Category Archives: Last Days

2 TIM 3 (# 12): PERSECUTION OR PROGRESS?

Stoning 3PMT-2015-017 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In 2 Tim 3:12 Paul seems to undermine postmillennialism, as I have been noting in this series of posts. Many commentators and theologians see this verse as the very antithesis of the victorious expectations of postmillennialism. But what is Paul actually saying? Is he countering the hope of gospel victory?

“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Tim 3:12)

We will look at this verse in its context. But once again, let’s recall how amillennial scholar James White views 2 Tim 3:12 (as he critiqued me in his webcast). At minute marker 16:39 he argues that Paul’s statement is “gnomic” that is, it is “a general statement of truth that is not limited to the days of Paul.” As such “it is a truth that is true as long as this age continues. As long as this age continues, all who live godly in Christ Jesus will continue to be persecuted.” (I recommend checking my last post for more comments by Dr. White.) Continue reading

2 TIM 3 (# 11): PERSECUTION OR PROGRESS? (11)

FearPMT-2015-016 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In my continuing, lengthy study of 2 Tim 3 and its use in the eschatological debate, we now come to perhaps Paul’s most significant — and misunderstood! — statement:

“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Tim 3:12)

This certainly seems to undermine the postmillennial hope in history. How can postmillennialism speak of the victory of the gospel leading to worldwide faith and righteousness among men — if all those who live godly in Christ are to be persecuted?

How did this study arise?

My study of this passage was prompted by apologist James White’s webcast critique of my views on 2 Timothy 3. Continue reading

2 TIM 3 (# 10): PERSECUTION OR PROGRESS?

Persecution 2PMT-2015-015 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In my ongoing survey of 2 Tim 3 we have seen that Paul is dealing with first-century issues in this pastoral epistle. He is not writing to his beleaguered ministerial associate Timothy about events to occur 2000 years in the future. He is not sending him the rules for playing pin the horns on the Antichrist. He does not have him guessing the date of the rapture for fun and profit. He is directly confronting the heresies and immorality that are currently afflicting the Ephesian church in Timothy’s day.

(Important aside: Note that Paul did not attach to his second letter to Timothy a four-color, 8 foot long, 3 foot high parchment time-line chart of the rapture, great tribulation, battle of Armageddon, return of Christ, and millennium. This is proof that he is not dispensational: what dispensationalist could resist the temptation to create a chart? I rest my case.) Continue reading

2 TIM 3 (# 9): DESPAIR OR HOPE?

Wolf sheepPMT-2015-014 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Some Christians believe that in 2 Tim 3 Paul’s imprisonment (2 Tim 1:16) and his expectation of his approaching execution (2 Tim 4:6–8), cause him to have a pessimistic outlook on history. They see 2 Tim 3 as a prophetic statement regarding the future expectations of Christianity in the world. They believe Paul is warning that we will always face “difficult times” (2 Tim 3:1) and that we will be overrun with “brutal, haters of good” (2 Tim 3:3).

But does Paul fear the future? Is he prophesying a relentless, downward collapse of human culture which inexorably leads to the persecution of the Christian faith? No, he does not. I believe that 2 Tim 3 has been misinterpreted when used in this manner. And I have been showing over the last eight articles the exegetical reasons why this passage does not contradict the long-term postmillennial expectation. Continue reading

2 TIM 3 (# 8): DESPAIR OR HOPE?

False facePMT-2015-013 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

The Apostle Paul presents us with helpful insights into the postmillennial hope. We see some of his strongest material (which serves as a good foundation for the postmillennial hope) in Rom 11 and 1 Cor 15. And yet Paul makes some statements that cause us to wonder about his long-term view of history. Second Tim 3 is deemed by the adherents to pessimistic eschatologies to be destructive of postmillennialism.

What are postmillennialists to say in response?

Introduction

This is my eighth article in a study of this famous “last days” passage. Basically I have been pointing out that Paul is speaking to Timothy about issues he is facing in the first century. As with all of the New Testament Scripture, we may apply his statements beyond the first century — when similar conditions prevail. Yet, I do not believe Paul is prophesying that history will always be filled with “difficult times” until the end. Continue reading

2 TIM 3 (# 7): THE “LAST DAYS”

Evil men (Dr Evil)PMT 2015-012 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

2 Tim 3 seems to undermine the postmillennial hope with it’s warning of “difficult times” (v 1), “arrogant revilers” (v 2), and “men of depraved mind” (v 8). But it actually does not — when properly interpreted.

In my last article I argued that Paul was specifically warning Timothy about evil people he is facing. In addition, I noted that the evil he must expect was not from external persecution, but internal defection by false teachers in the Ephesian church (as was Titus’ situation in Crete). And I observed that this is precisely what Paul predicted to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:29–31:

“I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”

In 2 Tim 3:2-5 Paul presents a vice list which, as we will see, applies to the “savage wolves” who are “speaking perverse things” in the Ephesian church “to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29–31). Continue reading

2 TIM 3 (# 6): THE “LAST DAYS”

Black sheepPMT 2015-011 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

I am continuing a defense of postmillennialism in response to those who bring 2 Tim 3 to bear against it. This text is almost universally brought up in rebuttals of postmillennialism. And we can easily see why. Paul appears to be presenting a future quite at odds with the optimism of postmillennialism. when he writes: “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come” (2 Tim 3:1).

I would like to provide more contextual background to 2 Tim 3 by surveying all three Pastoral Epistles. But due to space limitations and the nature of blogs, I will have to suppress that desire. Nevertheless, I hope the running commentary that I will provide on 2 Tim 3 will be insightful — even though lacking the fuller treatment.

In my two immediately preceding articles (PMT 2015-009 and 010) I focused on the important phrase “last days” in 2 Tim 3:1. And I would point out that in an even earlier study of this verse (PMT 2014-153) I presented the meaning of the “difficult times” that Paul foresees. In that article I was responding to the amillennial apologist, Dr. James White. I recommend consulting that article to supplement this one: (Click Here).

Briefly though, I argued there that Paul is not prophesying a future dominated by unrelenting “difficult times.” Rather he is warning that during the period of the last days (beginning with Christ’s ministry in the first century and continuing to the last day at the end of history), the church must expect periods of difficulty. A world of difference separates these two understandings. And that difference distinguishes optimistic postmillennialism from the pessimistic eschatologies of amillennialism, premillennialism, and the various branches of dispensationalism. What do I mean? Continue reading