The Apostle now passes from evils already existent to those which would characterize the end of this age. The list he now gives would seem to fall within the scope of what is termed Christendom, for the evildoers are described as “holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof.” This sort of thing began to be prevalent within a few centuries after Apostolic times. A paganized form of Christianity became a prominent feature throughout the sphere in which the Christian faith had spread. In medieval times the Reformation restored a measure of purity but did not prevent a revival of the evil. That the characteristic sins were already existent at the time when the Epistle was written is evident from the exhortation to Timothy in verse 5 to turn away from them. The Apostle encourages him by the example of his life and teaching and by the Lord’s deliverance of him from persecutions. Evil men and impostors would increase, both in numbers and in the nature of their deceptions. Hence the need of abiding in the truth which had been taught and received, the sacred Scriptures which can make the believer “wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” This leads to an intimation of the need for recognizing the true character of the Scriptures, in view of the fact that many writings had been, and were being, produced which were not inspired of God and therefore had no power to fulfil the purposes for which the God-breathed Scriptures were given.
But know this, that in the last days — the verb ginosko here signifies to keep in recognition; the tense is the present continuous. The “But” sets what follows in contrast to what has just been mentioned concerning those who had already been taken captive by the Devil. The time referred to is not necessarily merely a brief period at the very end of the present age but the whole of the last period of what is known as the Christian era, in which the evils would become pronounced and general, developing into a consummation of iniquity. Cp. 1 Tim. 4. 1, which speaks of times later than those of the Apostles.
grievous times shall come. — the word chalepos signifies hard to bear, difficult; it is used elsewhere only in Matt. 8. 28, where it has the slightly different meaning of hard to deal with. In the present passage it intimates the difficulty of keeping to the path of rectitude
For men shall be — that is, men in general, including men and women. The list which follows does not lend itself to an analysed enumeration, and this may have been intentional, as suggesting the chaotic condition into which sin plunges communities.
lovers of self, — this translates the single adjective philautoi, which is found here only in the N.T. This sin suitably begins the list, as it is practically the root of every other. It stands in direct contrast to the love which “seeketh not its own” (1 Cor. 13. 5), and is “the fulfilment of the law” (Rom. 13. 10).
lovers of money, — this translates philarguroi. It occurs elsewhere only in Luke 16. 14, but the corresponding noun is used in 1 Tim. 6. 10. This form of covetousness is the offspring of selfishness, and is “a root of all kinds of evil.” The word appropriately follows the preceding one.
boastful, — boastfulness is that vain-glorious talk which exalts oneself, claiming to be possessed of qualities and honours which do not belong to the boaster. The idea in alazon, found elsewhere only in Rom. 1. 30, is that of an impostor, and this is a veritable feature of boasting.
haughty, - those who regard with contempt others whom they consider beneath them, either socially, or materially, or in natural endowments
railers, - not merely “blasphemers” (A.V.), but those who hurl abuse at, or speak abusively concerning others.
disobedient to parents, - the word rendered disobedient literally means unwilling to be persuaded; it occurs elsewhere in the Pastoral Epistles in Tit. 1. 16 and 3. 3. Where the other conditions mentioned in this list prevail, the children are inevitably characterized by the vice now mentioned.
unthankful, - or rather, without gratitude. the word occurs elsewhere only in Luke 6.35. There is perhaps a connection between this and the preceding evil. The repudiation of the claims of, and respect for, parents is sure to beget the spirit of ingratitude, though the evil is not confined to young people.
unholy, — there are two words rendered “holy” in the N.T.: hosios, which signifies free from unrighteousness or pollution and is commonly associated with righteousness; it is the word used, e.g., in 1 Tim. 2. 8 and Tit. 1. 8; the other is hagios, which signifies separated from sin and consecrated to God, e.g., 1. 14 and Tit. 3. 5. The word here is the negative of the former.
without natural affection, - this translates the single adjective astorgos, which is used especially with reference to parents and children. It occurs elsewhere only in Rom. 1. 31. It is the negative of philostorgos, “tenderly affectioned,” found in Rom. 12. 10 (A.V., “kindly affectioned.”)
implacable, - aspondos primarily denoted “without a libation” and came to signify “without a truce,” as the making of treatises and agreements was accompanied by a libation. Hence it signified one who cannot be persuaded to enter into a covenant or agreement, and so one who is not to be appeased. This is the meaning here.
slanderers, — diabolos (whence the word “Devil”) denotes a false accuser, in the broad sense of the term. It is said of those who pick holes in others and spread criticisms and innuendos. See at 1 Tim. 3. 1l.
without self-control, — akrates primarily denotes impotent; then, in a moral sense, unrestrained. It thus has a wide meaning, but is especially used of lusts. Such persons have a sense of what is right but readily yield to the temptation to evil.
fierce, — anemeros denotes not tame, savage, merciless, the very opposite to the gentle.
no lovers of good, — lit., without love for the good, and so, positively, hostile to all good thoughts and deeds.
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