The Season of the Charge
3 For there will come a time when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts they will heap to themselves teachers, who tickle the ear;
4 And who will turn away the ear from the truth, and will be turned into fables.
Paul gives the reason for the urgency to preach the Word now. “There will come a time” (Gk. kairos) of apostasy (2 Tim. 3:1-9; 4:1-4). This time is “one of the akairos (out of season) times” of resistance to God’s Word.269 It is not a question of when it shall come. It shall come imminently in these last days (2 Tim. 3:1). Nor is it a question of how it shall come. It shall come through perverse people and pious phonies (2 Tim. 3:1-9). Rather, it is a question of what shall come. The apostle gives us seven characteristics of the coming apostasy.
Departure from the Faith. First, people shall depart from biblical truths. “Now the Spirit clearly speaks, that in the latter times some will depart from the faith” (1 Tim. 4:1). The Greek word for “depart” (Gk. apostesontai), is where we get our English word “apostasy,” or “apostate.” It is the future middle voice of aphistemi.270 Aphistemi is a compound of, apo, which means, “off,” or “away from something near,” or to separate; and, histemi, which means, “to stand.”271 The “faith” refers to the body of Christian truth and doctrine as revealed in the Bible (Jude 3).272 Thus, to depart from the faith is to stand off, separate, or fall away from the faith. In the last days, some so-called Christians shall stand away themselves from the truths of God’s Word. They shall fall away themselves from the faith. They shall forsake biblical doctrine.
Paul tells Timothy about the period of this departure from the faith. It will happen “in the last days” (2 Tim. 3:1). The “last days” refer to the “Messianic era, the time beginning with Christ’s first coming (Acts 2:17; 1 Ti 4:1; Heb 1:1; 1 Pe 1:20; 1 Jn 2:18),”273 specifically, “the period from the incarnation of Christ up to the end of the tribulation period.”274 This means that we are now living in the last days.
In these last days, there will be “perilous times” (2 Tim. 3:1). The adjective, “perilous” (Gk. chalepos), means, “difficult, i.e., dangerous,”275 Thus, “perilous times” (2 Tim. 3:1) literally means, “difficult times, in which it is difficult to know what is to be done.”276
Matthew used the same word to describe the two demon-possessed men who met Jesus in the country of the Gergesenes. They were “so exceedingly violent [chalepos] that no one could pass by that road” (Matt. 8:28, NASB). Hence, there will be perilous, difficult, dangerous, and very violent times in the last days. Such difficult times will “increase in frequency and severity as the return of Christ approaches (v. 13) [2 Tim. 3:13].”277
Furthermore, it “will come” (2 Tim. 3:1). The verb, “will come” (Gk. enistemi), means, “to place on hand, i.e. be at hand, present.”278 The verb form is future middle indicative.279 These difficult times shall come themselves. It carries the idea of imminent coming, at any time, and unexpectedly.280 In these last days, therefore, difficult times shall come themselves—at any moment, without warning, and suddenly.
Lastly, in such difficult times, people will be: lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness; although they have denied its power (2 Tim. 3:2-5, NASB).
They will give in to their sinful nature, exploit the weak, and oppose the truth (2 Tim. 3:6-8). False teachers will also proliferate and deceive many (1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 3:7-9, 13; 4:3-4).
269 Robertson, Robertson’s Word Pictures in Power Bible CD.
270 Robertson, Robertson’s Word Pictures in Power Bible CD.
271 Strong, Strong’s Greek Dictionary in Power Bible CD.
272 Donald W. Burdick and John H. Skilton, “Jude,” The NIV Study Bible (ed. Kenneth L. Barker; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985), 1920.
273 Walter W. Wessel and George W. Knight, III, “2 Timothy,” The NIV Study Bible (ed. Kenneth L. Barker; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985), 1846.
274 Isidro, Annotated, 386.
275 Strong, Strong’s Greek Dictionary in Power Bible CD.
276 Jamieson, Fausset, Brown, JFBC in Power Bible CD.
277 MacArthur, MacArthur, 1878.
278 Strong, Strong’s Greek Dictionary in Power Bible CD.
279 Friberg and Friberg, Analytical in Bible Windows CD.
280 Jamieson, Fausset, Brown, JFBC in Power Bible CD.