The Church in the Last Days – Part 1 of 4

Originally from –

What are the characteristics of the church in the last days?

In 2 Timothy, one of the major themes is suffering for Christ. Paul is in prison for his faith, awaiting a death sentence, and he calls Timothy to suffer with him as a good soldier of Christ (2 Tim 2:3). Christians were being persecuted throughout the Roman Empire. However, in this passage, Paul is not talking about suffering from without but suffering from within. Some of our greatest sufferings, as Christians, often come from people within God’s church.

However, understand that in the last days, difficult times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, savage, opposed to what is good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, loving pleasure rather than loving God. They will maintain the outward appearance of religion but will have repudiated its power. So, avoid people like these. Some insinuate themselves into households and captivate weak women who are overwhelmed with sins and led by various passions. Such women are always seeking instruction yet never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Moreover, just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, these people—who have warped minds and are disqualified in the faith—also oppose the truth. However, they will not go much further, for their foolishness will be evident to everyone, just like it was with Jannes and Jambres. 2 Timothy 3:1-9 (N.E.T.)

Paul says, “But understand this,” or it can be translated, “But realise this” (NASB). We must realise some things about the church, and if we do not, we may become disillusioned or even fall away. Sadly, many have fallen away because they did not recognise the state or condition of the times.

In describing the state of the church in the last days, Paul says it will be “difficult” times. This word can be translated as “terrible, “perilous,” or “violent.” It was used one other time in the New Testament to describe the two demoniacs in the region of the Gadarenes; they were so violent that nobody could pass by them (Matt 8:28). This may imply that demons will inspire these terrible times. [1]

The word “times” is not the Greek word “chronos”, referring to chronological time, but “kairos”, referring to seasons. There will be seasons of heightened peril in the church and other times of relative peace. [2]

However, the scary thing about the last days is that it not only refers to the time right before Christ’s return, but it also applies to the same age Timothy ministered in. This is clear as Paul warns Timothy to “So avoid people like these” (v. 5). The present tense of this phrase means that the difficult times had already begun. In fact, on God’s eschatological timeline, the ‘last days’ began when Christ came to the earth. Hebrews 1:1-2 says,

After God spoke long ago in various portions and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets, in these last days, he has spoken to us in a son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he created the world.

Why is Paul informing Timothy about the last days? It is because Timothy needed to understand their nature so he would not get discouraged and fall away. Similarly, in warning the disciples about coming persecutions, Christ said, “I have told you all these things so that you will not fall away” (John 16:1). When you know something difficult is coming, it is easier to persevere and be faithful when it happens. We need to understand this reality as well. Difficulties are already around us and ahead of us. What are the characteristics of the church in the last days?

Big Question: What characteristics of the church in the last days can be discerned from 2 Timothy 3:1-9, and how should we respond to this reality?

Part two of four –

In the Last Days, the Church Will Be Full of False Believers.

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