Ch 2 closes with the Apostle telling us that a servant of the Lord must be able to humbly, patiently, gently help other believers who may not agree with what is truth, so that they can repent, come to their senses, and escape the snare of the devil who has captured them to do his will. It is a serious matter to reject God’s word as truth on any matter! This also means that a servant of the Lord must know the truth, love the Lord who has revealed it and given an understanding, and love his brother or sister. We are all in a process of growth and sanctification, and the fear of the Lord is key to our lives. Pastors and teachers have a great responsibility to be faithful stewards of the truth of the gospel and the whole counsel of God, as much as we can contribute. (1 Cor 8:1-3; 13:9-12)
V 1 (Rom 13:11; Mt 24:12) Paul wants us to know, though, that in the last days perilous times will come. When the Scriptures speak of the “last days”, or the “end-times”, one thing that it means is that there are not “more days coming after” in this age leading up to the Lord’s return. Paul was writing in the last days, which began with the resurrection of Yeshua. (Acts 2:16-17; Heb 1:1-2; 1 Pt 1:20) If Paul, by the Holy Spirit, is saying that the last days will be perilous (also, 1Tim 4:1-5), then that is the final state of things at the time of the end: it will not get better. It brings the judgment of God, beginning in His own house. These two epistles to Timothy tell us what God requires in His house: in the churches and in the born-again believers. Our blessed hope is in the coming again of Messiah and the concurrent resurrection and rapture of the saints, after which He establishes God’s kingdom of righteousness in Israel and over the nations; until then He tells us to endure in the faith until the end, being faithful witnesses for His glory. Jesus endured the pain and the shame of the cross because of the joy and the glory afterward that He knew would be His!
1Pt 5:8-11 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
v 2-4 Paul presents a terrible diagnosis of the symptoms of the lawlessness expressing itself in the last days. The iniquity of the unredeemed inner man is given free reign to come out into the light. Lawlessness is the opposite of the love of God, of the truth of God, of the righteousness of God. It is a love of self and of the world that is in complete opposition to the love which is of YHVH God, and does not recognize Him or His law.
At the same time that the gospel is going out into all the world, the apostasy within the Church is also deepening; there is much missionary activity, while there is also great departure from the truth. It is clear from this that the church will not convert the world to becoming disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Only His personal return in great power and glory will accomplish that! The fourth and final worldly kingdom of the Gentiles is both the least qualitative and the most anti-YHVH of all that came before. (Dan 2; 7; 11) We are called to endure now in faithfulness to our calling and our salvation, in the confidence of the fulfillment of the hope on the other side of the Day of YHVH (the LORD). Eyes of faith see the joy and glory beyond the apostasy and betrayals all around.
v 5a There is a form of godliness, but denying its power. There are many good works that churches and Christians are engaged in. There is a form of godliness, but the power of godliness is denied. Unsaved people are called to invite Jesus into their hearts, but the cross is not preached nor the need to repent and be born-again by the Holy Spirit. Our own country is falling into more and more moral decay, but we continue to speak that things will get better. Worldly optimism that has no Scriptural support. The churches accept the cultural standards of the day as if they are from God or legal in His kingdom, and say that love is love, and that any “good person” has an entry into the Kingdom of Heaven. It is an outward form of godliness, but the heart is far from the Lord. This is the work of the devil, and his ministers, appearing as angels of light and righteousness, even as they deceive people to destruction. (2 Cor 11:12-15; Mt 7:21-23)
Just as the Prophets whom YHVH sent to speak primarily to His (and their) people Israel, calling them to return to the LORD and faithfulness to His covenants with them, ceasing from acting like the Gentile heathen around them, so do the Apostles whom Yeshua/Jesus sent speak primarily to the Church/the Body of Christ/Messiah. We are exhorted and warned regarding our faithfulness to the New Covenant in the shed blood of Jesus. The evil which Paul writes about are, yes, in the world outside all around us, but they have been allowed to come into the life of the churches and believers. This is what the Lord taught in His parables about the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, and what He has the Apostle John write to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation. (Mt 13; Rev 2 – 3)
v 5b-7 Keep away from such people as described in v 2-4. These verses from 5-7 are not primarily a criticism of weak-willed women, however, but of the false teachers who were infiltrating the church. Paul states that these people “resist the truth”, and “they are men who are corrupt in mind and disapproved in regard to the faith”. These treacherous men were taking advantage of apparently simple-minded, easily-led women.
Paul is scathing in his criticism of such false teachers, and also, to a lesser extent, of the women who have fallen for their deception. He is angry at the teachers and exasperated with the women, and he wants Timothy and the local church to recognize it and act on it! Paul had worked tirelessly and whole-heartedly in Ephesus where he had faithfully taught the gospel, the knowledge of the truth, and now it was being undone by savage wolves. (Acts 20:25-31)
v 8 These men, Paul writes, resist the truth, and are not genuine believers. They, like the Egyptian magicians, Jannes and Jambres, imitate what they can in opposing Moses, YHVH’s true servant, but they can not deliver anyone, but only make the situation worse for their people.
v 9 They will progress no further, for their folly will be revealed to all, when God’s true Word and power comes, exposing their false character and teachings, just as it was in Egypt.
In the last days, things will only get worse, so we must not fear, but live in the power of the Holy Spirit, with love, and a sound mind; there may be revivals, but these are only partial and temporary — no matter great they may be — but not the fullfillment of God’s intentions and plan.
The principle is that through much tribulation we enter the Kingdom of God; evil comes in like a flood into the house of God, and too many unredeemed ‘believers’ are influencing inside the churches, leavening the whole; Paul looks to the last days with increasing lawlessness and persecution; but the Word of God abides and goes out – even if the servants of the Lord are imprisoned — and the power of the Holy Spirit in whom He dwells will help us be overcomers by our faith in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Godliness is abiding in the love of God in Christ Jesus/Messiah Yeshua, and obeying Him willingly with faith. (Jn 15:9-10)
The Bible is the Book of reality. God is telling His children what to expect in these last days, so that we can maturely discern the times, and between good and evil. If we abide in the love of God, and obey His commandments, we will demonstrate the power of godliness in the fear of the LORD.
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, August 6, 2021, and reposted with permission.