The prophet Daniel described the end times: “There shall be a time of anguish such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence” (Daniel 12.1).
Mark 13 is largely devoted to describing the anguish that will occur at the end.
Paul listed 19 characteristics of the people who cause distress at the end.
You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come.
For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
Unfeeling, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good,
Treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them! (2 Timothy 3.1-5)
We don’t want to be part of the “bad guys” in the end. Prayerful self-examination will help us conform to God’s ideal and not that of those who oppose him.
A “Frame” for the Discussion
Like a picture frame, the beginning and end of his category of 19 vices puts the whole message in proper context.
The discussion of end-time “bad guys” begins with self-lovers and money-lovers. The passage ends with pleasure-lovers and not God-lovers.
The love of self produces greed and the lack of love for God is the fruit of the love of pleasure.
The Other Vices Explained
Sandwiched between the two major issues of “self-love” and the “love of pleasure” are other vices that are characteristic of end-time evil persons.
Rather than reading quickly through Paul’s list, a meditation on each word will drive home the way we are complicit in destructive behavior.
— Boasters – The modern term “con-man” reflects the first-century meaning of this word. Boasters are seen as charlatans or quacks.
— Arrogant – The arrogant believe they stand above others, whether they do or not.
— Abusive – Abusive speech includes evil speaking, slander, and blasphemy. Abusive speech precedes abusive behavior.
— Disobedient to their parents – This is a conscious disregard of the Fifth Commandment.
“Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20.12).
— Ungrateful – We are guilty of this when we focus on what we lack or on what other people have that we do not.
— Unholy – Behavior that is opposite of God’s moral and ethical character.
— Unfeeling – James captures the essence of unfeeling or hard-hearted persons.
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Surely that faith cannot save, can it?
If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?
So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead (James 2.14-17).
— Implacable – The Greek word refers to people who refuse to enter into a covenant or treaty with others.
— Slanderers – The Greek word for “slander” is very similar to the word for the devil.
— Profligates – People who lack self-control fit this category.
— Brutes – These people engage in savage behavior.
— Haters of good and treacherous – It is worth considering how the last six categories aptly characterize wars and conflicts in 2021.
— Reckless – Describes people who are rash and unthoughtful in their choices.
— Swollen with Conceit – Proverbs notes, “The proud, haughty person, named Scoffer, acts with arrogant pride” (Proverbs 21.24).
James describes the character trait that God desires: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4.6).
Thanks for reading a long list of vices that characterize evil end-time people. Please join me and let’s examine our lives in the light of these traits.
Let’s make sure that we do not resemble the “bad guys” in the end.
Rudy Ross and I have produced a YouTube video on this passage. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
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