2 Timothy 3:1
The apostle next proceeds to predict a further progress in error, with the view of putting Timothy on his guard and sharpening his diligence.

I. THE PERIOD OF THIS APOSTASY. "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come."

1. The language does not point to the closing days of the Christian dispensation, for it resembles the language of the Apostle John - "It is the last time" - where the present is undoubtedly referred to, and not the future.

2. The contextual injunction, "from such turn away," applies to the present rather that, to a far distant future. The Christian Church has in all ages shown a condition of things only too closely represented by the moral picture in the context. The apostle implies that there were "vessels of dishonour" in the "large house" in his own day, such as Hymenaeus and Philetus, as well as "vessels unto honour."

3. The language has a wide latitude, covering the whole space of the Christian dispensation. The evil had begun to work in the age of Timothy, but the worst development of anti-Christian apostasy will be in the closing days of the dispensation. The "days of the Messiah" are often alluded to in the Hebrew prophets as "in the last days;" literally, "the end of days" (Isaiah 2:2; Hosea 3:5; Micah 4:1).


1. It will be a time of damager to the faith of God's people.

2. It will be a time of peril to their lives.

3. It will be a time of abounding wickedness as well as error. - T.C.

Perilous times shall come.
I. THE MANNER OF THE WARNING.— "This know also."

1. It is the duty of ministers to foresee and take notice of the dangers which the churches are falling into.

2. It is the great concern of all professors and believers to have their hearts very much fixed upon present and approaching dangers.

3. Not to be sensible of a present perilous season is that security which the scripture so condemns; and I will leave it with you under these three things —(1) It is that frame of heart which of all others God doth most detest and abhor. Nothing is more hateful to God than a secure frame in perilous days.(2) A secure person, in perilous seasons, is assuredly under the power of some predominant lust, whether it appears, or not.(3) This senseless frame is the certain presage of approaching ruin.

II. THE EVIL ITSELF. "Perilous times" — times of great difficulty, like those of public plagues, when death lies at every door.

III. THE MANNER OF INTRODUCTION — "Shall come." Our great wisdom then will be to eye the displeasure of God in perilous seasons, since there is a judicial hand of God in them: and we see in ourselves reason enough why they should come.

IV. THE TIME AND SEASON OF IT — "In the last days." You may take it in what sense you will: the last days, the days of the gospel; the last days towards the consummation of all things; the last days following the days of the profession of churches; and the last days with many of us, with respect to our lives.

1. The first thing that makes a season perilous is, when the profession of true religion is outwardly maintained under a visible predominancy of horrible lusts and wickedness (see vers. 2-5).(1) Because of the infection.(2) Because of the effects. When predominant lusts have broken all bounds of Divine light and rule, how long do you think human rules will keep them in order?(3) Because of the consequences — the judgments of God (2 Thessalonians 2:10, 11).

2. A second perilous season is, when men are prone to forsake the truth, and seducers abound to gather them up that are so; and you will have always these things go together. If it be asked, how we may know whether there be a proneness in the minds of men in any season to depart from the truth? there are three ways whereby we may judge of it.(1) The first is that mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:3. When men grow weary of sound doctrine, when it is too plain, too dull, too common, too high, too mysterious, one thing or other that displeases them, and they would hear something new, something that may please.(2) When men have lost the power of truth in their conversation, and are as prone and ready to part with the profession of it in their minds. Do you see a man retaining the profession of the truth under a worldly conversation? He wants but baits from temptation, or a seducer to take away his faith from him.(3) The proneness to depart from the truth, is a perilous season, because it is the greatest evidence of the withdrawing of the Spirit of God from His Church.

3. A third thing that makes a perilous season is, professors mixing themselves with the world, and learning their manners. Such a season is dangerous, because the sins of professors in it lie directly contrary to the whole design of the mediation of Christ in this world. Christ "gave Himself for us, that He might purge us from dead works, and purify us unto Himself a peculiar people" (Titus 2:14). "Ye are a royal nation, a peculiar people."

4. Another perilous season is when there is great attendance on outward duties, but inward, spiritual decays.

5. Times of persecution are also times of peril.Use

1. Let us all be exhorted to endeavour to get our hearts affected with the perils of the day wherein we live.(1) Consider the present things, and bring them to rule, and see what God's Word says of them.(2) If you would be sensible of present perilous times, take heed of centring in self. Whether you pursue riches, or honours, while you centre there, nothing can make you Sensible of the perils of the day.(3) Pray that God would give us grace to be sensible of the perils of the day wherein we live. Use

2. The next thing is this, that there are two things in a perilous season — the sin of it, and the misery of it. Labour to be sensible of the former, or you will never be sensible of the latter. Use

3. Remember there is a special frame of spirit required in us all in such perilous seasons as these are. And what is that? It is a mourning frame of spirit. Use

4. Keep up church watch with diligence, and by the rule. When I say rule, I mean the life of it. Use

5. Reckon upon it, that in such times as these are, all of us will not go free.

(John Owen, D. D.)

1. The notification of an event as future — "Perilous times shall come."(1) Times wherein it will be hard for people to keep their feet, to know how to carry themselves, to keep out of danger, and keep a good conscience.(2) "Shall come." They will be on men, in the course of providence, to try what metal they are of; as darkness comes on after light, and adversity after prosperity; in their turn.

2. The time of that event — "In the last days." The days of the gospel are the concluding period of time. In these last days are several particular periods; the first of which was the last time of the Jewish state, beginning from the time of our Saviour, to the destruction of Jerusalem; and more periods followed, and some are yet to come; but from the time of our Saviour to the end of the world, is "the last days."

3. The notice to be taken of that event — "This know also"; rather, "Now know this"; consider it duly, and lay it to heart, that being fore warned, ye may be armed against the "perilous times."

I. WE SHALL CONSIDER "THE DAYS OF THE GOSPEL AS THE LAST DAYS." And so we may take them up in a threefold view.

1. As the last days of the world, the latter end of time. With rela tion to them that oath is made (Revelation 10:6). The morning and forenoon of the world are over; it is afternoon with it now, and drawing toward the evening.

2. As the days of the last dispensation of grace towards the world, with which God's dealing with sinners for reconciliation shall be closed (Revelation 10:7). There have been three dispensations of grace in the world: the Patriarchal dispensation in the first days; the Mosaical dispensation in the middle days; and now the Christian dispensation in the last days. The first two are now off the stage, and shall never come on again; the third now is; and after it there shall never be another.

3. As the best days of the world in respect of the greatest advantages attending them. The last works of God are always the greatest, as ye may see in the account of the Creation (Genesis 1.); so the circumstances of the world to come are greater than those of this. The gospel-dispensation far excels the other two, in clearness, extensiveness, and efficacy, through a larger measure of the Spirit.

II. THE DIFFICULT AND PERILOUS TIMES THAT COME ON IN GOSPEL DAYS. We must inquire what makes these perilous times.

1. An old controversy lying over untaken up. They that are in debt are always in danger. The Jews were from generation to generation murderers of their prophets; there was an old debt on the head of the generation in our Saviour's time (Matthew 23:31); and made their time perilous, for it was like a train lying, which at last came to blow them up (ver. 35). So good Josiah's days were perilous times, by reason of an old controversy laid in the days of Manasseh his grandfather (2 Kings 23:26). Our times are so, by reason of the iniquity of the late times, which is like that of Baal-peer, that brought "a plague on the congregation of the Lord" (Joshua 22:17).

1. Error or corruption of principles spreading. This was foretold to happen in the latter days (1 Timothy 4:1).

2. Immoralities abounding.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

These (evil characters) will swarm like flies in the decay of the year.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Not so much on the account of persecutions from without as on the account of corruptions within.

(M. Henry.)

Two traitors within the garrison may do more hurt to it than two thousand besiegers without.

(M. Henry.)

The worse the times we live in are, the greater will our honour be, if we be faithful. It was Lot's commendation that he was good in Sodom, and Job in an heathenish Uz. The more sin abounds, the more our grace should abound; and the more sin appears in the world, the more should we appear against it. The Lord hath done more for us of this last age of the world than He ever did for our forefathers, and therefore He expects more from us than He did from them; where He bestows much He looks for much again; where we bestow double cost, we look for a double crop. It is a shame for us if we do not do our work better by sunlight, than others that have had but twilight.

(T. Hall, B. D.)

It is worth our noting that the apostle doth not place the peril and hardness of the last times, in any external calamity or penal evils, as sword, plague, famine, persecution; but in the prodigious sins and enormities of such as profess religion. Sin is the evil of evils, and brings all other evils with it. Let the times be never so miserable, and the Church lie under sad persecutions; yet if they be not sinful times, they are not truly perilous times, but rather purging and purifying times.

(T. Hall, B. D.)

Vermin of this kind will then abound everywhere; weeds grow nowhere so rank as in fat soil.

(T. Hall, B. D.)

This spiritual prudence can hurt neither pastor nor people, but will advantage us much. This pre-vision is the best means of prevention; in vain is the snare laid in the sight of a bird. Observe God's singular love unto His people, in that He warns them of perilous times long before they come. The people of God, and specially His ministers, His Timothies, should be so prudent as to know and observe when perilous times are approaching, as the prudent man foresees the evil of punishment before it comes (Proverbs 22:35).

(T. Hall, B. D.)

As it is in every art, by length of time, custom, and experience, it is improved to a greater degree of fineness and exactness; so it is in this of sinning; time and experience make men more cunning in ways of sin, and more subtle to defend them.

(T. Hall, B. D.)

We should all make the times and places we live in the better, and not the worse, for us.

(T. Hall, B. D.)

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