2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV) — “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”
I’d be curious, as in eager to know or learn how others read and accept this opening passage of Scripture.
I do know some see this as a judgment, but for me, I see it as a warning. Like “Warning Bridge Out!”
It wasn’t too long ago that I saw a post on Facebook: “I miss 9/12, the day after 9/11.” The idea being that we wouldn’t want to see or experience such tragedy again, but we saw the enthusiastic flying of the Stars and Stripes, the church pews were full, and there was a great deal of patriotism. Great steps to find unity and common ground in spite of our many differences.
Second Timothy 3:1 starts off with, “But mark this.”
This phrase was first used by Miles Coverdale in 1535 in the book of Isaiah when he translated the Bible. After that, it was used to describe an ominous happening.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary says it is “used to tell someone to listen and remember what one is saying, ‘Mark my words, nothing good will come of this!’”
For me, personally, I prefer the saying, “Focus up!”
Rather than that passage of Scripture passing judgment, I understand it as a warning, a guidance to avoid the things that would lead to judgment.
There’s a big difference, in my opinion. For example; one of the most misused passages of Scripture I’ve heard is Matthew 7:1: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”
There’s often a big difference between the Biblical intent of that verse and how it’s often drawn as a dagger of defense by someone wanting or serving in self-will.
In the simple way that I understand Matthew 7:1, we are not in the position to judge whether someone’s actions condemn them, and we don’t have the privilege or right to assume whether someone is going to hell or not. That’s strictly between God, our Creator, and themselves. We, as believers and followers of the Biblical Christ Jesus, are in the position to exercise discernment.
If I could encourage the full reading of 1 Corinthians 2:1-16, I believe it carries the message clearly. For this simple article, allow me to focus on verses 15 and 16 of that passage.
“The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
Now, people being people, with those two verses it could easily lead one to become a know-it-all or proud and arrogant, but as believers we have those safeguards or guardrails of guidance, such as Proverbs 3:34 — “He gives favor to the humble.”
And Proverbs 22:4 — “The reward of humility and the reverent worshipful fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.”
Also Proverbs 11:2 — “When pride comes, then come disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”
So, for me, reading our opening passage from Second Timothy 3:15, I read it as instructional, leading us away from thoughts and actions that lead to condemnation and guide us into temporal and eternal rewards.
There are many verses and passages that encourage us to live this way. But for today, allow me to share from the New Testament book of Galatians 6:9 (NIV) — “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Just an FYI — I understand that the phrase “Last Days,” written in Second Timothy 3:1, refers to the time from when Paul wrote this until the return of Christ.
Perhaps we could simply do our part through our Word and Deed.