gray and brown concrete building

2 Timothy 3:8-17 (KJV)

3:8-9 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their’s also was.

Jannes and Jambres are traditionally acknowledged as Pharaoh’s magicians who attempted to discredit God’s miracles by mimicking them (Exodus 7-8). These Scriptures and traditional observances would be something that Timothy was well studied because of his upbringing. 

There is plenty of literature including the names of the two magicians in ancient literature, although many still speculate by which source Paul included them in his letter to Timothy. All suspected sources point to non-canonical documents but obviously Paul was familiar with the tradition and the Spirit Himself verifies them (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  

Regardless of these technicalities, their actions trademark them. They resisted the truth presented by Moses from God and their minds were corrupt and seared. Regarding the word, reprobate, Reformed traditions see this word as a form of predestination unto damnation, or one who is not elected by God. Although this could have been their final destination, the term reprobate literally indicates someone “unfit,” or “unproved.” 

Rejecting salvation will ultimately do this, nonetheless, one should be careful of deeming someone as “not elect.” This would indicate that we as humans are attempting to shorthand God and His will for all of humanity to be saved (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:2). But the attributes of God affirm that He is aptly able and sovereign to save (Isaiah 59:1).

Paul’s usage of the word reprobate indicates a lack of sound judgment in regard to the faith attested to in their time. In regard to being reprobate, terms such as a “seared mind” and a “debased mind” are sought after in Scripture. 

Whenever we find this sort of person in Scripture, God is the one who hands them over to this mindset in response to speaking lies that are contrary to His truth. Even to the reprobate, God’s grace is extended. The entire purpose of handing themselves over to this mindset, is for their good (1 Corinthians 5:5). Unfortunately, there are many who wallow in it until their spiritual detriment.

These men were used as well-known examples of men who illustrated the evil desires and actions depicted earlier within the chapter. Know this though, all who wax worse in blasphemy will come to an end of their lies and their folly be illuminated: Whether in this life or the coming spiritual death. Meanwhile, God is mighty to preserve those sealed by the Spirit from all unrighteousness (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Ephesians 4:30).

3:10-12 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,

Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Here, a look into the Greek will garner a particular appreciation for the phrase, “hast fully known.” The term parakoloutheō literally means, “to follow after,” “to be fully present,” and or to follow “always at his side.” Biblically speaking, in nearly every context, the word “know[n]” depicts an intimate nature scarcely regarded by English readers. Although not the same word, it carries a similar connotation to a disciple.

Timothy understood Paul’s doctrine as revealed by Jesus Christ and kept them as given (1 Corinthians 11:1-2). He personally knew Paul’s lifestyle, his character, and he knew that Christ’s perfect Gospel was his driving force and purpose. Timothy also knew of the persecution and trials that Paul had undergone to preserve and spread the Gospel. 

The truth in this Scripture is often gleaned over because Timothy was there, and we were not. However, because Timothy was there and knew Paul intimately, Paul’s testimony in this passage was to be encouragement for Timothy after Paul passed. Despite the evil done against Paul, he affirms Timothy that “out of them all the Lord delivered me.”


With this in mind, some may foolishly think that Paul had some false form of bravado thinking that Christ would deliver him from his coming execution as well. But Paul realized that in his death, he was being delivered and that the enemy had nothing to threaten him with (Philippians 1:20-21). Therefore, Timothy (And we all) is to live in the present fully with his (Our) upward calling in mind. Troubles in this life are undeniable, but so is eternal peace. 

3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

Refer to the example of Jannes and Jambres. Deception breeds deception. Moreover, light overcomes darkness (John 1:5). Christ and His Holy Word are the light of the world (Psalm 18:28; Ephesians 5:8). 

3:14-15 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Paul charges Timothy to continue in the things that he had learned of Paul and in his knowledge of the Scriptures as instructed in his children. The term “continue” is a verb denoting “enduring” and “abiding” within the things that Timothy had been taught. As for contemporary Christians, this instruction remains. Elsewhere in Paul’s epistles, he teaches that spiritual endurance requires spiritual maturation. Spiritual maturation grabs tight to sound, healthy doctrine and by the strength of the Holy Spirit, holds tight and refuses to let go (Ephesians 4:12; Hebrews 13:9). When we are grounded in truth, we speak truth in love and grow corporately as the Body, holding up the head, Christ (Ephesians 4:13). 

Surprisingly, there is scholarly dispute on who “whom” is referring to in verse 14. This dispute is entirely multi-faceted. Part of the argument is confusion surrounding whether or not the Greek word tis here is singular or plural. The next part of the argument is when evaluating the context. Some commentators attribute “whom” to Paul, while other attribute it to Timothy’s mother figures, Lois and Eunice, while still yet some adhere to the belief that this verse is referencing God, who is the source of all knowledge (Proverbs 2:6; Colossians 2:2). 

Nonetheless, scholars must agree that Paul was instructing Timothy to remember those who edified him within his spiritual walk. Truth is preserved in remembrance. An example of this can be found in verse 15. In remembering the Old Testament Scripture imparted to Timothy by his mother and grandmother, Timothy is able to maintain Paul’s model of ministry by “reasoning with the Scripture” (Acts 17:2). He will be able to minister in truth, knowing and defending that salvation is by grace through faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:8-9).

3:16-17 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 perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

The inerrancy of Scripture is a hotly debated topic for Christians and non-Christians alike. Much of the debate stems from a humanistic evaluation of God’s revelation to humanity. By this I mean, some people hold the view that God gave liberality in how humanity can transcribe God’s revelation. There are varying degrees of this view but mostly revolve around this idea. Some state that God’s Word was not what was inspired, but rather God illuminated the author to write desired words. This view is highly synergistic and relies more so on the talents of the author than the diction of God.

Other views uphold a sense of partial inspiration which may state that only certain parts of Scripture are inspired (Such as prophecy), while others are not. A person with this view may maintain that Paul’s epistles are uninspired and possibly would interpret this verse as referring only to Old Testament Scripture. This view is unfortunately very pervasive within and outside of Christian circles. 

Similar to this view, there are people who believe a form of conceptual inspiration who believe that God inspired the concept, but not the specifics. This view would suggest that there is error of detail, but not of principles. 

The view of natural inspiration truly holds that there is no inspiration at all and that Godly men just wrote Scripture like any other book and its popularity caused its eventual adoption by Jews and Christians alike.  

As an author, I uphold plenary (absolute) inspiration. This view states that God inspired every word and concept within Scripture, down to the last detail. This idea was defended and propagated in 1978 by the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. This statement was formulated by a conference of concerned evangelicals who noted alarming trends and views being pumped throughout the North American Church. 

This verse is a driving force behind the movement. Literally, the Biblical word for “inspiration” in this verse is theopneustos and means “God-breathed.” The word for “Scripture” is graphē and denotes something written. The two put together means “God-breathed writing.” This concept is comprehensively defended throughout the Bible (Proverbs 30:5; Matthew 5:18; Galatians 1:12; 2 Peter 1:20-21). With this in mind, it would be foolish to discount the New Testament apostles as any less inspired than authors of the Old Testament as their revelation was directly received from God, the same as their predecessors and forefathers [See notes in 2 Timothy 2]. 

Scripture is God-breathed, therefore it was revealed for God’s purpose. The first purpose mentioned to Timothy is its profit for doctrine. Simply put, doctrine is a set of beliefs within Scripture (1 Timothy 4:13). 

All Scripture is profitable for doctrine and will build up the inner man, but not all doctrine is specifically applicable to the Christian (Ephesians 3:16-21) [See notes in 2 Timothy 2].

Reproof is a process by which something is proven and something contrary to truth is refuted. This is an act that God’s Word is completely capable of doing for itself, and its defense is not necessary. It is true indisputably and as the only book that when read, the Author is there as well, it will prove itself over and over again by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2; Hebrews 4:12). No one knows the Words of God more than the God Himself. 

Reproof and correction (Which ensues) of humanity, the Word of God coupled by the discerning work of the Holy Spirit convicts and proves humanity of their need for salvation and refines us into vessels of Godliness (John 16:8; 2 Corinthians 7:9-10). 

Having been reproved and corrected, the Christian learns to live in Christ’s imputed righteousness and unto the good works that He has called us to (2 Timothy 2:19-21). 

In verse 17, Paul addresses the man of God as becoming perfect. Despite persistence within holiness traditions, this is not referring to “entire sanctification” although the word does denote completeness. All of the above purposes of Scripture will refine and make a Christian completely capable to do the Godly work that they are created unto and called to do (Ephesians 2:10).

4 thoughts on “2 Timothy 3:8-17 (KJV)”

  1. Pingback: 2 Timothy 4:1-8 (KJV) - Enriching Grace

  2. Pingback: Sleeping on Gold - Enriching Grace

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: