Q. My question concerns 2 Timothy 3:1-5. It explains the last days and the behavior of those in the world, but I don’t understand verse 5, “having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof”. To whom does this refer, Christians perhaps, that are not living by the word of God?
A. I think in verse 5 Paul was describing the “form without substance” churches. They deny the supernatural origin of the Bible, they rationalize away the Lord’s miracles, they deny the existence of spiritual gifts, the need to be born again, the validity of prophecy, even the deity of Christ, yet they still call themselves Christian.
Some cable TV channels love to promote this “un-gospel”. They often feature people with advanced degrees who claim to be experts in the field of religion and theology to help lend credibility to their empty opinions. Paul said the appearance of groups like this would be an indication that the last days are near.
I believe he was also speaking of them when he said, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic human principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).