Lesson 132: 2 Timothy 3–4

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

Paul wrote to Timothy and explained that apostasy and wickedness would be prevalent in their day as well as in the last days. He instructed Timothy to remain faithful to the truths he had already learned. Paul taught about the purposes of scriptures. Paul ended his letter by encouraging Timothy to diligently fulfill his ministry.

Suggestions for Teaching

2 Timothy 3

Paul describes the perilous times of the last days

Before class begins, ask the first two or three students who arrive to each draw a picture on the board of a dangerous or risky situation. After class begins, ask the class the following question:

  • What words would you use to describe the situations drawn on the board?

Explain that as part of his Second Epistle to Timothy, Paul prophesied of conditions in his day and ours. Invite a student to read 2 Timothy 3:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Paul described the times we live in.

  • How did Paul describe the times we live in? (If needed, explain that the word perilous means full of danger or risk.)

  • What are some of the moral or spiritual perils or dangers you have seen in our day?

handout iconDivide students into pairs. Provide each pair with a copy of the following chart. Invite each pair to read 2 Timothy 3:2–7 and answer the questions on the chart. Instruct them to use the footnotes to help with difficult words.

2 Timothy 3:2–7

What are some examples of the latter-day conditions Paul described?

Which of these conditions have you seen in our day? (Identify two or three of them.) Why are these conditions so dangerous?

  

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After sufficient time, invite students to report to the class what they discussed, including why these conditions are so dangerous.

Ask students to ponder if they ever worry that they might be affected by some of the dangers Paul mentioned in the verses they studied.

  • According to the end of 2 Timothy 3:5, what did Paul encourage Timothy to do that can also help us in our day? (We should turn away from wickedness.)

Summarize 2 Timothy 3:8–11 by explaining that Paul told Timothy that those who resist the truth will have their foolishness made known. He also wrote of the many perils and persecutions he had endured because of his efforts to live the gospel.

Invite a student to read 2 Timothy 3:12–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul prophesied would happen to those who live the gospel.

  • What did Paul prophesy would happen to those who live the gospel?

Explain that despite the seriousness of these disturbing conditions, we can find help and protection. Invite a student to read 2 Timothy 3:14–15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul taught could help us turn away from these perils.

  • What did Paul teach about resisting the perils he described?

  • What do you think it means in verse 14 to “continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of”?

To help students understand what this phrase means, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won. … When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes” (“Lord, I Believe,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 93–94).

Point out the phrase “knowing of whom thou hast learned them” in verse 14. Explain that we can learn and receive assurance of truth from trusted sources such as prophets, leaders, teachers, parents, and the Holy Ghost.

  • What principle can we learn from verses 14–15 about how to overcome the spiritual perils of the last days? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we continue in the truths we have learned from trusted sources and in the scriptures, we can overcome the spiritual peril of the last days.)

  • How can relying on the scriptures and on the truths we have learned help us overcome the perils of our day?

  • When have you chosen to rely on truths you have learned? How were you blessed for doing so? (You could first have students answer these questions in their scripture study journals or class notebooks and then invite a few students to share what they wrote.)

Invite a student to read 2 Timothy 3:16–17 aloud, and ask the class to look for what Paul taught about the scriptures. You may want to suggest that students mark what they find.

  • What did Paul teach about studying the scriptures that can help us in our day? (Help the class identify the following principle: As we study the scriptures, we can learn doctrine and receive correction and instruction that will help us grow toward perfection. Write this principle on the board.)

Circle the words doctrine, correction, and instruction in the statement you have written on the board. Ask students to think of a time when the scriptures helped them in one of the following ways: (1) to understand a doctrine of the gospel; (2) by offering reproof or correction concerning something in their thinking, choices, or behavior that was not right; or (3) by providing an answer to a prayer or giving instruction on how they might solve a problem. Give students time to think of experiences, and then invite a few students to share what they thought of with the class. (Remind students not to share anything that is too personal or private, including past sins.)

  • Given what we have learned about the value of the scriptures, why do you think we are encouraged to study them daily?

Provide students with a copy of the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Invite a student to read it aloud, and ask the class to look for Elder Scott’s counsel and promise with regard to studying the scriptures.

Elder Richard G. Scott

“Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!

“… As you dedicate time every day, personally and with your family, to the study of God’s word, peace will prevail in your life” (“Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 93).

Testify of the safety and peace that come to those who continue in the truths found in the scriptures. Invite students to consider how they feel they could apply these principles in their lives. Encourage students to set a goal based on the promptings they feel.

2 Timothy 4

Paul declares that he has fought a good fight and charges Timothy to continue preaching

Ask students to raise their hands if they have ever felt like giving up at a task that was difficult.

  • What experiences have you had when you persevered even though you wanted to give up?

Explain that 2 Timothy is likely the last letter Paul wrote before his death. Invite half of the class to read 2 Timothy 4:1–5 silently, looking for Paul’s counsel to Timothy. Invite the other half to read the same passage, looking for Paul’s prophecy about the future of the ancient Christian Church. Encourage students to use the footnotes to help them understand what they read. After they have read, invite students from each group to report what they found.

Explain that verses 3–4 record Paul’s description of the apostasy that was beginning to happen in the Church. Behaviors like those Paul described led to the Great Apostasy, which made a restoration of the gospel necessary.

  • Why do you think Paul encouraged Timothy to continue preaching and ministering to the people even though he knew that many would turn away from the truth?

Invite a student to read 2 Timothy 4:6–8 aloud, and ask the class to look for what Paul wrote about his own efforts to spread the gospel.

  • What did Paul say about his efforts as a missionary? (Point out that Paul’s metaphors of fighting a good fight and finishing the course describe how he faithfully completed his mission.)

  • According to verse 8, what did Paul know awaited him after death?

  • What principle can we learn from these verses about our efforts to remain faithful in doing what the Lord requires of us? (Students should identify the following: If we remain faithful in all the Lord requires of us, we will receive a crown of righteousness. Write this principle on the board.)

Explain that receiving a “crown of righteousness” includes becoming like Heavenly Father. Invite students to list on the board some of the requirements the Lord has given to the youth of the Church to help them become more like their Father in Heaven.

  • Why might youth choose to give up being faithful to some of these requirements?

  • Whom do you know who, like Paul, is a good example of remaining faithful even when it is difficult? What have they done that exemplifies this principle?

Summarize 2 Timothy 4:9–22 by explaining that Paul concluded his letter by explaining that even though he had felt lonely at times in his work, the Lord was with him and strengthened him.

Encourage students to remain faithful in doing what the Lord requires of them.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery—2 Timothy 3:15–17

Ask students to fold a paper into thirds, creating three columns. Have them unfold the paper and write Doctrine at the top of the first column, Reproof and correction at the top of the second column, and Instruction in righteousness at the top of the third column.

Invite students to use this paper as a bookmark in their scriptures for one week, writing in the appropriate section each time they read a scripture that fulfills one of these purposes. For example, under the heading Doctrine, students could write scripture references and the doctrines or principles they learn from the verses. Under the heading Reproof and correction, students could write scripture references and how the passages correct false ideas or their own choices and behaviors. And under Instruction in righteousness, students could record passages that give them insight into what good works they can do.

Encourage students to bring their papers to class in one week to report their experiences. You may want to place a reminder in your scriptures or manual to have a short discussion in one week to review this scripture mastery passage.

Commentary and Background Information

2 Timothy 3:1–7. “In the last days perilous times shall come”

President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that the perils prophesied of in 2 Timothy 3:1–7 are current conditions that exist in the world today:

“These verses serve as a warning, showing which patterns to avoid. We must be ever watchful and diligent. We can review each of these prophecies and put a checkmark by them as being present and of concern in the world today:

Perilous times—present. We live in very precarious times.

Covetous, boasters, proud—all are present and among us.

Blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection—all of these are well accounted for.

Trucebreakers, false accusers, and so on—all can be checked off against the prevailing evidence that exists all around us” (“The Key to Spiritual Protection,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 26).

In this talk, President Packer then continued to testify that the scriptures are the key to protecting ourselves in the perilous times of the last days.

2 Timothy 3:14. “Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of”

Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy said:

“Today the struggle continues. Secular voices are growing in volume and intensity. They increasingly urge believers to abandon beliefs the world considers irrational and unreasonable. … At times we may feel vulnerable and in need of greater spiritual assurances. The Lord told Oliver Cowdery:

“‘If you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.

“‘Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?’ (D&C 6:22–23).

“The Lord reminded Oliver and us to rely on sacred personal witnesses already received when our faith is challenged. … These divine encounters serve as spiritual anchors to keep us safe and on course in times of trial” (“To Hold Sacred,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2012, 110–11).

2 Timothy 4:7–8. “I have finished my course”

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave hope to all of us who stumble during our race here in mortality:

“In life, we are not brought to earth just to be born into mortality. We came with a mission and a purpose, and that is to endure to the end. …

“If you have taken missteps in your youth, don’t let discouragement overcome you. The Lord’s judgments are not spiritual grade-point averages—with past sins and mistakes averaged into the final grade. He has promised that ‘he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more’ (D&C 58:42).

“So, if you are not where you want to be, decide today to get there.

“Our lifetime degree will be graded on how well we live up to the covenants made in our saving ordinances—baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, washings, anointings, endowments, and sealings.

“You can cross the finish line with everyone else.

“‘Go forward and not backward. Courage, … and on, on to the victory!’ (D&C 128:22)” (“Ten Axioms to Guide Your Life,” Ensign, Feb. 2007, 29).

Supplemental Teaching Ideas

2 Timothy 4. “I have finished my course”

After inviting students to think of a time when they may have wanted to give up, ask a student to read aloud the following account told by Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of an athlete who may have felt like giving up.

“John Stephen Akhwari, a marathon runner from Tanzania, competed in the 1968 Summer Olympics. [During the race,] even though he suffered along the way from fatigue, leg cramps, dehydration, and disorientation, a voice called from within to go on, and so he went on. Exhausted and staggering, John Stephen was the last man to enter the stadium. When asked why he would complete a race he could never win, Akhwari replied, ‘My country did not send me 7,000 miles [11,200 km] to start the race; they sent me 7,000 miles to finish the race’” (“Ten Axioms to Guide Your Life,” Ensign, Feb. 2007, 29).

video icon2 Timothy 4:6–8. Video presentation—“Paul: A Chosen Vessel”

After you inform students that 2 Timothy was likely Paul’s last letter before his death, you may want to show a portion of “Paul: A Chosen Vessel” (11:24) as a review of Paul’s life. This video can be found on New Testament DVD Presentations 1–25 and on LDS.org. It recounts major events of Paul’s life from his childhood to his conversion and eventually to his final trials, imprisonment, and death. A portion of this video was suggested as a supplemental teaching idea in lesson 97 (Acts 23–26). If you showed the suggested portion during that lesson, consider showing the remaining portions here (time codes 0:00–3:47 and 8:32–11:24).

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video icon2 Timothy 4:7. Video presentation—“I Have Kept the Faith”

You may want to show students the video “I Have Kept the Faith” (1:48) from The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos. This video can be found on LDS.org. It shows the final moments of Paul’s life and recounts his testimony and declaration of his conviction.

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