2 Tim. 3:6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 2 Tim. 3:7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
You might remember from history, Stalin’s Great Purge back in 1937, which was a large-scale purge of the Communist Party and government officials, the repression of affluent peasants and the Red Army leadership, widespread police surveillance, suspicion of saboteurs, counter-revolutionaries, imprisonment, and arbitrary executions. Over a million people died in a year.
What we’re seeing now at the end of the age of grace is the beginning of what may be thought of as Satan’s Great Purge, which will ultimately culminate in the arrival of the antichrist who will kill everyone that opposes him or the mark of the beast.
For Stalin, the Great Purge wasn’t about the suppression of the communists as much as it was their extermination. For Satan, the last days of grace isn’t about the suppression of the Christians as much as it is our extermination, which is why the last days are so perilous. Satan wants us out of the way so he can get on with the business of revealing his antichrist and have his great big showdown with God.
The only difference between the wickedness of people generally under the antichrist and the wickedness of people generally right now is that under the antichrist, all the wicked will be unified and organized under his one world government to systematically kill anyone who doesn’t take the mark of the beast. What we have today is disorganized persecution coming from disparate groups, but they all possess the same traits Paul lists for us in 2 Timothy 3.
Man, in his pride and love of self and open rebellion against God, will make these last days almost as perilous as the days to come under the antichrist. And now we’re seeing as Paul foretold us, man has, indeed, plummeted into such vanity and immorality, that we went from a cold war to a hot war almost overnight, and the time is now to gear up for real spiritual warfare. We must prepare ourselves for real consequences, real persecutions, and real afflictions that is sure to await us before the Lord comes. The end of the age of grace isn’t theoretical anymore. It’s actually here. Time is actually running out for the people we love to get saved. We must truly commit ourselves to doing the Lord’s work knowing that the days will be difficult before He comes.
These are Biblical times we are living in right now. Just as the tribulation is a Biblical time because that was foretold in prophecy, so too, the time in which we are living today is Biblical because everything we see around us now was foretold to us by Paul in 2 Tim. 3. We are literally seeing the fulfillment of prophecy right before our eyes, but I’m not talking about prophecies from the OT foretelling the end times. I’m talking about the Pauline prophecies of 2 Tim. 3 foretelling the nature and character of the last days of grace. We truly are living in momentous, Biblical times, and I think we all sense it, too. We’re all talking about it.
Of course, a lot of Christians love to focus on the tribulation, how the spirit of antichrist abounds today setting the stage for the antichrist to come, but we cannot lose sight of 2 Tim. 3, the nature and characteristics of evil men in the last days because this directly affects us. The Spirit wants us to know these things in this chapter, because this is what we are dealing with right now. I know there may be some out there saying, “Sure, Joel, we’re seeing a lot of these characteristics in evil men, but these characteristics have always existed in men. I’m not sure I’ve seen enough proof yet to really convince me that we’re in the last days of grace.” Well, in this article, we’re going to look at what I think is the most conclusive proof that we’re living in the last days, and it’s about leading captive silly women.
First, Let’s Read the Full Context.
2Ti 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 3:4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 3:6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 3:7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 3:8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. 3:9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.
Notice how Paul wrote that “In the last days perilous times shall come…” He wrote perilous times, plural, more than one perilous time, specific periods of time of great peril. Satan’s Great Purge will involve seasons of peril. There will be an ebb and flow to all the dangers to us in the last days. We are now living in A perilous time, which could be one of many before the Lord returns for His church, which gives us some sense about how long the final days of grace may last. The last days will be long enough to encompass multiple periods of perilous times, multiple seasons of peril. And because we’re looking at multiple periods of peril, it’s possible that the dynamics of each period of peril may differ from the other periods of peril. Countries that aren’t persecuting us now, may in a short time be the worst persecutors of Christians around the globe. So while persecution may be somewhere else right now, you better gear up and stand fast, because when that next perilous time arrives, Satan’s Great Purge may very well come knocking on your door looking for you.
Paul also highlights in this section in detail how men shall be lovers of their own selves. Love of self is the first characteristic mentioned in a list of 20 characteristics of what men shall be like in the last days, and love of self is listed first because it is the most important. All of the 19 characteristics listed after this one are the predictable attitudes and behaviors that spring from an extreme excessive self-love. Self-love is the cause and all the other 19 characteristics are the result, because to indulge in extreme selfishness is to abandon all morality, to abandon all decency, to lose all natural affection for others, to completely disregard the happiness and rights of others, to actually hate those who do good, and to trample upon anyone who interferes with his self-interests, all done in the pursuit of the gratification of self.
The next word was covetous. The elevation of self with pride gives way to selfishness and coveting which gives way to sin and evil in the pursuit of living for self over living for God. To indulge in an extreme love of self, to indulge in coveting, boasting, and pride, means that every word that comes out of their mouths is pure blasphemy in the eyes of God because it is all elevation of self over Him. I’m sure many of you have observed as I have how almost every unbeliever takes the Lord’s name in vain now, and how Ex. 20:7 tells us that “the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.”
Paul also highlights the trait of being disobedient to parents and we’re all keenly aware of the horrific indoctrination of children in schools and colleges today. The context of disobedient to parents in this list is under the heading of an extreme love of self. At the core of everything being taught to youth in schools and colleges is love of self, love yourself more, be whatever you want to be in rejection of God’s design and any limits of morality. They tell children to reject the moral guidance of their parents and their church in order to pursue gratification of one’s self. Inevitably, they all become unthankful because they see themselves as entitled. They think they have a right to everything they get. Consequently, they feel no gratitude. And how often do we hear about the problem of entitlement, particularly in the youth?
They are also unholy. Although these men may on appearance have a form of godliness about them, they are in reality void of any trace of God’s holiness within them.
And they are without natural affection. Even in fallen man, there is a natural affection for people, the love of a parent for a child, the love of a man for a woman, the love between close friends, but even that will be gone in the last days having died in service of gratification of self.
One member here kind of postulated with me the thought that the explosion of the alt-lifestyle community could be a fulfillment of this trait because it is all unnatural affection, and I think there may some truth in that. To indulge in an unnatural affection is to be without natural affection.
The next were trucebreakers and false accusers. The immorality of breaking an agreement or accusing one falsely is not even a consideration, because to them, the ends justifies the means in the service of self.
Paul also talks about people being incontinent and fierce. When people have lost all self-control over their emotions, and they get triggered, they become absurdly fierce, which abounds today. This speaks to the gentleness and patience with which we must treat all unbelievers today speaking the truth in love.
They are also despisers of those that are good. The very act of observing good people is like an open rebuke to their corrupt souls. So they despise them. And that hatred leads to persecution, which leads to perilous times for everyone but for Christians specifically.
There will also be many traitors. Anyone who betrays another is a traitor.
With respect to heady, this is the only time this word is mentioned in the entire Bible. Webster tells us heady is being “Rash; hasty; violent; disposed to rush forward in an enterprise without thought or deliberation; ungovernable.” If one is incontinent and fierce, then that person will also be heady. They will be ungovernable and hasty to rush forward into impetuous violence. When one considers all the violence today, the mass shootings, people truly are heady today.
This brings us to the trait of highmindedness. They are pretentious in believing that all that they do, which is right in their own eyes, is superior to everyone else, particularly Christians.
As a result of all this, they inevitably become lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. This is “more than” in the sense of “other than God.” They choose sensual pleasures instead of choosing God. And by pleasures, Paul means sensual pleasures or vain amusements. Sensual pleasures does not solely mean sexual pleasures although it includes that. Sensual pleasure is anything that pleases the senses, physical, earthly. But, as we know all too well today, sexual gratification is being taught to children in public schools. So they grow up to love pleasure other than God. This brings us to the last 2 characteristics in vs. 5.
A Form of Godliness
2 Tim. 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
These men have somewhat an appearance of godliness about them, but they openly deny the power of God in them. So this verse informs us that these men are unbelievers, openly denying God, while also mimicking somewhat godliness seen in Christians, which is why Paul would give us the illustration of Jannes and Jambres, men who denied God while also mimicking the miracles of Moses but their folly became manifest to all men. It is certainly possible that this could be false teachers in the church, and they already exist. There is one false teacher over a mega church, who I won’t mention, although he has the same first name as me, and he openly teaches the power of self, the power of I am, the power of standing in a mirror and telling yourself that you are beautiful, healthy, and successful so that beauty, health, and success will come looking for you. All of this is an elevation of self in the mind without the power of God in the soul, such that all of them have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. These people with itching ears are paying this man untold amounts of money so he can tell them exactly what they want to hear.
But I’d suggest that we cannot limit our thinking simply to false teachers in the church. Jannes and Jambres were not false teachers within the nation of Israel. They had nothing to do with God’s true religion at the time. They were Pharaoh’s top magicians. They were arbiters of a satanic cult outside of Israel mimicking the miracles of Moses. Like Jannes and Jambres, any unbeliever part of any type of satanic cult can have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof.
But there is a bigger question that we have to ask here. What is it exactly that these unbelievers are denying? What aspect of God’s power is it that they are denying? I’d suggest that the answer can be found in the first chapter of Romans.
Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
The gospel of Christ IS the power of God unto salvation for everyone. So these evil men who have a form of godliness about them all openly deny the true gospel of Christ. This verse casts a wide net. We have in this one verse a threat from without and from within the church, anyone, any group, who rejects the gospel. We have outside the church, atheists, false religions, cults, witchcrafts, etc., rejecting the gospel, and we have within the church whole denominations purporting to be Christians who also openly reject the true gospel of the grace of God.
This is why I think these verses are telling us that we absolutely must be on guard about ALL unbelieving men. In these verses, the Spirit speaks of unbelieving men broadly and so we must all think of unbelieving men broadly, men irrespective of whatever group, religious or otherwise, of which they may be affiliated, because the Spirit warns us here of ALL men who reject THE GOSPEL.
We’ve seen men in a false religion persecute Christians in one country and yet, we have seen atheists persecute Christians in a different country. And what do the men in both of those groups have in common? They both have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. They both equally reject the gospel. All our persecutors in these last days will embody all these same traits listed for us in vs. 2-5.
I’d suggest that we forget the labels people want to attach to the men in these verses. We should forget the categories. We should forget what group these men may be a part. What do all these men in all these groups have in common? They all reject THE GOSPEL. They have all elevated self over God. They have all pursued pleasure over pursuing God. They are all unholy, high-minded, despisers of good people, all reprobate or worthless concerning the faith, and they are all creeping into houses to lead people astray down a path of destruction.
When Paul says, from such turn away, does he mean that we do not give these men the gospel or share with them the knowledge of the truth? I don’t think so. I think we should give them the gospel. I think we should try to share with them the grace message. They just might embrace it. But what I think Paul means is that we do not associate ourselves with them. We do not allow ourselves to fellowship with them. We do not quote them in our sermons behind the pulpit. We do not allow them to creep into our homes. We do not allow ourselves to indulge in their belief systems whatever they may be. As John said in 2Jn 1:10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed… Or as Paul wrote of idol worshippers in 2Co 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 2Co 6:18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
In the last days of this age, men shall be like these idol-worshippers of which Paul wrote but the idol of the last days of grace shall be the idol of self. We must be out in the world dealing with unbelievers. We must be a light of grace making full proof of our ministries, but we must also be careful not to be entangled in fellowship with these men and we must not allow them into our homes to deceive us as they do these silly women in vs 6. Look at what Paul says here.
Leading Captive Silly Women
3:6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 3:7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. First, Paul says, For of this sort are they which creep into houses…
Out of this large group of unbelieving men generally around the globe, there will also be some of this sort who shall creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts.
How is it that these men creep into houses?
How many physical houses are there around the globe? It’s estimated that there are nearly 1.5 billion homes in the world today. How is it possible that these men could creep into so many houses?
I remember some theorized that perhaps Paul is talking about Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are false teachers, and they certainly knock on a lot of doors, but there is no way they could ever possibly enter over a billion homes.
For nearly two millennium I doubt that hardly any Christian truly understood this verse. I daresay, it may have been possible that even Paul and Timothy didn’t know what this verse actually meant.
But now we know.
I’d argue that this verse is conclusive evidence that we are truly living in the last days. How is it that these evil men creep into houses to lead captive silly women? Through technology, which reaches into every home around the globe.
These women, laden with sins and driven by diverse lusts are looking for a better life, looking to improve themselves, and through television or the internet or their computers, tablets, and phones, they allow into their homes these evil unbelieving men who shall deceive them and lead them captive in their sins down a path of destruction.
The advent of the internet, the explosion of computers, smart phones, tablets, etc., is what makes possible the fulfillment of vs. 6-7. These evil men aren’t deceiving women by literally creeping into houses, but they are creeping into houses across various platforms of technology.
Women are watching these evil men on TV or on their computers or on their smartphones, and this is how these evil men are able to reach them and lead them captive in their sins.
Even Stam back when he published his commentary on The Pastoral Epistles way back in 1983, thought that this verse was a reference to technology. He wrote, “This is doubtless due to the advance of technology and especially to the invention of the radio and television, which brings the ‘wisdom’ and wickedness of the world right into the home, where the impressionable minds of the young can be perverted.” Little did Stam realize how much more invasive technology would become!
Plus, with the advancement of technology and the advent of the internet, we now have the fulfillment of vs. 7, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. People are learning at a rapid pace, consuming knowledge at greater speeds than ever before, yet, they are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Why? Because they won’t even entertain the notion of faith in Christ.
And then we get to the controversial expression “silly women,” which is actually no controversy at all. Why does he say, “silly women?”
Many have pointed out to me that this also means “little women” or “small women.” But if you dig into the Greek a little, if you dig into the old English expressions of “silly women” or “little women,” they all mean the same thing: foolish women. By silly women Paul means foolish women.
How are they foolish? What do we know about the women in these two verses? They are unbelievers. They are ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. They are in bondage to the sin in their flesh. They are laden with sins. They have piled up unto themselves mountains of sins because they are driven by divers lusts of their flesh.
When Paul calls them silly women, which is to say that he’s calling them foolish, Paul isn’t saying that we should be thinking of all women derogatively. Paul is saying that we should be thinking of all these unbelievers rightly. They are foolish. Any women laden with sins ever learning because they’re searching for answers but refuses to consider God and the gospel of His Son and the magnitude of His sacrifice for them on the cross is a fool.
Remember how Paul wrote in Rom. 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Rom. 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools … But this does not give us permission to think so highly of ourselves either. Remember what Paul said in Tit 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. So because we were before our salvation also foolish in the same way that these unbelieving women are foolish, we sympathize, because we were not that much different than they are. Paul tells us that we were also foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures. We judge rightly their condition being dead in their sins. We relate to them because we were once the same way, and we in love do our best to get them to embrace Christ and His free gift.
These women of the last days are fascinating to analyze. How is it that these women are laden with sins? By laden, Paul means, piled up with sins. Aren’t all unbelievers piling up sins for which they will be held accountable at the Great White Throne? Yes, but the sins of these women today are piled up sky high compared to other unbelievers before the information age.
How is that possible?
Consider this example. Remember how we pointed out Ex. 20:7, that “the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.” We also know from verses like Jer 17:10 that the Lord will give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
Unbelievers won’t simply be judged for what they did but also the influence they had upon others. So let’s say 100 years ago an unbelieving woman blasphemed the name of God in front of one of her friends. If that unbelieving woman didn’t get saved, God will judge her at the Great White Throne for cursing His name and the detrimental influence she had on her friend by cursing His name in front of her.
But consider an unbelieving woman of today. Many women today love social media. Let’s say an unbelieving woman today blasphemes the name of God in a Facebook post that is read by a thousand friends she has online. Her sin went from a molehill to a mountain in an instant because she blasphemed God and had a detrimental influence upon a thousand people.
And it’s not just one post but thousands and thousands of posts.
Now she is laden with a mountain of sins that can’t even be compared to that unbelieving women of 100 years ago. Also the sins these women are doing today are more voluminous and severe than 50 years ago. We pointed out that kids are taught in schools to reject the moral guidance of their parents and churches, taught to love self above everything, taught to embrace sinful lifestyles, taught to reject how God had made them, taught to explore their sexuality from an early age, and so they grow up becoming advocates of sinful lifestyles and becoming lovers of pleasure, doing more sins of an extreme nature that even adult unbelievers would’ve never considered doing 100 years ago.
Yet, these unbelieving women today are not stupid.
They are ever learning. They don’t simply endorse sinful lifestyles, but they are probably involved in those lifestyles and they are probably well-versed on all the man-made excuses that say it’s okay to be in those lifestyles.
To follow the course of this world, they must also be schooled in all the wisdom of this world. And being indoctrinated with so many lies, they become wise in their own eyes but foolish in the eyes of God. Yet, the fact that they are ever learning, speaks to a continuing worldly education, an openness to embracing new lies to make them feel better about themselves, which makes them ripe to being deceived by these evil men promoting self and creeping into their homes through technology. These women are smart but foolish. It’s like saying, “I can’t believe this one woman I know who is so smart. She is an accomplished lawyer. Great success. And I just can’t believe that she of all people could still be so foolish as to attend the mega church of that heretic preacher in Texas.” It’s like that. So we get this lesson in the foolish women of the last days that intelligence is not the same as having morally sound judgment, because even in the most intelligent unbelievers, the driving force of their lives always goes back to their bondage to sin and the lusts of their flesh.
For me, I can’t help on some level but feel some sympathy for these women. Paul offers no sympathy whatsoever for the men in this chapter, but when you really think about these women, there is room for sympathy. These women are conflicted. The fact that they are ever learning demonstrates that they have a desire to grow. They want to learn more. They want to better themselves. There is something missing in their lives and so they are ever learning to somehow fill that void. Yet, they are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Because they will not even entertain the idea of placing their faith in Christ, which is why they are called foolish to begin with. But they are out there searching for answers. Yet, they are unwilling to deal with the root problem of sin.
So they become captives to these deceiving evil men because they are already captives in their bondage to sin. They’re emotionally attached to their sinful lifestyles, and yet, they don’t realize that the happiness they seek is their freedom from the very sins they refuse to give up, and their freedom from the bondage to sin itself, and the hope of eternal life and glory with the Son of God who died for them.
So these women allow these evil men to creep into their homes through technology, opening themselves up to even more lies, and they are ultimately led away through divers lusts. They live their lives satisfying the divers lusts of their flesh and these men lead them captive by appealing to all their lusts. The divers lusts is not just sexual although it includes that. Their divers lusts runs the gamut of all the lusts of the flesh. In other words, the evil men ensnare these unbelieving women in the same way Satan tries to ensnare all of us through the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.
So we may ask ourselves, “So what? What is the application to all of this?”
First, if you’ve come across this article and you aren’t sure whether you’re saved, I beg you to place your faith in the fact that the Son of God died on that cross some 2,000 years ago, that He was buried, and rose again the third day, as a complete payment for the penalty of all your sins. By trusting in His sacrifice for you, you forever become one of God’s children, accepted in the beloved, saved, sealed, and sanctified for all eternity.
And to all the believers out there, what this chapter teaches us about the nature and character of the last days of grace is that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us gear and do battle.
The Lord wants us to be prepared for what is to come, and He wants us to know what to do now that the end is near. The Lord will not have us go underground and be silent. He would have us all remain vigilant about sharing the gospel of peace, to be like Moses and Paul embodying the courage of faith in the face of evil no matter the cost.
We are to Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. We are to be alert, to watch… in all things, to endure afflictions, to do the work of an evangelist, and to make full proof of all our ministries.
No matter the circumstances, we never stop living the grace life. We keep moving forward looking up. We keep going with hope and love. We are to never stop sharing the gospel to a lost and dying world, helping to bring people into the knowledge of the truth, the sound doctrines of grace. We never give up. We never give in. We must always stand firm, stand fast, and stand tall. In the face of the real dangers to us in these perilous times of the last days of grace, in the face of real pain and real afflictions, we are to always do the work of an evangelist and make full proof of our ministries.
And we never forget that suffering is an opportunity to draw close to God in the fellowship of His sufferings, enduring the kinds of hatred Christ endured, to appropriate the strength He has already given us, to experience the manifestation of His power in our weakness, trusting in His hope, and also the chance for us glorify Christ and His work in us and the fact that He will preserve our souls unto His Heavenly kingdom.
And suffering with Christ now means that we shall also reign with Him later, which is a glory we cannot comprehend.