2 Timothy 3


Dangerous times in the latter days, from the apostasy and

wickedness of men, of whom an affecting description is given,


It shall happen to them as to Jannes and Jambres, who withstood

Moses, 8, 9.

The apostle speaks of his persecutions and sufferings, and shows

that all those who will live a godly life must suffer

persecution, 10-12,

because evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse, 13.

Timothy is exhorted to continue in the truths he had received,

having known the Scriptures from a child, 14, 15.

All Scripture is given by Divine inspiration, 16, 17.


Verse 1. In the last days] This often means the days of the

Messiah, and is sometimes extended in its signification to the

destruction of Jerusalem, as this was properly the last days of

the Jewish state. But the phrase may mean any future time,

whether near or distant.

Verse 2. For men shall be] The description in this and the

following verses the Papists apply to the Protestants; the

Protestants in their turn apply it to the Papists; Schoettgen to

the Jews; and others to heretics in general. There have been both

teachers and people in every age of the Church, and in every age

of the world, to whom these words may be most legitimately

applied. Both Catholics and Protestants have been lovers of their

own selves, &c.; but it is probable that the apostle had some

particular age in view, in which there should appear some very

essential corruption of Christianity.

Lovers of their own selves] φιλαυτοι. Selfish, studious of

their own interest, and regardless of the welfare of all mankind.

Covetous] φιλαργυροι. Lovers of money, because of the

influence which riches can procure.

Boasters] αλαζονες. Vain glorious: self-assuming; valuing

themselves beyond all others.

Proud] υπερηφανοι. Airy, light, trifling persons; those who

love to make a show-who are all outside; from υπερ, above, and

φαινω, to show.

Blasphemers] βλασφημοι. Those who speak impiously of God and

sacred things, and injuriously of men.

Disobedient to parents] γονευσιναπειθεις. Headstrong

children, whom their parents cannot persuade.

Unthankful] αχαριστοι. Persons without grace, or

gracefulness; who think they have a right to the services of all

men, yet feel no obligation, and consequently no gratitude.

Unholy] ανοσιοι. Without piety; having no heart reverence for


Verse 3. Without natural affection] αστοργοι. Without that

affection which parents bear to their young, and which the young

bear to their parents. An affection which is common to every

class of animals; consequently, men without it are worse than


Truce-breakers] ασπονδοι. From α, negative, and

σπονδη, a libation, because in making treaties libations both of

blood and wine were poured out. The word means those who are

bound by no promise, held by no engagement, obliged by no oath;

persons who readily promise any thing, because they never intend

to perform.

False accusers] διαβολοι. Devils; but properly enough

rendered false accusers, for this is a principal work of the

devil. Slanderers; striving ever to ruin the characters of


Incontinent] ακρατεις. From α, negative, and κρατος,

power. Those who, having sinned away their power of

self-government, want strength to govern their appetites;

especially those who are slaves to uncleanness.

Fierce] ανημεροι. From α, negative, and ημερος,

mild or gentle. Wild, impetuous, whatever is contrary to

pliability and gentleness.

Despisers of those that are good] αφιλαγαθοι. Not lovers of

good men. Here is a remarkable advantage of the Greek over the

English tongue, one word of the former expressing five or six of

the latter. Those who do not love the good must be radically bad


Verse 4. Traitors] προδοται. From προ, before, and

διδωμι, to deliver up. Those who deliver up to an enemy the

person who has put his life in their hands; such as the Scots of

1648, who delivered up into the hands of his enemies their

unfortunate countryman and king, Charles the First; a stain which

no lapse of ages can wipe out.

Heady] προπετεις. From προ, forwards, and πιπτω, to

fall; headstrong, precipitate, rash, inconsiderate.

High-minded] τετυφωμενοι. From τοφος, smoke; the

frivolously aspiring; those who are full of themselves, and empty

of all good.

Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God] This is nervously

and beautifully expressed in the Greek, φιληδονοιμαλλονη

φιλοθεοι lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; i.e.

pleasure, sensual gratification, is their god; and this they love

and serve; God they do not.

Verse 5. Having a form of godliness] The original word

μορφωσις signifies a draught, sketch, or summary, and will apply

well to those who have all their religion in their creed,

confession of faith, catechism, bodies of divinity, &c., while

destitute of the life of God in their souls; and are not only

destitute of this life, but deny that such life or power is here

to be experienced or known. They have religion in their creed,

but none in their hearts. And perhaps to their summary they add a

decent round of religious observances. From such turn away-not

only do not imitate them, but have no kind of fellowship with

them; they are a dangerous people, and but seldom suspected,

because their outside is fair.

Verse 6. For of this sort are they] He here refers to false

teachers and their insinuating manners, practising upon weak

women, who, seeing in them such a semblance of piety, entertain

them with great eagerness, and at last become partakers with them

in their impurities. Among the Jews there are remarkable cases of

this kind on record, and not a few of them among the full fed

monks of the Romish Church. But in what sect or party have not

such teachers been occasionally found? yet neither Judaism,

Protestantism, nor Roman Catholicism makes any provision for such


Verse 7. Ever learning] From their false teachers, and never

able to come to the knowledge of the truth, because that teaching

never leads to the truth; for, although there was a form of

godliness, which gave them a sort of authority to teach, yet, as

they denied the power of godliness, they never could bring their

votaries to the knowledge of the saving power of Christianity.

There are many professors of Christianity still who answer the

above description. They hear, repeatedly hear, it may be, good

sermons; but, as they seldom meditate on what they hear, they

derive little profit from the ordinances of God. They have no

more grace now than they had several years ago, though hearing all

the while, and perhaps not wickedly departing from the Lord. They

do not meditate, they do not think, they do not reduce what they

hear to practice; therefore, even under the preaching of an

apostle, they could not become wise to salvation.

Verse 8. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses] This

refers to the history of the Egyptian magicians, given in Exodus

7, where see the notes, and particularly the concluding

observations at the end of that chapter, Ex 7:25 where several

things are said concerning these two men.

Men of corrupt minds] It appears as if the apostle were

referring still to some Judaizing teachers who were perverting the

Church with their doctrines, and loudly calling in question the

authority and doctrine of the apostle.

Reprobate concerning the faith.] αδοκιμοι. Undiscerning or

untried; they are base metal, unstamped; and should not pass

current, because not standard. This metaphor is frequent in the

sacred writings.

Verse 9. But they shall proceed no farther] Such teaching and

teachers shall never be able ultimately to prevail against the

truth; for the foundation of God standeth sure.

Their folly shall be manifest] As the Scriptures, which are

the only rule of morals and doctrine, shall ever be preserved; so,

sooner or later, all false doctrines shall be tried by them: and

the folly of men, setting up their wisdom against the wisdom of

God, must become manifest to all. False doctrine cannot prevail

long where the sacred Scriptures are read and studied. Error

prevails only where the book of God is withheld from the people.

The religion that fears the Bible is not the religion of God. Is

Popery or Protestantism this religion?

Verse 10. Thou hast fully known my doctrine] And having long

had the opportunity of knowing me, the doctrine I preached, my

conduct founded on these doctrines, the object I have in view by

my preaching, my fidelity to God and to my trust, my

long-suffering with those who walked disorderly, and opposed

themselves to the truth, and did what they could to lessen my

authority and render it suspected, my love to them and to the

world in general, and my patience in all my adversities; thou art

capable of judging between me and the false teachers, and canst

easily discern the difference between their doctrines, conduct,

motives, temper, spirit, &c., and mine.

Verse 11. Persecutions-which came unto me at Antioch] The

Antioch mentioned here was Antioch in Pisidia, to which place Paul

and Barnabas came in their first apostolic progress, and where

Paul delivered that memorable discourse which is preserved in the

13th chapter of Acts, Ac 13:16-43. In this city, it is said,

the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief

men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas,

and expelled them out of their coasts; but they shook of the dust

of their feet against them, and came to Iconium, Ac 13:50, 51.

Here there was an assault made both of the Gentiles and also of

the Jews with their rulers, to treat them despitefully, and to

stone them, and they fled unto Lystra and Derbe; and there came

thither certain Jews, who persuaded the people, and having stoned

Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. The

historian informs us that his life was miraculously restored, and

that he departed thence, and came to Derbe, and afterwards

returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, where they had lately

been so grievously persecuted. See Ac 14:5, 6, 19-21. These are

the persecutions, &c., to which the apostle alludes; and we find

that he mentions them here precisely in the same order in which,

according to the relation of St. Luke, they occurred. Now it is

said here that Timothy fully knew all these things; and we may

naturally suppose they could not be unknown to him, when it is

evident he was either a native of, or resided in, those parts; for

when the apostle, sometime after the above, visited Derbe and

Lystra, behold, a certain disciple was there named Timotheus, well

reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium;

Ac 16:1, 2. As these things happened in his own neighbourhood,

Timothy must have known them; for a person who had such a

religious education as he had could not be unacquainted with these

persecutions, especially as we may believe that his mother and

grandmother had been converts to Christianity at that time. See

several useful remarks in Dr. Paley's Horae Paulinae, on these

circumstances, page 312.

Verse 12. All that will live godly] So opposite to the spirit

and practice of the world is the whole of Christianity, that he

who gives himself entirely up to God, making the Holy Scriptures

the rule of his words and actions, will be less or more reviled

and persecuted. "If religion gives no quarter to vice, the

vicious will give no quarter to religion and its professors."

Verse 13. Evil men and seducers shall wax worse] They will

yet get on for a season, deceiving themselves and deceiving

others; but, by and by, their folly will become manifest to all,

2Ti 3:9.

The word γοητες, which we render seducers, signifies jugglers,

pretenders to magical arts; probably persons dealing in false

miracles, with whom the Church in all ages has been not a little


Verse 14. But continue thou] No man, however well instructed

in the things of God, or grounded in Divine grace, is out of the

reach of temptation, apostasy, and final ruin; hence the necessity

of watching unto prayer, depending upon God, continuing in the

faith, and persevering unto the end.

Verse 15. From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures]

The early religious education of Timothy has been already

sufficiently noticed; see 2Ti 1:5,

and the preface to the first epistle. St. Paul introduces this

circumstance again here for the confirmation of Timothy's faith.

He had learned the doctrines of Christianity from a genuine

apostle; and, as Christianity is founded on the law and the

prophets, Timothy was able to compare its doctrines with all that

had been typified and predicted, and consequently was assured

that the Christian religion was true.

Able to make thee wise unto salvation] The apostle is here

evidently speaking of the Jewish Scriptures; and he tells us that

they are able to make us wise unto salvation provided we have

faith in Jesus Christ. This is the simple use of the Old

Testament. No soul of man can be made wise unto salvation by it,

but as he refers all to Christ Jesus. The Jews are unsaved though

they know these Scriptures, because they believe not in Christ;

for Christ is the end of the law for the justification of all that


Verse 16. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God] This

sentence is not well translated; the original πασαγραφη

θεοκνευστοςωφιλιμοςπροςδιδασκαλιανκτλ should be

rendered: Every writing Divinely inspired is profitable for

doctrine, &c. The particle και, and, is omitted by almost all

the versions and many of the fathers, and certainly does not agree

well with the text. The apostle is here, beyond all controversy,

speaking of the writings of the Old Testament, which, because they

came by Divine inspiration, he terms the Holy Scriptures,

2Ti 3:15;

and it is of them alone that this passage is to be understood; and

although all the New Testament came by as direct an inspiration as

the Old, yet, as it was not collected at that time, not indeed

complete, the apostle could have no reference to it.

The doctrine of the inspiration of the sacred writings has been

a subject of much discussion, and even controversy, among

Christians. There are two principal opinions on the subject: 1.

That every thought and word were inspired by God, and that the

writer did nothing but merely write as the Spirit dictated. 2.

That God gave the whole matter, leaving the inspired writers to

their own language; and hence the great variety of style and

different modes of expression. But as I have treated this subject

at large in my Introduction to the Four Gospels and Acts of the

Apostles, I must refer the reader to that work.

Is profitable for doctrine] To teach the will of God, and to

point out Jesus Christ till he should come.

For reproof] To convince men of the truth; and to confound

those who should deny it, particularly the Jews.

For correction] προςεπανορθωσιν. For restoring things to

their proper uses and places, correcting false notions and

mistaken views.

Instruction in righteousness] προςπαιδειαντηνενδικαιοσυνη.

For communicating all initiatory religious knowledge; for

schooling mankind. All this is perfectly true of the Jewish

Scriptures; and let faith in Christ Jesus be added, see 2Ti 3:15,

and then all that is spoken in the following verse will be

literally accomplished.

Verse 17. That the man of God] The preacher of righteousness,

the minister of the Gospel, the person who derives his commission

from God, and always appears as his herald and servant.

May be perfect] αρτιος. From αρω, to fit or adapt.

It properly signifies an integer or whole number in arithmetic,

to which nothing needs to be added to make it complete.

Throughly furnished] εξηρτισμενος. From εξ, intensive,

and αρτιος, complete; see above. Not only complete in himself as

to his integrity, religious knowledge, faith in Jesus, and love

to God and man, but that he should have all those qualifications

which are necessary to complete the character, and insure the

success of a preacher, of the Gospel. Timothy was to teach,

reprove, correct, and instruct others; and was to be to them a

pattern of good works.

From what the apostle says here concerning the qualifications

of a Christian minister, we may well exclaim: Who is capable of

these things? Is it such a person as has not intellect sufficient

for a common trade or calling? No. A preacher of the Gospel

should be a man of the soundest sense, the most cultivated mind,

the most extensive experience, one who is deeply taught of God,

and who has deeply studied man; one who has prayed much, read

much, and studied much; one who takes up his work as from God,

does it as before God, and refers all to the glory of God; one who

abides under the inspiration of the Almighty, and who has hidden

the word of God in his heart, that he might not sin against him.

No minister formed by man can ever be such as is required here.

The school of Christ, and that alone, can ever form such a


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