Week commencing 28th June 2020
Study 3 – The Last Days
2 Timothy 3:1-17
Prayer:- Thank you, Lord, that as we open our Scriptures and read from them we know you will speak to us and encourage us in our journey of faith. May we commit the truths that we learn to our hearts and demonstrate them in the lives we live day by day. Amen
Comment:- There are those whose occupation is stated to be ‘futurist’ or ‘futurologist’. This is not to be confused with that of astrologist, because it is not the stars and planets that are studied, but rather society and global trends, and how those things that we are engaged in and developing today might resolve themselves in the future, both for this and future generations.
It’s not a new job title and was first identified in 1842 to refer to theologians who were looking at the Bible, and particularly parts of Daniel and Revelation, as pointing to future events in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and global context. This kind of study is also known as eschatology, from two Greek words meaning ‘last’ and ‘study’ – so it is the study of the end (or last) days which Paul talks about in this chapter.
There’s a sense perhaps in saying we’re all part-time futurists when we look at the way the world is at the present and make a comment as to where it all might be leading!
The Jews divided all time into ‘this present age’, which was essentially evil, and ‘the age to come’ which was the golden age of God. In between there would be ‘The Day of the Lord’, which would in many ways be a terrible but glorious time when God personally intervened in human history and there was a final showdown with the forces of evil. Early Christians believed that at this time the Church would suffer greatly before God’s final triumph, and were eagerly awaiting the Second Coming of Christ, because the times and omens seemed right.
This is the time that Paul is writing into, and why the Last Days are on his mind. It could be a dark message, but there’s still a note of enthusiasm in his words, encouraging Timothy in his difficult job within the Church in Ephesus.
Reflect:- Our lives are increasingly tied to technology, be it a laptop, tablet, phone, Sat Nav or fitness band. There are driverless cars being invented, and above our head fly remotely controlled drones. Can you see this trend increasing, and what else do you think a future generation might be buying as a “must have” item?
Key Verse:- ‘All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living’ (2 Timothy 3:16)
Some questions :-
- The description in verses 2-5 is of a godless society, even though Paul says that these signs will also be seen within the Church. How close to today’s world is Paul’s summing up of the last days?
- Ephesus was an important market place in the ancient world, situated at the meeting point of several major roads. It was known as ‘The Treasure-house of the ancient world’ with many prosperous merchants living and trading within its walls. How can the place where we live affect our attitude to the material things of life, and how easy is it for attitudes to be changed?
- The word which the NIV version translates as ‘boastful’ has at its root the wandering quack doctor plying his strange concoctions and lies about their healing qualities. Who might we include in this category today?
- There will be slanderers, say Paul. The word comes from the Greek ‘diabolos’ from which we get the English word ‘devil’. The slanderer, who tells stories about someone without bothering to check whether true or not, and ruins their reputation, is doing ‘the devil’s work’!
Newspapers are often accused of publishing half-truths or poorly researched pieces which cause hurt to the one who has been named. Is this just sloppy journalism, or feeding the desire of readers to know anything about the private life of those in the public eye?
What should our attitude be to these kinds of stories?
- To an extent the early Church offered women a degree of freedom that they hadn’t known. The respectable Greek woman lived a very closeted life, under strict supervision, not encouraged to question or engage in public discussion. With freedom came danger, and it seems that unscrupulous teachers were gaining an unhealthy influence over them. Cults based loosely on Christianity have grown up over recent centuries – how aware do we need to be today of such teaching?
- Read verse 10. What reassurance does Timothy have that he’s on the right track?
- Throughout the world there are thousands of different kinds of churches, apart from the more familiar denominations. Many have been established by single individuals, others planted by larger churches. How does a potential member assure themselves that a church which seems to meet their needs on a website or poster is not going to lead them astray?
- Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, says Paul in verse 12. How might this persecution present itself where you live, and is that much of a ‘selling-point’ to attract more people to the message of Christianity?
- Read from verse 14 to the end of the chapter. Timothy would have grown up rather as our parents and grandparents may have done with their regular attendance at Sunday School, learning the Scriptures from a very young age. How much harder is it now for youngsters, and how can the Church plug the gap in their religious knowledge?
- Verse 16 is a familiar one, but how often is it used for all the functions that Paul lists, and ought it to be used more as he envisages?
Something to think about:-
Think about how your actions today might impact on the world tomorrow, and extend that thinking to how your church might contribute toward the future benefit of the town or city within which it is placed.
Pray for the place where you live, and all the people who live within it, that whatever their background and political or religious views, they might work together for the good of all.
‘To be honest, the fact that people trust you gives you a lot of power over people. Having another person’s trust is more powerful than all other management techniques put together.’ (Linus Torvalds)
‘It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.’ (William Shakespeare)
‘Life is divided into three terms – that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present, to live better in the future.’ (William Wordsworth)
‘My mother was a Sunday school teacher. So I am a by product of prayer. My mom just kept on praying for her son.’ (Steve Harvey)
‘Every religious group, while perhaps a majority somewhere, is also inevitably a minority somewhere else. Thus, religious organizations should and do show tolerance toward members of other religious denominations.’ (Russell M. Nelson)
‘If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.’ (Confucius)