by Dr. Samuel Lee   08/26/1995     0 reads


2 Timothy 3:1-17

Key Verse: 3:16


1.   How does Paul characterize the last days? To what do you think the "last days" refers? (1) When were there times similar to those of the "last days"? (See Lk 17:27; Ge 19:5)

2. Read verses 2-4. What do ungodly people love? Why does he say "without love"? (3) What should men love?

3. What results does ungodliness produce in people's lives--and in the lives of their children?

4. Think about "lovers of themselves." When such people have freedom, how do they use it? With what result? [Think about the real freedom Jesus purchased for us with his blood. How should we use it? How can we maintain it? (See Jn 8:31,32)]

5. Read verses 6-7. How do ungodly men ruin others' lives and make the world chaotic? How did ungodly men of Moses' day hinder God's work? What does Paul say about such men? (8-9)


6. Read verses 10-14. What example did Paul set of a godly life? What constitutes a godly life?

7. What did Paul suffer in order to live a life of mission? What do you know about what happened to him in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra?

8. What did he tell Timothy to expect if he lived a godly life? What did he urge him to do?

9. Read verses 15-17. What precious treasure did Timothy have to equip him to live a life of mission? What do the Scriptures do for one who studies and obeys them? How do they equip the man of God to serve God and live a godly life?



2 Timothy 3:1-17

Key Verse: 3:16

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness..."

In Second Timothy chapter 2, Paul taught us to remember Jesus Christ in all circumstances. How hard it is to remember Jesus Christ living in this ungodly generation! But if we are going to have true happi­ness and eternal life and the kingdom of God as our inheritance, we must remember Jesus Christ; we should not be en­slaved by the things of the world. In chapter 3, Paul instructs Timothy to live a holy life in this ungodly generation. Paul also instructs Timothy to believe the Bible is the word of life to those who believe in it.

I.  Ungodly people (1-9)

First, ungodly people are lovers of themselves (1-5). Look at verse 1. "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days." Here, "in the last days," has particular conception. The last days does not have any par­ticu­lar dates or time. Magic artists deceived wandering people, predict­ing that Jesus would come on October 28, 1992, at 9:00 p.m. Bibli­cally speak­ing, "in the last days" was comparable to the days of Noah. Even the corrupted people nod their heads and say, "They were terrible" (Lk 17:27). People in Noah's days ate and drank until the flood water came up between their necks and noses. Noah's days sym­bolize the time of ungodly people. Noah's days were the time when God's judgment was imminent. Ungodly peo­ple could not think about more than eating and drink­ing and enjoying sinful plea­sure. Each of them says, "Where is God? I cannot see God with my eyes." Their ungod­ly way of life pro­vok­ed God to anger. They were so wicked that God could not but de­stroy them with water, except No­ah's family and his folks. "In the last days" is also comparable to the times of Sodom and Gomorrah. People were terrible. They were violent and extremely im­moral (Ge 19:5). "In the last days" is also compa­rable to the times of the destruc­tion of the Ro­man Empire. At that time, Romans were most vio­lent and immoral due to their ungodliness. High-class Roman citi­zens worried about their sons' and daughters' mar­riage. It was be­cause young Roman peo­ple were con­quered by deadly diseases, espe­cially around their repro­duc­tive organs.

Look at verse 2. "People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrate­ful, unholy...." When we read verses 1-5 carefully, we learn that the charac­teristics of ungodly people are obvious. They are lovers of them­selves. They are also lovers of money. The people listed in verses 1-9 are the chil­dren of the lovers of them­selves and the lovers of money. They are boastful, proud, abusive, disobedi­ent to their parents, ungrate­ful, unholy, without love, unforgiv­ing, slan­der­ous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, trea­cherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God (2-4). It is not easy for us to live among these people. The same is true of God.

Let's think about lovers of themselves. They are people who live in the world against the law of God. God made man to please God and to take care of God's people and God's world. In short, God made man to live a life of mission. But they ignore the original purpose of man's mean­ing of existence. In short, lovers of themselves are selfish people. In the beginning God created man and gave them mission, creative­ness, faithfulness, and especially the freedom of choice. But these selfish people abuse freedom of choice against God's truth. These selfish peo­ple are ig­norant. They do not know that the cost of freedom is very costly. For exam­ple, England was a Viking nation. These people of Vi­king nation were very ungodly. They used their freedom to gratify their selfishness and wickedness. In the course of establishing the country, people through­out many generations suffered because of ungodly peo­ple's selfishness and wickedness. But the gospel of Jesus came to Eng­land and they be­gan to live for mission and for the country. From the time people lived under cruel feudal lords' rule to the time the Parlia­ment of Great Britain was established, it took 1,000 years. Eng­lish peo­ple suf­fered and bled until Magna Carta was declared.

When people misuse God-given freedom of choice they all be­come slaves of the devil. Nevertheless, Jesus came into this world to free us from the hand of the devil. It was costly. The cost was giving his pre­cious life as a ransom sacrifice. There is no true freedom apart from Jesus. John 8:31,32 says, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." There is true freedom in Jesus Christ.

But ungodly people use their freedom for the sake of their self­ish­ness. When they live a selfish life they become boastful, proud, abu­sive, dis­obedient, ungrateful, unholy, unforgiving, brutal, treacherous and so on. As was said before, selfish people are ignorant. They think that if they live selfishly they will be free indeed. They think that if they live self­ishly they will be happy indeed. That's not true. They become worth­less and useless. They be­come self-centered men. They gradually be­come men­tal patients and self-torturing peo­ple. Ironically, ungodly peo­ple really want to show themselves to be holy and pious people. They are co­medi­ans. Look at verse 5. "...having a form of godliness but deny­ing its pow­er. Have noth­ing to do with them."

Second, ungodly people ruin others and the world (6-7). Look at verse 6. "They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires...." Ungodly people have keen in­stinct to smell sin-stained people. Paul gave as one illustration that an ungod­ly man catches a very sinful woman and ruins her by using her as his object of pleasure. This man is a great sinner before God.

Third, ungodly people hinder God's work (8-9). God called Moses to deliver his people and train them in the wilderness and help them enter the prom­ised land. It was God's mission for Moses. But Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses. Jannes and Jambres were a kind of magician (Ex 8:7; 9:11). Anyway, they hindered Moses' mission to bring his people into the promised land. Thus, they opposed God. It is because they knew what Moses was doing. They knew that what Moses was doing was good. But be­cause of their de­praved minds they hindered Moses' mission. Thus they opposed God.

II.  Godly life in Christ (10-17)

First, godly people live a life of mission (10-14). Look at verse 10. "You, how­ever, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance...." In this verse Paul instructs Timothy to live a godly life. To live a godly life, we must remember Jesus Christ and his teach­ings and Jesus' way of life and the purpose of God. Next, we must bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit: faith, patience, love, endurance.

The godly life is to live a life of mission. When Paul wanted to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, he was terri­bly persecut­ed. For example, when Paul went to Pisidian Antioch and pro­claimed the gospel, many people accepted the good news of Jesus Christ. But the Jews envied him. They came with gangsters and threat­ened Paul not to put his feet in Antioch again and cast him out to Iconi­um. Paul was greatly perse­cuted and cast out. But God made the Syrian Anti­och church the world mis­sion head­quarters. When Paul went to Lystra there was a crippled man. Paul healed him in the name of Jesus Christ. Then the crowd of people deified Paul and Barnabas, calling Paul Hermes and Barnabas Zeus. Then the Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and beat Paul until he looked as if he were dead. As soon as they disap­peared, Paul's consciousness came back. The persecution Paul received was not verbal persecution but violence in a foreign land. Here Paul demonstrates that god­ly people must live as men of mission and that mission accom­panies persecutions. Paul remind­ed Timothy that God res­cued them from perse­cutions. When we study Genesis, we see that from the be­gin­ning, God gave man mission to take care of God's world. There­fore, man is mis­sion. For this mission Paul went through many persecu­tions. But he was not depressed nor did he cry under the tree because of the per­secu­tions. Rather Paul encouraged Timothy, who was not ready for this kind of persecution, to carry out God's mission and receive much perse­cution. Here we are greatly moved by Paul's challenge to Timo­thy to live as a man of mission.

Of course, Paul knew that evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived (13). Mostly clever people want to deceive others. But there are cleverer people. They pre­tend to be naive and sincere. They draw deceiving people's attention and they show themselves liable to be deceived by the clever people. Later, clev­er people find that they are greatly deceived by cleverer peo­ple. Once there was a clever multi-millionaire. In his cleverness, he searched for naive and sincere-looking people who were in need of money. The rich man lent huge amounts of money to each person with sky-high interest, believing that 12 of these naive and poor people would pay him back. Later, when the rich man wanted to get the mon­ey back, each of them said, "You did not make contracts with us in order to receive sky-high interest. No contract, no obligation."

But Paul instructs Timothy to continue in what he has learned and has become convinced of (14). In short, Paul is say­ing to Timothy that he should not be dis­tracted by the worldly peo­ple's material pros­perity (Ps 73:2-3). Definite­ly, Timothy must live a life of mis­sion. It is easy for anyone to envy ungodly peo­ple's easygo­ing way of life. Even many sin­cere Christians fall into depression when they see ungodly people's easygo­ing way of life. But we must listen to Paul's instruc­tion to see ungodly people's worldly life as less than nothing. We must carry out the mission given to us in this generation, even though many feel that this gen­era­tion is in the last days and God's judg­ment is immi­nent.

In this terrible generation, to engage in world mission seems to be foolish. But as David served God's purpose in his generation (Ac 13:36), so we must serve God's purpose in this generation. There are two characteristics of this genera­tion. The first is that sinful freedom has been publicly accepted. The second is that individualism has degen­erat­ed into selfishness. Because of selfish­ness, no one wants to commit to anybody or anything. There are innu­merable young people who live without marriage. Jean-Paul Sartre's insight about human relationships in the near future was really disgust­ing to read. But we can see his insight turned into reality. To the worldly people, Bible teaching is a very funny thing. They see Bible teachers like grand­father Noah. But communism failed and capitalism has become chaotic. People do not know where history is going.  In this genera­tion,  God wants us to shep­herd his flock of sheep. God wants us to raise them as Bible teach­ers and shepherds of his people. God wants us to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. When we calculate, this is an impossible task. But when we obey God's command it is indeed a glorious mission for us. Imagine that 10,000 Bible students are raised through our prayers and Bible teachings. And 10,000 houses are abundantly happy. If this be­comes the direction of this country, this country will be glorious.

Second, the Bible is the word of life (15-17). Ungodly people treasure money or unpredictable boyfriends or girlfriends. But we godly people treasure the Bible. It is because the Bible is the word of God and it is also the word of life. We must raise our children with the word of God. If they are not growing by the word of God we must know that we failed our mission of raising God's children. Look at verse 15. "...and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." Next we must believe that the Bible is the word of life. All other books do not give life to man. Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote "Émile," (how to edu­cate children). It was a best-seller at the time and it became a classic. Yet he gave three illegitimate sons to orphan­ag­es. But the Bible gives life to man and man's purpose of life. Look at verse 16. "All Scrip­ture is God-breathed and is useful for teach­ing, rebuk­ing, correcting and training in righteous­ness...." There is God's life in the Bible. The Bible makes man great if one lives according to its teachings. Usually sinful men seem to have determined not to listen to others. But in history, so many people read the Bible and received God's life and experienced God's glory. John Newton was chief among the slave dealers. Once he hap­pened to read a Bible placed in the cabin. He realized that he was so selfish that he was selling people as slaves to make money. But Jesus Christ gave his life to save men from their sins. Suddenly, heaven­ly light began to shine in his soul. He shouted, "Amaz­ing grace!" He received God's life.

In this passage we learned that ungodly people are selfish people. But godly people serve God's pur­pose in their own generations. Above all, let's pray that God would move our hearts to believe the word of God is the word of life.