2 Tim. 4:3-4

2 Tim. 4:3-4: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

The words “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine” is Paul’s instruction to Timothy. The words “will come” (esomai) is the future tense of the “to be” verb. This means that Paul is making a prophecy concerning the future. I believe this is an end time prophecy. We are living in that time right now. The words “will not endure” (anechomai) means “to hold oneself erect and firm, to sustain, to bear, to endure.” The word “sound” (hugiaino) means “to be sound, to be well, to be in good health.” Paul is saying that the time will come as the age progresses that professing Christians will not stand up under, will not stand erect or sustain healthy doctrine. They will choose “junk food” that can never produce a healthy Christianity. To the modern ecumenist the only things on their diet are things that don’t offend. They talk about Jesus just like a fundamentalist. But they do not obey Jesus and preach and teach the things he did because of the offence it causes. Jesus believed in the Genesis account of creation, that the whale swallowed Jonah and that he survived to preach in Nineveh, that Lot’s wife turned to a pillar of salt and that men who don’t repent will go to hell. A lot of people who brag on Jesus won’t preach this. Jesus is not God in the flesh or a good man, if he was not telling the truth about these things. Don’t compliment Jesus if you think he was not who he claimed to be and a liar.

The words “but after their own lusts” identify what motivates those of whom Paul speaks. The word “own” (idios) means “pertaining to oneself, one's own, belonging to oneself.” It has to do with the “self life.” It is what the self nature craves. It is not the “new man” of the “new birth.” If one is a Christian at all, it would be referring to what Paul calls “the flesh.” The word “lusts” (epithumia) means “desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden,” i.e., the cravings of the Old Sin Nature.

The words “shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” tell what they will do instead of desiring the truth. The words “shall they heap” (episoreuo) means “to heap up, accumulate in piles.” This means there will be “piles” of preachers and teachers they can secure who will say what they want to hear. The words “having itching ears” (knetho) mean “to scratch, tickle, make to itch.” It is a present passive participle. The present tense means that their ears continually itch. The passive voice means that they want someone else to scratch their itching ears. If I would do it, my wife would lie down and let me scratch her back all day. It feels good. Have you ever had anyone scratch you back? This ear tickling feels extremely good and what these people are after is what feels good. Again the time is coming Paul says that the motive for calling a pastor or to sit and listen to a speaker will be to hear what is agreeable. But it even goes further than that. It means that the itching ear is being completely satisfied by the scratcher. Now when you have that kind of a scratcher, you are not going to look for another. Unless the scratcher ceases to scratch the way you like your ears scratched. Whereupon, the scratcher better watch out because Mr. itching ear has a pile of other scratchers out there that are available. So there is going to be a lot of changing of one ear scratcher for another. I don’t know if you are aware of it or not but there are a lot of courses being taught to preachers in the “preacher schools” on how to effectively scratch ears without being traded off for another ear scratcher.

The words “And they shall turn away their ears from the truth” is a volitional act that requires a choice. The words “shall turn away” is the translation of two words in the Greek text. The Greek word “men” (not the English word men) means “truly, certainly, surely, indeed.” When John said, “I indeed baptize you with water,” the word “indeed,” is the translation of this same word (Matt. 3:11). The word “apostrepho” to turn away, to remove anything from anyone, to turn him away from allegiance to anyone.” It is a future active indicative verb. This means he continues to speak prophetically of the last days. The active voice means that Paul is saying they will willingly choose to give up their allegiance to the Word of God in favor of ear tickling preachers.

We need to ask ourselves where our allegiance is? Do we believe in the infallibility of Scripture? Do we believe in its inerancy? If we do not, then the only authority we have is men’s interpretation of the Bible. Our authority degenerates to man’s opinion. When this becomes true, what do you think a man is going to do when what he hears gets him in trouble? He will get him another ear scratcher! And on and on he will go turning his back on the one Authority God has given and the one Book that will tell him if he is hearing the truth or not.

The words “and shall be turned unto fables” describe the type messages that will tickle their ears. The words “shall be turned” (ektrepo) means “to turn or twist out, in a medical sense used of dislocated limbs.” It is a future passive indicative. The future tense means it is still prophetic, i.e., referring to our day. The passive voice means that what they hear will dislocate (using the medical term) them. The word “fables” (muthos) can mean several things. Strong defines this word as “a speech, word, saying, a narrative, story, a true narrative, a fiction, a fable, an invention, a falsehood.” That definition covers a lot of territory. It can be a truth (not the truth of the Bible). People like to hear stories that teach human wisdom. It can be something completely made up and accepted as truth. It can be a deliberate outright lie that is being told by the ear scratcher. The ear scratcher doesn’t care what happens to the people. His is one of self interest.

When Israel turned its back on God’s prophets, He quit calling and sending them. When John the Baptist came, it had been four hundred years since such a prophet had come. Amos 8:11 says, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:”

A lot of “Men of God” will read this. I’m sure you are like I am. I love God’s people. I do not want to preach things that get me in trouble with them. I weep in my heart when the truth I preach is not welcomed by some. Now preachers, we can do one of two things. We can join the “ear scratchers alliance” or we can continue to be “Men of God” and weep like Jeremiah when God’s people reject the truth we preach. I have elected to “speak the truth in love” without regard to the consequences. I’ll just have to live and die with the fact that we are living in days of apostasy. Many do not want healthy doctrine. They want junk food. I don’t serve junk food. So they will have to go somewhere else to get it.

May God bless you.

In Christ and in His Name

Bro. White