Although the Pastorals (the First Epistle to Timothy (1st Timothy), the Second Epistle to Timothy (2nd Timothy), and the Epistle to Titus) are written under Paul’s name, they are different from his other epistles, and since the 1700s scholars have increasingly seen them as the work of an unknown student of Paul’s doctrine. They were likely written between 90 and 140 AD. Scholars refer to the anonymous author as “the Pastor”.
Whether or not you agree with scholars, or believe the Pastorals were actually written by Paul, its hard not to be impressed by the following prophetic statement made in 2nd Timothy:
The last days will be perilous times, for men will become:
- lovers of themselves
- lovers of money
- boastful and proud
- disobedient to their parents
- without self-control
- despisers of goodness
- lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of the Spirit
They will have a form of godliness, but deny its power. Turn away from such people! These are the kind of people who worm their way into homes and captivate gullible women. They are loaded down with sins, led astray by lust, always learning but never able to find the truth. They resist the truth with corrupt minds, and disapprove of those who have faith. But they will progress no further, and their folly will become manifest to all.
What does the Pastor mean by “they will have a form of godliness, but deny its power?” I believe he means that there will be charismatic thought leaders who will use their gifts to unlock humanity’s incredible potential, but will deny that what they do has anything to do with spirituality.
What does the Pastor mean by “they will progress no further, and their folly will become manifest to all?” I believe he’s saying that their naturalist point of view will prevent them from progressing their science past a certain point, and that eventually, it’ll become obvious that their unwillingness to be open to more than what can be observed in the natural world is the very thing that is holding them back.