Do you have “itching ears?”

2 Timothy 4:1-5 People will turn away from the truth, they will grow weary of the plain gospel of Christ, they will be greedy of fables, and take pleasure in them. People do so when they will not endure that preaching which is searching, plain, and to the purpose. Those who love souls must be ever watchful, must venture and bear all the painful effects of their faithfulness, and take all opportunities of making known the pure gospel Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3 NLT)

A time will come when people will not listen to accurate teachings. Instead, they will follow their own desires and surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3 GWT)

For the time will come, when they will not suffer wholesome doctrine: but after their own lusts shall they (whose ears itch) get them an heap of teachers, (2 Timothy 4:3 TYN)

For the time will come — Probably referring to the time mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:1, following.When they will not endure sound doctrine – Greek, “healthful doctrine;” i. e., doctrine contributing to the health of the soul, or to salvation. At that time they would seek a kind of instruction more conformable to their wishes and feelings. Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

After their own lusts — They will seek such kind of preaching as will accord with their carnal desires; or such as will palliate their evil propensities, and deal gently with their vices; compare Isaiah 30:10. “Speak unto us smooth things; prophesy deceits.” Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Having itching ears — An ambiguous rendering in A.V.; but the original is clear, the nominative case shewing that it is the pupils not the teachers who have the itching ears. R.V. corrects this by transposing the clause to the commencement of the sentence; but this gives up the close proximity of the two words for ‘ears’; because they have itching ears should be the rendering. The participle is middle, lit. ‘scratching themselves,’ as Arist.H. A. Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears — The word rendered “heap” – ἐπισωρεύω episōreuō – does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It means “to heap up upon, to accumulate;” and here “to multiply.” The word rendered “itching” – κνήθω knēthō – also occurs only in this place in the New Testament. It means “to rub, to scratch;” and then “to tickle,” and here to feel an “itching” for something pleasing or gratifying. The image is derived from the desire which we have when there is an itching sensation, to have it rubbed or scratched. Such an uneasiness would these persons have to have some kind of instruction that would allay their restless and uneasy desires, or would gratify them. In explanation of this passage we may observe,  –Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Do you have “itching ears?”

  • Itching ears only listen to preachers that they already agree with
  • Itching ears already have their mind made up on all Bible doctrines and ignore everything else
  • Itching ears “surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3)
  • Itching ears pay more attention to man-made rules and regulations than the word of God
  • Itching ears do not receive the word with all readiness of mind like the noble Bereans (Acts 17:10-12)
  • Itching ears use “the leaven of malice and evil” instead of “the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5:8)
  • Itching ears are like the close-minded Thessalonian (Acts 17:10-12)

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