Dr. Couch, you have convinced me! You show that there are two types of apostasy in the final days before the rapture of the church. Would you further explain?
ANSWER: I am still studying this through but it seems that (1) there is the apostasy ("standing away from") the truth by the church, and (2) a growing departure of the world deeper and deeper into gross and subtle immorality. For example 2 Timothy 4:1-5 describes an apostasy of the church, and 3:1-9 describes the men of the world sinking deeper into evil. This seems to be substantiated in 3:13 where Paul writes: "But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived."
2 Timothy 3:1-5 is describing what is happening now in our culture. The fastest growing philosophical and "religion" segment in our nation is atheism. And the number of young college students holding on to some form of faith is shrinking rapidly. At the present rate, in the future only about 4 percent of college graduates will claim to be believers in God by the time they leave school.
Watching TV or TV commercials makes one think of 2 Timothy 3:1-5. I warned our congregation to pay careful attention to TV this fall. The secularists hate anything conservative or that represents Evangelicals. And sure enough, they are pushing the immoral envelop to the max! You can see it in the faces of many of the personalities on TV. They are "haters of the good" (v. 3). This implies that they actually know the good, but they just "hate it" with a passion. They know what they are doing but their hatred boils up and spills over in their emotions! They cannot tolerate what is good!
On the expression "to hate the good," Paul created a new word made from three different words: no-love-good. Or, "no love for the good." In 3:3 the apostle created another word, unloving. The root is storge which means "love of kindred." Paul then adds a negative: "without love of one's relatives." Or, "those who do not relate to family."
The word revilers in verse 2 refers to covenant breakers, or those who are unable to mutually agree on what is right. Conceited (v. 4) comes from the word tophoo and is a Perfect Passive Participle. The word means "to raise a cloud, put up a smoke screen." Or, "to be puffed up with pride, render insolent." With the Perfect Passive: "They are those who have, through a process of time, arrived at a state of haughtiness or pride." Or, they are "blinded with stupidity and foolishness."
Lovers of pleasure (v. 4) is one word (with two words put together) and it can be translated "lovers of the present, the now." The present is the word hadone from which we get the word hedonism. They live only for the now. They pay no attention to the future. They are hedonistic!
All of the above words, and the others in these verses, describe our present day. Again, while people have always to some degree been like this, the apostle is specifically describing a future time where this will become worse. This future day will be characterized just this way! "Realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be …" (v. 1). In my opinion we are moving into the apostasy!
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch