Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses.—To one brought up, like Timothy, by a pious Jewish mother, and who from a child knew the Holy Scriptures and all the history and ancient traditions connected with the early history of the people, such a comparison would be very striking. No child of Israel could hear the name of Moses, the loved hero of the chosen people, unmoved; and to be told that these false teachers of Ephesus stood in the same relation to him and the Church of Christ as, in old days—in the never-to-be-forgotten Egyptian episode—those famous magicians Jannes and Jambres stood to Moses, would throw for Timothy a new light on all the words and works of these wicked and ambitious men. We can well imagine the comparison being repeated in many an assembly of the faithful, long after the great Apostle’s death: how St. Paul had likened these early Heresiarchs to those evil men who before Pharaoh had dared to resist God and His servant Moses. These magicians, also termed wise men and sorcerers (Exodus 7:11-22) at the court of Pharaoh, appear as the enemies of Moses. The names “Jannes” and “Jambres,” though not given in the sacred text, are preserved in the oral tradition of Israel. The names are found in the Targum of Jonathan on Exodus 7:11; Exodus 22:22. These traditions relate how these men were sons of Balaam, and in the first instance were the instructors of Moses, though subsequently his enemies and opponents. One legend mentions them as perishing in the catastrophe when the waves of the Red Sea overwhelmed the armies of Egypt; another tradition speaks of their having met their death in the slaughter after the worship of the golden calf, the making of which they advised. It was their prophetic words, so say these legendary histories, which, foretelling the birth of Moses, induced Pharaoh to give this order for the destruction of the Jewish children. The later Jews distorted the names into John and Ambrose.
So do these also resist the truth.—The point of comparison between the depraved teachers of Ephesus and these Egyptian sorcerers consisted in a persistent and deadly enmity to the truth, which existed in both cases. The life of the prophet Balaam, the traditionary father of this Jannes and Jambres, supplies a vivid illustration of this malignant and persistent hatred of what is known and felt to be true. That these Ephesian heretics in like manner availed themselves, or pretended to avail themselves of occult power is just probable, though in the comparison this point is of but little moment. We know, however, that the claim at least to possess mysterious and unearthly powers was often made by covetous and worldly men in these times: as, for instance, by Simon Magus (Acts 8:9-24), by Elymas the sorcerer, the false prophet and Jew in Cyprus (Acts 13:6-12). See also the episode of Acts 19:18-20, when “many which used curious arts came to Paul and his companions, and confessed and shewed their deeds.”
Men of corrupt minds.—Literally, corrupted in their minds. Timothy might possibly have been induced to regard these evil men, though erring in some particulars, as still of the flock of Christ, to which they belonged nominally; but he was now instructed that they were simply enemies to the truth: that it was vain to hope that they would ever come to a knowledge of the truth, for their “mind,” the human spirit, the medium of communication with the Holy Spirit of God, was corrupted. There was no common ground of faith, save in the bare name of Christian, between Timothy and these men, for they, in the matter of faith, had been tried and found wanting.2 Timothy 3:8-9. Now as Jannes and Jambres — Some ancient writers speak of these persons as the chief of Pharaoh’s magicians, whose names, though not recorded by Moses, yet being handed down by tradition, are preserved in Jonathan’s Chaldee Paraphrase on Exodus 7:11; withstood Moses — We learn from Exodus 7:11; Exodus 7:22, that Pharaoh’s magicians imitated three of Moses’s miracles by their enchantments; that is, by repeating a form of words known only to themselves, in which they invoked certain demons, and, as they fancied, constrained them to do the things desired. By thus pretending to work miracles equal to those of Moses, they resisted him in his attempts to persuade Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. So these also resist the truth — That is, the true and genuine gospel; namely, as he seems to mean, by false miracles. In the early ages of Christianity the heretical teachers are said to have been much addicted to the study of magic, and that some of the Gnostics pretended to have the secret books of Zoroaster. Clemens. Alexand. Strom., lib. 5. p. 104. And we know that in later times the monks and friars have been great pretenders to miracles. Hence (2 Timothy 3:13) they are called γοητες, magicians. Men of corrupt minds — Impure notions and wicked inclinations; reprobate, αδοκιμοι, disapproved, with respect to the faith — And worthy of being rejected as enemies to it. Or, as some render the clause void of judgment as to the faith; quite ignorant, as well as careless, of true spiritual religion. But they shall proceed no further — Or, as Doddridge renders the clause, they shall not proceed much further, in these artifices, and in gaining proselytes; for their folly shall be made manifest unto all — Ανοια, their want of understanding. The apostle might justly call the errors of the authors of the apostacy, and the base arts by which they established their authority, foolishness, because, though they thought themselves superlatively wise in the methods which they devised for obtaining power and wealth, their doctrines and practices were as void of reason as are the imaginations and actions of fools. As theirs also was — To the Israelites, and even to the Egyptians themselves. That is, “the vile arts by which the corrupters of Christianity established their errors being discovered, their folly and wickedness shall be very plain to the people, even as the folly and wickedness of Pharaoh’s magicians were made plain to the Israelites, by the stop which God put to their enchantments. And thus, the truth being set in a more clear light, the wisdom and righteousness of God, in permitting these corruptions to take place for a while, will be demonstrated.” They who are acquainted with the history of the ancient heretics, and of the Romish Church, and of the Reformation, need not be informed how exactly this whole prophecy hath been fulfilled.Exodus 7:11, et al.), and who opposed their miracles to those of Moses and Aaron. It is not certain where the apostle obtained their names; but they are frequently mentioned by the Hebrew writers, and also by other writers; so that there can be no reasonable doubt that their names were correctly handed down by tradition. Nothing is more probable than that the names of the more distinguished magicians who attempted to imitate the miracles of Moses, would be preserved by tradition; and though they are not mentioned by Moses himself, and the Jews have told many ridiculous stories respecting them, yet this should not lead us to doubt the truth of the tradition respecting their names. A full collection of the Jewish statements in regard to them may be found in Wetstein, in loc.
They are also mentioned by Pliny, Nat. Hist. 30:7; and by Numenius, the philosopher, as quoted by Eusebius, 9:8, and Origen, against Celsus, p. 199. See Wetstein. By the rabbinical writers, they are sometimes mentioned as Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses in Egypt, and sometimes as the sons of Balaam. The more common account is, that they were the princes of the Egyptian magicians. One of the Jewish rabbins represents them as having been convinced by the miracles of Moses, and as having become converts to the Hebrew religion. There is no reason to doubt that these were in fact the leading men who opposed Moses in Egypt, by attempting to work counter-miracles. The point of the remark of the apostle here, is, that they resisted Moses by attempting to imitate his miracles, thus neutralizing the evidence that he was sent from God. In like manner, the persons here referred to, opposed the progress of the gospel by setting up a similar claim to that of the apostles; by pretending to have as much authority as they had; and by thus neutralizing the claims of the true religion, and leading off weak-minded persons from the truth. This is often the most dangerous kind of opposition that is made to religion.
Men of corrupt minds; - compare the notes at 1 Timothy 6:5.
Reprobate concerning the faith - So far as the Christian faith is concerned. On the word rendered "reprobate," see the Romans 1:28 note; 1 Corinthians 9:27 note, rendered "cast-away;" 2 Corinthians 13:5 note. The margin here is, "of no judgment." The meaning is, that in respect to the Christian faith, or the doctrines of religion, their views could not be approved, and they were not to be regarded as true teachers of religion.
Jannes … Jambres—traditional names of the Egyptian magicians who resisted Moses (Ex 7:11, 22), derived from "the unwritten teaching of the Jews" [Theodoret]. In a point so immaterial as the names, where Scripture had not recorded them, Paul takes the names which general opinion had assigned the magicians. Eusebius [Preparation of the Gospel], quotes from Numenius, "Jannes and Jambres were sacred scribes (a lower order of priests in Egypt) skilled in magic." Hiller interprets "Jannes" from the Abyssinian language a trickster, and "Jambres" a juggler" (Ac 13:8).
resist—"withstand," as before. They did so by trying to rival Moses' miracles. So the false teachers shall exhibit lying wonders in the last days (Mt 24:24; 2Th 2:9; Re 13:14, 15).
reprobate—incapable of testing the truth (Ro 1:28) [Bengel]. Alford takes passively, "not abiding the test"; rejected on being tested (Jer 6:30).Jannes and Jambres, the Holy Scripture saith nothing but in this text. It is said by interpreters, that they were two brethren, the chief of Pharaoh’s magicians, who opposed Moses in the miracles he wrought, Exodus 7:11, whose names might be known in Paul’s time by tradition, or the public writings of the Jews.
So do these also resist the truth; so will corrupt teachers under the gospel resist the truth of the gospel published by Christ’s ministers.
Men of corrupt minds; men whose hearts are corrupted with sordid lusts.
Reprobate concerning the faith; adokimoi of no sound judgment as to the doctrine of faith, or not approved of God, or good men, as to their sentiments about our faith. Exodus 7:11 upon which place the Targum of Jonathan has these words:
"and Pharaoh called the wise men and the magicians; and Janis and Jambres, the magicians of the Egyptians, did so by the enchantments of their divinations.''
And the same paraphrase on Exodus 1:15 calls them by the same names; and this shows from whence the apostle had these names, which are not mentioned in any place in the Old Testament; namely, from the traditions and records of the Jews, with which he was well acquainted: there is no need to say he had this account by divine revelation, for some of the Heathens had knowledge of this story some such way. Numenius; the philosopher, speaks of Jannes and Jambres as Egyptian scribes, and famous for their skill in the magic art; and who opposed themselves to Moses when the Jews were driven out of Egypt (l). Pliny also makes mention of Janme and Jotape as magicians; though he wrongly calls them Jews, and places Moses with them (m), as Jannes likewise is by Apuleius (n). It is commonly said by the Jews (o), that these were the two sons of Balaam, and they are said to be the chief of the magicians of Egypt (p); the latter of these is called in the Vulgate Latin version Mambres; and in some Jewish writers his name is Mamre (q) by whom also the former is called Jochane or John; and indeed Joannes, Jannes, and John, are the same name; and R. Gedaliah (r) says, that their names in other languages are John and Ambrose, which is not unlikely. Mention is made of the sons of Jambri in the Apocrypha:
"But the children of Jambri came out of Medaba, and took John, and all that he had, and went their way with it.'' (1 Maccabees 9:36)
whom Josephus (s) calls the sons of Amaraeus. These are said to be the persons that told Pharaoh, that a child should be born among the Israelites, by whom the whole land of Egypt should be destroyed, and which was the reason of Pharaoh's giving such a charge to the Hebrew midwives (t); also the making of the golden calf is ascribed to them (u); for, according to the Jews, they afterwards became proselytes; but these things are not to be depended on: however, certain it is, that they withstood Moses by their enchantments, and hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that, for a while, he would not let the children of Israel go. Now between these magicians, and the Papists before described, there is a very great agreement; as these men were Egyptians, so the Papists may be called, since Rome is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, Revelation 11:8 as the one were, so the other are idolaters, who worshipped devils, idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, Revelation 9:20 and both sorcerers, using the magic art; Revelation 9:21 and they both pretended to miracles; though what they did were no other than lying wonders, 2 Thessalonians 2:9 and both agreed to keep the people of God in bondage, as much, and as long as they could: and particularly, as the magicians of Egypt withstood Moses,
so do these also resist the truth; the truth of one God, by their worshipping of images; and of one Mediator, by making use of angels, and saints departed, to intercede with God for them; and of justification by the righteousness of Christ, by introducing the doctrine of works, of merit, and supererogation; and of pardon and cleansing by the blood of Christ, and atonement by his sacrifice, by their pardons, indulgences, penance, purgatory, and the sacrifice of the Mass; yea, they resist the Scriptures of truth, not allowing them to be a sufficient rule without their unwritten traditions, and even Christ, who is truth itself, in all his offices, prophetic, priestly, and kingly.
Men of corrupt minds, of bad principles, holding antichristian tenets, derogatory to the grace of God, and glory of Christ; giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; like Jannes and Jambres, who were given to magic arts, and were under the influence of Satan:
reprobate concerning the faith; men of no judgment in the doctrine of faith; who have not their senses exercised to discern good and evil, to try things that differ, and approve the more excellent, but call good evil, and evil good: or as those who are disobedient and wicked in their lives, are said to be to every good work reprobate, Titus 1:16 so these are said to be reprobate to the faith; that is, to have no liking of it, or value for it, but despise it, hate it, and reject it; and upon that account, as they are like reprobate silver, whom God has rejected, they ought to be rejected by men.
(l) Apud Euseb. Praeparat. Evangel. l. 9. p. 411. (m) Nat. Hist. l. 30. c. 1.((n) Apolog. p. 248. (o) Targum Jon. in Numbers 22.22. & Zohar in Numb. fol. 78. 3. & Chronicon Mosis, fol. 6. 2.((p) Targum Jon. in Exod. i. 15. & vii. 11. & Zohar in Exod. fol. 75. 1.((q) T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 85. 1. Midrash Shemot Rabba, sect. 9. fol. 97. 3. & Aruch. in voce. (r) Shalsheleth Hakabala, fol. 7. 1.((s) Antiqu. l. 13. c. 1. sect. 2.((t) Targum Jon. in Exod. i. 15. (u) Zohar in Exod. fol. 75. 1. & in Numb. fol. 78. 3. Shalsheleth, ib.Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2 Timothy 3:8. Further description of the heretics: ὃν τρόπον δὲ Ἰαννῆς καὶ Ἰαμβρῆς ἀντέστησαν Μωϋσεῖ] Paul here compares the heretics to the Egyptian Magi who are mentioned in Exodus 7. but not named. Origen (Tract. 35 in Matt.) thinks that the apostle extracted them from a liber secretus which bore the title “Jamnes et Mambres.” That is, however, doubtful; Theodoret’s supposition is more probable: τὰ μέντοι τούτων ὀνόματα οὐκ ἐκ τῆς θείας γραφῆς μεμάθηκεν ὁ θεῖος ἀπόστολος, ἀλλʼ ἐκ τῆς ἀγράφου τῶν Ἰουδαίων διδασκαλίας. The names were a part of Jewish tradition from which they passed into the Talmudic and other Jewish writings; see Targum Jonathan, Exodus 7:11; Exodus 22:22. Even the Pythagorean Numenius in the second century mentioned them, as Origen (Contra Celsum, iv.) and Eusebius (Praep. Evangel. ix. chap. 8) inform us. “According to Jewish tradition, they are said to have been the sons of Balaam, and at first the teachers of Moses, but afterwards his chief opponents, and to have perished at last with the Egyptian army in the Red Sea;” see Heydenreich and Wetstein on this passage.
The correlation of ὃν τρόπον … οὕτω does not necessarily place emphasis on the similarity of the manner of the act, but often only on the similarity of the act itself (comp. Matthew 23:37; Acts 7:28). Possibly, therefore, the heretics are compared with these sorcerers only because they both withstood the truth (so Plitt).
Possibly, also, it is because the resemblance lay in the heretics preaching the same thing as Timothy, just as the sorcerers did the same thing as Moses, the heretics and the sorcerers having the same purpose of striving against the truth (so Hofmann). Still the mention of the sorcerers at all is strange; hence we may suppose that the heretics by some more characteristic trait suggested the resemblance to the apostle’s mind, and that this trait was their use of magic arts, to which there is allusion made also in γόητες, 2 Timothy 3:13 (de Wette, Wiesinger, van Oosterzee). The δέ not only marks the transition to a new thought, but also introduces something in contrast to what preceded: what they did they did with an appearance of piety, but in truth they were opposing the truth.
κατεφθαρμένοι τὸν νοῦν] The verb καταφθείρω (ἅπ. λεγ.; in 2 Peter 2:12 it is the reading of the Rec., but there is more testimony for the simple verb) is synonymous with διαφθείρω, 1 Timothy 6:5.
ἀδόκιμοι περὶ τὴν πίστιν] Luther’s translation: “incapable of believing,” is inaccurate; nor is Beza’s explanation suitable: rejectanei, i.e. falsae et adulterinae doctrinae doctores, quos oporteat ab omnibus rejici. Ἀδόκιμος is one who does not stand proof, and in connection with περὶ τὴν πίστιν one who does not stand proof in regard to faith: “not standing proof in respect of faith” (Matthies, de Wette); comp. 1 Timothy 1:19. The description here given of the heretics is the same as in 1 Timothy 6:5 : διεφθαρμένοι τὸν νοῦν καὶ ἀπεστερημένοι τῆς ἀληθείας.
 Van Oosterzee here makes an apposite allusion to Simon Magus, to Elymas, to the itinerating devil-exorcisers among the Jews, and to the magic arts practised from time immemorial at Ephesus, comp. Acts 19:19.2 Timothy 3:8. The apostle now returns from the γυναικάρια to their seducers, whom he compares to the magicians who withstood Moses and Aaron, both in their hostility to the truth and in their subsequent fate. St. Paul is the earliest extant authority for the names; but of course he derived them from some source, written (Origen), or unwritten (Theodoret), it is immaterial which. But the former theory is the more probable. The book is called by Origen (in Matt. p. 916, on Matthew 27:8), Jannes et Mambres liber, and is perhaps identical with Pœnitentia Jamnis et Mambrae condemned in the Decretum Gelasii. Pliny, whose Natural History appeared in A.D. 77, mentions Jannes along with Moses and Lotapis (or Jotapis) as Jewish Magi posterior to Zoroastes (Hist. Nat. xxx. 1). He is followed by Apuleius, Apol. c. 90. Numenius (quoted by Eusebius (Prep. Ev. ix. 8) mentions Jannes and Jambres as magicians who resisted Moses. In the Targ. of Jonathan on Ex. vii. 11, the names are given as ינים וימברים, Janis and Jamberes; but in the Talmud as יחנא וממרא, Jochana and Mamre. It is generally agreed that Jannes is a form of Jochanan (Johannes), and that Jambres is from the Hiphil of מרה to rebel. For the legends associated with these names, see art. in Hastings’ D. B.
ἀντέστησαν: The same word is used of Elymas the Sorcerer, Acts 13:8. The οὕτως refers rather to the degree of their hostility than to the manner in which it was expressed, i.e., by magical arts. At the same time, it is possible that magic was practised by the false teachers; they are styled impostors, γόητες, in 2 Timothy 3:13; and Ephesus was a home of magic. See Acts 19:19.
κατεφθαρμένοι τὸν νοῦν: cf. 1 Timothy 6:5, διεφθαρμ. τὸν νοῦν. This is the Pauline equivalent for the Platonic “lie in the soul”. κατεφθ. is not coordinate with ἀδόκ.; the latter is the exemplification of the former.
ἀδόκιμοι: reprobate. The A.V.m. gives the word here, and in Titus 1:16, an active force, of no judgment, void of judgment. For περί with the acc. See on 1 Timothy 1:19.8. Now as Jannes and Jambres] And like as; the conjunction should be translated ‘now’ only when there is more of a fresh departure; the present is only a small additional paragraph. Jannes and Jambres are nowhere else mentioned in Scripture. The Targum of Jonathan inserts their names in Exodus 7:11, Mambres which the Vulgate reads here being sometimes a later form for Jambres in the Jewish Commentaries. They were held to be the magicians who first imitated the wonders wrought by Moses and Aaron (see 2 Timothy 3:13 ‘impostors’ or ‘magicians’) but afterwards failing confessed that the power of God was with those whom they had withstood. Pliny, Hist. Nat. xxx. i. 2, mentions their story ‘est et alia magices factio a Mose et Jamne et Jotape Judæis pendens.’ He could not have derived his information from St Paul. There must have been an oral tradition or a lost book of Israelitish early history. Mr Poole (Art. Dict. Bib. from which this account is mainly taken) inclines to the latter supposition as more likely to preserve the exact names. That they are exact he thinks probable; since (1) the termination in Jambres or Mambres is like that of many Egyptian compounds ending with ra “the Sun,” as Men-kau-ra, (2) Jannes appears to be a transcription of the Egyptian name Aan, that of a king of the 15th dynasty who was probably the second predecessor of Joseph’s Pharaoh, and the most prevalent names among the Egyptians were those of kings then reigning or not long dead. The Rabbins state that Jannes and Jambres were sons of Balaam, and prophesied to Pharaoh the birth of Moses, and were authors of much mischief, subsequently perishing either in the Red Sea or in the tumult over the golden calf.
resist the truth] Rather, withstand, keeping the word.
of corrupt minds] Implies too much a natural viciousness; the perfect passive participle implies ‘having come to a corrupt state and remaining in it’ as above. In itself the word ‘corrupt’ from the Latin participle (cf. the Vulg. ‘corrupti mente)’ should have just this force, but in usage it is a mere adjective; render corrupted in mind.
reprobate] Just as in Titus 1:16, where see note.2 Timothy 3:8. Ἰαννῆς καὶ Ἰαμβρῆς, Jannes and Jambres) Euseb., 2 Timothy 1:9, Præp. Evang., quotes the following passage from Numemius: “Jannes and Jambres, understood to be Egyptian sacred scribes (ἱερογραμματεῖς, a lower order of priests in Egypt), men of no small skill in magical operations, at the time when the Jews were driven out of the land of Egypt,” etc. Jannes and Jambres were names very well known in Paul’s time; for they were very often mentioned in the ancient books of the Hebrews, as two of the principal magicians among the Egyptians. The very acute Hillerus, according to the Abyssinian language, interprets Jannes, a jester or trickster, and Jambres, a juggler; for he is of opinion, that the appellatives were changed into proper names in the lapse of time.—Onom. S., p. 671, 843. Certainly, if they were entirely proper names, we may believe that they were formerly μέσα (terms intermediate between appellatives and proper names), which indicated the profession of the art itself (as well as the person); comp. Acts 13:8.—ἀντέστησαν Μωσῇ, withstood Moses) by rivalling to some extent his wonders.—ἀνθίστανται, resist) The opposite is, shall suffer persecution, 2 Timothy 3:12.—ἁδοκίμοι) reprobate, having no power to approve: comp. Romans 1:28.Verse 8. - And like for now, A.V.; withstand for resist, A.V.; corrupted in mind for of corrupt minds, A.V. And; but would be better. Jannes and Jambres; the traditional names of the magicians who opposed Moses; and, if Origen can be trusted, there was an apocryphal book called by their names. But Theodoret ascribes their names to an unwritten Jewish tradition. Their names are found in the Targum of Jonathan on Exodus 7:11; Exodus 22:22; and are also mentioned, in conjunction with Moses, with some variation in the name of Jambres, by Pliny ('Hist. Nat.,' 31:2), who probably got his information from a work of Sergius Paulus off magic, of which the materials were furnished by Elymas the sorcerer (Acts 13:6-8). Withstood (ἀντέστησαν); the same word as is used of Elymas in Acts 13:8 (so ch. 4:15 and elsewhere). Corrupted in mind (κατεφθαρμένα τὸν νοῦν); elsewhere only in 2 Peter 2:12, in the sense of" perishing," being "utterly destroyed," which is the proper meaning of καταφθείρομαι Here in a moral sense κατεφθαρμένοι τὸν νοῦν means men whose understanding is gone, and perished, as διεφθαρμένος τὴν ἀκοήν means one whose hearing has perished - who is deaf. In 1 Timothy 6:5 St. Paul uses the more common διεφθαρμένων. Reprobate (ἀδόκιμα); as Titus 1:16, and elsewhere frequently in St. Paul's Epistles. It is just the contrary to δόκιμος (2 Timothy 2:15, note).
The formula occurs in the Synoptic Gospels (see Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34), and in Acts (Acts 1:11; Acts 7:28), but not in Paul. Jannes and Jambres. According to tradition, the names of the chiefs of the magicians who opposed Moses. Exodus 7:11, Exodus 7:22.
Of corrupt minds (κατεφθαρμένοι τὸν νοῦν)
Better, corrupted in mind. The verb, N.T.o. Comp. διεφθαρμένων τὸν νοῦν corrupted in mind, 1 Timothy 6:5.
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