From Mark Copeland... "THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" Chapter Four

                    "THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY"

                              Chapter Four


1) To see the need for diligence in preaching the word of God

2) To note the satisfaction Paul had in looking back over his service 
   to Christ, and the confidence he possessed as he looked forward to
   the Judgment Day and the heavenly kingdom


The final chapter begins with a charge for Timothy to preach the word
at all times.  The time was coming when people would not listen to
sound doctrine, but instead follow teachers who would tell what they
wanted to hear.  Timothy was therefore to be watchful, to endure what
afflictions might come his way, and to do the work as an evangelist as
he fulfilled his ministry (1-5).

Knowing that his own end was near, Paul expresses personal satisfaction
that he has fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the 
faith.  He is confident that there is laid up for him that crown of 
righteousness which the Lord will give to all who have loved His 
appearing (6-8).

Timothy is then told to be diligent to come quickly.  Only Luke is with
Paul as he writes, for Demas has forsaken him and others have left to 
go to other places.  Requests are made, one related to getting Mark and
bringing him along, followed by a warning about Alexander the 
coppersmith.  A reference is made concerning those who forsook Paul at 
his first defense, for whom Paul prays it might not be charged against 
them.  During that time the Lord stood by Paul, and he is confident 
that the Lord would deliver him from every evil work and preserve him
for the heavenly kingdom (9-18).

Timothy is then asked to relay greetings to Paul's dear friends.  Brief
references are made to Erastus and Trophimus, followed by a plea for 
Timothy to come before winter.  Finally, Paul sends greetings from 
various brethren and closes the letter with a prayer that the Lord will
be with Timothy (19-22).



      1. Before God and the Lord Jesus Christ (1)
         a. Who will judge the living and the dead
         b. At His appearing and His kingdom
      2. To preach the word! (2)
         a. Be ready in season and out of season
         b. Convince, rebuke, exhort
         c. With all longsuffering and teaching

      1. The time is coming when people will not endure sound doctrine
         a. According to their own desires they will heap up for 
            themselves teachers
         b. For they will have itching ears
      2. They will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned
         aside to fables (4)

      1. Be watchful in all things
      2. Endure afflictions
      3. Do the work of an evangelist
      4. Fulfill your ministry


      1. Already being poured out like a drink offering, his departure
         is at hand (6)
      2. Expressions of his faithfulness (7)
         a. He has fought the good fight
         b. He has finished the race
         c. He has kept the faith
      3. His confidence concerning the future (8)
         a. A crown of righteousness is laid up for him
         b. Which will be given by the Lord, the righteous Judge
            1) Given to him on that Day (of judgment)
            2) Given to all who have loved His appearing

      1. For Demas has forsaken him, having loved this present world
      2. Crescens and Titus have left, having gone to various places
      3. Only Luke is with him (11a)
      4. Bring Mark, for he is useful to Paul for ministry (11b)
      5. Tychicus has been sent to Ephesus (12)
      6. Bring the cloak and the books, especially the parchments (13)
      7. A warning against Alexander the coppersmith (14-15)
      8. He was forsaken at his first defense, but prays it will not be
         charged against them (16)

      1. The Lord stood with him and strengthened him (17)
         a. So that the message was preached fully by him to the 
         b. And he was delivered out of the mouth of the lion
      2. The Lord will deliver and preserve him (18)
         a. Deliver him from every evil work
         b. Preserve him for His heavenly kingdom
         -- For which glory belongs to the Lord!


      1. Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus (19)
      2. Erastus stayed in Corinth, Trophimus was left sick in Miletus
      3. Timothy is to do his best to come before winter (21a)
      4. Greetings from Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the 
         brethren (21b)

      1. The Lord Jesus Christ be with his spirit
      2. Grace be with him. Amen.


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Exhortation to preach the word (1-5)
   - Exhortation to come quickly (6-18)
   - Concluding remarks (19-22)

2) When will Jesus judge the living and the dead? (1)
   - At His appearing and His kingdom

3) How was Timothy to carry out the charge to preach the word? (2)
   - Be ready at all times
   - Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching

4) What would some people not endure?  What will they do instead? (3)
   - Sound doctrine
   - According to their own desires they will heap up for themselves

5) What will they turn away from?  What will they be turned aside to?
   - The truth
   - Fables

6) What four-fold exhortation is given to Timothy in view of such 
   things to come? (5)
   - Be watchful in all things
   - Endure afflictions
   - Do the work of an evangelist
   - Fulfill his ministry

7) What did Paul know was drawing near? (6)
   - The time of his departure

8) What three phrases does Paul use to describe his life as a 
   Christian? (7)
   - I have fought the good fight
   - I have finished the race
   - I have kept the faith

9) What did Paul expect to receive from the Lord?  Who else would 
   receive it? (8)
   - The crown of righteousness
   - All who have loved His appearing

10) What does Paul ask of Timothy? (9)
   - Come to him quickly

11) Who had forsaken Paul, and why? (10)
   - Demas, because he loved this present world

12) Who alone was with Paul when he wrote this epistle? (11)
   - Luke

13) Why did Paul want Timothy to get Mark and bring him with him? (11)
   - He was useful to Paul for service

14) What else did Paul want Timothy to bring? (13)
   - A cloak left at Troas, some books and parchments

15) Of whom did Paul warn Timothy to beware? (14-15)
   - Alexander the coppersmith

16) What did Paul desire for those who had forsook him at his first
    defense? (16)
   - That it not be charged against them

17) Who stood with Paul during his first defense and strengthened him?
   - The Lord

18) What two things was Paul confident the Lord would do for him? (18)
   - Deliver him from every evil work
   - Preserve him for His heavenly kingdom

19) Who did Paul want Timothy to greet for him? (19)
   - Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus

20) When did Paul want Timothy to come? (21)
   - Before winter

21) Who sent greetings to Timothy by way of Paul? (21)
   - Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brethren

22) What did Paul pray for in behalf of Timothy as he closed this 
    letter? (22)
   - The Lord Jesus Christ be with his spirit
   - Grace be with him

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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From Mark Copeland... "THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" Chapter Three

                    "THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY"

                             Chapter Three


1) To learn about the moral decline that will occur in the last days

2) To appreciate the value of all Scripture, including the Old 


From exhortations to steadfast service in the first two chapters, Paul
now proceeds to offer exhortations to sound doctrine in this chapter
and into the next.  He warns of perilous times to come in the last
days, describing the condition of the people during these times.  Such
people Timothy was to turn away from, for they would be just like
Jannes and Jambres who resisted Moses in the Old Testament (1-9).

Reminding Timothy of how he had carefully followed Paul's doctrine and
manner of life up to that point, Paul warns of the persecution to 
befall those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus.  While evil men
and impostors will grow worse and deceive many (being deceived
themselves), Timothy is exhorted to continue in those things he has 
learned.  Paul has special reference to the Scriptures Timothy had 
known since childhood, which like all Scripture is inspired of God and 
has the value of making one wise for the salvation which is by faith in
Christ, instructing one in such a way as to make him complete and 
thoroughly equipped for every good work (10-17).



      1. They will come in the last days (1)
      2. There will be perilous times because of the condition of men
         a. Lovers of themselves, lovers of money
         b. Boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents
         c. Unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving
         d. Slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good
         e. Traitors, headstrong, haughty
         f. Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God
         g. Having a form of godliness but denying its power

      1. A warning to turn away from such people (5b)
      2. Reasons to do so (6-9)
         a. For such lead gullible people astray
         b. For such are always learning but never able to come to the
            knowledge of the truth
         c. Just like Jannes and Jambres who resisted Moses...
            1) These resist the truth
            2) They are men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning
               the faith
            3) They will not progress, and their folly will become 
               manifest to all


      1. His doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, love,
         perseverance (11)
      2. Even his persecutions and afflictions at Antioch, Iconium and
         Lystra (11a)
      3. Yet the Lord delivered him out of them all (11b)

      1. For those who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer 
         persecution (12)
      2. Evil men and impostors will grow worse, deceiving and being
         deceived (13)


      1. Things he had been assured of, knowing from whom he had 
         learned them (14)
      2. In particular that which he learned from childhood, the Holy
         Scriptures (15a)
      3. For they are able to make him wise for salvation through faith
         in Christ (15b)

      1. All scripture is given by inspiration of God (16a)
      2. It is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, 
         instruction in righteousness (16b)
      3. So the man of God can be complete, thoroughly complete for 
         every good work (17)


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Perilous times to come (1-9)
   - A reminder of Paul's example (10-13)
   - Exhortation to abide in the Scriptures (14-17)

2) When will perilous times come? (1)
   - In the last days

3) During these perilous times, what three things will men love? (2-4)
   - Themselves, money, and pleasure

4) What sort of godliness will they have? (5)
   - Just a form of godliness, denying its power

5) How will such men gain followers? (6)
   - Leading gullible women away by various lusts

6) What is said about their learning? (7)
   - Always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the

7) What two men will these individuals in perilous times be like? (8)
   - Jannes and Jambres, who resisted Moses

8) What had Timothy carefully followed in regards to Paul? (10-11)
   - His doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love,
     perseverance, persecutions, afflictions

9) What did Paul say about those who desire to live godly in Christ 
   Jesus? (12)
   - They will suffer persecution

10) What will happen in regards to evil men and impostors? (13)
   - They will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived

11) In what was Timothy to continue? (14)
   - The things he had learned and been assured of

12) What had he known from his childhood? (15)
   - The Holy Scriptures (i.e., the Old Testament)

13) What was the value of those things he had known since childhood?
   - They were able to make him wise for salvation through faith in
     Christ Jesus

14) What two things are stated about all scripture? (16)
   - Given by inspiration
   - Profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in 

15) What are the scriptures designed to produce? (17)
   - The man of God who is complete, thoroughly equipped for every good

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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From Mark Copeland... "THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" Chapter Two


                              Chapter Two


1) To appreciate the need for endurance and faithfulness to the will of

2) To note the warnings against profane and vain babblings, foolish and
   ignorant disputes

3) To consider how the servant of the Lord can be a vessel for honor, 
   useful for the Master and prepared for every good work


Paul continues with exhortations to Timothy in this chapter, with an
emphasis on endurance and diligence.  Encouraging him to be strong in
the grace that is in Christ Jesus, Paul then charges Timothy to commit
what he has learned to faithful men who can pass it along (1-2).

Using the illustrations of a soldier, athlete, and farmer, Paul exhorts
Timothy to endure hardship, to be faithful, and to work hard.  Writing
of his own endurance in hardship, Paul stresses the need to be true to
the Lord (3-13).

The last half of the chapter is devoted to telling Timothy how to be
"useful to the Master", a worker who does not need to be ashamed.  With
warnings to shun profane and vain babblings, and avoiding foolish and 
ignorant disputes, Paul reminds Timothy of things he should flee 
(youthful lusts) and what he should pursue (righteousness, faith, love,
peace).  Properly handling the word of truth, and correcting others 
with gentleness and humility, Timothy can truly be a servant of the 
Lord who is prepared for every good work, especially when dealing with
those who have been ensnared by the devil (14-26).



      1. Directed to Timothy as his son (1a)
      2. To be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (1b)

      1. Those things he heard from Paul among many witnesses (2a)
      2. Commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others (2b)


      1. Endure hardship as good soldier of Jesus Christ (3)
         a. Not entangled with the affairs of this life (4a)
         b. That he might please the One who enlisted him (4b)
      2. As an athlete, follow the rules of competition in order to win
      3. It is the hard-working farmer who will be the first to partake
         of his crops (6)
      4. May the Lord give him understanding as he considers what Paul
         is saying (7)

      1. Remember that Jesus was raised from the dead, according to the
         gospel (8)
         a. For which Paul suffered trouble as an evildoer, even to the
            point of chains (9a)
         b. Yet the word of God was not chained (9b)
      2. Paul endured all things for the sake of the elect (10a)
         a. That they might obtain the salvation in Christ Jesus with
            eternal glory (10b)
         b. A faithful saying to encourage us to endure hardship 
            1) If we died with Christ, we shall live with Him
            2) If we endure, we shall also reign with Him
            3) If we deny Him, He will also deny us
            4) If we are faithless, He remains faithful for He cannot
               deny Himself


      1. Remind others, charging them not to strive about words (14)
         a. Words that do not profit
         b. Words that only produce ruin of the hearers
      2. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God (15)
         a. As a worker who does not need to be ashamed
         b. As a worker who rightly divides the word of truth
      3. Shun profane and vain babblings (16-18)
         a. For they only increase to more ungodliness (16)
         b. For their message will spread like cancer (17a)
            1) Hymenaeus and Philetus are example (17b)
            2) Who have overthrown the faith of some by saying the
               resurrection is already past (18)
      4. God's solid foundation stands, having this seal:
         a. The Lord knows those who are His (19a)
         b. Let those who name the name of Christ depart from iniquity

      1. A great house has all kinds of vessels, some for honor and 
         some for dishonor (20)
      2. If anyone cleanses himself from things of dishonor, he will be
         a vessel of honor (21)
         a. Sanctified and useful for the Master
         b. Prepared for every good work
      3. Instructions that will make one a servant useful to the
         a. Flee youthful lusts (22a)
         b. Pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who 
            call on the Lord out of a pure heart (22b)
         c. Avoid foolish and ignorant disputes that generate strife
         d. Do not quarrel, but be gentle to all, able to teach, 
            patient (24)
         e. In humility correct those in opposition (25-26)
            1) Perhaps God will grant them repentance, so that they may
               know the truth (25)
            2) Perhaps they may come to their senses and escape the 
               snare of the devil who has taken them captive to do his
               will (26)


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Exhortation to transmit the truth to others (1-2)
   - Exhortation to endure hardship (3-13)
   - Exhortation to diligence as a servant of the Lord (14-26)

2) In what did Paul want Timothy to be strong? (1)
   - The grace that is in Christ Jesus

3) What did Paul want Timothy to do with the things Paul had taught 
   him? (2)
   - Commit them to faithful men who would teach others

4) What three illustrations does Paul use to encourage Timothy to 
   endure hardship and to work hard? (3-6)
   - Those of a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer

5) What did Paul want Timothy to remember? (8)
   - That Jesus Christ was raised from the dead

6) What did Paul suffer in behalf of the gospel?  Did it hinder the
   gospel? (9)
   - Trouble as an evil doer, even to the point of chains
   - No

7) Why was Paul willing to endure all things? (10)
   - For the sake of the elect, that they also might obtain salvation
     with eternal glory

8) What encouragement is given by "a faithful saying"? (11,12a)
   - If we died with Christ, we shall also live with Him
   - If we endure, we shall also reign with Him

9) What warning is given by "a faithful saying"? (12b)
   - If we deny Him, He also will deny us

10) What was Timothy to charge others? (14)
   - Not to strive about words to no profit

11) What was Timothy to be diligent in doing? (15)
   - Presenting himself approved to God, a worker who does not need to
     be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth

12) What was he to shun?  Why? (16)
   - Profane and vain babblings; because they lead to more ungodliness

13) What two individuals had been guilty of spreading such things? (17)
   - Hymenaeus and Philetus

14) What had they taught?  What was the effect of their teaching? (18)
   - That the resurrection was already past
   - It overthrew the faith of some

15) What is the "seal" of God's solid foundation? (19)
   - "The Lord knows those who are His"
   - "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity"

16) What will a "vessel of honor" be? (21)
   - Sanctified and useful for the Master
   - Prepared for every good work

17) What was Timothy to flee?  What was he to pursue? (22)
   - Flee youthful lusts
   - Pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace

18) What was he to avoid?  Why? (23)
   - Foolish and ignorant disputes
   - They generate strife

19) List what must be true of a servant of the Lord (24-25a)
   - Must not quarrel
   - Be gentle to all
   - Able to teach
   - Patient
   - In humility correcting those who are in opposition

20) Why must a servant of the Lord be this way to those in opposition?
   - Perhaps God will grant them repentance, so that they may know the
   - Perhaps they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the
     devil, for they have been taken captive by him to do his will

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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From Mark Copeland... "THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" Chapter One

                    "THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY"

                              Chapter One


1) To notice the great love that existed between Paul and Timothy

2) To examine the exhortations to faithful service given by Paul to 

3) To contrast the people who abandoned Paul, with a faithful friend 
   like Onesiphorus


The apostle Paul begins this letter to his "beloved son" with a prayer
for grace, mercy and peace in his behalf.  Thankful to God for the
unceasing memories that he has of Timothy in his prayers night and day,
Paul greatly desires to see the young man.  Seeing him again will bring
great joy as Paul is mindful of Timothy's tears and his unfeigned faith

Paul's purpose in writing begins in earnest with a series of 
exhortations toward steadfast service.  He encourages Timothy to stir 
up the gift of God which was in him by the laying on of Paul's hands, 
to not be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord nor of Paul His 
prisoner, and to hold fast the pattern of sound words which he had 
heard from Paul, keeping it by the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Timothy is
then reminded of those who had forsaken Paul, but also how Onesiphorus
had proven to be a true friend and brother by virtue of his courage, 
diligence, and service (6-18).



   A. SALUTATION (1-2a)
      1. From Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1)
         a. By the will of God
         b. According to the promise of life in Christ Jesus
      2. To Timothy, his beloved son (2a)
      3. Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus
         our Lord (2b)

      1. Thanks offered to God by Paul (3)
         a. Whom he serves with pure conscience, as did his forefathers
         b. For without ceasing he remembers Timothy in his prayers 
            night and day
      2. Greatly desiring to see Timothy (4-5)
         a. For he is mindful of Timothy's tears
         b. For Paul himself desires to be filled with joy
         c. For he remembers the genuine faith that is in Timothy
            1) Which dwelt first in his grandmother Lois and his mother
            2) And which Paul is persuaded is in Timothy also


      1. Which was in him through the laying on of Paul's hands (6)
      2. For God has given a spirit, not of fear, but of power, love,
         and a sound mind (7)

   B. DON'T BE ASHAMED (8-12)
      1. Of the testimony of our Lord, nor of Paul His prisoner (8a)
      2. Share with Paul in the suffering of the gospel according to 
         the power of God (8b-12)
         a. Who saved us and called us with a holy calling (9-10)
            1) Not according to our works
            2) But according to His own purpose and grace
               a) Given to us in Christ before time began
               b) But has now been revealed by the appearing of our 
                  Savior Jesus Christ
                  1/ Who abolished death
                  2/ And brought light and immortality to light through
                     the gospel
         b. For the gospel Paul was appointed a preacher, apostle and 
            teacher (11-12)
            1) For such things he suffers
            2) But he not ashamed
               a) For he knows Whom he has believed
               b) And is persuaded that He is able to keep what Paul 
                  has committed to Him until that Day


   A. BE STEADFAST (13-14)
      1. Hold fast the pattern of sound words (13)
         a. Which he had heard from Paul
         b. In faith and love which are in Christ Jesus
      2. Keep that good thing (14)
         a. Which was committed to you
         b. Keep it by the Holy Spirit who dwells is us

   B. BE LOYAL (15-18)
      1. All in Asia have turned away from Paul, including Phygellus 
         and Hermogenes (15)
      2. In contrast, the example of Onesiphorus (16-18)
         a. May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus
            1) For he often refreshed Paul
            2) He was not ashamed of Paul's chains
            3) Arriving in Rome, he sought Paul diligently and found
            4) He also ministered to Paul in many ways at Ephesus
         b. May the Lord grant mercy to Onesiphorus in that Day


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Introduction (1-5)
   - Exhortations to zeal and courage (6-12)
   - Exhortations to steadfastness and loyalty (13-18)

2) How does Paul describe Timothy in his salutation? (2)
   - My beloved son

3) How did Paul serve God? (3)
   - With a pure conscience, as did his forefathers

4) What two things came to Paul's mind when concerning Timothy? (4-5)
   - His tears
   - The genuine faith that was in him

5) What two women had this genuine faith before Timothy? (5)
   - His grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice

6) What did Paul remind Timothy to stir up? (6)
   - The gift of God which was in him through the laying on of Paul's

7) What had God given Paul and Timothy? (7)
   - Not the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound

8) What two things did Paul not want Timothy to be ashamed of? (8)
   - The testimony of our Lord
   - Paul His prisoner

9) How has God saved us and called us with a holy calling? (10)
   - Not according to our works but according to His own purpose and

10) What has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ?
   - God's purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ before 
     time began

11) What two things has Jesus done according to verse 10?
   - Abolished death
   - Brought life and immortality to light through the gospel

12) To what three functions had Paul been appointed relating to the 
    gospel? (11)
   - Preacher, apostle, teacher

13) Though Paul suffered, why was he not ashamed? (12)
   - He knew Whom he had believed
   - He was persuaded that He is able to keep what he had committed to
     Him until that Day

14) What was Timothy to hold fast? (13)
   - The pattern of sound words heard from Paul

15) How was he to keep that good thing that was committed to him? (14)
   - By the Holy Spirit who dwells in him

16) Who had turned away from Paul? (15)
   - All those in Asia
   - Including Phygellus and Hermogenes

17) What four good things are said about Onesiphorus? (16-18)
   - He often refreshed Paul
   - He was not ashamed of Paul's chains
   - When he arrived in Rome, he diligently sought until he found Paul
   - He ministered to Paul in Ephesus in many ways

18) What two things did Paul desire of the Lord? (16,18)
   - Mercy be granted to the household of Onesiphorus
   - Mercy be granted to Onesiphorus in that Day

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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From Mark Copeland... "THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" Introduction

                    "THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY"


AUTHOR:  The apostle Paul, as stated in the salutation (1:1).  The 
references of a personal nature also confirm this, especially when 
compared to other Pauline epistles (cf. 4:9-12; Col 4:7-14).

RECIPIENT:  Timothy, Paul's "beloved son " (1:2; cf. 1Ti 1:2,18).  We
are first introduced to Timothy in Ac 16:1-3, where we learn that his 
mother was Jewish and his father Greek.  From this epistle we also 
learn that his mother and grandmother had been believers in Christ, who
raised Timothy in the Scriptures (1:5; 3:14-15).  Well spoken of by the
brethren at Lystra and Iconium, Paul desired that Timothy travel with 
him and therefore had him circumcised to accommodate Jews they would 
seek to evangelize.

This began a long relationship of service together in the work of the 
Lord, in which Timothy served Paul as a son would his father (Php 2:19-
24).  Such service included not only traveling with Paul, but remaining
with new congregations when Paul had to leave suddenly (Ac 17:13-14), 
going back to encourage such congregations (1Th 3:1-3), and serving as
Paul's personal emissary (1Co 16:10-11; Php 2:19-24).  He had the honor
of joining Paul in the salutation of several epistles written by Paul
(2Co 1:1; Php 1:1; Col 1:1; 1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:1), and from such epistles
we learn that Timothy had been with Paul during his imprisonment at 
Rome.  Such faithful service also resulted in his being left in Ephesus
as Paul's personal representative (1Ti 1:3).  He may have still been 
in the area when this letter was penned.

TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING:  The general consensus is that following his
first imprisonment in Rome (cf. Ac 28:16,30-31) Paul was released and
allowed to travel for several years before being arrested again.  It 
was during this second imprisonment that Paul wrote this epistle from
Rome (cf. 1:16-17).  Every indication is that he did not expect to be 
released (cf. 4:6-7) and shortly after this letter was put to death by
Nero.  Since Nero was killed in 68 A.D., Paul would have died a short
time earlier.  This letter can therefore be dated around 66-67 A.D.

PURPOSE OF THE EPISTLE:  This epistle contains Paul's stirring words of
encouragement and instructions to Timothy, his "beloved son."  Longing
to see him (1:4), Paul writes this letter to have Timothy come quickly
to Rome, and to bring along Mark, a cloak that was left at Troas, and 
some books and parchments (4:9-13).  He uses the occasion, however, to
write concerning those things that are most heavy on his heart related
to Timothy's work.  Therefore, Paul writes to encourage Timothy:

   * To stand strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2:1)

   * To commit to others what Paul had taught him (2:2,14)

   * To preach the Word! (4:1)

   * To endure hardship and afflictions (2:3; 4:5)

   * To fulfill his ministry as an evangelist (4:5)

THEME OF THE EPISTLE:  With all the exhortations and instructions 
related to his work as a minister of the gospel of Christ, an 
appropriate theme for this epistle might therefore be:

                      "FULFILL YOUR MINISTRY!"

KEY VERSE:  2 Timothy 4:5

   "But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the
   work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."















   A. PAUL'S END IS NEAR (4:6-8)


CONCLUSION (4:19-22)


1) Where do we first read about Timothy?
   - Acts 16:1-3

2) What was the name of his grandmother and mother? (2Ti 1:5)
   - Lois (grandmother)
   - Eunice (mother)

3) How did Paul affectionately regard Timothy? (1:2)
   - As his beloved son

4) What is the general consensus for the time and place that Paul wrote
   this letter?
   - Sometime around 66-67 A.D., at Rome shortly before his death

5) What were Paul's circumstances in Rome? (4:6,10-11)
   - Near the time of his execution
   - Forsaken by Demas, others have gone, only Luke is with him

6) What two purposes does Paul have in writing this epistle?
   - To ask Timothy to come quickly
   - To exhort Timothy in his service as an evangelist

7) What is the theme of this epistle, as suggested in the introductory
   - Fulfill Your Ministry! 

8) What is the key verse?
   - 2Ti 4:5

9) According to the outline proposed above, what are the main points of
   this epistle?
   - Exhortations to steadfast service
   - Exhortations to sound doctrine
   - Exhortations to come quickly

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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Finding Nebo-Sarsekim by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Finding Nebo-Sarsekim

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Critics of the Bible attack every facet of its credibility. These critics claim that the books were not written at the time they profess to have been written, that the men whose names the books bear are not the actual writers, and that the biblical characters are mental fabrications of the authors. Such criticism, however, is impossible to maintain rationally and honestly in the face of the vast amount of evidence that verifies the validity and authenticity of the 66 books of the Bible. Archaeological findings provide one line of evidence that continues to add credence to the biblical text. Tablets, seals, papyri, pottery, and a host of other ancient artifacts have surfaced that document the lives of characters mentioned in the Bible. These finds often show that the biblical texts under discussion were written at the time they claim to have been written, and that the biblical characters were historic and real.
Cuneiform tablet containing name of Nebo-Sarsekim
Image courtesy of Ian Jones
One such archaeological find recently came to light. In 1920, the British Museum acquired a small stone tablet about two inches wide and one inch high. This stone tablet went into a large cache of tablets with ancient cuneiform writing on them. Since few people have the skill and knowledge to translate cuneiform, the tablet sat untranslated in the British Museum for about eight decades. Recently, however, Dr. Michael Jursa of the University of Vienna, one of the few people who can read cuneiform, translated the small stone tablet (Alberge, 2007).
The information on the tablet is nothing inherently spectacular. The tablet is dated to 595 B.C. and simply states that a Babylonian official named Nebo-Sarsekim dedicated a large gift of gold to the temple of Esangila in Babylon (Reynolds, 2007). While this inscription is unremarkable by itself, it provides an exciting link to the biblical text.
In Jeremiah 39, the prophet described Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar’s successful attack on the city of Jerusalem. Jeremiah wrote that Nebuchadnezzar penetrated the walls of Jerusalem in the 11th year of King Zedekiah, which corresponds to 587 B.C. Upon infiltrating the walls, Nebuchadnezzar and several of his Babylonian princes sat at the Middle Gate. One of the princes listed as sitting with Nebuchadnezzar was Sarsechim (Jeremiah 39:3). The name “Sarsechim” is recognized as the same name as Nebo-Sarsekim. Thus, the small stone tablet mentions a Babylonian official alive in 595 B.C. and less than 10 years later Jeremiah mentioned an official by the same name. One member of the British Museum’s staff, Dr. Irving Finkel, who works in the Department of the Middle East, said: “A mundane commercial transaction takes its place as a primary witness to one of the turning points in Old Testament history. This is a tablet that deserves to be famous” (as quoted in Alberge, 2007).
Skeptics already have begun to attack the find. They suggest that the Nebo-Sarsekim on the tablet could be a different Sarsekim from the one mentioned by Jeremiah. While there is always the possibility that they are not the same person, the circumstantial evidence linking the two names establishes a strong case that the names refer to the same person. They both mention a Babylonian official, during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, in a time frame that would be expected if the same person is under discussion. In fact, besides a few “ultra-skeptics,” the find seems to be accepted by the majority of scholars as extrabiblical evidence for the existence of the official mentioned in Jeremiah 39:3.
Concerning the significance of the find, Dr. Finkel stated: “If Nebo-Sarsekim existed, which other lesser figures in the Old Testament existed? A throwaway detail in the Old Testament turns out to be accurate and true. I think that it means that the whole of the narrative [of Jeremiah] takes on a new kind of power” (as quoted in Reynolds, 2007).
The biblical documents have more than archaeological evidence to commend them. Their internal consistency, unity, predictive prophecy, and scientific accuracy combine to produce an irrefutable case for the Bible’s divine inspiration. Archaeological finds such as the tablet inscription, do, however, add cumulative weight to the overall case for the Bible’s factual accuracy. As renowned archaeologist Nelson Glueck observed: “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which conform in clear outline or exact detail historical statements in the Bible” (1959, p. 31).


Alberge, Dalya (2007), “Museum’s Tablet Lends New Weight to Biblical Truth,” The Times, July 11, [On-line], URL: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article2056362.ece.
Glueck, Nelson (1959), Rivers in the Desert: A History of the Negev (New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Cudahy).
Reynolds, Nigel (2007), “Tiny Tablet Provides Proof for Old Testament,” Telegraph, July 13, [On-line], URL: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/07/11/ ntablet111.xml.

Does God Alone Possess Immortality? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Does God Alone Possess Immortality?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

The Bible repeatedly testifies to the fact that this life is not all there is. For the faithful, the best is yet to come (Luke 16:22; 23:43; 2 Timothy 4:8). For the unfaithful, the worst is yet to come (Luke 16:23-24). The unrighteous “will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46, emp. added; cf. Lyons and Butt, 2005). At death, “the dust will return to the earth as it was,” but “the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7; cf. Genesis 2:7). Jesus taught: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25-26, emp. added). In short, the soul of man is immortal (Romans 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:10; 1 Corinthians 15:53-54).

If the soul of man is immortal, however, some wonder how Paul could truthfully write to Timothy that God “alone has immortality” (1 Timothy 6:16, emp. added)? If God alone has immortality, then how can man also be immortal?

Indeed, both God and man are immortal. God, by His very nature, is eternal (Psalm 90:2), and thus He is not subject to death (Greek thanatos). Only when God, the Word, put on flesh and physically inhabited His natural world did He willingly subject Himself to death (John 1:1-5,14; 19:30; Philippians 2:5-8). Yet, even then, death had no power over Him (Acts 2:22-36; 1 Corinthians 15:21). He defeated thanatos; He is athanatos (immortal). He not only physically rose from the dead, but His Spirit never ceased to exist.

Still, how can God “alone” have immortality (Greek athanasia; 1 Timothy 6:16), if the soul of man is also immortal (1 Corinthians 15:53-54; cf. Matthew 25:46)? The answer is really quite simple: The only reason man is immortal is because God gives man immortality. God created man differently than plants and animals; He chose to make man “in His own image” (Genesis 1:27). Among other things, one of the great blessings of being an image-bearer of God is that humans have an immortal soul (see Lyons and Thompson, 2002). However, in the sense that God’s everlasting nature is immortal, God alone possesses immortality.

Consider a parallel. According to Scripture, both God and His faithful children are pure and holy (1 John 3:3; Matthew 5:8; 1 Peter 1:16). They are pure and holy, however, on different levels. Whereas God is innately perfect (Isaiah 6:3; James 1:13), man can only become pure and holythrough the grace of God and the blood of Christ (Hebrews 10:22; Ephesians 1:3-14). God is holy; man becomes holy. Likewise, God “alone [inherently] has immortality” (1 Timothy 6:16), but He has given it to man.


Lyons, Eric and Bert Thompson (2002), “In the ‘Image and Likeness of God’: Parts 1 & 2,” Reason & Revelation, 22:17-32, March and April.

Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2005), “The Eternality of Hell: Parts 1 & 2,” Reason & Revelation, 25:1-15, January and February.

Demons: Ancient Superstition or Historical Reality? by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


Demons: Ancient Superstition or Historical Reality?

by Wayne Jackson, M.A.

As one begins a perusal of the New Testament, he encounters an unusual phenomenon known as “demon possession.” The first Gospel writer recorded these words: “And the report of him [Jesus] went forth into all Syria: and they brought unto him all that were sick, holden with divers diseases and torments, possessed with demons, and epileptic, and palsied; and he healed them” (Matthew 4:24, ASV). From this point on, there are numerous references to “demons” or “demon possession” in the New Testament. [NOTE: “Devils,” as found in the KJV, is an incorrect rendition. The Greek word for devil is diabolos. Other terms, diamon (found once) anddimonion (63 times), are transliterated as “demon(s)” in the ASV. There is only one devil, but there are many demons.]
Critics of the Bible, of course, allege that this is an example of the sort of gross superstition that characterizes the ancient volume. The following quote represents a typical atheistic approach to this matter:
Mark 5:1-13 relates an incredible story wherein Jesus casts out the “devils” from an unfortunate man. He then causes the devils to enter, instead, a herd of swine, and the swine, thus bedeviled, race over a cliff, fall into the sea and drown. Fundamentalists would have us believe that this is a true story. That tells us a lot about fundamentalists. Belief in demons and fairies and goblins and dragons ended, for most people, ages ago, and is remembered only in some Fairy Tales. Such primeval superstitions should be left behind, in our colorful past, where they belong (Hayes, 1996, pp. 129-130).
Even religious modernists are prone to dismiss the biblical accounts of demon possession. William Barclay wrote:
We need not argue whether demons were realities or not. One thing certain is that in the time of Jesus people believed in them with terrified intensity. If a man believes he is ill, he will be ill. If a man believed that he was demon-possessed, then, illusion or no, he was definitely ill in mind and body (1976, p. 26).
The Scottish scholar went on to concede that Jesus may have believed in demons, but that “He did not come into this world to give men medical knowledge, and there is no reason to think that his medical knowledge would be any more advanced than that of the people of his day” (p. 27).
To suggest that such a comment is a reflection upon the deity of Christ is an understatement. The New Testament does not represent Jesus merely as believing in demons, but depicts Him actually speaking to these beings, and being spoken to by them. He even commanded demons to do certain things. Either these evil spirits were a reality, or else the biblical record is entirely wrong. There is no other way to view the matter.
This sort of a priori dismissal of the historical record is typical of unbelief. The skeptic, and even those religionists who have been influenced by the rationalistic mode of thought, repudiate anything that is not consistent with current human experience. But such an ideology simply is not an intelligent basis upon which to establish conclusions. There is validity in the credibility of historical testimony. The reality of demon activity, therefore, is not to be determined upon the basis of twentieth-century experiences; rather, it is grounded in whether or not the New Testament documents are credible.
While I do not have the space to explore this matter in depth, I would like to make this observation. In 1846, Simon Greenleaf, Dane Professor of Law at Harvard University, produced a work titled The Testimony of the Evangelists Examined by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice. Greenleaf was the greatest authority in the history of legal procedure on what constitutes evidence. His massive three-volume set, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence (1842-53), is, to this very day, a standard on the topic of evidence. Greenleaf argued in The Testimony—with dramatic authority—that the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John passed the strictest tests of authenticity, and thus may be regarded as dependable (1903, pp. 1-54). And without controversy is the fact that these writers described cases of demonic activity during the ministry of Jesus.


The etymology of the term “demon” is rather obscure, but some have suggested that it comes from a Greek root meaning “to know,” hence probably means “a knowing one” (Vine, 1991, p. 203). Vincent noted that Plato derived the term from daemon, signifying “knowing” or “wise” (1972, p. 92). Ancient Greek writers suggested that the genesis of the term is to be found in the fact that these entities were considered to be “intelligent beings” (McClintock and Strong, 1968, 2:639). I will not concern myself with a detailed discussion of how demons were perceived in the ancient world, except to say that they were seen as evil spirits “somewhere between the human and the divine” (Arndt and Gingrich, 1967, p. 168).
Unlike the speculative literature of antiquity, the New Testament makes no attempt to explain the origin of demons or to describe any materialized features (cf. Reese, 1992, 2:141). This appears to be significant; the restraint, I believe, is a subtle evidence of the divine inspiration of the narratives (see Jackson, 1996). Scholars, however, have speculated as to the origin of demons. I will consider briefly some of the prevalent ideas.
(1) Some claim that demons were the disembodied spirits of a pre-Adamic race of men who lived upon the Earth in a “gap period” that allegedly fits between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. There are two things wrong with that notion: (a) There is absolutely no evidence that there ever was a historical “gap” between the first two verses of Genesis (see Fields, 1976). (b) There were no people before Adam. He came directly from God (Luke 3:38), and was the “first” man (1 Corinthians 15:45).
(2) Others trace the origin of demons to a supposed cohabitation between angels and certain women of the pre-Flood world (Genesis 6:1-6). This theory is negated by the fact that Christ taught that angels are sexless beings, incapable of such unions (Matthew 22:30; see also Kaiser, 1992, pp. 33-38).
(3) It has been argued that first-century demons may be identified with the fallen angels mentioned in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6, some of whom, consistent with the divine plan, were permitted to leave temporarily that sphere of confinement for the purpose of inhabiting certain people. Charles Hodge argued this theory (1960, p. 643), which probably is the most popular idea regarding this matter.
(4) Another view is that demons were the spirits of wicked dead men who were allowed by God to leave the Hadean realm to accommodate the implementation of the divine plan of redemption. Josephus claimed that demons were the “spirits of the wicked, that enter into men that are alive and kill them, unless they can obtain some help against them” (Wars 7.6.3). Alexander Campbell delivered a lecture in Nashville, Tennessee on March 10, 1841, in which he, in rather persuasive fashion, argued the case that the “demons” of the ancient world were the spirits of the dead. The printed form of that presentation is well worth studying (Campbell, n.d., pp. 379-402).
In the final analysis, no dogmatic conclusion can be drawn with reference to the origin of demons. That they existed admits of no doubt to anyone who takes the Bible seriously; as to their origin, the Scriptures are silent.


The nature of demons is spelled out explicitly in the New Testament. They were “spirit” beings. This, of course, creates a problem for the skeptic, who denies that there is anything beyond the material. But consider the testimony of Matthew. “And when evening was come, they brought unto him [Christ] many possessed with demons: and he cast out the spirits with a word” (8:16). Note that the terms “demons” and “spirits” are used interchangeably. Since it is known also that “a spirit does not have flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39), one must conclude that demons were not physical beings.
As spirit entities, demons could exercise both volition (“I will return...”) and locomotion (“Then goeth he...”) (Matthew 12:44-45). Moreover, they could assimilate factual information. A demon once spoke to Christ and said: “I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God” (Luke 4:34; cf. Mark 1:24). Too, they possessed a religious sensitivity. “Thou believest that God is one; thou doest well, the demons also believe and shudder” (James 2:19). “Shudder” suggests to “be struck with extreme fear, to be horrified” (Thayer, 1958, p. 658). The fact is, they tremble in prospect of their ultimate doom (see Matthew 8:29).
As to their character, demons are depicted as “unclean” and “evil.” In describing the vile nature of the Jewish nation of His day, the Lord gave an illustration regarding a man who was possessed of an “unclean” spirit (Matthew 12:43); the spirit left the man, but eventually re-entered the gentleman, taking with him other spirits “more evil” than himself (vs. 45). This passage reveals the “unclean” (Greek akathartos—“not pure”) or “evil” (kakos—that which not only is morally malignant, but injurious as well; cf. Vine, 1991, p. 272) disposition of demons. From this text it is observed also that there were degrees of vileness (“more evil”) in demons.


The physical and/or mental effects occurring in certain individuals as a consequence of being possessed by a demon or demons (more than one could indwell a person; Mary Magdalene had once been inhabited by seven demons—Luke 8:2) were varied. Some demoniacs were afflicted with blindness and/or the inability to speak (Matthew 9:32; 12:22). Some thus possessed might be prone to violent convulsions. A case recorded by all three synoptic writers tells of a young man who was “epileptic.” He suffered grievously, frequently falling into the fire or into water (Matthew 17:15). He was dashed to the ground and bruised badly (Mark 9:18; Luke 9:39); he foamed at the mouth, ground his teeth, and “pineth away” (Mark 9:18). This final descriptive may suggest that the boy’s body became rigid so that he was incapable of motion (Arndt and Gingrich, 1967, p. 550). A demon-possessed man who lived among the tombs on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee had excessive strength. He often had been bound with chains and fetters, but he had broken these restraints into pieces, and no one had the power to tame him (cf. also Acts 19:16). Further, he was characterized by both emotional illness and antisocial behavior (e.g., he wore no clothes—Luke 8:27), but when Christ purged the demon from the poor fellow he was observed “clothed, and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15).
It is important to distinguish between cause and effect in these cases. The cause was that of demon possession; the effects were physical and/or emotional maladies. The Scriptures never confuse the two. In other words, “demon possession” was not just an ancient, unenlightened attempt to explain physical and/or mental problems. Rather, a clear distinction is made between being inhabited by an unclean spirit and being sick. Demon possession could produce illness, but not all illness was attributed to the indwelling of evil spirits. Note the distinction that is drawn in the following passage. “And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him [Jesus] all that were sick, and them that were possessed with demons” (Mark 1:32). The double use of the definite article (tous), together with the conjunction, reveals that two distinct classes are under consideration—those who were merely sick, and those who were demon possessed and may or may not have had attending problems. Lenski has commented: “Two classes are markedly distinguished; those suffering from ordinary diseases and those possessed with demons. The distinction shows that the latter cannot be classed with the former in spite of modern attempts in that direction” (1964, p. 84).


The New Testament clearly indicates that demons were under the control of divine authority. Jesus, for example, could command them to leave a person (Matthew 8:16), or even to keep quiet (Mark 1:34). The demons that tormented the man in the country of the Gerasenes could not enter the nearby swine herd except by the Lord’s concession (Mark 5:13-14). Since it is the case that demons could do nothing except by divine permission, the intriguing question is: Why did God allow these malevolent beings to enter into people?
The truth of the matter is, the Bible does not give a specific answer to this question—as much as our curiosity wants to be fed. I believe, though, that a reasonable case can be built to help shed some light on the subject.
If the mission of Jesus Christ, as the divine Son of God, was to be effective, the Lord’s absolute authority had to be established. No stone could be left unturned. Accordingly, we see the Savior demonstrating His authority in a variety of ways. (1) Christ exhibited power over diseases and physical ailments (Matthew 9:20-22; John 4:46-54; 9:1-41). (2) The Lord exerted His authority over material objects (Matthew 14:15-21; 17:24-27; John 2:1-11; 21:1-14). (3) Jesus showed that He could control the elements of nature (Matthew 8:23-27). (4) The Master even suspended the force of gravity with reference to His own body when He walked upon the waters of the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:22-23). (5) The Lord released certain ones who had been captured by death (Matthew 9:18-26; John 11:1-45). (6) Finally, it is not unreasonable to assume that, just as the Savior had displayed His marvelous power in all these realms, it likewise was appropriate that He be able to demonstrate His authority in the spirit sphere as well. Satan is not in full control! In fact, note this interesting passage. When the seventy disciples returned from an evangelistic trip (Luke 10:1), they joyfully proclaimed to Christ: “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in thy name.” Jesus responded: “I beheld Satan fallen as lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:17-18). The significance of that statement is this: the disciples’ power over demons, under the aegis of Christ’s name (authority), was but a preview of the ultimate and complete fall of the devil. One scholar has expressed the matter in the following way.
Jesus viewed the triumph of these [disciples] as being symptomatic of ever so many other victories over Satan throughout the course of the new dispensation, triumphs accomplished through the work of thousands of other missionaries. He was looking far into the future (cf. Matt. 24:14). He saw the ultimate discomfiture of the ugly dragon and all his minions (Hendriksen, 1978, p. 581).
Consider another reference. Christ said: “But if I by the Spirit of God cast out demons, then is the kingdom of God come upon you. Or how can one enter into the house of the strong man, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man?, and then he will spoil his house” (Matthew 12:28-29; Luke 11:20-22). The Savior’s argument is: I have cast out demons, the servants of Satan. I could not have done so if I were not stronger than he is. My power thus is superior to his.
These passages, I believe, help us to understand the purpose of demon possession in the first century. It established the comprehensive and supreme authority of the Son of God.
Why demons entered particular individuals is not explained in the Scriptures. Unger speculated that “in the great majority of cases possession is doubtless traced to yielding voluntarily to temptation and to sin...” (1952, p. 95). However, in the instance of the epileptic boy, the lad had been tormented “from childhood” (Mark 9:21), which suggests, at the very least, that personal sin was not necessarily a causative factor in demon possession.
  • The demoniac in the synagogue (Mark 1:23;
    Luke 4:33-36).
  • The Gerasene demoniac (Matthew 8:8:28-34;
    Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39).
  • The Syrophoenician girl (Matthew 15:21-28;
    Mark 7:24-30).
  • The epileptic boy (Matthew 17:14-21; Mark
    9:14-29; Luke 9:37-43).
  • The mute demoniac (Matthew 9:32-34).
  • The blind/mute demoniac (Matthew 12:22ff.;
    Luke 11:15).


It is worthwhile to make this brief observation. The ancient world abounded with superstition relative to demons (where the genuine exists, the counterfeit will be as well). But there is a vast chasm between the accounts of demons in the New Testament and that of the pagan world and, in fact, even among some of the Hebrew nation. For instance, as mentioned earlier, there are no accounts in the New Testament of any visual descriptions of demons. Such characterizations, however, were common in the heathen world. A bronze statue from ancient Babylon contains the image of the demon Pazuzu. The figure has the wings and feet of an eagle, a human body with claws for hands, and a misshapen head (Aune, 1979, 1:920). Josephus tells of a demon expulsion whereby the exorcist “put a ring which had a root of one of those sorts mentioned by Solomon, to the nostrils of the demoniac, after which he drew out the demon through his nostrils...” (Antiquities 8.2.5). The New Testament contains no such absurd concoctions.


Do evil spirits enter into human bodies and afflict people today? I confidently affirm they do not. Unfortunately, though, some modern writers have argued that demon activity is still a part of Earth’s environment. Charles Ryrie contended that certain “fallen angels” are “still free to roam the earth as demons carrying out Satan’s designs” (1959, p. 296). Merrill Unger, a respected scholar, subtitled his book, Biblical Demonology, “A Study of the Spiritual Forces Behind the Present World Unrest.” Several years ago a book titled UFOs, Satan and Evolution enjoyed a limited circulation in the evangelical community. Therein the author claimed that hundreds ofUFO visits to Earth represented an invasion of demons. He cited one “example” where a demon raped a woman (an interesting feat for a spirit!). The fact that a prominent creationist wrote the Foreword for this literary fiasco remains an inexplicable mystery.
The position that demon possession does not exist today can be argued from a twofold base. First, a thoughtful study of the details associated with the so-called modern examples of demon habitation reveals that these cases bear no resemblance to the genuine examples of spirit possession described in the New Testament. The contrast is dramatic. Second, a consideration of certain data set forth in the New Testament leads only to the conclusion that demon possession was a first-century experience; it was allowed for a very specific reason, and the divine concession was suspended near the end of the apostolic era.


When the movie, The Exorcist (based upon William Blatty’s novel of the same name), made its appearance in December 1973, a wave of mystical excitement that has been dubbed “the exorcism frenzy,” swept the nation. (By the time the movie had been out for 5 weeks, Blatty’s book had sold 9 million copies.) Scores of people began to surmise that they were possessed of evil spirits—or that they knew someone else who was! Numerous articles regarding these alleged experiences appeared in mainline newspapers and magazines. A careful consideration of the details involved in these alleged episodes highlights some startling contrasts to the New Testament (cf. Woodward, 1974). Reflect upon the following differences.
(1) The “exorcisms” of today are performed almost invariably in dark, secluded environments, only to be publicized later. When Jesus cast out demons, the episodes were public, and therefore subject to critical examination (cf. Luke 4:31-37).
(2) The Lord could expel evil spirits with but a word, and the effect was immediate (Luke 4:36; Matthew 17:18). The Jesuit Priest who supposedly “exorcised” a demon from the youngster who served as the subject of Blatty’s book, The Exorcist, confessed that it took him two months of preparation (fasting on bread and water), and twenty ritual ceremonies to purge the child.
(3) The demoniacs of the New Testament era were afflicted, either physically or mentally, by a malfunction of what were otherwise normal human traits. Those cases involved no grotesque details. However, according to Roman Catholic priest Luigi Novagese (the official exorcist for the papal diocese in Rome), “A man’s skin turned white like paper, his teeth became transparent, his eyes bulged with balls of flame and fire issued from his mouth.” One priest claimed that a demon took a bite out of his sandwich. The February 11, 1974 issue of Newsweek magazine carried a photo of the burglarized delicacy, displaying perfect, human-like teeth prints! (I wonder—do demons get cavities?)
(4) Modern demoniacs frequently are described as uttering “fierce curses” and “bursts of blasphemy.” In the New Testament record, demons always were very respectful of deity (Mark 1:24; 3:11). There is not a solitary case of a demon blaspheming either God or Christ in the biblical narratives.
(5) Two cases of demon possession in the New Testament reveal that the unclean spirits could empower their hosts with supernatural strength (Mark 5:1-20; cf. Acts 19:13-16). The demoniac described in Mark 5 could not be bound even with a “chain.” A respected university professor posed this interesting query: “If we have demon-possessed people today, why in my travels in over forty countries of the world have I never seen a person who is so strong that you can’t bind him with chains (cf. Mk. 5:3)?” (Edwards, 1996, p. 135).
(6) The ability to cast out demons in the first century was given in order to confirm the truth of the Gospel message (Mark 16:17-20). Modern “exorcists” preach everything but the Gospel.


A powerful case can be made for the proposition that demon possession was not allowed to continue beyond the apostolic age—i.e., the era of miracles.
I first must mention that when the prophet Zechariah foretold the coming of the Messianic dispensation, and the blessings that would accompany the spread of the Gospel, he suggested that the Lord would “cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land” (13:1-2). Some feel that the expression “unclean spirit” may hint of, or at least include, the cessation of demonic activity. Hailey sees this as a prediction of the eventual termination of prophetic activity (on the part of God’s people) and the curtailing of the power of unclean spirits.
Likewise, unclean spirits, the antithesis of the prophets, would cease. In the conquest of Christ over Satan and his forces, unclean spirits have ceased to control men as they did in the time of the ministry of Christ and the apostles... (1972, p. 392).
While this is not a common view of Zechariah’s prophecy, and certainly not one upon which an entire case could be built, it is not without possibility. A firmer proposition can be argued as follows.
With the close of the first century, the age of the supernatural came to a close. God is not empowering men to operate in a miraculous fashion today. This is evinced in the following way:
(1) Nothing duplicating the miracles of the first century is apparent today. No one can walk upon water, raise the dead, calm a raging storm, turn water into wine, instantly heal an amputated ear, extract tax money from a fish’s mouth, etc. Miracles are self-authenticating phenomena that cannot be denied, even by hostile critics (cf. John 11:47; Acts 4:14-16); clearly, they are not occurring today.
(2) The purpose of supernatural gifts was to confirm the authenticity of divine revelation being received from heaven (Mark 16:9-20; Hebrews 2:1-4). Since the revelatory process was completed when the last New Testament book was written, miracles no longer are needed, hence, have ceased. They were like the scaffolding that is removed once the building is finished.
(3) The New Testament explicitly argues that the day was on the horizon when miracles would cease. Paul defended that position both in Ephesians 4:8-16 and in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10. During the early days of the apostolic era, divine revelation had been “in part,” i.e., piece-by-piece. The apostle said, however, that when “the perfect” or “the complete” arrived, the partial revelation, which came by means of the various “gifts” (e.g., supernatural knowledge and prophecy), would cease (1 Corinthians 13:8ff.). Prominent Greek scholar, W.E. Vine, summarized the matter well.
With the completion of Apostolic testimony and the completion of the Scriptures of truth (“the faith once for all delivered to the saints”, Jude, 3, R.V.), “that which is perfect” had come, and the temporary gifts were done away. For the Scriptures provided by the Spirit of God were “perfect”. Nothing was to be added to them, nothing taken from them. This interpretation is in keeping with the context (1951, p. 184).
Elsewhere this writer has discussed the theme of miracles and their duration in much greater detail (Jackson, 1990, pp. 114-124).
Here is a crucial point. If it is the case that miraculous powers have been removed from the church’s possession, including the ability to cast out demons (Mark 16:17-20), does it stand to reason that God would allow demons to supernaturally assault people today, thus granting Satan an undue advantage over the human family? How would this square with the promise that “greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4)? In other words, if the gift of expelling demons no longer is extant, is it not a reasonable conclusion that demon possession is obsolete as well?


Certainly Satan exerts great influence today. However, as God does not work miraculously in this age, but influences through his Word and through the events of providence, so also, the devil wields his power indirectly, and non-miraculously, through various media. Current cases that are being associated with demon possession doubtless are the results of psychosomatic problems, hysteria, self-induced hypnosis, deception, delusion, and the like. They have natural, though perhaps not always well understood, causes.


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Barclay, William (1976), And He Had Compassion—The Healing Miracles of Jesus (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press).
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Jackson, Wayne (1996), “The Silence of the Scriptures: An Argument for Inspiration,” Reason & Revelation, 16:17-22, March.
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