What does 2 Timothy 3:4 mean?
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,
Verse Commentary:
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).
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.
Accessed 4/24/2024 6:10:02 PM
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