“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” Â Â Â Â Â Â Â (2 Timothy 3:1)
There has always been some confusion about the biblical term “the last days.” Many times the phrase is associated with the Great Tribulation period. Some commentaries appear to relate the era to the final days just before the Lord returns to put an end to the universe.
It does appear, however, that the “last days” began officially at Pentecost when the prophecy of Joel 2:28-29 was fulfilled and verified by Peter in his sermon recorded in Acts 2:14-21. That same Peter reaffirmed that the Lord Jesus “was manifest in these last times for you” (1 Peter 1:20). And, just so there could not be any doubt, the apostle John said simply, “Little children, it is the last time” (1 John 2:18).
Paul’s warning to Timothy was that these last days will be filled with “perilous times.” The Greek term translated “perilous” is chalepos. Its basic meaning is “stress” or “fierce,” coming from a root word meaning to “reduce strength.” Other Bible versions translate the term as “dangerous” or “difficult” times. The word could well be understood as “strength-sapping pressure.”
The “times” that will be perilous are “seasons” or “periods” that will characterize these “last days.” The verses that follow our text contain a list of the kinds of “peril” that will “stress” those who would live godly lives. This warning is not unique. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1).
No wonder we are told: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).