“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1).
“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, …” (2 Timothy 3:2).
This series is a study examining the societal characteristics of the last days that Paul wrote about in 2 Timothy 3.
Initially, this four-part series was basically an outline to aid in the teaching of these passages. There’s really nothing earth-shaking or groundbreaking found within this study – at least for the educated believer. We know these verses very well and have been witnessing this prophecy coming to fruition on a yearly, monthly, and daily basis.
But I did want to share this study with the reader, as the definitions of the Greek words Paul used are very helpful, useful, and sometimes eye-opening. In sharing this series, I hope and pray it will be used as a tool for teaching on this subject and shared with unbelievers, that they may see what we so clearly see.
Basically, I’m listing the English words with their original Greek counterparts, noting their primary definitions, citing Scripture for practical application, and relating these societal characteristics with current events and trends in an effort to demonstrate that these prophecies for the last days are being fulfilled before our very eyes.
For Men Shall Be Lovers of Their Own Selves
The Greek word for “lovers of their own selves” is 5367 phílautos (an adjective, derived from 5384/phílos, “lover” and 846/autós, “of self”) – properly, a lover of self, describing someone preoccupied with their own selfish desires (self-interests). [All definitions from Biblehub.com]
The world has been telling us that the reason mankind has problems in life is because men and women have a natural tendency to dislike themselves.
Is this true? What does the Bible say?
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3).
The pseudo-sciences of Psychology and Psychiatry, popularized by God-denying, Christ-rejecting men such as Freud, Jung, Maslow, and others have played a major role in perpetuating the lie that men lack “self-esteem” and “self-love.” This is the only profession that claims to cure the disease that itself has created. (For more information on this subject, I highly recommend Psychology and the Church by T.A. McMahon and Dave Hunt, articles at thebereancall.org, and books by Dr. Martin and Deidre Bobgan.)
Unfortunately, this humanistic man-centered lie has infiltrated the church at an alarming rate. We even have churches that employ secular psychologists and psychiatrists on their staff.
Other churches, in an effort to “help” their congregations – yet seeing a contradiction – have resorted to employing so-called “Christian psychologists” or “Christian counselors” who are steeped in the pseudo-sciences of humanistic Psychology and Psychiatry and are promoting these teachings that are contrary to the Bible. All of this is done in an effort to heighten the laity’s self-esteem and self-love. This endeavor should be considered the purest form of “antithetical Christian behavior.”
We, as Christians, have the Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus called The Comforter. He is the only One that should be counseling the believer. As Jesus told His disciples:
“… I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17).
Jesus, Himself, was prophesied to be the “Wonderful Counselor”:
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
Whatever happened to good old-fashioned fellowship and sharing in the sufferings of the brotherhood?
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another” (Romans 12:10).
Man, according to Scripture, has never had a problem loving himself. In fact, it is this self-love that is the problem. The sin of selfishness is probably the most easily seen of all sin and the first to rise in the human heart. Just consider the toddler and his favorite new word, “Mine!”
It’s no surprise that this characteristic is so prevalent in secular society, but, sadly, this state of loving one’s self is just as pervasive in the professing church.
Here’s the church’s remedy for self-love:
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).
For Men Shall Be… Covetous
The Greek word for “covetous” is 5366 philárgyros (from 5384/phílos, “lover” and 696/árgyros, “of silver”) – properly, a lover of money (literally, silver) – i.e., someone (literally) “in love with personal gain (having money).”
“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s” (Exodus 20:17).
“And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).
Modern-day political words that come to mind when we think of covetousness are Socialism, Marxism, wealth redistribution, and reparations. A legendary tale’s mantra is, “Take from the rich and give to the poor.”
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:6-10).
There are three words that seem to inspire the world in their unhealthy pursuit of “happiness”: Power, fame, and fortune; and the devil is only too happy to provide if it suits his purposes.
Everybody wants what everybody else has and won’t be satisfied, so they think, until they have it all. We, as a fallen people, are never content without God – it’s impossible. We have to have more! “Give me, give me, give me! Take, take, take!” For what?
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).
For the disciple of Christ, we should proclaim with Paul that we have
“… learned, in whatsoever state [we are], therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11b).
The one sin that plagues all of mankind, without fail and never satisfies, is the sin of covetousness. It most certainly is prevalent in all societies and is ramping-up in these last days.
For the believer, is a command with a promise:
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).
For Men Shall Be… Boasters
The Greek word for “boasters” is 213 alazṓn (a masculine noun) – properly, a wandering vagrant (vagabond), boasting to anyone who is foolish enough to take him seriously! This kind of person claims many things he can’t really do, so he must always keep moving on to new, naive listeners. [As a masculine noun, 213 (alazṓn) tends to focus on the source of the empty boasting, i.e., the sinful arrogance that drives it.]
“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).
The culture of the United States is a cesspool of boasting. From exalted entertainers and sports figures to the elite corporate and social media tycoons and political talking heads. Those in the upper echelons of public life are as arrogant as they come.
Consider the rulers of other nations; how they boast of their newest weapons, luxury palaces, and the power they wield.
How’s your circle of influence and observations concerning this character trait? Is it as prevalent in your sphere as it is in my everyday walk in this world?
Everybody was, and is, the best athlete. Everybody was, and is, the most popular. Everybody is the smartest and most qualified. Whenever one is passed over for a job promotion, it isn’t because they didn’t deserve it – in fact, they more than deserved it – they just have an idiot for a boss. And it goes on and on and on.
As Christians, we should all declare:
“My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad” (Psalm 34:2).
Do we see arrogant boasting in our society from the top-down today, and does it seem to be intensifying? I’d say it would be an exception for one not to acknowledge this trend.
For Men Shall Be… Proud
The Greek word for “proud” is 5244 hyperḗphanos (from 5228/hypér, “beyond, over” and 5316/phaínō, “shine forth”) – properly, over-shine, trying to be more than what God directs, i.e., going beyond the faith He imparts (cf. Ro 12:2,3).
“Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:21).
The fall of Satan was contingent on, and instigated in, his self-deluded pride; and the father of pride has seduced mankind with the same mindset and empty promises.
Pride inevitably leads to boasting. It seems you can’t have one without the other. This most certainly appears to be why the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to use these two societal characteristics side-by-side.
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16).
If we see boasting so widespread in our day like we do, then we most certainly can say we have the market cornered by the pride that fuels such boasting.
For the Christian:
“Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips” (Proverbs 27:2).
For Men Shall Be… Blasphemers
The Greek word for “blasphemers” is 989blásphēmos – what is blasphemous (reverses spiritual and moral realities). See 987 (blasphēmeō). 987 blasphēméō (from blax, “sluggish, slow” and 5345/phḗmē, “reputation, fame”) – properly, refusing to acknowledge good (worthy of respect, veneration); hence, to blaspheme which reverses moral values.
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).
Isaiah’s statement of prophecy is fulfilled in a radical way in these end-times. With the obvious exception of the pre-flood world, the reversal of moral values is a plague on society and has never been so prevalent as it is in these last days. What once was considered taboo is now not only accepted, it is encouraged and celebrated. We, as a society, are virtually having a party for evil and have buried in death all that is righteous, holy, and good.
Observation makes this characteristic crystal clear for anyone with eyes to see. Just pick up the newspaper and keep up on the new “social” laws and the protections of deviant behavior passed by the world’s governments.
Notice also that we have a set of laws for the populace that is never heeded by those who write those laws, as lawlessness rules our day.
The world has rejected the good and embraced the evil. It’s hard to believe it will get worse, but it most certainly will.
For us who are called by the Name of the Lord, we should…
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-23).
For Men Shall Be… Disobedient to Parents
The Greek word for “disobedient” is 545 apeithḗs (an adjective) – literally, unwilling to be persuaded (by God), which shows itself in outward disobedience (outward spiritual rebellion); disobedient because unpersuaded. 545/apeithḗs (“unpersuaded”) begins with the decision to reject what God prefers, with His offer to persuade about His preferred-will (cf. 2307/thélēma). See 543 (apeitheia). [Note the root, 3982/peíthō (“persuade”).]
Any visit to a grocery store, and one could very well see this characteristic play out, in real time, with a teenager (or even a pre-teen) screaming and cursing out his or her mother. The words coming from that child’s mouth would make a sailor blush. But this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg concerning this characteristic trait.
“The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it” (Proverbs 30:17).
Most certainly, the Holy Spirit is grieved by how we, as a people, have disrespected, disregarded, and discarded our parents in their senior years as a collective society. We consider those we ship off to nursing homes – never to be visited by their loved ones again – the lucky of the lot. How infuriating!
Whether they were lovely or something to be desired, we have a command to honor them, and we would be well-served to do just that.
“Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12).
It truly is heartbreaking at what the offspring can do to those who brought them into the world and supplied their needs. This is a condition that has a trickle-down effect on society, and we are seeing the rotten fruit of that tree today.
Paul summarized this commandment this way:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3).
For Men Shall Be… Unthankful
The Greek word for “unthankful” is 884 axáristos (an adjective, derived from 1/A “not” and 5483/xarízomai, “experiencing grace“) – properly, without God’s grace (favor) which results in unthankfulness (literally, “ungraceful”).
This is an interesting definition and seems to suggest a circular reciprocity that, in most cases, never ends. God grants His grace and favor to man, and man tends to become unthankful. When God’s grace and favor are withheld (for whatever reason God deems necessary), then man becomes that much more unthankful. Man is just outright unthankful – regardless of favor and grace, or not.
It would also seem that this perpetual condition, most obviously, is a result of learned behavior in the home.
Mom and Dad give the child grace and favor; the child becomes spoiled and expects, then neglects, these gifts in unthankfulness. As punishment, Mom and Dad revoke said grace and favor, and… Well, I think you get the idea.
It seems it all comes down to that strong human sense of entitlement.
“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15).
We often think of unthankfulness as a childlike quality, and indeed spoiled children bring about spoiled fruit in the lives of those children if not corrected by a loving parent. But, unfortunately, the rod of discipline has been taken from our society, and we see the repercussions of this as those same children have grown up.
Honestly, it is a rarity these days to find one who is thankful. Unthankfulness goes hand in hand with covetousness, and they work their darkened “magic” together to the detriment of society’s spiritual and moral health. No wonder God withdraws His grace and favor.
Once one covets anything from an evil and unnatural desire – then receives what he or she has coveted – are they thankful? Of course not. Things desired and received by force, or even as a gift, are rarely respected and appreciated. Why? Because the deceitful and wicked human heart is never satisfied and demands “More! More! More!”
Isaiah, speaking of Israel’s useless watchmen leaders, sums up this perverse characteristic this way:
“Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter” (Isaiah 56:11).
For those of us who have given our lives to the Creator and Savior of our souls, we…
“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning [us]” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
For those with a keen eye, we will be starting our examination in Part 2 with “Unholy.” The reason I didn’t include that characteristic in Part 1 is because I wanted to make an obvious point with the characteristics we just studied: They are all about self.
“Lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful” – are all about self.
The remedy for the believer is to deny one’s self, as noted above:
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).
The self-worship, which we all are prone to, is what keeps us from ever focusing our attention on others, and most importantly, on our Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ. We must put off “self” and put on Christ:
“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14).
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!
[Note: I realize that this study on Societal Characteristics of the Last Days is United States-centric, as this is where I live. My guess is that this series will also ring true in the rest of the Western world. But what I’m really interested in is: Do these characteristics describe the current conditions in the nation of Israel as well? After all, the Bible is Israel-centric. If any of our dear friends in Israel would like to reach out with their take on this study and its relationship to Israel, I’d really love to hear from you!]