(Vs. 1) When the apostle speaks of "the last days," he means the days following the coming of Christ. We have the days from Adam to Moses, from Moses (under the law) to Christ, and from Christ's coming to the end of the world, called "the last days." Some mistakenly believed that these days would be a time of peace, holiness, and obedience to God and His Word, especially in the churches and among those who claimed to know Christ. But Paul warns Timothy and all true believers to expect perilous, hard, and difficult times, not by reason of outward calamities, scarcity of food, and dangers from the sword, but by reason of the WICKEDNESS OF MEN WHO PROFESS RELIGION! The pastors and people of God will have to contend with legalists, false teachers, hucksters, and evil and profane men and women in the churches. This situation already prevailed during the days of the apostles and has continued, growing worse, to this day (II Tim. 1:15; 4:10-11, 14-16).(Vs. 2-4) He gives a description of the hypocrites, formal professors, and false preachers that would arise during these last days.
1. "LOVERS OF THEIR OWN SELVES." This is put first because all error and vices flow from self-love. He who loves himself does not love Christ, despises others, has no concern for the glory of God nor the good of others. Self-love promotes free-will, human merit, and seeks honor and applause.
2. "COVETOUS." lovers of money, looking for personal gain and recognition in all that they do. They are not content with the providence of God nor with what they have nor with where they are (Heb. 13:5).
3. "BOASTERS." These people brag of their honor, wealth, gifts, numbers, and righteousness. They are like the Pharisee of old who thanked God that he was not like other men (I Cor. 4:7).
4. "PROUD." Nothing is more offensive in the sight of God than pride in the creature (Prov. 6:17; James 4:6). Someone said, "There is pride of RACE, pride of PLACE, and pride of FACE;" but perhaps the most offensive of all is pride of GRACE.
5. "BLASPHEMERS." This has to do with thoughts and words regarding the Father, His beloved Son, and the Holy Spirit, to whom all glory, worship, reverence, and praise is due, in whom we live, move, and have our being (both natural and spiritual), and by whom we are redeemed, kept, and made heirs of eternal life. Any thought or word that renders to Him any less than full glory is blasphemy.
6. "DISOBEDIENT TO PARENTS." These are those who despise authority, whether in parents, magistrates, pastors, employers, or whatever authority God has ordained.
7. "UNTHANKFUL." to God for what is enjoyed by them and unthankful to men, ascribing all to themselves and their own merit (Eph. 5:20; I Thess. 5:18).
8. "UNHOLY." Without fear of God nor regard for His Word nor concern for the testimony of the gospel, they live and walk in the indulgences of the flesh both inwardly and outwardly.
9. "WITHOUT NATURAL AFFECTION." to husbands, wives, children, parents, and friends. Also leaving the natural use of men and women (Rom. 1:26-27).
10. "TRUCEBREAKERS." or covenant breakers, loosing the marriage bond, making void contracts, agreements, and promises both to God and men.
11. "FALSE ACCUSERS" slanderers of character, careless gossipers and talebearers (I Tim. 5:19).
12. "INCONTINENT" not able to restrain fleshly appetites, tempers, passions, and desires even for the glory of God, imtemperate in eating and drinking, indulging themselves without restraint.
13. "FIERCE" unkind and hateful like cornered beasts striking out at all in reach, wounding and bent on vengeance.
14. "DESPISERS OF THOSE THAT ARE GOOD." Hypocrites hate true believers as the Pharisees hated Christ. The gospel of grace and Christ's righteousness condemn their claims and bring out their malice (I John 3:11-13).
15. "TRAITORS." They will betray secrets of others (words spoken to them in confidence) to preserve themselves or to gain in some way.
16. "HEADY, HIGHMINDED" puffed and swelled up with a vain conceit of their own intelligence, accomplishments, and abilities (I Cor. 3:7; II Cor. 12:11).
17. "LOVERS OF PLEASURE MORE THAN LOVERS OF GOD." This comes back to the first word (lovers of self, pleasure, sin, applause, worldly honor, and making a god of their bellies) and not loving the Lord Jesus Christ. Love for Him puts all things in their proper place!
(Vs. 5) They have an external show of religion, pretending great holiness, zeal, and concern for the salvation of men and the kingdom of God, vet in reality they deny the very heart of true faith THE POWER OF IT! They profess the SCRIPTURES to be the Word of God but deny the power of the Word to quicken, to beget life, and to give faith. They profess to believe CHRIST but deny the power and efficacy of His righteousness, His sacrifice, and His intercession. They talk of the HOLY SPIRIT but deny His power to regenerate, to sanctify, to convice of sin, and to teach. They profess to believe the GOSPEL but deny the power of the gospel to save, to justify, to make men new creatures in Christ, and to fully satisfy every need through and by Christ.