Paul's Second Epistle to Timothy, Part 4: No Mercy for Narcissists

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Aside from the first three presentations of this epistle, perhaps last Saturday’s program, The Gospel of Goddard? Or the Gospel of Christ?, would be a good prerequisite for this program, as there is a fair amount of convergence in the subject matter.

Paul's Second Epistle to Timothy, Part 4: No Mercy for Narcissists

So far in our presentations of this second epistle to Timothy, we have focused on Paul’s declaration of The Nullification of Death which is in Christ Yahshua, an understanding of which should in turn lead us to Rejecting the Religion of Fear. Then we discussed his admonition in regard to Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, especially in relation to those earlier subjects. While there are other topics which Paul has discussed here, we chose to illustrate these themes to a greater extent because they are representative of some of the most important components of Paul’s messages throughout all of his epistles. For example, he explains in Romans chapter 5 and 1 Corinthians chapter 15 both what the nullification of death means to our Adamic race, and why and how it shall be effected. Then he adds to those explanations with certain statements and allegories which he had made in 1 Corinthians chapters 3 and 5 and elsewhere. So here we have endeavored to show that Paul’s message is consistent from the beginning of his ministry to the end, and that it is also consistent with the oracles of Yahweh found in both the prophets and in the Gospels.

As we have mentioned, another theme of this epistle is found in Paul’s warnings to his younger companion concerning the character of many of the men who were at one time or another associated with his ministry. In the closing verses of this epistle, in chapter 4, he will make brief mention of a few others. But now, as we proceed with 2 Timothy chapter 3, Paul issues a more general warning concerning character, and evidently while he is speaking of the “last days” this also serves as a warning to Timothy, and to Christians in general, to be wary of men who display certain types of behavior, when such men are encountered.

Another underlying lesson which we must draw from this is that we are always going to have divisions among us, for one reason or another. If the man who was the most successful apostle in the spread of the Gospel to Israel – Paul of Tarsus – had divisions with his fellow-workers, then none of us can imagine ourselves to be exempt from the possibility of divisions with our own. However we should be careful with how we handle those divisions.

Often we have divisions with one another because one or the other fails to be a sincere follower of Christ, or even because a man rejects or disdains Christ, and chooses to follow some heresy for one nefarious reason or another. When that happens, criticism of one who was formerly a brother cannot be avoided, because the wickedness underlying his agenda must be revealed. So Paul spoke of Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom he had “delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” Then, at the end of chapter 1 of this epistle, Paul said: “15 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. 16 The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: 17 But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. 18 The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.”

Notice that Paul prayed for mercy for Onesiphorus and his household, because he was persuaded that Onesiphorus had been true to him and to the Gospel. But Paul did not pray for mercy for Hymenaeus, Alexander, Phygellus or Hermogenes. This is the real “law of attraction” in Scripture, to stand for justice and mercy for those who exhibit love for God through their actions, and to pray for judgment for those who stand in opposition. Paul prayed for mercy for those whom he esteemed to be obedient to Christ, and he prayed for judgment for those whom he thought were not obedient to Christ, because if we are indeed Christians, then we should all be attracted to Christ. If we are all attracted to Christ, we would all love one another, and not “bite and devour one another,” but instead, taking “heed that ye be not consumed one of another”, as Paul warned in the epistle to the Galatians.

However, sometimes we have divisions with brethren not because they won’t follow Christ, but because they fail to live up to our own expectations. So Paul became divided with Mark and Barnabas because he thought that Mark had not worked hard enough to spread the Gospel. We read in Acts chapter 15: “37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. 38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. 39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; 40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.”

In spite of this division, later on when Paul wrote his epistles to the Corinthians, Galatians and the Colossians, he spoke fairly of Barnabas and did not unduly criticize him. Neither should he have criticized him, because the issue was not a matter of Christian doctrine, but only a matter of opinion. We shall even see in chapter 4 of this epistle that Paul ultimately reconciled with Mark. We do not have to work together if we have divergent opinions on how certain things should be done, and we do not even have to like one another whether we choose to work together or not, but we should love one another and strive not to demean or despise one another, so long as we are all working toward the same objective.

We should separate our personal opinions from the will of Yahweh our God, and seek to do His will while setting aside the desires of our own egos. We can do this, if we are truly laboring for Christ and not merely for our own self-aggrandizement. But if we spend our time tearing down our fellow Christians simply because they disagree with us in matters other than the law or the Gospel of Christ, or in minor points of discussion concerning obscure details of Scripture or history, then it becomes evident that we really only seek to magnify ourselves, even at the expense of Christ.

Now Paul issues a general warning, as we proceed with 2 Timothy chapter 3:

1 Now this you must know, that in the last days grievous times will arise.

Most Christians may read this believing that Paul is referring to a period immediately preceding the Second Coming of Christ, because of the usual understanding of the term last days. However in the Old Testament, the term is only an idiom for what we would call the future. The Greek phrase ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις is literally “in the last days”, but where it appears in the Septuagint the corresponding Hebrew word ‘achariyth (Strong’s # 319) was also used to refer to times future. This is evident in Genesis chapter 49, where we read:1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.” The Hebrew word is ‘achariyth, but the Greek phrase in the Septuagint is similar to Paul’s phrase here. The blessings which Jacob then gave to his sons were manifest throughout the ensuing history of their descendants, long before what we may imagine to be the so-called “last days”, but evidently in both their’s and Jacob’s future.

Similar evidence of Paul’s intended meaning where he uses this term is found in Hebrews chapter 1 where he wrote that “1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son….” here the term “these last days” may be rendered “these future days”, in accordance with the Hebrew idiom and relative to the time of the writings of the prophets. Other apostles use similar language of their own time, such as in 1 John 2:18.

So Paul is not telling us that these things which he is about to describe are for some remote time at the very end of the age, but rather, they are for the time future from his own. And this is not to say that as he wrote of these things, that they did not already exist, because they certainly did exist, among pagans and Judaeans. However Christianity was relatively new, and the calling in Christ is a calling of repentance for the children of Israel, for them to forsake sins such as these. So ostensibly, Paul is warning Timothy that at a future time, even the Christian assemblies would once again be taken away in these errors which he is about to mention:

2 For men will be narcissistic, covetous, arrogant blasphemous braggarts, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unhallowed,

The Codex Ephraemi Syri (C) has ἄχρητος (Strong’s # 890), unprofitable or useless, rather than ἀχάριστος, (Strong’s # 884), or ungrateful. Here the King James Version has interpreted the phrase where we have “arrogant blasphemous braggarts” as “boasters, proud, blasphemers”, however the three words are actually translated from two adjectives and a noun, and not from three nouns. The adjectives modify the noun, but they are not nouns by themselves.

A typical definition of narcissistic is having an excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one's physical appearance. Women who adorn themselves with elaborate makeup and jewelry and expensive garments are in fact narcissistic. So Peter in chapter 2 of his first epistle urges them to disregard “plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel”, meaning expensive and elaborate apparel, and urges them instead to be modest. Among men, so-called “body builders” are narcissistic. They engage much of their time in the endeavor to build themselves up, to enlarge themselves, which is time that would be better spent edifying their families or communities. So Paul warned in his first epistle to Timothy that “bodily exercise profiteth little”, as many of the Greeks were engaged in the gymnasiums and excessive body-building.

Why should Christians trust a narcissist, who spends his time magnifying himself, putting his spare time and resources only towards the enhancement of his own body? As Peter also said in the first chapter of that same epistle: “24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” There is nothing wrong with keeping one’s temple, by maintaining oneself in a healthy manner, and there is nothing wrong with working in order to stay strong, but from there one must be careful not to devolve into narcissism. The shirtless Facebook selfies or bimbo cleavage poses are an obvious sign of such narcissism, even among those who imagine themselves to be Identity Christians.

The Greek word translated as narcissistic here is φίλαυτος, and it literally means self-loving. But such self-love, or narcissism, can also express itself in other ways – where one becomes overly concerned about one’s image in ways other than mere physical appearance. So a man must be careful to be humble, and not to boast or vaunt himself, becoming self-absorbed, conceited, self-centered, or egotistical, all of which are synonyms for narcissistic.

As for covetousness, this evil also manifests itself in subtle ways. The hope of riches so that one can forestall having to work is one obvious manifestation of covetousness. If Paul of Tarsus says that “if any would not work, neither should he eat”, what makes a Christian think that Yahweh should bless him and keep him from working, simply because he claims to have faith?

We spoke about some aspects of this heresy in a recent presentation entitled The Gospel of Goddard? Or the Gospel of Christ? One of our own former companions, who has been swept away in his narcissism to the point where he is now teaching from the Kabbalah, has recently asserted in a social media post that “Money is the answer to everything", citing Ecclesiastes‬ 10:19‬ in order to justify his heretical teaching that if you imagine money to be in your possession, then money will appear in your life. To this end he also cited the epistle to James in its first chapter where it says that men must ask “in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”

So if we desire money, he insists that we shall have money, if only we have faith. But let us see what James is really saying, from verse 5 of that chapter: “5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” Now we see that James begins by stating “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God…” So who may replace that word, wisdom, with a noun of their own choice and imagine that to be the original intent of the apostle? Can we honestly replace wisdom with money and apply the words of James to money? Or to houses or cars or boats or anything else? The man who would claim that to be so is a covetous man.

Paul of Tarsus said in his first epistle to Timothy “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.” We have some coveting after money now, and being turned aside they have been shipwrecked concerning the faith. They would even venture to teach the Kabbalah, or at least, to repackage the Kabbalistic teachings of Napoleon Hill and Neville Goddard. Where is money listed among the gifts of the Spirit? But Paul’s warning concerning the love of money does not conflict with Ecclesiastes 10:19, if we also read that passage in its original context. So here we shall read from verse 16 of the chapter: “16 Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning! 17 Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness! 18 By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through. 19 A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things. 20 Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.”

In this passage, we see the alternate references to unjust and noble rulers, the one bringing woe to the land, and the other bringing blessings. Then there is a warning against sloth, and feasts both righteous and wicked. Only then it tells us “but money answereth all things,” followed by a warning not to curse the king nor those who do have wealth. So in this we must see a warning that whether the rulers of a country are sinners, and use their money for evil, or whether they are noble and use it for good, that money is an implicit part of their power and men will follow either wicked or good rulers, because either have money. So to take this short statement concerning money out of its original context and abuse it to convince people that it is righteous to covet money is evil, and only a wicked man would do such a thing. There is no passage of Scripture which justifies the coveting of money, or the desire not to work.

So far as disobedience to parents, while I cannot perceive widespread manifestations of such a phenomenon as a trend in historical times, it has indeed been a trend in recent times, where it has been encouraged by the Jewish, anti-Christ-controlled media and entertainment industries for at least the last several decades. So today we have a systematized disobedience to parents, which has even been enabled by our so-called legal system. But even departing from the customs, laws and traditions of one’s ancestors is a form a disobedience to one’s parents. As Paul said in his first epistle to Timothy, children both honor and even recompence their ancestors by learning to display piety at home.

Where Paul mentions here “arrogant blasphemous braggarts,” we would associate those qualities with narcissists and those who are covetous, and where he mentions the ungrateful and unhallowed, we would associate those qualities with those who are disobedient to their parents. Esau was unhallowed, having rejected his holiness, which is, his distinct separateness from the other races, and he became a fornicator. The acceptance and justification of one’s sin always leads us to commit more grievous sins.

Paul’s list of offenses continues:

3 unaffectionate, implacable, slanderous, intemperate, untamed, without love of goodness, 4 reckless demented traitors, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of Yahweh.

The Codex Sinaiticus (א) wants the word for unaffectionate. The word rendered here as intemperate also means without self-control. For untamed, the King James Version has fierce, where we may have written savage. Once again, at the beginning of verse 4 the phrase “reckless demented traitors” is translated from an adjective, a verb and a noun, in that order in our English rendering. The King James Version has the words to read “traitors, heady, highminded”.

Only some of the items in Paul’s list are explicit violations of the commandments of Yahweh. However the balance represent wicked attitudes that are not befitting of Christians. In essence, while narcissism is a form of idolatry, the adoption of many of these other attitudes can easily lead one into other sins. For instance, lovers of pleasure can easily fall into drunkenness or sexual immorality, while those who are untamed, or savage, may indiscriminately harm their own brethren.

However, it is not necessary that Paul is warning us of men who may at times exhibit one, or even a couple, of these attitudes. We can all be one of these things or another at any given time, as we are all susceptible to sin. Rather, Paul seems to be warning us of men who, falling into sin and departing from Christ, exhibit many or all of these attitudes. But the man who is a narcissist, or who exhibits signs of covetousness, we must be wary of, since he is susceptible to displaying any one of these other traits in order to fulfill his own unrighteous desires. [He may even stab you in the back and burn your boats.]

Paul continues in reference to such people, who are ostensibly Christians fallen into sin, as he continues to describe them [as]:

5 Having a form of piety but denying the value of it. And these you must turn away from.

The Greek word δύναμις (Strong’s # 1411) is usually power, but here it is value. As an example, Liddell & Scott define the word in this context in relation to money (δύναμις III., 2.). These people that Paul warns will fall away from the faith in the future have the image of God, and the law written in their hearts, and they have evidently heard the Gospel of Christ. So they possess the form of piety, but refusing to conform themselves to Christ, in essence they deny the value of the Gospel as a calling to repent of sins and return to Yahweh their God. They deny the value of the Gospel by refusing to turn away from their sins and adapting the Word of God as the leading light in their lives.

So Christians must turn away from narcissists, or from the covetous, or from anyone who displays any of these traits consistently. If they are prayed for, we can only pray not that they are granted mercy, but that they repent so that they may be granted mercy. Otherwise, there is no mercy for narcissists or for the covetous. But before Paul got to this point, back at the end of chapter 2 of this epistle, he was comparing servants of Christ to those who went off to teach error. Paul had made an allegory concerning vessels of gold and silver, and wood and clay, and prescribed that men must separate themselves from the vessels of dishonor. Paul had first warned Timothy that “profane babblers you must avoid, for they further advance impiety.” Then he admonished Timothy and said: “22 Now flee those youthful desires, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those calling upon the Prince from a clean heart. 23 And you must decline foolish and ignorant inquiries, knowing that they produce fights. 24 Now a bondman of the Prince does not need to fight, but to be gentle towards all, inclined to teach, enduring evil, 25 in meekness correcting those who are in opposition; perhaps Yahweh would give to them repentance for acknowledgment of the truth, 26 and they return to sobriety from the trap of the False Accuser, being captivated by him for that of his will.”

So here he is still speaking in reference to those same false teachers, or profane babblers, of which he was warning Timothy throughout the previous chapter, that it is they who would fall into these errors and embrace these ungodly affections. Then while he allows them room for repentance, of these same false teachers he now says:

6 From among them are they who get into the houses of and captivate simple women laden with wrongdoing, being led away with various lusts.

It is these narcissistic and covetous men who exploit the weak among us in order to magnify themselves. Here the Codex Alexandrinus (A) has the end of verse 6 to read “… being led away with lusts and various pleasures.” Where Paul says “from among them”, we see that not all such men do these things, but they who do them began by adopting these characteristics, whereby they are led to do such things. The fact that Paul is indeed writing this in reference to false teachers and deceivers will become apparent again in the verses which follow.

In Matthew chapter 23, Christ warned His adversaries and said “14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.” He warned similarly in Mark chapter 12 and Luke chapter 20, which we shall quote here: “46 Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; 47 Which devour widows' houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.”

The love for long robes, greetings in public places and best seats at public events are all the result of narcissism. So we can see that men in love with themselves can seek these positions, and then use them to deceive the most susceptible among us, for the purpose of exalting themselves even further. One of their easiest victims are impressionable women who turn to those whom they perceive to be authorities, being burdened by their own sins, and these narcissistic and lustful men captivate and defraud them with their lies. This has been a standard method of operation among the purveyors of religion for many centuries, religion here referring to the dissemination of secrets and not the wisdom and knowledge of God. Many denominational churches and television pastors perpetuate the practice to this very day. As Paul had warned in 1 Timothy chapter 6: “10 For the love of money is a root of all evil, of which some striving for have been led astray from the faith and have pierced themselves with many sufferings.”

Now in verse 7 Paul describes such men as:

7 Always learning yet never able to come to knowledge of the truth.

Even if they could know the truth, they cannot come to the knowledge of it, which I would interpret to mean that even when they are confronted with it, they cannot accept it and put it into practice because they are blinded by their sins. A narcissist, or a man who loves himself, cannot dedicate himself to sacrifice on behalf of his people, which is the example that Christ made for us where he exhorted His followers that “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” How could a self-absorbed man deny himself? Or a man who is covetous? No narcissist or covetous man could ever properly be a follower of Christ.

There is a passage which is similar to these statements made here by Paul, which is found in 1 Enoch chapter 79, or in Charles’ edition, this is found in chapter 80: “3 In the days of sinners the years shall be shortened…. 8 The thoughts of those who dwell on earth shall transgress within them; and they shall be perverted in all their ways. 9 They shall transgress, and think themselves gods; while evil shall be multiplied among them. 10 And punishment shall come upon them, so that all of them shall be destroyed.”

In spite of the fact that Scripture informs us that the children of Yahweh are gods in both the old and new testaments, in the words of Christ in John 10:32 and in the Psalms of Asaph in Psalm 82:6, that does not mean that they should think of themselves as gods. The psalm is actually a warning, because the children of Yahweh had accepted the persons of the wicked, and it says “6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. 7 But ye shall die like men…” When we begin to think of ourselves as gods, we are not humbling ourselves to our God. Abraham pleased Yahweh where he said “Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes”, in Genesis chapter 18 (18:27).

Paul now makes a rather obscure remark:

8 But in that manner which Iannes and Iambres had stood against Moses, so also these stand up against the truth, men corrupted in mind, rejected as false in respect of the faith.

Evidently, Jannes and Jambres were able to do magnificent things through magic. Perhaps it was their own imaginations which allowed them even to conjure up serpents, as we see similar claims in the occult teachings of Neville Goddard, Napoleon Hill and the Jewish Kabbalah. The deservedly apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, in chapter 5, tells us more of these men, where it says “For assuredly Moses, being sent by God into Egypt, did many miracles, which the Lord commanded him to do before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And there were there Jannes and Jambres, servants of Pharaoh, and they also did not a few of the miracles which Moses did; and the Egyptians took them to be gods – this Jannes and this Jambres. But, since the miracles which they did were not of God, both they and those who believed in them were destroyed.” While this certainly seems to reflect the tradition concerning these men, for several reasons that I will not elaborate upon here I must consider the Gospel of Nicodemus to be spurious.

The names Iannes and Iambres are more often spelled Jannes and Jambres. Some Latin manuscripts as well as the 9th century Codices Augiensis and Boernerianus have Mambres, rather than Jambres. These are traditionally the names of the Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses before Pharaoh, where we read in Exodus chapter 7: “8 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 9 When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent. 10 And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. 12 For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods. 13 And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.” That is the account but the specific names of the magicians are not found in the Old Testament.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, which for reasons we have explained elsewhere must generally date to between 65 BC and 65 AD, mention Jannes several times. In the Damascus Document designated CD-A, column V, we read “For in ancient times there arose Moses and Aaron, by the hand of the prince of lights, and Belial, with his cunning, raised up Jannes and his brother during the first deliverance of Israel.” Identical statements are found in the corresponding scroll fragments known as 4Q266 and 4Q267, which are apparently copies of the so-called Damascus Document. So Jannes is mentioned, and “his brother”, but Jambres, or Mambres, is not named specifically.

Supposedly, there are certain fragments of the Chester Beatty Papyri, a collection which includes some of the oldest extant papyri fragments of the New Testament, which contains fragments of what is called The Book of Jannes and Jambres. Some claim that is what Paul referred to here, however we do not see this passage as proof of that. The 4th century church historian Eusebius also mentions that writing. The pseudepigraphal Testament of Solomon, a work of which the antiquity cannot be established except to say that it dates to the early first millennium AD, also mentions the magicians by name. There a certain demon is credited with saying that “I am the one whom Jannes and Jambres, those who opposed Moses in Egypt, called to their aid.” (Testament of Solomon, 25:4.) The book is full of Jewish fables concerning demons and magic. But that does not discredit the historicity of Paul’s statement here.

In Pliny’s Natural History, Book 30 (30.2.11) we read: “There is another sect, also, of adepts in the magic art, who derive their origin from Moses, Jannes, and Lotapea, Jews [or Judaeans, as Pliny considered them] by birth, but many thousand years posterior to [or further back than] Zoroaster: and as much more recent, again, is the branch of magic cultivated in Cyprus.” Additionally, several early Christian writers mention Jannes and Jambres, or Mambres, in various contexts. The 3rd century Christian writer Origen mentions Jannes and Jambres in relation to Moses in his work Against Celsus, and the 4th century Apostolic Constitutions compare them to the Annas and Caiaphas of the Gospels.

After comparing the narcissists and covetous men who depart from the true Faith to the magicians of Egypt, Paul warns:

9 But they shall not advance further, for their lack of understanding will be quite plain to all, even as those others’ was.

These men who Paul says shall go astray in the future will be upset in their false teachings even as Moses had overcome Jannes and Jambres, whom Paul erfers to as “those others” here, and in the end their magic failed them. Right now, at this point in our own lives, we have men who were formerly friends and fellow workers, and who have taken up these very things. Like Jannes and Jambres, they want to create things of their own power, from their own minds, from their own imaginations. So they are engrossed in themselves, imagining for themselves to be gods and looking for the “secret” so that they can materialize wealth and abundant material possessions for themselves, and like the Medieval alchemists who also followed the mysticism of the Jews, they too are deceiving themselves.

There is no mercy for narcissists. There is no mercy for the covetous. But there is indeed mercy for the repentant, and we pray that our own brethren, to whom I have been alluding throughout this presentation and who are presently caught up in these same things, do indeed find it in their hearts to repent.

Now Paul commends Timothy for not following this path:

10 But you have followed me closely in the doctrine, in the training, in the purpose, in the faith, in the forbearance, in the love [A wants “in the love”], in the patience, 11 in the persecutions, in the sufferings, things which happened to me in Antiocheia, in Ikonion, in Lustra, what persecutions I had endured, and from all the Prince has delivered me.

We only know that Paul had at one time disputed with the Judaizers in Antioch, as it is recorded in Acts chapter 15, and that he later confronted the apostles in Antioch, when they were persuaded by the Judaizers, which is recorded in Galatians chapter 2, and probably refers to Paul’s visit there which is mentioned in Acts 18:22. In Acts chapter 14, it is recorded that Paul was persecuted in Iconium, and fled from there to Lystra and Derbe, where the Jews had also pursued him, and even managed to stone him, leaving him for dead.

Recently, our fallen brethren have been teaching something called the “Law of Attraction”, which we have already mentioned in passing this evening. To put it in simple terms, this wicked precept from the Kabbalah is basically a belief that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life. We wonder how they would explain what happened to Paul of Tarsus, who by his own profession endeavored to “bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”.

Now, Paul was preaching the Gospel of Yahshua Christ, which is the good news to the scattered people of the children of Israel. Preaching good news, from Paul’s perspective he was spreading a positive message, thinking positive thoughts. So here we must ask, was it the so-called “Law of Attraction” which was at work when Paul was stoned and left for dead? Was it the “Law of Attraction” at work during all of the other trials of the apostles? The truth is, that the “Law of Attraction” is simply not for Christians.

This idea is not a Christian idea. This “Law of Attraction” might work for devils and sinners, but Christians should not even seek to put it into practice, since what defines “positive” and “negative” thoughts is relative to the individual and to the degree of that individual’s commitment to keep the commandments of Christ. So Peter says in chapter 4 of his first epistle, speaking of men engaged in these same sins, that “… they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you”. Wanting to do good, the sinful world sees the Christian in a negative light.

For that same reason, here Paul now makes a similar assertion:

12 And yet all those wishing a pious life in Christ Yahshua will be persecuted.

This is the real Law of Attraction: that all those who seek to walk with Yahweh are not enriched, but rather, they are very likely going to be persecuted. But walking with Christ, we attract the mercy of God, and walking with sinners, we attract the judgement of God.

The pious life is the most difficult to walk, especially in times of the rule of tyrannical empires. So in the first to the fourth centuries Rome persecuted Christians. According to early Christian apologists such as Tertullian and Minucius Felix, that persecution was mostly at the instigation of the Jews. But ostensibly, Rome persecuted Christians because true Christian principles were averse to the foundation and function of the empire, so the Jews exploited that fact to instigate the persecutions. Then, once Rome accepted a Christianity which was conformed to its own liking, during the years of Roman Catholic Church primacy Christians were generally not persecuted because they were forced to conform to the Church, and the Church dictated to them what it was that Christ represented. Catholic traditionalism, however, represents the tradition of the empire and not the tradition of Christ. The results remain with us to this day. However now, and since the Reformation, true Christians, or at least, those who read the Scriptures and attempt to conform themselves to Christ, are persecuted once again – and just as often, it is at the instigation of the Jews. Such is the state which we live in today.

Paul continues to discuss the narcissistic and covetous men who follow the path of the Egyptian magicians:

13 And evil men and enchanters will advance for the worse, deceiving and being deceived themselves.

Our former friends may be sincere in their teachings, and even believe that the Scriptures support them. But an honest examination of Scripture certainly does not support them. They are blinded by their own lusts. All of those who think that they are gods, who think that they can righteously enrich themselves or create their own circumstances with their own imaginations, are deceived and deceiving themselves as much as they are deceiving others. Like Jannes and Jambres, they are snake charmers, and not Christians.

Now Paul commends Timothy once again, ostensibly in order to encourage him:

14 But you continue in those things you have learned and have been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned.

Paul had already said “you have followed me closely in the doctrine…”, so of course Timothy knows from whom he had learned. But perhaps Paul is really giving us another warning, which serves to remind Timothy of where Paul himself received his instruction. So this serves as a warning that sometimes our teachers are not teaching what we think. The so-called “Law of Attraction” which our friends have adopted comes from the Kabbalah, but originated in the neo-Platonism and Gnosticism of Egypt. Neville Goddard was not a ground-breaking Christian. Rather, he repackaged the already repackaged Kabbalistic teachings of a Jew named Abdullah. Napoleon Hill was not a sincere Christian, rather he only modified what he learned from Goddard and these others before him. But ultimately, the teachings come from Satan, and not from Yahweh. Anyone teaching such things is indeed a snake charmer, no better than the Egyptians before them, among which were Jannes and Jambres.

Continuing to exhort and encourage Timothy, Paul says:

15 And because from infancy you know the divine writings, which enable you to pursue wisdom unto preservation through faith of that which is in Christ Yahshua.

In Acts chapter 16, where Paul first encounters Timothy in Anatolia, we learn that while his father was a Greek, his mother was a Judaean. Then in the first chapter of this epistle, we learn that Timothy’s mother and grandmother, Eunice and Lois, were both known to Paul to be very pious Hebrew women. So Paul recounts here that Timothy, although his father was a Greek, was raised with an intimate knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures. Through those Scriptures one is able to pursue true knowledge and wisdom, which enables one to find preservation not through any so-called faith or belief, not through anything which men can conjure up for themselves, but through the “faith of that which is in Christ Yahshua”, which must be a reference to the faith of His purpose as it is illustrated in the law, the prophets, and the Gospel.

Paul concludes:

16 All writing inspired of God is also beneficial for teaching, for evidence, for correction, for education which is in righteousness, 17 that the man of Yahweh would be perfect, having prepared himself for all good works.

All writing inspired of God are those Scriptures which withstand the test of prophecy. The test of prophecy is found in Isaiah chapter 41: " 22 Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. 23 Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together."

As Paul had said here that “all those wishing a pious life in Christ Yahshua will be persecuted”, concerning that same persecution he tells Timothy in chapter 1 of his first epistle: “13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

This is how we are perfected, by conforming ourselves to Christ, who is the Word, or the Writing, made Flesh, as Paul also said in Romans chapter 8: “29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Only when we are glorified are we perfected, just as it was said of Christ, that He was perfected after He was glorified. This Paul demonstrates in Hebrews chapter 5 where he wrote in reference to Christ “9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him…” Only then can we hope to see the fulfillment of the promise that “the disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.”

As we conform ourselves to Christ, we are perfected through sufferings, as Peter says in chapter 5 of his first epistle: “8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” We are not perfected by any attempt to harness the powers of our minds to conform God’s Creation to ourselves, or to appropriate the powers of God’s Creation for ourselves. Jannes and Jambres tried that, and if their error was not relative to the sins of narcissists and the covetous, the false teachers whom Paul describes here, then Paul would not have mentioned them in here that context.

There is no mercy for narcissists. All snake charmers, and snake-oil salesmen, must be urged to repent.

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