2 Timothy 3:8

8 As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these people, of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith, also oppose the truth.

2 Timothy 3:8 Meaning and Commentary

2 Timothy 3:8

Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses
These were not Jews, who rose up and opposed Moses, as Dathan and Abiram did, as some have thought; but Egyptian magicians, the chief of those that Pharaoh sent for, when Moses and Aaron came before him, and wrought miracles; and who did in like manner by their enchantments, ( Exodus 7:11 ) upon which place the Targum of Jonathan has these words:

``and Pharaoh called the wise men and the magicians; and Janis and Jambres, the magicians of the Egyptians, did so by the enchantments of their divinations.''

And the same paraphrase on ( Exodus 1:15 ) calls them by the same names; and this shows from whence the apostle had these names, which are not mentioned in any place in the Old Testament; namely, from the traditions and records of the Jews, with which he was well acquainted: there is no need to say he had this account by divine revelation, for some of the Heathens had knowledge of this story some such way. Numenius; the philosopher, speaks of Jannes and Jambres as Egyptian scribes, and famous for their skill in the magic art; and who opposed themselves to Moses when the Jews were driven out of Egypt F12. Pliny also makes mention of Janme and Jotape as magicians; though he wrongly calls them Jews, and places Moses with them F13, as Jannes likewise is by Apuleius F14. It is commonly said by the Jews F15, that these were the two sons of Balaam, and they are said to be the chief of the magicians of Egypt F16; the latter of these is called in the Vulgate Latin version Mambres; and in some Jewish writers his name is Mamre F17 by whom also the former is called Jochane or John; and indeed Joannes, Jannes, and John, are the same name; and R. Gedaliah F18 says, that their names in other languages are John and Ambrose, which is not unlikely. Mention is made of the sons of Jambri in the Apocrypha:

``But the children of Jambri came out of Medaba, and took John, and all that he had, and went their way with it.'' (1 Maccabees 9:36)

whom Josephus F19 calls the sons of Amaraeus. These are said to be the persons that told Pharaoh, that a child should be born among the Israelites, by whom the whole land of Egypt should be destroyed, and which was the reason of Pharaoh's giving such a charge to the Hebrew midwives F20; also the making of the golden calf is ascribed to them {u}; for, according to the Jews, they afterwards became proselytes; but these things are not to be depended on: however, certain it is, that they withstood Moses by their enchantments, and hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that, for a while, he would not let the children of Israel go. Now between these magicians, and the Papists before described, there is a very great agreement; as these men were Egyptians, so the Papists may be called, since Rome is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, ( Revelation 11:8 ) as the one were, so the other are idolaters, who worshipped devils, idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, ( Revelation 9:20 ) and both sorcerers, using the magic art; ( Revelation 9:21 ) and they both pretended to miracles; though what they did were no other than lying wonders, ( 2 Thessalonians 2:9 ) ( Revelation 13:13 Revelation 13:14 ) and both agreed to keep the people of God in bondage, as much, and as long as they could: and particularly, as the magicians of Egypt withstood Moses,

so do these also resist the truth;
the truth of one God, by their worshipping of images; and of one Mediator, by making use of angels, and saints departed, to intercede with God for them; and of justification by the righteousness of Christ, by introducing the doctrine of works, of merit, and supererogation; and of pardon and cleansing by the blood of Christ, and atonement by his sacrifice, by their pardons, indulgences, penance, purgatory, and the sacrifice of the Mass; yea, they resist the Scriptures of truth, not allowing them to be a sufficient rule without their unwritten traditions, and even Christ, who is truth itself, in all his offices, prophetic, priestly, and kingly.

Men of corrupt minds,
of bad principles, holding antichristian tenets, derogatory to the grace of God, and glory of Christ; giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; like Jannes and Jambres, who were given to magic arts, and were under the influence of Satan:

reprobate concerning the faith;
men of no judgment in the doctrine of faith; who have not their senses exercised to discern good and evil, to try things that differ, and approve the more excellent, but call good evil, and evil good: or as those who are disobedient and wicked in their lives, are said to be to every good work reprobate, ( Titus 1:16 ) so these are said to be reprobate to the faith; that is, to have no liking of it, or value for it, but despise it, hate it, and reject it; and upon that account, as they are like reprobate silver, whom God has rejected, they ought to be rejected by men.


F12 Apud Euseb. Praeparat. Evangel. l. 9. p. 411.
F13 Nat. Hist. l. 30. c. 1.
F14 Apolog. p. 248.
F15 Targum Jon. in Numb. xxii. 22. & Zohar in Numb. fol. 78. 3. & Chronicon Mosis, fol. 6. 2.
F16 Targum Jon. in Exod. i. 15. & vii. 11. & Zohar in Exod. fol. 75. 1.
F17 T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 85. 1. Midrash Shemot Rabba, sect. 9. fol. 97. 3. & Aruch. in voce.
F18 Shalsheleth Hakabala, fol. 7. 1.
F19 Antiqu. l. 13. c. 1. sect. 2.
F20 Targum Jon. in Exod. i. 15.
F21 Zohar in Exod. fol. 75. 1. & in Numb. fol. 78. 3. Shalsheleth, ib.

2 Timothy 3:8 In-Context

6 For among them are those who make their way into households and captivate silly women, overwhelmed by their sins and swayed by all kinds of desires,
7 who are always being instructed and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
8 As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these people, of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith, also oppose the truth.
9 But they will not make much progress, because, as in the case of those two men, their folly will become plain to everyone.
10 Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness,
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.