Monday, December 21, 2009

Are We There Yet? Part II

To continue with the list of vices that Paul warned Timothy would serve as an indication that we are living in the last days, I pick up where I left of:

Men will be without self-control. The Greek word is AKRATES and it means, without self-control, dissolute; unable to govern one’s appetites; without command over oneself. The idea suggests that a person is unable to possess of their appetite, their proclivities, and their own self. A famous golfer comes to mind that seemingly was not able to control his own appetite for women who were not his wife.

Men will be brutal. The Greek word is ANEMEROS and it means untamed. The comparison is with the wild beasts of the field who are vicious, without conscious or discernment or compassion. The false teachers have no fear of God whatsoever and no regard for the damage they do to men’s souls with their pernicious teachings. Are we there yet?

Men will be haters of good. The Greek word is APHILAGATHOS and it means a lack of generous interest in the public good, without interest in the public good. Here Paul seems to use a satirical sketch of persons who are actually the opposite of public expectations.

Men will be treacherous. The Greek word is PRODOTES and it means traitor, betrayer. What does it mean to betray someone? It means to violate a person’s trust and confidence. Our society does this all the time. Any time a person enters into a contract or covenant with another and then changes their mind, they are behaving treacherously with the other person. Some people do this intentionally from the outset. Their treachery is calculated and deliberate and even premeditated. Others simply don’t place the same value in covenant making and as soon as there is a good enough reason, the covenant is abandoned. This behavior litters American Politics. Self-interest supersedes all else. In fact, treachery is one of the most selfish acts humans engage in. Let us love as Christ loves. His love nailed Him to a cross in unspeakable suffering. The minute love costs us anything whatsoever, we find an alternative path that is more convenient and one that does not involve self-sacrifice in the slightest.

Men will be reckless. The Greek word is PROPETES. This word literally means falling down or forward. The idea is one of recklessness, rash, thoughtless. We should never rush to judgment, but always consider the facts before taking action. Paul is saying that men will not give the same weight to the discipline of thinking and that judgment will suffer. Men will behave recklessly.

Men will be conceited. The Greek word is TUPHOO and it means becloud, delude. The idea is that one will have a deluded understanding and estimation of their own self- importance or significance. It likely means mentally ill in 1 Tim. 6:4 which I think is kind of humerous in a way. Are we there yet?

Men will be lovers of pleasure. The Greek word is PHILEDONOS and it means a particular or specific love for pleasure. The idea is one who is given over to a fondness for pleasure. And in this sense they are said to love pleasure more than they love God. Whatever brings them pleasure becomes more important to them than God. In fact, loving God is no longer viewed as being an act that pleases or brings pleasure.

Finally, men will have a form of godliness. The Greek word for form is MORPHOSIS and it means that state of being formally structured, embodiment, formulation, form. Philo used this language to refer to a semblance of piety. There is, among these men, a real outward form of what appears to be true religion. The Greek word for godliness is EUSEBEIA and it means piety, reverence, loyalty exhibited toward parents or deity, fear of God. Here it means to be devout only in appearance. The idea is that one follows external routines that would typically be expected in those who actually are devoted to God, but indeed their heart is actually not seeking God at all. The glaring truth is that these people are not external to the Church. They are actually members of the visible body of Christ. By all appearances they look like they are a valid part of the Christian community. In fact, they are greater enemies of the faith than those who are clearly not participating in the body. For these possess deceptive powers that those outside the body do not typically have at their disposal. A wolf is not so dangerous as long as you can see his fangs. But nothing is quite as dangerous as the wolf that pants and whines as if he wants affection when what he is really after is blood.

One of the more fascinating features of this text of Scripture is the number of hapax legomena that appear. A hapax legomenon is a word that appears only once in the Greek NT.

Are we there yet? It seems clear that these behaviors in men have marked the last days since the time of Timothy. They are visible markers of false teachers and believers and serve as warning signs to those who are legitimate members of the body of Christ. We should react to them accordingly. Not only this, they also serve as a list of vices that we as Christians should always be aware of. These behaviors constantly war against our own souls, tempting us to behave autonomously, selfishly, in subtle or even open rebellion against our God. May God grant us His mercy and grace by providing us with the Spirit who will shape us and mold us with God’s word into the image of Christ He has called us to be.

People LIVE what they believe: EVERYTHING else is just noise!

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