traitors, - those who are treacherous in their dealings with others. The reference is not confined to the betrayal of fellow-believers in days of persecution.
headstrong, - the word propetes, lit., falling forward, signifies reckless, rash and precipitate.
puffed up, - the verb tuphomai properly means to wrap in smoke, and was used metaphorically for conceit. See at 1 Tim. 3. 6 and 6. 4.
lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; - or more closely to the original, “lovers of pleasure instead of lovers of God.” With such, the claims of God are ignored and the life is lived in pursuit of selfish aims instead.
Three outstanding features characterize the list thus far - selfishness, lack of self-control, and pride.
holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof: - the retention of a mere outward form of godliness, a sort of adherence to religious observances, is a sign of Satan’s craft in getting people professedly to acknowledge Christian doctrines while yet denying their true power, the power of the Spirit of God, who leads true believers to cleave to His Word and to glorify Christ. The religious world often has much to say about God, but how little does it really acknowledge the Person and work of Christ His Son! And how much less is there true and devoted, loyalty to Christ as Lord of the life as well as Saviour of the soul!
from these also turn away. - not merely “from such turn away,” as in the A.V., but from all the more openly sinful characters in the list down to this last, and, in addition, those now mentioned, since their outward form of religion might make an appeal for a certain amount of fellowship. This, however, is forbidden equally with any identification with the other.
For of these are they that creep into houses, - the word expresses the idea of insinuating oneself into.
and take captive silly women laden with sins, led away by divers lusts, - the word rendered “silly women” is, lit., “womanlings,” that is, women who lack those qualities which should characterize true womanhood, women without discretion, and therefore easily led away with various sorts of desire, whether in the doctrinal sphere or the moral; the word rendered lusts denotes any desires, not only the desires of the flesh but of the spirit. One who propounds novel ideas not infrequently gains a hearing through having first influenced a certain class of woman, attracting their attention by some specious opinion.
The verb soreuo, translated “laden,” signifies to heap on, and is used elsewhere in the N.T. only in Rom. 12. 20, of coals of fire.
ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. - they are easily captivated by newfangled notions in religion, or are actually led into ungodly practices. On the one hand, false teachers withstand the truth, and, on the other, their readily-gulled followers have not sufficient discernment to obtain the knowledge (or rather the full knowledge, as the word is here) of the truth. How often those who advocate a doctrine which suits their natural opinion, read into some passage of Scripture, and so by their persuasive methods beguile the minds of those who have given only a superficial reading to the Word of God and have never patiently and reverently studied the Scripture, thus in an unbiased manner finding the true meaning of the passage!
And like as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also withstand the truth; - these men were two of the chief spiritists who antagonized Moses and the witness given by him. Their names are retained in the oral tradition of Israel and are found in the Targum of Jonathan on Ex. 7. 11, 22. They opposed Moses by counteracting the signs which he wrought by the power of God. They were under the influence of the powers of darkness, who work behind the scenes and lead astray those who, pursuing a self-willed course, follow their own desires instead of the will of God.
Special manifestations of demon power have occurred in the times of great crisis in human history. The spiritual powers of evil so wrought in the period before the Flood. They were in operation at the time when God was about to deliver Israel from Egypt. So in the land of Canaan at the time of the nation’s occupation of that land. So again in the time when Christ was on earth and when the gospel began to be spread. And it is deeply significant that spiritism (miss-termed “spiritualism” by its advocates) is spreading among the nations rapidly in these last days, and the more so as the Coming of the Lord draws near.
The deceivers of Paul’s time were men of the same character as Jannes and Jambres, as in the cases of Simon Magus, Elymas the sorcerer, and the sons of Sceva, who practised the occult arts for the sake of money.
men corrupted in mind, - just as the magicians in Egypt imitated Moses, so these false teachers professed in the Christian faith, but, yielding to the influences just mentioned, became depraved in mind and will. The word in the original is a verb, “corrupted,” not an adjective, “corrupt,” as in the A.V. It thus expresses not merely a condition but the effect of the yielding of the heart, to evil powers.
reprobate concerning the faith. - the word adokimos primarily signifies disapproved. It is said in Rom. 1. 28 of a mind of which God cannot approve and which must be rejected by Him, the effect of refusing “to have God in knowledge.” It is used in Tit. 1. 16 of the defiled, who are “unto every good work reprobate.” That is, on being put to the test in respect of any good work, in contrast to their profession, they can only be rejected. Those mentioned in the present passage were of perverted moral sense, their minds having been beclouded with their own speculations. They lost all sense of the meaning and power of the Christian faith.
But they shall proceed no further: - just as the magicians in Egypt failed under the arresting hand of God, so Timothy is assured, for his encouragement, that similar limit will be put upon the operations of the opponents of the gospel.
for their folly shall be evident unto all men, as theirs also came to be. - ekdelos, “evident” (used here only in the N.T.), is a strengthened form of delos, and suggests the thought of an utter exposure. The word rendered “folly” (anoia), lit., “without understanding,” has the meaning of senselessness; in Luke 6. 11 it denotes madness. Imposture sooner or later ceases to deceive, though its dupes are not always ready to acknowledge the deception.
But thou didst follow my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, patience, - in contrast to the apostates just mentioned, the Apostle now reminds Timothy of his past associations with himself. Possibly it was Paul’s manner of life that attracted the young servant of God to him from the first. The companionship of a younger missionary with one who has had considerable experience in the Lord’s work, is an important and powerful asset. Moreover Timothy had been a witness in his own district of all that Paul relates concerning himself. But not only had he been fully acquainted with it, as the A.V. rendering suggests, the effects of Paul’s example had made, such an impression on the mind of the younger man that he became an ardent disciple.
The order, “teaching, conduct,” is significant. The manner of life had been entirely consistent with the teaching given. Again the Apostle’s purpose, his motive and determination was accompanied by faith, which relies upon the power of God rather than upon self-effort to carry out one’s intentions.
Longsuffering, love, and patience, go together. Longsuffering could not be exercised apart from love (1 Cor. 13. 4). The Apostle’s longsuffering was manifested not only in regard to the false teachers but in enduring every kind of trial. Patience follows love in 1 Tim. 6. 11, where see note.
The enumeration of these qualities was indicative of no self-satisfaction on Paul’s part. He was writing almost at the end of his course, and, whilst encouraging Timothy, he could look with confident joy upon the issue of his life in the coining Day.
persecutions, sufferings; what things befell me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: - the circumstances in these three places are singled out as having been -well-known to Timothy, See Acts 13. 50; 14. 2, 19 with 16. 2.
and out of them all the Lord delivered me. - see further at 4. 17. This obviously was intended as an encouragement that what the Lord had been to him he would be to Timothy.
Yea, and all that would live godly in Christ -Jesus shall suffer persecution. - the word thelo, rendered “would,” expresses not simply a desire but a determined and constant exercise of the will. The adverb eusebos, “godly,” signifies that piety which, characterized by a Godward attitude, does that which is well-pleasing to Him, See the corresponding noun, e.g., in 3. 5. Piety is not sanctimoniousness. It cannot be exercised except in communion with Christ; hence the phrase “in Christ Jesus.” The order of the titles points to the living exalted Person, Christ, who became man, Jesus, in order to be our Saviour. Not the simple phrase “in Christ” is here used, expressing our position in Him, but the double title, indicating His power as the Lord and Sustainer of our life in all its vicissitudes. Persecution is the inevitable lot of the godly, owing to the fact that the world, lying as it does in the evil one (1 John 5. 19, R.V.), is at enmity with God. This antagonism is something to be expected but not to be feared. Nay, rather it is the believer’s -glory. The Devil can afford to ignore worldly-minded Christians. Faithfulness to the Lord draws the hostility of the foe but makes the faithful one safe in His keeping.
But evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. - the evils which had already become conspicuous in the times of the Apostles would continue throughout this whole period, with increasing development of wickedness. The principle of Divine retribution is here illustrated. Those who make a profit by the deception of others are themselves enticed through their own devices into grosser forms of evil. The deadly effects of the practice of spiritism, for instance, have been admitted by many of those who have indulged in it. Professing to lead people into touch with spirits in the other world, mediums have found themselves overmastered by the dark power to which they had actually yielded themselves, till they have become complete wrecks.
The practice of deceiving involves self-deceit and so reacts disastrously.