Saturday, October 27, 2012

2 Timothy 3:1

Note:  For the next few days we’re going to take this passage one verse at a time so that we can focus on the very specific details.

Summary retelling of 2 Timothy 3:1

Paul tells Timothy that there will be difficulties in the “last days.”

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
The Biblical idea of the “last days” is an intriguing one.  Many people read those words to imply an “end times” or “rapture” mentality.  In other words, they naturally assume that Paul is talking about the last few days, months, or years before Christ returns.  While this is possible, keep in mind that Paul wrote this letter as a help to Timothy, who lived over 1,900 years ago.  If Paul was genuinely speaking about only the last few years before Christ returns, then Paul missed the mark quite badly! 

What is more likely is that when Paul uses the term “last days” he is referring to a time period in history.  To put it simply, the world began with creation.  Then, there were the “first days,” which would be the days from creation until Christ.  Then there were the days of Christ, when God brought salvation to the world.  Now we are in the “last days,” which are the days between Christ’s first and second coming.  The “last days” will be followed by judgment.  I don’t believe Paul is speaking of a small time when he writes to Timothy but rather the whole time between Christ’s comings.

How does our understanding of the words “last days” change the way we interpret this passage?  What is the danger that comes by thinking of this passage as only applying to the final days/months/years right before Jesus Christ appears a second time?

Second Thought:
Paul says that there will be difficulty.  For this thought, I’d like to speak about physical difficulty.  We have known for a long time that people enjoy physically persecuting Christians.  Christian kids get bullied when they go to school and portray their faith.  Christian adults are thrown into prison all over the world.  Some Christians are even killed on account of their faith.  It is not too much to think that Paul is thinking physically when he speaks of difficulties to come.

What kind of physical persecution have you experienced in this life?  What kind of physical persecution have you heard about?  Are there any kinds of physical persecutions that you don’t think that you could endure?

Third Thought:
It could also be that Paul is speaking about emotional/mental/spiritual persecutions.  We have all heard about the science/religion debates – where some scientists seem to make it their goal to persecute the spiritual/emotional/mental process of faith with us.  It has been long known that academic institutions are one of the greatest places of religious persecution simply because academic institutions are based on the model of free thought (which is not necessarily a bad thing, mind you).  The world is quite good at providing “entertainments” to distract us from the rigors of a proper faith life.  Thus, it is also possible to think that Paul can be speaking of this kind of persecution when he talks about difficulties in the last days.

What kind of spiritual/mental/emotional persecutions do you experience?  What kind of persecutions have you heard others talk about?  What are the easiest and most difficult spiritual/mental/emotional difficulties for you to endure?

Passage for Tomorrow: 2 Timothy 3:2

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