Warning of worse to come (3:1-9)
Timothy may be surprised that such evil should appear within the community of God’s people. Paul warns him that worse is to follow. When people try to keep the outward form of religion but reject its inner power, the evil within them soon shows itself in their words and actions. The more they please themselves and reject God, the more wrong they do (3:1-5).
By cunning and deceit, people who call themselves Christians will gain entrance into private homes, where they will soon find people willing to listen to them. Women especially, being on the whole more aware of personal shortcomings than men, will be easily impressed by the words of these false teachers, and just as easily misled. Desiring to know the way to a better life, they will soon become captives of their evil teachers (6-7).
These teachers are like Jannes and Jambres, the Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses. Their words and actions are an imitation of the truth, and people who are easily impressed will readily believe them. But, as with the Egyptian deceivers, their true character will in due course be exposed (8-9; cf.
Preach the Word constantly (3:10-4:5)
Paul refers to his own experiences to illustrate the truth that the person who whole-heartedly follows God must expect persecution. Timothy was well aware of this, even before he joined Paul in his work. In his own neighbourhood he had seen Paul suffer because of his devotion to Christ (10-12; cf. Acts 13:50; 14:5-6,19; 16:1-2). This shows in a clearer light the difference between the true teacher and the false. The latter gains a following only by turning away from the truth of God (13).
There is little likelihood that Timothy will be easily led astray by false teaching. From childhood he has been guided by the Scriptures, and his faith in those Scriptures gives him assurance in his salvation (14-15). He must maintain this confidence, knowing that the Scriptures are divinely given and that they are God’s means of instructing people in right belief and right living. Those who are well instructed in the Scriptures will always be ready when an opportunity arises to do good (16-17).
Since God’s servants must give him an account of their service, they should not miss any opportunity to teach the Scriptures, though they must always speak in a manner suited to the circumstances (4:1-2).
Things will get worse as people turn away from those who teach the Scriptures, and listen to those who teach their own theories. This is a further reason why Timothy should endure hardship and not turn aside from the work God has given him (3-5).