New Defender's Study Bible Notes
3:1 last days. The “last days” were obviously still far in the future from Paul’s perspective.
3:1 perilous times. “Perilous” could also be translated “fierce” or “furious.” It is used only one other time, in connection with the demoniacs in the country of the Gergesenes, describing them as “exceeding fierce” (Matthew 8:28). The world will become increasingly violent and dangerous as the end approaches.
3:2 lovers of their own selves. This catalog of characteristics of the dangerous last days begins with what is essentially a definition of modern humanists—“lovers of their own selves.” The entire list seems peculiarly descriptive of the emphases and attributes of modern evolutionary humanism. Furthermore, these characteristics seem almost a duplication of the characteristics of ancient pantheistic paganism, as outlined in Romans 1:29-31, except that the characteristics listed here in Paul’s letter to Timothy seem to be developing within the framework of the professing church rather than the pagan world. In other words, there will be little distinction between the secular world and the religious world in the last days. Note in particular the cult of self-love, now being strongly promoted by secular psychologists and increasingly prominent even in counseling methods used in modern evangelical churches, as the answer to all psychological and sociological problems.
3:2 covetous. Covetousness is idolatry, the worship of the money god, Mammon (Luke 16:9). The Greek word here used for “covetous” means “money-loving” (philarguros, “lover of silver”). Note also I Timothy 6:10; Ephesians 5:5.
3:2 proud. Humanistic pride—whether of riches, intellect, physical strength, beauty, position or anything else—is the sin of the devil (I Timothy 3:6), eventually leading in effect to self-worship, as well as self-love.
3:3 Without natural affection. The implication is that their “affections” are “unnatural.” Note Romans 1:26-27. Evidently a great and dangerous increase of perverse sexual behavior will characterize the last days.
3:3 trucebreakers. Translated “implacable” in Romans 1:31. The etymology of the word suggests people who refuse to make or honor treaties or agreements.
3:3 false accusers. The Greek for “false accusers” is diabolos, meaning “slanderers” or “devils.” Satan himself is the diabolos, the devil, the false “accuser of our brethren” (Revelation 12:10), and there are today a multitude of people slandering Bible-believing Christians, doing the specific work of the devil.
3:3 incontinent. The Greek for “incontinent” (akrates) means “without strength,” meaning, in context, powerless to do what is known to be right.
3:4 Traitors. This word was used of Judas (Luke 6:16), who betrayed Christ, suggesting that the latter-day church harbors many Christ-betrayers.
3:4 highminded. The word means “puffed up.”
3:4 lovers of God. One need only compare the number of pleasure-seekers on the Lord’s Day to the number of people in church!
3:5 denying the power. These last-day humanists will have a pseudo-religion, but will deny its power—that is, its supernatural aspects (creation, miracles, second coming, heaven, hell, regeneration). This description would apply specifically to religious humanists, to the liberal theologians who dominate the mainline denominations, to modernists, and to most New Age cultists. See also notes on II Peter 3:3-6.