The Time of Difficulty Is Now (2 Timothy 3:1–9)
The fourth and final chapter of 2 Timothy consists mainly of Paul’s charge to Timothy, Paul’s reflections on his life, and specific instructions and greetings. There is no doubt that some of this material could apply indirectly to work. However, we will examine just one more paragraph in the letter—2 Timothy 3:1–9.
The first verse gives the main point of the paragraph. “In the last days distressing times will come” (2 Tim. 3:1). What the description that follows makes clear, however, is that Timothy is living in these last days already (cf. 2 Tim. 3:2, 5). That the “last days” are already upon all of us is the clear and consistent witness of the New Testament (see Acts 2:17; Heb. 1:2; James 5:3; 2 Pet. 3:3). Christians need to be prepared for the hardship and suffering associated with these last days. Paul later warns, “Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12).
This is a sobering reminder to those Christians who work in environments that may be difficult but are far less threatening than the social realities of the first century or of many places in the world today. As Christians, we should expect mistreatment at work, injustice, prejudice, opposition, and mockery. If we experience few of these things, we have cause for rejoicing, but we should not allow our present benevolent working conditions to lull us to sleep. The days may be coming when being faithful to Christ at work results in more than strange looks and jokes behind our backs. Indeed, workers at any time might find themselves pressured to act unethically or contrary to God’s word. At that time it will be seen more clearly whether we have more than a mere “outward form of godliness” (2 Tim. 3:5). If we do, we know that God will stand by us and give us strength (2 Tim. 4:17).