About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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 ch. 3:1-9  ch. 3:10 - 4:19    ch. 4:19-22

Godlessness In The Last Days  (ch. 3:1 - 9)


Paul opens chapter 3 by the words, “now mark this”.  This may suggest that if Timothy had problems with some inside of the church now, “mark this”, get ready, things will get worse.  Paul says that “there will be terrible times in the last days”.  In light of the terrible times that Paul already is going through, including his imprisonment as he wrote these words, I wonder just how terrible he was thinking about.


In context from the last chapter, Paul might not just be thinking in terms of the world getting worse as time goes on, but the church as well.  If you read about the seven churches in the book of Revelation, and if you believe the Laodicean church represents that final apostate church, you will certainly understand how things can and will get worse in the church as time goes on.  


The Greek word "chelepos" is translated as "perilous" in the KJV and "terrible" times in the NIV.  Both are a good translation.  This word simply means "hard to deal with or  hard to endure'.  Whenever these days arrive, people are going to be frustrated to no end because of the things that are happening around them.  


These things that will be terrible aren't the plagues of wrath you see in the book of Revelation.  In verses 2 to  5 Paul gives a list of examples of how terrible things will be.  He says “people will be lovers of themselves”.  Whether we are actually in the last days as I write these words can’t be known for sure, but it is certainly true that we have an exceloration of self love in our day, both within and without the church.  We have all sorts of self help books, videos, and groups. The New Age movement is really all about self as I see it.  


Paul also says that “people will be lovers of money”, which is also evident in our materialistic world. We always want more of what money can buy us.  The economics of our society is driven by our consumer behaviour.  When we don't spend, the economy goes into a slide.  When we spend too much, we go into a slide. It is hard to win when it comes to money.   


To this Paul adds being “boastful, proud and abusive” to the list.  These characteristics have been around since the beginning of time, but will be even more ramped in the last days. 


“Disobedient to parents” is also part of Paul’s list.  I think we can safely say as time goes on that children in general are becoming more disobedient to their parents.  Of course this is not the case with all children, but I don’t think we need statistical proof showing us that disobedience to parents and authority is a problem today.  Children today are raised in separated families, never known what a real family should be like.  For this reason they are rebellious. 


Paul continues by saying that people will become even more “ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”.  This doesn’t paint a very good picture of the last days.  For those who believe that things will only get better from here on out because of the churches perfection before Christ returns should rethink their doctrine in light of this verse.  You will note that all these bad characteristics are relational.  They will cause problems between people and nations.  That is why Jesus tells us that in the last days nations and ethnic peoples will rise against each other. 


In verse 5 Paul says that many “will have the form of godliness”, but it is only a form, not the real thing.  It may look Christian from without but there is no presence of the Holy Spirit and the true gospel of Jesus.  Paul says “to have nothing to do with” these people.  This is very evident in our day.  Churches across our land look like churches to the casual observer, but they are far from the true church of God.  We too should follow Paul’s instruction and have nothing to do with these organizations.


Evangelicals in the past have pointed to the liberal church as being an apostate church, that which Paul speaks of here.  But now, in the 21st century, with the emergence of the post-modern Emergent church within  Evangelical circles, the apostate church is no longer only in the liberal main-line denominations.


In verse 6 Paul says that men who lead these so-called churches “worm their way into homes with weak-willed women.”  The use of the word “worm” is interesting in light of its new meaning in our computer based society.  When speaking of worms in emails, they are small programs that attach themselves to emails.  Once the email is opened by the recipient it “worms” its way through the computer, infecting it with a virus, resulting in all sorts of problems.  This is how these so-called church leaders operate. They “worm” their way into a family and destroy it with all sorts of evil, from immorality to the teaching of false doctrine, which destroys the family, and the destruction of the family is one of our biggest problems today.  All sorts of secondary issues arise when the family is broken apart.


In verse 7 Paul speaks of these “weak-willed women” as those who “always learning, but never able to acknowledge the truth”.  Things have not changed over the centuries.  People are always learning more about everything, yet pure knowledge does not bring us closer to finding the universal truth that is found in Jesus.  Our knowledge of all is increasing at a faster pace than ever, but the moral and character quality of our lives tend to be sliding downward.  Simply knowing does not necessarily bring us to the truth or change our behaviour.  This can be seen in youth pregnancies for example. Our youth are the most educated youth in history when it comes to sexual risks and birth control, but this has not stopped young girls from getting pregnant.  The same with drinking and driving.  We are very educated in the fact that we should not drink and drive, yet people are still being killed because of drunk drivers.


When it comes to the increase of knowledge, they say, now in the year 2010, that knowledge is increasing every two years, and that is expediential increase.  That means knowledge will increase even faster than every two years.    


Concerning these "weak willed women", some women today might think that Paul is picking on women here.  Well, first of all, he is not putting all women into this category.  We must remember that in Paul's day things were much different.  Women weren't as educated as they are today.  Women did not have the same status in society.  This would cause some women to be unlearned and easily caught up with these evil men.  Paul isn't just talking about weak willed women here.  He is really talking about false teachers who take advantage of women.  The same happens in our day as well.       


Paul says some very strong words concerning these false teachers.  As he often does, he holds nothing back.  He says in verse 8 that “they oppose the truth”.  They have “depraved minds”, and as far as the truth is concerned, are rejected”.  They do not merely oppose the truth, but the truth opposes and rejects them.  Yet even though these men are making a big splash with their false teaching, Paul says that “these men will not get very far … their folly will be clear to everyone”.  If there is one thing that Paul hates, it is teaching that is in direct opposition to the truth that is found in the Lord Jesus Christ.  That is evident here as well as in other letters.    


Paul’s Charge To Timothy (ch. 3:10 – 4:8)


Moving on from the false prophets Paul says in verses 10 and 11, “you however,  know all about my teaching and my life”.  The false teachers knew little about Paul, but not so with Timothy.  He knew Paul’s teaching and his life. He knew all about what Paul went through while preaching the gospel.  Timothy also knew all about Paul’s “purpose, faith, endurance, persecutions, sufferings, …”  All these things showed clearly the sincerity of Paul.  He was a man worth following.  The false teachers had no moral or spiritual character that would support anyone following them. Yet through all of these hard times “the Lord rescued” Paul “from all of them”.  That simply means that he survived the hard times.  He didn't die.  We do know that Paul eventually did die at the hands of those who opposed him.  Most importantly, he did not die spiritually.


What Paul is doing here, is reminding Timothy of all the hardships he has gone through for the sake of Jesus.  This would be in stark contrast to the false teachers, many of which were profiting financially, and enjoying the adulterous relationship with the weak willed women.  Paul gained no material advantage by preaching the gospel.  He suffered materially.  This proves his sincerity,     


In verse 12 Paul makes an interesting statement.  He says, “all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution”.  This was obvious in Paul’s day.  All true Christians suffered persecution, some worse than others, but all suffered for their faith.  We today (as in North America ) do not suffer such persecution, although I do believe that is in the process of change.  There are those in the world as I write that do suffer great persecution because of their faith in Jesus.  There have been thousands of Christians over the centuries that have suffered much for their faith.  They say that in China , now in 2010, there are about 130,000,000 illegal Christians.  That is, Christians who will not register as Christians to the government.  There are many of these Christians in jail, just as Paul was in jail.


Why don’t North American Christians in the 20th and 21st century suffer a lot for their faith?  Partly this is a result of the impact that Christianity has made on our society in the past.  Christianity has been so influential in the western world that society has been kind to us.  Yet as we move away from this Christian influence to a more secular society, this kindness towards Christians will change.  Tolerance towards Christians is fast becoming a thing of the past. 


There is another reason why we have not suffered at least some minor persecution and that is many of us do not share our faith in Jesus as Paul did.  Thus many don’t even know that we are Christian.  On an individual level, if we really shared our faith, we would receive some negative feedback, because it is in direct opposition to many we share it with.


In verse 13 Paul says that Christians will suffer persecution because “evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse”.  Paul clearly believed that men would not get better.  He believed as time went on that men would get worse in the evil lives they lived.  This thinking is in direct opposition to Restorationests who believe that things will get better as time goes on.  Those who believe in what is called  "Restoration Theology" believe the church will grow in strength and influence in the world to such a degree that God's glory will cover the earth and Jesus will have no other choice but to return to earth.  They say the church will usher in the return of Jesus.  That does not sound like what Paul is saying here.


Note the word "impostors". I believe that there are more impostors in church leadership than ever these days.  Many are being influenced by these men because they do not have a good knowledge of Biblical truth.      


In verse 14 Paul encouraged Timothy to continue in the things he has learned and have been "convinced of".   Note the word "convinced".  Being convinced of Biblical truth is so important.  It is important so you won't get side tracked with wrong teaching.  The problem today is that many, if not the majority of Christians, aren't convinced of anything.  They have no conviction of Biblical truth.  This should not be.  Without conviction we will not be able to stand the pressure of persecution that will probably come our way, and is coming our way right now to a degree.  Such conviction is why Paul was not swayed, even though he had suffered much.  


Paul reminds Timothy in verse 15 that he is not like those men who go from bad to worse.  From “infancy” Timothy has known the truth as found “in Scripture’.  It is through these Scriptures and faith in Jesus, Paul says that brings salvation and wisdom.  This shows  how important the Scriptures or the Bible is.  Again, the Bible is becoming less and less important in many church circles these days.  This also should never be.  


Verse 16 is a well know Evangelical verse.  It begins with the words, “all Scripture is God-breathed”.  When Paul used the word “Scripture”, he was speaking about the Old Testament.  Every single verse was inspired by God and therefore must be reverenced and understood in that light.


Peter says an interesting thing about Scripture in his second letter, chapter 3 verse 16.  Concerning Paul’s writings he says that they are often misunderstood, “which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures”.  By using the words “other Scriptures”, Peter is classifying Paul’s letters with “other Scripture”.  This might be a hint that Peter believed New Testament writings were on the same level of inspiration as Old Testament writings, something we believe today. I don’t believe we can say this for sure from what Peter says, but it is quite possible, and some commentators do make a strong point for this.


Paul says that the Scriptures are “useful” for four things.  This is most likely not an exhaustive list.  He says that Scripture is important for “teaching, rebuking, correction and training”. Teaching and training may be easier to accept on our part than rebuking and correction.


When it comes to rebuking and correcting others, the bases for such rebuke and correction should be the Bible.  In many authoritarian style churches these days, church leaders like to correct.   Many times this correction is not based on the Bible, but on their own personal likes and dislikes, their own personal thinking.  This should not be.  If there is no Biblical support for the correction, there shouldn't be any correction made.  


In chapter 4 Paul begins by giving Timothy a charge.  The charge is based on the return of Christ and His kingdom, when He will judge both the living and the dead.  Note that Paul believes that the Kingdom of God has a futuristic fulfillment. There is a present day reality to God’s kingdom but when Jesus returns, then and only then will this Kingdom be revealed in its totality.


Paul speaks about God judging both the living and the dead.  We will all stand before God some day, and depending on what we have done with Jesus will depend on the way in which He judges us.   In light of these things, Paul wants Timothy to do God's will.   Some day Timothy will have to answer to God for his life. 


In verse 2 Paul charges, or commands Timothy to “preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and carefulness.”  Paul wants Timothy to be on his toes at all times, ready to preach, correct and rebuke.  Yet concerning the rebuking and correcting Paul tells him to use “great patience and carefulness”.  Correcting is part of the duties of a leader, but how one corrects is very important.  As I said in the last chapter, correcting must be based on Biblical truth, not on one's likes or dislikes, or one's personal way of thinking.


Like Timothy, we should be ready at all times to preach the word of the Lord to others.  This does not necessarily mean pulpit preaching.  It's simply speaking God's Word to anyone we come in contact with when given the opportunity.  This presupposes that we actually know the Word of God in the first place.   


In verse 3 Paul says that the time will come when people will not put up with “sound doctrine”. People will gather the leaders to themselves who will speak to them things they want to hear.  In our modern church we are experiencing the same thing today.  False teaching is everywhere. 


In many denominations perspective ministers come and “candidate” for a job by preaching a Sunday morning message.  The church members listen to a few of these “candidates” and then choose who they want for their pastor.  This is not first century Christianity. Now this is not exactly what Paul is referring to here, but it is in the general direction.  People listen to a sermon, and if it tickles their fancy, they will vote for the candidate. 


The influence of worldly philosophies like post-modernism are gathering many Christians around their leader today.  Christians not founded on the Word of God gather their itching ears to hear what these false teachers are saying today.


Even though many “will turn from the truth” as Paul says, he warns Timothy “to keep his head in all situations”.  He is basically telling Timothy to use his common sense and don’t get carried away with emotion.  He also tells Timothy, once again, to “endure hardship”, a topic that always seems to appear in Paul’s writings. 


Verse 4 tells us about the ever-present tendency to turn from the truth and give ourselves to things we just like to hear.  I can't overstate this enough, but in so many cases this is what so many people, and even Christians, are doing today. 


In verse 5 Paul tells Timothy to "keep his head in all situations".  This tells us the importance of our brains.  Some Christians over emphasize our hearts over our heads, but that should not be.  Our heads are just as important as our hearts.  Right thinking is very important, and that comes through loud and clear in Paul's writings.  Paul himself was well educated.   


Paul tells Timothy in verse 5 “to do the work of an evangelist”.  Does this mean that Timothy was an evangelist?  We might be able to say from this verse that Timothy was an evangelist.  Could he be more than an evangelist?  It is quite possible.  Paul considered himself to be an apostle, teacher, and preacher, among other things.  So we cannot use this verse to make a conclusive statement saying that Timothy was an evangelist.  He could have been that and more.


Verse 6 seems to suggest that Paul believed his life was coming to an end.  Unlike other letters where he had some hope of being set free from prison, that hope seems to elude him here.  He says that he is “being poured out like a drink offering”.  You can see by these words that Paul viewed his life, and especially his death as one big sacrifice.  The way Paul words things here tells us that he is being drained of every ounce of life, simply to bring people the gospel of Christ.


He says "the time has come for my departure".  This is why I believe Paul feels that his life will soon come to an end.  This should tell us that these words spoken to Timothy are important words and we should take them very seriously.      


In verses 7 and 8 Paul sure sounds like a man who thinks his life is fast coming to and end.  He says that he has "fought the good fight".  Paul viewed his life and ministry as a fight, and a fight it was.  Few of us have had to put up such a fight, but as time goes on, as our society leaves the Judeo/Christian path we've been on, we may have to fight as Paul fought.


He says that he has finished the race.  Here's another way of putting it.  Paul feels exhausted, as if running a marathon, and now the race is almost over.  He is heading to the victory line.  And what Paul knows is something we should all know, and that is, he will win the race.  Will you and I have such confidence that we will win the race?


He also says in verse 7 that he has kept the faith.  Through all the sorrow, the trials, the persecution, Paul kept his faith.  Others may have traded their faith in, but not Paul.  Many of us trade in our faith for less than what Paul went through.  If one lays aside his faith, in my thinking, he loses his salvation, because salvation is based on our faith, our trust in Jesus.  If we no longer have faith, we know longer have salvation.


In verse 8 Paul says that because he has been faithful, there is a crown waiting for him from the Judge.   The Judge is Jesus.  Paul, along with you and I, will stand before Jesus the Judge some day and will reward us for the works we have done.  Salvation is not based on good works, but good works done from faith will be rewarded for.  


Paul speaks about those "who love His appearing".   We should love and think much about the second coming of Jesus.  Some Christians feel that is a waste of time thinking about the return of Jesus, but you can certainly see by what Paul says here, he does not think that way.                  


Paul makes sure Timothy realizes that he is not the only one to receive rewards.  All Christians can be rewarded by Jesus when He returns for them.  We are all rewarded for those good works that we have done because of our trust in Jesus.  We are not rewarded for things done in the flesh. 


Personal Remarks (ch. 4:9 - 18)


In verse 9 Paul tells Timothy “to do his best to come to him quickly”.  Paul seemed to believe that his time was short and he wanted to see Timothy as soon as possible, especially in light of the fact that most of his close fellow workers left him.  Demas was one such friend who Paul says “loved the world”, implying that he loved the world more than the work of the Lord.  Only Luke remained with Paul in these dark days of his life as it says in verse 11.


I think these are sad words.  Here the great apostle Paul comes to the end of his life and many of his fellow workers leave him.  It sounds just like Jesus at the end of his life.   This life is not all about vctory and happiness.  God has a much better life for us next time around.   


Paul said that Demas loved the world.  The love of the world draws many people away from Jesus.  It did back then and it still does today.  The world is one of our biggest enemies.  Of course, the world is satan's domain.  He is behind all that happens in the world.  Demas left Jesus for satan in one real sense of the word. 


In verse 11 through 13 Paul wanted Timothy to  bring Mark with him, “because he was useful for the ministry”.  Along with Mark, Paul wanted Timothy to bring a cloak that he left in Troas.  Most likely because he needed this cloak to keep him warm in a cold damp winter prison.  Paul also request his “scrolls, especially his parchments”.  Parchment was writing material made of skins.  It was used for important documents, maybe the Old Testament, or maybe even Paul’s personal writings.


In verse 14 a man named “Alexander did Paul great harm”.  Paul was not interested in repaying him for this harm.  He knew the Lord would take care of that, only that Timothy should be “on guard” himself for men like Alexander.  We should simply ignore those who oppose us, that is, ignore them the best we can.


In verse 14 we see that Alexander did Paul "a great deal of harm".  He says the Lord will repay him for this harm.  Note that Paul had no feeling of revenge.  The Bible clearly states that we are not to retaliate for when people do us harm.  The Lord can and will do a much better job than us.  It is His job to avenge, not ours.     


Even though Paul did not get back at Alexander, in verse 15 Paul warned Timothy to be on guard for him.  We are not to retaliate, but we are to keep our eyes open for such men, and if they attempt harm, we confront them before they have the chance if at all possible. Jesus does tell us to be as wise as serpents, that is, be wise as the devil, but at the same time be harmless as a dove. 


In verses 16 and 17 Paul tells Timothy that no one came to support him while he was defending himself in the Roman judicial system. He was all alone.  Yet Paul, like Stephen in Acts 8, and even Jesus while on the cross did not hold this against them.  The important thing was the “the Lord stood at my side”, said Paul.  No matter if everyone forsakes us, If we have developed a relationship with Jesus, He will be with us in times of need.


Again, as I said before, Paul found himself on the same path as Jesus himself, forsaken and alone.  We must never preach the life as a Christian is an easy life.  Way too often preachers have done a major disservice by preaching, come to Jesus, get save, and live happily ever after.  What Paul says here is sad, yet on the other hand, when all leave, we still have Jesus.  And really, in the long run, there are times that even when we have our brothers, we still find ourselves along, with only Jesus by our side.  What else would we want. 


Paul gave his defense before the Roman judicial system.  He knew from day one of his salvation that the gospel would be preached to Kings by him, but at the time he did not know just how that would come about.  He indeed did get to preach the gospel, but it was a result of his imprisonment as a criminal.  As he defended himself he had the chance to preach the good news of Jesus, for which he was very happy for. 


In verse 18 he says that “the Lord will rescue me from every evil attack”.  He went on to say that “He (Jesus) would bring him safely to His heavenly Kingdom”.    Paul died at the hands of evil men.  Paul considered this wicked way of death as God rescuing him and bringing him into God’s heavenly Kingdom.


Paul did not view death in a negative light, even if it was a horrible death as his was. Paul was killed for his faith in Jesus, and he felt his death was the doorway into his future home with Jesus in heaven, and so it was.  We should have the same understanding of death, but is not always the case.  Many Christians are afraid of death.  Not so with Paul.  He welcomed death.  The reason why we fear death is because we have not lived for Jesus as we should have.  We are uncertain of our future.  Also we fear death because we are too much in love with the world and don't want to die.  Death brings us directly into the presence of Jesus that is, if we have trusted him with our salvation   


Final Greetings (ch. 4:19 - 22)


In Paul’s closing remarks he says that he left “Trophimus sick in Miletus”.  Note that Paul, a man used by God to perform great miracles left this man sick.  For some reason the Lord did not heal this man, and Paul couldn't either.  Prosperity teachers should think hard about this verse.


Once again Paul asks Timothy to do his best to get to him “before winter”.  Paul wanted to see Timothy and get the things he asked for.


Paul sends greetings to Timothy from a number of brothers.  This would suggest to me that when Paul says, “everyone left him”, that does not mean everyone as in all the church, but everyone as in his fellow workers.


Paul closes by saying, “the Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you”.    We all need God's grace, and we all need Jesus to be with our spirits.      


Once again, the words written in this letter were penned by a man who felt that his life would soon come to an end.  We should take the words spoken to Timothy, and seriously apply them to our own lives.                     



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