What does 2 Timothy 3:1 mean?
ESV: But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
NIV: But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
NASB: But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.
CSB: But know this: Hard times will come in the last days.
NLT: You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times.
KJV: This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
NKJV: But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
Verse Commentary:
Paul begins this new section with a warning. This passage uses wording similar to Paul's words in 1 Timothy 1:9, which were also in connection with a list of sinful actions. First, Paul describes a time period known as "the last days." Biblically, the "last days" began with the start of the church (Acts 2:17). Peter also spoke of the "last days" in 2 Peter 3:3, as did James (James 5:3), and the author of Hebrews (Hebrews 1:2). The "last days," as used in the New Testament, are not necessarily a reference to some era of the distant future, but a time period that began with the dawning of the church age and continues today.

Second, these last days will be difficult. False teachers in Ephesus—like many deceitful teachers today—claimed that faithfulness to God would lead to material blessings. In contrast, Paul clearly taught that godly living would be difficult. The following verses chronicle the sins of evil people found in Paul's time, issues still seen today.
Verse Context:
Second Timothy 3:1–9 is Paul's extensive list of godless traits, which will characterize false teachers and unbelievers. In verses 2 through 5, Paul will list nineteen separate qualities which are to be condemned. Among these are selfishness, arrogance, slander, hedonism, and denial of the truth of God. According to Paul, despite the apparent success of these false teachers, they will eventually be seen for what they are, and punished. Timothy, like other believers, should steer clear of such people.
Chapter Summary:
Chapter 3 presents two sections with very different themes. In the first, Paul describes in detail the sins associated with apostasy: the abandonment of truth. Echoing the themes of prior chapters, Paul instructs Timothy to avoid not only these sins, but the people who participate in them. In the second section, Paul draws a contrast between these false teachers and his own example, as well as the faithful conduct of Timothy. Paul's capstone advice against false teaching and apostasy is the written word of God: the most powerful resource for any Christian leader.
Chapter Context:
In prior chapters, Paul has encouraged Timothy through an appeal to his lifelong spiritual heritage. He has also instructed Timothy to remain focused on the work of God, rather than pointless bickering. Here, Paul will present more warnings about the attitude of false teachers and those who reject God in favor of their own preferences. Just as he taught previously, Paul warns Timothy in no uncertain terms to avoid these behaviors and those who participate in them. This chapter is the high point of Paul's letter, leading to his final instructions to Timothy found in chapter 4.
Book Summary:
Second Timothy is the last New Testament letter written by Paul. Paul writes these words while awaiting execution by Rome. At this time, around AD 67, Timothy was leading the church in Ephesus. Paul writes to Timothy in order to encourage him. Paul is facing the worst of all hardships: his own impending death. So, he encourages Timothy to stand strong in his faith, with a reliance on the written Word of God. This letter echoes many of the themes Paul uses in his other letters.
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