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2 Timothy 3:4

ESV treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
NIV treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—
NASB treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
CSB traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
NLT They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.
KJV Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
NKJV traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

What does 2 Timothy 3:4 mean?

Paul is currently describing the traits of evil people, as seen in the "last days"—meaning the era of the church, which continues through today. Prior verses mentioned fourteen negative characteristics, and this verse adds four more. Verse 5 will add one final attribute, for a total of nineteen.

First, evil people will be "treacherous," or those who act like traitors. Prior verses mentioned these people as "irreconcilable," or "unappeasable" (2 Timothy 3:3), meaning those who cannot be convinced to agree or to honor an agreement. The accusation here is similar, but more focused on one's behavior. "Traitors" are those who actively work against the interests of their so-called friends and allies.

Second, evil people will be "reckless," which includes the idea of not thinking before acting, or acting in a thoughtless manner. This is the "ready-fire-aim" mentality, one which is incompatible with higher ideals such as self-control.

Third, evil people will be conceited. The original Greek description used by Paul is tetyphōmenoi, which literally means to surround with smoke or mist. As a metaphor, this was used to describe someone who was blinded by their own sense of self-worth. This ties in closely to the concepts of arrogance and recklessness mentioned earlier in the passage. The ungodly often blind themselves through their own actions. This term is sometimes translated as "puffed up" with pride.

Fourth, evil people will be more concerned with hedonism and entertainment than with the will of God. This is an overwhelmingly common barrier to faith in the gospel. Many people reject the idea of Christianity on the grounds that they would have to "give up" certain sinful pleasures. This, as other terms in Paul's list suggest, is a near-sighted and ignorant assumption. In truth, nothing is more freeing that saving faith in Christ (John 10:10).

The New Testament often draws a distinction between the natural, sinful behaviors of man and the godly behaviors we are called to as Christians. Evil people "count it pleasure to revel in the daytime" (2 Peter 2:13). Before knowing Christ, "We ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures" (Titus 3:3). Yet those who faithfully serve God choose "rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin" (Hebrews 11:25).
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