Two passages in the Bible say that “in the last days, scoffers will come.” Second Peter 3:3 and Jude 1:18 both explain what that means. A “scoffer” in this context is one who mocks Christ, ridicules the things of God, and opposes the gospel. Both Peter and Jude were writing warnings against false teachers who were intent on leading others astray. The word scoffer refers to one who denies the truths of Scripture and entices others to go along with his error.
The word unbeliever was understood to represent everything opposed to Christian faith and godliness. In 2 Corinthians 6:14–15, Paul writes, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?” The understanding was that those who had come to faith in Christ were in the process of being transformed into the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29). The further along they were in this process, the fewer similarities they had with unbelievers.
Scoffers have been present since the Garden of Eden. Satan’s first temptation of man was in the form of scoffing at God’s command: “Did God really say—?” (Genesis 3:1). Scoffers dominated Noah’s day (Genesis 6:5–8; Hebrews 11:7), leaving God with little choice but to destroy them all and start over with Noah, the only righteous man on earth. Scoffers refuse to believe the word of the Lord and set themselves up as their own gods (2 Chronicles 36:16). The psalmist warns against the digression that leads from casual association with wicked people to sitting “in the seat of scoffers” (Psalm 1:1, ESV), embracing their worldview—and sharing their fate.
Although scoffers have always been a part of this fallen world, Scripture seems to indicate that, as the Day of the Lord draws nearer, the scoffing will increase. Peter describes these scoffers as “following their own evil desires” (2 Peter 3:3) and questioning the second coming of the Lord Jesus (verse 4). Thousands of years have passed since Jesus ascended into heaven, promising to return for His faithful ones (John 14:1–4; Revelation 22:12). Scoffers point out the lapse of time and mock those who still wait and yearn for His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8; 2 Thessalonians 1:7).
Jude describes the scoffers of the last days as people who follow ungodly desires and create division in the church (Jude 1:18). They may even present themselves as church leaders, but they “do not have the Spirit” (verse 19). Paul goes into more detail about the condition of the world before Jesus returns: “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people” (2 Timothy 3:1–5). Scoffers will fit right in with such a crowd.
We already see an increase of scoffers in our world today, and several factors may be contributing to that rise. Constant access to media, the internet, and other forms of technology provide an open platform for anyone with an opinion, and scoffing at everything once thought honorable is a favorite pastime. Scoffers are emboldened on social media by others who can instantly approve of their mockery. Many people are educated beyond their intelligence, and this new world without moral boundaries is producing scoffers instead of thinkers. Many try to use scientific training to say that, since the reality of the Creator God cannot be proved by man’s understanding, God must not exist. In rejecting Scripture, mankind has lost its moral compass, leaving us with no way to determine right or wrong, good or bad, truth or lie. In this climate, anyone who claims to know the truth is a prime target for scoffers.
Arrogance leads to scoffing, much as it did before the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1–4). When people become puffed up with their own importance, they begin to challenge anything that threatens their high opinion of themselves. Once we have removed the idea of God from consideration, then anything goes. Scoffers have tried to redefine marriage, obliterate gender binarism, and create a fantasy world in which reality becomes whatever we feel it is. Not long ago, such a mindset was the definition of insanity. Now we are told it is the ultimate wisdom. Romans 1:21–22 has never been more relevant: “Although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.”
The proliferation of scoffers is a sign of the last days. They profess themselves to be wise, but they are really fools (Psalm 14:1). Regardless of the eschatological timeline one prefers, we can all agree that the number of scoffers and deceivers is increasing rapidly, just as Scripture warned us it would (2 John 1:7). It is critically important that every Christian take seriously the commands to study and meditate on God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15; Joshua 1:8) so that we won’t be led astray by the lofty-sounding ideas presented to us by scoffers (2 Corinthians 10:5).
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