2 Timothy 3:5 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

2 Timothy 3:5, NIV: "having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people."

2 Timothy 3:5, ESV: "having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people."

2 Timothy 3:5, KJV: "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."

2 Timothy 3:5, NASB: "holding to a form of godliness although they have denied its power; avoid such people as these."

2 Timothy 3:5, NLT: "They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!"

2 Timothy 3:5, CSB: "holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people."

What does 2 Timothy 3:5 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This verse is the last of nineteen total attributes Paul has condemned in this passage. These behaviors are indicative of a person who is rejecting the will and wisdom of God. This commentary by Paul began in verse 2 and runs as a single descriptive sentence through here, in verse 5.

Here, Paul states that evil people are known for putting on the "window dressing" of faith in God, but rejecting the actual power of the Holy Spirit. This echoes Paul's condemnation of evil in Titus 1:16. In other words, these wicked ones want to be seen as good people, or as spiritual people, or as teachers, but were not truly following God (1 Timothy 1:3–7). They had religion, but they did not have a legitimate relationship with God built upon truth (2 Timothy 3:16–17). This would also include those who overtly pick and choose when to obey God, and when to dismiss His message.

After a lengthy description of evil people, Paul gives a blunt application: "Avoid such people." Two important observations can be made here. First, this advice is in a personal letter to Timothy, so the wicked ones Paul is referring to existed when this letter was written. Paul had specific people in mind whom Timothy was to avoid. These people could tempt him to sin or turn him from true teaching.

Second, however, avoiding false teachers is somewhat different than dealing with other people. Paul clearly taught elsewhere that avoiding absolutely all contact with sinful persons is impossible (1 Corinthians 5:9–10). While keeping away from immorality is important in general, Timothy is to specifically steer clear of those who claimed to follow God yet denied it through their false actions and teachings. It's particularly important for Christians to demonstrate a clear separation from those who claim to be Christians but whose actions say otherwise.