So, you’re probably wondering who Jannes and Jambres are. They are not mentioned by name anywhere in the Bible, but tradition has it that they are the sorcerers and the magicians that opposed Moses in Exodus 7:10-12. That has to be Paul’s understanding so we are going to go with that as well. I’m guessing that as many of you read the beginning of these verses, you are thinking: We are in the last days. You would be correct. Every day brings us closer to the last days, but that does not give us any more insight as to exactly when those last days might be. We are closer, but not there just yet. If you look at the long list of attributes that mark people in the last days we have to see some signs of similarity.
Paul moves from depicting the godlessness in the last days, days which we are experiencing and people that we are experiencing, to setting Timothy up with an encouraging word for the days to come. It seems like starting in vs.10 Paul gives a foil to oppose the people that he spoke about in the earlier verse, you know, the godless ones. He lifts up his attributes and speaks about the times that he was persecuted, almost to the point of death. If you had time and wanted to track his persecutions you can find them here: Antioch – Acts 14:19 and surrounding Scriptures, Iconium – again in Acts 14, and finally Lystra – okay, so chapter 14 of Acts seems to be the chapter which most clearly lays out the persecution of Paul at the hands of others. He backs up his own persecutions with the statement: Anyone who wants to live a godly life will be persecuted. It isn’t something we hear when we join the church. So glad you are going to be a part of the family, here is your packet, and a pack of band-aids for when you are beaten and persecuted for you faith. It simply does not happen any longer. It makes we wonder if we ought to be living in such a way that we are more on the edge than we currently are.
Finally, vs.16 is a Scripture from which I arrive at my understanding of the authority of Scripture. I believe that the Bible contains inerrant truths that reflect the nature and grace of God. The Bible is an authority unlike any other authority we have in life. The church is a form of authority, but the tradition of the church does not hold the same weight as the authority of Scripture. Over time people have interpreted the Bible in such a way that we say it is normative and it is our understanding of how the Bible ought to be read. We can’t read a passage from Scripture and just think that we can come up with our own, unorthodox translation without some backing from other Scripture and some church tradition as well. The vast majority of the cultural wars in the churches that we are experiencing revolves around the interpretation, and ultimately, the authority of Scripture.
Some people see their experience as a viable authority that can at times trump the Scripture. So if my experience tells me that love is the most important thing and that it is okay to live a certain way, even if Scripture says no, then my experience will win out. That is not my approach. If my experience contradicts what Scripture says, then I’m going to have to say that what I’m experiencing is not reflective of the will of God. It is such an important topic because Christians use all sorts of different parameters to distinguish what is the most important and why. That is my approach.