2 Timothy 3:13
But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
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(13) But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse.—This verse is closely connected with the following (2Timothy 3:14), to which, indeed, it serves as an introduction. 2Timothy 3:14 takes up again the exhortation to Timothy begun in 2Timothy 3:10 : “But thou hast fully known my doctrine,” &c. 2Timothy 3:14 takes up the thought: “Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” Here, in 2Timothy 3:13, these evil men and seducers (or better, perhaps, deceivers) are spoken of as advancing towards the worse. History has borne witness to the accuracy of these prophetic words. The false teachers known to St. Paul and Timothy developed into the leaders of the various wild and speculative Gnostic sects, whose connection with Christianity consisted alone in the name; and each succeeding age has witnessed a development in opposition to the truth as it is in Jesus. In this allusion to the gradual development of hostility to the truth it will hardly be out of place to instance the eighteenth Christian century, when opposition to the teaching of Jesus had reached such a pitch that, with the approval or even the applause of thousands, the most brilliant writer in Europe wrote of Christ and His religion in the well-known words, “Ecrasez l’infame!” while it was reserved for our own century—the nineteenth—to witness the rare, though we believe ephemeral popularity, among so-called Christian peoples of a work which, with honeyed phrases, and in romantic, graceful language, paints the Redeemer of man in the strange and apparently contradictory characters of a loving enthusiast and of a conscious impostor!

3:10-13 The more fully we know the doctrine of Christ, as taught by the apostles, the more closely we shall cleave to it. When we know the afflictions of believers only in part, they tempt us to decline the cause for which they suffer. A form of godliness, a profession of Christian faith without a godly life, often is allowed to pass, while open profession of the truth as it is in Jesus, and resolute attention to the duties of godliness, stir up the scorn and enmity of the world. As good men, by the grace of God, grow better, so bad men, through the craft of Satan, and the power of their own corruptions, grow worse. The way of sin is down-hill; such go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. Those who deceive others, deceive themselves, as they will find at last, to their cost. The history of the outward church, awfully shows that the apostle spake this as he was moved by the Holy Ghost.But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse - That is, it is the character of such men to do this; they may be expected to do it. This is the general law of depravity - that if men are not converted, they are always growing worse, and sinking deeper into iniquity. Their progress will be certain, though it may be gradual, since "nemo repente turpissimus." The connection here is this: that Timothy was not to expect that he would be exempt from persecution 2 Timothy 3:12, by any change for the better in the wicked men referred to. He was to anticipate in them the operation of the general law in regard to bad men and seducers - that they would grow worse and worse. From this fact, he was to regard it as certain that he, as well as others, would be liable to be persecuted. The word rendered "seducers" - γόης goēs - occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means, properly, a "juggler, or diviner;" and then, a "deceiver, or impostor." Here it refers to those who by seductive arts, lead persons into error.

Deceiving - Making others believe that to be true and right, which is false and wrong. This was, of course, done by seductive arts.

And being deceived - Under delusion themselves. The advocates of error are often themselves as really under deception, as those whom they impose upon. They are often sincere in the belief of error, and then they are under a delusion; or, if they are insincere, they are equally deluded in supposing that they can make error pass for truth before God, or can deceive the Searcher of hearts. The worst victims of delusion are those who attempt to delude others.

13. Reason why persecutions must be expected, and these becoming worse and worse as the end approaches. The breach between light and darkness, so far from being healed, shall be widened [Alford].

evil men—in contrast to the "godly" (2Ti 3:12).

seducers—literally, "conjurers." Magical arts prevailed at Ephesus (Ac 19:19), and had been renounced by many Ephesians on embracing Christianity: but now when Paul was writing to Ephesus, symptoms of a return to conjuring tricks appeared: an undesigned coincidence [Burton]. Probably sorcery will characterize the final apostasy (Re 13:15; 18:23; 22:15).

wax worse—literally, "advance in the direction of worse" (see on [2503]2Ti 3:9). Not contradictory to that verse: there the diffusion of the evil was spoken of; here its intensity [Alford].

deceiving, and being deceived—He who has once begun to deceive others, is the less easily able to recover himself from error, and the more easily embraces in turn the errors of others [Bengel].

Neither do thou expect that the times should mend, for men that are given up to their lusts and gohtev, such as go about to deceive others, will grow worse and worse, as the world groweth older, both in their endeavours to deceive, and in their malice and hatred to those that oppose them.

Deceiving, and being deceived; deceiving others, and being left by the just judgment of God to deceive and ruin their own souls.

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse,.... By "evil men" are meant, not sinful men in common, as all are by nature and practice; nor only open profane sinners but rather wicked men under a form of godliness, as before; and who are full of wickedness and malice against truly godly persons, even as the devil himself, of whom the same word is used, when he is called the wicked one; and this is a reason why true professors of religion must expect persecution, seeing as there ever were, so there ever will be such sort of men, who will not grow better, but worse and worse. The word for "seducers", signifies sorcerers, enchanters, a sort of jugglers; and as the other, it well suits with the ecclesiastics of the church of Rome, who pretend to miracles, and do lying wonders, and by their sorceries deceive all nations, Revelation 18:23 and these "shall wax worse and worse"; in principle and in practice, in ungodliness, and in error, in wickedness and malice against the saints, and in the arts of deceiving; so the church of Rome is never to be expected to be better, but worse; at the time of the fall of Babylon she will be an habitation of devils, the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird, Revelation 18:2

deceiving: not God, but themselves and others even all nations, excepting the elect of God; which they do by their good words and fair speeches, and by their show of devotion and religion, and by their pretended miracles and lying wonders:

and deceived by the old serpent, the devil, under whose power and influence they are, in whose snare they are taken, and by whom they are led captive, and will at last share the same fate with himself, and be cast into the same lake of fire and brimstone.

But evil men and seducers shall wax {d} worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

(d) Their wickedness will daily increase.

2 Timothy 3:13. Matthies (with whom Wiesinger agrees) thus states the connection between this and the preceding verses: “Quite different is it with evil men, who, instead of suffering for the truth, proceed always farther in their wickedness;” but there is no real opposition in the two thoughts thus opposed.[52] The apostle here continues the description of the heretics which was interrupted at 2 Timothy 3:10; in contrast with οἱ θέλοντες εὐσεβῶς ζῆν, he calls them πονηροὶ ἄνθρωποι καὶ γόητες, and says of them, προκόπτειν ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον, which is all the more suitable that it was the very reason why persecution was threatening the honest disciples of Christ, and with them Timothy.

πονηροὶ δὲ ἄνθρωποι] As the article is wanting, the thought is quite general, but καὶ γόητες clearly shows that the heretics mentioned above are specially meant (in opposition to Hofmann). Paul gives this name to the heretics, with reference to 2 Timothy 3:8, where he compared them to the Egyptian sorcerers. The word γόης is ἅπ. λεγ. (γοητεία 2Ma 12:24); it is equivalent to μάγος, Acts 13:6; Acts 13:8 (comp., too, Acts 8:9; Acts 8:11). Hofmann generalizes the idea to that of a traitor; but this is all the more arbitrary, that the expression is undoubtedly an allusion to 2 Timothy 3:8.

προκόψουσιν ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον] denotes a greater degree of wickedness, while 2 Timothy 3:9 refers to the increase in the extent of its influence.

How this increase of wickedness comes to pass, is told by the words πλανῶντες καὶ πλανώμενοι. Bengel and Heydenreich make πλανῶντες and γόητες, πλανώμενοι and πονηροί parallel to each other; for this, however, there is no ground. Even the meaning of πλανώμενοι is against the parallel, for it is neither transitive: “leading astray” (Matthies), nor middle: qui se seducendos permittunt (Bengel), nor even intransitive: “going astray” (Hofmann); it is purely passive: “being led astray” (Luther), or otherwise it would have been put first. He who leads others astray is himself led astray.

[52] Wiesinger argues, on the other hand, that “suffering for the sake of holiness, and advance in wickedness with outward success,” do form a contrast; but the idea “with outward success” is entirely imported.

2 Timothy 3:13. πονηροὶ δὲ: The antithesis seems to be between the apparent discomfiture of those who wish to live in Christ (their persecution being after all almost a means conditional to their attaining their desire), and the paradoxical success of evil men; they advance indeed; but only in degradation; proficient in peius (Vulg.). See notes on 2 Timothy 3:9 and 2 Timothy 2:16.

γόητες, impostors (R.V.), seductores, exactly expresses the term. γοητεία occurs 2Ma 12:24, where it means trickery.

πλανώμενοι: cf. Titus 3:3. Those who deceive others impair, in so doing, their sense of the distinction between truth and falsehood, and thus weaken their power of resistance to self-deceit, and to imposition by others.

προκόψουσιν ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον: See on 2 Timothy 3:9.

13. But evil men and seducers] The word ‘seduce’ in A.V. occurs nine times in Old and New Testament always in the general sense of ‘lead astray’; everywhere except here it is used to represent the Greek word for this cognate to the English word ‘planet’ ‘the wanderer,’ (cf. Jude’s ‘wandering stars’) and almost immediately following here ‘deceiving,’ cf. 1 Timothy 4:1 and note. R.V. in these places varies between ‘seduce’ and ‘lead astray.’ The word so rendered here is properly ‘enchanter,’ from the cries of incantations used. So ‘magicians,’ and more generally ‘impostors.’ Compare for the general sense, the most probable here, the use of the verb by Plato, Phæd. 81, 13, ‘the soul having served and loved the body and been bewitched by it through desires and pleasures.’ Some think there may be a reference to the magic arts, such as those of Jannes and Jambres; and certainly Ephesus had an evil repute in this respect itself, cf. Acts 19:13; Acts 19:10. ‘Ephesian letters’ was a common expression for charms made up of magic words and worn as amulets.

shall wax worse and worse] The same verb as in 2 Timothy 3:9. The ‘progress’ is a ‘rake’s progress,’ step after step leading and being led astray. Compare Revelation 18:23, ‘with thy sorcery were all the nations deceived,’ 2 John 1:7, ‘many deceivers are gone forth into the world … this is the deceiver and the antichrist.’

2 Timothy 3:13. Πονηροὶ, evil men) The antithesis is godly, 2 Timothy 3:12. These are πλανώμενοι, with a middle signification, who permit themselves to be seduced.—γόητες) seducers, enchanters, like those of Egypt, 2 Timothy 3:8. These are πλανῶντες, seducers.—προκόψουσιν, shall proceed to) so that no one will persecute them, but they will persecute the godly.—πλανῶντες καὶ πλανώμενοι, deceiving and being deceived) He who has once begun to deceive others, is the less easily able to recover himself from error, and the more easily embraces in turn the errors of others.

Verse 13. - Impostors for seducers, A.V. Evil men (πονηροί). In 2 Timothy 4:18 it is παντὸς ἕργου πονηροῦ. The adjective is applied indifferently to persons and things - evil men, evil servants, evil persons, evil generation, evil spirits, etc., and evil deeds, evil fruits, evil eye, evil works, etc. Satan, the embodiment of evil, is ὁ πονηρός. Impostors (γόντες); only here in the New Testament. In classical Greek γόης is a juggler, a cheat, an enchanter. St. Paul still had the Egyptian magicians in his mind. Shall wax worse and worse (προκόψουσιν ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον); see above, ver. 9, note. 2 Timothy 3:13Seducers (γόντες)

N.T.o. Better, impostors or deceivers. From γοᾶν to howl. Originally, one who chants spells; a wizard, sorcerer. Hence, a cheat.

Shall wax worse and worse (προκόψουσιν ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον)

Lit. shall proceed to the worse. The formula, Pasto. Comp. 2 Timothy 3:9 and 2 Timothy 2:16.

Deceiving (πλανῶντες)

Properly, leading astray. See on πλάνοις seducing, 1 Timothy 4:1.

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