Continuing our Optimism Out Of Control series consider yet another curious verse. Paul warns and instructs his protégé Timothy thus, “Even as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind, who concerning the faith are rejected” (2 Timothy 3:8 WEB).
First, Paul warns Timothy that the world is and will continue to be filled with evil men of the worst kind. Paul compares these men to Jannes and Jambres, named here for the first time. These men were the powerful cronies of Pharaoh who directly opposed the command of God given through Moses. Consider that Scripture records that Jannes and Jambres had super natural power like Moses. Yet their power was through Satan and was used to directly oppose the living God. Paul gravely warns Timothy to caution against men such as this.
Second, Paul points out that men such as this are rejected. But in the midst of this rejection there is a curious hope. Paul says, “who concerning the faith are rejected.” The meaning of “concerning” in this context means that they are rejected from having faith in Christ, but not necessarily rejected absolutely from all God's blessings.
For example, if I was a Christian camp counselor in charge of a group of unruly boys I likely would need to discipline them from time to time. I might have to say, "concerning lunch you are rejected." My meaning would be that they would not receive lunch as punishment, but implied is that grace will be extended after that.
Here is curious hope for ones such as you and I who also have been and still are evil men of the worst kind and yet have been graced with faith. Ones such as you and I who are painfully aware of our wretchedness often cry out to God, "How could you move my heart and save me, a sinner, and yet leave the hearts of my unbelieving friends and family unmoved? Lord please move me to tell them the good news and Lord please move their hearts to believe!" That is, while we sit in the cafeteria eating our lunch, joy cannot be complete with the unruly boys missing and unrepentant, because after all NO ONE deserves God’s goodness and grace! Though we may be angered because of the unruly boy’s sin, we want them at the party too.
So 2 Timothy 3:8 implies a curious hope, in fact 'out of control optimism', because even if wicked men are rejected by God from receiving faith... their rejection is not absolute. But how can this be? I like you have been taught on one hand that unbelievers will be sentenced to hell and also that all the elect of Christ will be brought to faith in Christ. To be sure there are no unbelievers in heaven and everyone in heaven will be a believer. Yet we have this hope, Christ is the savior of all mankind, believer and unbeliever.
Perhaps we can summarize our optimism from this curious verse thus, "Friend, believe now or believe later, for if you be the elect of Christ you will most certainly believe one day, though you may serve a sentence in hell if you persist in your rebellion."
Further study must reveal how all these facts add up.