2 Timothy 3:9
(9) But they shall proceed no further.--After that St. Paul, with no gentle hand, had torn aside the veil which was hiding apparently from Timothy the real state of his great charge at Ephesus, and had pointed out what fearful ravages among his flock had been committed by these ambitious and evil men, the Apostle proceeds to comfort his friend and disciple with the assurance that, great though the mischief already accomplished was, still it should proceed no further. To human eyes, such a state of things as here pictured by the Apostle would appear desperate. It would seem as though a deadly and incurable cancer was eating away the whole life of the community; but Timothy need not despair: the evil would only be allowed to advance to a certain point; and since St. Paul thus wrote, the same prophecy, not only in Ephesus but in a thousand churches, has been fulfilled to the very letter. Still, the same old foes under new faces make havoc of the Church. But they never seem to advance beyond a certain point, and after all these centuries the Church is still full of faith and life, bright, too, in spite of discouragements, in spite of the perpetual presence of these treacherous, deceitful men, with promise for the future.

For their folly shall be manifest.--Men and women would be led away for a season by the plausible words of such deceivers, but one school of error after another would fall into disrepute, then into neglect, then into the silent darkness of utter oblivion (the event in numberless instances has shown the truth of this prophecy); and Timothy might take comfort, by considering what Holy Scripture had placed on record respecting the Egyptian sorcerers, whose folly was manifest unto all men (Exodus 8:18-19; Exodus 9:11). Their folly was yet more manifest when men considered their latter end. (See Note above on Jannes and Jambres, 2Timothy 3:8.)

Verse 9. - Evident for manifest, A.V.; came to be for was, A.V. Shall proceed (proko/yousin); as ch. 2:16 (where see note) and ver. 13. The apostle's meaning here is, as explained by the example of the magicians, that heresies shall not prevail against the truth. Απὶ πλεῖον means beyond the point indicated in his description of their future progressive evil. They would "proceed further in ungodliness," as he said in 2 Timothy 2:16, but not up to the point of destroying the gospel, as history has shown. The various forms of Gnosticism have perished. The gospel remains. As theirs also came to be (Exodus 8:18, 19). Surely the A.V. "was" is better.

3:1-9 Even in gospel times there would be perilous times; on account of persecution from without, still more on account of corruptions within. Men love to gratify their own lusts, more than to please God and do their duty. When every man is eager for what he can get, and anxious to keep what he has, this makes men dangerous to one another. When men do not fear God, they will not regard man. When children are disobedient to their parents, that makes the times perilous. Men are unholy and without the fear of God, because unthankful for the mercies of God. We abuse God's gifts, if we make them the food and fuel of our lusts. Times are perilous also, when parents are without natural affection to children. And when men have no rule over their own spirits, but despise that which is good and to be honoured. God is to be loved above all; but a carnal mind, full of enmity against him, prefers any thing before him, especially carnal pleasure. A form of godliness is very different from the power; from such as are found to be hypocrites, real Christians must withdraw. Such persons have been found within the outward church, in every place, and at all times. There ever have been artful men, who, by pretences and flatteries, creep into the favour and confidence of those who are too easy of belief, ignorant, and fanciful. All must be ever learning to know the Lord; but these follow every new notion, yet never seek the truth as it is in Jesus. Like the Egyptian magicians, these were men of corrupt minds, prejudiced against the truth, and found to be quite without faith. Yet though the spirit of error may be let loose for a time, Satan can deceive the nations and the churches no further, and no longer, than God will permit.But they shall proceed no further,.... They may proceed to more ungodliness, and wax worse and worse in error; but they shall proceed no further than the magicians of Egypt, who did lying wonders, hardened Pharaoh's heart, and deceived him and the Egyptians; but could not destroy the Israelites, nor hinder their departure out of Egypt, when their time was come: so these wicked men do false miracles, harden the popes of Rome, and deceive the nations subject to them; but they cannot deceive the elect of God, nor destroy the church of God, against which the gates of hell cannot prevail; nor could they hinder the reformation, or the departure of the Lord's people out of Babylon.

For their folly should be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was; as the folly of Jannes and Jambres was, when Aaron's rod devoured theirs; and when they could not produce lice, but was obliged to own to Pharaoh, that that plague was the finger of God; and when they could not stand before Moses, because of the boils that were upon them, Exodus 7:12. And so the Arabic version renders it, "as is manifest the folly, or madness of these two"; and it is notorious in how many instances the frauds, impostures, tricks, and villanies of the church of Rome, and its votaries, have been detected and exposed; which have been the means of hindering them from proceeding any further than they have. The Alexandrian copy reads, "their understanding"; that which they pretended to have of divine things.

2 Timothy 3:8
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