Online Bible Commentary
2 Timothy 3:10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings--what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (NIV)
The Apostle Paul is writing to Timothy from his prison cell in Rome. Timothy is helping the house churches in Ephesus, which are beset by false teaching. In the previous passage, Paul has described the ungodliness of the false teachers. In this passage, he contrasts himself with the false teachers by reminding Timothy of Paul’s godliness. He is reminding Timothy of his past in order to strengthen Timothy for the task ahead, in his future.
Paul lists five godly virtues to which Paul has remained loyal. These godly virtues are in contrast to the ungodly vices of the false teachers listed in the previous passage. These five virtues are doctrine, conduct, purpose, cardinal virtues, and suffering. His goal is for Timothy to remain loyal to Paul’s teachings even after Paul’s demise, which occurred within a year of this writing.
First, Paul reminds Timothy of his doctrine (v. 10a). The word translated “teaching” (v. 10a) is the Greek word “didaskalia”, which also means “doctrine”. He is reminding Timothy to stay true to his teachings, the Christian doctrine, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and not be deceived by the false teachers.
Paul’s testimony is made powerful by the fact that he, himself, lived the Gospel. He reminded Timothy of his “way of life” (v. 10b), his conduct, which served as an example of one who lived according to Christian doctrine. His godly conduct was, again, in stark contrast to the conduct of the false teachers, described in the previous passage.
Next, Paul reminds Timothy of his “purpose” (v. 10c), which is his total commitment to Jesus Christ. Then, he reminds Timothy that Paul has lived his life according to the cardinal Christian virtues of “faith, patience, love, and endurance” (v. 10d).
Finally, Paul reminds Timothy that he has endured “sufferings” (v. 11a). He has been persecuted for his faith. Paul recalls three of his persecutions that occurred near Timothy’s home: in Antioch (Acts 13:50), where he was persecuted and expelled; in Iconium (Acts 14:2-6), where he had to flee to escape stoning; and in Lystra (Acts 14:19-20), where he was stoned, almost to the point of death (v. 11b).
Although Paul was persecuted, God preserved his life. It is the character of God not to save us from suffering, but to walk us through our suffering (v. 11c). He is with us all the time, strengthening us, just as He did Paul. Anyone who chooses to live a godly life will be persecuted (v. 12). That is because of evil in the world. The evil, sin, in people’s lives causes them to not want to hear a message on sin. It hits too close to home. Many churches fail to teach on sin for this very reason. They are only teaching part of the Gospel. They seek only to tickle the ears of their congregants, not to strengthen them in their faith. So when someone brings a message on sin he is open to persecution, even from other Christians.
Paul concludes this passage by teaching that false teachers, described as “evil men” and “imposters”, will “go from bad to worse” (v. 13a). Sin is progressive. Where it is allowed to exist, it grows like cancer. That is the state of our country today. Our churches have failed us. They have been afraid to teach on sin for so long now that sin, in the form of homosexuality, is actually embraced by false teachers in some churches. This is what Paul means to “go from bad to worse”. As we continue down this road things will get progressively worse until our churches become like the church in Laodicea (Rev. 3:14). The Lord will “spit out” the church, and the rapture of the few remaining faithful Christians will occur.
Paul lived a life of godly virtues. He called Timothy, and all Christians to follow his example. Therefore, we are called to follow the doctrine, the teachings, of the Bible. We are called to be Christlike, to conduct ourselves as Jesus would. We are called to have as our purpose to be totally committed to Jesus Christ. We are called to exhibit the cardinal virtues of faith, patience, love, and endurance. And we are called to suffer for Christ, just as He did for us. That is the life of a Christian. It is not always an easy life, but you can’t beat the rewards at the end.