duplicate God’s miracle. They recognized the hand of God at work, even if Pharaoh could not!

Exodus 8:18-19 (NKJV)
18 Now the magicians so worked with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not. So there were lice on man and beast. 19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, just as the Lord had said.

Paul tells us these Egyptian wise men were Jannes and Jambres. This is the only place in Scripture the Egyptian magicians are named. This “matches” Jewish tradition, which, as the leader’s book notes, holds that the wise men left Egypt with the Jews! They were part of the “mixed multitude” of the Exodus (Exod 12:38).

Paul uses the analogy of the wise men contesting with Moses as a picture of the way the false teachers will combat Timothy. The false teachers “resist the truth” (v8) because they are “men of corrupt minds.”  The false teachers are so corrupt in their minds that they are not “approved workmen.”  Rather, these false teachers do not recognize the truth and are “disapproved concerning the faith.” Faith here stands for the collected beliefs of Christianity, that is, the complete teachings of the Bible.

Paul assures Timothy these false teachers will not achieve a great success – “they will progress no further” (v9). Paul again pulls from the Exodus story by noting that just as the false magic of Jannes and Jambres became apparent when they could not duplicate the third plague, so, too, will the false doctrines become known to all around – “for their folly will be manifest to all.” Often, this does not seem to be the case. The Christian Scientists, Mormons, and Jehovah Witnesses are now around 150 years old and appear to be as strong as ever. We, like Paul, must view such groups from an eternal perspective. 

Frequently, the untruth of a teaching becomes known quickly. Other times, God’s plan is such that we must be very patient for the truth to win out.

[As a side note, you may have some who will want to suggest Islam as a religion which is much older than any mentioned above. Islam dates to the 600s. The difference is that Islam is a false religion, not a cult. Cults are those groups who claim to be based upon the teachings of the Bible in some form. Islam is a false doctrine and false religion, but it makes no claim at being Christian.]

Paul does an about face for the balance of this chapter. Having spent nine verses discussing the evilness of false teachers, he turns to Timothy and says, “Tim, you don’t need to worry personally about these false doctrines corrupting you because your faith is built upon a strong foundation." The verb used here pictures one following another everywhere he goes, literally stayi8ng in the footsteps of the leader. This is so, because Timothy has carefully followed Paul as an example. He has followed Paul’s (v10)

Timothy has imitated Paul, who had imitated Jesus. Timothy has built his faith on the “pattern of sound words.”

1 Corinthians 11:1 (NKJV)
1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1:6 (NKJV)
6 And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,

And, then Paul continues the list with the kind of examples we do not like to consider:

It is certainly true the Christian will suffer in this lifetime. We have spoken of this before in Lesson 5. Here Paul adds a couple of examples that Timothy would be aware of (v11):

Perhaps, Paul uses these particular cities from his first missionary journey because Timothy lived in Lystra and may have witnessed, or least heard about, these episodes (Acts 13:14-14:23).

There are two reasons for Paul presenting these examples. First he wants to remind Timothy that the Apostle “endured.” This is an important trait of a strong Christian. No matter what the trials, no matter the minor slips in the road, the strong Christian will endure to the end and finish strong.

Second, Paul wants to encourage Timothy about the trials of life. It is God who saves us. We do not save ourselves. “And out of them all the Lord delivered me.” It is God who causes us to “endure.” The Leader’s Guide suggests reading examples from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. There are several modern versions of this work that could be used as well. We can place great faith and comfort in God, knowing that He will not test us beyond our capacities to endure.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)
13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Paul follows now with the same thoughts we considered in Lesson 5. All Christians will suffer persecution. Timothy is in a difficult situation and Paul wants to encourage his spiritual son. Even as Timothy suffers under the strain of the false teachers attacking the church, so all Christians will suffer persecution, just as Jesus “promised.”

Paul says – “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (v12)

Jesus says -- John 16:33 (NKJV)
33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Then, to emphasize the realness of the false teachers, Paul warns all of us that evil men and imposters will grow worse over time.

But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (v13).

We should not be surprised at the growth of cults and false teachings in society. 

We should not be surprised that America is drifting away from its Christian roots.

We should not be surprised if our neighbor starts his own church – The Church of the Red Rose, or something equally silly.

False teachers will grow worse and worse. The world will get worse, not better. This may mean that we will encounter more of them. In other words, they will be wider spread. At the time, Paul may be telling us the efforts of the false teachers may be more intense.

Or both?!

 

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