Preach the word; be instant in season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lasts shall heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables 1 Timothy 4: 2-4, KJV
From the onset before drawing lessons from the text quoted above in the fourth chapter of the second book of Timothy, it is very important to look at the context of Paul’s discourse under consideration. While there are several issues that Paul could be dealing with in his letter to Timothy I shall confine the current context to the third chapter that precedes the fourth chapter. Paul has just told us about the grim picture of the last days before Jesus returns.
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people 2 Timothy 3:1-7
It is baffling to a careful reader, how Paul seems to indeed enumerate the vices of the 21st century as if he just read the viral Facebook pages or the news headlines of our Century. Whether it be Asia, the Americas, Europe, Australia or Africa or the Islands of the sea, selfishness, greed, materialism, violence, lack of natural affection, corruption, and fierceness characterises our generation with such mathematical accuracy. As if in conclusion; the summary of what both Christians and non-Christians will be is that professed Christians will make a profession but deny the dictums of Christian living. This is true all around us that many a believer profess religion but refuse the cutting demands of Christian living. It is in the back drop of this chapter that Paul talks about how many will also depart from the plain and authoritative injunctions of the Bible and the Holy Word of God. Our times seem to be the very times that Paul spoke about. We are at the crossroads of history.
At the Crossroads of History
Times have changed and they continue to change. In the process, some are already in the process of changing while others have already changed with the times. While some have fiercely resisted the changes, some are finding a way of adapting to the changes. On the other hand, while others are working against the changes, others are in million dollar organizations and projects to shift the social, moral, economic, and spiritual compass of many of us, perceptibly and imperceptibly.
It is an undeniable fact that there are positive changes that all of us may need to undergo especially as it pertains to the place of scripture and its teachings. For example, Paul and the rest of the holy prophets and apostles wrote in different times. They lived during the days of Nimrod, some in the days when Egypt, or Assyria, Babylon, Medo- Persia, or Pagan Rome were superpowers. Our superpowers are no longer those but ours are the arguably United States, Russia, China and others. They were no cars or planes in the days of the apostles. They used camels, horses, donkeys and ships as mode of transport. They did not have electricity nor computers or cellphones. Leprosy was the dreaded disease in their day but ours are many; high blood pressure, cancer, malaria, HIV/AIDS and countless other ones. On a positive note, as we read the Word of God the idioms of the days of the apostles may need to be understood and interpreted in the language that people of the present generation understand. This is what I may call positive change for lack of a better word, but on the other hand we also face the threat of wrong changes.
By Qedumusa Mathonsi
Associate Executive Secretary – Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division