Doctrines of Demons Part 2 : Contrasting the Prophecies of 1st Timothy and 2nd Timothy

After presenting some preliminary points concerning Paul’s first prophecy given to Timothy (1st Timothy 4:1-3) it would be good here before getting into deeper analysis of the text to point out that that prophecy and Paul’s second prophecy to Timothy (2nd Timothy 3:1-5), both predicting spiritual conditions within professing Christianity, refer to different eras in the history of professing Christianity.  Some automatically equate “in the latter times” with “in the last days” but these expressions are not necessarily synonymous.  Naturally when one sees “last days” one would automatically think of the last days/months/years/decades preceding the Return of the Lord Jesus Christ.  But the expression “latter times” can refer to a longer period within this “last time” of the Messianic era which has lasted close to 2000 years old thus far.  Let us look at the following words written by the Apostle John in the 1st century: “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that IT IS THE LAST TIME.” (1st John 2:18)  Notice that John speaks of THE AntiChrist to come, who would be distinguished in some way from the present-day antichrists of John’s day, as still future yet he writes in the 1st century that “it is THE LAST TIME”.  The words “last time” in that case refer to the whole Messianic era which would close with the Return of Christ.

Here are a few other examples helping to illustrate this point : “But this [what occurred at Pentecost in the context] is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass IN THE LAST DAYS, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:” (Acts 2:16-17)  Peter, in his Pentecost sermon, tells his hearers that what occurred at Pentecost was the fulfillment of a prophecy in the Book of Joel.  To the prophet Joel who lived in the Old Testament era the Messianic era which was to come and which commenced in the 1st century were the “last days”.  Peter, in his first epistle, wrote these words concerning the First Coming of Christ : “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest IN THESE LAST TIMES for you” (1st Peter 1:20)  Peter, who wrote that verse in the 1st century, spoke of the times in which he lived as “these last times”, the last times or era prior to the Final Judgment at the end of time.

When one compares both prophecies one may notice that Paul uses two different Greek words for the time periods.  The Greek word translated “times” in 1st Timothy 4:1 is “kairos” (Strong number 2540, possible meanings : “season” or “era”) while the Greek word translated “days” in 2nd Timothy 3:1 is “hemerais” (Strong number 2250, literally referring to 24-hour days and figuratively referring to an age).

IN SUMMARY : “In the latter times” refers to a time LATTER to Paul’s time but does not necessarily refer to a short period of time immediately preceding the Second Coming of Christ.  It can refer to a long period within this present Messianic era but not necessarily.

I will quote here the words T. R. Birks, from his introduction to a 19th century edition of Joseph Mede’s “Apostasy of the Latter Times”, concerning the two prophecies given to Timothy:

“The two Epistles to Timothy and the one to Titus, are the only inspired writings addressed to teachers of the Church. They are also probably the very latest of St. Paul’s writings, and on both accounts we might expect to meet in them with the fullest warnings against coming evils. Two such warnings occur, 1 Tim. iv., and 2 Tim. iii., very distinct in their features. The first relates to the latter times, the second to the last days. The first refers to ascetic restraints, which God has not commanded ; the other to a state of unbridled and sensual profligacy. The natural conclusion is that the former relates to the long centuries of Papal superstition, the latter to the more short-lived and open forms of Infidel apostasy.”

"... in the latter times... some shall depart from the faith... forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats..." (1 Tim. 4:1-3)

“… in the latter times… some shall depart from the faith… forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats…” (1 Tim. 4:1-3)

"... in the last times perilous times shall come, for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy... lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God..." (2 Tim. 3:1-5)

“… in the last days perilous times shall come, for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy… lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God…” (2 Tim. 3:1-5)


“The two warnings, joined with
the actual working of the mystery of iniquity,
would thus be a brief, but still a complete outline,
of the future evils to which the Church was
exposed. The description of the time, and the
main feature of the prophecy in each case, is
thus exactly maintained, and each warning is in
harmony with the tone of the Epistle in which it
appears.”

“But when we return to the Epistle [1st Timothy]
itself, other proofs appear. The first opening of it
contains a solemn direction to Timothy to meet and
resist evils that were threatening the Church. And what
was their nature? “Neither to give heed to fables, and
endless genealogies, which minister questions rather than
godly edifying in faith.” The phrases here are almost
precisely the same as in the fourth chapter [of 1st Timothy].
And what are the leading evils here exposed and denounced?
Fabulous legends and religious genealogies. Surely these
are two plain confirmations of [Joseph] Mede’s application
of the prophecy [of 1st Timothy 4:1-3]. It was by legends
of saints, and hermits, and virgins, that the saint-worship
of the fifth and following centuries rose to its height.
It is by legends of the saints that it is sought to be
revived in our own day [19th century]. And the keystone of
that system which has held the visible Church in bondage
to a doctrine of demons, is composed of ecclesiastical
genealogies. The watchword of Papal delusion has ever been
the unbroken genealogy of the bishops, from the apostles
downward, and especially of the successors of St. Peter,
the patriarchs of the first see, and bishops of Rome.”


“The phrase is often referred to the Gnostic genealogies
of Eons. But these were blasphemous, and would not surely
have met the light censure “which minister questions
rather than godly edifying”. The whole context shows that
the words refer to Jewish genealogies, which, from the
very law of the legal priesthood, were regarded by the
Jews with such deep interest. At that time they were
hurtful, simply because they ministered endless doubts,
and distracted the thoughts from weightier matters. But
when they assumed a Christian form, and were viewed, in
their new deadly heresy, the keystone of the Papal
apostasy of the latter times. The next main evil exposed
is the vain desire to be teachers of the Jewish law, and
the neglect of love, of faith unfeigned, and a good
conscience. The expression here also, “swerving from
faith unfeigned,” answers closely to the words in chap.
iv. 1, — “Some shall depart from the faith.” Of what
nature, then, was the present departure, the earnest of
that deeper apostasy to come? It was vain jangling, zeal
for legal ordinances, and confident assertions of their
necessity for salvation. Now this, also, is no feature
of Gnostic heresies, or of open infidelity. But it is the
very pattern of that apostasy of saint-worship which Mede
unfolds in this work. Self-righteousness, legal exactions,
a gorgeous ritual, and pilgrimages copied from the Jewish
feasts, grew up side by side with the adoration of the
Virgin and the saints, of relics and images. The keynote
which the Spirit has struck already in the opening verses,
thus resounds anew, and with deeper power, in the apostasy
of demon-worship as explained above.”


“In the second chapter another main doctrine of the faith
is stated with peculiar solemnity, as the motive for
earnest prayer and intercession. “For there is one God,
one also is the Mediator between God and men, the man
Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all.” This
clearly is one main part of that faith from which the
Spirit declares expressly that some shall revolt in the
latter times. What, then, should we naturally infer to be
the nature of that revolt, but the worship of other
objects beside the one God, and the use of other mediators
besides the one true Mediator, Christ Jesus? Such exactly
are the doctrines of demons as unfolded in this treatise ;
a view confirmed by the usage of Scripture, by the type
of Israel, and by the mournful facts of history through
many ages. The Virgin has expelled the true Mediator, and
saints and angels have been addressed instead of the Holy
One of God, the Angel of the covenant. Surely this open
contrast, the relation between the faith and the apostasy
which denies it, is a further proof that the warning,
chapter iv., is rightly applied to the saint-worship and
the Mariolatry of the Church of Rome. The apostle next
enjoins an ordinance of holy worship. “I will, therefore,
that the men pray in every place, lifting up holy hands,
without wrath or doubting”. The spirit of the command is
clearly to magnify the moral elements of prayer, and to
pass by the ceremonial. The state of the heart in holiness,
meekness, and the confidence of faith, is the object to be
held in view; the place was to be of little moment. “I
will that they pray in every place.” Here again, one main
element in the apostasy of the latter times, as applied
by our author, has been the abrogation of this Divine
ordinance. To overlook the state of the heart, but to
urge the merit of prayer in consecrated places ; to
introduce the shadowy holiness of the temple into the
Christian houses of prayer; and to extol the merit of
prayer before such an image at such a shrine, before
the mother Church of St. Peter, at Rome ; these have been
some of the main arts by which that apostasy has ensnared
its victims, and reared its Babel of ecclesiastical pride.
And hence we have another token that this system of pilgrim
worship, at relics and shrines of the saints, is truly
pointed out to us in the inspired warning.”


“There is one further confirmation, less palpable, but which
reveals itself on a closer view. The main features of
doctrine in the first Epistle are free grace, diffusive
love, and Divine bounty. The features of the apostasy here
portrayed are the exact reverse, will-worship, forced
celibacy, and ascetic restrictions. The main aspect of
truth, in the Second Epistle, is holiness, Divine
sovereignty, the stern exposure of evil, and the willing
sacrifice of the martyr. The evil there warned of is still
the reverse, and its main character is the lawless
indulgence of self-will and sensual lust. There is thus, in
both, an unity of plan and a completeness of outline. Now
this unity and completeness are retained only when we refer
the passage in 1 Tim. iv., to the superstition of the middle
ages, and the other to the infidelity of later days, though
earnests of both might be arising, even then, in the visible
Churches of Christ.”

One can download a 19th century edition of Joseph Mede’s
“Apostasy of the Latter Times” with an introduction by T. R.
Birks at this website:

http://archive.org/details/medesapostasyla01medegoog

See also:
Paul’s Pastoral Prophecies

Doctrines of Demons Part 1

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