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2 Timothy 3:8-12

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

8. Quemadmodum autem Iannes et Iambres restiterunt Mosi, ita et hi resistunt veritati, homines corrupti mente, reprobi circa fidem.

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

9. Sed non proficient amplius; amentia enim eorum manifesta erit omnibus, sicut et illorum fuit.

10. But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,

10. Tu autem assectatus es meam doctrinam institutionem, propositum, fidem, tolerantiam, dilectionem, patientiam,

11. 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.

11. Persequutiones, afflictiones, quae mihi acciderunt Antiochae, Iconii, Lystris, quas, inquam, persequutiones sustinuerim; sed ex omnibus me Dominus

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

12. Et omnes, qui piè volunt in Christo Iesu, persequutionem patientur.

8 And as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses This comparison confirms what I have already said about the “last times”, for he means that the same thing happens to us under the gospel, which the Church experienced almost from her very commencement, or at least since the law was published. In like manner the Psalmist also speaks largely about the unceasing battles of the Church.

“Often did they fight against me from my youth, now let Israel say. The wicked ploughed upon my back, they made long their furrows.” (Psalm 129:1,3)

Paul reminds us, that we need not wonder if adversaries rise up against Christ to oppose his gospel, since Moses likewise had those who contended with him; for these examples drawn from a remote antiquity yield us strong consolation.

It is generally believed; that the two who are mentioned, “Jannes and Jambres,” were magicians put forward by Pharaoh. But from what source Paul learned their names is doubtful, except that it is probable, that many things relating to those histories were handed down, the memory of which God never permitted to perish. It is also possible that in Paul’s time there were commentaries on the prophets that gave more fully those narratives which Moses touches very briefly. However that may be, it is not at random that he calls them by their names. The reason why there were two of them may be conjectured to have been this, that, because the Lord had raised up for his people two leaders, Moses and Aaron, Pharaoh determined to place against them the like number of magicians.

9 But they shall not proceed further He encourages Timothy for the contest, by the confident hope of victory; for, although false teachers give him annoyance, he promises that they shall be, within a short time, disgracefully ruined. 184184     “Thus we see, that the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of Paul, holds out two reasons to fortify us. When we see that Satan opposes, and that the truth of God is not received by all, but that there are bad men who labor to pervert everything, and who slander and falsify the truth, here are consolations provided for us. In the first place, that our Lord treats us in the same manner as he has treated the Church in all ages, that those who lived before us were not better situated in this respect; for God tried them by sending false pastors, or rather by giving free scope to Satan for sending them. Let us know what has happened since the law was published. Here is Moses, who was before the other prophets. Yet already the war was begun, and that evil has never ceased. If we must now endure the like, let us bear it with patience; for it is not reasonable to expect that our condition shall be better or easier than that of Moses, and of others who followed him. That is one argument. The second is that the result shall be prosperous and successful. Although we dislike fighting, and though it appears as if the truth of God were about to perish utterly, let us wait till God come forth in defense of it, for he will cause wicked men to be completely disgraced. After they have triumphed, God will, undoubtedly, discover their baseness, and we shall see how God takes care to support his cause, though that may not be evident for a time.” — Fr. Ser. Yet the event does not agree with this promise; and the Apostle appears to make a totally different declaration, a little afterwards, when he says that they will grow worse and worse. Nor is there any force in the explanation given by Chrysostom, that they will grow worse every day, but will do no injury to any person; for he expressly adds, “deceived and deceiving;” and, indeed, the truth of this is proved by experience. It is more correct to say, that he looked at them in various aspects; for the affirmation, that they will not make progress, is not universal; but he only means, that the Lord will discover their madness to many whom they had, at first, deceived by their enchantments.

For their folly shall be manifest to all When he says, to all, it is by a figure of speech, in which the whole is taken for a part. And, indeed, they who are most successful in deceiving do, at first, make great boasting, and obtain loud applause; and, in short, it appears as if nothing were beyond their power. But speedily their tricks vanish into air; for the Lord opens the eyes of many, so that they begin to see what was concealed from them for a time. Yet never is the “folly” of false prophets discovered to such an extent as to be known to all. Besides, no sooner is one error driven away than new errors continually spring up.

Both admonitions are therefore necessary. That godly teachers may not despair, as if it were in vain for them to make war against error, they must be instructed about the prosperous success which the Lord will give to his doctrine. But that they may not think, on the other hand, that they are discharged from future service, after one or two battles, they must be reminded that there will always be new occasion for fighting. But on this second point we shall speak afterwards; at present, let it suffice us, that he holds out to Timothy the sure hope of a successful issue, that he may be time more encouraged to fight, And he confirms this by the example which he had quoted; for, as the truth of God prevailed against the tricks of the magicians, so he promises that the doctrine of the gospel shall be victorious against every kind of errors that may be invented.

10 But thou hast followed 185185     “Having spoken of the troubles which were to befall the Church, and having exhorted Timothy to be firm, so as not to shrink from them, the Apostle adds, that now, for a long time, he must have been prepared for all this, because he had been taught in a good school. ‘Thou hast known intimately,’ like one who had followed him step by step; for such is the import of the word which Paul uses: ‘Thou hast known well the course which I have pursued.’” — Fr. Ser. In order to urge Timothy, he employs this argument also, that he is not an ignorant and untaught soldier, because Paul carried him through a long course of training. Nor does he speak of doctrine only; for those things which he likewise enumerates add much weight, and he gives to us, in this sentence, a very lively picture of a good teacher, as one who does not, by words only, train and instruct his disciples, but, so to speak, opens his very breast to them, that they may know, that whatever he teaches, he teaches sincerely. This is what is implied in the word purpose He likewise adds other proofs of sincere and unfeigned affection, such as faith, mildness, love, patience Such were the early instructions which had been imparted to Timothy in the school of Paul. Yet he does not merely bring to remembrance what he had learned from him, but bears testimony to his former life, that in this manner he may urge him to perseverance; for he praises him as an imitator of his own virtues; as if he had said, “Thou hast been long accustomed to follow my instructions; I ask nothing more than that thou shouldst go on as thou hast begun.” It is his wish, however; that the example of his “faith, love, and patience” should be constantly before the eyes of Timothy; and for that reason he dwells chiefly on his persecutions, which were best known to him.

11 But out of them all the Lord delivered me It is a consolation which mitigates the bitterness of afflictions, that they always have a happy and joyful end. If it be objected, that the success of which he boasts is not always visible, I acknowledge that this is true, so far as relates to the feeling of the flesh; for Paul had not yet been delivered. But when God sometimes delivers us, he testifies, in this manner, that he is present with us, and will always be present; for from the feeling, or actual knowledge, of present aid, our confidence ought to be extended to the future. The meaning, therefore, is as if he had said, “Thou hast known by experience that God hath never forsaken me, so that thou hast no right to hesitate to follow my example.”

12 And all who wish to live a godly life 186186     “Et tous ceux aussi qui veulent vivre en la crainte de Dieu.” — “And all those also who wish to live in the fear of God.” Having mentioned his own persecutions, he likewise adds now, that nothing has happened to him which does not await all the godly. 187187     “Que rien ne luy est advenu que tous fideles ne doyvent aussi attendre.” — “That nothing has happened to him which all believers must not also look for.” And he says this, partly that believers may prepare themselves for submitting to this condition, and partly that good men may not view him with suspicion on account of the persecutions which he endures from wicked persons; as it frequently happens that the distresses to which men are subjected lead to unfavorable opinions concerning them; for he whom men regard with aversion is immediately declared by the common people to be hated by God.

By this general statement, therefore, Paul classes himself with the children of God, and, at the same time, exhorts all the children of God to prepare for enduring persecutions; for, if this condition is laid down for “all who wish to live a godly life in Christ,” they who wish to be exempt from persecutions must necessarily renounce Christ. In vain shall we endeavor to detach Christ from his cross; for it may be said to be natural that the world should hate Christ even in his members. Now hatred is attended by cruelty, and hence arise persecutions. In short, let us know that we are Christians on this condition, that we shall be liable to many tribulations and various contests.

But it is asked, Must all men be martyrs? for it is evident that there have been many godly persons who have never suffered banishment, or imprisonment, or flight, or any kind of persecution. I reply, it is not always in one way that Satan persecutes the servants of Christ. But yet it is absolutely unavoidable that all of them shall have the world for their enemy in some form or other, that their faith may be tried and their steadfastness proved; for Satan, who is the continual enemy of Christ, will never suffer any one to be at peace during his whole life; and there will always be wicked men that are thorns in our sides. Moreover, as soon as zeal for God is manifested by a believer, it kindles the rage of all ungodly men; and, although they have not a drawn sword, yet they vomit out their venom, either by murmuring, or by slander, or by raising a disturbance, or by other methods. Accordingly, although they are not exposed to the same assaults, and do not engage in the same battles, yet they have a warfare in common, and shall never be wholly at peace and exempt from persecutions.


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