1 & 2 Timothy - Lesson 11

By John Harrison

The Difference between Treacherous and Trustworthy Teachers

(2 Timothy 3:1-17)

Objectives: By the end of this lesson the learner will be able to:

  1. Identify some of the ways the false teachers Paul opposed had behaved.
  2. Identify the ways Paul taught that a trustworthy teacher behaved.

Teaching Aids and Materials:

  1. Easy to understand Bibles for every student (CEV, RSV, NAV, NIV, NRSV, etc.).
  2. A marker board and/or chalkboard.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class

Introduction: (5-8 minutes)

  1. Begin class by welcoming members and any visitors; make all necessary class announcements.
  2. Have the class led in prayer. The prayer should include a request that God help us to live godly lives as we know we are instructed to do so in Scripture.
  3. See that everyone has brought the items for the missionary care package.
  4. Explain to the class what this lesson will focus on:
    1. Several of the immoral behaviors of false teachers whom Timothy faced
    2. The important behaviors every person of God should emulate.

Learning Experiences: (30 minutes)

Part I: How treacherous teachers behave

Have someone read 2 Timothy 3:1-9

Paul lists eighteen traits that characterize people who will make living in the "latter days," which Paul believed has already arrived, a difficult time for Christians. It may not be obvious for those who read this section for the first time or read it detached from the larger context of 2nd Timothy, but Paul is not talking about non-Christians, he is referring to ungodly individuals who operate within the Christian community and are misleading Christians. But instead of focusing on the content of their false teachings, he describes their foolish and ungodly way of living.

Q: After the vice list in verses 2-4, Paul claims that these individuals are effective in misleading others because they keep an outward appearance of godliness but they deny its power. What do you think Paul means by this accusation?

A: Paul believes these individuals believe that godliness is all about knowledge rather than how one acts. By denying the power of godliness, they are refusing to allow knowledge of God to effect their daily, practical behavior.

Q: What immoral behavior in these false teachers do you see in today's false teachers?

A: Several answers could be given. Allow time for two or three offerings. Be sure to ask how the behavior they identify in today's false teachers are like any of the vices which Paul lists.

Q: These particular false teachers like to prey on "weak women" (vs. 6-7). Why would it be the strategy of these teachers to target women with their false teachings?

A: There are at least three possible reasons. 1. They have been weakened bythe guilt of sins and passions and are therefore more susceptible to teachings that will remove that guilt by teaching that their behavior is inconsequential to being godly. 2. Women in the first century were generally not as educated as men and their ignorance of Scripture makes them more susceptible to being taught something as God's revelation which contradicts what God has revealed. 3. These women may have been wealthy and the false teachers hoped to ingratiate themselves to them so that these women will financially support them (thus the accusations that these people are "lovers of money" (v. 2) and are like Jannes and Jambres (vs. 8-9.)

Q: Who were Jannes and Jambres?

A: The class will be able to see that verses 8-9 say they opposed Moses, but what they might not know is who they were, where their names come from and what they were opposing Moses about. In non-biblical Jewish literature, Jannes and Jambres are the two magicians of Pharaoh who resists Moses (see Exodus 7:11).

Q: Paul says that these false teachers' foolishness will become obvious to everyone (v. 9). But this is not always true of many false teachers. Besides the content of their teachings, what kinds of ungodly behavior do you think often characterize false teachers that will help Christians to spot them?

A: After allowing for a couple of responses, remind the class that false teachers very often appear as godly as truthful teachers, so that is why it is important to be familiar with God's revelation in Scripture so we can identify the content of false teaching when it is espoused.

Part II: How trustworthy teachers behave

Have someone read 2 Timothy 3:10-17

Q: What key characteristic does Paul see in Timothy that shows he is a trustworthy teacher?

A: Timothy follows Paul's example of patience and endurance while experiencing persecution and sufferings. Paul also wants to reassure Timothy that just as he was delivered from his persecutors, so Timothy will also be delivered.

Q: Paul makes the claim that everyone who wants to live godly lives will be persecuted (v. 12). Do you think most of the Christians you know and interact with are experiencing persecution? If so, what does this persecution look like? If not, why not?

A: Various answers could be given. Some people may say that Christians living in the United States aren't really persecuted since we have the freedom to practice our faith without being persecuted. Others will claim that in the United States aculture of "anti-Christianity" exists which verbally persecutes Christians by slandering their faith and morality. Remind the class, that whatever our definition of "persecution" may be, pursuing godly lives will seldom be appreciated or admired by those who live ungodly lives, therefore we need to encourage one another to face whatever hostility or abuse comes to us with patience , endurance, love and faith.

Q: Timothy will be a trustworthy teacher by continuing to live his life in line with the holy writings (i.e. Scripture). What are four things Paul claims that Scripture is useful for?

A: 1. Teaching. 2. Reproof (i.e. rebuking bad behavior or false teaching) 3. Correcting (i.e. showing what good behavior should replace bad behavior; and 4. Training in righteousness (i.e. applying Scripture in practical ways to learn through experience the value of God's wisdom).

Teacher's Note: The class might be interested in a discussion about what Paul means when he says that Scripture is inspired. Many will already know that the Greek word behind our English word "inspired" is theopneutos, which is a combination of the words for "God" and "breath." It should be noted that Paul is not concerned here with telling Timothy how God "breathes" (i.e. communicates) his message to and through the individual authors of Scripture. Paul's major concern is to stress that Scripture points to God's authoritative word and it is Scripture which the false teachers are ignoring.

Application: (5 minutes)

Lead the class in a discussion around the following questions:

  1. What difficulties today do people who teach in the church face? (A teacher ofchildren and/or adults)
  2. Why is it difficult to recruit teachers at all levels in the church?
  3. What are ways that we can encourage people with a talent for teaching to teach?

Assignment: (2 minutes)

Take time this week to encourage verbally someone that you believe could be a greatteacher of children or adults.

Lesson Wrap Up: (5 minutes)

In this lesson we learned that Paul said false teachers tend to emphasize having aknowledge of godliness but do not practice it. We also learned that Paul taught that trustworthy teachers have patience and endurance asthey suffer persecution for godliness and they live according to Scripture.

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