Sola Scriptura 14
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.
You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:1-13 ESV).
“They” are identified as evil men and imposters. These evil men and imposters will “not endure sound teaching” (2 Timothy 4:3, ESV). There will be open opposition to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The word “sound” is from the Greek word ὑγιαίνω / hygiainō meaning to be well, to be in health, and free from any mixture of error. The word “teaching”is the word διδασκαλία / didaskalia. It means doctrines and precepts. Therefore, those opposed to the gospel are those who do not hold up sound doctrine. They will not put up with God’s truth. They communicate information which is filled with error.
Not only do they teach error and hate truth, “but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” (2 Timothy 4:3). Why do they pursue false teachers? The text says it is because they are acting “to suit their own passions.” Additionally, it is because they have “itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:3).
Itching ears refers to being entertained and enjoying the sensation of hearing what you want to hear. It means to “literally having your ears tickled” (Guthrie 179). “Christian history can furnish many examples of men’s desires to gather around them a great number of teachers, who are not renowned for their ability to teach or their authority, but who seek the satisfaction of their own desires” (179).
The result of such desires and behavior is they “will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:4 ESV). In addition to finding and fostering their own false teachers, those who reject Sola Scriptura will consequentially turn away from the truth. Paul’s use of the definite article indicates that it is not truth in general they will reject and from such turn away, but rather God’s truth in particular. It is a definitive choice they will actively and continually make.
Due to this active rebellion, there is a consequence of which they will be oblivious. They will be turned aside to myths, or that which is counterfeit and false. This effect will be done unto them as a direct result of what they have done, which is rejecting God’s truth. They will become wanderers. This was not their intention. This was not their goal in turning from God’s truth to a fabrication of their own. However, this is what will happen. As one author has written, “Because of a superficial fascination of myths, they wander into counterfeits with no awareness that truth has been left behind.” How must the believer respond to such opposition? We examine this question when next we meet.