But understand this”, that is how 2 Timothy 3 starts. It is a familiar chapter talking about the “last days”. The chapter brings out two particular points. First, verse 1 says that there will be times of special stress, when life is perilous. The second significant point is that “all scripture is “breathed out (inspired) by God” and is therefore “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (verse 17), making us “wise for salvation”. Timothy had the benefit of being acquainted with them from childhood (verse 15). This spells out the primary reason why we should read the Bible every day. A comprehensive Bible reading system is invaluable, for it is unwise to read only the parts we find attractive. We need a balanced meal and the commitment of regular spiritual mealtimes.

The first verse flows on from chapter 2 where Paul is writing about bad influences on the attitude among believers. Chapter 3 says they will get worse in the last days! Attitudes in the world at large will affect believers who will be “lovers of self … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (verses 2,5). While we can point to evidence of this among the main churches and the bad press they receive, it is vital we realize Paul is primarily addressing those who are trying to serve Christ!

The warning “the time is coming” is again put frankly in chapter 4, a time when “people will not endure sound teaching … and turn away from listening to the truth …” (verses 3-4). An unbiased study of the history of Christianity shows this happened. Finally, Paul is aware he is about to die, but how wonderfully he spells out his conviction of a future life in verses 7,8, a reward he will be given “on that day” (verse 8). Do we have the same hope “laid up” for us as for Paul? We must not let these perilous times destroy us.