Saturday, August 4, 2012

Jude pt. IX: Paul's Description of Apostates in 2 Timothy 3:3

Without natural affection--meaning unloving, without natural love. It is used especially of the natural affection parents have for their children and children have for their parents.(1) The Greek word for "trucebreakers" like many of the other adjectives in this list contains the negative participle "a" signifying there is an absence of a certain quality or trait. In this case, trucebreakers speaks of the absence of devotion. The opposite of this word is transliterated as "spendo". Thayer's Greek Definitions gives three defines this word as: 1) to pour out as a drink offering, make a libation
2) in the NT to be offered as a libation
3) fig. used of one whose blood is poured out in a violent death for the cause of God.(2)

It is used in the NT in such verses as Philippians 2:17, and 2 Timothy 4:6. In both these passages Paul is writing of how ready he is to die for his faith. This is the meaning of the antonym for the word "trucebreakers". The fact that this word is linked with the opposite of having a willingness to die for your faith is very interesting. By having a willingness to pour his life out as an offering, Paul display the characteristics of a trucebreaker. But anyone who does not have this selfless attitude could be looked at as being a trucebreaker. These people who possess this trait cannot be persuaded to enter into a covenant. Although they may profess to be a believer in Christ, they refuse to enter into a living relationship with Him. 

After trucebreakers, comes the description false accusers. The Greek for this is the same as "slanderers" in 1 Timothy 3:11, and "devil" in John 6:70. The reference in 1 Timothy is used by Paul in giving instruction to Timothy on the conduct of the wives of church elders and deacons. In John 6:70 the Lord tells His disciples that He had chosen the twelve men and yet one of them was a devil, or false accuser. We know that Christ was referring to Judas Iscariot, and that when Iscariot sold Christ out to the Pharisees for thirty pieces of silver, he was in effect aligning himself with those false accusers, the Pharisees. 

They are also incontinent--that is, lacking self-control. As I pointed out in the previous paragraph, many of the Greek words for the adjectives Paul uses in this list have the "a" prefix giving the connotation that there is a quality missing. We can gain much information then by finding out what the word minus the "a" prefix means and how it is used throughout scripture. In the case of the description "incontinent", the Greek word is akrat─ôs. It literally means powerless, or without self-control. It is found only here in 2 Timothy 3:3, but the antonym--kratos (G2904) is found in several passages such as Ephesians 1:19, Colossians 1:11, 1 Timothy 6:16, 1 Peter 5:11, Jude 1:25 and Revelation 5:13, et al. All these verses speak of the mighty power of Christ. W.E. Vine defines this characteristic as "morally impotent."(3) 

The word for fierce, the next term on the list, is not found anywhere else in scripture. It does however, have the negative participle for a prefix like many of the others, which can clue us in as to what the antonym is. The opposite for fierce that is used in scripture is meek, or gentle. Many passages in the New Testament have an author of an epistle exhorting his audience to practice gentleness and meekness towards all people and that the servant of God is not to be a brawler or striker(1 Tim. 3:3), or display any kind of ferociousness to anyone. 

Rounding out the list of terms that contain the negative participle prefix "a", is the description that is translated into the KJV as "...despisers of those that are good." The Greek for this phrase is transliterated "af-il-ag'-ath-os" which literally means "hostile to virtue" or "opposed to goodness and good men." The opposite of this word is found in Titus 1:8:"But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;"(emphasis mine). Such a one who is a "lover of good men" stands in direct contrast to one who despises those that are good. They are completely despondent of any internal reality toward a relationship with the risen Saviour. Yet, they maintain a certain form of godliness, or piety as we will see in a future post.

1.W.E. Vine Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words 1996 Nashville, TN                                    
2.Thayer's Greek Definitions
3. Ibid

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