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2 Timothy 3:8

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses - The names of these two men are not elsewhere mentioned in the Bible. They are supposed to have been two of the magicians who resisted Moses (Exodus 7:11, et al.), and who opposed their miracles to those of Moses and Aaron. It is not certain where the apostle obtained their names; but they are frequently mentioned by the Hebrew writers, and also by other writers; so that there can be no reasonable doubt that their names were correctly handed down by tradition. Nothing is more probable than that the names of the more distinguished magicians who attempted to imitate the miracles of Moses, would be preserved by tradition; and though they are not mentioned by Moses himself, and the Jews have told many ridiculous stories respecting them, yet this should not lead us to doubt the truth of the tradition respecting their names. A full collection of the Jewish statements in regard to them may be found in Wetstein, in loc.

They are also mentioned by Pliny, Nat. Hist. 30:7; and by Numenius, the philosopher, as quoted by Eusebius, 9:8, and Origen, against Celsus, p. 199. See Wetstein. By the rabbinical writers, they are sometimes mentioned as Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses in Egypt, and sometimes as the sons of Balaam. The more common account is, that they were the princes of the Egyptian magicians. One of the Jewish rabbins represents them as having been convinced by the miracles of Moses, and as having become converts to the Hebrew religion. There is no reason to doubt that these were in fact the leading men who opposed Moses in Egypt, by attempting to work counter-miracles. The point of the remark of the apostle here, is, that they resisted Moses by attempting to imitate his miracles, thus neutralizing the evidence that he was sent from God. In like manner, the persons here referred to, opposed the progress of the gospel by setting up a similar claim to that of the apostles; by pretending to have as much authority as they had; and by thus neutralizing the claims of the true religion, and leading off weak-minded persons from the truth. This is often the most dangerous kind of opposition that is made to religion.

Men of corrupt minds; - compare the notes at 1 Timothy 6:5.

Reprobate concerning the faith - So far as the Christian faith is concerned. On the word rendered “reprobate,” see the Romans 1:28 note; 1 Corinthians 9:27 note, rendered “cast-away;” 2 Corinthians 13:5 note. The margin here is, “of no judgment.” The meaning is, that in respect to the Christian faith, or the doctrines of religion, their views could not be approved, and they were not to be regarded as true teachers of religion.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Even in gospel times there would be perilous times; on account of persecution from without, still more on account of corruptions within. Men love to gratify their own lusts, more than to please God and do their duty. When every man is eager for what he can get, and anxious to keep what he has, this makes men dangerous to one another. When men do not fear God, they will not regard man. When children are disobedient to their parents, that makes the times perilous. Men are unholy and without the fear of God, because unthankful for the mercies of God. We abuse God's gifts, if we make them the food and fuel of our lusts. Times are perilous also, when parents are without natural affection to children. And when men have no rule over their own spirits, but despise that which is good and to be honoured. God is to be loved above all; but a carnal mind, full of enmity against him, prefers any thing before him, especially carnal pleasure. A form of godliness is very different from the power; from such as are found to be hypocrites, real Christians must withdraw. Such persons have been found within the outward church, in every place, and at all times. There ever have been artful men, who, by pretences and flatteries, creep into the favour and confidence of those who are too easy of belief, ignorant, and fanciful. All must be ever learning to know the Lord; but these follow every new notion, yet never seek the truth as it is in Jesus. Like the Egyptian magicians, these were men of corrupt minds, prejudiced against the truth, and found to be quite without faith. Yet though the spirit of error may be let loose for a time, Satan can deceive the nations and the churches no further, and no longer, than God will permit.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses - This refers to the history of the Egyptian magicians, given in Exodus 7 (see on Exodus 7:11; (note) and Exodus 7:12; (note)), and particularly the concluding observations at the end of that chapter, (note) where several things are said concerning these two men.

Men of corrupt minds - It appears as if the apostle were referring still to some Judaizing teachers who were perverting the Church with their doctrines, and loudly calling in question the authority and doctrine of the apostle.

Reprobate concerning the faith - Αδοκιμοι· Undiscerning or untried; they are base metal, unstamped; and should not pass current, because not standard. This metaphor is frequent in the sacred writings.

Ellen G. White
Early Writings, 60

That time will soon come, and we shall have to keep hold of the strong arm of Jehovah; for all these great signs and mighty wonders of the devil are designed to deceive God's people and overthrow them. Our minds must be stayed upon God, and we must not fear the fear of the wicked, that is, fear what they fear, and reverence what they reverence, but be bold and valiant for the truth. Could our eyes be opened, we should see forms of evil angels around us, trying to invent some new way to annoy and destroy us. And we should also see angels of God guarding us from their power; for God's watchful eye is ever over Israel for good, and He will protect and save His people, if they put their trust in Him. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. EW 60.1

Said the angel, “Remember, thou art on the enchanted ground.” I saw that we must watch and have on the whole armor and take the shield of faith, and then we shall be able to stand, and the fiery darts of the wicked cannot harm us. EW 60.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 292

Pharaoh called for the magicians to work with their enchantments. They also showed signs and wonders, for Satan came to their aid to work through them. Yet even here the work of God was shown to be superior to the power of Satan, for the magicians could not perform all those miracles which God wrought through Moses. Only a few of them could they do. The magicians’ rods did become serpents, [See Appendix.] but Aaron's rod swallowed them up. After the magicians sought to produce the lice, and could not, they were compelled by the power of God to acknowledge even to Pharaoh, saying: “This is the finger of God.” Satan wrought through the magicians in a manner calculated to harden the heart of the tyrant Pharaoh against the miraculous manifestations of God's power. Satan thought to stagger the faith of Moses and Aaron in the divine origin of their mission, and then his instruments, the magicians, would prevail. Satan was unwilling to have the people of Israel released from Egyptian servitude that they might serve God. The magicians failed to produce the miracle of the lice, and could no more imitate Moses and Aaron. God would not suffer Satan to proceed further, and the magicians could not save themselves from the plagues. “And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians.” Exodus 9:11. 1T 292.1

God's controlling power here cut off the channel through which Satan worked, and caused even those through whom Satan had wrought so wonderfully to feel His wrath. Sufficient evidence was given to Pharaoh to believe, if he would. Moses wrought by the power of God. The magicians wrought not by their own science alone, but by the power of their god, the devil, who ingeniously carried out his deceptive work of counterfeiting the work of God. 1T 292.2

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Ellen G. White
Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, 205-6

“And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded; and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers. Now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments; for they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents; but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods. And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them, as the Lord had said.” 3SG 205.1

The magicians seemed to perform several things with their enchantments similar to those things which God wrought by the hand of Moses and Aaron. They did not really cause their rods to become serpents, but by magic, aided by the great deceiver, made them to appear like serpents, to counterfeit the work of God. Satan assisted his servants to resist the work of the Most High, in order to deceive the people, and encourage them in their rebellion. Pharaoh would grasp at the least evidence he could obtain to justify himself in resisting the work of God, performed by Moses and Aaron. He told these servants of God that his magicians could do all these wonders. The difference between the work of God and that of the magicians was, one was of God, the other of Satan. One was true, the other false. 3SG 205.2

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Ellen G. White
Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, 243

The magicians could not produce the lice. The Lord would not suffer them to make it even appear to their own sight, or to that of the Egyptians, that they could produce the plague of the lice. He would remove all excuse of unbelief from Pharaoh. He compelled even the magicians themselves to say, “This is the finger of God.” 3SG 243.1

Next came the plague of the swarms of flies. They were not such flies as harmlessly annoy us in some seasons of the year; but the flies brought upon Egypt were large and venomous. Their sting was very painful upon man and beast. God separated his people from the Egyptians, and suffered no flies to appear throughout their coasts. 3SG 243.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 441

Purity of life imparts refinement, which will lead those possessing it to shrink more and more from coarseness and indulgence in sin. Such will not be led away from the truth or be given up to doubt the inspiration of the word of God. On the contrary, they will engage in the daily study of the sacred word with ever-increasing interest, and the evidences of Christianity and inspiration will stamp their impress on the mind and life. Those who love sin will turn away from the Bible, will love to doubt, and will become reckless in principle. They will receive and advocate false theories. Such will ascribe man's sins to his circumstances, and when he commits some great sin they make him a subject of pity instead of looking upon him as a criminal to be punished. This will always suit a depraved heart, which in course of time will develop the principles of fallen nature. By some general process, men abolish sin at once to avoid the unpleasant necessity of individual reformation and exertion. In order to free themselves from the obligation of present effort, many are ready to declare of no account all the labor and effort of their lives while following the sacred principles of God's word. Elder Hull's philosophical necessity has its stronghold in the corruptions of the heart. God is raising up men to go forth to labor in the harvest field, and if they are humble, devoted, and godly, they will take the crowns which those ministers lose who concerning the faith are reprobate. 1T 441.1

November 5, 1862, I was shown that some men mistake their calling. They think that if a man cannot labor with his hands, or if he is not a business character, he will make a minister. Many make a great mistake here. A man who has no business tact may make a minister, but he will lack qualifications that every minister must possess in order to deal wisely in the church and build up the cause. But when a minister is good in the pulpit, and, like Elder Hull, fails in management, he should never go out alone. Another should go with him to supply his lack and manage for him. And although it may be humiliating, he should give heed to the judgment and counsel of this companion, as a blind man follows one who has sight. By so doing he will escape many dangers that would prove fatal to him were he left alone. 1T 441.2

The prosperity of the cause of God depends much upon the ministers who labor in the gospel field. Those who teach the truth should be devotional, self-sacrificing, godly men who understand their business and go about doing good because they know that God has called them to the work, men who feel the worth of souls and will bear burdens and responsibilities. A thorough workman is known by the perfection of his work. 1T 442.1

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