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Lesson 6: Influential Fakers (2 Timothy 3:1-13)

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Day One Study—Get the Big Picture

What does the Bible say?

Read 2 Timothy 2:22-3:13, (including verses from the last lesson). Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

If possible, print out the verses we are studying. Use your own method (colored pencils, lines, shapes) to mark 1) anything that grabs your attention, 2) words you want to understand, and 3) anything repeated in this passage. Draw arrows between thoughts that connect. Put a star  next to anything you think relates to being faithful or staying faithful.

1. What grabbed your attention from these verses?

2. What verses or specific words do you want to understand better?

3. What topics are repeated in this passage or continue an earlier discussion in this letter?

4. What verses illustrate or help you understand what staying faithful looks like?

5. From this lesson’s passage, choose one verse to dwell upon all week long. Write it in the space below. Ask God to teach you through this verse.

Respond to the Lord about what He’s shown you today.

Day Two Study

Read 2 Timothy 3:1-13. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What does it mean?

In his previous letter, Paul had given Timothy some instruction concerning those who will abandon the faith in the last days. The phrase “last days” includes the entire period between the first century and Christ’s return for His own at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). They are “last” not because they are few but because they are the final days of the present age. Jesus referred to this period as the UNTIL time in Luke 21:24, “until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” Here as well as in Romans 1:28-32, Paul gives a list of general human behaviors that have existed throughout history but will increase in scope and acceptance over time. All of these will contribute to the suffering of Christians who are trying to stay faithful to the Lord.

6. In 2 Timothy 3:1, Paul says the last days will be difficult. What will characterize the last days to make it so difficult (vv. 2-4)?

Dependent Living: Wondering how to live in difficult times? In 2nd Timothy chapters 1 and 2, Paul has already described how to rely on God during such times, how to stay faithful to Him, and how to focus on the reward for doing so.

7. Read Acts 20:28-31. Ten years before writing 2nd Timothy, met with the Ephesian elders and warned them about savage wolves infiltrating the flock. Paul continues to warn Timothy (and us) about savage wolves but in different terms.

  • How are they described in 2 Timothy 3:5?
  • How are they described in Titus 1:16?
  • What could Paul mean by saying “having a form of godliness but denying its power?”

8. As we look at vv. 5-7, we see that Paul is describing “influential fakers.” They are not Christians (see v. 8). They just look like “good people.”

  • Why does Paul say to not associate with them?
  • What would that look like?

The ungodly fakers seek to influence. They will look for the best means of influence and seek targets that are easily influenced.

9. Look at the first part of verse 6. The NIV translators used a word picture for us that we can recognize, “worm their way into homes.” This is a means for the influential fakers to reach their targets. After reading the “Focus on the Meaning” below, what could that look like?

Focus on the Meaning: “Worm their way into homes/households” means to sneak in, to introduce yourself gradually and cunningly into a position, especially a place of confidence or favor. “To gain control over” means to make a prisoner of, take captive especially thoughts and emotions.

10. Read vv. 6-7 in 3 translations. What words did Paul use to describe the targets of these influential fakers?

Focus on the Meaning: The phrase “weak-willed women” is literally “little women,” which is referring to someone who is silly and vulnerable, the opposite of someone who is wise. Although Paul used women as an example, the vulnerability applies to men as well as to women. In their unguardedness, they open the door and let the fakers inside.

11. Let’s focus on the phrase “loaded down (heaped on, overwhelmed) with sins.”

  • How do women get loaded down with sins?
  • How might this make them feel and, therefore, vulnerable?
  • How do they try to deal with their guilt?
  • What truth do they need to know that would free them from being overwhelmed by sin?

12. What does it mean that they are “swayed (led along, taken by the hand) by all kinds of evil desires”?

13. What would it look like to be “always learning but never able to acknowledge (arrive at, be established upon) the truth?” See also 2 Timothy 4:3-4.

Scriptural Insight: Paul gives 2 examples of influential fakers in 2 Timothy 3:8-9. Paul mentions two characters, Jannes and Jambres, whose names mean “he who seduces” and “he who is rebellious.” Neither name is in the Old Testament, but Jewish legend held that these were the names of 2 Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses’ demand of Pharaoh to free the Israelites (Exodus 7:11-12, 22). They tried to duplicate the miracles of Moses in an attempt to discredit him. But God showed that Moses’ authority was more powerful. (The Word in Life Study Bible, p. 751)

What application will you make to stay faithful to God?

14. How might such influential fakers “worm their way into homes” today? What do you do to protect yourself and your household from influential fakers?

15. Do you know any women who fit the description Paul gave in vv. 6-7?

  • If you do, how can you come alongside to help her?
  • What can you do if she doesn’t want to change?

16. Does 2 Timothy 3:1-9 offer any warnings you think you should heed? If so, what are those warnings? What will you ask God to do in your life so that none of the negative behaviors characterize you?

Respond to the Lord about what He’s shown you today.

Day Three Study

Read 2 Timothy 3:1-13. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

Paul compares his example to the influential fakers. Timothy knows Paul well.

17. Considering the threat of betrayal and persecution by the Romans, why is Paul reminding Timothy of what he learned from Paul’s example about following Christ and staying faithful to Him during difficult times (vv. 10-11)?

18. During Paul’s previous times of “persecutions” and “sufferings,” what did God do for him?

Scriptural Insight: Timothy probably met Paul when the apostle first arrived in Lystra (Acts 14:8-23). Before this, some Jews had already run Paul and Barnabas out of Pisidian Antioch and Iconium for preaching about Jesus. But, Lystra warmly welcomed the missionaries until Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and persuaded the Lystrians to turn against Paul and Barnabas. The crowd stoned Paul and dragged Paul’s body outside the city, presuming he was dead. But Paul survived, and after spending some time in Derbe he returned to strengthen the disciples in Lystra. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” Paul reminded the Lystrian believers (Acts 14:22). (2 Timothy Life Change Bible Study, pg.60)

19. According to 2 Timothy 3:12,

  • Who will be persecuted?
  • Why is this so? See John 15:18-25 and 2 Timothy 3:2-4, 13.

Scriptural Insight: Timothy needed to realize, as all Christians do, that when a person determines to “live a godly life,” she will suffer persecution. With her commitment to follow Christ faithfully, [she] sets the course of her life directly opposite to the course of the world system. Confrontation and conflict become inevitable. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Timothy 2017 Edition, p. 32)

20. But, God uses persecution to be something “good” for us. Read 2 Corinthians 1:9; 4:7-9; and 12:9-10. Why is depending upon Him more than on ourselves “good” for us?

Dependent Living: Human parents raise their children to be less dependent on them and more independent. But, God raises His children to be less independent and more dependent on Him. Whatever He brings into our lives that makes us more dependent upon Him is good for us. When you are persecuted or perceive a threat of it, remember also that there is a reward for staying faithful (2 Timothy 2:3-6, 12).

What application will you make to stay faithful to God?

From what we have learned so far in 2 Timothy, our first response during persecution is to Christ (2 Timothy 1:12), staying faithful to Him because we are confident in who He is and how much He loves us. Our second response is to the opposition (2 Timothy 2:24-26) with our words and our behavior. See “Dangerous Times for Christians” after the next question.

21. When you have been persecuted for being a Christian, or perceived the threat of it,

  • How have you responded in the past?
  • What would you do differently next time, if anything?

Dangerous Times for Christians

(The commentary below is adapted from “Truth and Tolerance” by Josh McDowell, Focus on the Family, August 1999)

One of the ways our western culture persecutes Christians is through the redefinition of tolerance. The traditional definition of tolerance means simply to recognize and respect others’ beliefs, practices, and so forth without necessarily agreeing or sympathizing with them.

But today’s new “tolerance” considers every individual’s beliefs, values, lifestyle and truth claims as equally valid. So not only does everyone have an equal right to his beliefs, but all beliefs are equal. The new tolerance goes beyond respecting a person’s rights; it demands praise and endorsement of that person’s beliefs, values and lifestyle.

The results of the new tolerance:

  • The repression of public discourse. “How dare you say that?” The issue is no longer the truth of the message, but the right to proclaim it. In the new cultural climate, any unpopular message can be labeled “intolerant” and therefore be repressed.
  • The privatization of convictions. Christians face increasing pressure to be silent about their convictions - in school, at work, in the public square - because to speak out will be seen as an intolerant judgement of others’ beliefs and lifestyles.
  • A new wave of religious persecution. Linking so-called "hate crimes" to intolerance.

What does the Lord require?

It is not too late to avoid such scenarios, but I believe doing so will require effort in three areas.

We must humbly pursue truth.

Pursuing truth in this context means embracing all people, but not all beliefs. It means listening to and learning from all people without necessarily agreeing with them. “But do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).

We must aggressively practice love.

Love actively seeks to promote the good of another person.

Tolerance says:

Love responds with doing something harder:

You must approve of what I do.

I will love you, even when your behavior offends me.

You must agree with me.

I will tell you the truth, because I am convinced, the truth will set you free.

You must allow me to have my way.

I will plead with you to follow the right way, because I believe you are worth the risk.

Tolerance seeks to be inoffensive; love takes risks. Tolerance glorifies division; love seeks unity. Tolerance costs nothing; love costs everything.

Respond to the Lord about what He’s shown you today.

© 2019.

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