The Spirit-inspired apostle Paul wrote, “evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). People deceiving and being deceived is undoubtedly as accurate in our time as it was when Paul wrote it.

The Greek word that is translated as “deceive” in 2 Timothy 3:13 is planaoo (πλανάω). It occurs thirty-nine times in the New Testament. The synonymous compound form apoplanaoo (ἀποπλανάω) occurs twice in the New Testament. The occurrences of planaoo are pretty equally distributed among the various groups of New Testament writings, with the most frequent occurrences in the Gospel of Matthew and Revelation (eight times in each document).

The Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker Greek Lexicon provides the following two meanings of planaoo. First, planaoo can mean “to cause to go astray from a specific way” (lead astray, cause to wander, mislead, deceive someone). Second, “to proceed without a proper sense of direction, go astray, be misled, wander aimlessly.”

God is concerned that His people do not deceive others (Proverbs 24:28) and to not be deceived (Jeremiah 29:8; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 15:33; Galatians 6:7; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; James 1:16). Included in the call to “not be deceived” is the idea of self-deception (Jeremiah 37:9; James 1:22, 26; 1 John 1:8).

The noun dolos (δόλος) occurs eleven times in the New Testament (Matthew 26:4; Mark 7:22; 14:1; John 1:47; Acts 13:10; Romans 1:29; 2 Corinthians 12:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:3; 1 Peter 2:1, 22; 3:10) and means deceit, cunning, treachery, falsify, or treachery. The Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker Greek Lexicon defines dolos as “taking advantage through craft and underhanded methods, deceit, cunning, treachery.” The occurrence of dolos several of the New Testament “vice lists” indicates that it is a characteristic of those who live in “ungodliness” and “unrighteousness.”

The sages were well of the problem of deception and wrote about it. “The folly of fools is deceiving” (Proverbs 14:8). “Do not deceive with your lips” (Proverbs 24:28). “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!” (Proverbs 26:18-19).

Ananias and Sapphira apparently did not take the biblical teaching against deception to heart and attempted to deceive God’s people with how sacrificially they gave. However, this did not go well for them, and they suffered the immediate judgment of God (Acts 5:1-11).

We live in a time of deception (false news, etc.). Let us make sure that we do not deceive ourselves or others. Let us be vigilant not to be deceived by others or ourselves.

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