Bible Study
The Second Letter of Paul to Timothy
(5) Learning and Preaching Sound Doctrine
II Tim. 3:10-4:5


In our last lesson Paul instructed his son in the faith, Timothy, to flee evil desires and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace. He told him to avoid quarreling but to gently instruct those who opposed him. Paul went on to warn Timothy and us about the terrible times in the last days. He described the people of the last days as being without natural love for others. Instead they will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, lovers of evil, and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Although they will have a form of godliness, they will not know the true God and will deny His power. Timothy was warned to have nothing to do with people like that.

Read II Tim. 3:10-4:5

1. Paul's persecutions

A. Paul has been speaking about men of depraved minds who oppose the truth and are therefore rejected. He used Pharaoh's magicians as examples of those who do counterfeit miracles and healings while following other gods and opposing the Lord God. There are many TV evangelists today in that category. They have a form of godliness but they don't know God and He doesn't know them. Matt. 7:21-23 Next Paul contrasts himself with these deceivers. Timothy had traveled with Paul for many months and had the opportunity to observe him in every circumstance. He knew all about his teaching, his way of life and his purpose. Suppose someone were as close to us as Timothy was to Paul. What would they say about our teaching, our way of life and our purpose? Would they observe the fruit of the Spirit in us - especially during the trials and temptations we face?

B. Paul was able to say that he knew Timothy had seen the evidence of his faith, patience, love, and endurance even under persecution and suffering. He was especially referring to the suffering he went through in that part of Asia Minor that Timothy knew about because he was from Lystra. Acts 16:1 What had happened in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra on the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabus? Antioch Pisidia was the second place Paul and Barnabus went after Perga. There after the Word of the Lord had spread through the whole region, the Jews stirred up the leading men and women against the missionaries, and they expelled them from the region. Acts 13:49-50

C. In Iconium a large number of Jews and Gentiles believed. But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against Paul and Barnabus. Acts 14:1-2 So the city was divided. The unbelieving Jews and Gentiles made a plot. They planned to stone Paul and Barnabus. When the missionaries heard about it they left for Lystra and Derbe. In Lystra when Paul healed a lame man the people wanted to worship Paul and Barnabus, believing they were the pagan gods Zeus and Hermes. Acts 14:11-12 The missionaries had a hard time keeping the people from making sacrifices to them. Then the Jews of Antioch and Iconium followed them to Lystra and won the crowd over. Finally they were successful in stoning Paul and leaving him for dead. Either he wasn't dead or God raised him from the dead. Acs 14:19-20

2. Persecution for all who are godly
A. Paul not only was not dead, he had the courage to continue on, visiting Derbe, and then returning to the place of his stoning - Lystra - and on to revisit Iconium and Antioch. Timothy knew all about this persecution and may have even been near when Paul was stoned. Paul sums up all his sufferings by writing, "Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them". He doesn't blame God for allowing these tests in his life, but instead praises God for His faithfulness in rescuing him, even from death. Paul then warns Timothy that we can expect persecution and suffering if we are determined to live a godly life in Christ Jesus. The godly will suffer while evil men and importers go from bad to worse. Imposters are counterfeits who appear to be godly but are not, They are actually evil men, Paul writes.

B. How did these men become so evil and why are they now imposters? Paul describes them as "deceiving and being deceived". They themselves are deceived and they work at deceiving others. They follow the master of deceit - the counterfeit god, Satan. They learn from him even as he deceives them into thinking that they are O.K. They then go on to teach others the deceit that has fooled them. Is there no escape for them? Is there no hope for those being deceived? There is only one way out for both the deceivers and those they deceive. They must recognize and repent of their evil ways and turn back to the Scriptures. The Truth can deal with deceit if we will let it, so now Paul turns Timothy's thoughts to the Scripture.

3. God's Word equips the man of God
A. Paul makes a sharp dividing line between the deceivers, the deceived ones, and Timothy. He turns a corner by writing, "But as for you.." Paul has done this before: "You, however.." II Tim. 3:10; "You, then, my son…" II Tim. 2:1; "But you, man of God…" I Tim. 6:11. Paul is saying, "Timothy, you are different! You are not an evil man or an imposter. Now you must continue in what you have learned and become convinced of."  In other words, he encourages Timothy and us to not let anyone or anything turn us away from what we already know. We have learned the truth and become convinced that it is the only way. He tells Timothy and us, "Don't lose your conviction." He also reminds Timothy of those who taught him the truth: his grandmother, his mother, and his mentor, Paul. Could they be trusted? He knew they could. He had lived with them and knew their lives.

B. How long had Timothy known the Scriptures? Of course, he didn't know about Jesus until Paul told him. But his mother and grandmother had evidently taught him as a small child from the Old Testament even though his father was a Greek and they were women. The Holy Scriptures were able to make him wise for salvation even though he didn't have the whole Bible that we have. The Old Testament points ahead to Jesus through whom we have salvation by faith. If you had the privilege of growing up in a Christian home you should thank God for it every day, and decide to teach your family about the Lord as you were taught. Next, Paul summarizes the importance of Scripture, where it came from and what it can accomplish. Verse 16 is possibly the most important verse about the Scripture in the whole Bible.

C. All Scripture is God-breathed. You cannot leave out any verse or part of a verse because God has Himself breathed all of it. When we start adding to it or subtracting from it to change the meaning we oppose the God who breathed it. This is also why it is important to study the whole Bible, not just the parts we like. What is the Bible's use? It is our primary teacher. All that is important in life is taught in it. God's Word rebukes us when we stray away, just as the Holy Spirit has in this chapter about counterfeits and false teachers. The Bible corrects us. The rebukes of Scripture are not just negative. They serve to correct and point us in the right direction. Besides teaching us, the Bible trains us. What does it train us in? Righteousness. It trains us to be righteous people. And what is the purpose of all this teaching, training, rebuking and correcting? It is so that we can be men and women of God, thoroughly equipped for every good work. The Scripture prepares us to be godly people ready to do God's work. But a Bible on the shelf will not equip anyone!

4. Faithfully preach the Word
A. We must do more than study God's Word. We must pass it on to others. So Paul gives Timothy a charge to serve the Lord. He does it in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, mentioning that He, Jesus, will be the Judge of the living and the dead. So in view of the fact that He will be the Judge of all when He appears, and in view of His coming kingdom, Paul gives the charge. Since He alone is the King and the Judge, it behooves us to serve Him well. We will all be called before Him to give an accounting. We are the servants of the Master who has assigned us to give his household food at the proper time. What will happen if we fail to feed the sheep with God's Word? Matt. 24:45-51

B. We are not all preachers, but we are all called to teach and witness from the Word to the hungry sheep in our family and around us. We are to be prepared to do this at all times whether it is a convenient or inconvenient season. The Word is our only hope to remain rooted and grounded, and to help others also to be grounded in the Truth. Both publicly and privately we need to preach, teach, train, correct, rebuke and encourage. The Word is useful for all those things. But our attitude is also important, especially when we are correcting or rebuking. It must be with great patience and careful instruction. We may become weary or impatient if people aren't listening or following what we teach. Paul goes on to tell us why this is important.

5. Turning their ears from the truth
A. The time will come - and is now here - when men will not put up with sound doctrine. They refuse to listen to and understand the importance of sound doctrine. Doctrine that is sound is correct and biblical. But if you are unwilling to let the Bible judge and rebuke you, you don't want to hear it. These people put their desires and will in place of God's will and Word. So they gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. That's what we see today - a great number of these teachers. Why are they so popular and so many? It's because people love to hear what makes them feel good: things like "We're all little gods"; "You are anointed and holy"; "God will give you anything you want. You just have to say the words." What do those itching ears do? They turn away from the Truth and turn to myths. Those who believe in evolution have turned from the creation story in Genesis to believe a myth. This is what many are doing. They turn from God's clear Word to stories and myths made up in someone's imagination or demon-inspired. As Scripture is God-breathed, so those lies and myths that replace it are devil-breathed.

B. Once again Paul separates Timothy from those who wander from the way and follow false teachers who teach myths instead of the Truth. He writes to Timothy: "But you… You, Timothy, must not be among the listeners who have itching ears or the teachers who entertain them with what they want to hear." Paul now charges and encourages Timothy with 4 commands. "Keep your head in all situations". Don't forget who you are or what you have been taught. Don't be swayed by what's going on around you. "Endure hardship." Paul had written this already in II Tim. 2:3. A good soldier endures hardship, and so does a good servant of God. "Do the work of an evangelist". Get out and tell them the Good News. God's Word will defeat Satan's lies if we faithfully go and tell. "Discharge all the duties of your ministry". This is like saying, "Faithfully do the job God has given you." Don't be lazy or careless, but do all that God expects from you.


We see here the great contrast which we are seeing in our world today. On one hand there are evil men and imposters who are deceiving and being deceived. There are the people with itching ears who don't want to hear the truth and the false teachers who are happy to teach them the lies they like. On the other hand are those who desire to live a godly life and who are willing to endure hardship and be persecuted for teaching sound doctrine, witnessing to the lost, and faithfully doing the job God has set before them. Where do we stand?

(c) 2003 Juanita Simpson

<Previous HOME Next>