"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." (II Tim. 3: 1-5)
The "perilous times" correspond to the times mentioned by Christ in Luke 21: 25-26 when there will be "upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity" and when the hearts of men will fail from the terror and anxiety that will grip them for "looking after those things which are coming on the earth."
In the above description of those times, Paul uses the Greek word "kairoi" (times) because he is describing the characteristics of "the last days." He does not mention any of the physical signs, such as will occur in the physical world, but focuses on the state of the social and cultural world. He gives us what may be called the "social climate" of the seasons of the last days. Clearly Paul believed that the last generation of men who will be living in the days leading up to the day of judgment will be grossly ungodly.
All the sinful and immoral charateristics Paul lists have always existed among men, just as there have always been earthquakes and wars. Yet, when the Bible speaks of such depraved characters, earthquakes and wars, as existing in the days immediately preceding the day of the Lord, the idea is that these things will exist in a superlative degree. Later in the same chapter Paul said:
"But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived." (vs. 13)
Thus, we can expect that the time immediately preceding the day of judgment will find men in the worst of moral states. It will be a time when the stench of moral filth will become intolerable to the Lord. God's judgment upon the wicked Amorites waited till their iniquity became full. (Gen. 15: 16) Likewise, God's judgment upon the wicked world waits till the iniquity of the world reaches its fulness. Of these times Jesus said - "Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold." (Matt. 24: 12)
In describing the moral character of the wicked generation of the last days Paul speaks of their "love" for money and for themselves. The Greek word for love is philos. The word Jesus used to describe "love" growing cold, however, is "agape." Agape is nobler love, love that mostly resembles the divine love. Philos is a feeling of attraction akin to our word "like." In the latter days true higher divine love will be almost absent, but common affection and fondness for money, self, and wordly things will abound.
Lovers of Self
In the opening text, "lovers of their own selves" is from a single Greek word "philautos" and means not only to have a loving affection for oneself, but to be selfish. The generation of men who will exist at the time of Christ's coming in judgment will be narcissistic, having an inordinate fascination with themselves, excessive self-love, and great vanity. They will be extremely self-centered, smug, and egocentric. It will be a "me first" generation. The idea of "esteeming others better than oneself" and of putting others first will be rejected by this generation. When one looks at today's world, one can see how fitting is this description.
The Greek word for "covetous" is "philargyros" and describes people who love money, who are avaricious and greedy of gain. Thus the first two descriptive words Paul gives to characterize people in the extreme last days involve what people like and are fond of. They love themselves and love money and gain. Jesus said: "And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." (Luke 12: 15) But, men of the last days, upon whom God's judgment shall finally fall, judge a person based upon his wealth. The poor will be despised and judged as inferior.
"Proud" is from the Greek word "hyperēphanos" and means to show one's self above others, overtopping, conspicuous above others, pre-eminent, to have an overweening estimate of one's means or merits, and to despise others and treat them with contempt. It refers to those who are haughty and have a superiority complex. "Boasters" is from the Greek word "alazōn" and means a pretender, one who is not as he claims to be. Braggerts are vainglorious and deceived people. Pride and boasting go together, where you find one you will find the other. Boasters love to talk about themselves. They are egocentric. Such is the present state of the masses of our day.
"Blasphemers" is from the Greek word "blasphēmos" and denotes evil speaking, slanderous and reproachful talk, railing, and abusive and derogatory language. In Scripture "evil speaking" is associated with bitterness, wrath, anger, and clamour. (See Eph. 4: 31) In the time of the end we are told that it is a time when "the nations" are angry (Rev. 11: 18) and their anger will manifest itself in most vulgar language. Jesus said "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" (Matt. 12: 34) and it is because the heart of earth's final generation, the omega generation, is extremely wicked that their speech will also be. Jesus said that it is out of the heart that blasphemies proceed. (Matt. 15: 19) The AntiChrist will be one who has "a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies." (Rev. 13: 5) Paul wrote to the early Christians: "But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth." (Col. 3: 8) Notice that not only is blasphemy associated with wrath, anger, and malice, but with "filthy communication." Such language has become commonplace in our evil world.
The breakdown of the traditional family is a clear sign that the moral condition of the world has reached its destructive point. (See also I Tim. 4: 3) Disobedient children will characterize the culture of the omega generation and it is because they have a "revolting and a rebellious heart." (Jer. 5: 23) The scriptures say that "rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft." (I Sam. 15: 23) Long ago the Lord pronounced woe to them that say to their fathers - "What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?" (Isa. 45: 10) But, this is exactly what that most wicked generation will be doing when the Lord returns in judgment. They will be found blaming and cursing their parents. It is a symptom of being "without natural affection" to despise one's parents. (See Rom. 1: 31)
Many of the sins mentioned by Paul as abounding in the very last days are the same delineated by him in Romans chapter one when describing the depraved condition of the Gentile world in olden times. Paul says of them "neither were they thankful." (vs. 21) It seems only reasonable that a proud and boastful people who blame others would also be ungrateful.
The last generation existing prior to the Lord's return will be a profane, worldly, and secular society. The Greek word Paul used was "anosios" and means, according to Strong, to also be impious and wicked. We may also say that it means irreligious and profane. Unholy people are irreverent, lacking proper respect for God and others.
Without Natural Affection
Not only would such a description include those who despise and rebel against their parents, but describes our society today where infanticide, homosexuality, and perversion of every kind is commonplace. There is little love for God, family, and country in today's apostate world.
"Trucebreaker" is from the Greek word "aspondos" and means, according to Vine:
"lit. denotes "without a libation" (a, negative, sponde, "a libation"), i.e., "without a truce," as a libation accompanied the making of treaties and compacts; then, "one who cannot be persuaded to enter into a covenant," "implacable," 2Ti 3:3."
What a horrific society where no one can trust another! People who are implacable are people who refuse to forgive, to "let bygones be bygones," who are irreconcilable. It is a vengeful society.
"False accusers" is from the Greek word "diabolos" and is the word we get diabolic. It is the word for "devil" and denotes devlish people. False accusers are also blasphemers and it is no wonder that these two words are joined together in describing the omega generation. A wicked generation of calumniators, people who lie and deceive one another! No wonder such a society is associated with dangerous times! No one is safe in such a world.
"Incontinent" is from the Greek word "akratēs" and means to be without self-control and intemperate. It involves the idea of being morally impotent and unrestrained. It speaks of a people who are enslaved to their basest passions. A people who have no power to resist temptation.
"Fierce" is from the Greek word "anēmeros" and means to be wild, untamed, and savage. It is an appropriate word for an uncivilized and barbaric culture. People are ferocious and vicious. It was said of Ishmael - "And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him." (Gen. 16: 12) People will be merciless, violent, and brutal.
Despisers of the Good
"Despisers of those who are good" is from the singular Greek word "aphilagathos" and is an adjective that simply speaks of those who hate and despise good people. Long ago God said through the prophet Isaiah:
"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isa. 5: 20) The Devil could not have created a more evil society! The last days will be a time when "good is evil spoken of." (Rom. 14: 16)
"Traitors" is from the Greek word "prodotēs" is denotes those who are betrayers as Judas. A world of traitors and betrayers! How dangerous such a world! How full of peril! Untrustworthy people who know nothing of friendship and faithfulness!
Heady and Highminded
"Heady" is from the Greek word "propetēs" which means, metaphorically speaking, that individuals are "precipitate, rash, reckless," according to Vine. It includes the idea of being "headstrong." It speaks of people who are not easily restrained, who are "impatient of control, advice, or suggestions." The Greek word for "highminded" is "typhoō" and means, according to Strong, "to raise a smoke, to wrap in a mist," and metaphorically "to make proud, puff up with pride, render insolent," and "to be puffed up with haughtiness or pride," and "to blind with pride or conceit, to render foolish or stupid." As an adjective it includes the idea of being "beclouded, besotted, and directed by ungovernable will."
Lover of Pleasures
"Lovers of pleasures" is from the singular Greek word "philēdonos" and is from the root word from which we get our word "hedonistic." The word is set in opposition to "philotheos" or "lovers of God." There is nothing wrong with pleasure in itself. David spoke of enjoying eternal "pleasures" at the right hand of God for eternity. (Psa. 16: 11) But, there are good, honest, and decent pleasures and there are "the pleasures of sin." (Heb. 11: 25) The omega generation will be a society of people who love fun and games and who omit the weightier matters of life.
"Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof." Simply put, man's religious devotion will simply be a ritual or form, without any accompanying substance. It will be only a shell of true religion. It will be all external religion without inward piety.
Taken together, these adjectives describe that people who will be existing throughout the world when the day of judgment begins. Is it not a perfect description of the world in which we now live? Can it get worse? Yes, but it is hard to see how it can get much worse. Look closely at the popular culture that exists today and see if it is not the world the apostles described in the above words.
The only way to escape the judgment of God that is coming upon such a wicked generation is to call upon the Lord Jesus Christ in faith and repentance and serve him. Oh that men would do this before it is everlastingly too late!