2 Timothy 3:1
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
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(1) This know also.—Better rendered, But know this. The Apostle had warned Timothy (2Timothy 2:3-13) not to allow fear of oncoming peril and trouble to paralyse his efforts in the Master’s cause, for the Lord’s true servant should never lose heart, and then had proceeded (2Timothy 2:14-26) to detail how these efforts of his were to be directed, showing him how his teaching should stand in contrast with that of the false teachers. St. Paul now (2Timothy 3:1), having told him that although there was no reason to fear, yet warns him that grave dangers to the Church would surely arise, and that God’s servants, like Timothy, must be prepared to combat.

In the last days.—The majority of commentators have referred “the last days” here spoken of to the period immediately preceding the second coming of the Lord—a day and an hour somewhere in the future but hidden, not merely from all men, but from the angels, and even from the Son (Mark 13:32).

It seems, however, more in accordance with such passages as 1John 2:18 : “Little children, it is the last time”—where the present, and not an uncertain future is alluded to—to understand “the last days “as that period, probably of very long duration, extending from the days of the first coming of Messiah—in which time St. Paul lived—to the second coming of Christ in judgment. The Jewish Rabbis of the days of St. Paul were in the habit of speaking of two great periods of the world’s history—“this age,” and “the age to come.” The former of these, “this age,” including all periods up to Messiah’s advent; the latter, “the age to come,” including all periods subsequent to the appearance of Messiah. We find the same idea embodied later in the Talmud (treatise “Sanhedrim”) 6,000 years are mentioned as the duration of the world, 2,000 years, waste or chaos, 2,000 years under the law, 2,000 years the days of Messiah.” This last period, “the days of Messiah,” are often alluded to by the Hebrew prophets under the expression, “in the last days”—literally, in the end of days. (See Isaiah 2:2; Hosea 3:5; Micah 4:1.) The words of 2Timothy 3:5, “from such turn away,” would require certainly a strained interpretation if we are to suppose that the “last days” referred to a time immediately preceding the end, or, in other words, the last period of the Christian era. The sad catalogue of vices is, alas, one with which all ages of the Church of Christ has been too well acquainted. The Christian teacher has no need to look forward to a future time of deeper iniquity, when in the Church of the living God will be found those who will deserve the dreary titles of this passage. The Church of his own age will supply him with examples of many such, for “In a great house . . . are there not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood, and earth, and some to honour and some to dishonour.”

2 Timothy 3:1-2. The apostle, at the close of the preceding chapter, having intimated to Timothy that false teachers did and would arise in the church, he, in the beginning of this chapter, foretels that in future times, through the pernicious influence of corrupt doctrines propagated by these teachers, many professing Christians, and, among the rest, the false teachers themselves, would become so wicked, that it would become dangerous to the truly pious to live among them. As if he had said, It is the more necessary to urge thee, as I do, to use every precaution and every effort which may tend to preserve the purity and honour of the Christian Church, since, after all we can do for this purpose, sad scenes will open in it. This know also — Besides what I formerly told thee concerning the apostacy, (1 Timothy 4:1,) that in the last, or latter days — That is, under the gospel dispensation, called the latter days, as being intended to wind up the economy of providence, and to remain in full force even to the end of the world: perilous times shall come — In which it will be difficult for the faithful followers of Jesus to discharge their consciences, and yet, at the same time, to maintain their safety. For men — Even within the pale of the outward church, will be — In great numbers, and to a higher degree than ever, lovers of themselves — Only, (the first root of evil,) not of God and their neighbours. “The vices mentioned in this and the two following verses have always existed in the world. But their being spoken of here as characteristic of the latter days, implies that, besides being common in these days, they would be openly avowed and defended. Accordingly, it is well known, the clergy of the Romish Church have defended all the enormities mentioned by the apostle, encouraged the people by their false doctrine to commit them, and gone before them in the practice of them.” Covetous Φιλαργυροι, lovers of money, (the second root of evil,) so as to be impelled to the basest practices, by the hopes of obtaining it. The Catholic clergy, it is well known, have carried their love of money to such a height, that they pretend to sell heaven for money, even to the wickedest of men, under the name of indulgences; boasters — Of what they have, or are, or can do; proud — Thinking highly of themselves on these accounts; blasphemers — Of God, and revilers of their fellow-creatures; disobedient to parents — Notwithstanding all the obligations they are under to them. “In the language of the Hebrews, parents signified superiors of every denomination. The disobedience of the Romish clergy to princes and magistrates, and even their dethroning princes, is well known. It may also signify their encouraging children to become monks and nuns, contrary to the will of their parents.” Unthankful — To other benefactors, and to God for the blessings of providence and grace; unholy — Though they profess themselves to be devoted to God, and consecrated to his service by the most solemn rites.3:1-9 Even in gospel times there would be perilous times; on account of persecution from without, still more on account of corruptions within. Men love to gratify their own lusts, more than to please God and do their duty. When every man is eager for what he can get, and anxious to keep what he has, this makes men dangerous to one another. When men do not fear God, they will not regard man. When children are disobedient to their parents, that makes the times perilous. Men are unholy and without the fear of God, because unthankful for the mercies of God. We abuse God's gifts, if we make them the food and fuel of our lusts. Times are perilous also, when parents are without natural affection to children. And when men have no rule over their own spirits, but despise that which is good and to be honoured. God is to be loved above all; but a carnal mind, full of enmity against him, prefers any thing before him, especially carnal pleasure. A form of godliness is very different from the power; from such as are found to be hypocrites, real Christians must withdraw. Such persons have been found within the outward church, in every place, and at all times. There ever have been artful men, who, by pretences and flatteries, creep into the favour and confidence of those who are too easy of belief, ignorant, and fanciful. All must be ever learning to know the Lord; but these follow every new notion, yet never seek the truth as it is in Jesus. Like the Egyptian magicians, these were men of corrupt minds, prejudiced against the truth, and found to be quite without faith. Yet though the spirit of error may be let loose for a time, Satan can deceive the nations and the churches no further, and no longer, than God will permit.This know also - The "object" of this reference to the perilous times which were to occur, was evidently to show the necessity of using every precaution to preserve the purity of the church, from the fact that such sad scenes were to open upon it. The apostle had dwelt upon this subject in his First Epistle to Timothy 2 Timothy 4, but its importance leads him to advert to it again.

In the last days - Under the gospel dispensation; some time in that period during which the affairs of the world will be closed up; see the 1 Timothy 4:1 note, and Hebrews 1:2 note.

Perilous times shall come - Times of danger, of persecution, and of trial. On the general meaning of this passage, and the general characteristics of those times, the reader may consult the 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 notes, and 1 Timothy 4:1-3 notes. There can be no doubt that in all these passages the apostle refers to the same events.


2Ti 3:1-17. Coming Evil Days: Signs of Evil Already: Contrast in the Doctrine and Life of Paul, Which Timothy Should Follow in Accordance with His Early Training in Scripture.

1. also—Greek, "but."

last days—preceding Christ's second coming (2Pe 3:3; Jude 18). "The latter times," 1Ti 4:1, refer to a period not so remote as "the last days," namely, the long days of papal and Greek anti-Christianity.

perilous—literally, "difficult times," in which it is difficult to know what is to be done: "grievous times."

shall come—Greek, "shall be imminent"; "shall come unexpectedly" [Bengel].2 Timothy 3:1-5 The apostle foretelleth the evil characters that

should appear in the last days.

2 Timothy 3:6-9 He describeth the enemies of the truth,

2 Timothy 3:10-13 propoundeth unto Timothy his own example,

2 Timothy 3:14-17 and exhorteth him to abide in the doctrine he had

learned, commending unto him the manifold use of the

Holy Scriptures.

We met with this term,

last days, 1 Timothy 4:1, and

there said that the Scripture by that term understands all the time

from Christ’s ascension to the end of the world. We meet with the

term, Genesis 49:1 Isaiah 2:2 Micah 4:1 Acts 2:17 Hebrews 1:2 Jam 5:3 2 Peter 3:3.

Of these days some are later than others, but it appears by Acts 2:17Hebrews 1:2, that that whole period of time is so called.

Perilous times shall come; in the Greek it is, difficult times,

that is, times when it will be difficult for Christians to keep their

lives or estates, or any happy station in the world, with a good

conscience, by reason of the plenty of ill men that should live in

those times, and make them so difficult.

This know also,.... That not only men of bad principles and practices are in the churches now, as before described in the preceding chapter, but that in succeeding ages there would be worse men, if possible, and the times would be still worse; this the apostle had, and delivered by a spirit of prophecy, and informed Timothy, and others of it, that he and they might be prepared for such events, and fortified against them:

that in the last days perilous times shall come; "or hard" and difficult times to live in; not by reason of the outward calamities, as badness of trade, scarcity of provisions, the ravages of the sword, &c. but by reason of the wickedness of men, and that not of the profane world, but of professors of religion; for they are the persons afterwards described, who will make the times they live in difficult to others, to live soberly, righteously, and godly; the days will be evil, because of these evil men: or they will be "troublesome" times, very afflicting and distressing to pious minds; as the places and times, and men and customs of them were to Lot, David, Isaiah, and others: and also "dangerous" ones to the souls of men; who will be beguiled by their fair speeches, and specious pretences, to follow their pernicious ways, which will bring destruction upon them; their doctrines will eat as a gangrene, and their evil communications will corrupt good manners, before observed. And these times will be "in the last days" of the apostolic age, and onward to the end of the world: the Jews generally understand by this phrase, when used in the Old Testament, the days of the Messiah; and which are the last days of the world, in comparison of the times before the law, from Adam to Moses, and under the law, from thence to Christ; and even in the times of the apostles, at least towards the close of them, great numbers of men rose up under the Christian name, to whom the following characters well agree, as the Gnostics, and others; and who paved the way for the man of sin, the Romish antichrist, whose priests and votaries are here likewise described to the life: so that these last days may take in the general defection and apostasy of the church of Rome, as well as those times, which followed the apostles, and those which will usher in the second coming of Christ. The Ethiopic version renders it, "in the latter days will come an evil, or bad year".

This {1} know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

(1) The seventh admonition: we may not hope for a Church in this world without corruption: but there will be rather great abundance of most wicked men even in the very bosom of the Church, who will nonetheless make a show and countenance of great holiness, and charity.

2 Timothy 3:1. Consequent on the previous exhortations we have a foreshadowing of the evil state of things in the future.

τοῦτο δὲ γίνωσκε] Even if the plural γινώσκετε be the correct reading, it does not follow that the epistle was directed to others beside Timothy; when an exhortation is general in nature, there is nothing strange in an extension of the point of view.

ὅτι ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις] comp. 1 Timothy 4:1; Grotius wrongly translates: posthac. It denotes a definite period, not, however (as in Acts 2:17; Hebrews 1:1), the present, the time between the appearance of Christ in the flesh and His second coming to judgment (Heydenreich), nor the time in which the errors shall come to an end (Mack), but the time immediately preceding Christ’s παρουσία, in which time, according to apostolic prophecy, the might of the wicked one shall be fully revealed in order to be completely overcome; comp. 2 Peter 3:3; Judges 1:18.

ἐνστήσονται] ἐνίστημι, as an intransitive verb, has the sense of “be near at hand,” but in such a way that it passes over into the sense of “be present;” thus in Romans 8:38, 1 Corinthians 3:22, ἐνεστῶτα and μέλλοντα stand in sharp antithesis as “things present” and “things future.” Bengel therefore is correct: aderunt. The same is the case with the Latin instare; hence there is no ground for finding fault with the Vulg. “instabunt” (de Wette), since in the future something future was denoted. Luther is not quite exact: “will come.”

καιροὶ χαλεποί] de Wette: “critical times;” καιρός is not simply the time, but the state of things at the time.

The next verses show in what way these καιροί will show themselves to be χαλεποί.2 Timothy 3:1-9. Evil times are upon us; we have indeed amongst us specimens of the perennial impostor, worthy successors of Jannes and Jambres. The shortlived nature of their success, will be, however, patent to all.1. This know also] Lit., ‘take notice of this,’ the present tense. Our Lord in Luke 12:39 has the same formula.

in the last days] ‘Not only the very last days, towards the end of the world, but in general (according to the Hebrew phrase) the days to come, or the future time, whether nearer or afar off. He supposeth this would begin to happen in the age of Timothy, 2 Timothy 3:5 from such do thou (thou, Timothy) turn away and avoid them,’ Bp Bull, Serm. xv. init. So Calvin, ‘universum Ecclesiae Christianae statum.’

perilous times shall come] Lit. ‘difficult,’ grievous; the meaning is well seen from the only other place where it occurs in N.T. Matthew 8:28, ‘two possessed with devils exceeding fierce,’ i.e. difficult to deal with, ‘so that no man could pass by that way.’ ‘Shall come,’ lit., will set in. Vulg. ‘instabunt,’ ‘will be upon us,’ ‘will be present.’ In Galatians 1:4 the perfect participle is used, ‘this present evil world.’

1–5. Appeal to Timothy for pure life in view of the worse days and lives to come

The same three thoughts are still in St Paul’s mind, viz. (1) his own life’s work and suffering now closed, (2) Timothy’s life and teaching as the pattern still for other ministers, (3) the false teachers to be shunned and stopped. They are blended in an old man’s artless way as each is uppermost, (3) 2 Timothy 3:1-5; (2) 5; (3) 6–9; (2) 10; (1) 10–12; (3) 13; (2) 14–17. But the main central thought—anxiety for Timothy—comes in, after the others, three times.

The connexion with chap. 2. seems to be: ‘do your best to win back those who are only in the first stage of opposition (see 2 Timothy 2:25, ‘those that are setting themselves contentiously’); there will be men ere long too far gone for this in evil living and false teaching; from these there is no help for it but to turn away.’2 Timothy 3:1. Τοῦτο δὲ γίνωσκε, but know this) The apostle’s statement is quite distinct, 1 Timothy 4:1.—ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις, in the last days) which had at that time begun to be, 2 Timothy 3:5, at the end. A similar expression is found at 2 Peter 3:3; Judges 1:18.—ἐνστήσονται) shall come unexpectedly. The future, in respect of prophecies that had gone before.—καιροὶ χαλεποὶ, perilous times) when it will be difficult to discover what should be done.Verse 1. - But know this for this know also, A.V.; grievous for perilous, A.V. Grievous times (καιροὶ χαλεποί). "Grievous" is not a very good rendering. "Perilous," though in some contexts it is a right rendering, is a little too restricted here. "Difficult," "trying," "uneasy," or the like, is nearer the sense. They are times when a Christian hardly knows which way to turn or what to do. He has to live under a constant sense of hindrance and difficulty of one sort or another. Comp. the beginning of 1 Timothy 4.

This know (τοῦτο γίνωσκε)

The phrase N.T.o. Comp. Paul's γινώσκειν ὑμᾶς βούλομαι I would have you to know, Philippians 1:12; and θέλω δὲ ὑμᾶς εἰδέναι I would you should know, 1 Corinthians 11:3.

In the last days (ἐπ' ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις)

The phrase only here in Pastorals, Acts 2:17, James 5:3. Similar expressions are ἐν καιρῷ ἐσχάτῳ in the last season, 1 Peter 1:5 : ἐπ' ἐσχάτου τῶν χρόνων at the last of the times, 1 Peter 1:20 : ἐπ' ἐσχάτου χρόνου at the last time, Jde 1:18 : ἐπ' ἐσχάτων τῶν ἡμερῶν at the last of the days, 2 Peter 3:3 : ἐν ὑστέροις καιροῖς in the latter seasons, 1 Timothy 4:1. The times immediately preceding Christ's second appearing are meant. Comp. Hebrews 1:2; James 5:3.

Perilous times (καιροὶ χαλεποί)

Only here and Matthew 8:28. Lit. hard times: schwere Zeiten. Καιρός denotes a definite, specific season. See on Matthew 12:1; see on Acts 1:17.

Shall come (ἐνστήσονται)

Or will set in. Mostly in Paul. Only here in Pastorals. See on Galatians 1:4.

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