1 2 3 4
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

2 Timothy chapter 3

English Standard Version

New International Version

New American Standard Bible

Christian Standard Bible

New Living Translation

King James Version

New King James Version

What does 2 Timothy chapter 3 mean?

Chapter 3 offers two mirror-image perspectives from Paul to Timothy. These are useful in and of themselves, but the contrast they represent is also useful. The first passage denounces apostasy and the signs of false teaching (2 Timothy 3:1–9), something Timothy is strongly warned against. The second section relates to ways to defeat or overcome apostasy and false teaching (2 Timothy 3:10–17). The primary means of defense against error is the God-inspired written word (2 Timothy 3:16).

In verses 1–9 Paul speaks of difficult times in the last days (2 Timothy 3:1). As used in this passage, Paul does not mean the "end times," or some period in the future. The "last days" as used here is what is commonly called "the church age," the era of Christianity in the world which continues through today. Paul particularly warns Timothy—the recipient of this letter—not to associate with the people he is describing.

After noting the characteristics of evil people, Timothy is told to avoid such people (2 Timothy 3:2–5). Those who act like this are deceived (2 Timothy 3:6–7). A comparison is then made between such evil people and Jannes and Jambres rebelling against Moses in the Old Testament (2 Timothy 3:8), concluding their sins will be clear to all just as in that case (2 Timothy 3:9). According to tradition, these two men were among the Egyptian magicians who competed against Moses during the Exodus (Exodus 7:11–12, 22; 8:7, 18).

In verses 10–17 Paul transitions first to his own life. He speaks of his godly actions (2 Timothy 3:10) and the persecutions he has faced during his ministry (2 Timothy 3:11), stating that every person who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). Evil people will continue (2 Timothy 3:13), but Timothy was to stand firm in the truth of God (2 Timothy 3:14–15). Paul concludes with a well-known passage on the inspiration of Scripture, declaring "all Scripture" as literally "God-breathed" and useful for many different means to equip God's people for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16–17).

The fact that Paul so clearly shows the opposite signs in his life, as compared to these false teachers, is evidence which supports his ministry. This is reason for Timothy to be secure in the instruction Paul has given him. Since Timothy has not only seen the life Paul has lived, but has even shared in some of his sufferings, he can be sure that what Paul says is sincere and trustworthy.
What is the Gospel?
Download the app: