Who Were These Men Mentioned in 2nd Timothy, Chapter Three?
Over the past several months I have found myself gravitating to a familiar passage of scripture found in 2nd Timothy, chapter three. When a friend mentioned it again last night, I read it once more, as I have so many other times. This time, however, several new things jumped out at me.
Let’s look at it together:
1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone. (2 Timothy 3:1-9)
I may come back to the first seven verses in another post, but I want to do a deep dive into verses 8 and 9.
Who Were Jannes and Jambres?
I couldn’t help but wonder as I read verse 8: Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.
Who were these men who opposed Moses? Is there more to their story? Why do they hold last days significance?
I scoured several Bible commentaries and all of them agreed that the only time these two men are mentioned in scriptures is in the book of Timothy.
However, they are definitely mentioned in other Jewish historical writings.
Jewish tradition says that Jannes and Jambres were the two chief magicians who withstood Moses and Aaron in Exodus 7. “Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs” (verses 10-12). Later, these same sorcerers duplicated the changing of water into blood (Exodus 7:22) and the production of frogs (8:7). However, the sorcerers were powerless to duplicate the other plagues (8:19).
The site goes on to explain that Jannes and Jambres also appear in the Talmud, where their story offers other details. According to these writings, Jannes and Jambres were instrumental in encouraging the Israelites to worship the golden calf.
Clearly, these were not good dudes. They had a role to play in deluding the people and trying to bluff them. And they were good at what they did, (in a twisted way, of course).
The second half of verse eight makes it clear how God felt about them: They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.
We also see that their powers only went so far. There were some rabbits they couldn’t pull out of their proverbial hats.
So, Why Does Paul Mention Them When Talking about Last Days?
I pondered this at length, but finally reasoned it out.
We are living in a time when the enemy does all he can to bluff us. Biblical truths are ridiculed by our upside-down society. The things we know to be sin are often celebrated. It’s getting harder and harder to tell the truth from a lie.
This inside-out, upside-down culture we’re living in has many people deluded. They can’t seem to see truth, even after plainly reading it in the Word. But, why?
Secret Arts and Incantations
When Moses and Aaron went before Pharaoh to demand the release of the Jewish slaves, supernatural things occurred. Aaron threw down his staff and it became a snake.
Not to be outdone, the sorcerers, Jannes and Jambres, did the same. Only, their power didn’t come from God. It came from someplace else. The Bible calls their powers “secret arts.”
We all know that anything done in secret. . .well, it isn’t good.
In short, these two men performed demonic incantations. . .copycatting a real miracle with a counterfeit.
Sound familiar? In our day and age we often see the enemy passing off lies as truth and truth as lies to those who don’t seem to have eyes to see.
The Enemy of our Souls Excels at Counterfeits
He’s still doing the same thing today. And I believe we’re seeing it in what I’ll call “the Jannes and Jambres” effect. If you wonder why the world (and even some believers) can’t seem to see truth, it’s because they’ve been put under a spell, if you will, an enchantment.
Modern-day sorcerers have lulled them into an odd state of semi-consciousness where they believe whatever they’re told.
It’s hard to blame them, since these lies are flying in from every conceivable angle–movies, TV shows, universities, school books, and even from well-meaning pastors and churches.
These folks have been drawn into a Jannes and Jambres incantation, and it has convinced them that it’s better to remain enslaved than to be set free. They’re trading the Promised Land for a golden calf. . .and they don’t even realize it.
Why? Because they’ve bought the lie–hook, line, and sinker. And now, convinced they have a “better version of truth” they plow forward, eyes blinded by the spirit of Jannes and Jambres.
What is an Incantation?
According to Wikipedia:
An incantation, a spell, a charm, an enchantment or a bewitchery, is a magical formula intended to trigger a magical effect on a person or objects. The formula can be spoken, sung or chanted. An incantation can also be performed during ceremonial rituals or prayers. In the world of magic, wizards, witches, and fairies allegedly perform incantations.
Jannes and Jambres were skilled at bewitchery, making people think they were seeing one thing when they were really seeing something else. And that’s exactly what many people are doing today. People are giving themselves over to false narratives.
Scripture predicted this, of course. We read in Matthew 24:24 that: . . .false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
In short, the Jannes and Jambres spirit is alive and well on planet earth today.
But take Heart!
Check out Verse 9: But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.
This is excellent news. This upside-down world has to answer to our all-powerful, all-knowing Creator. And he sees the folly of the bewitchers. He know the tricks they are up to.
He’s bigger. He’s better. He’s more powerful. He’s more trustworthy.
And remember, He has given us His Spirit so that we can discern the truth from a lie. If we ever needed that discernment, it’s now.
What the World Calls Truth. . .
. . .won’t set you free. I said this in a Facebook post recently. Worldy “truth” won’t keep people from driving off of cliffs. Worldy “truth” changes from day to day, year to year, narrative to narrative, culture shift to culture shift.
Only the Word of God provides absolute truth and it never changes. . .under any circumstances. Under any level of pressure.
Eyes wide open, church. Don’t let the Jannes and Jambres effect blind you to the greatest truth of all: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
Have you been deluded by the spirit of Jannes and Jambres? Have you gotten caught up in believing the world’s false narratives? You can repent and turn back to God. Give your heart fully to Him and ask for the Spirit of God to empower you to see the real truth found in scriptures. The Bible is truly the only thing that will set you free. Anything else will continue to enslave you, no matter how many false promises it makes.
Do you have loved ones who are blinded by the incantations of modern-day Jannes and Jambres? Instead of arguing or fighting, begin to pray in the Spirit to break strongholds off of their lives. Remember, we’re not battling flesh and blood. Ephesians 6:12 says: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Begin to see Hollywood and the media for what they are. They are bewitchers, intent on forcing false and deadly narratives to draw mankind away from God. They are particularly interested in your children and grandchildren. Picture them as Jannes and Jambres in the wilderness, trying to get your children to worship the golden calf. The sooner you acknowledge the damage they are trying to inflict, the sooner you can back away from it. Find godly sources for news and choose movies and TV shows that uplift your spirit. Guard what your children watch and what they’re seeing on the Internet. As much as you are able, keep their little hearts pure. Make sure they are getting good Bible teaching and you’re in a great Bible-believing church that stands for the truth of the Word of God.
Don’t hide away, frightened by the condition of the world. Like Ruth, God has placed you here “for such a time as this.” Shed a light on the modern-day Jannes and Jambres. . .and watch them fall.
They will, you know. In the end, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Romans 14:11)
Even the very ones who oppose Him now.
Father, we come to you in the precious and holy name of your Son, Jesus. In that name, miracles take place. Shackles fall from eyes. Vision is restored. Hope returns.
Lord, we come against any work of the enemy. We speak life to our children, life to our grandchildren, life to our friends, neighbors, and coworkers. You are the Great Restorer, the only true Hope-Giver, eternal Truth.
We come against the modern-day spirit of Jannes and Jambres and acknowledge that we have often fallen prey to their lies and schemes. Please forgive us for the times we’ve chosen the world’s version of truth over Yours. Give us discernment so that we can see the kind of Truth that sets us free, not just in this life, but for all eternity.
You are our ever-present help in time of trouble. There is no power–no force–stronger or mightier than You. We will not be afraid as we traverse these troubled times. We will not cower in fear. Instead, we will rise up and become the light that You have called us to be, so that all will know the real truth, so that we will (truly!) be set free!