V88Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these [men] also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith.. We are still in the portion that describes the time where many people act outwardly as if they are Christians, but they are not inwardly. This is the result of the distortion of the truth. The truth is being imitated, but there is no inward relation with Christ Who is the truth. Imitation is possibly the strongest weapon of the devil. Paul quotes the example of two Egyptian magicians, of whom he seems to know the names, who were imitating Moses (Exo 7:11,2211Then Pharaoh also called for [the] wise men and [the] sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts.22But the magicians of Egypt did the same with their secret arts; and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had said.; 8:77The magicians did the same with their secret arts, making frogs come up on the land of Egypt.). This performance of these magicians happened right before the departing of the people of God from Egypt.
That’s what is happening now also. We live in the last days, right before the rapture of the church out of the world where imitation Christians are being manifest more and more. The Lord Jesus has also warned us for people who will say that they are the Christ (Mt 24:5,23-245For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.23Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There [He is],’ do not believe [him].24For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.). In the last times signs and wonders will happen that have the appearance that they come from God, but they come from the liar (2Thes 2:99[that is], the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,; cf. Acts 2:2222“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—). John warns us: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see, whether they are from God” (1Jn 4:11Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.). Testing the spirits is possible by taking Christ as touchstone. Ask them what they think about Him and test whether it is according to the Word.
The strategy of the devil is not new. Already in the time of Moses he used imitation. It even appeared as if he could claim some success. Indeed the magicians did imitate Moses, didn’t they? They didn’t fail, did they? No, but they practiced their magical acts out of resistance against Moses. Their goal was to keep the people of God in bondage. In the same way nowadays ‘Jannesses and Jambresses’ are resisting against the truth. They also respond with mockery to every reference of a soon rapture of the church out of the world (2Pet 3:2-32that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior [spoken] by your apostles.3Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with [their] mocking, following after their own lusts,).
That they are “men of depraved mind” is the result of opening their hearts for the devil and his evil powers. What they preach as faith comes from this source. It is only worth to be rejected, thrown away, without paying any further attention to it. It doesn’t offer any hope for today and no hope for the future.
V99But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.. Sometimes it seems that these evil people can unstoppably go their way. Then you read here that God has determined a limit to their wicked performance, in both their time and in their deeds. The magicians in the days of Moses were exposed at the crucial moment of bringing forth life out of death (Exo 8:1818The magicians tried with their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not; so there were gnats on man and beast.). Seeming Christians may boast on theological discoveries, but that has never made them able to give new life to a person. The scope of their deeds is limited. Therefore for faith the folly of these magicians is totally evident.
Also the end of their performance is approaching. You do not need to expect that the performance of ‘Christian magicians’ will slowly diminish. It will only become worse. But the end of the current age, the age of the church, is approaching. The folly of the deceivers and unbelievers will become completely clear when the Lord Jesus will be revealed in glory.
V1010Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance,. As long as we are on earth the Lord Jesus provides us with remedies to remain saved with Him. How that works you see in the example that Paul presents to Timothy of himself. The contrast between the ‘Christian magicians’ and what you see in Paul is enormous.
Paul addresses Timothy and points him to his own example, like the old Elijah took Elisha with him along several places to teach him (2Kgs 2:1-101And it came about when the LORD was about to take up Elijah by a whirlwind to heaven, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.2Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here please, for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.3Then the sons of the prophets who [were at] Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the LORD will take away your master from over you today?” And he said, “Yes, I know; be still.”4Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the LORD has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho.5The sons of the prophets who [were] at Jericho approached Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the LORD will take away your master from over you today?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be still.”6Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” And he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on.7Now fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood opposite [them] at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan.8Elijah took his mantle and folded it together and struck the waters, and they were divided here and there, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground.9When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.”10He said, “You have asked a hard thing. [Nevertheless], if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be [so].”). Elijah took Elisha by the hand and gave him understanding in the situation of the people. Therefore Elisha was able to approach the people in the spirit and strength of Elijah, with a double part of that of Elijah’s. Timothy is able to minister the church in the spirit and strength of Paul by observing how he did everything. Not that Paul says anything new to Timothy. He only reminds him of that, for Timothy has already explored it. He did not follow Paul for no reason.
1. First of all Paul points at “my teaching”. Only he, the apostle, can say that. The teaching is the basis. Without teaching there can be no practice.
2. But Paul didn’t only teach, he can also point at his “conduct”. He consistently practiced what he was passing on through his teaching. His life is based on his teaching.
3. Also in his “purpose” he was clear. He had no hidden intentions. He had a clear goal in mind which was not vague to Timothy. His intention was to glorify God in everything whatever the cost was.
4. From what he taught, in how he did and out of his intention his “faith” in and his faithfulness to the Lord appeared. With full confidence in Him Paul fulfilled his ministry, where he met hostility and where he was put to the test.
5. But precisely in that situation Timothy saw his “patience”. He didn’t respond irritated and didn’t repay evil for evil.
6. The hostility of the enemy revealed his “love” for the Lord and for those who are His.
7. Also his “perseverance” was remarkable. All adversary and the fact that he was left alone didn’t make him to be depressed. He did not collapse because of the pressure, but he continued with what the Lord ordered him to do.
8. V1111persecutions, [and] sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium [and] at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me!. Everyone who opens his mouth with proclaiming the truth will suffer “persecutions”. That indicates the insecurity of freedom, having no place of rest because they are chasing you.
9. He also lost his freedom several times. His enemies did not spare him, but made him “suffer” (2Cor 11:24-25a24Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine [lashes].25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.). He speaks particularly about three places he visited during his first mission trip (Acts 13:14-5014But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down.15After the reading of the Law and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, “Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.”16Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen:17The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He led them out from it.18For a period of about forty years He put up with them in the wilderness.19When He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land as an inheritance—[all of which took] about four hundred and fifty years.20After these things He gave [them] judges until Samuel the prophet.21Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.22After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will do all My will.’23From the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus,24after John had proclaimed before His coming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.25And while John was completing his course, he kept saying, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not [He]. But behold, one is coming after me the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’26“Brethren, sons of Abraham’s family, and those among you who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent.27For those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, recognizing neither Him nor the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled [these] by condemning [Him].28And though they found no ground for [putting Him to] death, they asked Pilate that He be executed.29When they had carried out all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.30But God raised Him from the dead;31and for many days He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, the very ones who are now His witnesses to the people.32And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers,33that God has fulfilled this [promise] to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘YOU ARE MY SON; TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU.’34[As for the fact] that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I WILL GIVE YOU THE HOLY [and] SURE [blessings] OF DAVID.’35Therefore He also says in another [Psalm], ‘YOU WILL NOT ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.’36For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay;37but He whom God raised did not undergo decay.38Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,39and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.40Therefore take heed, so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon [you]:
41‘BEHOLD, YOU SCOFFERS, AND MARVEL, AND PERISH;
FOR I AM ACCOMPLISHING A WORK IN YOUR DAYS,
A WORK WHICH YOU WILL NEVER BELIEVE, THOUGH SOMEONE SHOULD DESCRIBE IT TO YOU.’”
42As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging that these things might be spoken to them the next Sabbath.43Now when [the meeting of] the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews and of the God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to continue in the grace of God.44The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord.45But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and [began] contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming.46Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.47For so the Lord has commanded us,
‘I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES,
THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH.’”
48When the Gentiles heard this, they [began] rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.49And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.50But the Jews incited the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.; 13:51-14:551But they shook off the dust of their feet [in protest] against them and went to Iconium.; 14:8-208At Lystra a man was sitting who had no strength in his feet, lame from his mother’s womb, who had never walked.9This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who, when he had fixed his gaze on him and had seen that he had faith to be made well,10said with a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he leaped up and [began] to walk.11When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have become like men and have come down to us.”12And they [began] calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.13The priest of Zeus, whose [temple] was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds.14But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out15and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM.16In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways;17and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”18[Even] saying these things, with difficulty they restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.19But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.20But while the disciples stood around him, he got up and entered the city. The next day he went away with Barnabas to Derbe.).
Paul has suffered all those persecutions, but he doesn’t boast about that as if he has achieved something. The Lord receives the honor, for it was He Who delivered him “out of them all” (Psa 34:1919Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the LORD delivers him out of them all.
). ‘Out of them all’ shows that nothing could stop Paul how violent the resistant was. ‘Out of them all’ also shows that Paul indeed endured it all and was not spared for it.
V1212Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.. What is mentioned previously does not only apply to Paul but to all Christians “who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus”. If you live your life with reverence for God in fellowship with Christ Jesus you will also have part in persecution. Persecution is not only literally being resisted and chased, but also not to be understood and to be despised. You experience that in any way you testify of the Lord. It doesn’t apply to all Christians. If you do not want to suffer reproach you simply should not make clear that you know the Lord. You should “desire” that. Persecution is only the part of faithful Christians.
V1313But evil men and impostors will proceed [from bad] to worse, deceiving and being deceived.. This persecution will not diminish, for “evil men and imposters will proceed [from] bad to worse”. The word ‘imposters’ is literally ‘magicians’. That may probably indicate the increase of occultism. You may have heard of Christians who seek their luck with magnetizers. They say that these people claim to have received this gift from God. In that way they deceive even Christians, while these people are being deceived themselves by the devil.
Mind you that these are ‘evil men’. They are instruments of the devil to whom they have delivered themselves. With all their nice talks they do not seek your luck, but your destruction.
V1414You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned [them],. Then there comes a “you, however” (verse 1414You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned [them],; see verse 1010Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance,). This indicates the contrast with the previous verse. In that verse the environment where you find yourself is depicted, an environment that fully resists against God and His Word. To remain protected against that influence Paul gives Timothy an assurance. Timothy can trust in this assurance to remain steadfast in the truth and in the enjoyment of the salvation of God. He must continue in the things which he has learned and must not be involved with new teachings. There is nothing missing in what he has learned; for that reason there is also nothing to be improved.
Therefore he is fully convinced about that because he has learned it from somebody to whom it was directly made known through Divine inspiration and who has the authority of God to pass that on. Paul is a unique servant. What he has taught we have in God’s Word.
The teachers whom the Lord has given as a gift to His church do not bring new truths. They explain the truths of the apostles: truths that are written in God’s Word. Our source is not Calvin or Darby, but the Word of God. It is not necessary to empower your words by referring to certain teachers, however much you ought to appreciate them and however much they were and are blessed.
V1515and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.. The second reason for Timothy to remain in the things which he had learned, are the “sacred writings” that he had known “from childhood”. The words of the apostle are in no way in contrast to the writings of the Old Testament (for those are ‘holy Scriptures’), but fully accordingly. Timothy was taught by his mother and grandmother in that. This is an important instruction for parents to make their children known and familiar with the Scripture as early as possible in their childhood.
The Word has been put in writings so in that way God can use it as a permanent authority. Everything that is permanently of profit for the church has been written down in the Scriptures. It is also permanently profitable for your personal life of faith. You find everything you need in the Scripture to ‘make you wise for salvation’.
Without God’s Word you lead a lost life. Through God’s Word you have come to faith in Christ Jesus. You have been saved for eternity. If you as a Christian lead a life without consulting God’s Word in everything, you will lead a lost life. Listening to the Scripture makes you wise to avoid all the traps of life and to arrive safely with the Lord.
Now read 2 Timothy 3:8-15 again.
Reflection: Which contrasts do you find in this portion?