What does 2 Timothy 3:9 mean?
ESV: But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.
NIV: But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.
NASB: But they will not make further progress; for their foolishness will be obvious to all, just as was that also of Jannes and Jambres.
CSB: But they will not make further progress, for their foolishness will be clear to all, as was the foolishness of Jannes and Jambres.
NLT: But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are, just as with Jannes and Jambres.
KJV: But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.
NKJV: but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.
Verse Commentary:
Paul ends this section condemning the ungodliness of false teachers on a more uplifting note, at least for true believers. Regardless of the efforts, and even the temporary success, of false teachers, they will not succeed for long. Paul also explains why: Those who live sinful lives will eventually be discovered (Numbers 32:23).

Referring again to Jannes and Jambres (2 Timothy 3:8), Paul concludes that the fate of false teachers will be the same. Jannes and Jambres were, according to Jewish tradition, the names of two leading magicians of Pharaoh. These were the men who opposed Moses when he followed God's command to tell Pharaoh to let the Jewish people go free from slavery. Though they were able to reproduce the signs of Moses at first (Exodus 7:11–12, 22; 8:7), they eventually could not (Exodus 8:18; 9:11). Everyone knew their power had been surpassed by the God of Moses.

Despite early, superficial success, a false teacher will eventually be exposed for who and what he is. The same would be true of those who opposed Timothy through false teachings.
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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