There are two important chiastic structures in this chapter. The first is a complex one:
1a) 2 Tim 3:1-9, Evil men and imposters in the last days:
— 1a) 2 Tim 3:1, But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come;
— 1b) 2 Tim 3:2-4, The ungodly men of the last days:
—— 1a) 2 Tim 3:2a, For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money;
—— 1b) 2 Tim 3:2b, Boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents;
—— 1c) 2 Tim 3:2c-3a, Unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving;
—— central axis) 2 Tim 3:3b, Slanderers;
—— 2c) 2 Tim 3:3c, Without self-control, brutal, despisers of good;
—— 2b) 2 Tim 3:4a, Traitors, headstrong, haughty;
—— 2a) 2 Tim 3:4b, Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God;
— 1c) 2 Tim 3:5, Having a form of godliness but denying its power + from such turn away;
— 1d) 2 Tim 3:6a, They creep into households + make captives of gullible women;
— central axis) 2 Tim 3:6b, Who are loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts,
— 2d) 2 Tim 3:7, Always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth;
— 2c) 2 Tim 3:8a, Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth;
— 2b) 2 Tim 3:8b, Men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith;
— 2a) 2 Tim 3:9, They will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was;
1b) 2 Tim 3:10-11, You have carefully followed me and know what persecutions I endured;
central axis) 2 Tim 3:11b, And out of them all the Lord delivered me;
2b) 2 Tim 3:12, Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution;
2a) 2 Tim 3:13, But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
First, the evil men and imposters of the last days. What are these evil men posing as, that makes them imposters? I believe they are posing as ministers of God or spiritual leaders of some kind, having a form of godliness, but denying its power. How on earth do they creep into households, making captives of gullible women? I believe one way is through the television, in these last days. What makes the women gullible, or susceptible to being deceived, is that they have a thirst for knowledge, but never arrive to a firm foundation of settled doctrine. Everything is always subject to change, based on the latest teaching they have heard. So how do these evil men profit from these gullible women? By some variation of, “Send your gift for the latest teaching, or for the biggest return from God.” If that is you or someone you know, I would pray for them, for deliverance from captivity and from being deceived, for deliverance from secret sins or guilt (perhaps they are only burdened because they have not forgiven themselves for that which God has already forgiven them), for settling them on a firm foundation in Christ, and for making the folly of the ungodly manifest to them also.
It is amazing to me that slander is the central axis of the embedded chiastic structure describing the ungodly and evil men of the last days. Slander is maligning the character or reputation of another. Webster’s says slander is the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage another’s reputation. One of the Ten Commandments is, Do not bear false witness, right up there with not stealing and not murdering.
Our country is full of political operatives whose job it is to defame and damage the reputations of their political opponents. Journalists and media bureaucrats do this all the time also, by suppressing stories beneficial to those they oppose or damaging to those they support and vice versa. And not just in politics, but church leaders who speak the truth, such as Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis, are also routinely maligned by others who do not agree with them. I have even heard wives slander their husbands, all under the guise of getting together with the girls over coffee and catching up! As believers, when we speak about our leaders and those in authority, let our words be truthful and edifying, imparting grace to those who hear. Let us pray for them rather than curse them. And if we are unsure of the truth, it is better to keep silent than to slander.
Jannes and Jambres are the Egyptian court magicians who duplicated Moses’ first signs before Pharaoh, so that he was encouraged to harden his heart to Moses’ message. They bore false witness in their own way, for by their actions they made Moses’ message appear false, when it was Thus saith the Lord.