An Explanation of 2 Timothy 3:1-8

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2 Timothy 3:1-8

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be….

  • lovers of self,
  • lovers of money,
  • boastful,
  • arrogant,
  • revilers,
  • disobedient to parents,
  • ungrateful,
  • unholy,
  • unloving,
  • irreconcilable,
  • malicious gossips,
  • without self-control,
  • brutal,
  • haters of good, 
  • treacherous,
  • reckless,
  • conceited,
  • lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
  • holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power;

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Avoid such men as these.

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For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses,

always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

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Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also

  • oppose the truth
  • men of depraved mind
  • rejected in regard to the faith.

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Commentary

2 Timothy 3:1-7 is a classic description of a narcissist.  This is shown in the descriptors of these men as “lovers of self”, “lovers of money”, “boastful”, “arrogant”, “treacherous”, “conceited”, “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”, “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power”.  It is further corroborated by the description of these men as “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”, which is a description very similar to the scoffer (aka narcissist) of Proverbs 14:6:

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Proverbs 14:6

A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none,
But knowledge is easy to one who has understanding.

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There is one possible problem with linking this entire passage to the description of a narcissist, which shows up in verse 8 -“men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith”.  Verse 8 sounds like the description goes beyond the normal characteristics of scoffers, by describing these people as depraved and rejected – until you take a closer look at the Greek words used for “depraved” and “rejected” which are used in this phrase.

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NASB uses “depraved”  three times in the Bible.  Only in 2 Timothy 3:8 is the Greek word kataphtheírō used, which denotes a “bringing down” to corruption.  This is contrasted to diaphtheírōwhich denotes “utterly corrupted”, used 8 times in the Bible (including I Timothy 6:5).  The “depraved” applied to the N in 2 T 3:8 refers more to the “on the road toward” utter corruption, but not yet fully there, implying that there is still hope for changing their ways before it’s too late.

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The word used for “rejected” is adokimos – From a (as a negative particle) and dokimos; which literally means “unapproved” – ie – not standing the test, not approved.  This word is used with respect to metals and coin.  The implication is that God has not utterly rejected them at this point, but rather that the narcissist is currently failing the test of His righteous standards and are in a dangerous position.

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The implication of the use of both of these greek words in conjunction with a clear description of a narcissist is that the scoffer / narcissist is progressing toward utter apostasy, but has not yet fully arrived at that point.