Chapter three begins with a sad look at the state of the Church falling further and further from Christ (2 Timothy 3:1-9). This passage is often used to describe the modern world in which we live, but it is actually a description of the Church. Most people of the world have no interest in maintaining “the outward appearance of religion,” although some certainly do. This is true of many believers, though. 2 Timothy 3:6-9 seems to refer to false teachers who prey on weak and young believers, especially young women who are easily deceived (see 1 Timothy 2:9-15; 5:11-14).
In the face of such blatant heresy, Paul commanded that Timothy “continue in the things [he had] learned and [had become] confident about” (2 Timothy 3:10-17). As he did regularly, Paul pointed to himself as an example whom Timothy had observed and followed. Just like Jesus had told the Eleven that the world would hate them as his followers (John 15:18-21), Paul told Timothy that following Jesus in this world means persecution in this world. None of that, though, is stronger than the inspired Word of God, which is designed and fully capable of equipping God’s people for God’s work.