I received the following question:

The mention of Jannes and Jambres by Paul in 2 Tim. 3:8-9 is the only Biblical reference to these two by name.  Jewish legend says that Jannes and Jambres were the two magicians who were trying to counter the miracles of the ten plagues.

Origen says that there is a book called “The Book of Jannes and Jambres”.  This book has not been found.

As we know their magic was always shown up by the greater miracles of God.  But it should be noted that these two men were performing what many consider super-natural acts.  No one today can recreate their magic.

This informs how we are to understand what Paul is saying in 2 Tim.

8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith.
9 But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.

So in the resulting days there will be people who oppose God (as always), but the folly of their opposition will be exposed.  But it appears that something more than a political stance is being viewed here.  Jannes and Jambres’ exposed folly was the black magic they were working.  What was exposed was that God’s miracles were more powerful than their Satan powered magic.  So is Paul saying that in the resulting days Satan’s restrain in the area of black magic will be reduced?  And that this black magic will ultimately be shown to be not as powerful as the power of God?  Hard to tell exactly, but it does seem to suggest it.

It says clearly in the passage how these men are like Jannes and Jambres. In the translation you offer:

Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses,
So these men also oppose the truth.

The way the men in the last days are similar to Jannes and Jambres is that they opposed Moses (who spoke the truth,) and these men in the last days also oppose the truth. This says nothing about how they opposed the truth, or that it is a similar truth, or that they are opposing it in a similar way. I don’t think there is any reason to suppose that black magic is implied. It doesn’t take magic to oppose the truth.

The same is true of their end:

For their folly will be obvious to all,
Just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.

The way the last days men are similar to Jannes and Jambres here is that their folly is made obvious to all, and Jannes and Jambres’ folly was also made obvious to all. Again, this does not speak to how their folly was made obvious, or suggest that it has to be in a similar way. It may be in a similar way. But what exactly the parallel is that he is making is not really left up to speculation. He shows us just how these two sets of people are similar. He doesn’t leave it open to our imaginations. I think we are making a mistake if we carry it too far beyond this.

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