This pericope contains two imperatives in vs. 1 and vs. 5.
The message is a warning. Paul began this section – “Know this!” This passage admonishes believers to guard your heart and your home.
Difficult days are coming. So, Paul identified what we are to look for and what we should do about it
The phrase, “In the last days” sounds like a picture of some distant future and remote time. But that is not the case here. The instruction in vs. 5 to “avoid these people” is in the present tense, suggesting that these false teachers were already infecting them. So, “end time” refers to a period they were already experiencing!
There are two instructions in this text: what we are to look for; what do we do when we find it
The 18 characteristics listed in 3:2–5 represent a staggering list of people negatively impacting the church. Paul said that they have a form of Godliness, but denying its power. They had the appearance of Godliness, but it was false.
- The word Paul used here for form is μορφος, which is where we get our word, “metamorphosis.”
They are religious imposters whose primary identifying feature is misplaced love
- They love themselves (2)
- They love money; (3)
- They are unloving; (4)
- They love pleasure (4)
It is significant that in Revelation 2, Jesus to the Church in Ephesus (this same Church), “You have left your first love.”
The word used here for “avoid” (αποτρεπου) occurs only here in the New Testament, but represents a common theme (Cf. Rom. 16:17; 1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 2:16, 23; Titus 3:9)
Look at the characteristics of those vulnerable to false teaching:
- Weak-willed (give in easy to temptation)
- Loaded down with sin (obviously, when you are IN sin – easy target)
- Swayed by various lusts (evil desires – enticing them) – controlled by desires
- Always Learning (religiously curious) – curiosity not necessarily a bad thing; motivation
- But not gaining understanding of the truth
Vs. 8 – Puts this in context of false teachers
- Jannes and Jambres (names not recorded in Exod 7, 9)
- They sought to imitate the first few actions of God against Egyptians
They had the appearance of religion
- Two indictments (Vs. 8): depraved minds; and unapproved faith (lit. not standing the test)
Vs. 9 – But they will not succeed!
You might title this sermon: Know this!
What we are to Know:
- These are things we need to look for
- Religious Appearance without Character
- Religious Words without Content
What we are to Do: Turn away from them!
- This is what we do when we find them
- We must learn to Discern the Truth
- We must be vigilant in the face of attacks on our Faith