Critical doctrinal errors of judgment and immoral or illegal conduct reveal those who are the imposters because false leaders exist in the religious world where Biblical standards and doctrines are ignored. They neglect to apply conventional Biblical principles personally and open the doorways to secret sin to exist. Their supporters also fail to apply Biblical standards and doctrines to the teaching and conduct of their leaders. The result is the false ministers deceive themselves and their followers bringing strong delusions and join the list that are betrayers of the Gospel and will be judged by Jesus Christ Himself as He has said:
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity,” (Matt 7:15-24).
“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? If it be yet in vain. 5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith, (Gal.3: 1-5)?
The apostle Paul a converted Jew inquires how they could be so foolish as to renounce the Gospel of Christ and turn back to Judaism and the law, after having heard, received, and suffered so much for the Gospel, (Gal 3:15).
Asserts the doctrine of justification by faith, on the example of Abraham, (Gal 3:6-9); shows that all who are under the law are under the curse, from which Christ alone redeems us; and the promise made to Abraham comes to the Gentiles who believe, (Gal 3:10-14); for the covenant is not by the works of the law, but by promise, (Gal 3:15-18). The law was given to show the sinfulness of sin, and to act as a schoolmaster till Christ should come, (Gal 3:19-25). It is by faith only that any become children of God, (Gal 3:26). And under the Gospel, all those distinctions which subsisted under the law are done away; and genuine believers, whether Jews or Gentiles, bond or free, are one in Christ Jesus, and accounted the genuine children of Abraham, (Gal 3:27- 29). 15
A serious injustice is done to Christians when the message of sanctification as a second work of grace is withheld from them. The consequence of this shortcoming is that they are confined to the category of carnal believers who are described as babes in Christ (I Cor. 3:1-3; Eph. 4:13-14).
They lead a life of stumbling and rising, and have no understanding of the deeper things of God’s Word (Gal. 5:17; Heb. 5:12-14). Such people are not filled with the Holy Spirit and can, therefore, not claim that the Holy Spirit guides them into all truth (Jn. 16:13).
They are easy targets for spiritual deception. Since they are not endued with the power of he Holy Spirit, they easily fall into fleshly sins such as drinking and immorality (Eph. 5:18; I Thess. 4:3, 7-8).
We are admonished to be strong in the Lord so that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:10-11). This power not only enables us to live victoriously over sin and temptation but also gives us boldness to be successful witnesses for Christ. The Lord Jesus said: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me,” (Acts 1:8).
Empty yourself of the world and all forms of sin and fleshliness, wait on the Lord, and He will fill you with His Holy Spirit. That will make a very big difference in your life. It will, amongst others, enable you to identify and resist deception. Without this experience and spiritual enlightenment you will be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:14).
FALLING AWAY FROM JESUS CHRIST
The Christian Church, the Ecclesia, is a body of redeemed people called out from the world to represent God and His authority and to exercise government. Individually and corporately we are accountable to Jesus, the head of the Church. The Church is failing.
A projection of what happens when the Church fully fails is recorded in (II Thessalonians 2:3): “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come [the return of Jesus] unless the falling away comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God….”
Paul writes to the believers in Thessalonica to correct their thinking. Paul clarifies that the day of the return of the Lord Jesus will not come until there has been a falling away.
Interestingly, the Greek word for “falling away” is exactly the word which gives us the English word apostasy. It’s only used twice in the New Testament in this passage and in (Acts 21:21) where the leaders of the Church in Jerusalem tell Paul that he’s been accused of teaching apostasy from the Law of Moses. It specifically means a turning away from a revealed truth. Paul is saying that before the Antichrist, the man of lawlessness, is revealed, there has to be an apostasy in the Church. There will be a moving away from sound doctrine. (I Tim. 1:10).
Why? Because the true Church is the appointed authority and barrier to the revelation and the consummation of evil; Satan knows this and knows the Bible better than most of us. Satan knows that he cannot manifest the Antichrist until the Church is weakened and moved out of the way.
So there has to be an apostasy, a falling away, in the Church because the restraining influence of the Church has to be cancelled before the Antichrist can be revealed. Do you see what that means? Can you see the responsibility it places upon us? We are the restraining influence.
THE FALLING AWAY IN THIS GENERATION
In the generation it is clearly stated, (II Thess. 2:3)-“LET NO MAN DECEIVE YOU BY ANY MEANS: FOR THAT DAY SHALL NOT COME, EXCEPT THERE COME A FALLING AWAY FIRST, AND THAT MAN OF SIN BE REVEALED, THE SON OF PERDITION.”
Other words, the coming of the Antichrist shall not take place, except there first come an apostasy or a falling away. Indeed, the falling away has come, and there are few people left standing, but it is not perceived. There is much talk about a revival, but almost no talk about the falling that is happening in the Laodicea church of this generation. The next revival will be during the Tribulation.
From now to the Rapture, times will get worse and worse; this is the age when people will not endure (or put up with) sound doctrine, because it does not suit their own desires. More and more people will continue to fall away, and what little sound doctrine that still exists will not be endured.
How diabolically clever the Adversary is! Blessings are exactly what most people in this Laodicea church age are looking for, totally unaware of their wretched condition. They have been greatly deceived by the Adversary into focusing their attention on looking for blessings, instead of warning others to be on guard against the falling away.
In (II Thess. 2:7) Paul states that “the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.” I know I am entering into speculative prophecy, but there are two ways of interpreting the phrase, “He who now restrains.” It can be the Holy Spirit or it can be the Church. Prob ably it’s both the Holy Spirit and the Church. ”
The final consummation of evil in this age will not come until the Church, by apostasy, opens the way. I would say that the apostasy is just about consummated in America today in the top levels of Church and state. Apostasy is ruling via lawless, immoral, blasphemous, Bible-truth- denying, Christ-denying, God-provoking speech, policy, and action. (I Jn. 4:3),”And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
I don’t think things need to go much further before the apostasy is complete. In the meanwhile, what is our responsibility? To restrain the forces of evil! We are the governmental assembly. Through preaching the gospel, loving personal witness, intercessory prayer, prophetic witness, and persuasion in the public square, we are the ambassadorial administrators of Christ’s authority—we are His salt, light, and leaven to restrain corruption and decay until the appointed time.” 18
MARK THEM WHICH CAUSE DIVISION
“Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them, ” (Rom. 16:17).
Notice the cause for division and offences are caused be the false teacher brings unsound doctrines and the Bible tells us to avoid them. You cannot find one scripture that accuses the person that uncovers and exposes false prophets as be divisive, slanderous and gossipy.
As a matter of scriptural fact, the Word of God tells us to identify and mark “them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine” of the LORD, is to be a regular part of the Christian life. In an hour when the proliferation of false teaching is mutating at an increasingly exponential rate, those who love the LORD must examine and test everything against the final authority of the recorded oracles of God (Acts 17:11). The following warning enlightens us to understand this:
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ, ” (Col. 2:8).
Would the all-knowing God have put such a warning in His Word if being spoiled were not possible? People can be spoiled (derailed, made shipwreck of) through false doctrines and philosophies, which, without fail, elevate men and demote Christ, (Col. 2:8-9; 18-19).
These derailment elements are designed to steal glory from Christ. If we love Him, we are to “hear God’s words” and “hate every false way.” (Jn. 8:47; Psa. 119:104, 128; Amos 5:14-15).
Let’s break this extremely important Bible text down:
“Mark them” – Beloved, we are mandated to simply and truly hearken to this divinely given instruction, to personally own this truth and walk in it, to be possessed with the protective love of our holy and “Great Shepherd of the sheep.” (Heb. 13:20) One of the ways the “Great Shepherd” protects the sheep of His pasture, is by His other sheep, scoping out and marking the wolves whose venomous lies would devour.
The clear instruction of the Word is to “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine. ” All human sediments, reasoning’s, and excuses must be crucified.
“Mark them” – the Greek word here for “mark” is skopeo, which means “to scope out; to take aim at, consider, watch.”
Believers are here mandated to wisely scope out closely, observe and scrutinize all teachings and spiritual leaders under the lamp of God’s holy Word. We are to closely discern between true and false doctrines and leaders and sound the alarm on that which is found to be inconsistent with holy Writ. This is to be done especially when dealing with foundational, essential truths (which are a salvation issue).
Is It Negative and Unbiblical to Name False Teachers?
Apostle Paul in (II Tim. names numerous people by name
(II Tim. 1:15): Phygellus and Hermogenes (II Tim. 2:17): Mymenaeus and Philetus (II Tim. 3:8): Jannes and Jambress
(II Tim. 4:10): Demas
(II Tim. 4:14): Alexander the coppersmith In (II Jn. 9, John named Diotrephes.
Jesus called out the false teachers in (Matt. 23 and Lk. 11).
(II Tim. 4:3), tells us that many Christians will only want to hear what makes them feel good and appeals to their flesh; “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.”
The problem isn’t that you named false teachers; it’s that many Christians believe false teachers are brothers and sisters no matter what they teach! If these teachers impart unscriptural knowledge and other biblically knowledgeable teacher write corrections, the ones who correct are then called slanders and gossipers by the person that is spread unscriptural false messages. If the true Believers do not speak out on false teaching, who will? That is the mission of each of us, is it not? God Bless you all! And, I am naming the heretics in all my E-mails articles! People need to know so they can protect themselves from wolves in sheep’s clothing! It is high time the body of Christ wakes up and starts to discern the false prophets and minister’s that are leading God’s people over a cliff.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. 14 “For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life and few are those who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from M e, you who practice lawlessness, ’” (Matt. 7:13-23).
False prophets are particularly dangerous because they appear to be genuine. They seemingly have the credentials of authority. What are these credentials? Jesus calls them ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ (verse 15).
He said that the false prophets were like wolves in sheep’s clothing. When the shepherd watched his flocks upon the hillside, his garment was a sheepskin, worn with the skin outside and the fleece inside. But a man might wear a shepherd’s dress and still not be a shepherd. The prophets had acquired a conventional dress. Elijah had a mantle (I Kin. 19:13, 19), and that mantle had been a hairy cloak (II Kin. 1:8). That sheepskin mantle had become the uniform of the prophets, just as the Greek philosophers had worn the philosopher’s robe. It was by that mantle that the prophet could be distinguished from other men. But sometimes that garb was worn by those who had no right to wear it, for Zechariah in his picture of the great days to come says, “Neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive’’ (Zech. 13:4). There were those who wore a prophet’s cloak, but who lived anything but a prophet’s life.”
The outward forms would incline one to believe these false prophets to be reliable guides. They may wear a distinctive garb which sets them apart as leaders. They may have the title ‘reverend.’ They may be men who hold positions of religious leadership. They may well have graduated from a divinity school. Indeed, they might even be seminary professors. Judging on the basis of external indications we might wrongly assume them to be reliable guides, but we must not evaluate them on such external evidence.
These false prophets can be detected by their fruits. Judging by external forms is risky; judging (if you prefer, discerning) on the basis of fruits is absolutely necessary and part of our responsibility. ‘The proof of the root is in the fruit.’ Good trees produce good fruit, and rotten trees, bad fruit. A dependable assessment of those who would be guides is that of their fruits (Matthew7:20). But, what are these fruits? One must be very careful here, for false prophets are not without religious activities. A false prophet is often accompanied by deceptive signs and by seeming wonders. Some of these are suggested in (Matt. 7:22): “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in Your name, and in your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?”’
We should expect false prophets to engage in acts of kindness and charity. We should expect them to perform deeds which suggest miraculous power. And we should expect that these deeds be performed under the pretext of being done by God’s power and to His glory.
“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds” (II Cor. 11:13-15).
We should expect false prophets to be accompanied by religious works, often unusual and spectacular, done ostensibly in the name of God. Satan willingly gives the glory to God in such cases, so long as ultimately he is able to deceive people and cause them to their allegiance and obedience him.
But are these religious activities the fruits of which the Master spoke? If not, what are they? The Scriptures frequently describe the fruits of the false prophets, so that we are left with little doubt as to what we should look for. I believe we can see the fruits of the false prophets falling into three categories.
(1) The first category of the fruits of the false prophet is their doctrine. False prophets speak from their own delusion, not by divine command (Jer. 23:16, 21, 25; Ezek. 13:2). They do not proclaim or defend God’s word, but deny it (Jer. 23:17). In particular they deny unpleasant subjects such as impending judgment (Jer. 6:14; 28:17; Ezek. 13:10). They offer temporary and partial relief to pressing problems (Jer. 8:11). Mainly, they tell people precisely what they want to hear (I Kin. 22:8, 13; (II Tim. 4:3-4). Concerning the way of salvation they deny the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ and they reject the work of Christ on the cross (II Pet. 2:1; I Jn. 4:2-3).
(2) The second category of the fruits of the false prophets is the effect of their teaching in the lives of men. Invariably it leads to a rejection of God’s word, a rejection of biblical authority, a division among the saints (Jer. 23:2,14) and a life of sensuality (II Pet. 2:2). They attempt to lead men away from the truth of the gospel (Acts 13:8), and to deceive genuine Christians with false doctrine (Mk. 13:22). This is also evident from the Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2Timothy and Titus) where Paul speaks of the need of sound or healthy doctrine (I Tim. 4:6; 2 Tim. 4:3; Tit. 1:9; 2:1).
(3) Finally, there is the fruit of the false teachers as evidenced in their own moral character. They are easily distinguished by their pride (II Pet. 2:10), their greed (Jer. 8:10; Tit. 1:11; II Pet. 2:3, 14) and immorality (Jer. 23:11, 14; II Pet. 2:14). They are men dominated by the flesh (II Pet. 2:10, 12; 3:3). They prey upon the weak and the guilt-ridden (II Tim. 3:6-7; II Pet. 2:14, 13). While they profess to know God, by their deeds they deny Him (Matt. 7:22-23; (II Tim. 3:5; Titus 1:16). While they delight in authority, they refuse to submit to it (II Pet. 2:10).
“A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit?” (Lk. 6:39).
There are many godless guides who would lead us to the wide gate and the way which leads to destruction. These false teachers are not only blind themselves, but they lead others to destruction with them. It is the Lord Who will pronounce the final verdict and who will sentence the false prophets to everlasting torment.
ITCHING EARS AND SPIRITUAL DECEPTION
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingd om; 2 preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, h aving itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables,” (II Tim. 4).
The apostle charges Timothy to be diligent, incessant, and faithful in his preaching; to watch, suffer patiently, and give full proof of his ministry, (II Tim. 4:1-5). He predicts his own approaching death, and expresses the strongest confidence of being eternally happy, (II Tim. 4:6- 8). Desires Timothy to come and see him; shows that several had forsaken him, that others were gone to different districts, and that he had only Luke with him, (II Tim. 4:9-12). Desires him to bring the cloak, book, and parchments; which he had left at Troas… (II Tim. 4:13). Of Alexander the coppersmith’s opposition, (II Tim. 4:14, II Tim. 4:15). Tells Timothy how he was deserted by all when obliged to make his first defense before Nero; how God supported him, and the confidence with which he was inspired, (II Tim. 4:16-18). Salutations to different persons at Ephesus, and from different persons at Rome… (II Tim. 4:19-21). The apostolic benediction… (II Tim. 4:22). 19
For the time will come – There is a time coming to the Church when men will not hear the practical truths of the Gospel, when they will prefer speculative opinions, which either do no good to the soul, or corrupt and destroy it, to that wholesome doctrine of “deny thyself, take up thy cross and follow me,” which Jesus Christ has left in his Church.
But after their own lusts – For these they will follow, and hate those preachers and that doctrine by which they are opposed.
Shall they heap to themselves teachers – They will add one teacher to another, run and gad about after all, to find out those who insist not on the necessity of bearing the cross, of being crucified to the world, and of having the mind that was in Jesus. In this disposition interested men often find their account; they set up for teachers, “and widen and strew with flowers the way, down to eternal ruin,” taking care to soothe the passions and flatter the vices of a trifling, superficial people.
Having itching ears – Endless curiosity, an insatiable desire of variety; and they get their ears tickled with the language and accent of the person, abandoning the good and faithful preacher for the fine speaker. 20 (II Tim. 4)
The apostle Paul charges Timothy to be diligent, incessant, and faithful in his preaching; to watch, suffer patiently, and give full proof of his ministry, (II Tim. 4:1-5). He predicts his own approaching death, and expresses the strongest confidence of being eternally happy, (II Tim. 4:6-8).
Desires Timothy to come and see him; shows that several had forsaken him, that others were gone to different districts, and that he had only Luke with him, (II Tim. 4:9-12).
Desires him to bring the cloak, book, and parchments, which he had left at Troas, (II Tim. 4:13).
Of Alexander the coppersmith’s opposition, (II Tim. 4:14, II Tim. 4:15).
Tells Timothy how he was deserted by all when obliged to make his first defense before Nero; how God supported him, and the confidence with which he was inspired, (II Tim. 4:16- 18).
Salutations to different persons at Ephesus, and from different persons at Rome, (II Tim. 4:19-21).
The apostolic benediction, (II Tim. 4:22)
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;” (II Tim. 4:1).
I charge thee therefore before God – Whose herald thou art; and before the Lord Jesus Christ, whose salvation thou art to proclaim, and who is coming to judge the world – all that shall be found then alive, and all that have died from the foundation of the world.
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine ,” (II Tim. 4:2).
Preach the word – Κηρυξον τον λογον· Proclaim the doctrine, the doctrine of Christ crucified, for the sins of the whole world; the doctrine, that the Gentiles are invited to be fellow heirs with the Jews, and that for Jews and Gentiles there is no salvation but by faith in Christ.
Be instant in season, out of season – Επιστηθι ευκαιρως, ακαιρως. Be urgent whether the times be prosperous or adverse, whenever there is an opportunity; and when there is none, strive to make one. The Judge is at the door, and to every man eternity is at hand! Wherever thou meetest a sinner, speak to him the word of reconciliation; do not be contented with stated times and accustomed places merely; all time and place belong to God, and are proper for his work. Wherever it can be done, there it should be done. Satan will omit neither time nor place where he can destroy. Omit thou none where thou mayest be the instrument of salvation to any. 21
Reprove – Ελεγξον· Confute, Invalidate the false teacher.
Rebuke – Επιτιμησον· Reprove, Criticize cuttingly and severely those who will not abandon their sins.
Exhort – Παρακαλεσον· Urge the feeble-minded, the diffident and the tempted. With all long-suffering – In reference to each and all of these cases…
And doctrine – The different modes of teaching suited to each. 22
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, h aving itching ears;” (II Tim. 4:3).
For the time will come – There is a time coming to the Church when men will not hear the practical truths of the Gospel, when they will prefer speculative opinions, which either do no good to the soul, or corrupt and destroy it, to that wholesome doctrine of “deny thyself, take up thy cross and follow me,” which Jesus Christ has left in his Church.
But after their own lusts – For these they will follow, and hate those preachers and that doctrine by which they are opposed.
Shall they heap to themselves teachers – They will add one teacher to another, run and gad about after all, to find out those who insist not on the necessity of bearing the cross, of being
crucified to the world, and of having the mind that was in Jesus. In this disposition interested men often find their account; they set up for teachers, “and widen and strew with flowers the way, down to eternal ruin,” taking care to soothe the passions and flatter the vices of a trifling, superficial people.
Having itching ears – Endless curiosity, an insatiable desire of variety; and they get their ears tickled with the language and accent of the person, abandoning the good and faithful preacher for the fine speaker.
“And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables,” (II Tim. 4:4)
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth – The truth strips them of their vices, sacrifices their idols, darts its lightning’s against their easily besetting sins, and absolutely requires a conformity to a crucified Christ; therefore they turn their ears away from it.
And shall be turned unto fables – Believe any kind of stuff and nonsense; for, as one has justly observed, “Those who reject the truth are abandoned by the just judgment of God to credit the most degrading nonsense.” This is remarkably the case with most deists; their creed often exhibits what is grossly absurd.
“But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry,” (II Tim. 4:5).
But watch thou in all things – It is possible to be overtaken in a fault, to neglect one’s duty, and to lose one’s soul. Watching unto prayer prevents all these evils.
Endure afflictions – Let no sufferings neither affright thee; nor let the dread of them either cause thee to abandon the truth, or relax in thy zeal for the salvation of men.
Do the work of an evangelist – That is: Preach Christ crucified for the sins of the whole world; for this, and this alone, is doing the work of an evangelist, or preacher of the glad tidings of peace and salvation by Christ. An angel from God was first sent to do the work of an evangelist, and how did he do it Behold, said he, I bring you good tidings of great joy; ου γαρ, ευαγγελι ομαι μιν αραν μεγαλην, τις εσται παντι τ λα . Behold, I evangelize unto you great joy, which shall be to all people; to you is born a Savior. Those who do not proclaim Christ as having tasted death for every man, and who do not implicitly show that every human soul may be saved, do not perform the work of evangelists; they, God help them! limit the Holy One of Israel. Yet, as far as they preach the truth in sincerity, so far God acknowledges and blesses them and their labors; they do a part of the work, but not the whole. 23
Make full proof of thy ministry – Push all thy principles to their utmost power of activity; carry them on to all their consequences; and try what God will do for thee, and by thee. Neglect no part of thy sacred function; perform faithfully all the duties of which it is composed; and do God’s work in his own way and in his own spirit.
“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand,” (II Tim. 4:6).
For I am now ready to be offered – Η η σπεν ομαι· I am already poured out as a libation. See the note on (Phil. 2:17). He considers himself as on the eve of being sacrificed, and looks upon his blood as the libation which was poured on the sacrificial offering. He could not have spoken thus positively had not the sentence of death been already passed upon him.
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” (II Tim. 4:7).
I have fought a good fight – Every reader will perceive that the apostle, as was his very frequent custom, alludes to the contests at the Grecian games: Τον αγυνα τον καλον ηγωνισμαι· I have wrestled that good wrestling – I have struggled hard, and have overcome, in a most honorable cause.
I have finished my course – I have started for the prize, and have come up to the goal, outstripping all my competitors, and have gained this prize also.
I have kept the faith – As the laws of these games must be most diligently observed and kept, (for though a man overcome, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully), so I have kept the rules of the spiritual combat and race; and thus, having contended lawfully, and conquered in each exercise, I have a right to expect the prize.
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing ,” (II Tim. 4:8).
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown – This I can claim as my due; but the crown I expect is not one of fading leaves, but a crown of righteousness; the reward which God, in his kindness, has promised to them who are faithful to the grace he has bestowed upon them.
The Lord, the righteous Judge – He alludes here to the brabeus, or umpire in the Grecian games, whose office it was to declare the victor, and to give the crown.
At that day – The Day of Judgment; the morning of the resurrection from the dead…
Unto all them also that love his appearing – All who live in expectation of the coming of Christ, who anticipate it with joyfulness, having buried the world and laid up all their hopes above. Here is a reward, but it is a reward not of debt but of grace; for it is by the grace of God that even an apostle is fitted for glory. And this reward is common to the faithful; it is given, not only to apostles, but to all them that love his appearing. This crown is laid up – it is in view, but not in possession. We must die first.
I have several times noted the allusions of St. Paul to the Greek poets, and such as seemed to argue that he quoted immediately from them. There is a passage in the Alcestis of Euripides, in which the very expressions used here by the apostle are found, and spoken on the occasion of a wife laying down her life for her husband, when both his parents had refused to do it.
“Thou wouldst not, neither darest thou to die for thy son; but hast suffered this strange woman to do it, whom I justly esteem to be alone my father and mother: thou wouldst have fought a good fight hadst thou died for thy son.”
See Sophocles and Aeschylus, quoted, (1 Tim. 6:15).
The καλος αγων, good fight, was used among the Greeks to express a contest of the most honorable kind, and in this sense the apostle uses it.
“Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:” (II Tim. 4:9).
Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me – He appears to have wished Timothy to be present at his death, that he might have his faith confirmed by seeing how a Christian could die; and, as he had but a short time to live, he begs Timothy to hasten his visit, and particularly so as he had scarcely now any companions.
“For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia,” (II Tim. 4:10).
Demas hath forsaken me – This is another proof of the pos·te·ri·o of this epistle: for Demas was with the apostle in his first imprisonment, and joins in the salutations, see (Col. 4:14), which were written when Paul was a prisoner at Rome for the first time.
Having loved this present world – Αγαπησας τον νυν αιωνα having preferred Judaism to Christianity or having loved the Jews and having sought their welfare in preference to that of the Gentiles.
The עולם הזה words olam hazzeh, which answer to the Greek τον νυν αιωνα, are generally to be understood as signifying, either the Jewish people, or the system of Judaism. It was now become doubly dangerous to be a Christian; and those who had not religion enough to enable them to burn, or in any other way to expose life for it, took refuge in that religion which was exposed to no persecution. This is a light in which the conduct of Demas may be viewed. It could not have been the love of secular gain which had induced Demas to abandon St. Paul; he must have counted this cost before he became a Christian. See below.
Crescens to Galatia – Whether the departure of Crescens was similar to that of Demas, as intimated above, or whether he went on an evangelical embassy, we know not. Charity would hope the latter; for we can hardly suppose that Titus, who is here said to have departed to Dalmatia, had abandoned his Cretan Churches, his apostolic office, and especially his aged father and friend, now about to seal the truth with his blood! It is probable that both these persons had gone on sacred missions, and perhaps had been gone some time before the apostle was brought into such imminent danger. Even for Demas, as standing in this connection, something might be said. It is not intimated that he had denied the faith, but simply that he had left the apostle and gone into Thessalonica; for which this reason is given, that he loved the present world. Now, if αγαπησας, having loved, can be applied to a desire to save the souls of the Jews, and that he went into Thessalonica, where they abounded, for this very purpose, then we shall find all three – Demas, Crescens, and Titus, one at Thessalonica, another at Galatia, and the third at Dalmatia, doing the work of evangelists, visiting the Churches, and converting both Jews and Gentiles. This interpretation I leave to the charitable reader, and must own that, with all the presumptive evidences against it, it has some fair show of probability. Demas has received little justice from interpreters and preachers in general. It is even fashionable to hunt him down.
“Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry,” (II Tim. 4:11).
Only Luke is with me – This was Luke the evangelist, and writer of the Acts of the Apostles, who was always much attached to St. Paul, and it is supposed continued with him even to his martyrdom.
Take Mark, and bring him with thee – This was John Mark, the sister’s son of Barnabas, who, after having wavered a little at first, became a steady, zealous, and useful man; his name and conduct have been often before the reader. See the parallel passages.
For he is profitable to me for the ministry – Εις ιακονιαν· For service; that is, he would be very useful to the apostle, to minister to him in his present close confinement. Some think that the apostle means his preaching the Gospel; but at this time, I should suppose, there was very little, if any, public preaching at Rome.
“And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus,” (II Tim. 4:12).
Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus – For this person, see (Acts 20:4; Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7). It is rather strange that the apostle should say, I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus, if Timothy was at Ephesus at this time; but it is probable that Tychicus had been sent to Ephesus some time before this, and therefore the apostle might say, though writing now to Ephesus, Tychicus have I sent, etc.
“The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments,” (II Tim. 4:13).
The cloak that I left at Troas – Τον φελονην is by several translated bag or portmanteau; and it is most likely that it was something of this kind, in which he might carry his clothes, books, and travelling necessaries. What the books were we cannot tell, it is most likely they were his own writings; and as to the parchments, they were probably the Jewish Scriptures and a copy of the Septuagint. These he must have had at hand at all times. The books and parchments now sent for could not be for the apostle’s own use, as he was now on the eve of his martyrdom. He had probably intended to bequeath them to the faithful, that they might be preserved for the use of the Church.
“Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works…” (II Tim. 4:14).
Alexander the coppersmith – We are not to understand this of any tradesman, but of some rabbin; for it was not unusual for the Jews to apply the name of some trade as an epithet to their rabbins and literary men. He is, in all probability, the very same mentioned (Acts 19:33) (note); and it is not unlikely that he may have been the same whom the apostle was obliged to excommunicate, (I Tim. 1:20).
The Lord reward him – Απο η αυτ Κυριος· But instead of απο η, which has here the power of a solemn imprecation, απο ωσει, he will reward, is the reading of the very best MSS., several of the versions, and some of the chief Greek fathers. This makes the sentence declaratory: The Lord Will reward him according to his works. This reading is most like the spirit and temper of this heavenly man. See (II Tim. 4:16).
“Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words ,” (II Tim. 4:15).
Of whom be thou ware also – It seems that this rabbin traveled about from place to place for the purpose of opposing the Gospel, the Jews putting him forward, as it is said, (Acts 19:33).
He hath greatly withstood our words – Has been a constant opposer of the Christian doctrines.
“At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge,” (II Tim. 4:16).
At my first answer – Εν τ τρωτ μου απολογι · At my first apology; this word properly signifies a defense or vindication. To his is the meaning of what we call the apologies of the primitive fathers; they were vindications or defences of Christianity. It is generally allowed that, when St. Paul had been taken this second time by the Romans, he was examined immediately, and required to account for his conduct; and that, so odious was Christianity through the tyranny of Nero, he could procure no person to plead for him. Nero, who had himself set fire to Rome, charged it on the Christians, and they were in consequence persecuted in the most cruel manner; he caused them to be wrapped up in pitched clothes, and then, chaining them to a stake, he ordered them to be set on fire to give light in the streets after night!
“If into rogues omnipotent you rake, Death is your doom, impaled upon a stake;
Smear’d o’er with wax, and set on blaze to light The streets, and make a dreadful fire by night.” Dryden. 24
I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge – How much more simple, elegant, and expressive are the apostle’s own words: Μη αυτοις λογισθειη· let it not be placed to their account! Let them not have to reckon for it with the supreme Judge at the great day!
“Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully kno wn, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion,” (II Tim. 4:17).
The Lord stood with me – When all human help failed, God, in a more remarkable manner, interposed; and thus the Excellency plainly appeared to be of God, and not of man.
That by me the preaching might be fully known – When called on to make his defense he took occasion to preach the Gospel, and to show that the great God of heaven and earth had designed to illuminate the Gentile world with the rays of his light and glory. This must have endeared him to some, while others might consider him an opposer of their gods, and be the more incensed against him.
I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion – I escaped the imminent danger at that time. Probably he was seized in a tumultuous manner, and expected to be torn to pieces. The words εκ στοματος or εκ ρυγμου λεοντος υεσθαι, to be rescued from the mouth or jaws of the lion, are a proverbial form of speech for deliverance from the most imminent danger. Several writers think Nero to be intended by the lion, because of his rage and oppressive cruelty. But Helius Caesarinus was at this time prefect of the city; Nero being in Greece. He was a bloody tyrant, and Nero had given him the power of life and death in his absence. The apostle may mean him, if the words be not proverbial.
“And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom b e glory for ever and ever. Amen,” (II Tim. 4:18).
And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work – None of the evil designs formed against me to make me unfaithful or unsteady, to cause me to save my life at the expense of faith and a good conscience, shall succeed; my life may go, but he will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom. A continuance on earth the apostle expects not; but he has glory full in view, and therefore he gives God glory for what he had done, and for what he had promised to do.
“Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus ,” (II Tim. 4:19).
Salute Prisca and Aquila – Several MSS., versions, and fathers have Priscilla instead of Prisca: they are probably the same as those mentioned (Acts 18:18, Acts 18:26).
The household of Onesiphorus – See (II Tim. 1:16). Onesiphorus was probably at this time dead: his family still remained at Ephesus.
“Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick,” (II Tim. 4:20).
Erastus abode at Corinth – He was treasurer of that city, as we learn from (Rom. 16:23) (note). The apostle had sent him and Timothy on a mission to Macedonia, (Acts 19:22), whence it is probable he returned to Corinth, and there became finally settled.
Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick – Even the apostles could not work miracles when they pleased; that power was but rarely given, and that for very special purposes. Trophimus was an Ephesian. See Acts 20:4), and the note there.
Miletus was a maritime town of Ionia, not far from Ephesus; but there was another Miletus, in Crete, which some learned men think to be intended here. It appears that St. Paul went from Macedonia to Corinth, where he left Erastus; from Corinth he proceeded to Troas, where he lodged with Carpus: from Troas he went to Ephesus, where he visited Timothy; from Ephesus he went to Miletus, where he left Trophimus sick; and having embarked at Miletus, he went by sea to Rome. See Calmet. It is most likely, therefore, that the Miletus of Ionia is the place intended.
“Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren,” (II Tim. 4:21).
Come before winter –
1. Because the apostle’s time was short and uncertain.
2. Because sailing in those seas was very dangerous in winter. Whether Timothy saw the apostle before he was martyred is not known.
Eubulus – This person is nowhere else mentioned in the New Testament.
Pudens – Of this person we have traditions and legends, but nothing certain. The Catholics make him bishop of Rome.
Linus – He also is made, by the same persons, bishop of Rome; but there is no sufficient ground for these pretensions.
Claudia – Supposed to be the wife of Pudens. Some think she was a British lady, converted by St. Paul; and that she was the first that brought the Gospel to Britain.
All the brethren – All the Christians, of whom there were many at Rome; though of Paul’s companions in travel, only Luke remained there.
“The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen. ‹‹The second epistle unto Timotheus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians, was written from Rome, when Paul was brought before Nero the second time,” (II Tim. 4:22).
The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit – This is a prayer addressed to Christ by one of the most eminent of his apostles; another proof of the untruth of the assertion, that prayer is never offered to Christ in the New Testament. He prays that Christ may be with his spirit, enlightening, strengthening, and confirming it to the end.
Grace be with you – These words show that the epistle was addressed to the whole Church, and that it is not to be considered of a private nature.
Amen – Omitted by ACFG and some others. See the note on this word at the end of the preceding epistle (note).
The principal subscriptions, both in the versions and MSS., are the following: – The Second Epistle to Timothy was written from Rome. – Syriac.
To the man Timothy. – Aethiopic, Nothing in the Vulgate. 25
End of the epistle; it was written from the city of Rome when Timothy had been constituted bishop over Ephesus; and when Paul had stood the second time in the presence of Nero Caesar, the Roman emperor. Praise to the Lord of glory, perpetual, perennial, and eternal! Amen, Amen, Amen.
The Second Epistle to Timothy is ended, who was the first bishop of the Church of Ephesus. It was written from Rome when Paul had stood the second time before Nero, the Roman emperor. – Philoxenian Syriac.
Written from Rome, and sent by Onesimus. – Coptic.26 << II Tim. 4 >>
Spiritual deception and apostatizing keep on proliferating as we are moving deeper into the end-time. We know that the Spirit of truth wants to guide us into all the truth of God’s Word – including the correct understanding of end-time prophecies.
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come,” (Jn. 16:13).
On the opposite side there is the spirit of error who is intent on deceiving people spiritually with a view to preparing them on the coming of the Antichrist.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error,” (I Jn. 9 4:1-6).
More than ever before we need discernment to be able to observe the full counsel of God and to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us and keep us from all forms of deception.
It is not always easy to keep our ways pure in all respects by correct discernment of these two spiritual influences since there is, by the devil’s doing, a grey area between them. Satan has the ability to present himself as an angel of light, thereby also deceiving Christians with noble intentions.
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end sh all be according to their works,” (II Cor. 11:13-15).
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many… 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, th ey shall deceive the very elect,” (Matt. 24:4-5, 24).
It is one of his main objectives to confuse believers by inciting them to entertain erroneous views on Christ and the Bible. There are many examples of such satanic influence in the Bible.
Peter was conscious of the fact that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God and honestly thought that he made a very positive statement when he expressed himself against the idea of Christ’s crucifixion. However, it was clearly evident that he was deceived by Satan to take this stand.
Maybe Peter can be excused for this action since he did not yet have the full enlightening of the Holy Spirit. But later, as a Spirit-filled apostle, Peter erred again when he failed to discern between the grace of Christ for justification and Jewish law-observance. He even compelled Gentile believers to behave like Jews. Paul reprimanded him in public for doing this (Gal. 2:11- 21).
Fallacious teachings of this nature were also proclaimed by the Galatian congregation, thereby seriously jeopardizing their trust in Christ’s work of grace (Gal. 5:4). Similar false teachings are rapidly increasing in our time since many Christians are subjecting themselves once again under the law.
Many of the early Christian churches seriously defected from the truth and all of their behavior may be attributed to Satan and his accomplices (cf. Acts 20:29-30). Ephesus lapsed into a form of godliness which soon estranged them from their love for the Lord Jesus (Rev. 2:4-5). Pergamum listened to false prophets and compromised with the evil world, thereby allowing the devil to gain a foothold in their church (Rev. 2:13-15). The single person who expressed himself against the stream of deception had to pay with his life for doing so (Rev. 2:13). Thyatira was under the influence of a false prophetess, which caused extreme apostatizing and put them on course to the great tribulation (Rev. 2:20-23). Only a small number of church members remained true to the Lord Jesus and walked in worthiness of his kingdom (Rev. 2:24-29). Sardis had a name that they were alive but they were spiritually dead and did not engage in evangelistic outreaches (Rev. 3:1-3). In this church there were also a few believers who persevered on the right way and did not stagnate together with the majority (Rev. 3:4-5). Laodicea completely fell victim to materialism, self-justification and a form of godliness, and were not even aware that the Lord Jesus had withdrawn from them and stood knocking outside the door (Rev. 3:15-17).
CHRISTIAN CAN BE DECEIVED
All people can be deceived, including the best Christians, and for that reason the Lord Jesus admonished us: “Take heed that no one deceives you” (Matt. 24:4). But if we know the Word of the Lord, accept it by faith and strictly walk in accordance with it, we will not err: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (II Tim. 3:16-17). If we do not strictly abide by the Bible we will stray and also restrict the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. “Jesus answered and said to them, you are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matt. 22:29). The Holy Spirit is willing to fulfil biblical promises which we accept by faith.
In the end-time spiritual deception takes on much larger proportions than in the past – still under the direct influence of the devil and his spirit of error. Postmodern man liberates himself from Biblical mandates by questioning their validity or merely ignoring them as if they do not exist. In their place he observes humanistic philosophies inspired by the devil and propagated by false teachers. These new views are contrary to the guidance and conviction of the Holy Spirit. They are aimed at attacking people’s faith, and for this reason the Holy Spirit warns against them: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (I Tim. 4:1-2).
The Living Bible paraphrases these two verses as follows: “But the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some in the church will turn away from Christ and become eager followers of teachers with devil -inspired ideas. These teachers will tell lies with straight faces and do it so often that their consci ences will not even bother them,” (I Tim. 4: 1).
The end result of this deception is that many people’s faith is completely destroyed. They depart from the truth and follow a way that may seem to be right in terms of human rationalizing but its end is the way of death (Prov. 16:25).
04-15-2014 APOSTASY AND THE GREAT FALLING AWAY
04-15-2014 APOSTASY AND THE GREAT FALLING AWAY
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