November 16, 2011

Thursday after the Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 10, 2 Kings 9:17-28, 2 Tim. 3
Evening - Ps. 16, 17, Eccles 9:11, Mt. 23:13-23

Commentary
2 Timothy 3

In the last days, Paul warns, people will be lovers of self, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:1-4). This is a sad state of affairs, but it is not the timing that makes it so sad, for Paul's description fits people of all times and eras. It is not even the wickedness that makes it so sad, though such wickedness breaks the heart of all who love God and love people. The thing that makes this so sad is that it describes the Church, not the world. It describes people who call themselves Christians, who have a form of godliness (3:5). These people may be well schooled in the doctrines of the faith. They may know the basic teachings of the Bible, and may even read the Bible regularly. They may be regular attenders of public worship, but their hearts are not about God. In their hearts they are as far away from God as the devil himself.

Paul says such people are like Jannes and Jambres who rebelled against Moses (3:8). How are they like these Old Testament people? In their resistance to the truth. In their resistance to the Gospel. In their idea that they can go on living in opposition to God while buying Him off with a few dollars and ceremonies.

Let none try to comfort himself with delusions that such people only exist in the Church right before the Lord's Return. The "last days" are those days from Pentecost to the Return of Christ, and such people have been, and will continue in the Church throughout this era. Paul's point is that we must not be those people. Like Timothy, we know the doctrine and life of Paul (3:10-12). Timothy knew them by knowing Paul personally; we know them through the pages of Scripture. But knowing them is not enough. It is "continuing" in them (3:14) that matters. The beautiful words of 2 Timothy 3:16-17, make no difference to a person unless he continues in the Bible's teachings. To "continue" is to live in, to dwell in, to abide in the Bible in such a way that it shapes our thoughts and actions. It molds us. It changes who and what we are, right down to our very essence.

"Given by the inspiration of God" (3:16), means "God breathed," or from the mouth of God. It is a picture of speech. Our words come out in our breath. So Paul is saying Scripture is the very word of God as truly as if it came out of His own mouth. If this is so, how can we claim to love God, yet not continue in it?

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