Written by: Ed Cardwell
Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, wrote to Timothy warning him that in the last days there would be a frantic rush of humanity toward unparalleled godlessness. He wrote, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.”
We can characterize the Apostle Paul’s words as the wholesale resurgence and reign of humanism and the worship of self as the ‘end of days’ draws to a close. (Humanism can be described as the philosophy that affirms that ‘man’ is the measure and standard of all things and the center of all that is now and forever. In his ‘evolutionary’ climb toward achieving his full potential he is the master of his own fate and he is his own ‘savior’.)
In chapter 3 of his second letter to his disciple Timothy, Paul speaks of the terrible times that the world will face in the dark days before the 2 nd coming of Christ. In describing those days, he lists 21 character traits that people will display in those apocalyptic last days. He writes: “Men will be…
- Lovers of self,
- Lovers of money,
- Disobedient to parents,
- Malicious gossips,
- Without self-control,
- Haters of good,
- Lovers of pleasure,
- Rather than lovers of God,
- Holding to a form of godliness,
- Although they deny its power.”
Paul concludes with this admonition: “Avoid such (men) as these.” One version has it: “Do not go with them.” The reason is obvious. You will become like the men you run with. Their attitudes will rub off on you.
This is an inescapable truth. “Do not be deceived. Bad company corrupts good morals.” (1Co 15:33) NAS No matter how hard one tries, if you fellowship with this kind, if you go where they go, if you are involved in the things they do, you will little by little adopt their attitudes and slowly, oh, ever so slowly, imperceptibly even, you will eventually become as they are. You will find in the end that you have deceived yourself.
“Do not be deceived. Bad company corrupts good morals.” (1Co 15:33) NAS No matter how hard one tries, if you fellowship with this kind, if you go where they go, if you are involved
Well, you say, Jesus went into the pubs to speak to the sinners about the kingdom of God. Yes. He is God. He is not shackled with the deceitful nature of the human heart. No manner of evil men could rub off on Him. He could not be deceived. He is always the master in any and all situations. We are not.
This does not mean that the godless are not redeemable or that they are impervious to the Gospel. Of course, they are in desperate need of Jesus, but they do not know it. So one must be ready for a battle with the arch enemy who holds them in captivity; therefore, it is necessary to be very wise in communication with them.
* * * * PERILOUS INDEED! * * * *
Our special focus in Paul’s text is at present centered on a very unique word in his introduction in verse 1: “Realize this that in the last days difficult times will come.” The KJV uses the word ‘perilous’ for
Indeed: ‘perilous’ or ‘difficult’ or even ‘grievous’ times? One might ask, ‘How perilous, or difficult, can it
be?’ We’ve always had people who have displayed many or most of these qualities at different times in
history; but especially now are we witness to a massive explosion of such extreme behavior, thanks in part to
television, the internet, and social media.
The true Author of Scripture, the Holy Spirit, has led us to a full explanation of this word by inserting it in
only one other place in the New Testament – Matthew 8:28; it will be most advantageous to us to examine
this word in its special context in its original language, the Greek. The word is: calepoi,, pronounced
‘chalepoi’. It’s a plural adjective describing the character or quality of behavior of men in the days that are
coming. The translators define the word as: ‘perilous’, ‘difficult’, ‘grievous’. However, such simple
definitions are totally inadequate to convey its true scope of character.
How can we possibly pinpoint the exact meaning of calepoi except the Holy Spirit would give us the clues
elsewhere in Scripture? That He has done.
Our understanding of the degree of this ‘peril’ that humanity will face comes from a panorama of
descriptions from the Synoptic Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) who are reporting the same event
of Jesus’ arrival at the coast of the Gadarenes from their 3 perspectives. This key word calepoi, however,
appears only in Matthew’s Gospel, and it provides us with a complete and all-encompassing characterization
of the mysterious and frightening encounter in all 3 accounts. This classic narrative begins:
NAS Matthew 8:28 “ And when He (Jesus) had come to the other side into the country of the
Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs;
they were so exceedingly violent (calepoi) that no one could pass by that road.”
The description of their ‘violent’ manner goes much further. Now we must advance to the Gospels of Mark
and Luke for they both add a great deal to the narrative that further describes these men. Mark writes:
NAS Mark 5:2 “And when He had come out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs
with an unclean spirit met Him,
3 and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore,
even with a chain;
4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn
apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him.
5 And constantly night and day, among the tombs and in the mountains, he was crying out
and gashing himself with stones.”
Luke goes further to complete the scenario of the terrible torment experienced by these men. He writes:
NAS Luke 8:28 “And seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice,
"What do I have to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment
29 For He had been commanding the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had
seized him many times; and he was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard; and yet
he would burst his fetters and be driven by the demon into the desert.
30 And Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion"; for many demons
had entered him.
31 And they were entreating Him not to command them to depart into the abyss.
32 Now there was a herd of many swine feeding there on the mountain; and the demons
entreated Him to permit them to enter the swine. And He gave them permission.
33 And the demons came out from the man and entered the swine; and the herd rushed
down the steep bank into the lake, and were drowned.”
* * * *
So, how do we summarize this entire strange narrative that is introduced by our word calepoi?
The New Testament harmonizes the story, the same story, from three points of view with the result
that it frames the picture in a synthesized context that conveys the fullness of its meaning. The word
signifies by its clear context the results of a supernatural invasion and subsequent superintendence of
Satan and his demons into our social and physical world. The painful and terrifying emotion that
defines this word materializes as a hideous apparition before us as we gaze at the prolonged human
agony of demon possession and influence.
Scripture is clear that around the time of Christ’s first coming, the demons were agitated and erratic
at the Lord of heaven’s worldly presence, and demonic activity was full-blown. What the Apostle is
saying is that in the days near the end, when Christ’s second coming is approaching, such ‘perilous’
activity of Satan’s minions will surely be far more sinister and will be even more advanced and full-
scale, beguiling and imprisoning the souls of men and women all over the globe in an incredibly
NAS Revelation 12:12 “Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you,
having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”
What can this mean for us today, who stand on the precipice of a global ‘remaking’ only imagined by
the early science fiction writers? Before the arrival of the pandemic, who could have envisioned a
world changed over night, stricken and held hostage by crippling fear and baffled leadership run
amok? What we are experiencing now is only a small sample of what is soon to come. And when it
does come, this time it will be unimaginable!!!
The deification and worship of self is an open invitation to the influence of the demons. Without the
grace and protection of the Lord Jesus Christ, mankind in his natural state is ripe for satanic invasion.
Only the presence of the living God in our hearts will provide the full and complete deliverance from
the powers of the demonic spiritual hosts. He is our Comforter!
NAS 1 John 4:4 “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater
is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”
Jesus Himself warned us in Luke 21:
33 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
34 "Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation and
drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day come on you suddenly like a trap;
35 for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth.”
* * * * E P I L O G U E * * * *
This classic story of the men of Gadara emphasizes man’s desperate need for great deliverance from his
hopeless, earthbound condition – not only for the here and now, but also for eternity. Every man has such a
need. It may not be marked by a violent outburst of depraved character, but every human being is in need of
the Deliverer, Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. The demons knew who He was, and they were in total
subjection to His mighty power. Only Jesus can deliver from the guilt and the burden of sin. Jesus is the
Deliverer!!! Mark concludes this marvelous story in his Gospel in chapter 5:
18 “And as He(Jesus) was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was
entreating Him that he might accompany Him.
19 And He did not let him, but He said to him, "Go home to your people and report to them
what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you."
20 And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done
for him; and everyone marveled.”
* * * *
So, where will we be standing as that hour quickly approaches? The Apostle John summarizes his Gospel as
NAS John 20:30 “Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the
disciples, which are not written in this book;
31 but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;
and that believing you may have life in His name.”