Online Bible Commentary
Vices of False Teachers
2 Timothy 3:1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul is writing to Timothy, who is helping at the church in Ephesus. False Teaching has infiltrated the church and this letter is the second Paul has sent in an effort to remedy the situation.
Paul is writing from prison in Rome, with Luke being his amanuensis, or scribe. This letter is being written about AD late 65-early 66.
In this passage, Paul begins by writing “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:” (v. 1). Paul calls on Timothy to remember the challenges of the “last days”.
The term “last days” refers to the church age. Paul and Timothy were living in the early days of the church age, the first century.
This age will come to a conclusion with the return of Christ. “There will be perilous times” during the church age. There were perilous times in the first century, and there are now, but there also are more to follow. The closer we get to the return of Christ, the more perilous the times will become.
Next, Paul writes “For men will be lovers of themselves” (v. 2a). The cause of these terrible times is that people are “lovers of themselves”.
This is why Paul lists this first, prior to a list of vices. Paul lists sixteen vices that sprout from people being “lovers of themselves”.
He writes “lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty” (vv. 2b-4a).
Next, Paul summarizes those who share these sixteen vices. He writes that they are “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (v. 4b). They are only looking out for their own best interests.
They do not have the mind of Christ. They do not think like Christ, and they do not see the world like Christ.
They are only concerned with themselves. They are not concerned with the kingdom of God.
Paul is writing this to Timothy so that he would understand the mindset of the false teachers. The false teachers of Paul’s day, and those of today, were only interested in themselves.
They twisted the Gospel to benefit themselves. Their motivation was for financial gain, even though they claimed to be righting a wrong, correcting the teachings of Paul.
Paul described the false teachers as men “who think that godliness is a means to financial gain” (1Timothy 5:5). They appealed to the church to follow their teachings, instead of Paul’s, knowing that the church would give financially to them, instead of to Paul.
Their plan worked. This was evidenced by Paul’s admission “you know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me” (2 Timothy 1:15).
The false teachers of today also are motivated by financial gain. The prime example today is those churches that seek the extensive wealth controlled by those of the homosexual movement: homosexuals and their supporters.
They have the backing of Hollywood, the arts, humanists, corporate America, and our own federal government. These churches embrace homosexuality, even though the Bible clearly teaches that it is sin.
They are false teachers because they embrace sin. We could site voluminous verses, both Old and New Testament, that define homosexuality as sin.
But citing these verses is useless because those church leaders who embrace homosexuality know the Bible. They have just chosen to ignore or twist Scripture on that subject.
Reminding them is not helpful, because these false teachers are educated on the subject, but instead consciously choose not to follow the teachings of the Lord. They do so to the eternal detriment of themselves, and of those whom they deceive.
Paul concludes this passage by writing “having a form of godliness but denying its power” (v. 5a). Paul is saying that false teachers follow religious ceremony, “a form of godliness”.
It is “a” form of godliness, but not “the” form of godliness, that is taught by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Their religious ceremonies may make people feel good about themselves, but they and their followers are robbed of the power of God.
They are deceived by the false teachers and follow a different Gospel. They do not follow Paul’s gospel, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul concludes this passage by writing “And from such people turn away!” (v. 5b). Paul warns Timothy, and all Christians, to have nothing to do with false teachers. As in the case of all sin, we are to run from it.
Those who are members of churches engaged in false teaching are complicit in their sin. Those who support false teachers with their attendance, or money, are contributing to the spread of this false teaching.
They are doing the work of Satan, not the work of the Lord.