2 Timothy Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern
1. Moreover, understand this: in the acharit-hayamim will come trying times.
2. People will be self-loving, money-loving, proud, arrogant, insulting, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,
3. heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, uncontrolled, brutal, hateful of good,
4. traitorous, headstrong, swollen with conceit, loving pleasure rather than God,
5. as they retain the outer form of religion but deny its power. Stay away from these people!
Most religion today is mere outer form, words and ritual without power; contrast IC 2:4-5. Non-Messianic Judaism too must remain an outer form of religion lacking the spiritual power people want and need, so long as it continues to deny him who is the only way to the Father (Yn 14:6) and to the Holy Spirit (Ro 8:9-10), the source of that power (1:7 above).
In the acharit-hayamim ("in the end of days"; compare I Ti 4:1) there will come trying times characterized by moral and spiritual decline. This will be accompanied by natural and social disasters, as is clear from the Messiah's own description of this period (Mattityahu 24—25, Mark 13, Lk 21:5-36), but here the emphasis is on the decadence of individuals.
In the rabbinic writings can be found similar descriptions of "the birth-pains of the Messiah" (compare Mt 24:8&N). One well-known saying from the Talmud suggests two equally likely possibilities:
"Rabbi Yochanan said: 'The Son of David will not come except in a generation which is either completely righteous or completely guilty. '"(Sanhedrin 98a) But the more usual picture tends toward the latter, as is seen in this citation from the Mishna describing what can be expected when the Messiah is about to come:
"On the heels of the Messiah, chutzpah [insolence] will multiply, and honor will vanish. The vine will give its fruit, but wine will be costly. The government will be converted to minut [heresy, or Christianity specifically] without being admonished, and houses of learning will be prostituted. The Galil will be destroyed and the Golan [or: the leaders] devastated. The people of the frontier [or: the leaders] will go around begging, but no one will show them mercy. The wisdom of the 7bra/»-teachers will degenerate, those who fear sin will be despised, and the truth will disappear. Youths will shame the faces of the old, and old men will stand up in the presence of children. 'The son dishonors the father, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's enemies are the people of his own household.' (Micah 7:6) The face of the generation is like the face of a dog [shameless] — a son will not be embarrassed even before his own father. So on whom should we lean? On our Father who is in Heaven." (Solah 9:15)
A midrash from before 500 C.E. gives this picture:
"And when the Holy One, blessed be He, sees that there is no righteous in the generation and no pious in the land, and no charity in the hands of man,... [then He] remembers his own charity, compassion and mercy, and helps Himself with His Great Arm,... whose length is like the length of the world from one end to the other.... instantly Israel are redeemed among themselves, and the Messiah becomes visible to them." (Sefer Hekhalot, in A. Jellinek, Bet HaMidrash 5:189-190; quoted from Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts, pp. 100-101)
Ever since Sha'ul penned his letter, commentators and preachers have applied this passage and v. 13 to their own times. Some day, the decadent generation then alive will in fact be the one in whose days Yeshua the Messiah returns. And who is to say that it will not be our own?
6. For some of them worm their way into homes and get control of weak-willed women who are heaped with sins and swayed by various impulses,
7. who are always learning but never able to come to full knowledge of the truth.
Always learning but never able to come to full knowledge of the truth (compare 4:3, Yn 18:38a). A perfect description not only of weak-willed women (in today's world I can hope he would have written, "weak-willed people"), but of professional skeptics and others who, under the guise of "seeking the truth," keep avoiding it. The real reason they do this is that they are heaped with sins they do not want to give up and swayed by various impulses they do not want to face. See 1С 2:6-16. which can be read as a commentary on these two verses, and 1 Ti 4:1N.
8. In the same way as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moshe, so also these people oppose the truth. They are people with corrupted minds, whose trust cannot pass the test.
Jaiuies and Jambres are not mentioned in the Tanakh, but they are identified in Targum Yonatan (Numbers 22:22) as sons of Balaam, and also as the magicians in Pharaoh's court who tried to equal the feats of Moses reported in Exodus 7:11-12; 8:3(7), 14-15(18-19); 9:11. They are described elsewhere as having been among the "mixed multitude" who followed the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 12:38), and as instigators of the golden calf debacle (Exodus 32:1). They appear in the Dead Sea Scrolls, in the writings of the pagans Pliny and Apuleius, and in Christian apocrypha. See Encyclopedia Judaica 7:711, 9:1277; H. Strack and P. Billerbeck, Commentary to the New Testament from Talmud and Midrash, 3:660-664. Editor James H. Charlesworth included a book of Jannes and Jambres. consisting of integrated manuscript fragments from the 1 st to 3rd centuries, in 77?*- Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, New York: Doubleday & Co., 1985.
9. However, they won’t get very far; because everyone will see how stupid they are, just as happened with those two.
10. But you, you have closely followed my teaching, conduct, purpose in life, trust, steadfastness, love and perseverance
11. as well as the persecutions and sufferings that came my way in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra. What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.
12. And indeed, all who want to live a godly life united with the Messiah Yeshua will be persecuted,
I once saw a sign on the marquee outside a theater that had been converted into a church: "If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" The godly life is the evidence.
13. while evil people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived themselves.
14. But you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, recalling the people from whom you learned it;
15. and recalling too how from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which can give you the wisdom that leads to deliverance through trusting in Yeshua the Messiah.
Timothy was guided toward trust in Yeshua the Messiah from childhood by his Messianic Jewish mother Eunice and grandmother Lois (1:5). What a blessing to have such a head start in life! How few Jewish believers today have that advantage! Most of us discovered only as adults the unfortunately too-well-kept secret that the Holy Scriptures, which means, of course, the Tanakh. can give the wisdom that leads to deliverance through trusting in Yeshua the Messiah. A function of the Jewish New Testament is to point readers of the Taiuikh in his direction, as the Tanakh itself intends (Lk 24:25-27, Ro 10:4&N).
16. All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living;
17. thus anyone who belongs to God may be fully equipped for every good work.
All Scripture is God-breathed. Others have translated this. "All God-breathed Scripture is valuable...." As I have rendered it, we leam here that the entire Tanakh, every verse of it (all Scripture), is inspired by God. Because of this, the Bible is incomparably more authoritative than anything else ever written or spoken. Opinions come a dime a dozen and a mile a minute, but assured truth from God about himself and humanity is found in the Tanakh and the New Testament, and nowhere else.
Because the Bible is God-breathed, it is valuable for Ihe four pastoral purposes named. Anyone who belongs to God and who lets Scripture pastor him in all four of these ways (however, not apart from associating with the community of God's people; see MJ 10:24-25) may be fully equipped for every good work.
- chapter 1
- chapter 2
- chapter 3
- chapter 4