1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,
4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
but know this (v.1) — tense is present continuous, so “be keeping this in your mind,” “keep in recognition” — know that these things (vs. 2-5) will happen even in light of your gentle, patient teaching (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
the last days (v.1) — Some commentaries think “last days” refers to this entire age of grace because Paul told Timothy to turn away from these things when the letter was written. Others think it refers to the period of this age just before the Rapture. I wonder if Paul was saying that humans have these characteristics and so, therefore, expect difficult times to come. The way you might tell a child, “Dogs are loud and messy and need constant care, so if you get one, expect to have to deal with those things.”
The last days to which Paul refers began during his own lifetime. They were the “last days,” not of prophecy, but of the “dispensation of the grace of God,” and have been extended until the present only because God is longsuffering, “not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9).
But while these verses contain a list of the simple characteristics of fallen human nature, and while, during the course of the present age these characteristics have periodically asserted themselves more boldly, yet it appears evident that never in this dispensation have they been so widespread in their manifestation.
“We are not looking for the signs of the times, for these are not the times of the signs.” Yet it should be noted that in addition to the specific signs that will herald our Lord’s return to earth, certain trends are also spoken of in this connection, trends which may indeed begin to develop in our day. In Daniel 12:4, e.g., Daniel is told to “shut up the words, and seal the book (i.e. of his prophecy), even to the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” As we behold the unprecedented increase in travel and knowledge in the past few decades, may this not be a harbinger of things to come and cause us to await the more eagerly our Lord’s coming for us? — Stam, page 193
perilous (v.1) = difficult, hard to bear
will come (v.1) = lit. “to set in”
lovers of themselves (v.2) = philautos = “to be fond of self”
lovers of money (v.2) = philarguros = “fond of silver”
boasters (v.2) = empty pretenders, swaggerers, with the idea of “imposters”
proud (v.2) = lit. “to show above” — one who shows himself above others
blasphemers (v.2) = slanderers, those who speak abusively at or about others
disobedient (v.2) = unwilling to be persuaded
unthankful (v.2) = without gratitude, perhaps linked to “disobedient to parents”
unholy (v.2) — holy, here, is hosios = free from unrighteousness and pollution, so, not free from …
unloving (v.3) — It designates “that quiet and abiding feeling within us, which, resting on an object as near to us, recognizes that we are closely bound up with it and takes satisfaction in its recognition.” It is a love that is a natural movement of the soul, something almost like gravitation or some other force of blind nature. It is the love of parents for children, and children for parents, of husband for wife, and wife for husband. It is a love of obligatoriness, the term being used here, not in its moral sense, but in a natural sense. It is a necessity under the circumstances. — Wuest, page 144.
unforgiving (v.3) — one who won’t enter into a covenant or agreement, one who is not to be appeased
Trucebreakers [unforgiving (v.3)] is aspondos. The word is made up of sponde, “a libation,” which is a kind of sacrifice, and which accompanied the making of treaties and compacts. The Alpha prefixed, negates the word, and it means “refusing to enter into a treaty, irreconcilable, implacable.” — Wuest, page 144.
slanderers (v.3) = diabolos = devils — those who spread criticism and innuendo
without self-control (v.3) = incontinent, without power over one’s self, no restraint, especially in regard to lusts
brutal (v.3) = savage, merciless, not tame — the opposite of gentle
despisers of good (v.3) = aphilagathos = lit. “without love or fondness for the good” — hostile to all good thoughts and deeds
traitors (v.4) — treacherous in their dealings with others
headstrong (v.4) = lit. “falling forward” — reckless, rash, precipitate
haughty (v.4) = “highminded” [haughty (v.4)] is tuphoo, “to raise a smoke, to wrap in a mist.” It is used metaphorically, “to make proud, puffed up with pride, render insolent.” The participle here is perfect in tense, and speaks of a person who in the past has come to a state of such pride, and is so puffed up, that his mind as a permanent result is beclouded and besotted with pride. — Wuest, page 145.
form (v.5) — In Romans 2:20, morphosis is the truthful embodiment of knowledge and truth as contained in the law of God. Here, the mere outward resemblance, as distinguished from the essential reality.” — Wuest, page 145.
godliness (v.5) = reverence, respect toward God — not Godlikeness
power (v.5) = power that overcomes resistance — here, this power is refused
from such (v.5) = from these also — Timothy was to turn away from all those habitually doing any of the sins listed in these verses and also from those doing them with an outward show of godliness.